The 9th annual Soldier Technology conference and exhibition took place at the Olympia Conference Centre in London from June 30th – July 3rd, gathering together 556 senior military and industry figures from around the world in the biggest annual meeting of the international soldier modernisation community.
Brigadier General Alain Tremblay , Chief of Staff Strategy, Land Strategy, Canadian Army opened the first ever Vehicle Interoperability Focus Day on June 30th, addressing how man/machine interfaces are being optimised to increase interoperability between mounted and dismounted systems. Other key speakers included LTC Wolfgang Althoff, Project Officer, IdZ, Vincent Loiseau, Deputy Programme Manager, VBCI, DGA, Mark Richter, Program Manager, MERS Marine Corps and Major Colin Mattey, Programme Manager, Project Land 125, Australian Army.
With 58 senior soldier modernisation expert speakers contributing to the main conference from July 1st – July 2nd, delegates learned about the latest developments in national soldier modernisation programmes from Brigadier Carew Wilks, Individual Capability Group Leader, UK MoD (FIST) as well as programme managers from Germany (IdZ), France (FELIN), Canada (ISSP), Switzerland (IMESS), Norway (NORMANS), Romania (RIFS), Finland (Warrior 2020), US Marines (MERS), Netherlands (VOSS), Sweden (MARKUS), Singapore (ACMS), Australia (Project Land 125), South Africa (African Warrior) and Poland (TYTAN) as well as senior representatives from NATO Land Capability Group 1, Dismounted Soldier and the European Defence Agency (EDA).
In addition to the latest national soldier modernisation updates delegates benefited from focus sessions on survivability, protection, communications integration and an interactive Human Factors workshop on July 1st led by Marieke Van Der Hoeven , Department Manager Weapon Systems, TNO which offered innovative ways to improve soldier centred design. On July 2nd delegates benefited from focus sessions on emerging soldier modernisation programmes, lethality and an interactive System Integration Workshop, which focused on how to better integrate soldier system components led by Wouter Lotens, Former R&D Programme Manager, Soldier Systems TNO, Claude Lemelin,
Combatant System Engineer, Integrated Soldier Systems Project ISSP and Colonel Richard Hansen (ret’d), Former Programme Manager, Soldier Warrior, PEO Soldier, US Army.
Throughout the main conference senior representatives from 38 system integrators and equipment suppliers offered delegates live demonstrations of their latest infantry products in the interactive exhibition, including EADS Defense and Security, Northrop Grumman, Rockwell Collins, BAE Systems, Thales, Elbit Land and C4i – Tadiran, Selex Communications, Elta, DRS, Cobham Defence Communications and more. Additionally, EADS Defence And Security presented its R&T projects for the development of new solutions for indoor navigation and integrated carrying and protection during a well attended presentation on July 1st. Senior conference guests available to answer questions onsite included national soldier modernisation programme managers from Portugal (Soldado Do Futuro), Italy (Soldado Futuro), India (F-INSAS), Belgium (BEST), Austria and Denmark.
On the evening of July 1st attendees relaxed at the networking drinks reception at Olympia Conference Centre with 200 later joining the annual awards dinner at the Hilton Olympia. Following a champagne reception Colonel Richard Hansen (ret’d) welcomed Help For Heroes to the stage, the UK charity Soldier Technology is proud to sponsor in 2009*, before hosting the annual awards ceremony and introducing the outstanding guest speaker Colonel Richard Kemp (ret’d), Former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, who gave a clear vision of the urgent need to leverage the latest technology to reduce fratricide in current operations.
Soldier Technology Award winners in 2009 included Photonis for Best Lightweight Soldier Technology with its ICU technology, Trijicon for Outstanding Situational Awareness Device with its TANS thermal sight and, as the training of the soldiers is one of the most important aspects within the system to enable the soldiers to use the full capability of the system, EADS Defence & Security won Most Innovative Soldier Modernisation Product for its SMP solution Warrior 21.
Highlights from the Situational Awareness Focus Sessions on the morning of July 3rd included an opening brief from Colonel Crispian Beattie, Commander, Command and Control Development Centre, Land Warfare Centre, British Army on how soldiers are being networked into the digital battlespace. Furthermore, LTC Ehud Levy, Department Manager, Tactical Intelligence Systems, ELTA Systems and Gil Tidhar, Chief Technical Officer, Optigo Systems offered delegates the latest solutions to increasing situational awareness for the dismounted infantryman by leveraging the latest threat detection equipment.
Other crucial topics covered by senior experts included how to increase situational awareness through robot mounted sensors from Frank Schneider, NATO Chair of Military Applications Multi-Robots Systems and Head of European Robotics Group and Major Achim Hesse, Programme Manager, ELROB, German Army Office, BWB; how to improve data fusion and flow from Dr Jorgen Ahlberg, Head of the Sensor Informatics Dept, FOI and how to enhance visualisation interfaces from Dr Darrel Hopper, Principal Researcher Engineer, AIR FORCE RESEARCH LABORATORY.
The Portable Power Focus Sessions took place during the afternoon of July 3rd bringing together infantry power experts from countries including UK, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Canada and Romania. Chairman Dave Hadfield, DES SE LST - Portable Power, Defence Equipment and Support, UK MoD hosted an international panel of power experts adressing crucial issues including how to safely integrate fuel cells into the soldier system, how to manage power more efficiently and how to reduce the soldier’s burden by using only lightweight portable power sources. In addition to the insightful presentations delegates were also able to meet recently appointed NATO chairman of Land Capability Group 1 Power Working Group, Major Eelco Vroon. The Portable Power Focus Sessions completed the 4 days of learning and networking opportunities at this year’s Soldier Technology event.
The 10th annual Soldier Technology conference and exhibition will take place at the Olympia Conference Centre from May 18th – 21st, 2010. Visit www.soldiertechnology.com for more detail.