OTTAWA - Canadian soldiers could be getting new duds.
The Defence Department is seeking a firm to redesign the digitized camouflage pattern splayed over the combat fatigues worn by Canadian troops.
The department says the makeover is necessary to give soldiers deployed to war zones like Afghanistan an added edge in the field.
"As the Canadian Forces undertake new missions in new environments there continues to be an ongoing assessment of techniques for improved camouflage and concealment so as to increase the advantage of the Canadian soldier," says a request for proposals issued Tuesday.
Canadian troops wear a computer-generated pixilated pattern, called the Canadian disruptive pattern, that comes in deep-green and desert colours.
The digitized pattern helps them avoid being spotted with night-vision goggles.
Soldiers started wearing the light green, dark green, brown and black pattern, called temperate woodland, in 1997-98, first on their helmets and later on the rest of their dress.
The Canadian military was criticized for sending soldiers to Afghanistan in dark green fatigues in 2002 as part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom.
The subsequent sand-coloured pattern, called arid regions and designed for desert warfare, came along in 2003.
The military outfitted soldiers with separate sets of green and desert-brown uniforms after the first troops deployed to Kandahar in 2002 found that, counter to the critics' assertions, green worked best in many of Afghanistan's operational environments.
The Defence Department tender says the military again needs to rethink the way it develops and evaluates camouflage patterns.
"Current tools in use by the Canadian military for the development and evaluation of camouflage effectiveness have only been applied and validated for specific conditions and in some cases these tools produce confounding results," the document says.
"There is a need to review the underlying principles and contributing factors that affect camouflage effectiveness ... and integrate this knowledge to design cost-effective methods, including software applications, which can be used to synthesize new camouflage patterns that are 'optimized' for a particular environment."
The winning firm must deliver a report and a "gallery of tools" to the Defence Department by March 2012. The contract is worth up to $84,998.
The department did not return a call for comment.
Annabel Canada Inc. has printed millions of metres of the Canadian disruptive pattern fabric since 2000 at its factory in Drummondville, Que. No one from the company was available for an interview.
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