The ADF’s Armaments Systems Program Office (ARMTSPO) recently commissioned NIOA to undertake suitability trials for a specialist weapon coating system called EC Paint manufactured by NFM Group.
NIOA’s specialist engineering team worked closely with representatives from ARMTSPO’s Small Arms Section to develop test protocols to evaluate various performance characteristics of the paint system when applied to standard issue Colt M4A1-AU rifles, as a test article for other ADF weapon platforms. One of the key elements of the test procedure involved high cyclic rates of automatic fire to raise the temperature of the weapon platform to an extreme level. This aim of this procedure was to simulate extreme operational conditions, test the durability of the coating at high temperature, and also ensure the reliable operation of the weapon was not inhibited in any way by the paint coating.
The results of the extensive testing carried out under the NIOA engineering team’s test protocols found that the EC Paint system was easy to apply, exhibited excellent durability characteristics even under extreme operational conditions, did not affect the reliability of the weapon, was subsequently easy to completely and cleanly remove, and also provided low odour and low toxicity environmental benefits. Representatives from the ADF were present at all stages of the test program in order to cross-check and verify results.
Weapon coating systems are becoming increasingly commonplace throughout the armed forces worldwide, especially where mission outcomes are highly dependent on maximum concealment, such as those regularly undertaken by special forces units. The primary benefits of a weapon coating system is the ability to apply random patterns that break-up the man-made shape of the weapon. Additionally the matte surface finish also results in an overall reduction of the shine and reflectivity of the weapon. The ability to quickly adapt the colour of the weapon to match any area of operation is also of great advantage, along with a marked decrease in infrared signature when viewed with night vision devices.
NIOA’s Chief Engineer, Rudi Bekker said, “We are proud to be able to provide our specialist engineering services to the ADF. Our team of weapons and ordnance engineers are highly regarded throughout the industry, and it makes sense that Defence should leverage our specialist knowledge, equipment and facilities to deliver a fast, efficient and value for money result. We understand the growing importance of specialist Australian industry expertise as a key enabler of Defence’s capability and we are constantly growing our engineering capability to meet that current and future requirement."