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Military Equipment Makers Think 'Lighter, Sooner'

  • Robert Raffaele

Modern soldiers often depend on the latest weaponry and high-tech gear to carry out their missions. Some of the latest models in military hardware were on display recently at an exposition outside of Washington.

For U.S and other international troops fighting terrorism, quick and effective decision-making can be crucial.
And having the latest, lightest military equipment, and plenty of firepower, can mean the difference between life and death.

A vehicle capable of driving itself might make a difference, too. Military equipment makers put that and more on display at a recent exposition in Quantico, Virginia.

It is equipped for either manual or robotic driving, and carries enough food, water and ammunition to last a combat squad three days. Brigadier General Bob Hedelund:

"Some other capabilities though, of course, are that it can do, as you can see here, casualty evacuation," he said. "It can provide water re-supply, food re-supply, ammunition re-supply, so that instead of having Marines do that mission, we can get an autonomous vehicle to do that."

John Gumbel of the Boeing Corporation says soldiers should not have to wait for the latest gear.

"For the war fighter, when they see something they need, like the MRAP [Mine Resistant Ambush Protective] recovery vehicle, or the unmanned aerial systems for re-supply, or certainty, the unmanned ground vehicles, [the question for each of them is] 'Why does it take so long? We need those now?'" he asked.

And can't the equipment be lighter, asks military veteran Jim Laskey?

"These folks right now are looking at 70 and 80-pound [32 to 36-kilogram] packs," he said. "You know, it's damn hard to fight with 70 and 80 pound packs on your back. You need something lighter. We're looking at lighter weapons, we're looking at things that are going to take the stress off our troops."

More than 400 American and international hardware and software companies displayed updated product lines at the show.