opportunities for forces to deploy. This enhances the chances of mission accomplishment without
excessive losses in the modern battle arena. Smoke, dust, and other obscurants effectively degrade
smart weapon systems and visual target acquisition. Smoke may be used to reduce the ability of the
enemy to deliver effective fires for hampering threat operations. It is used to deny the enemy
information on friendly forces (ships, troops, and aircraft), positions, and maneuvers. Hence, the
important concept of obscuration, in support of the combat actions of military forces under
contemporary conditions, has been reinforced. Smoke agents and smoke-producing substances under
development affect existing systems. In a similar vein, dust can be used to deny information to the
enemy and to degrade the performance of target acquisition devices.
Characteristics of a Smoke Cloud
In combat, smoke-producing devices are used to produce smoke screens or smoke clouds of
various sizes and densities. Once produced, the life of a smoke cloud may be described in four
Streamer Phase. A streamer is formed from a munition, smoke candle, smoke pot, or generator.
For a certain distance downwind, the streamer exists alone before merging with other streamers. The
distance traveled by the streamer before merging depends on wind speed, air stability, number of smoke
sources, and distance between the smoke sources.
Buildup Phase. When the smoke from individual streamers begins to merge, buildup occurs.
During the buildup phase, the distribution of the smoke cloud is not yet uniform and shows unevenness
Uniform Phase. The end of the buildup phase is characterized by a uniformly obscuring screen.
The extent of the screen is determined by the quantity of smoke from each source, relation of the sources
to each other in time and distance, and by the meteorological conditions prevailing in the area of desired
Terminal Phase. As the smoke moves downwind, it thins because of diffusion and the settling of
large particles. When this terminal phase occurs, the screening is no longer effective.
Figure 11 displays the
four phases of a smoke blanket.
Figure 11. Four phases of a smoke blanket.