New Suit Conceals Heat Signatures

By Valerie Insinna
It can be difficult for a soldier to blend into surrounding terrain when an adversary is equipped with infrared and thermal sensors, but a new camouflage suit may be able to conceal users’ heat signatures.

The NEMESIS “turkey suit” made by Gore and Raven Aerostar can reduce the range of detection by visual, near-infrared and short-, medium- and long-wave infrared sensors, company officials said.

The NEMESIS textile randomly breaks up and dissipates body heat so that the user’s silhouette is no longer visible when seen through an infrared device, said John Holcombe, Gore’s business leader for advanced military products.

“Our goal is to actually make the system basically match the clutter of what you see in the environment,” he said. “You actually want some hot spots, some cold spots. You want it to look non-human.”

“We’re trying to reflect the energy from the environment and scatter it,” he said. “We’re also trying to let the heat from the body still escape randomly as well, so it’s not all going toward the sensors.”

Thermal sensors can effectively detect body heat from about 5,000 feet away, but the suit cuts that distance by more than half, he said.

It comprises a jacket, pants, hood and face shield and is worn as an overgarment. Like a ghillie suit used by snipers, the textile mimics leaves, which helps hide the outline of the body and dissipate heat outward. The suit also incorporates a netting-like material that helps with ventilation.

Other suits provide concealment by insulating the user to prevent heat from being detected by a sensor. That method only allows a little heat to escape, rendering the wearer not only very hot, but still visible, Holcombe said. “The last thing we want to do is create a baked potato — wrap them in foil, now you’ve trapped all the heat inside.”

Gore’s suit works instantly in a variety of climate and weather conditions, though there are some exceptions. For example, it would not be viable in a 120-degree desert where living organisms are much colder than the surrounding environment, he said. 

Multiple military services have tested the suit, said Sean McDearmon, Gore’s Army branch specialist. Users found that they were easily able to move around and that the suit’s coverage and venting kept them cooler in warm climates. 

Although the company has made sales, officials would not disclose the customer or quantity of purchases.

Gore is targeting special operations customers in the near term, but the suit would also be a good fit for Army snipers, scouts or reconnaissance teams, McDearmon said. Each suit costs $2,900, but bulk prices would be less.

Topics: Business Trends, C4ISR, Sensors, Science and Engineering Technology

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