C4iSR: Land

AUSA 2017: Army returns to camouflage netting as it revisits traditional fieldcraft

09 October 2017

The US Army hopes to regain some of its basic ‘fieldcraft’ – particularly for concealing static formations – and is seeking new camouflage net systems.

Saab's ULCANS. (Saab Barracuda)Saab's ULCANS. (Saab Barracuda)

In July the army kicked off an effort to buy a new generation of camouflage netting, meant to help hide formations from a growing range of detection sensors. The legacy Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage-Net System (ULCANS) was supplied under a 10-year, USD1.7 billion contract with Saab Barracuda, but that expired in June 2016.

ULCANS was first fielded more than 17 years ago, and since then the US military has been focused on counter-insurgency operations. US personnel operated mainly from forward bases against adversaries that lacked advanced sensors.

Now, however, the issue is being revisited. The effective use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for artillery targeting by Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine underscored the need for a new ULCANS.

"The UAS capability that has been displayed in Eastern Ukraine is significant" and changes how forces need to be managed and deployed, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, commander of US Army Europe, has said. Lt Gen Hodges has urged the US Army "to get back into some good field craft" such as force dispersion, field camouflage netting, and more.

In its 6 July solicitation, the army said it expects to initially award up to three indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ), firm-fixed-price (FFP) type contracts for ULCANS Increment 1 develop and production. After competitive testing, the army would select one vendor to continue “with a ceiling value of USD480 million over a 10-year ordering period” with five base years and five option years.

Brian Keller, president and general manager of Saab Barracuda, the ULCANS incumbent, told Jane’s ahead of the annual Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference on 9 October that industry teams could submit proposals for ULCANS on 31 August.

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