Military technology on display at Tampa trade show

At the Tampa Convention Center, the trade show floor is set up for an international event like no other.

“If you look around this show, there are all these different sensors, things that fly, things that shoot,” says Tampa native and former Army Green Beret Paul Greaves.

The trade show is part of SOF Week. SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. They are small units of highly trained military forces from all branches that range from Delta Force to Navy SEALs.

For hostage rescues and other dangerous Special Operations missions, they increasingly rely on the most advanced technology for a view of the battlefield and to control drones, remotely operated guns, and weapons and surveillance systems.

“If you look around, it’s pretty much the whole show is about technologically linked equipment,” says Greaves, who now works for a company called Persistent Systems, which provides technology systems for the military.

Many drones are on display. They’re becoming preferred weapons on new battlefields in a kind of technological chess match.

“It’s constantly evolving back and forth. We just try to stay ahead of them with our capabilities,” says Justin Litko, of Blue Halo.

That company provides electric powered water drones that can run 500 miles, either on the surface or underwater.

“A scenario would be if you’re trying to get a drone a far distance and there is only water between you and where you’re trying to take the drone.”

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The sea drone can carry an air drone and launch it with little fear of detection.

Tampa is a natural location for the event. MacDill Air Force Base houses US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which is in command of US Special Operations units from all branches of the military around the world.

Wednesday is the annual special operations demonstration at the Convention Center that simulates a special operation with troops dropped in by helicopters and automatic weapons firing blanks. It’s sure to be loud.

But the modern warfighter really depends on silent technology in the battles we see even now. Battles where drone warfare — and seeing the battle in real time — is war in the 21st century.

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