Things to look out for at Eurosatory, part 2

Continuing my description of some of the products that will be on show at Eurosatory next month that I was able to preview yesterday (18 May).

Proengin's AP4C is extremely user-friendly. Photo credit: Christina Mackenzie

Proengin’s AP4C is extremely user-friendly. Photo credit: Christina Mackenzie

Proengin was showing its AP4C which detects the four chemical warfare agents that are present in either vomiting, blood, nerve or blister agents. These are: phosphorus (present in all nerve agents such as Sarin, soman, Tabun or Vx); sulphur and arsenic (either one or the other are contained in all blister agents such as mustard gas and lewisite whilst arsenic is contained in all blood agents) and cyanide derivatives. The system can detect these agents in all forms: vapour, aerosol, droplets, dust, frozen, liquid, in water, on the skin.

The hand-held system is a flame spectrometer. Put in very simple terms, it sucks air into a compartment that contains a 1mm flame and then expels it. If any of the chemical war agents are present, their atoms and molecules will react in a very characteristic way to the heat thereby revealing their presence with a colour. The light on the front of the AP4C then simply turns green if none of these chemicals have been detected or red if one of them has. The measuring time is instantaneous and all elements can be simultaneously detected because they emit different colours. The “return-to-zero” time is also very fast and there is no memory effect given that there are no filters in the system that could “capture” one of the toxins and give a false reading the next time around.

 

T-Rex by NBC-Sys gives a clear answer as to whether explosives are present or not. Photo credit: Christina Mackenzie

T-Rex by NBC-Sys gives a clear answer as to whether explosives are present or not. Photo credit: Christina Mackenzie

Moving along from chemicals to explosives, NBC-Sys, a Nexter subsidiary, will be showing a prototype at Eurosatory of the T-Rex, a system to detect traces of explosives. T-Rex uses three technologies: fluorescence, surface acoustic waves and quartz crystal microbalance which can detect explosives vapour from home-made explosives (such as TATP, hydrogen peroxide, nitromethane and nitrobenzene), military and commercial explosives (TNT, EGDN) and taggants (nitrotuluene and DNT). NBC-Sys developed the system on its own funds and is hoping to start industrial production of T-Rex in 2017.

 

The Barier sentry-beacon. Photo credit: Atermes

The Barier sentry-beacon. Photo credit: Atermes

A system we did not see but that will be shown at Eurosatory is the Barier (Beacon Autonomous for Recon, Identification, Evaluation and Response…but it sounds better in French!) mobile border security system made by Atermes. Development was launched in 2011 and following an evaluation by the STAT French army technical service which recommended that a radar be added to the optronic and acoustic sensors, two versions have been developed, one with the radar and one without. The system is made up of eight solar-powered sentry-beacons, two armoured drop-off vehicles and one control and command vehicle.

One of the armoured drop-off vehicles setting the sentry-beacon into position. Photo credit: Atermes

One of the armoured drop-off vehicles setting the sentry-beacon into position. Photo credit: Atermes

Barier enables remote areas to be observed and give border guards the advantage of surprise because the beacons can easily be moved into new positions making them difficult to avoid by would-be illegal immigrants. Barier remains silent until an intruder (person or vehicle) is detected and it can then pinpoint their position, provide a real-time image to the operator and enable an appropriate response to be made.

 

The SLD 500 by Cilas. Photo credit: Christina Mackenzie

The SLD 500 by Cilas. Photo credit: Christina Mackenzie

Looking more specifically for snipers, the SLD 500 LR and SLD 500 made by Cilas are tripod-mounted, combat-proven systems that sweep an area with a laser that will pick up any lens with a focal length and therefore warn that somebody is watching you either with binoculars, a gun-sight, a camera etc. It was initially developed at the request of the French army to counter snipers in Sarajevo in the early 1990s and since then has sold extremely well, notably to the UK, the Czech Republic and many Middle Eastern countries. The laser used is not eye-safe but in order to be harmful the person would have to look at the laser steadily for 100 seconds, an unlikely occurrence given the speed at which the laser sweeps an area.