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China's PLA to wear "digital camouflage"China's PLA to wear "digital camouflage"
2007/07/18

In contrast to the eye-catching uniforms recently unveiled by the People's Liberation Army, a new line of military wear has been designed to make its wearers less visible.

Labeled "digital camouflage", the new training fatigues sport computer-generated camouflage patterns which, their creators say, are designed to simulate natural environments.

"The camouflage pattern resembles a big bunch of flowers from a distance and crushed gravel close up," said senior engineer Zhang Xudong with the Quartermaster Equipment Institute (QEI).

The previous camouflage patterns worn by the PLA training outfits were hand-painted, accentuating the sharp contrast between different colors.

"With the application of pixel-matrix technology, the camouflage functions better as it blurs the divide between different colors," Zhang said, adding that a special dye was used to maximize the effect.

"The digital camouflage pattern can escape the naked eye and counter-reconnaissance in low light and certain wave bands of infrared," he said.

Upon the completion of the PLA's largest ever uniform upgrade in 2009, four different camouflage schemes for urban, wood land, desert and ocean environments will be employed. The camouflage schemes for woodland can also blend into urban environment.

To ease the constraint of the previous fatigues made up of coats and pants, designers loosened the hemline of the coats. Rank insignias were moved from shoulders to collars as a response to the complaint that equipment carried on the shoulders often made it difficult to recognize the ranks of the comrades.

Breather holes have been installed under the arm while a slot is opened on the collar to accommodate the line of communications equipment.

The wear resistance of the new fatigues has quintupled from the previous 140 times to 700 times.

The training fatigues are complete with training boots which are fire-and-puncture-proof and 100 grams lighter.

Yang Tingxin, president of the QEI, said much more protective combat uniforms had already been developed and would be deployed at the "right time".

The uniform upgrade is expected to be completed in three years and cost 6 billion yuan. It will officially start on August 1, the 80th founding anniversary of the PLA. Garrison troops in Hong Kong took the lead and donned the new outfits on July 1 to mark the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.

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