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Pakistan’s increased defence budget and thermal cover suits raise alarms

“It is often said that while most countries have an army, in Pakistan, it is the Army which has a country.” When the country is neck deep in debt, it chalks out a gigantic defence budget. This highlights Pakistan Army’s hegemony to modernise itself.

As a matter of fact last month Pakistan government proposed to spike allocation for defence budget by a whopping 20% to Rs 1.1 trillion. A 16% increase has been proposed for physical assets that provide for local purchase and import of arms, ammunition, military gear and related procurements.

Pakistan’s BAT using new thermal camouflage overall

Reports of Pakistan’s BAT using new “thermal camouflage overall” or employing an indigenous way of wearing a wet-sack like clothing to evade the hand-held thermal imager (HHTI) radar are doing the rounds. This is probably the first reported instance of the Pakistan Army’s possible use of Sealed Suits (to defeat thermal imaging technology).

Pakistan army ceasefire violations

A threadbare scrutiny of the HHTI showed that a very-grained black shadow like movement took place on the monitor, which fired a shot at Indian Constable Sitaram Yadav (28) of the 192nd battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF), manning a forward post along the IB in the RS Pora region, at about 1:30 am on 18th May. Though no proof of the same is available, various possibilities keeping in mind the intent of the adversary cannot be overruled.

 

Pakistan mutilates Indian jawans

Previous to this the outpost close to Krishna Ghati, where two Indian soldiers were brutally beheaded by Pakistan’s BAT failed to detect suspicious movement along the Line of Control (LoC) despite having access to HHTI. It was then concluded that since the attack was carried out during the day at 8.40 am, there were chances of the men hiding on the Indian side of LoC wearing the Ghillie Suit. However, with this new incident, the inclusion of “thermal evasive gear” by Pakistan Army cannot be overruled.

Following scenarios emerge, however, nothing can be ascertained at the moment.

  • Case 1: Purchase of sealed suits/thermal evasive gear by Pak Army
Hide from thermal imagery

Sealed suits (for example ThermTac Ghost Suits, Nemesis turkey suits) used to “defeat” thermal imaging technology. Military units field their own thermal evasion suits (multi-spectral camouflage) for special purposes. Military camouflage uses different sizes of netting or mesh to leak heat in different shapes, breaking up the thermal signature, just as visual camouflage does with the visual signature. They also employ layers and bulk to disperse collected heat and put materials that cool very quickly farther from the body. This space enables materials with heat-reflective properties to put cooler material between the soldier’s body and the thermal imaging sensor. Most existing suits, including those used by governments, boast a thermal reduction rating of 60% to 80%. Achieving 100% reduction at distances of 10 ft to 10 yards in a wearable suit is very difficult, and a combatant would still need to practice proper fieldcraft in order to remain undetected.

  • Case 2: Use of Multispectral Camouflage by Pak Army

Saab’s Barracuda line of Advanced Camouflage Systems used by the US military includes systems for soldiers, vehicles and force protection. The Mobile Camouflage Systems (MCS) is a line for vehicles and features internal heat reduction, visual, near-infrared, thermal infrared and radar camouflage. The Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage System (ULCANS) is for static positions. The Special Operations Tactical Suit (SOTACS) is for the individual soldier and includes visual, near-infrared and thermal camouflage elements for a variety of terrain types. Military multi-spectral camouflage has much better ventilation, more usable and offers an 80%-90% reduction in a thermal signature. The possibility that Pakistan Army is now in possession of a similar “Chinese make” suit.

  • Case 3: Use of thermal blanket or tarp at a fraction of the cost
    However, this would restrict movement on the field and is not a viable solution. Unlikely, that Pakistan Army would invest in such a purchase.
  • Case 4: Avoiding Detection by taking advantage of Thermal Crossover

Thermal crossover a natural phenomenon that happens twice a day and is when temperature conditions are such that there is a loss of contrast between the infrared signatures of two or more adjacent objects on the same screen, causing them to become indistinguishable. Let’s say you are operating in the AZ desert during the day and the daytime temperature is in the low 100’s Fahrenheit. At night the temperature starts dropping. Since your skin temperature ranges from the high 80’s to high 90’s, there will be a point where much of your environment is in the same temperature range as your body. The average human skin temperature is 91 degrees Fahrenheit. During this time, thermal imaging cameras are at their least effective. This phenomenon will occur again as it warms back up. Once the sun has been down a while, the temperatures will drop, but large rocks and rock formations retain heat because of their considerable thermal mass, especially dark boulders that absorb a lot of energy from the sun. Curling up next to one of these and ‘playing rock’ can prevent your detection.

  • Case 5: Tricking HHTI by excellent fieldcraft

The human body has easily recognizable features: the human head, human face, ‘V’s’ at armpits and crotch, hands, feet. Balling up or laying down with arms and legs together and tucking your head substantially changes your outline. Trees, thick vegetation or dense cacti can make it very difficult to find. When equipment is shaded under netting during the day, its temperature is closer to surrounding terrain and vegetation which makes it harder to detect. Use of distance to further degrade contrast.

Possession of Thermal evasion suits by Pakistan Army cause of concern

If Pakistan Army has access to thermal evasion techniques, then it only follows that so do the people they train ~ “mujahids”. Stealth operations carried out by terrorists, the SSG or Pak regulars is a worrying development on the volatile and sensitive border and Kashmir valley and needs thorough investigation and countermeasures.

23 May 18/Wednesday.                                                    Written by afsana159630@gmail.com

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