Soldier Systems
TYR Tactical
Categories About Us EmailArchives Home Tactical Fanboy Soldier Sytems Home

Archive for the ‘Camo’ Category

Oakley Releases SI Fuel Cell in Ultrablend Black

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Recently, SSD visited the Oakley HQ where they showed us the background on their Ultrablend Camo pattern created using Cerakote firearms coating. At the time, the SI Fuel Cell was only available in Ultrablend Desert Sage but they showed us the Black variant as well. Now, they’re available.

IMG_7296.PNG

LENS:
• Dual lens POLARIC ELLIPSOID™ geometry (two lenses cut from single toric shield)
• UV protection of Plutonite® lens material that filters out 100% of UVA / UVB / UVC & harmful blue light up to 400 nm
• Optical precision and performance that meets or exceeds ANSI Z87.1 standards
• Impact protection based upon ANSI Z87.1 test methods for High Mass and High Velocity impact resistance

FRAME:
• Durability and all-day comfort of lightweight, stress-resistant O Matter® frame material
• Carefully painted and cured with Cerakote ™ Generation II Firearm Coatings
• Enhanced durability, wear and corrosion resistance, and reduced Near-Infared (NIR) management.
• Comfort and Performance of Three-Point Fit that holds lenses in precise optical alignment
• Gun Metal Icon Accents

www.oakleysi.com

Why Has Controversy Over US Army Rights To Use Scorpion Camouflage Led To A Quest for New Camouflage Printers?

Monday, September 15th, 2014

To be sure, Operational Camouflage Pattern is the way ahead for the US Army. That fact is not at question and I’m very happy to see our Soldiers getting something effective. It is definitely an improvement over the Universal Camouflage Pattern that it is replacing.

But exactly what OCP is, and who actually owns it, are a bit more perplexing. With two distinct patterns sharing the same name, there’s sure to be some confusion. Turns out, ownership can be established based in records and a few pointed questions. But then there’s this whole printing issue that’s recently, and inexplicably come up. How that ties in, will all make sense, by the time you get to the end of the story.

As you know, the US Army selected the Crye Precision Multicam Pattern in 2010 and decided to call it Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern, as it was intended specifically for use in operations in Afghanistan. Then, the Army began a Multi-year Camouflage Improvement Effort (aka Phase IV) that cost tens of Millions of Dollars and ultimately resulted in no new capability. During the Army’s rather protracted, ill-fated search, for a family of camouflage patterns for use in the world’s various operational environments, Congress decided to act, fearing waste. With the passing of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department had to stick with what whatever camouflage they already had. The Army reacted by renaming OCP to a simple “Operational Camouflage Pattern” to give it a more universal feel and started negotiations with Crye Precision to adopt the pattern service-wide. Unfortunately, the Army abruptly stopped talking to Crye Precision with the Army reportedly unhappy with the pricing provided by Crye.

20140802-183641-67001414.jpg

Then, in May of 2014, the Army’s leadership chose a course of action that would adopt a new flavor of OCP called Scorpion W2. It was a camouflage pattern created by modifying Scorpion, a developmental pattern designed in the early 2000s as part of the Objective Force Warrior Program and tested during the 2002-2003 camo studies. This new OCP variant also looked suspiciously similar to the existing Crye Precision MultiCam version of OCP. Interestingly, the Scorpion W2 pattern was tested for mere weeks before being certified fit for service, while the Phase IV testing went on for well over a year of actual testing and analysis with no final solution selected.

No sooner than the Army unveiled this variant did people start to question who “owned” the pattern. This was fueled partly by assertions by COL Robert Mortlock, Program Manager for Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment that it would be less expensive than using MultiCam leading many to believe that the Army owns it. In fact, Scorpion W2 is a 2010 government modification of Crye’s patented Scorpion pattern and exhibits quite a bit of similarity to the MultiCam it is intended to displace as OCP.

To find the answer to the ownership question, I went to PEO Soldier, who’s Public Affairs Team directed me to the US Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs. I asked some very specific questions about ownership of the Scorpion camouflage pattern and its use as a option under the NDAA. While they did reply in a timely manner, unfortunately, it wasn’t very forthcoming.

The Army possesses appropriate rights to use the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) on its uniforms and equipment. Congress is aware of the Army’s intent and Army has been informed that it complies with the NDAA.

William J Layer
DAC, OCPA

From the response, we know this; the Army doesn’t own Scorpion W2. We asked specifically if they do. Rather than a simple, “We own it,” they instead claimed, “appropriate rights to use” the pattern.

The question then comes back to, who owns Scorpion? For that, we have to look at the Scorpion patent (USD487848), issued on March 30, 2004. This patent for a “Camouflage Pattern Applied To Substrate” was granted to Caleb Crye and assigned to LineWeight LLC, Crye Precision’s IP holding company. Later, after the patent was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the Army asserted its “appropriate rights to use” Scorpion based on a correction letter amendment in June of that year:

After claim, insert the following:
–Statement as to rights to inventions made under federally sponsored research and development.
The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms (emphasis added) as provided for by the terms of contract No. DAAD16-01-C-0061 awarded by the US Army Robert Morris Acquisition Natick Contracting Division of the United States Department of Defense.–

The Army has never challenged the validity of the patent or who holds it. Not in 10 years. Instead, as is often the case with Federally Funded Research and Development, the Army had the USPTO amend the patent with that statement above. It is also important to note that this same amendment was applied to patents for all of the various technologies that spawned from the Scorpion effort, not just the camouflage pattern. Like I said, it’s pretty much boiler plate. Finally, it goes without saying that the Army does not enjoy this same position regarding the later MultiCam patent (USD572909).

The issue at hand is whether the Army has lived up to its end of the deal they applied to the patent. It reads, “paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms.” As you can see, it’s not just enough to have established who owns what. We now have to take a look at whether the Army should be paying for the “rights to use” Scorpion. It seems that based on this language, they can use it as they see fit. I can see where they feel that this assertion would give the Army the right to have modified the base pattern to the W2 variant. But that only covers their use. The issue arises when they pay others to print it and that is what brings this last “reasonable terms” bit into question. Even in cases of “eminent domain” where private property is seized by the Government for use, they must always pay a reasonable fee for the value of the property. The Army isn’t printing the pattern. Instead they are purchasing material provided by vendors that incorporate the invention. This is where things get sticky because these private companies have existing agreements in place.

According to industry and government sources, the companies that are currently printing the Scorpion W2 fabric unto fabric are paying Crye Precision a royalty fee. Yes, for Scorpion. It has been an open secret in industry for some time. I’ve even alluded to it once or twice. The fee isn’t being paid because the Army is living up to the verbiage it had inserted into the patent, but rather due to commercial, contractual obligations between the printers and Crye Precision.

Those same sources who’ve indicated that the royalties are being paid have also said that there are those in the Army’s acquisition community who are incensed at the notion. And how much is this outrageous royalty? As I understand it, the Army is paying less than $1 per uniform. Ironically, this is a similar price to what Caleb Crye asserted the Army would pay for the use of MultiCam in a statement released earlier this year (less than 1% price difference between MultiCam and UCP).

How did this royalty come about? The answer is quite sublime. When the US Army selected Crye Precision’s MultiCam for use in 2010, they insisted that Crye license about 11 new printers to use the MultiCam pattern. Eventually, over time, these limited use licenses were converted to also cover commercial printing. The contents of the agreements, which remain confidential, I am told contain stipulations that the printer agrees to not print patterns with similar shapes or colors to MultiCam in order to discourage knockoffs. Seems reasonable to me that Crye Precision and a commercial printer would enter into a legally binding royalty agreement but this situation apparently has some in government hot under the collar.

Circumstances being what they are, the question of whether the royalty should be paid looks to have been answered. Contracts exist. The question has transformed to why the US Government is taking action that could be construed as to impede those contracts.

At least three times over the past month, DLA Troop Support and PEO Soldier have held private, by-invitation-only meetings with representatives from various parts of the supply chain to discuss the Army’s transition to the OCP Scorpion W2 variant. One important conversation point has been the royalty fee and if there is a mechanism to avoid paying it. Printers have been queried as to whether they would be willing to stop paying Crye Precision the royalty. Another suggestion has been that perhaps a printer could be purchased by a vendor or even a new one stood up that was unencumbered by any contractual obligations with Crye Precision. I am told that as these conversations were being guided by PEO Soldier, members of industry glanced nervously at one another wondering, “What’s to say they won’t turn on my company next?”

You could easily dismiss this information as hearsay, if it weren’t for a Sources Sought Notice released on 8 September, 2014 by the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support entitled, “Operational Camouflage Pattern Fabric MIL-DTL 44436B Class 14“. In this FBO posting by the Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support, they are looking “for printing capability and capacity of Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) on wind resistant poplin nylon/cotton cloth.” All-in-all, DLA needs about 6-9 Million Yards per year of OCP NYCO in order to manufacture enough Army Combat Uniforms. As if they didn’t already know, based on years and years of interaction with the supply chain, not to mention those numerous secretive meetings, they are trying to figure out who can print cotton here in the US. I’m not buying it.

A few very interesting things stick out in the Sources Sought. First, there’s these disclosures that potential offerors must comply with:

52.227-6 Royalty Information APR 1984

52.227-9 Refund of Royalties APR 1984

Those would be so they can identify who actually has a royalty agreement with Crye Precision although, as I understand it, the exact contents of those agreements are confidential, and could not be disclosed to the Government.

Another very curious statement caught my eye and made me realize that there was actually something to those clues I had been picking up.

This notice is intended to identify firms that either have the equipment or are willing to make capital investments to obtain the equipment necessary to support the aforementioned requirements. Warstopper funding may be available to firms needing to make some capital investments. (emphasis added)

The domestic printing industrial base has stayed fairly constant over the past 10 years and exists almost solely to support DoD’s Berry requirements. It’s more than held its own supporting military printing (of which the Army’s is the single largest user). If anything, that printing capacity has taken a beating over the past 18 months or so, as the Army has half-stepped toward a camouflage way ahead and they curtailed purchase of UCP ACUs. Now that the Army has decided what they are going to do, the existing printing industry should be more than ready to go to work. So why offer up taxpayer money to set up a new printer? What are they up to?

I looked into this “warstopper” funding program to see if there was a good reason. Here’s what I found:

The Warstopper Program was created to preserve and/or expand the industrial base for critical go-to-war items that had insufficient peacetime demands to keep the known industrial base producers in operation.

Since NYCO fabric is used for ACUs and the Army fights in FR uniforms, I have to question this notion of OCP printed NYCO being something that we need to stockpile as a nation. Then, there’s that whole existing supply chain infrastructure that seems to be able to hold its own.

So I dug more and found they’ve established criteria for commodities purchased with the program. Maybe those will hold the answer:

1. Mission Essential or Critical

2. Low peacetime demand but high wartime demand

3. Limited shelf-life

4. Long production leadtime

5. Cost effective alternative to War Reserve Inventory

No. In fact, peacetime or wartime, demand for NYCO remains constant and that fabric has a long shelf-life. None of those seem to apply.

Consequently, several questions come to mind. Why does DLA Troop Support want information on printers’ commercial royalty agreements? And, why do they want to establish new printers? Perhaps the current crop of printers aren’t suitable? If not, why? Wouldn’t it be less expansive and faster to help them come into compliance?

Doing the right thing is critical to the acquisition community. But it’s not just enough to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulations to the letter or to field great equipment. The end does not justify the means. Professionals must also avoid the appearance of impropriety. Unfortunately, as this story unfolded over the past couple of months, I’ve seen a lot of things happening that I’m concerned with; shake and bake testing, negotiations with IP owners breaking down, lack of transparency.

You should be concerned too and we deserve answers. We deserve to know why the Army and DLA are willing to invest taxpayer money in new printers that will compete with companies already struggling due to decreased government demand for their wares. We deserve to know why the Army and now DLA aren’t standing by the government’s own language by seeming to be interfere with private businesses negotiating “reasonable terms” with Crye Precision for the use of their Intellectual Property. Once again, I’ll echo a concern that has been voiced to me by members of industry, “If the Army can do this to Crye, what makes us think they might not do something to us later?”

I urge the Army and DLA to become more transparent in this process and explain why they have taken steps that appear to be made to avoid paying a company for the use of its intellectual property and why they are so interested in using taxpayer funds to establish new businesses in an already crowded space.

The Official Color Palette for OCP

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Colors

According to the latest version of MIL-DTL-44436B which is used by DLA to guide industry, these are the official colors of Operational Camouflage Pattern:

Class 9 and 10, Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP). The cloth(s) shall be dyed to a ground shade either matching or approximating Cream 524 and then shall be overprinted with the camouflage pattern by roller or screen printing. When the ground shade is dyed to match Cream 524, the remaining colors shall be obtained by subsequent printing using six rollers or screens, as appropriate for the Tan 525, Pale Green 526, Olive 527, Dark Green 528, Brown 529 and Dark Brown 530 areas of the pattern. When the ground shade is dyed to approximate Cream 524 all seven colors of the camouflage pattern shall be obtained by subsequent printing using seven rollers or screens to match all seven colors.

Those colors sound kind of familiar. Oddly enough, the new variant of OCP (Scorpion W2) is being referred to as OCP Class 14 and not 9 & 10, which is all that is covered in the most recent version of the standard. As you can imagine, this is becoming rather confusing having two similar, yet distinct patterns using the same name.

Maybe The Army Should Take A Look At MultiDoge

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Just in case that whole Scorpion thing with printers blows up in their face, I suggest PEO Soldier take a hard look at MultiDoge as a backup plan.

IMG_7227.JPG

The US Air Force Might Not Be Adopting OCP Yet But Some Airmen Are Already Wearing It

Friday, September 5th, 2014

After the US Army’s recent announcement that they were switching wholesale to the Operational Camouflage Pattern, Airmen starting wondering if they were going to make the change as well next Summer. Well, not so fast. To be sure, the USAF has closely monitored the Army’s camouflaging efforts, but for the immediate future, the Air Force won’t be making an across the board uniform change. For home station wear, they are going to stick with the ill-named Airman Battlefield Uniform in glorious Digital Tigerstripe. Unfortunately, the Air Force’s vanity pattern sports the same grey-tones as the Army’s soon-to-be-replaced Universal Camouflage Pattern with an additional fourth color; Slate Blue. There’s a reason the Army is replacing UCP; it doesn’t live up to its name.

First Sergeant Recycles $250K in OCP Uniforms for Bagram Airmen
Photo: MSgt Nicholas Kollett, First Sergeant for the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron stands in front of shelves of recycled Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern uniforms at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 7, 2012. (US Air Force photo/Capt. Raymond Geoffroy)

But, Airmen have been wearing MultiCam since SOCOM first started issuing you it in the mid-2000s. AFSOC airmen continue to wear MultiCam garments to this day.

Battlefield Airmen Wearing MultiCam

Once the Army adopted MultiCam as OCP in 2009, Airmen operating in direct support of the Army began wearing it as well. Since then, more and more Air Force Elements wear the pattern. Officially, all Airmen deploying to OEF started receiving their OCP mobility gear from the Army’s stocks in 2011.

Operation Southern Strike III
Photo: USAF – SSgt Nathan Goedert, military dog handler, provides security during Operation Southern Strike III in the village of Jandad Kalay, Spin Boldak district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 9, 2012.

Even today, those in several Battlefield Airman specialties wear MultiCam/OCP for their day-to-day uniforms. In fact, MultiCam has been spec’d for a wide variety of uniforms and equipment as part of the community’s Battlefield Airman Management System which procures and issues mission specific gear. Additionally, several related but non-BA specialties also regularly use OCP kit such as EOD. However, everyone wears the ABU to PME and other USAF courses. It’s the standard issue uniform for all Airmen.

20140805-090730-32850591.jpg

But now, something major has happened. USAF’s Global Strike Command has decided to issue OCP to many of its Security Forces. Specifically, Security Forces Airmen at three Air Force Global Strike Command bases, Minot AFB, North Dakota, Malmstrom AFB, Montana and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming as well as those in the 620th Ground Combat Training Squadron serving at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming. After a mission analysis, the command determined that it was the best option for those protecting our Nuclear Deterrent capability. This new ensemble is called Model Defender by the command. Hopefully, it is a model for the future as well.

“What we were trying to do with this was build the best system for our nuclear defenders and the environment they operate in,” said Gregory Simpson, resource advisor for Security Forces contingency and requirements at AFGSC…”If you get in a firefight in the field and you’re laying down fire, who are you going to see first? Obviously that guy [in ABUs,]” said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Daigneault, senior enlisted manager for the Force Improvement Program at AFGSC. “The difference is almost night and day. Your eyes skim right over the guy in OCP and zone in on the guy in ABUs. He just doesn’t fit in in that [missile field] environment.”

GSC in OCP
Photo: Security Forces Airmen perform a training patrol at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. The Airman on the left is wearing an OCP (MultiCam) uniform, where the Airman on the right is wearing ABUs. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

This move by GSC may well be a catalyst for further adoption. In the early 80s, the US military began a transition to the Woodland camouflage patterned Battle Dress Uniform from the old OG-507 fatigue uniform. Initially, special operations units made the switch followed by those that directly supported the Army such as TACPs and Combat Weather. Next, units with dedicated ground missions such as Security Police and Combat Comms adopted the BDU. Finally, at the end of the decade, the Air Force made the full swap with Basic Trainees receiving the uniforms at BMTS in 1988. In the photo below from that year, you can see the MTIs in BDUs but the trainees continue to wear fatigues.

1988 BMTS Photo

I think there are two issues afoot here and one has primacy over the other. First and foremost is cost. By their own admission, the Air Force has a rather large inventory of ABUs and accessories in stock with the Defense Logistics Agency. Think of DLA as a distributor that the AF (and other services) is required to purchase from. DLA doesn’t want to be stuck holding the bag with tens or even hundreds of millions of Dollars worth of clothing in the event the AF would want to change patterns so they require that the services buy out their inventory first. Based on current budget issues, the AF can think of lots of other ways to spend their money.

General Welsh Visit
Photo: Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Mark A. Welsh III talks with Senior Airman Michael Walker, 91st Security Forces Operations Squadron, during a tour of the U-01 launch facility trainer here, Nov. 21. The tour was part of Welsh’s first visit to Minot since becoming the chief of staff. (U.S. Air Force photo/A1C Andrew Crawford)

Second, is service identity. So long as you can’t really afford the swap, it’s good to tell yourself that you’re preserving the Air Force’s identity as a service by maintaining a distinctive uniform. Never mind that in the long run that it’s wasteful, that the folks who actually run the AF (pilots) don’t wear the darned thing and that it will never live up to its name as a battle uniform. In fact, the tigerstripe pattern was developed specifically to give the USAF a distinctive look after Chief of Staff of the Air Force James Jumper was referred to as a “Soldier”.

I do believe that one day, everyone in the USAF will be wearing OCP. But, just as it was in the 80s with the transition from Green Fatigues to BDUs, the Air Force will do so incrementally, at its own pace.

Some Background on Oakley’s Cerakote Ultrablend Camo

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

IMG_6795.JPG

Last week, we visited Oakley’s Headquarters in Southern California. In addition to a great tour, we had a look behind the curtain at some emerging technologies, and then we sat down and had a discussion about the Ultrablend Camo pattern.

IMG_6829.JPG

After a tour of the five football field long building, we headed back into the Standard Issue team’s lair. I hadn’t been there since 2004 and it was awesome to see where they had moved to, and how much OakDef had grown (for more photos visit our Instagram feed).

IMG_6813.JPG

The discussion turned to Ultrablend when I mentioned that some readers felt it had a resemblance to the Kryptek family of camouflage. Turns out, it really doesn’t. But you may recognize the geometry, after all.

IMG_6835.JPG

You may recall the painted Camo patterns that Rangers (and others) were applying to their helmets several years back. One of the OakDef team members, Drew Wallace, is a former Ranger and he brought the technique to the brand. Oakley had just started experimenting with Cerakote and he put together a couple of examples (shown above with a TC2001 high cut helmet he wore in Iraq as a contractor). The glasses are the Wiretap (top) and Blender (bottom) and these were the prototypes that proved the concept.

Ultrablend is more of a concealment methodology than an exact pattern. Specifically, it’s based on the camouflage techniques taught in Army FM 21-75 Ch 1. A base color is applied and then subsequent layers of Cerakote are over sprayed using a mesh screen like used in helmets.

IMG_6836.JPG

In this photo you can see the SI Fuel Cell in the Desert and Black patterns. Ultrablend eyeglasses are individually airbrushed, utilizing two different patterns of netting and three different colors of Cerakote Gen II Firearm Coating. This offers the glasses added aspects of durability, abrasion resistance, and lower NIR reflectivity, along with a unique camouflage pattern.

Painted Sniper Rifle Image _ Ultrablend Story

The Ultrablend pattern is currently available on the SI Fuel Cell in Desert Sage although they’ve also created a Black version of the pattern. These are limited editions so if you’re interested, don’t wait around.

www.oakleysi.com

Scorpion W2 and MultiCam Side-by-Side

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Like peas and carrots, the Scorpion W2 and MultiCam patterns are certainly complimentary but they aren’t exact matches.

MC-Scorpion Comparison

You asked for it, so here it is. Scorpion W2 is on the left and MultiCam pattern on the right. The lighting was not the same. However, the two side-by-side patterns are scaled based on the pattern repeat. This gives you an accurate view of how the pattern elements square up with one another.

A Look at Operational Camouflage Pattern (Scorpion W2 Variant)

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Yesterday, SSD received several yards of the Scorpion W2 variant of the US Army’s recently adopted Operational Camouflage Pattern in 500D Cordura. As you can see, from these photos, it is similar to the commercial MultiCam pattern developed by Crye Precision and used by the US Army as OCP in Operation Enduring Freedom as well as various other DoD elements over the years. But, it isn’t an exact match. There are numerous differences in the patterns.

IMG_7084.JPG

The May 2014 marginal marking is the date that the pattern was registered.

Scorpion W2 Pattern

Two striking elements are the rather wide brown and green-based bands that run across the pattern. Additionally, you will note that Scorpion W2 is less dense than MultiCam and lacks vertical elements present in MultiCam.

Colors

Here you can see the eight colors in the pattern’s palette. The pattern is 60″ wide and repeats every 25″ vertically, which is the close to the same as MultiCam.
Pattern Repeat

Click here and then right click on image to see the full res version.

Below, you can see the MultiCam pattern. The pattern is about 60″ wide with a 26″ vertical repeat. The pattern is much more dense and would seem busy when compared to Scorpion W2. However, we do have almost 10 years of effective operational use of the pattern which was used as a baseline pattern in the unfinished Phase IV of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort.

MultiCam Pattern Sample

Please Note, major coloration differences are due to photos taken in different lighting.

What do you think?

Boom: That Just Happened

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

IMG_7084.JPG

Something Cool Just Showed Up At SSD. Details soon!

Kryptek – Tartaros Hoodies

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Tartaros Hoodie 1

Kryptek’s Tartaros hoodie is a piece of casual wear that can either be worn as part of a layering system or as a stand alone outer layer piece. Made from 97.5% polyester and 2.5% spandex, the Tartaros features a stretch fabric front kangaroo pocket and 3-piece hood with draw adjustment. Currently available in three Kryptek patterns, in four configurations: Highlander, Typhon w/ black, Typhon w/ red, and Yeti.

www.kryptekstore.com/Streetwear-C9