BATTLESPACE Exhibition News
sponsored by QIOPTIQ and HARRIS
OWNING THE NIGHT – DISCUSSING THE FUTURE
OWNING THE NIGHT – DISCUSSING THE FUTURE, TOUCHING THE PRESENT
By Julian Nettlefold
11 Nov 09. As night fell on November 10th over the Stickledown Range at the National Shooting Centre, Bisley, a NAMMO flare snaked into the sky to launch the start of the night firing sequence of the Owning The Night event. The visitors had assembled on the range guided to the UKTI DSO Safety Briefing by light markers supplied by LGI and Cylume and ear defenders supplied by Nacre with their new QUIETPRO® Intelligent Hearing System. LGI’s Fireworm™ is a self-powered flexible illuminated overt marking system; the light output is blue/green in colour. The NVG Fireworm™ is the covert system; the light output is red. The NVG product has the ability to switch between overt and covert modes. Both products are powered from their own internal batteries; the products can be supplied with 50m, 100m, 300m and 400m of illumination material. Peli Products provided the vital stand-alone lighting system to guide the delegates from the Conference Centre to the Range. The delegates had come from a lively Conference Chaired by Peter Varnish where, after excellent papers delivered by the Army outlining ‘Lessons Learnt’ and ‘Future Requirements.’ A lively Q&A session chaired by Major General Chris Wilson produced some piercing questions from the likes of Raytheon and Northrop which were parried away by the Panel in exemplary form! At the Conference Centre companies such as NightSearcher, Fischer, Elbit, Ultra, NACRE,
The flare dropped in the sky in a moment of quite until the roar of a 7.62 NAMMO IR-friendly round snaked down the range to its high-tech thermal target, supplied MJ Services, fired from a rifle supplied by the Dolphin Gun Company, followed by a burst of NAMMO .556 tracer ammunition. The remarkable ranges of ThermBright Passive Thermal Targets being used at OTN are fulfilling an urgent operational requirement for The British Army and other overseas customers. They have natural thermal contrast properties, completely unpowered, working on the principle of reflected energy from space. Conventional targets are useless against thermal imagers.
Captain Tony Green of UKTI DSO, the range ring master, moved the focus to the Qioptiq firing point where Accuracy International were showing their 7.62 and for the first time on alive range to the public, their .338 rifle firing the Lapua Magnum round. The IR tracer solves the problem with blooming disturbances in the NVD. The latest IR technology adopted to the calibers 12.7mm, 7.62mm and 5.56mm ammunition makes the IR trace totally invisible to the naked eye but can clearly be seen by the warfighter wearing NVD´s. Qioptiq have supplied 20,000 Image Intensified and 4,000 Thermal Weapon sights to UK MoD including the S-Vipir2+ Thermal Sniper Sight attachment for deployment on the Accuracy International .338 AW Sniper Rifle. This combination has greatly increased the 24 hour capability of UK Sniper teams on current combat operations. Many other NATO forces have taken advantage of the proven capability of Qioptiq products and are benefitting from the low power and high reliability that Qioptiq products provide and infantry environments demand, as such, Qioptiq land based sighting systems have seen extensive use on current operations in the most demanding of environments and can truly be called “combat proven” equipment.
The focus of attention moved to the DRS Firing Point where Bryan McLean was demonstrating the DRS TWS sight for the first time live in Europe. The DRS infantry Thermal Weapon Sight (TWS) is a world-beating product and DRS has supplied 20,000 to the U.S. Army and 600 Heavy Weapon TWS to the British Army as well as some to Turkey under FMS. At the height of production requirements we were supplying 2000 TWS per month and 2400 DVE kits. The technology in the TWS and the DVE is identical. The TWS was mounted on a Dolphin Gun Company weapon. Alongside the Firing Point, Chris Corsbie and his DRS team showed off the capabilities of the DRS new Jalapeno sensor and the CHILI senor where, on the second night, the system, which has a range of up to 25Kms, tracked a deer on the range to allow it safe passage away from the firing.
A brief interlude of silence was interrupted by the haunting burp, burp, burp of the AEI Systems blank-firing .50 calibre machine gun which has been ordered by the British Army, followed almost immediately by the rattattat of the 7.62 gpmg with a DRS TWS mounted on the Supacat Jackal which also had a Konsberg sensor. The Elcan firing point showed a variety of Elcan sights mounted on weapons supplied by Hall 7 Watts.
At the far end was the FLIR Systems Inc. Firing Point where Darren Gould and his team were demonstrating their HISS sniper system, Trijicon sights and running the shooting competition with Lapua ammunition, which was, I am glad to say, won by a soldier from ‘F’ Company Scots Guards with my 2nd. Lieutenant Simon Kershaw in charge.
High above the C2 Range Tower run by Nikki Peskett and Michael Brunton of C2, kept a watchful eye over the proceedings.
However, in the background a myriad of new and exciting EO/IR systems from exhibitors such as Thales, Oshino, Flir, VIT, whose system has been sued in the recent pirate operations, kept a silent eye on the proceedings whilst the Plextek radar, mounted behind the range complex clearly showed the fall of the targets during the shooting. Qioptiq, ISTEC and Qinetiq chose OTN to launch their high-tech Spotter system which, using advanced acoustic and computer technology allows the weapon to automatically slew to the target. Thermoteknix showed their new range of MicroCam uncooled thermal cameras and cores. MicroCam weighs <26g, is uncooled, shutterless and consumes <0.6W yet delivers an astounding 110,000 pixels at a 60Hz frame rate. In the background, the Rolls-Royce FEPS generator, quietly provided the vital power required to keep the Blaythorne exhibition complex lit and heated. Blaythorne’s BASE-X tentage system is being bid into the MoD to replace its current range of tentage and is already in use with a number of British Army units.
At the same time a thunderous clap from the MS Instruments NIMBUS protection system launched the driving sequence. The Hobson Industries teams, managed by Praetorian International, and filmed by the unique Indicomm Global system which networked the entire driving range illuminated by systems from MJ Services and Whitby and Co. planned by Mike Gormley and his team. then mounted the visitors into the team of Land Rovers, demonstrating the new Oxley IR lighting system which switches from white light to IR at the flick of a switch, The NAVISTAR Defense Husky, supplied by the MoD, being shown for the first time with the DRS Technologies Inc. DVE took its position behind the Land Rovers, closely followed by the BAE Systems Panther with a suite of Finmeccanica UK Battlespace solutions EO/IR systems, this was followed by the Thales Bushmaster vehicle with its suite of Thales EO/IR systems. The Panther would take visitors to the Finmeccanica FV436 vehicle waiting in the gloom to demonstrate it suite of IR driving systems. . The DRS DVE system was also shown on the Hobson Ranger and was being driven during the day in simulated conditions to show how DVEs can be used 24/7 to save lives and to detect dangerous objects and IEDs. Other vehicles shown were the new AEI/Hobson Industries gun ship, the AEI all-terrain motor bike and trailer and the new Springer vehicle. Satmap showed their 10MX, the first handheld GPS unit capable of displaying any type of maps or aerial imagery, offering an easy to use and reliable GPS receiver, incorporating some of the most advanced navigation technology available today.
UKTI Evening IED Demo
UKTI DSO EST put on a unique display of IED detection alongside the range complex. Companies had the opportunity to bring guests and/or clients into the Demo tent, tables where available to rest their equipments on. WO2 ‘Monty’ Montgomery of UKTI narrated the scenario to what his happing in the Demo Area.
A vehicle stopped 150m away from the OP (Demo Tent) on a imaginary MSR. 2 x X rays got out of the vehicle carrying weapons and did a scan of the ground. Once they are happy that no coalition troops are in the area they made contact via mobile phone that they were in position. They then proceed in removing and disarming the IED. Once complete they drove off, one sensor used was the FLIR Systems Inc. Recon III.
This allowed the companies an opportunity to show case their equipments night capabilities. There were sources left in the Demo Area after the vehicle has left the area from disturbed soil, foot prints/tyre marks and of course the IED.
Night Driving Event
This night driving event was a world first. On Wednesday night the Editor, with OTN Press Officer Yvonne Headington donned the Qioptiq Lucy NVGs now being supplied to the British Army. It is a weird feeling to drive off into the night without lights using the LUCY as the method of lighting the way aided by the Oxley IR lights. Taking the LUCY goggles off during the drive showed quite how dark the night was and how this technology allows troops to move about at night without detection
As the gunfire on the range died down and the vehicles drove into their Parking spaces for the night, it gave the Editor time to reflect on Owning The Night and what we had achieved with the team from BATTLESPACE, the NSC and UKTI DSO. One exhibitor told the Editor that he did not believe that we could achieve what we had done and thought that I was either naïve or crazy! We believe that we achieved what we set out to which was, in the words of one senior British officer attending, “A chance to discuss the future at the Conference and experience the present on the range and in the Exhibition area.”
Having reflected on the event, I moved on to the Artists Rifles Club where FLIR hosted an excellent cocktail party managed by Katie Williams and her team where the shooting prize was given to ‘F’ Company Scots Guards and 19 Regiment Royal Artillery
Winners of competition:
1st - Guardsman Moon, F Coy, Scots Guards
2nd - Gunner Evans, 19 Regiment Royal Artillery
3rd - Guardsman Blankhorn, F Coy, Scots Guards
The team moved to the Bisley Pavilion where Shaun Hopwood and his team had laid on an excellent feast, sponsored by Finmeccanica UK Battlespace Solutions and DRS, for 180 people. During this event we raised a great deal of money for BLESMA for which I thank everyone.
We believed we achieved that and will move on to 2010 where our theme will be ‘Force Protection’ in the same format. We would welcome any insight from our visitors, delegates and Exhibitors how we can improve any part of the event.
I would like to thank all the sponsors and exhibitors who made this event happen, the NRA who gave the ground, the BATTLESPACE team of Andy McAllister from Aquatint who produced all the graphics, catalogues and the magazine, David Harrison who managed the Exhibitors and Yvonne Headington who managed the Press and the NSC team headed by Jeremy Staples with Brian Thomas managing the Range, Amanda Vaughan who managed the complex and Libby Gendle who managed the registration. Last but not least I would like to thank the UKTI DSO team headed by Major Nigel Rudsdale, Captain Tony Green, Captain Tom Devaney and Wo2 John Montgomery who laid on the excellent IED demonstration.
Views on Owning The Night
*Daniel Emery's Report for the BBC on night vision equipment plus extra interviews.
*Thank you very much indeed for inviting us down to the Owning the Night event. The boys all had a fantastic time and they soon realised how privileged they were to be there. The fact that they were firing .50 Cal and Sniper rifles probably made their year! It was a highly impressive event and was no doubt a huge success. Charlie Kilner, Capt, RIFLES, Adjutant Eton College CCF.
*Thanks for hosting and running OTN, Nick and I found it to be
very interesting and we gathered a lot of useful information from many
of our fellow exhibitors to help us to work towards selling multi-tools,
LED Wands headlamps to the MOD. Gary Woodhouse, Whitby & Co.
*I would like to thank all for their hard efforts in organizing the successful and highly valuable event - speaking for KWP this proved one of the most valuable events in this sector we have attended, giving us the best technology application interface - as well as valuable first person networking on the market. Kevin Williams, KWP
*"Congratulations on the successful "Owning the Night" event at Bisley. It was a pleasure to be involved. Please keep us informed of future events." Alice Bond, Accuracy International
Exhibitions News Index