It’s where the world’s militaries come to window shop.
At the biennial Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) fair, everything from missiles and warships to knives and parachutes were on display, coming from the military supply companies of more than 50 countries. With top brass strolling the floor, it’s no surprise that companies choose this event to launch their latest.
From robots and rifles to machine guns and more, here are five of the biggest “reveals” this year.
Nexter Robotics, a young company established in 2011, introduced the cutest robot ever: little NERVA, which can be controlled with any standard smartphone, tablet or personal computer.
Lightweight, throwable and waterproof, this little fellah is semi-autonomous and programmed with way-point navigation to operate on his own. When a mission is completed, NERVA can automatically take himself back home.
Part of Nexter Robotics initiative to create super low cost military robots, NERVA is smaller than the popular NERVA LG robot, which is often deployed for reconnaissance duties.
Its big brother, NERVA LG, can be souped up with a range of tech. For example, the recon version could be equipped with thermal infrared camera and panoramic day vision.
2. A betta Beretta
Beretta Defense Technologies revealed its new assault rifle, the ARX160 A3, at the DSEI show.
Made from advanced metal and composite materials, the weapon is ambidextrous and lightweight at less than 7 pounds. A grenade launcher only adds approximately 2 pounds.
Both fully automatic fire and shot , it has push-button reversible ejection and is mission configurable in seconds in a range of variants. It has military standard Picatinny rails on all sides, which make it compatible with a range of sights or accessories.
After rigorous testing in a number of operation challenges in adverse conditions, it was NATO qualified in 2010. Beretta says it’s the only in-production and in-service three-caliber weapon on the market.
3. Thermal imaging
The Hawk-S thermal camera made by UK firm Selex ES debuted at DSEI -- and the Royal Navy quickly snapped up 18 of them.
The system will be used for a range of purposes like defending against the threat of fast inshore attack craft. UK forces already use Selex ES’s thermal imaging cameras in Chinook helicopters and Mastiff armored vehicles for high-resolution night vision.
Cameras like these can allow forces to operate more effectively in all weather conditions and around the clock.
Based on the company’s higher end SLX series, the camera has been shrunk to swap in as a replacement for current equipment. It has a continuous zoom lens and up to 1.3 megapixels, and compared with the Royal Navy’s current system, Selex says it has better image quality and performance at long range.
Clearly the Navy agrees -- having voted with its checkbook.
4. Next-gen machine gun
Is the next generation of submachine gun is here?
Sig Sauer says the new SIG MPX redefines submachine guns; it’s the world’s first to operate with a fully closed and locked rotating bolt system, an advance the company believes greatly improves safety for the user in the event of an obstruction.
The SIG MPX allows the operator to change barrel length, caliber and stock configuration on the fly to meet mission requirements. It can be easily converted to 9mm NATO, .357SIG or .40S&W.
It also has ambidextrous safety/selector and magazine release.
5. Less-lethal ammo
A safer version of less lethal ammunition was introduced by Less Lethal Africa.
Less lethal ammunition can be used in a range of situations: Law enforcement units confronted by a violent riot, for example, may elect to use less lethal rubber bullets first, before they resort to lethal measures.
If used correctly, less lethal ammo can stop criminal behavior without endangering life, but some less lethal ammo can still be dangerous -- and in some cases lethal.
This new ammo lowers the risk of penetration, thanks to a new material blend that makes the rubber bullets softer and more flexible, so they tend collapse or mushroom on impact.
Less Lethal Africa manufactures a range of small ammunition, including rubber bullets for AK47s, shotguns, rifles like the G3 and pistols.
Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.