By: Granch Berhe
• Till 19th
century military land battles were fought at close
range by individual engagements. ‘Danger’ colors such as
scarlet( bright red) were widely used.
• At turn of the 20th century advances in technology
provided lethal long-range weapons with improved
• These caused rapid changes in military strategy and
tactics, as engagements could be made at a distance.
• Today its important to hide troops and equipment by
blending in with the background.
• The British Forces adopted khaki coloured uniforms
• The first khaki drill (or KD) made from cotton twill entered
service for tropical use in 1902.
• In the 1930s the UK War Office became increasingly
aware of the need for new and more rational combat
dress to meet the needs of mechanisation on land, sea,
and in the air.
• This was to provide Better protection, comfort, and
• lightweight windproof cotton gaberdine fabric, with
having rudimentary camouflage patterning, was
introduced for airborne paratroopers in 1941.
Today, soldiers are involved in all military conflicts. The soldier’s combat spirit and
effectiveness on the battlefield is highly dependent on technical supply, weaponry,
personal satisfaction and even comfort conditions. Therefore, huge attention is
paid to the soldier’s equipage and medical assistance, the monitoring of his
physical and psychological state. This not only helps to raise the combat spirit of
soldiers, but also to reduce the manpower losses in the battlefield.
Criteria for modern military textile materials:
• military textiles will be discussed here under:
– physical, environmental, camouflage, specific battlefield threats, and the
In general military textiles must;
Light weight and
High durability and
Items have to be carried by
individuals or vehicles with
minimal space available
Must operate reliably in
adverse conditions for long
periods of time without
MILITARY COMBAT CLOTHING SYSTEMS
• Based upon the layer principle.
• Each layer performs a specific function.
• Special protective layers are added, including:
– A ballistic protection system comprising body armor and
– A helmet, a nuclear, biological and chemical over suit, and a
snow camouflage over suit
Water Repellant, Water Proof
Wind Proof, Snow Shedding
For exterior materials exposed to cold/wet
Water vapor permeable For clothing and personal equipments (tents)
Thermally insulating For Cold climates
Rot-resistant For tents, covers, nets etc.
UV light resistant For environments with strong sunlight
Air permeable. For hot tropical climates
Biodegradable If discarded or buried
• Textile materials used for next-to-skin clothing are
primarily worn for hygiene reasons.
• The thermal insulation properties tend to be less
important than the tactile properties and the way the
material handles moisture (mainly perspiration) in
order to remove it form the skin.
• Military combat underwear fabric used by many
nations need to be made from non-thermoplastic
fibers to minimize contact melt/burn injuries.
• The perspiration and handling properties of knitted
underwear materials are extremely critical for military
THERMAL INSULATION MATERIALS
• Military forces need to survive and fight in the most extreme
• Cold/Wet regions tend to cause the most severe problems, as
it is necessary to provide and maintain dry thermal insulation
• Cold/Dry areas, including the arctic, Antarctic, and
mountainous regions require the carriage and use of clothing
and sleeping bags which possess high levels of thermal
• Military forces are prone to sacrificing thermal comfort for
light weight and low bulk items.
WATER VAPOUR PERMEABLE/WATER PROOF
• One of the incompatibilities in technical textiles is that
associated with providing waterproof materials which allow free
passage of water vapor (perspiration). Without this facility,
physiological problems can occur when impermeable clothing is
worn by highly active soldiers.
• In the most extreme war operations individuals cannot choose
either the climatic conditions or the intensity of their activities.
This can result in injury or death due to hypothermia or
• Since around 1980,appreciable effort has been expended by
polymer and textile manufactures to solve this problem.
• There are now a wide range of woven, coated,or laminated
fabrics which are waterproof and water vapour permeable.
TYPES OF WATER VAPOUR PERMEABLE
• High density woven fabrics:
Are made by Ventile cotton fabric. There are also a
range of fabrics based on woven microfiber polyester.
• Microporous coatings and films:
Are widely available in many variants. Such membrane
are typified by having microporous voids of pore sizes
from 0.1-5 um. The most well-known product, Gore-Tex,
utilizes a microporous polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
• The word camouflage was first introduced by the
French during World War I to define the
concealment of objects and people by the
imitation of their physical surroundings, in order
FLAME-RETARDANT TEXTILES IN MILITARY USE
• Although the range of flame-retardant products is large, the
actual number of types used by military forces is quite small.
• The most widely used of these is Proban treated cotton, a tetrakis
hydroxymethyl phosphonium hydroxide product, bound to the
fiber and cured in ammonia,
• Advantages - wide availability and low cost. Its resistant to many
launderings, and gives good protection with low thermal
shrinkage in fire.
• Disadvantages -it liberates fumes and smoke when activated, the
treatment can weaken the fabric or spoil its handle, and it must
not be laundered using soap and hard water, as these can leave
flammable residues in fabric
FLAME RETARDANT TEXTILES IN
Proban cotton Chemical
Expensive Bomb disposal
Arctic tent liners
Zirpro wool chemical
Medium In blends
BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WARFARE PROTECTION
• Biological and chemical warfare is a constant world
• The toxic agents used are relatively easy to produce
and their effects are emotionally and lethally horrific to
the general population.
• They are weapons of mass destruction e.g syria.
• The fact that they have not been used in recent
conflicts may be due, in part, to the difficulty of
delivering and disseminating such weapons onto
specific chosen targets
• It has been suggested that such weapons have been
used in Syria in the recent crisis
• Most current clothing systems use activated carbon on a textile
substrate to absorb the agent vapour.
• Activated carbon can be used in the form of a finely divided
powder coating, small beads, or in carbon fiber fabric form.
• This form of carbon has a highly developed pore structure and a
high surface area, enabling the adsorption of a wide spectrum of
• Those with boiling points greater than 60o
C are readily physically
adsorbed on the charcoal, but vapours boiling at lower
temperatures must be chemically removed by impregnants
supported on the carbon.
TEXTILE MATERIALS FOR BALLISTIC PROTECTION
• Textile body armours may give protection against fragments
and low velocity bullets, but not against other threats such as
high velocity Bullets.
• Textile armours are also defeated by flechettes, which are
small, sharp, needle-shaped objects, disseminated in large
numbers by exploding warheads or shells.
• In the case of these high speed projectiles we have to resort to
using shaped plates made from metals, composites or
ceramics. These are placed over the vital organs such as the
• Since the 1970s a range of aromatic polyamide fibers have been
developed (para-aramids). Fibers such as Kevlar (Du Pont) and
Twaron (Enka) are available in a wide range of decitexes and
• A range of ultra high modules polyethylene (UHMPE) fibers have
been developed. They are typically gel spun polyethylene (GSPE)
fibers, with trade names such as Dyneema (DSM) and Spectra.
DEVELOPMENT IN MILITARY TEXTILES
• Some of the recent developments in military clothing include
progress made in minimizing weight and maximizing wear
• Militants are also turning to nanotechnology in an effort to make
their armed forces more mobile and better protected from enemy
assaults. Through nanotechnology, new personnel camouflage
systems can be developed that can change pattern and colors as
• “Chameleonic” camouflage allows the soldier to become a
mirror of his surroundings. Other nanotechnological
developments include the use of fibers which can stimulate
muscles and thereby give soldiers greater strength for lifting or
• Development efforts are also underway to make
next-to-skin garments from electronic textiles
which can determine a soldier’s physiological
status including heartbeat, blood pressure,
respiration and body
BATTLEFIELD RECONNAISSANCE EQUIPMENT
Receiving the information on the enemy's
force structure, its location, and potential.
unmanned air vehicles;
Robots play a constantly increasing role in warfare –
they are unmanned aerial reconnaissance and combat
vehicles, demining robots, (e.g. “SPIKER”, “RASP”),
universal military robots capable of substituting
soldiers (“Warrior 700”), robots making corridors in
mine fields etc. Nevertheless, the ethical issues on the
applications of robots in warfare and the problems of
the latters’ consistency with Geneva conventions
In case of global military conflict, the role of anti-
missile defence becomes very important. Although
anti-missile defence with a hundred percent
reliability was not reached by any country, huge
efforts are put into this area. For this purpose early
attack detection systems, controllable rockets, high
power lasers are used.