Austria

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Republic of Austria

The standard combat uniform of the Austrian Army (Heer) has been olive green since the 1970s. Although the nation did produce its own distinctive camouflage pattern from the 1950s through the early 1970s, it has not adopted a national pattern to be universally distributed to the armed forces since. This trend is likely to continue, as a solid tan version of the standard combat uniform has been issued to Austrian personnel serving in arid environments since 2003.

Austrian Camouflage Patterns

  • The earliest camouflage pattern developed by Austria was introduced in 1957, and is often referred to in English as the "pea pattern." Although bearing some resemblance to the Erbsenmuster pattern developed by Germany during the Second World War, the Austrian pattern is only influenced by this earlier design and not based on the original German drawings. The Austrian design consists of dark maroon, mauve, and pea green dots and blotches on a pinkish-grey field. The most interesting feature of the original (1st) pattern is a juxtaposition of inverted clusters, not readily apparent to casual observers but illustrated in detailed photographs (see below). The pattern retained the same features, with perhaps tiny changes to some of the shapes within the cluster, until it was modified at some point between 1961 and 1966. The 2nd pattern seems to have continued in production unmodified until 1976, and contains numerous minor modifications to the existing shapes, as well as a major feature insertion, consisting of a band of shapes that actually disrupted the inversion feature. Two primary types of field uniform were produced in this pattern for the Austrian soldier, the Kampfanzug 1957 and the Kampfanzug 1959 - often referred to within the Army as K4 - as well as several styles of parka, field equipment covers, and a reversible shelter half with a "splinter" pattern printed on one side. The K4 "pea pattern" was only worn sporadically after the 1970s.

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  • The Austrian zeltbahn produced from the 1950s to the 1980s was printed on one side with the above "pea" pattern and on the opposite side with a "splinter" camouflage design called steintarn (stone pattern). This design was probably influenced by the sumpfmuster or "marsh" pattern of the German Wehrmacht, although it differs in having grey and ochre splinter shapes on a tan background w/grey rain straits. As with the "pea" pattern, there were two types of this pattern produced at different times. The later (2nd) pattern is modified by the inclusion of new features, but this does not appear to have affected the overall pattern length; it may instead have been slightly compressed to include the additional pattern features. A pattern comparison is shown at the bottom of this page.

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  • Austrian soldiers are also known to wear a solid white oversuit for operations in alpine or snow-covered terrain. (no illustration)
  • In 2008 the Austrian Ministry of Defence introduced two pixelated patterns, thus far only tested for service with the Jagdkommando (special operations forces). Both patterns are named pixeltarnung (pixel camouflage), there being both a temperate and a desert version. A third version also exists.

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  • The Austrian Ministry of Defense announced in September 2017 that the entire Bundesheer would be outfitted in new uniforms featuring a unique, Austrian camouflage pattern, by the middle of 2018. This new camouflage design combines six colors (grey, dark olive, medium olive, lichen green, khaki, and sand) in a variegated pattern that is intended to replicate the type of native vegetation found in Austria. This design is not based on the patterns previously tested by the Jagdkommando, which have been dropped. That unit will also wear the new camouflage scheme, with a specialized uniform having design features tailored for special operations.

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Other Camouflage Patterns worn by Austria

  • Helmet covers printed in US m81 woodland pattern camouflage are common within the Austrian Army (Heer). In addition, surplus US woodland camouflage BDUs have seen limited service with the special forces of the Austrian Jagdkommando. A locally made Goretex parka and overtrousers are also worn by the Jagdkommando.

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  • Austrian military personnel serving on United Nations missions to Africa, Israel and Sri Lanka between 2004 and 2006 have worn locally-modified surplus US tricolor desert pattern camouflage uniforms.

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Comparison Photos

Seen here is a detailed illustration of the large inverted cluster within the original (1957) 1st Austrian "pea" pattern camouflage design.

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Next, a comparison shot showing the 1st Austrian pattern alongside the later 2nd pattern, which clearly illustrates the additional "band" of shapes that expanded the repeat pattern.

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Early and late pattern sumpfmuster or "marsh" pattern designs from the Austrian zeltbahn are shown here, with a schematic illustrating the differences in design features.

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The photograph below illustrates the Austrian zeltbahn with "splinter" pattern on one side and "pea pattern" on the other.

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Acknowledgements

The editors wish to express our gratitude to Mr. Gene T. (ICUS) for his generous assistance in helping create this page.