MILAN — Swedish defense company Saab has integrated its Barracuda camouflage net with a new feature that could transform how soldiers communicate by allowing selected radio frequencies to pass through the mesh.
Camouflage screens provide essential concealment whether fixed and set up for armored vehicles and personnel to gather underneath or have the net draped over them. The nets reduce the visibility of equipment by blocking the signature of a wide range of sensors, including thermal infrared and radar. As such, units face less risks of being detected, while operators can effectively see and engage with targets the same, a key operational advantage.
Yet, this same protection is a double-edged sword because communications and GPS signals cannot penetrate through the net, compelling soldiers to have to leave hidden areas for certain tasks. For vehicles, this has typically meant having to drive back out from underneath, peel the screen back or even stick antennas through it to send and receive.
Saab advertises its Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage Screen-Frequency Selected Surface (ULCAS-FSS) as bringing an end to those drawbacks.
“It is integrated with material that acts as a low-pass filter, allowing the selected radio frequencies of their choice to pass either way through the camouflage screen while also protecting troops against higher ones of electromagnetic waves used by radar systems,” Johan Jersblad, senior development engineer at Saab told reporters during an online briefing on Sept. 4.
The ULCAS-FSS is not yet in service, as it will make its debut at the DSEI defense exhibition in London next week and will eventually be mass-produced in Sweden. At the show, it will be shown fitted on the Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JTLV), with whom Saab signed a preferred supplier agreement in June 2022.
More recently, photos emerged from the training of Ukrainian troops in Sweden showing the CV90 infantry fighting vehicle fitted with Saab’s Barracuda camouflage net. Sweden has pledged to provide 50 of these platforms to Kyiv.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.
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