China Going Digital — Camo That Is…


My colleague at Defense Tech, Greg Grant, forwarded me this pic a few days ago that comes from a Foreign Policy magazine article on Chinese military strength, and it was noteworthy to both of us because of the intriguing camo pattern on the PLA trooper and the vehicles he’s driving.

I know very little about the specifics of PLA gear and weapons, but has a good friend who looks at this stuff from all angles and does a lot of translating of Chinese military publications and documents.

Martin Andrew is an Australia-based analyst who publishes the newsletter titled “Gi Zhou” which goes into very specific analysis of PLA military doctrine (the latest push is toward “joint operations that combine information and firepower” using special operations, helicopter assets and light armor) and weaponry (the PLA is outfitting many of its light armored vehicles with a new 30mm cannon based on the Ukrainian Shkval gun). If anyone knows what’s going on with this new digicam, he would.

So I pinged him on the issue and he said that the PLA has more than 15 different camouflage schemes and that this picture was taken during a practice day for a Chinese military parade in October ’09 “where everyone was digital.”

The uniforms might go digital for operational units but the vehicles would inordinately expensive. Then again they might for selected units. I believe that some of the vehicles on the parade might have constituted the bulk of the PLA’s holdings of that vehicle, eg CJ-10 cruise missile launcher, so for operational units using these vehicles this may be true.

But he adds that this could be a seasonal camo scheme, since later pictures of those vehicles and units show the typcial woodland schemes of previous PLA armor and uniform sightings. For example, the German Army in World War II painted their armor in white using water-based paint that could be easily removed when the environment changed.

The irony, of course, is that after flirting with digital (after the Marine Corps jumped out of the box on digital back in 2003), the US Army is in a fundamental rethink of the pattern. So, in the next parade will we see PLA troops and vehicles in SinoMultiCam?

Coming Up: AfCam distribution schedule and combat grillin’…

  • FormerDirtDart

    It would probably be wise to not put undo weight the Chinese “parade” camo patterns. Lest we all forget the “cloud & sky” uniforms.

  • Interesting. In the background is the Chinese ‘EFV’. I’ve seen it in blue digital, and now green.

    It seems that not only are their different digital uniforms for the troops but also for the vehicles and not just the US standard desert and jungle.

  • Sorry for the double post but I’ve seen many pictures of Chinese troops and vehicles and it appears that they’re pretty much on board the digital bandwagon.

    As a side note, I read on PEOSoldier that some Soldiers are expressing a desire to just adopt MARPAT and be done with it.

    Multicam is great but the MARPAT design is doing quite well too.

  • Drew

    I wish the roads were that smooth and flat in Jersey…. or America for that matter

  • NyMichael

    I don’t see the benefit to the overly digitalized large squares on the vehicles. I think that withing a few hundred meters the pattern would look obviously inorganic (because of the clear strait lines and sharp angles), and prove ineffective.

  • Fred

    There’s somethng very false about that picture. The soldier appears supimposed and the blurred guys walking seem inprobable. The road is way too clean. Something fishy here.

  • Doug Campbell

    There are two light sources or two sun’s in the picture; look on top of the tank?

  • Joshua

    It’s a street light. The road is clean for a parade.

  • GCKraft

    Slow shutter speed caused the blur. Yes, the parade road is perfect, thanks to US dollars and our trade deficit.

  • Numberoneshooter

    They Also have a whole new class of small arms. Weapons that have a better Balistics than our weapons. Ie more range and power

  • Jordan

    They have had this for quite some time. Why not, they make our uniforms.

  • Me

    Why don’t we return the trade favor and send China all of our digital camo clothing?

  • Jeff

    Is that the Chinese EFV in the background? What’s happening to our own armament industry? The Chinese have got theirs going, and ours are overrunning the budget by over 100%, with per unit cost of $22.3 million! $22.3 mil, for an amphibious IFV?! It’d better come with a 46 inch flat screen and a Jacuzzi built-in.