What Kinds of Paint Does the Military Use?


Quick Answer

The military uses Chemical Agent Resistant Coating and Water Dispersible CARC types of paint, regardless of the actual colors being used. The rights to the CARC and WD CARC patents are owned by the U.S. government, which licenses out production rights to companies working under U.S. military contracts. CARC is also considered sensitive enough militarily to be covered under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation, which covers the import and export of defense-related technologies in the United States.

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Full Answer

CARC and WD CARC provide two primary advantages to normal paints in combat: chemical and biological agent resistance and infrared signature management.

CARC is designed to be nonporous, so it doesn't absorb biological or chemical agents, making cleaning it after exposure far quicker and safer. CARC is also highly resistant to hydrocarbons and acid as well as to water and weather exposure.

The infrared signature management assures that CARC materials are effectively camouflaged in the infrared spectrum just as they are in the visible light spectrum. As an example, the green camouflage pattern used for woodlands areas (383 green) has a similar IR signature to chlorophyll, making its IR signature blend in with the surrounding foliage. This makes vehicles with CARC paint both harder to see visually as well as making them more difficult to lock onto with IR-guided weapons systems, such as shoulder-mounted missile systems.

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