Modern Infantry Systems at the 2006 Eurosatory Exhibition

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Several companies displayed the results of infantry combat systems development programs, as well as generic upgrades for infantry weapons, protection, sensors, communications etc. At Eurosatory, the most prominent was undoubtedly FELIN. Displayed in public for the first time by Sagem, FELIN is currently in full scale development, in preparation for scheduled delivery to the French Army next year.

Other European systems displayed here included EADS’ German Army Infantry of the Future (idZ) Program launched in 2004; the Italian Soldato Futuro program developed by Finmeccanica and systems designed for the Canadian Future Infantry Program, currently under development at Oerlikon Contraves. Several Israeli programs were represented, including the AISS developed by ITL and the IDF Future Infantry Suite, currently under development at Elbit Systems. IAI/MLM and IMI jointly demonstrated the MPRS DTACT weapon integrated sensor and C3 system. Thales demonstrated the FIST infantry combat suite, under development for the British Army.

An operational FELIN demonstration was presented in public for the first time during Eurosatory 2006. The system on display included equipment suites for a dismounted grenadier and commander as well as the associated vehicular components, which would be carried on a VAB armored troop carrier. The soldier’s systems included operational helmet mounted cameras and displays, wearable computers and weapon’s mounted cameras and sighting systems. In a typical grenadier configuration, the entire FELIN ensemble will weigh 24 kg, including the modified FAMAS rifle, electronic and optronic devices, communications gear, day and night vision devices as well as supplies including ammunition, food and water required to sustain troops for 24 hours of operation.

Felin will be deployed in two configurations. The near term FELIN V1 program calls for the delivery of 22,600 units for 20 infantry regiments and 9,000 systems for soldiers in armored units, beginning with 358 pre-series units to be delivered by February 2007 for a year long French Army trial. Mass production is scheduled to start in 2008. This phase will focus on the delivery of optronic systems, and will be followed by the delivery of advanced versions, known as FELIN V2 planned for production by 2015.

Several new Multi-Purpose Anti-tank weapons designed for dismounted operations were displayed. Among these were the new Milan ER, and the latest version of the RPG-29, equipped with tandem HEAT warhead, which can penetrate explosive reactive armor, and a thermobaric warhead effective against buildings and enclosures.

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