Britain’s Armed forces should be revert to using 95-year-old ‘dazzle camouflage’ techniques to fight today’s wars, experts claimed today.
University of Bristol boffins believe painting Army vehicles with vibrant, garish shapes makes them less susceptible to rocket propelled grenade attacks.
The startling shapes affect the enemy’s perception of their target, distorting the objects range, size, shape and speed making it more difficult to get an accurate shot on target.
Warships in both the First and Second World Wars used dazzle camouflage to fend off torpedo attacks and, while it was believed to have been effective, the method was never scientifically proven.
But a joint study, between the Schools of Experimental Psychology and Biological Sciences at Bristol University, showed dazzle camouflage does affect the perception of speed when the object is travelling quickly.
It may not have successfully distorted a ships’ speed in the previous World Wars, ‘dazzle camo’ could be the difference between life and death in modern warfare where fast-moving Army vehicles frequently come under attack from shoulder-launched, rocket-propelled grenades.
This is down to the human’s perception of speed which is affected by a number of disparate factors.
Larger objects appear to move more slowly than smaller objects, changes in contrast alter perceived speed and differently oriented textures can be seen as moving at different speeds – with all factors elicited by dazzle patterning,
Research found that two of the high contrast patterns such as zigzags and checks caused a reduction in perceived speed of around 7 per cent while straightforward camouflage didn’t produce a speed distortion.
Dr Nick Scott-Samuel, who led the study, said: ”The effect should obtain in predators launching ballistic attacks against rapidly moving prey, or on modern, low-tech battlefields where handheld weapons are fired from short ranges against moving vehicles.
”In the latter case, we show that in a typical situation involving an RPG7 attack on a Land Rover the reduction in perceived speed would be sufficient to make the grenade miss where it was aimed by about a metre, which could be the difference between survival or otherwise for the occupants of the vehicle.”