Dangerous business: Libya, UAE, Indonesia and more sell wares at military tech event
By Allison Barrie
Military supply companies from Russia, China, UAE, Indonesia, Korea, and Libya showed off tanks, missiles and other weapons in Paris at Eurosatory 2012, the largest international military technology show focused on land warfare.
At the event, 53 countries were represented by more than 1,400 exhibitors for the 55,000 visitors, the United States leading with 158 companies. But a surprising trend was evident: This year, the number of companies from non-Western countries that showed off new weaponry boomed -- especially Russia and China.
Indeed, three new countries were on display at the Eurosatory 2012 show from June 10 to 15: Pakistan, Cyprus and Libya all had companies with booths showing guns, vehicles and more.
There were thirty-four national pavilions with Indonesia, South Korea, Pakistan, Turkey and UAE presenting national pavilions for the first time and reportedly more than 120 official delegations exploring the show, seeking new military gear.
I asked Mark Phillips, head of land warfare for the defense think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), what that trend heralds.
"Western armed forces generally, and land forces in particular, are facing significant cuts in capability," he told me. These smaller countries with weaker economies are seeing dollar signs, in other words -- who cares the denomination.
"The expanded participation by Russia and China was therefore a challenging juxtaposition: These countries ... are increasingly producing high specification equipment," he said.
And he's right: Those cuts mean that Western militaries are being forced to do things "differently." It's an opportunity these countries are clearly targeting.
That's why India, South Korea, UAE, Indonesia all had a dramatic increase in the number of exhibitors -- but it was Russia and China that really went big, both countries revealing equipment for the first time outside their home countries.
CHINA: Sky Dragon
The top supplier to the People’s Liberation Army, China North Industries Corp. (NORINCO), unveiled a major missile system. Sky Dragon is a medium range SAM (surface-to-air missile) that can engage targets up to 31 miles away and 12 miles high. The company says there is a minimum 80 percent probability that a single shot from the Sky Dragon will take down a fighter jet.
Reportedly near completion, it can provide target guidance for 12 missiles at the same time and the radar can detect approximately 140 targets at a maximum range of 80 miles.
CHINA: Blue Arrow 7
NORINCO also introduced a new air to surface missile called Blue Arrow 7. This export version of the missiles used by China’s Z-10 attack helicopter is similar to an AGM-114 Hellfire. The company says the range on these missiles is between 1.2 and 5 miles.
CHINA: Anti-Riot Suits
The Chinese Zhejiang Yingfu company specializes in anti-riot suits and military knee and elbow pads. The company revealed at the show a new “Anti Riot and the Riot Control Suit.” Designed to protect from piercing daggers in, say, an attempted stab to the chest, the company says it also protects against “a steel ball of 7.5 kilograms [16.5 pounds].”
CHINA: The "Great Riot Wall"
The company also revealed a new clear polycarbonate Connectable Riot Shield that includes a clip for a club and an integrated handle. The shields are designed to be able to connect to build a “continuous wall” of shields.
Russia showed its MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) vehicle in an outdoor land vehicle park at Eurosatory -- its first trip outside of Russia. Made by Ural Automotive Works, the Ural-ZA is powered by a 450 horsepower diesel engine and can hit 65 mph. It can carry fourteen warfighters including the driver and commander and weighs about 24 tons.
Russian firearms manufacturer Izhmash revealed the Saiga-12 shotgun for law enforcement, with its shortened barrel and Picatinny rail for sighting devices. The semiautomatic shotgun can use both ordinary ammunition and “stop-power” ammo such as buckshot and rubber bullets.
RUSSIA: “Hunter-Killer” Tank
The Special Equipment Division of UralVagonZavod brought information on its suite of tanks. The 49-ton main battle tank T-90MS carries three men and comes with a “hunter-killer” mode with panoramic sight for target engagement. It has the latest 125mm smooth bore gun with automatic loader, a roof mounted 12.7 mm remote-controlled weapon system and laser-guided projectile to a range of 3.1 miles.
RUSSIA: “Terminator” Tank
The tank-support fighting vehicle BMPT Terminator -- one of the most heavily armed in this category -- was also revealed for the first time. The first ten of these were sold to Kazakhstan in 2011. It has four launchers for Ataka anti-tank guided missiles, a 7.62 machine gun, a 30-mm AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher on both sides of the hull and a two-person turret with two 30mm 2A4w dual-fee cannons.
RUSSIA: Orsis Sniper Rifle
Military, police and special forces began to take delivery on Promtechnologies Group Orsis T-500 sniper rifles in September of last year. Available in a .338 Lapua Magnum and .308 Winchester, this was the rifle of choice for the FSB Alpha Group -- a team that won the Sniper World Cup earlier this month.
U.S. companies showed off their military might as well with 158 companies taking part. At a time of dramatic defense cuts in the U.S., the new presence of Russia, Chinese and other non-Western countries certainly made it clear they have gone in a different “go big or go home” direction.
Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has travelled 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