New gear highlights push to modernize Army

New gear highlights push to modernize Army
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)
(Source: WAFF 48 News)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - From weapons, to state-of-the art vehicles and drones, the latest and greatest tactical equipment was on display in Huntsville this week.

Defense companies shed light on how all of the top-of-the-line gear will help our troops.

They pulled out all the stops to catch the Army's eye during the Association of the U.S. Army's three-day Global Force Symposium at the Von Braun Center. A lot of them, like BAE Systems, are already working on Army projects.

They had the AMPV, the Army's multi-purpose vehicle, on display.

"It's a vehicle that we're currently in production for the Army in the initial prototypes. This is a modernization effort on that vehicle, a future variant of that vehicle we're showing the Army," said Jim Miller, Director of Business Development for Combat Vehicles.

BAE Systems also showed the Army their precision strike munition and highly accurate radar.

"It's industry, the Army, the institution around Redstone Arsenal that allows us to get a good engagement, a good conversation going about the modernization things that are important to the Army. We bring them here to get that conversation started to see if we're on the right track and talk about our ideas," Miller added. "We get to talk to folks and see if we're on the right  track, if we're meeting their needs or if there's something different we need to try. That's the value of this show."

Oshkosh Defense makes the Army's Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and showed one outfitted with a helicopter sling and another with a mounted weapon.  The vehicles "showcase unmatched protection, transportability, mobility and network capability," according to the company.

New technology was also shown from AT&T- a drone that can help in the event of a natural disaster. It can replace cell phone towers and help get communications back on line very quickly. It's tethered, flown to 200 feet and will support service for 14 square miles.

AeroVironment was at the event to discuss new developments with their family of small unmanned aircraft systems. The company has a Huntsville office located at Research Park.

"We're focused on primarily on the tactical, back packable aircraft down at the squad and platoon level," said Errol Farr, Director of Business Development for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

He touted the AUSA conference for providing the opportunity to meet with customers and other members of industry to discuss new innovations.

"What we're looking at now is doing increased capabilities across the board, both on small UAS's and we're looking at potential teaming for unnamed ground vehicles and unmanned aircraft systems. We also want to provide new capability down at the lower echelons where they didn't have it before to provide soldiers with more situational awareness," Farr explained.

Polaris Defense also had an impressive display showing all the ways they provide off road mobility to the military.

"We have everything from small team equipment  to large squad vehicles. They come in various models. We also have a large facility here in Huntsville. It's our newest manufacturing facility," said Mark McCormick, Director of Polaris Defense. "We supply our off road mobility for a number of customer, including Special Forces, the Marine Corps and the Army. We have current product already with the Army and we're highlight some of our newest product."

The company had their MRZR X on display, as well as a diesel MRZR D4 and the squad-ready DAGOR.

McCormick talked about what the MRZR X can do.

"That's going to be a vehicle that supports the  infantry squad as a robotic or optionally manned vehicle that can accompany a squad on maneuvers off road. It has a capability for silent drive as well as carrying quite a bit of equipment," he explained.

Senior Army leaders say tapping into industry is going to be a key part in their modernization moving forward.

"The Army needs that private sector innovation.  We no longer have the luxury of technology development in the commercial sector. We need to adapt and accept commercial technologies in a greater fashion," said Dr. Bruce Jette, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT).

More than 6,400 people attended the conference in Huntsville, the most people ever at the 5-year-old event held in the Von Braun Center.

Discussions highlighted the importance of improving the performance and fighting power of soldiers. Overall, the event focused on the Army's future.

There was a strong and high-level Army presence, including Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper, Undersecretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville and general officers from around the globe, there to focus on a historic restructuring of Army modernization.

About 1,000 more people attended AUSA Global Force 2018 than attended in 2017. AUSA will return to Huntsville in 2019 for another Global Force Symposium and Exposition. It will be held March 26–28.

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