Industry View | Textile Articles


Published: June 7, 2015

As per the recent study it is observed that Defense Forces worldwide are spending more than 1600 billion USD every year for their procurement programmes, maintenance and various other requirements.  This is a very huge sum which makes Defense Forces worldwide prime buyers of wide range of products.

Textile for Defense Forces is a very small part of overall budget of above mentioned figures of 1600 billion USD.  Estimates are textile for defense forces may have approx. 2% to 3% share of above mentioned figures which makes it more than 30 billion USD. It is very difficult to ascertain exact figures as information is not freely available and various defense forces are very secretive about parting their figures.   Similarly manufactures are also not providing exact figures because of their non-disclosure agreements.

Defense Forces requires very vast varieties of fabrics for various applications widely purchased by Air Force, Army, Navy, Coastal Guards, and Marines etc.  However the fundamental requirement for all the fabrics required by Defense Forces includes personal protective equipments for military personnel’s required during non-combat, combat and emergency operations, critical survival situations, military uniforms such as Camouflage fabrics and specific performance requirements related to use in better field, tanks, aircrafts, underwater including high hazards and extreme temperature.  US Navy Forces used very special uniforms made out of specific camouflage fabrics during the operations to kill Osama in Pakistan.

The United States Armed Forces Defense Supply Center-Philadelphia purchasing division for the Department of Defense estimates that over 8,000 different textile items are purchased annually for us by the U.S. military, and this figure actually rises to over 30,000 line items when individual sizes are factored into the item mix.

Some of the main item required by the armed forces are as under :

  • Combat and flight uniforms also in camouflage
  • Helmets
  • Flak jackets
  • Parachutes
  • Aircraft fuel cells
  • Sandbags
  • Tents and shelters
  • Sheets
  • Blankets and hospital supplies
  • Airplane panels
  • Ammunition bags/pouches
  • Fabric for bullet-proof vests/helmets
  • Chemical protective suits
  • Rafts
  • Communication lines (optical fiberglass)
  • Extreme weather protective fabrics
  • Interfacing and lining in apparel and shoes
  • Parachutes and parachute harnesses
  • Personal flotation devices
  • Pontoon bridges
  • Ropes and cables
  • Ship composites
  • Stealth fighter plane graphite fibers
  • Wet suites
  • Densely woven cotton webbings and tapes
  • Transportation
  • Upholstery
  • Thermal acoustical blankets
  • Soft-sided cases
  • Bags
  • Tarpaulins
  • Covers
  • Safety harnesses
  • Straps
  • Web assemblies
  • Cotton covered elastic shock cord

The Primary area for Protection

The primary area for protection for all conditions main includes ballerstics, chemicals, biological, reductions through noises and visual devices, flame fire, thermal insects and micro organism.  In addition to this the gear must have properties for high resistance to sun water replants’ durability, high abrasion, and resistance, tear resistance and should have good air permeability.  Certain fabrics are developed as per the operation requirements, certain fabrics are developed which are resistive to petroleum products and lubricants.

Development of these fabrics will required very high research and capabilities and very high level of challenges, professional ability and completing the task in time to meet the challenge and operation requirements.

This requires different mine set and highly capable professional skills.  One has to take into consideration, types of fibers, technical design and it finesses etc into consideration.

Main Fibers’ used for Defense Textiles :

  • Teflon Fiber
  • Polyester Fiber
  • Nylon 6,6
  • Kevlar

Major protections can be classified in following categories :

Biological, Chemical, Thermal, Ballistics, environmental, flame, fire, insects and micro organism.

Secondary area of protection- resistance to sun, water repellent, air permeability, resistance to infections, resistance to injuries, radiations etc.

Camouflage Fabrics

Introduction of Camouflage Fabrics

The color Red was the uniform color adopted by the first permanent regiment of the British Army, the Yeoman of the Guard, the Beefeaters, during the ruling of Henry VIII. In 1645 this color was adopted when the first permanent army was raised. Red was used in order to hide blood stains. Rather, every army adopted certain colors as their national colors. French soldiers tended to wear blue; Russians wore green; British wore red.

It was not until the late 1800s that a Khaki uniform was issued, the British Army finally realizing that drab colored uniforms provided better camouflage.

Once again, tactics continued to lag behind during First World War convinced authorities that there was a requirement to seek cover and remain hidden as opposed to standing up in battle formations.

Camouflage Fabrics have been existed for more than 75 years and has become very popular since 1990, after the operations desert storm in Middle East by US Forces with NATO Alliances.

Today most the armed forces including army, navy, air force and Para military forces are using camouflage fabrics.   As the fabric increased the safety factor of individual, solider and nature of the fabric improve the comfort level and also the roughness.

It is anticipated that total worldwide requirement of camouflage fabrics is more than 350 million meters annually.   Approximately 35 million soldiers worldwide are using camouflage fabrics which includes army, air force, navy, Marines, Coastal Guards, para military forces etc.

What is Camouflage and Camouflage Fabric?

  • Camouflage Fabric is utilized for concealing personnel or equipment from enemies.
  • Camouflage Fabric gives a unique effect to the personnel or equipment by making them appear as a part of the natural surroundings.
  • It can also be used for concealing arms and ammunition by disguise or protective coloring.
  • The Fabric or the garment is dyed in patches of multiple colors, so as to make the user undetectable from the surrounding environment.
  • Camouflage Fabrics were introduced during the Second World War.
  • However, they its used has increased after 1991 Iraq War.
  • It has uses as under:
  1. Uniforms for officers and soldiers in defense forces.
  2. Making armored vehicles and other  equipments untraceable.
  3. Covering airplanes, guns and boats.
  4. Creating deceptions.
  5. Tents for living and storage purposes.

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