More than 300 companies and organizations will pack the exhibition floor at the 140th General Conference & Exhibition in New Orleans this month. While the business sessions will feature a lineup of top speakers, the trade show is an equal highlight of the four-day event, Aug. 24–27.
Businesses and organizations interested in the National Guard and individual Guardsmen will show off their latest products and services for combat and domestic response. Several universities and insurance, clothing and novelty retailers are also set to exhibit.
The exhibition enables Guardsmen from the 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia to check out new equipment and speak directly to producers.
For the fourth year, SPARGO is the official show manager. A SPARGO representative said the conference is a unique environment where an exhibitor can interact with the Guardsmen who operate their products. Visibility and feedback in a direct-to-consumer format puts a face on the company, which fosters better relations between a business and the Guard.
“What we do is bring together a wide range of buyers, sellers and users,” says retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president. “There are a lot big military trade shows, but none that showcase the products and services that cover the full breadth of National Guard’s dual mission.
“Where else would you find modern Army and Air Force equipment alongside the latest gear our soldiers and airmen will need to respond to future domestic disasters,” he says. “Our exhibition reflects the uniqueness of our force.”
Rich Goldberg, the founder and president of R2 Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in companies that want to do business with the Guard, represents several companies at the conference, including L3 Communications, SCI Technology, LRAD, DayOne and Eblanks AS.
“What we do is bridge relationships between producers of the latest and greatest technologies to Guardsmen across the 54,” he says. He adds that establishing a strong foundation between a company and its customers starts at events like the NGAUS gathering.
L3 Communications will bring the cutting edge of night optics to the conference, he says, showing off its third generation AN/PVS-14 night-vision device and AN/PVS-31A binocular night-vision gear.
They both feature new white-phosphor technology, which changes the standard night-vision green to a softer white, providing more detail and visual information while reducing stress on the eyes.
SCI Technology will offer a hands-on demonstration of its TOCNET system, which is designed for communications logistics, Goldberg says. The next-gen TOCNET-C eases communication logistics among different agencies.
For example, during an environmental disaster where the governor activates the Guard for emergency relief, TOCNET can bridge sheriff offices, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Guard and other first responders directly without dealing with individual communication platforms.
Eblanks AS is taking steps to create an environmentally friendly, universally available firearm-training platform with its electronic blanks line. An audio system fitted in the weapon’s magazine, paired with a recoil system inserted in the bolt slide, recreates the sound and feel of a blank-fire training exercise without the need for blank ammunition.
The E-Blank system creates no additional waste and eliminates the need to purchase, fire and clean up blank rounds. One magazine is good for 150,000 weapon discharges.
Able to provide a family of four with a full day’s worth of drinking water, the DayOne water bag uses purifying packets to sterilize up to 10 liters of water. The bag’s compact design makes it convenient for hiking and fishing, Goldberg says, while also making it easily distributable during a natural disaster, combat exercise or any environment where the water quality is questionable or depleted.
One of the world’s largest defense contractors, Northrop Grumman will showcase information on its newest aircraft technology and platforms.
“The citizen-soldiers of the National Guard play a critical role in our nation’s security,” says Stephen Lamb, the company’s senior communications representative. “Our mission is to help ensure these warfighters return home safely. The conference gives us an opportunity to talk with Guard officers and discuss ways we can work in partnership with them.”
In a joint venture with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman will exhibit the APG-78 fire-control radar, which provides radar-guided missile support for the Hellfire missile of the AH-64D Apache Longbow. This provides greater accuracy in bad weather and night operations.
Northrop Grumman will also display its Guardian anti-missile system, which can cause projectiles to miss the aircraft completely. The 550-pound system is already installed in hundreds of military aircraft in a low-profile housing case.
For training pilots in evasive maneuvers, Northrop Grumman built a joint-threat emitter, with information available at its booth. Already delivered to various Air Guard training centers, the joint-threat emitter simulates multiple artillery and aircraft missile threats, allowing pilots to learn how to avoid them in real combat.
To increase survivability and lethality to fourth-generation aircraft, the Air Guard has already chosen Northrop Grumman’s APG-83 scalable agile beam radar, a fifth-generation product, to upgrade its F-16 Fighting Falcons. An active-electronically scanned array radar, the gear fits in the aircraft with little modification.
Airbus, another of the world’s top-10 largest defense contractors by sales volume, is bringing a helicopter for visitors to tour. The H145 is a variant to the UH-72 Lakota, sporting an upgraded main- and tail-rotor system and four-axis autopilot for safer flying. Currently, the Army Guard has 212 Lakotas: 105 for support and security, 48 for medical evacuation, 39 for general support and 20 for training.
Scott Tumpak, the military program vice president at Airbus, believes the Lakota is an invaluable asset to the Guard, and hopes the H145 can provide a similar role.
“In terms of cost-savings, the Lakota is a sensible choice for missions that don’t require a combat package,” he says. With a more effective fuel-cost per hour over the UH-60 Black Hawk, the Lakota saves the Guard money during natural disasters and scenarios where weapons aren’t required for the mission.
Several exhibitors will offer information about military benefit programs. A new exhibitor, LTC Partners, is focused on informing military retirees on their options when it comes to dental coverage.
On Dec. 31, the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program will end, and a new option for TRICARE-eligible retirees and their families will be able to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program.
But enrollment is not automatic. Those in the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program must enroll in FEDVIP, which begins Nov. 1. LTC Partners is exhibiting to spread the word and answer questions.
WILLIAM ROHRS can be contacted at 202-408-5892 or at [email protected].