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In January, more than 64,000 firearms enthusiasts, law enforcement officials, and professional warfighters poured into the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas for the 38th annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show, or SHOT Show. As the largest trade show for the firearms and tactical industries in the world, SHOT offers a comprehensive glimpse of what the future of war fighting has in store. 2016 saw the event’s biggest turnout so far, with upward of 1,6000 exhibiting companies crowding the showroom floor.
Here we spotlight seven standouts that belong on every professional warfighter’s packing list this year.
Thrym Cell Vault
Keeping batteries dry and easily accessible while on mission can be a pain the ass. The Cell Vault by Thrym is a simple and smartly designed solution to that problem. Slim and waterproof, the Vault uses less than one MOLLE column and holds the three most common battery types for tactical accessories: AA, AAA, and CR123.
Unity Tactical TAPS
Pressure switches are nothing new, but what’s currently available often comes up short in the durability department. Enter Unit Tactical’s Tactical Augmented Pressure Switch, or TAPS. Encased in a molded polymer body, TAPS features two programmable buttons, as well as removable cables, which are compatible with tactical devices made by different companies. TAPS also features a mechanical backup, so the switches will continue to function if the batteries die.
Eytomic Research EB15 Earplugs
The future of tactical hearing protection has arrived. While providing ample hearing protection from harmful noise like explosives and gunfire, the electronics inside the EB15 ear plugs by Eytomic Research allow speech and ambient noise to be heard clearly. The smaller and lighter earbuds also mean less bulk and more comfort compared to full-size headsets and earmuffs.
MTEK USA Flux Helmet
The tactical helmet market has been evolving a lot lately, with many manufacturers now offering advanced designs and more customization. At 2.2 pounds, MTEK USA’s Flux is one of the lightest helmet shells ever. It also features a unique boltless design with no holes drilled into the shell, which makes it one of the safest helmets on the market. And with accessory rails featuring the new Magpul MLOK attachment system, the Flux is fully customizable right out of the box.
Elcan Specter HCO
With the holographic weapon sight market now wide open since design flaws were revealed in the dominant EOtech line of optics, many shooters are looking for a worthy replacement. Elcan’s Specter Hologram Combat Optic is it. The HCO features a combination one-minute angle dot and 75 MOA circle, which will be familiar to users of other holographic sights. But perhaps the most impressive feature is a 1,200-hour battery life on optimal settings — a significant improvement over previous designs.
Return of the Jungle Boot
The classic jungle boot is making a comeback. Boot makers Altama and Salomon Forces have introduced boots optimized for the wet jungle terrain, with features like drainages holes and and puncture resistant materials. As tactical companies look to America’s defense pivot to the Pacific, we can expect jungle-optimized gear to become much more prevalent in the industry.
LMT MARS-L Carbine
American firearms company Lewis Machine & Tool has revealed its MARS-L line of AR-15 pattern rifles, featuring a unique lower and upper receiver designed to accommodate fully ambidextrous controls, including a right side bolt release and a fenced-in mag release on the left. While ambidextrous AR-15s are not new, this design will be one of the first to enter wide service with a foreign military. The New Zealand Defense Force has selected the MARS-L to replace the variant of the Steyr AUG currently in service.
A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.
The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.
So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.