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Why Indian Navy is getting a camouflage uniform like the Army and Air Force

Navy camouflage uniform that will replace 'Dress No. 10A' — light blue half-sleeve shirt and navy blue trousers — has been introduced for officers. Sailors will get it by October 2021.

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New Delhi: For the first time, the Indian Navy has introduced camouflage uniform on the lines of the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) as part of a larger uniform rationalisation and standardisation measure, ThePrint has learnt.

Navy sources said officers started using the new uniform with digital camouflage pattern a few months ago.

Camouflages or battle dress uniforms (BDU) are fatigues that are worn by the armed forces as the standard uniform for combat. The battle dress is generally camouflaged, either in monochrome such as shades of green or brown to approximate the background or in a disruptive pattern as in the latest change.

The new camouflage uniform will be worn by Navy personnel only on Fridays and ashore as of now, the sources said. For sea, there are existing fire retardant overalls, which would be used by the personnel. 

Based on a study, which included looking at uniforms worn by navies around the world, the Indian Navy adopted its digital camouflage pattern, the sources said. 

“The pattern is formed of small rectangular pixels of colour. This is much more effective camouflage than standard uniform pattern as it mimics the dappled texture and rough boundaries found in natural settings,” said a Navy source. 

The Navy has the largest number of uniforms at 16 — each for different occasions — among the three services. The Army has nine and the IAF has 15. All the uniforms are numbered. 

Navy sources told ThePrint the camouflage uniform, sanctioned in June 2019, will replace Dress No. 10A — the light blue half-sleeve shirt and navy blue trousers. 

“Introduction of this uniform for the entire service will eliminate dress No. 10A from the Navy inventory and lead to reduction in the number of uniforms and associated accoutrements being worn by Navy personnel,” the Navy source quoted above said. 

The uniform has already been introduced for officers. For sailors, it will be introduced by October 2021 as it involves large procurement chains, the source added. 

Also read: Indian Navy inducts two American drones on lease, could add more later

‘There would not be a mismatch’

Former Navy spokesperson Captain D.K. Sharma (retd) told ThePrint the trials for the new uniform were carried out when Admiral Sunil Lanba was the Navy chief.

“The uniforms were also introduced in the Naval Academy earlier. It is procured centrally for the sailors from the source and thereafter stitched at various naval bases. Navy uniforms have evolved from the khaki uniform to the blues to the Dungarees/overalls and the disruptive pattern is the latest change,” he said.

Navy officers added the move also brings in an uniformity with other foreign navies, who have camouflage uniforms.

“For instance, in exercises with other navies, there would not be a mismatch as against earlier,” a senior Navy officer said. 

“The blue uniform (which is now being replaced with the camouflage uniform) was also mistaken at times with the IAF uniform. It, too, had a short life of about 10 years,” the officer added.

Officers are granted allowances periodically to maintain their own uniforms. All sailors are entitled to free uniforms.

More changes in uniforms

A few other changes have also been introduced by the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Navy) last month with respect to Navy uniforms.

Navy sources said it has been decided that naval personnel will stop wearing dress number 4A and 4B. 

Dress number 4A comprises a peaked cap/white turban, white bush jacket, shoulder rank stripes, ribbons, name tally, chest badges, white trousers and uniform accoutrements. It is worn on ceremonial occasions like meeting diplomats or heads of states, etc. 4B is the same as 4A, but with medals instead of ribbons. 

Sources said it has also been decided that naval personnel will wear dress number 8A with medals as summer uniform on relevant occasions. 

Dress 8A comprises peaked cap/white turban, white half-sleeve shirt, shoulder stripes for officers, arm badges of ranks for POs and below, ribbons, name tally, chest badges, white trousers. It is the regular everyday white uniform worn by naval personnel. 

Dress number 5 and 6 will not be used for the time being, sources said. 

Dress number 6 comprises peaked cap/white turban, white full-sleeve shirt, black bow tie, white mess jacket, shoulder stripes, black summer trousers, and black cummerbund. It is the evening formal mess uniform for summers.

Dress number 5 comprises peaked cap/white turban, white full-sleeve shirt, black bow tie, black mess jacket, stripes on sleeves, black cummerbund, and black winter trousers. It is the winter evening mess uniform.

Also read: Navy to approach Kerala govt seeking ban on unauthorised sale of armed forces uniform


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  1. No need to change NAVAL UNIFORMS in comparison with ARMY & A.F.

    NAVAL ACTION RIG is for ACTION on board at SEA.

    ” Hands to ACTION STATION”

  2. Why navy needs camouflage? They will be on a huge ship. And when they have to land on enemy territory, they will need REAL camouflage which IS NOT BLUE.

  3. I think this not right time to make any changes in Naval uniforms due to India’s low GDP due to covid-19 pendamic & which involved lot of cost already countries facing unemployment & other challenges to be tackled first instead of making undue expenditures.

  4. Incapable officers are capable of changing the uniforms of fleet and trouble the men. Despite availing all benefits from forces these officers’s sadistic attitude and colonial approcah towards men will remain for ever. Jai Hind

  5. I fully agree with KRajendran Nair.
    It is difficult to understand this *Time Bar for bravery* If repeatedly recommended by the concerned authority refusing or discarding on Time bar is really absurd.

  6. It’s indeed a great day for the navy to procure different uniform for their officers and men,similar to those existing in the rest of the world.The naval personnel’s desire and ego would have been fulfilled at last.Any way need to keep abreast of the world in such matters to weave a uniform pattern in regard to our Services.Jai hind.

  7. With due respect and regard to unflinching dedication and devotion that Armed Forces carry out, day – in, day- out, I would like to make a point regarding Navy’s latest combat dress. Uniformity is the core of Armed Forces and here Navy badly missed with their counterparts in Army & Air Force wearing same combat dresses. It would have given ultimate uniformity that the same dress had been adopted by Navy also. Indian Armed Forces having same combat dress for all would give a common platform of showing the world and its adversaries that Men in blue/ white/ olive green are same when they will meet in battlefield. All over the world Navy’s might be wearing the recently adopted combat dress but not a single country in the world is as diversified and facing such adversaries. UNIFORMITY in combat uniform will be a good signal.

    • The main purpose of camouflage is to provide camo protection. Wearing a camouflage suitable to land isn’t going to help navy personal in sea.

      • You do not seem to think before posting. They will need camouflage on the land and not the sea. Who wears camouflage on a giant ship everyone can see? And if someone falls in the sea, it will be fat better to know where he fell.

  8. High time to change the traditional navy colour uniform, to military camouflage colour, now the navy flag should be changed & the union jack should be removed from the flag

  9. Integration to be visible and mentally imbibed requires uniform official wear. In fact navy and airforce must switch to OG shirts for daily wear with grey or black tousers for navy and coffee brown for airforce. All three must use army rank badges that must be banned for police and other civil uniformed services.

    • The three services have different traditions, approaches, cultures & mindsets. Integrating them into a single nutshell would become counter-productive.

  10. Good , that uniform is being well made uniform .
    The army , should asap get a good camo and standardise it .
    It’s men look like a militia now when in combat .

  11. What ever changes in uniforms,caps,boot etc will not make any difference in fighting capabilities and motivation of the armed forces.First the defence chief should be little sensible and patriotism to honour our 1971 war hero Flying Officer K.P. Muralidharan MIA whom IAF was convinced bileatedly and repeatedly recommended Maha Vir Chakra posthumously but later refused to approve due to Time Bar For Bravery. What an absurd and nonsense? This is the way to treat a stupendpus war hero.How you can motivate the morale of the soldiers in peace and war. As long as this war hero is not given his pending dues , what ever reforms are done in the armed force will be futile.

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