“’Curiouser and curiouser!’ Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).” – ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Lewis Caroll.
Trying to follow the twists and turns of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Initiative, and sometimes sporadic information published about it, does make one feel a bit like Alice going down the rabbit hole sometimes….
As if the reasons for the disqualification of the patterns submitted by Hyde Definition, Orion Design Group and Digital Concealment Systems weren’t spurious enough, news broke earlier today on Soldier Systems Daily that the Army had mysteriously decided to withdraw its own “in-house” pattern.
Many people had assumed that the Natick pattern would be a digital, pixellated pattern becuase this is the type of pattern most widely used currently by the US military – and would thus provide good “brand consistency”. On this basis, it was assumed that the Natick pattern was too similar to the submissions from Guy Cramer and ADS.
But according to the follow-up story posted on SSD this afternoon (EST), it turned out that Natick had simply dusted off the more-than-a-decade-old “Scorpion” pattern! Allegedly, Natick have tweaked the Scorpion pattern since it first appeared, but we still only have photos of the original pattern – such as this one published by Soldier Systems Daily today.
From a design perspective, it was definitely a big surprise to me that Natick chose to go down this route. After all, why submit a pattern that has been around for more than a decade, and that has been eclipsed by many patterns in the years since? Most notably by a spin-off pattern that has become one of the most commercially successful and wide-spread camouflage patterns in history – Crye Precision’s MultiCam. It was also such a surprise becuase surely the Natick team would have realised that Scorpion is quite (too?) similar to MultiCam before now? Curious.
We haven’t seen any photographs (yet) of what the “woodland” and “desert” patterns from Crye look like – but I have heard from a camouflage industry insider who has seen them that they are simply recolorations of standard MultiCam.
In the meantime however, we do have a photograph of a trial Close Combat Uniform (predecessor of the ACU) that appears to be the “woodland” Scorpion pattern evaluated by Natick back around the turn of the century, and we also have a photograph of a pattern that would appear to be the “desert” version.
Crye Precision’s “woodland” and “desert” versions of MultiCam must look very close to these…
Lawrence – Strike-Hold!