The new French Army BME (Bariolage Multi-Environmental) multi-environment uniform camouflage pattern announced in May débuted at Eurosatory, reports Bob Morrison.
Clearly influenced by the early 21st Century US Army experimental pattern from which both Crye Precision’s commercial MultiCam and the more recent US Army OCP or Operational Camouflage Pattern (aka Scorpion W2) were derived, the new French BME is neither a copy nor a total colour match.
As of yet (updated below) I have not had an opportunity to see a full-width swatch of this brand new camo, or to compare directly against a large sample of MultiCam, but those uniform examples I was fortunate to be able to snap at Eurosatory 2022 were sufficiently different for me to spot from some distance that they were the new design; having said that, I suspect when worn in the field the new pattern will be quite compatible with MultiCam once dusty and slightly faded by the sun.
Before concentrating on the new camo pattern, let’s look at the description given for the BME Mannequin displayed last week at Eurosatory:-
- Multi-environment pattern: this new pattern is to replace, as from 2024, Central Europe and Desert patterns that have been used by the French Army since [the] 1990s. It provides an increased concealment capability compared with current patterns (25% increase). Performance evaluation means: detection speed and distance, reconnaissance and identification. An aesthetic appearance survey was conducted on more than 300 people of the three services.
- BME F3 battle dress uniform: this uniform is designed to provide warriors with improved protection, comfort and ease when carrying out their missions. Its heat-stable capacities protect soldiers from flames for several seconds (flame retardant). Since it has a streamlined and more suitable cut and fewer pockets its weight has been significantly reduced. Example of a winter fabric uniform of a given size: the F3 BDU weighs 1,350g against 1,850g for the T4 S2 BDU (reduction in weight of 27%). According to the equipment plan, it will be fielded to forces in 2024.
- SMB V2: personal and scalable modular ballistic vest with optimised ergonomics, weight and ruggedness (10kg in standard configuration). It is being fielded to troops.
- HK416 (airsoft model displayed): the HK416F assault rifle is the new issue weapon of conventional forces. It provides warriors with better precision and range.
- TAP F3: the F3 helmet is the optimised version of the FÉLIN helmet. Its carrying capacity has been greatly improved through new interfaces, which increases the operational capability of warriors.
- Eyewear: ballistic eyewear protects the eyes from secondary splashes, fragments, dust and the sun.
- Combat boots: designed for the comfort and protection of warriors, they are tailored to the operational engagement constraints.
- Gloves: enhanced hand protection and better ergonomics (suited for shooting).
Now to BME pattern. My initial impression is that this predominantly horizontal design has more dark green in the mix and a slightly redder dark brown shade than the American patterns, but I must emphasise that I both saw and photographed BME under exhibition lighting conditions – i.e. a total mishmash of area and directional lighting with a little bit of natural daylight thrown into the mix. Having said that, the two shots of the combat jacket worn by the Commandant (Major) were taken in near natural light near to a glazed internal courtyard so are probably the best colour representations.
Although BME is a mostly horizontal pattern, rather like the current US OCP or Scorpion W2, there are a small number of more vertical twigs incorporated but unlike the ‘twiglets’ found on Genuine MultiCam these do actually have the appearance of twigs. Curiously, there are also some light coloured triangles in the pattern, which strikes me as being a little strange as isolated triangle shapes do not occur very often in nature. As this uniform will not be rolled out across the Armée de Terre until 2024 it will probably be some time before we get the opportunity to photograph a French soldier alongside another nation’s soldier clad in MultiCam / OCP / MTP etc. but I’m sure the different patterns will be compatible. Incidentally, a new French Mountain Warfare camo pattern is also being introduced circa. 2025/6, but that’s a story for another day.
Finally, a word on the new French Army boots. The coyote tan Chaussure de Combat Zone Tempérée or CCZT model is now replacing the brown 2014 Chaussure de Combat Centre Europe or CdCCE model. Both of these boots, the older model being a version of the Nepal PRO, are manufactured by HAIX and once I receive a spec sheet from Mainburg I’ll pen a brief article on the new boot in our Footwear section.
[images © Bob Morrison]