At the recent MSPO 2023 defence expo in Poland I spotted a Polish Special Forces operative wearing A-TACS iX camouflage uniform, writes Bob Morrison.
Over the last fifteen or so years the Crye Precision MultiCam pattern, along with various derivatives and sometimes blatant copies, has been the official camouflage of choice for many of the world’s Special Forces and Special Operations Forces, but despite its popularity it is far from being the only pattern worn by elite forces around the globe. Indeed during NOBLE JUMP 2015 I even photographed Polish Special Forces from PARASOL wearing A-TACS FG camo uniform in the field, so I was not unduly surprised to spot the slightly more recent A-TACS iX pattern being worn by the badged Polish SF operative at MSPO 22 in Kielce in September.
Although I was permitted to photograph the A-TACS iX uniform wearer’s combat shirt back panel, on OpSec grounds he asked me not to photograph his Tactical Recognition Flash; this upper arm patch was not the one I expected to see worn with this camo, which has been previously documented as being used by another specialist Polish unit. When I asked the wearer if this camo was on widespread issue to his unit he told me it was only being worn by them on a trial basis and I noted that fellow operatives present at the expo were wearing MultiCam.
The concept of the A-TACS ‘X’ line-up of three compatible colourway camouflage patterns, introduced by Digital Concealment Systems LLC in 2016, was said by the company to be “centred around a new transitional pattern that incorporates an even mixture of green and earth tones designed to blend with a wide variety of terrain.” A-TACS iX is the flagship pattern of the ‘X series’ line of camouflage patterns and the central component of what is said to be a complete multi-environmental concealment solution. The two supporting ‘X’ patterns are described as being enhanced versions of A-TACS AU and A-TACS FG with each pattern sharing common colour with the other and a similar design to the intermediate (i.e. iX) pattern so that when paired together the system will perform in virtually any environment worldwide. The idea behind this being that “the operator can purchase one set of gear in the transitional pattern and simply change uniforms to meet mission and terrain objectives.” (It could be argued that Netherlands Fractal Pattern is similar in concept, having NFP-Green and NFP-Tan versions with a compatible composite NFP-Multitone for equipment.)
According to the designers, A-TACS iX utilises the latest in printing and camouflage design technology, combined with the perfect blend of colours from A-TACS AU and FG, to create a pattern with vastly improved depth and definition. This pattern “also incorporates enhanced edge detail in the transitional areas between light and shadow within the pattern to create the added illusion of depth while maintaining the unique A-TACS Camo ‘pattern within a pattern’ concept”.
Unless / until I have the opportunity to see and photograph this pattern worn in the field against different backgrounds I cannot really comment on its effectiveness, and of course the outdoor display area of a defence expo is far from its intended operational theatre, but as the core A-TACS patterns seem to work quite well I suspect A-TACS iX should if anything be an advancement.
[images © Bob Morrison unless noted]