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Soldier Technology Global 2008 Review

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Worldwide Business Research London
: 27 June, 2008  (New Product)
The 8th Soldier Technology conference in Europe took place at the Olympia Conference Centre, London from June 3rd-6th 2008 with over 450 soldier modernisation experts from around the world.
June 3rd began with the morning Night Vision Summit chaired by Dr Darrel Hopper,Principal Electronics Engineer, Air Force Material Command, DoD US and featured presentations from night vision experts from Miami University, TNO Netherlands SAGEM and FFI Norway. Jonathan Walkenstein from Miami University gave an insightful presentation on colour night vision technology, arguing its enhanced clarity and depth will improve targeting and combat ID for the dismounted soldier. Afternoon sessions on power management and load carriage were chaired by David Hadfield, ADRP3e, DE&S and featured presentations from Nicholas Sifer, PMP Project Engineer, Marine Corps Systems Command, who suggested that competitions were an effective way to engage industry in enhancing performance of current batteries for the dismounted soldier. His presentation was followed by those from power experts at DSTL, DE&S and ISSP.

The main conference took place from June 4th-5th and ran concurrently with the Soldier Technology Exhibition , which featured live demonstrations of innovative soldier equipment from over 50 leading suppliers and integrators. In his keynote presentation, Lt Colonel Mike Bodner, Chairman NATO LCG1, Dismounted Soldier, Project Director, ISSP urged SMP leaders to follow NATO standardisation recommendations to ensure optimal joint force interoperability. He was followed by Colonel Peter Rafferty, Project Leader, and Lt Colonel Andrew Macdonald, Programme Manager, FIST, who brought 3 soldiers to showcase soldier system evolution over the past 10 years. In his presentation, Alan Stocks, Deputy Program Manager, Marines Expeditionary Rifle Squad (MERS) underlined the importance of developing the squad as a system and acknowledged that human factors plays an increasingly central role in soldier system development. Colonel Frank Stone, Deputy Director of Combat Developments, USAIC went on to call for power manufacturers to reduce the size and weight of power sources in his presentation. Sessions were rounded off in the morning by presentations from Major Ram Rotbart, Programme Manager, IAS and Major Linda Bossi, Human Factors Advisor to ISSP before the 450+ attendees took lunch in the exhibition hall.

Afternoon sessions broke out into a stream on weapons and Ammunition with a key presentation from Per G. Arvidsson,
Chairman, NATO Army Armaments Group LCG/1 Weapons & Sensors Subgroup, Chief Engineer, FMV who underlined the importance of adhering to standards when developing and procuring weapons systems and Ammunition for better interoperability in joint force operations. Presentations in this stream also included those from Aimpoint AB, DND, Canada, IPT Defence Clothing, UK MoD and US Marine Corps Systems Command. In the C4I and interoperability stream, Mr Rune Lausund, Chief Scientist, NORMANS gave a programme update, emphasising the importance of planning for interoperability early in project development. Further presentations in this stream were given by the Romanian Army, ELBIT and the Danish Army, finishing with a popular panel discussion on achieving interoperability in joint force operations. A packed interactive workshop on Human Factors was run by Major Linda Bossi concurrently with the two streams.

During afternoon breaks a panel of 10 senior SMP experts led by Lt Colonel Mike Bodner toured the exhibition, judging exhibitors to find 3 nominees and 1 winner in 5 award categories for the annual Soldier Technology Global Awards Ceremony, which took place on June 5th.

On June 5th SMP updates continued from ISSP and FELIN with an in-depth look at the progress being made by AFRICAN WARRIOR, including designing a soldier system exclusively for women. The annual awards ceremony took place in the late morning, recognising leading soldier modernisation product manufacturers exhibiting at Soldier Technology Global in 2008. Categories and winners this year were:

Best Clip-on Technology For Advancing Dismounted Soldier Capabilities - QioptiQ-Pointer
Best Situational Awareness Device - EPS-Cyberflight-Maveric
Best New Soldier Modernisation Product - Aimpoint-BR8
Most Innovative Soldier System - Persides-Veecam
Best Light-Weight Soldier Technology - ABSL –SPC (Soldier Portable Charger)

Afternoon sessions continued with a focus on how non-lethal weapons will play a role in soldier modernisation programmes in the future from Colonel Kirk Hymes, Director, Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD), US DoD and Major Stephane Dufour, Project Director, Crowd Confrontation and Non Lethal Systems, CANADIAN DND. Following a lively panel discussion themed ‘Improving Targeting, Lethality And Tracking Through Use Of Robotics And UAV’s’ Dr Nancy Wesensten, Walter Reed Army Institute Of Research focused in her presentation on sleep deprivation and human factors, arguing that information overload is not a result of sleep deprivation. Main conference sessions were concluded by presentations from Keith Cook, Research Leader, NORMANS, FFI, Colonel Erich Weissenbock, Head of Precision Engagement, Capability Directorate, EDA, Major Stephen Boyne, Head of Soldier Systems Integration Group, Defence R&D Canada.

During the Battlefield Situational Awareness Focus Day on June 6th, an entirely new focus day at Soldier Technology Global, Colonel Crispian Beattie, Commander, Command and Control Development Centre called for greater focus on what the soldier needs to communicate quickly and effectively while Major Bamber Preston, Project Manager, Air-Land Integration and mini-UAV Trials, RAF outlined how UAVs are enhancing situational awareness for dismounted soldiers, but cautioned that challenges remain in real-time data flow for complex information. In the final morning presentation Dr Joseph Lannon, Director, ARDEC, RDECOM recognised there was still much work to be done before UGVs are safely deployed with weapons. Afternoon sessions continued with a focus on advanced C4I, with soldier system experts from the Finnish Defence Force Research Lab, TNO Netherlands and ISSP, who agreed that challenges in developing Software Defined Radios for dismounted soldiers revolve around improved protocol management.

Soldier Technology Global 2009 will feature over 50 SMP expert speakers from around the world and will take place in London on June 2nd-5th 2009. Visit the website for regular updates.
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