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Ukrainian guns take center stage at Washington arms fair

WASHINGTON — For years, the war on terrorism dominated the display at the massive United States Army Association trade show featuring methods of protecting soldiers from heavy armored vehicles and improvised explosive devices. But this week, Ukraine’s fight to repel a Russian invasion shines a light on new stars on the battlefield, including small drones and in-demand artillery.

These weapons are only symbols of Western support and Ukrainian resistance. They’re also big business for defense companies that have their sights set on multi-billion dollar plans at a time when capitals around the world want to bolster their arsenals following invasions. About 23,000 attendees (some from foreign military procurement agencies) gathered on the show floor to network and check out the products on display.

At the AeroVironment booth, one of the notable weapons was the Switchblade 300. This is a 6-pound tube-launched kamikaze drone that the Ukrainian military has been using for months to hit Russian targets. Since the United States handed the Switchblade into Ukraine’s hands this spring, its soldiers have been using it to attack Russian forces and equipment. This includes fuel trucks, personnel carriers, machine gun nests, trench positions, and dismounted infantry.

The Switchblade 600 boasts longer range, longer endurance, and a larger warhead capable of destroying armored targets. When more robust loitering munitions reach Ukraine in the coming weeks, the two weapons could give the warring nation another boost.

Charlie Dean, AeroVironment’s vice president of sales and business development, said: When the Switchblade 600 arrives in Ukraine in large numbers, he says, “This battlefield is going to change a lot. It’s turning fast.”

AeroVironment’s manually-launched RQ-20 Puma, an unmanned aerial vehicle used by the US Army, was also on display. Dean said Ukraine also uses it for reconnaissance before artillery fire.

As the war enters a new phase, an American company is preparing to ship Telemax robots to Ukraine, which could carry out bomb disposal missions or perform other jobs too dangerous for humans. can be done.

The US and its Western allies send billions of dollars worth of equipment that Ukrainians can easily use to train the Ukrainian military with more sophisticated technology. The former Warsaw Pact nations have shipped out of their arsenals aging Russian-made goods and put them on the market for modern replacements.

The M777 howitzer’s performance on the Ukrainian battlefield has sparked interest abroad, and negotiations are underway between manufacturer BAE Systems and the U.S. Army to resume production, The Wall Street Journal reports. This wasn’t one of the armaments he displayed at his AUSA, but the Advanced Advanced, a slim four-barrel launcher for laser-guided rockets that the United States used in Afghanistan and is currently sending to AUSA. Showed off the Precision Kill Weapon System. Kyiv.

Jim Miller, vice president of business development for Combat Mission Systems at BAE, said:

L3Harris Technologies put the launcher in a pickup truck and named it the Vampire. According to Miller, this attracted attention and prompted inquiries about which other vehicles could host it.

The proliferation of drones on the battlefield has put a greater focus on efforts by the U.S. Army and companies such as BAE, which manufactures armored vehicles, to add protection from top-attack threats. According to Miller, BAE engineers are working on technology to locate, track and recognize drones, as well as “new armor solutions.”

“The threat of unmanned aerial systems is growing. Anything on the battlefield can be seen and attacked,” he said.

Last month, the Ukrainian military first claimed to have encountered an Iranian-made suicide drone used by Russia on the battlefield. Images of drone wreckage released by the Ukrainian military. The vehicle resembled a triangular or delta drone flown by Iran known as the Shahed-136.

Fortem Technologies, a small Utah-based company, tucked away in a corner far from the main show floor, uses a low-power phased array to spot drones and a netgun to detect drones. We exhibited a quadcopter that puts the machine in a bag. Chief Technology Officer Adam Robertson said he was working with the U.S. government to provide Ukraine with two of his free sets and was in talks with the Pentagon and Ukrainian officials to send more. .

“We actually capture the drone and use a long tether to tow it,” says Robertson.

Fortem developed this technology with the US Air Force and US Army. When asked by the military a few weeks after the invasion, the company immediately produced a version for Ukraine in a backpack with training materials in Ukrainian. Robertson said the company could build his 28 buildings a month.

“We sent the first system for free because it struck a chord,” says Robertson. “Because of the fog of war, we don’t know exactly what’s going on. [with those systems], but I know they want more, so I’m trying to get more. “

Indeed, some manufacturers of weapons sent to Ukraine do not advertise. Skip his Arnie, vice president of his Aevex Aerospace, which is based in Solana Beach, Calif. and manufactures Phoenix his Ghost, was in attendance at the show. But that secret loitering ammunition was not.

On the sidelines of the show, Arnie said he was here to pitch other services the company offers, such as customizing small aircraft. refused to explain.

“This is a great example of our ability to react quickly, and we were basically asked to put the system together, and that is exactly what it is,” he said. “It was a system of systems of varying ranges and payloads and types that passed directly through the Department of Defense.”

The Pentagon is taking lessons from Ukraine and pouring them into the development of future weapons systems. US Army Brig. General Jeffrey Norman, who oversees efforts to develop and deploy future ground combat platforms, said the vehicle needs “hemispherical protection” from above. At the same time, Ukraine has shown that its armed forces should not be overburdened with extra equipment.

“The systems we develop must be reliable, durable, and simple enough to ensure that soldiers who are tired, frightened, and in contact with the enemy remain in operation,” Norman said. Told. “‘Tough Beat Fancy’ is what comes to mind as his sticker on the bumper of that space.”

Joe Gould is a Senior Pentagon Correspondent for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He previously served as a reporter for Congress.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She is also active in Politico and inside defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in Journalism from Boston University and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

Stephen Losey is an air warfare reporter for Defense News. He has previously covered leadership and personnel issues for Air Force Times and the Department of Defense, special operations and air warfare for He has traveled to the Middle East to cover US Air Force operations.