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What Kind of Paint Do Military Vehicles Use?

What Kind of Paint Do Military Vehicles Use?

When it’s time to restore the exterior of your vintage military Jeep, the paint you use is a significant factor in how well you bring it back to life. The military had a set of 12 colors in circulation depending on the climate for the vehicle or equipment. But due to the varying environments and external forces, the paints had a unique quality that contributed to their visibility and functionality.


Let’s explore the kind of paint military vehicles use to help your restoration needs!

CARC Paint

CARC paint, also known as chemical agent resistant coating, is the unique blend of paint the military used on their vehicles and equipment. It can withstand high levels of biological warfare and chemical exposure, and it can also decontaminate various solutions as a result of damage. A two-component method employs a polyester-based solution or epoxy, a MIL-DTL-52072G.

In 1985, the Army Regulation mandated that all tactical equipment use CARC to harden the surfaces. This mandate included aircraft, tactical vehicles, and ground support equipment. Applying CARC paint made these things more resistant to chemical impacts and cleaning agents that dealt with the contamination. The Air Force and Marine Corps followed suit using CARC paint.


Since the 1985 mandate, most military equipment and vehicles have a CARC topcoat. The primary purpose of the CARC topcoat is to provide a non-porous layer of protection against chemical, biological, and radioactive contamination. The paint can repel the contaminants rather than absorb them.

Government contractors use CARC when refurbishing parts and vehicles for the military. Examples include light armored vehicles, high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, shell exteriors, containers, and generators.


The design for the kind of paint military vehicles use included two different topcoat formulas, a one-component and a two-component structure.

  • One component uses moisture-cure urethane (MCU). These CARCs combined isocyanate groups and water to cure the paint’s film. A one-component MCU is resistant to dust, debris, and chemical agents.
  • The two-component structure is a water-reducible, high-performing polyurethane. A water-based CARC was the most common paint for the military and is available for commercial use. This formula eliminated other solvents like xylene, toluene, and methyl isobutyl ketone.

Army Jeep Parts has an excellent selection of military-grade GCI paint with lusterless CARC finishes to complete your restoration project. Reach out today to get started!