The annual meeting of the US Army Association (AUSA), held during the second week of October 2006 provided an excellent opportunity to assess the trends and opportunities of modern defense technology. The exhibition and presentations covered many topics, some are covered in the following briefs.
In general, the highlights of this year’s exhibition followed the show’s slogan “boots on the ground”. Unlike past events, this year, exhibitors emphasized the products, services and technologies required to safeguard, and empower the warfighters on the ground, today and tomorrow. At the top of the agenda was force protection, addressing personal and vehicle armoring, counter IED techniques, threat location and engagement. These systems included gunshot detection and rapid counterfire, mortar location systems and means for precision engagement. Also highlighted were technological means assisting to overcome cross-cultural barriers, such as electronic translators, multimedia systems supporting collection, translation, and archiving of Arabic broadcast media and bi-lingual speech-to-speech translation supporting Arabic, Pashtu and English. On the logistical side, improved, better protected trucks, airborne delivery supply systems and new power sources, particularly those supporting regenerating energy were shown, promising to reduce transportation requirements, thus reducing convoy vulnerability to enemy attacks.
Armor protection received special emphasis at AUSA 2006, covering passive, lightweight composite and ceramic based materials utilized for structural or appliqué armor kits. Heavier protection included the hybrid systems, combining passive and reactive armor – a typical composition of such a system was demonstrated by IMI. Various active protection systems were also addressed, including energetic “hard kill” as well as “soft kill” mechanisms.
Obviously, longer term developments and R&D were discussed, focusing on the US army thrust to develop Future Combat Systems, including manned platforms, robotics, UAVs and infantry combat suits. Other programs are underway to support current forces with improved platforms, weaponry and mobile command and control. Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) is one example, demonstrated here by several companies. Some of the advanced C4ISR systems, particularly those supporting the creation of situational picture and providing battlefield identification services are already being deployed and were highlighted by several exhibitors.
Defense Update is covering AUSA 2006 through the following topics:
- Armored Fighting Vehicles
- Heavier Platforms Required
- Advanced Protection Systems
- Active Protection Systems
- Counter RCIED Systems
- ISR Adapting to Support Time Critical Targeting
- Battlefield Collaboration
- Communications On The Move
- Applications for Tactical PDAs
- Maturation of the Land Warrior
- Evolving Ground Soldier Systems (GSS)
- Advanced Infantry Weapons
- Interceptor Body Armor