Manufacturers paying lip service to IRR? How important is it anyway?

Discussion in 'Military Clothing & Boots' started by This_Tribe_Rob, Oct 10, 2011.

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  1. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    To cut a long story short we decided to do some IRR testing on new products and were surprised to find that some kit advertised as "IRR treated" is not. The attached picture is from a new MOLLE compatible multicam rucksack. The multicam itself is retains its camoflage and is dark, but the MOLLE tape is very clearly not. Fancy wearing that on your back when someone with an image intensifier is looking for something to shoot?

    A couple of questions fall out:

    Do the Taliban or other potential near-future enemies use Image Intensifiers? I would be surprised if not, given how cheap they are, whether new or ex-Soviet.

    How important, over a reasonable range, is the IRR crime in the photo?

    Would you buy equipment that you knew wasn't well IR camouflaged? ie. should we stock these, but include the IR photo in the description.


    Now a bit of background. Firstly a two sentence IRR lesson for those who heard about it, but never paid much attention (I was one!). Camouflage makes sure that you look similar to a likely military background. All IRR tuning attempts to achieve is the same in light that's not visible to the human eye, but is used by image intensifiers - Near Infra-Red. And since II kit is readily available for a £100 up on ebay, this is clearly as issue. It is not related to thermal imaging where the IRR qualities of your kit will make no difference.

    Out tests were far from perfect and are not done with an image intensifier and therefore I am not going to post which bit of equipment is in the photo. Testing was with a video camera modified to record (only) near-infra red light. As a result the light is not from stars or the moon - the most likely sources of light when you're out and about, but with good old daylight.

    Despite those flaws, the results should be similar - both our (now buggered!) video camera and an II will use the same Near IR light to get an image. If people find the subject interesting then I will probably ask if we have any serious scientists on the site who can comment on the validity of the testing, and if necessary we'll get an image intensifier.
  2. Illuminating though your post is, could I suggest that you delete it and draw the issue to the attention of the MoD. You've maybe discovered something that may be of benefit to unfriendlies. The equipment you've used is unlikely to be subject to customs controls etc. the way that the intended equipment is.
  3. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    The equipment I used is a video camera. It's no use at all at night and is no longer much use during the day. Even if it were I think you underestimate the enemy if you don't think they know what II is nor where you can buy II equipment. It's standard issue hunting / hobby / airsoft kit: image intensifier | eBay

    Also about the MoD. The rucksack in question is not an MoD item. What response do you think I'll get if I phone up the MoD and say "I'd like to tell someone about a commercial rucksack that is not very well camoflaged"? And I'd need to be a lot brighter than I am to "have discovered" image intensification and IR camouflage.

    Far better to find out here if IRR is a real concern to anyone and put information on product descriptions if necessary. When I was in, as an NI warrior mostly, we generally ignored it as something that people whod been on istar courses bored people with.
  4. I was thinking more along the lines that they can use a common piece of equipment and overcome the daylight properties of the item in your image.
  5. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    Interesting, although I think you're safe enough for now.
  6. Isn't this the main reason why non-issue kit is 'banned' or at least not encouraged in theatre?

    (I'm not sure what IR/NV capability Terrance has but I heard a rather good rumour that our light blue friends lost a pallet or two of image intensifying gear out the back of a cab. True or false; never let the truth get in the way of a good story!) :)
  7. I'm just wondering whether the issue kit has been put through TTR's test method. His site is full of stuff that states that it's made from MoD specification materials.
  8. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    I'd also like to take a look at the issue kit, particularly after washed and worn. Aside from practical considerations and making sure that we don't sell sub-standard equipment, the subject has quite caught my interest. I think Bad CO thinks I'm off on a time wasting exercise, but I'm not so sure.

    Some kit freaks use spray on treatments to rejuvenate the IRR qualities of their worn kit. Has something like that ever been issued?

    CCTA, interesting that kit is being banned for this reason. It shouldn't need to be if manufacturers and retailers are open and whipped in to line. Especially Multicam kit with fabric made by Crye. You can see in that picture how good it is - even the actual camouflage pattern is retained to some extent. To do a thorough test you would need to put it against a mix of backgrounds, but I'm sure they've done as good a job on the IRR as they have on visible camouflage.
  9. Interesting point.
    All my major assemblies are made from IRR materials. It's not difficult to source the stuff and I think people who don't are being lazy. The only bits that aren't are bindings that are only 10mm wide.

    I know Fatmini uses IRR too - we buy from the same suppliers!

    BTW - Yes the opposition has access to NV equipment.

    I'd be interested in seeing Blackhawk or Eagle equipment testedin the same way - I'm pretty sure a lot of their stuff is NOT IRR.

    Here's a question. Are Weapons IRR?
  10. MrBane

    MrBane LE Moderator Reviewer Reviews Editor

    Anyone that's been to Afghanistan and been frontline knows that unfortunately, that's not who we're fighting.

    It's also common knowledge that the enemy has access to freely available and highly effective kit which they employ against us when we're on night operations and evidence has been obtained which proves this point. (Not to mention what we've lost out there)

    As such, any bit of kit that claims to be IRR and isn't needs to be relabelled and clearly highlighted as not IRR, otherwise troops buying their own kit could effectively be giving themselves and the rest of their squad away if they're shining like a beacon in amongst everyone else.

    It is a serious matter in my eyes and one sorely overlooked.

    Also, I don't know where to find it now, but I read a very interesting article on exactly that subject. In one picture was the issue kit, fresh from the packet, and in the other picture was kit that had been washed, ironed, etcetcetc repeatedly, to simulate what a soldiers kit goes through.

    The washed / ironed kit was like a lighthouse. It was ridiculous. The fresh issue stuff, could barely see the guy. Fantastic.
  11. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    Thanks for the feeback. New vs worn is an interesting one. I'll get on the case and see what the results are and what we can do about it.

  12. In the arktis catalogue a few years ago they pointed out that IRR spec gear + non IRR mud = Non IRR gear, its not the silver bullet that its made out to be.
  13. One of the worst I've seen is the fine nylon fabric that covers a softie or Duvet jacket. They glow like Chernobyl. Cover the thing with a windproof!
    It'll last longer!!
  14. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    Also a very good point. I wonder what some Afghan dust does - it's quite possible that no IRR enhancement survives contact with your first patrol! Another one for me to test, although I think I'll stick with some good old UK dust.