First, chronologically at least, was Avon with a new version of their M50 mask and a very nice new PAPR. Their new respirator is the FM54, and aimed at a specialist user that requires flash fire overprotection. In addition to the flash fire coating they have a lower cost of ownership, greatly improved amplified and passive speech. Developed in conjunction with the U.S. Government it has improved field of view and now meets NFPA 1986. A nice improvement to the stable, but of interest to only a limited and highly specialised customer set - unless you feel the M53 is SOOOO last season. Of more interest, to me at least, is their new PAPR, their AvonAir range. Avon has previously been in the SCBA market with their Viking range and their ST53 hybrid SCBA. Now however they have a lightweight, ultra quiet positive air powered respirator, that can be combined with SCBA or new conformal canisters. It has improved modularity and (finally) offers COTS batteries, which greatly reduces cost and ease ownership. As well as Molle mount or traditional belt it now comes with a backpack mount with integrated camelbak, improved load carriage and allows the belt to be used for other mission critical items. Another nice item is pneumatic covers for the PAPR when in SCBA mode, this allows an automatic waterproof cover ensuring that when you swap back from SCBA to PAPR that the filters have not been compromised by ingress of liquid/water etc.

Another new product, though launched a few weeks ago at IABTI in the U.S., Northrop Grumman Remotec launched their Andros FX (or Andros F Xtreme!). This has been a long awaited improvement of their Andros range and comes from long consultation with customers. It has a fantastic range of user control options, that I lack the space (and notes) to go into, but it provides a number of mission presets, such as stair climbing, that allows the robot to take more control in some operations allowing the user to focus on other mission elements. Boasting an improvement on the already market leading Cutlass arm, it has modules to be able to deal with VBIEDS. It has four drive motors allowing a faster speed of 9kmh and has a very spiffy palm camera (with shades of Iron Man!) which allows greater dexterity in ironing doors or engaging with devices. There have also been improvements in stair climbing, each track can be individually controlled, and is able to deal with 120kg weight when retracted or 60kg when extended. Since the improvements were funded by Northrop it is free from ITAR restrictions, with a ‘Block 0’ out before the end of the year it is aimed at the EOD and Hazmat community in the U.S., Middle East and beyond.

Even though it was reported on in previous News Emergent Biosolutions unveiled their new range of auto injectors. Not much to look at perhaps, but it shakes up what has previously been a very stable market.

Another product that had been long trailed was Bruker Detection’s Road Runner. Having previously majored on the chemical market in the past five years it has expanded its offering to include bio detection (with their ELISA detector and PCR) and explosives (with their De-tector) they have now entered the narcotics market with high temperature IMS. The narcotics market is one of the most buoyant at the moment, but I requires an active and expanding library to deal with ‘legal highs’ it will be interesting to see how Bruker meets this challenge.

Saab also showed their new recce vehicle offering. Based on an Iveco chassis, though Saab state they are chassis agnostic, and can include whichever detectors the customer requires. The Saab elements are the mission module box and the CBRN battlefield management system that interfaces with specialist warning and reporting software, such as NBC Analysis or JWARN, at the users request. The system has been sold into Sweden and Kuwait.

Also of interest on the Rheinmetall stand was the Oerlikon active laser. A big beast, though smaller versions are available, a rep wasn’t able to answer my questions on whether it could deal with Chem fill rounds, so I hope to find out more today.

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