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The FUTURE FORCES 2014 Exhibition Welcomed the Highest Number of Visitors in History

03-12-2014

This year’s largest meeting of national and international security forces with defence industry representatives, the FUTURE FORCES Exhibition & Conference, which took place between October 15 and 17, 2014, at the PVA EXPO Praha Exhibition Grounds, hosted 134 exhibitors from 21 countries.

Almost 7,500 visitors, most of them members of the professional community, businessmen and experts from both government institutions and private companies, including 673 military and government representatives from 48 countries of the world, passed through the gates.

The FUTURE FORCES Exhibition & Conference (FF14) provides an independent platform for discussions about needs of national security forces and international alliances in a dynamically changing security environment, which private manufacturers and traders should be able to respond to. Prague also hosted meetings of many NATO and EU international working groups during the conference, whose members were also actively involved in workshops of experts, panel discussions and dynamic demonstrations accompanying this year’s event. Their topics included the Future Soldier, CBRN, logistics, and unmanned and robotic assets. The workshops were attended by more than 400 participants from 40 countries. There were more than 60 speakers taking their turn at the lectern, including generals, representatives of national authorities (Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic, Civil Aviation Authority), science and research (Technical University Liberec, Czech Technical University, Technical University Brno, University of Defence, Masarykova University, Military Research Institute), international organizations (NATO – NSPA, NCIA; EU; OSN; EUROPOL, JARUS, etc.) and, last but not least, representatives of Czech and foreign defence and security industries.

The accompanying programme for experts also included a three-day Future Crises international conference dedicated to cyber security. It was focused on both legal and technical aspects of cyber security, in particular cyber defence and protection of critical information infrastructure. The conference was attended by more than 200 participants from 20 countries and there were 39 speakers.

For the first time ever, the Future Forces 2014 included a programme for the general public. Named “Prague Military Days” and taking place on Saturday, October 18, it gave military enthusiasts an opportunity of a free-of-charge sight-seeing tour of several military facilities in different places around Prague and a chance to see shows and displays related to the past and present of Czech national security forces. The main part of the “Prague Military Days” consisting of sight-seeing tours and displays took place on the premises of the Prague Castle and was attended by more than 2,000 spectators.

The ceremonial opening of the exhibition was attended by representatives of the Army of the Czech Republic, Ministry of Defence and collaborating defence and security organizations. “The Ministry of Defence supports the FF project on a long-term basis,” said Deputy Minister of Defence Tomáš Kuchta when describing the relationship between the ministry and the event. General Petr Pavel, Chief of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic, opined that Prague had become one of the centres of regular meetings of top-level representatives of the international security community – companies, soldiers, politicians and other experts – thanks to the Future Forces exhibition.

Exhibitors presented top-notch products and technologies in Prague

The fact did not escape local and foreign media – almost 50 journalists writing for professional magazines and journals found their way to the exhibition site. The main hall was dominated by the stand of the Army of the Czech Republic, together with a helicopter displayed by the state enterprise LOM Praha. For example, the exhibition was the first-ever opportunity to show a man-portable artillery reconnaissance/surveillance system, which was manned by soldiers of the 13th Artillery Regiment of the Army of the Czech Republic. It is the latest addition to the equipment of artillery reconnaissance/surveillance teams operating dismounted or manning observation posts. The system permits daytime and nighttime detection, recognition, identification and subsequent acquisition of targets and can also be used to carry out reconnaissance or surveillance missions.

An illustrative example of successful cooperation between the military and the civilian sector is the TAROS V2 (TActical RObotic System Version 2) automated robotic ground system. It is a joint design of the state enterprise VOP CZ, University of Defence, University of Mining – Technical University in Ostrava, Czech Technical University and Technical University in Brno. The TAROS V2 system is a modular design; 4x4 and 2x2 modules can be used to assemble a 4x4/6x6/8x8 remote-controlled vehicle the principal missions of which include combat, reconnaissance or transport of materiel.

The state enterprise LOM Praha, which is the General Partner of the FUTURE FORCES 2014 exhibition, introduced an upgraded Mi-171 Sh helicopter with an integrated SOF II suite and a number of other modifications. It will feature new avionics consisting of modern radio transceivers (COM 1 to 5) permitting encrypted and satellite communication. Meteorological radar, a FLIR unit and a blue force tracking system will also be onboard. All the avionics items listed above are built into a new state-of-the-art modular cockpit. The Mi -171 Sh helicopter has a new lightweight armour suite, both in the cockpit and in the cargo/passenger compartment. The helicopter is armed with the M-134DH Minigun weapon system and features the SR-1 abseiling system for rappelling or fast-rope insertion of personnel. All the modifications outlined above have been designed and integrated by LOM Praha; the last phase of the upgrade was supported under the US Government SOATU mission programme.

One of the exhibits could actually be tasted. It was special rye bread of the Bułeczka-Bis bakery the shelf life of which is two years and which the company supplies to the Polish Army for both domestic and foreign missions. The loaf is delivered in a special double-layer package and retains its consistency, taste and appearance even in the harshest climatic conditions. It is possible to use one of three available methods of preparation before unwrapping the loaf – warming it up in a water bath heated to 90°C, placing it in hot steam for 30 minutes, or leaving it for three minutes in a 900 W microwave oven – any of them will yield bread ready to be consumed.

Many new products introduced at the exhibition

Multicopters manufactured by the South Moravian company Robodrone Industries are developed in cooperation with the Aviation Institute of the Technical University in Brno and a number of other research facilities. Robodrone focuses mainly on user-friendly control, navigation and communication solutions with a high payload. The unmanned aerial vehicles can be optionally fitted with brackets for cameras, sensors, meters or radiation detectors. The company manufactures a model capable of carrying a payload of up to 5 kg and with up to 60 minutes of endurance. There was also a new product shown for the first time at the exhibition, remarkable for its 15-kg payload and up to 30 minutes of endurance. Other UAVs could be seen on the stands of Blaskor (manufacturer of unmanned rotary-wing aircraft), Canadian company Eqquera, or EYE.AERO from Austria.

Mipesa presented new lighting systems by Peli Products S.A., namely Peli Rals 9480 and Peli Rals 9490, at the Future Forces 2014 Exhibition. Both feature an upgraded control system, integrated tripod and dramatically improved lighting performance. In addition to the products of Peli, Mipesa displayed Elspro’s N8LED lighting system, exhibited for the first time in the Czech Republic.

The stand of the Strakonice-based arms manufacturer LUVO offered a wide selection of firearms, including the company’s flagship product, LA-16 (M4) assault rifle, or the LA-10 sniper rifle. SAAB Technologies presented the Carl-Gustav M3 and M4 weapon systems and their ammunition, and visitors who found their way to the Clutex (Cluster of Technical Textiles) stand could test ballistic vests, anti-shock systems, ballistic helmets or add-on armour kits by Czech manufacturers.

Visitors could also test their shooting skills on the stand of VR Group, using the STING tactical laser system designed to support marksmanship training of individuals and tactical training of units.

DSM Dyneema presented its Ultra High Molecular Weight PolyEthylene (UHMWPE) fiber - the world’s strongest fiber. Dyneema® offers maximum strength combined with minimum weight. It is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel and up to 40% stronger than aramid fibers. Dyneema® fiber floats on water and is extremely durable and resistant to moisture, UV light and chemicals. The applications are therefore more or less unlimited. In addition to a number of other fields, for example, Dyneema® is also used in bullet resistant armor and clothing for police and military personnel.

During live demonstrations featuring a flamethrower, representatives of HQH SYSTEM presented their special FirChem cape, an emergency system designed to protect the wearer against highly aggressive chemical substances and direct fire. The design and surface finish of the product permit easy decontamination; the surface is highly resistant against mechanical damage and open flame.

HQH SYSTEM also used one of its employees as human “test dummy” to demonstrate practical benefits of its BlankFir fire-resistant drape. The product provides full protection against fire, liquid combustibles and aggressive chemical substances in a tactical environment. It is primarily designed as emergency protection against open flame, and can also be used to extinguish carried equipment that has caught fire; all that has to be done is to cover the burning area with the drape or wrap the burning piece of equipment in it. The drape also serves as an insulator of electricity.

The organizers appreciated the cooperation with and thanked for support to all organizations and institutions that took part in the preparation of the Future Forces 2014 event, including the Ministries of Defence and Interior of the Czech Republic, Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Czech Chamber of Commerce, Czech Defence and Security Industry Association (CDIS), Czech Association of Firearm Manufacturers and Sellers, ATOK, CLUTEX, University of Defence, Technical University in Liberec, Czech Technical University or Civil Aviation Authority.

This year’s FUTURE FORCES Exhibition & Conference was received positively, both by visitors and guests from abroad, but particularly by exhibitors many of which has already booked space for the next FF event, which will be held in Prague from October 19 to October 21, 2016.

Authors: Future Forces + ATM