How to hide a tank: the Barracuda Mobile Camouflage system

Tanks and fighting vehicles can now go stealth. Alex Alderson, Director Land Systems for Saab UK, explains how
Alex Alderson
Barracuda Mobile Camoflage
Saab Barracuda on an AJAX - Credit: Household Cavalry

As warfare gets more and more challenging it remains just as important to conceal our forces from the enemy as it is to find them. The problem today is that the battlefield is awash with sensors. They operate across the electromagnetic spectrum – including ultraviolet, visual, infrared, and radar – and those sensors are often the start of devastating kill chains. As Ukraine has shown us only too clearly, the wide proliferation of highly capable sensors makes it more difficult than ever to conceal our forces from the enemy. Social media is awash with videos of thermal sensors detecting the distinctive heat radiation pattern of armoured vehicles or defensive positions which are then attacked with devastating effect.

In order to conceal our forces more effectively, it is important to understand the way that soldiers, military equipment, fighting vehicles, logistic installations and command posts interact with the environment and how each electromagnetic signature can be detected. If we assume that everything gives off a signature, we have to assume that it can be detected, either visually or through the heat it gives off or by the way it responds to radar sensors, and if we can reduce that signature, it is then possible to start to gain and maintain a military advantage.

Elevating battlefield stealth

For fighting vehicles, like tanks, it is really important that the signatures they emit are reduced as much as possible so that they blend effectively into the background by day and by night. Understanding sensor technology and being able to counter emerging threats is a critical part of signature management. With adversaries deploying increasingly sophisticated detection technologies, the ability to remain concealed and agile on the battlefield is paramount.

This is where Saab Barracuda’s Mobile Camouflage System (MCS) comes in. It represents a new standard in military concealment technology, helping to solve the problem that fighting vehicles are at their most vulnerable when they are moving. By leveraging advanced material solutions, Saab provides armoured forces with the means to operate effectively with greater stealth and security, and with higher survivability and protection from detection.

Barracuda MCS can be customised to any vehicle platform. It can be integrated into any type of military vehicle, be it a tank, armoured personnel carrier, or truck. This adaptability is vital for ensuring optimal protection on the move. Regardless of the vehicle's size or function, the Barracuda MCS can be tailored to meet specific operational requirements, enhancing its effectiveness in multiple mission scenarios in multiple environments.

Advanced signature management

In the realm of modern military operations, advanced signature management plays a key role in ensuring the survivability and efficacy of deployed forces. At the heart of this strategy lies the utilisation of sophisticated systems like Saab's Barracuda MCS, designed to minimise a vehicle's detectability on the battlefield. By incorporating Barracuda systems, military units can significantly reduce their electronic signature - the cues that make them stand out to enemy sensors. This encompasses everything from managing the visual appearance of main battle tanks to mitigating the heat signatures of transport vehicles and controlling electromagnetic emissions from APCs. The Barracuda MCS takes this concept to an entirely new level through its utilisation of advanced camouflage technology.

One of the key features of the Barracuda MCS is its ability to blend effectively with its surroundings, making it difficult for enemy sensors to detect and identify the vehicle from its environment. This is achieved through a combination of materials and design that reduce contrast with the background, making detection much harder than if the vehicle did not have MCS. Likewise, the Barracuda MCS is not just about hiding in plain sight; it is about mastering the art of deception and evasion.

As military operations evolve, the significance of advanced signature management and multispectral camouflage will continue to grow. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies like the Barracuda MCS, military forces can ensure their ability to operate with unparalleled stealth and security, ultimately enhancing mission success and safeguarding personnel in even the most challenging environments.

Advancing the future of British manufacturing

Saab and Abbey Group recently announced their partnership to manufacture Barracuda MCS in the UK. By prioritising local production, this collaboration is the start of a strategic collaboration to address the growing demand for advanced signature management capabilities.

Manufacturing Barracuda MCS in the UK with Abbey Group both adds value to the UK industrial landscape and underscores Saab’s commitment to agility and responsiveness in meeting defence requirements. By joining forces with local manufacturing capabilities and fostering a culture of innovation, Saab is continuing its growing presence in the UK, supplying MCS which will add to the operational effectiveness and survivability of its armed forces.

Written by
Alex Alderson
Written by
March 27, 2024