Local News

Defense Firms Show Off Latest in Troop Protection

Posted June 11, 2007 6:11 p.m. EDT
Updated June 11, 2007 6:45 p.m. EDT

— Roadside bombs have killed hundreds of American troops in Iraq in recent years, but defense technology contractors are developing technology to protect soldiers and Marines from improvised explosive devices.

At the IED Expo, being held at the Crown Expo Center through Wednesday, defense firms showed off simulators, bullet-resistant glass and other technology designed to protect deployed troops from the deadliest devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s encouraging to see that industry is trying to get out ahead of of this (threat),” said Army Lt. Col. Gregory Rawlings, who said part of his job at Fort Bragg is to review emerging technology. "Just like the enemy is looking at new ways to get us, we're looking at new ways to counter what he can do to us and get out ahead of him so we can win."

Combat Training Solutions, based in Orlando, Fla., put on an outdoor demonstration of its IED simulators, which are used by the military during training exercises.

Company representative Tony Trivelli placed a simulated IED on his chest and set it off, causing no injury to himself or anyone else around him. Such simulators are increasingly valuable, he said, noting that training on how to handle IEDs was practically nonexistent until recently.

“The training would be ‘Boom! You’re dead!’ Now you have something in your face, and nobody’s going to get hurt,” Trivelli said.

"When (a soldier or Marine) hears it or sees it, he's going to know how to respond," he said. "We blow them up in their face. It's loud, it's obnoxious. But it certainly gets their attention."

Meanwhile, Albert Pfitzmayer of American Defense Systems, based in Hicksville, N.Y., demonstrated his company's bullet-resistant glass by firing an AK-47 assault rifle at it. The inner surface of the glass remained intact.

The glass has been installed in about 400 vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pfitzmayer said.

Tires filled with a no-shock polymer that can fend off bullets from a 9-millimeter handgun, a .357 Magnum or an AK-47 are being marketed by Arnco, another defense contractor.

The IED Expo, which isn't open to the public, is organized by Defense Tradeshows. The company has hosted similar events in other military communities.