A gold mine of new technologies: compared with the plethora of engineering developments and new technologies displayed at the recent Association of the United States Army exhibition in Washington, DC, the innovations of the Industrial Revolution are almost dulled to a quiet > moment in some back-street laboratory.

Position:Shows & Exhibitions

The catch phrases of > were accompanied by every iteration of > one could have imagined. Hand-launched drones, hand-held tactical radios and combat language translators, wrist-worn communicators, tactical knives, lights and weapons with integrated fire control systems ... the list continues. One could wonder when all this kit will be woven into the autonomous drone systems and the soldier could stay home.

Speculation aside, a new breed of technological advances continues to appear--innovations that tend to catch those listening to product descriptions with their mouths agape. Today's soldiers are provided (or promised) equipment and weaponry that, if employed correctly, will help ensure most any combat or peacekeeping mission is a one-sided affair.

Size and Style

Blackwater, better known for its training of security personnel for deployment to combat-scarred regions, had a monster of an armoured personnel carrier hiding behind well-placed curtains in a far corner of the showroom floor. The Grizzly was designed with input from lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq with respect to mobility, armour and mine protection as well as troop comfort, safety and engagement capabilities. The Grizzly vehicle also features 16 roof-mounted, high-power spotlights and 400,000+ candle-power spotlights for 360[degrees] illumination. Series production of the Grizzly will begin in January 2007.

Also responding to the armour challenge was Ceradyne, which provided an example of the company's Flexkit modular armour that was designed to fit onto the Mack Trucks' Granite truck cab. The armour kit is installed by two crewmembers with no special tools or lifting devices--simply remove the doors and window frames, assemble the special framing structure onto the cab, insert the modular armour bricks. Done!

DRS Technologies was providing a quick release from the energy of the show floor for certain journalists and high-level executives by way of providing 'round-the-town' jaunts in the company's X-band on-the-move (Xotm) satellite antenna system demonstrator. Integrated into a Hummer , the recently-launched (February 2006) system offers a low-profile 18-inch dish solution (the company did let it slip that the "secret sauce" in this system is the dish choice) that provides continuous high-bandwidth voice, data and video on a moving land, sea or airborne platform built from commercial off-the-shelf components. No formal announcements for the system were made but DRS was...

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