Almost sixty years ago, Carl Ekman from Bjärka Säby, south of Linköping, Sweden, had an idea. He would make the world's first entirely synthetic camouflage netting. The small family company already produced sports fishing nets on which the camouflage netting would be based. To underscore the strength and high quality of the netting, he named the net and his company after one of the world's toughest predatory fish – the Barracuda.
Very soon, he was contacted by the Swedish Armed Forces who confirmed that they were interested in Barracuda's new fully synthetic camouflage netting as the traditional netting made from textile and jute was heavy and cumbersome. In 1957, the company's first camouflage net was presented to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). Just as the first deliveries of the new camouflage nets were being planned, the production premises at Bjärka Säby burned down and Carl Ekman was offered new premises in Gamleby municipality, about twenty kilometres north of Västervik in Sweden. The company is still there today.
With FMV's interest, the company grew at a lightning pace and in the summer of that year, Barracudaverken AB was formed and the Swedish Armed Forces received the first deliveries. Carl Ekman immediately began marketing to various export markets and by 1960 Barracuda had received its first export orders. Following Carl Ekman's departure from the company and several subsequent changes in ownership, Barracuda finally became part of the Saab Group in 1999. Today, it is one of the world's leading companies within camouflage and advanced signature management having successfully exported to more than 55 countries worldwide.
Saab Barracuda's leading position is the result of many years' development at the very forefront of technology, with innovations that include the world's first fully multi-spectral camouflage, the first genuine 3D camouflage net and the first mobile multi-spectral camouflage solution.
The company's product portfolio includes everything from camouflage clothing to complete solutions for protecting infrastructure and mobile platforms.
Carl Ekman with the old heavy camouflage of jute and his son Henrik with the new, twice the size but still much lighter fully synthetic camouflage net. The picture is from 1957.
Saab Barracuda continues to operate in Gamleby with about one hundred employees. It also has operations in the USA employing approximately seventy people and in India with around 15 people. After almost sixty years, the company's name remains synonymous with strength and high quality.