Development of China's Type 07 Digital Camouflage Family
The digital camouflage patterns military uniform design was introduced in the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. Their introduction came after years of studies, which began in the 1970s. Their introduction was met with mixed success levels since some patterns were successful and others not as much.
What is the Type 7 Digital Camouflage Family?
The Type 07 digital camouflage uniform family refers to a group of uniforms worn by the military. These uniforms are issues to all branches of the Chinese armed forces, also known as the People's Liberation Army. It is also worn by the PCPAPF (Paramilitary Chinese People's Armed Police Force) and the People's Republic of China. The number 07 is used in the title because these military uniforms were introduced in 2007. They were launched as a replacement for the Type 87 uniforms that were worn by the regular units and the Type 97 issued to the People's Liberation Army, the Hong Kong Garrison, and PLAMG.
The History of the use of camouflage in the PLA
The People's Liberation Army, also known as PLA, features quite a diverse and complex history, especially in the uniforms. To understand the history of the armed force's uniform, you must first understand its structure. The PLA is made up of the following units;
- PLA Ground forces- this is comprised of conventional lane forces
- PLA Navy- this is the sea-based unit made up of the sea corp, coastal and service forces.
- PLA Air force- it operates and maintains air-based units
- PLA Rocket force- it maintains and operates all land-based ballistic missiles
- PLA Strategic support force- it is in charge of the electronic, cyber and space-related programs.
- PLA Special operations force- it is the special forces unit that is split among all the other units mentioned above.
That being said, we can now go back to the history of the camouflage. The use of camouflage within the PLA started in the late 1970s. However, in the first decade or so, camouflage was used on a small scale. The first large scale adoption of these patterns was in 1987. During this time, the PLA introduced the woodland camouflage patterns referred to as Type 87 woodland.
All ground force servicemen and specific units of the airforce and the Navy used this pattern. After a while, it was duplicated and adjusted before it was issued to other PLA branches. These patterns led to the introduction of different distinct patterns given in a decentralized way among various components of the Chinese Armed forces. With the introduction of new structures and aging of the existing uniforms, the PLA started revamping most of the significant elements of their armed forces. This is where the history of Type 07 Digital camouflage family begins.
The Chinese Type 07 Digital Camouflage Family History
Between 2003 and 2004, two digital camouflage patterns were introduced. The first pattern was based on the Marpat pattern used in the US and was introduced in 2003. The design went by the title; new camouflage summer uniform. In attempts to personalize it, this design was printed on an older style cut. It was also slightly altered in terms of its colours. However, this pattern was short-lived as it was used in a limited capacity by troops stationed in the Northwestern Chinese territory.
Type 03 Camo
In 2004, the second pattern, which went by the name 04 digital camouflage was introduced. The difference between this one and the 03 design was the shrunk down nature and the altered colors. Like its counterpart, this pattern was very short-lived. In fact, this one did not go past the testing phase. Regardless, these first two designs were the beginning of the digital camouflage revolution in China.
The official start to the digital camouflage patterns began between June and July of 2007. Their launch happened in celebration of the 10th year since China received control over Hong Kong from the British state. During this celebration, the PLA launched a series of new uniforms, Chinese tactical gear, and equipment. The uniforms were worn by the members of the Hong Kong and Macau garrisons. The new uniforms featured updated cuts, newly adjusted rank and badge locations, and a general new look.
With the new uniforms and Chinese tactical gear launch, a new series of camouflage was also announced. During this launch, the new Chinese uniform was referred to as the digital camouflage. They initially came in four versions; urban, woodland, desert, and ocean. The difference between the new designs and older patterns is that the older ones were hand-painted hence their tendency to stick out more. The hand-painted made the contrast between the different colors more notable and prevalent. However, the new designs were more effective in concealment to the naked eye, particularly infrared wavelengths, especially in low light situations. These improvements were attributed to the overall design and the use of special dyes. The creation of these new designs was a result of more research and development efforts. Even after the announcement of the latest patterns, the public could not see it officially until 2009. On October 1st 2009, the four designed were formally unveiled during the national day parade held in Beijing's capital.
The four designs were:
This was worn for operations in cities and high population areas. It appears to be the most commonly used variant. However, the version that exists right now is not the same one that was launched in 2009. The original version never made it past the trial phase. However, this was not because it was ineffective or had any significant issues. It is only because the airforce did not take kindly to its coloring. Before introducing this pattern, the airforce used a black and white design that became symbolic and very popular. This design did not have either of the colors and instead featured greys, browns, and greens. The airforce immediately objected to it, and this was the end of this design.
As a result, during the parade of October 2009, the airforce marched out with an updated design version. The variant boosted the hue of the colors and a noticeable blue instead of the original blackish green. However, this pattern was never seen again after the parade. Instead, a third version was caught a bit earlier in 2009 and the parade village. It was worn by instructors and significantly deviated from the other two urban versions. This one features a dominant blue with whites, greys, tans, and a dark purplish coat. It was known as the 09 aviation camouflage. It stuck around for a while, but it was not the final design. In 2011, the fourth and final variant of the urban design was introduced. It is called the city or 07 urban camouflage. It is an altered version of the 09 aviation variant without the tan and purplish-red colors and a new black shade. It is currently the standard Chinese uniform for paratroopers and much of the airforce.
This pattern was worn during operations in arid and deserts. It was referred to as the 07 arid camouflage. The O7 arid design is issued to all but naval forces as a general-purpose autumn-winter camouflage. It was designed for the colder months, arid terrains, deserts, and mountainous regions in China's western areas. It is primarily utilized by the PLA Ground forces like interior and border defense forces. This is one of the few designs that has remained unchanged up to date.
This pattern was worn during operations in forest and more vegetated regions. This design featured a dominant green color and was called the 07 woodland camouflage. However, after a while, its name was changed to 07 jungle after another version took its name. Initially, this version was worn by all branches. However, after a while, it became predominantly worn by the second artillery corps, currently known as the PLA rocket force.
The pattern that took the original woodland name is the 07 woodland camouflage, also known as universal. It was used by much of the PLA and remained in service for the longest time by the grounds forces. It was used for semi-urban and semi-woodland terrains. It is not a part of the original 07 design. It was intended as a response to the Universal camouflage used by the US armed forces.
This pattern was designed for water-based operations. It was known as the 07 oceanic camouflage and was initially used by marines and guarding forces for smaller outlying islands in the pacific. This variant featured a dominant blue color combined with a bit of tan and green. The predominant blue was used because it did not stick out as much as green when used on shores. Over time, the pattern took a slightly lighter appearance. However, this change did not last for a long time because the design was yet again adjusted to take on a darker look. This pattern eventually phased most of the other combat and duty uniforms in the Navy. However, after a while, the question of its effectiveness after the troopers have left the water started to shake things up.
During the official unveiling of the digital Chinese camouflage patterns, a fifth design was introduced. This pattern was warm by certain officials and soldiers during training and parade practice in the weeks before the actual parade. However, this fifth pattern was discontinued shortly after the parade. These five designs mark the official Type 07 digital camouflage family. Other designs in this family include the 07 special forces Chinese camouflage, also known as digital hunter camo.
Type 07 universal pattern
Type 07 special forces pattern
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