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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

04 March 2015

Special Forces Equipment Round Up of IDEX 2015

This year’s International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) opened up with an impressive Counter-Terrorism (CT) display which saw force elements from the UAE Special Operations Command showcasing their skills with maritime interdiction, ground and helicopter assault forces denying a terrorist group entry into the Port of Abu Dhabi.

Unfortunately however, this Special Operations Forces (SOF) demonstration failed to be reflected on the show floor of this year’s exhibition with a surprising lack of related equipment on display- even more confusing considering ongoing struggles of coalition Air Forces and SOF with Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Northern Iraq.

Of particular interest at the show to the UAE Special Operations Command was Bell-Boeing’s CV-22 which was exhibited next to the harbour. Industry sources continue to speculate whether the UAE will procure a number of the tilt-rotor platforms, especially after the government requested the US military deploy them to Northern Iraq for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations following the capture and execution of a Jordanian Air Force pilot. Company executives refused to confirm whether such a deal would go ahead, explaining to MT how the company was helping the US government in responding to ongoing enquiries.

On the ground vehicle front, Polaris displayed its DAGOR, MRZR and MV850 internally transportable vehicles (ITVs) at the exhibition with a company spokesperson informing MT that the larger DAGOR 4x4 platform would be best suited to the soft sand of large deserts of the Middle East.

At IDEX 2015, Polaris displayed its DAGOR

Industry sources suggested that countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman and other GCC states were considering such a capability. The company is currently in the process of supplying DAGOR to the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) with the first 15 vehicles delivered to the organisation in December for initial operational evaluation and training. DAGOR can seat up to nine personnel, can fit on board a MH-47 CHINOOK helicopter and has the ability to conduct a Low Velocity Air Drop. With a 500mi  range, it comprises a gross vehicle weight of 4,50 lb allowing it to carry 3,250lb in payload.

Meanwhile, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems displayed its FLYER 72 ITV which is also being supplied to US and various other SOF units worldwide. Referring to the Middle East market, Sean Ridley, programme manager for lightweight tactical vehicles at the company, told MT that a number of militaries in the area wanted such platforms to trial. Specifically, he referred to ongoing discussions with the UAE which, according to military sources, is keen to begin an evaluation package later this year.

Another critical element in any SOF unit is communications and hearing protection. However, according to Invisio’s senior VP for global sale and marketing, the Middle East continues to somewhat lag behind their more mature counterparts in NATO. Speaking to MT, Carsten Aagesen explained how the company expected SOF units in the Middle East to eventually come around to the concept of in-ear communications as opposed to larger, more cumbersome over-ear systems, such as those manufactured by Peltor and MSA. According to Aagesen, the smaller form factor in-ear solutions provide a much more efficient communications system especially when operating in hot conditions of the region where temperatures can exceed 50C.

The Middle East has pretty basic requirements with any headset doing for the moment. But they have the same exact needs to get a tactical headset as any other nation such as the frontrunners in the field in the UK, US, Australia and France. The importance of hearing protection is exemplified with the amount of money being spent on soldiers coming back from orations with diminished hearing,” he added while describing how the US was spending some USD1 billion per year on hearing solutions for impaired soldiers.

The company was promoting its V60 advanced tactical communication and hearing protection system, which can be attached to any software defined radio and includes four Push-to-Talk buttons; three command buttons and controller.

SOF units in the Middle East, particularly those from Jordan and the UAE, continue to play integral roles in the international counter-terrorism arena and no doubt these sophisticated, yet baseline requirements, will begin to filter down to events such as IDEX in the very near future.
Andrew White

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