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TripleDelta
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Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Thu Feb 22, 2007 9:29 pm

I have a question about NATO paint schemes that has been bugging me for awhile now. I've noted while looking through the db that most NATO fighter aircraft are painted in some variation of air-superiority gray - some lighter, some darker, some with a faint gray camo pattern and so on. Of course there are the occasional colorful examples, but these are most one-of schemes worn for a definite time only, or schemes for special deployments.

Now I wonder is this a rule, or can a NATO member country paint its combat aircraft in some other scheme that would be standardized throughout the country's entire force? In particular, normal woodland camo? (the question came about when I was wondering how'd the present camo scheme worn by Croatian AF MiG-21s and some Mi-8s look on the F-16 and Gripen). I've noted that the Cro AF has already started repainting some Mi-8s and An-32s into the overall gray scheme.
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opso1
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RE: Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Thu Feb 22, 2007 11:04 pm

Woodland camo does not really work at FL350 on an interception... They can be painted as required, but lots of planning has gone into the final colour- it's not just that the country has bought a lot of one colour of paint...
 
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TripleDelta
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RE: Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:11 pm

Quoting Opso1 (Reply 1):
Woodland camo does not really work at FL350 on an interception... They can be painted as required, but lots of planning has gone into the final colour- it's not just that the country has bought a lot of one colour of paint...

I am quite aware of that - but interceptions are not the only purpose of the air force. The Croatian AF, in its current operational organization, is mainly a ground-attack force, since the size of Croatia itself prohibits any extensive air-to-air operations. If anything, you hit full military and you're out of the country in 5 minutes in any direction (well, almost true, you can even fly for 20 down the coast). The only air interceptions the AF has in mind are airliner ones, though how will that change when we'll be in NATO I don't know.
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Kukkudrill
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RE: Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:32 pm

I think two things explain the change to grey. First, tactics have changed: planes designed for low-level high-speed bombing are operating at medium to high altitudes. Secondly, so has the nature of the threat: the biggest worry to aircraft in present-day conflicts is not from air interception but from people on the ground using shoulder-launched missiles. This means that even low-flying aircraft have to try to blend in with the sky above them rather than the ground beneath them.
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TripleDelta
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RE: Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:43 am

Quoting Kukkudrill (Reply 3):
Secondly, so has the nature of the threat: the biggest worry to aircraft in present-day conflicts is not from air interception but from people on the ground using shoulder-launched missiles. This means that even low-flying aircraft have to try to blend in with the sky above them rather than the ground beneath them.

Hmmm... makes sense. However, to nitpick a bit, the current Cro AF scheme includes a blue belly (admittedly, it could be of a less conspicuous tone), so the requirement you stated is fulfilled - given of course that the aircraft is in level flight as it could be on a bombing run. Still I see your point, thanks.

EDIT: bad formatting

[Edited 2007-02-23 19:43:33]
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Kukkudrill
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RE: Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Sat Feb 24, 2007 7:13 am

Small-minded types might accuse me of self-plugging, but the difference that grey can make struck me quite forcefully when I was going through some recent airshow photos. Think of a Herk doing a low-level drop in hostile territory. Now compare these two shots:


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Photo © Charles Polidano
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Photo © Charles Polidano


It wouldn't work so well on a clear day of course, but any plane would stand out against a clear sky no matter how it is coloured.
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ebj1248650
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RE: Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Sun Feb 25, 2007 8:14 am

Quoting Kukkudrill (Reply 5):
It wouldn't work so well on a clear day of course, but any plane would stand out against a clear sky no matter how it is coloured.

And as the USAF found out with the first production F-15s, even Air Superiority Blue doesn't work quite as well as some form of grey camouflage. Compass Ghost was the rage for a while but in later years it appears the AF darkened both of those greys some. Don't recall if there was a new name for the scheme.
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TripleDelta
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RE: Nato A/C Paint - Only Gray?

Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:13 pm

Quoting Kukkudrill (Reply 5):
Think of a Herk doing a low-level drop in hostile territory. Now compare these two shots:

Yes, the contrast is quite marked. I thought the upper (and upper-side) camo patterns wouldn't be noticeable from ground level.
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