HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - At the Space and Missile Defense Symposium, there's a lot to see and hear. Tuesday, for instance you could have listened to a discussion by experts on next generation missile defense. There was also plenty of talk about missile defense in an uncertain world.
"All you have to do is look around the world and see how the threat is growing in nations around the world that are a potential threat to our nation," said Bob Phillips, Vice President for Huntsville Engagement at Boeing.
All kinds of cutting edge technology are on display at the 200 booths this year. These include everything from new types of missile motors to the latest in laser weapons. Also on display, a Formula 3 race car. The car is not the big deal, though. The big deal is the car's paint job, which is embedded with a communications antenna. It's the sort of thing that might be used to make a missile, or fighter jet a little sleeker and a little lighter.
"The size, weight, power requirements... 'SWOP' as they call it. All that has to be reduced, and one of the things we do as a small business, is we don't build a whole system. It's about trying to figure out how we can bring technology into play that enables the larger business to put together systems that meet these characteristics," said Jason Keen, President of Huntsville company IERUS Technologies.
Meeting all the characteristics needed for a successful future is what the symposium is about. It's the theme that brings 3,000 industry, government and military representatives to the symposium. Small businesses and large seeking to become defense partners for the future.
"It gives the government a chance to come out and touch, and see, and feel the latest. It provides a forum where they can sit down and talk and discuss with each other," said Bob English of the SMD Symposium Committee.
From Tuesday morning through mid-day Thursday, the symposium will be full of talk and discussion about defending threats 10 years from now. But how do you develop answers for threats that haven't themselves been developed? "I think laying the foundation for the right answers. Laying the foundation from a technology perspective so we can react to the gaps in a rapid fashion. That would be the end goal," says Jason Keen of IERUS.
Obviously being ready for the future doesn't start tomorrow, it starts now. At the Space and Missile Defense Symposium you can see all sorts of evidence that the thinking about it, and working on it, are already well under way.
The public is invited to tour the exhibits and see for themselves what's happening in the defense industry. With a valid photo I.D. anyone can check out the symposium starting at 9:45 each morning.