Australia, known as the land down under, is hard for Americans not to think of it without the image of Crocodile Dundee appearing in your mind or the famous song from Men at Work, Land Down Under, whispering in your ear. You probably think about it when you go to a Zoo or watch a wildlife documentary and see a kangaroo or a koala bear or a platypus. You think of the famous accent or the words Wombat or Vegemite. And of course we think of the cartoon Tasmanian devil, Taz, a native of the island that bares its name, Tasmania.
But the real Australia is far from the stereotyped image. There are modern cities here as well as old; famous cities like Sydney, with its Opera house and Melbourne, Darwin, Perth, and the new capital Canberra. And then there is Brisbane.
Between Sept 22 and 25, Land Forces 2014 was held at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. It is considered the leading land defense forum for Australia, Asia, and the Pacific, with over two hundred vendors throughout its hall. Though not as large as IWA, Eurosatory, or MSPO, it is still quite impressive. Among the most prominent vendors there were Boeing, H&K, and General Dynamics. Mercedes-Benz was present with some new armored vehicles for the armed forces. Even the government of Queensland had a large booth, containing small companies from that state.
The show had no shortage of vehicles, both miniatures and real life. Most were armored personnel carriers and large trucks to carry heavy loads. At the entrance was a 155mm Lightweight Howitzer as well as a few other vehicles on loan from the Australian armed forces. Both Boeing and General Dynamics had their own infantry personnel carriers. There were also lesser unknown companies like Supacat with their HMT 600 and ATMP, and Polaris with their Sportsman 4-wheelers.
If children were allowed into the hall, it would be torture for them. There was no end of the miniature vehicles, be they trucks, ships, or fighter jets. Many of these were impressively done models. Lockheed Martin had the most of these on display, showing off their newest designs, including miniatures of the HELLFIRE Missile System and the M270A1 (Multiple Launch Rocket System). Also, South Australia the Defense State had miniature displays of complexes they were planning on building. This is an effective method of showing a company’s products without having the expense of shipping the full size models of everything in their line.
The remote control (CROW system) mount was prominently on display at this show, mostly with the M2HB .50 caliber machine gun. One could easily control this from inside a vehicle using a “joystick,” firing at enemy combatants from relative safety. The booths these were seen at the most were Kongsberg and Elbit Systems of Australia. Rheinmetall, however, upped the ante and used an H&K GMG 40mm Grenade launcher. Some of these were on the vehicles in the hall as well, like the light infantry vehicles.
As for firearms, there was plenty to see. H&K had a large display with its latest collection of weapons, as well as their own GMG 40mm Grenade Machine Gun. Colt, Barrett, SIG Sauer, and Beretta were present as well, all showing their newest products, including Barrett’s
award winning MRAD.
Other vendors showcased body armor, ammo, knives, mortars, targets, and drones as well as a missile from Diehl Defense. One thing that stood out was from Australian Target Systems. They had a device that held four targets. Each target had on one side a soldier minding his own business, while the other side had a soldier holding a gun in front of them, aimed at the shooter. At random, the targets turned back and forth between sides, showing the shooter when to shoot and when not to shoot.
The Demo Disarming IED Robot at this show was impressive. These have been quite useful on the battlefield from helping deactivate bombs to firing on enemy combatants with whatever weapon is attached to it.
The show was not open to the public. Most of the visitors were military personal and other defense contractors, as well as members of the press. A few units from the Australia armed forces were allowed in. The food in the hall is really just hot dogs and burgers. If you prefer something else, the Exhibition Centre is not far from some great restaurants near the Brisbane River. Indian, Chinese, Thai, Turkish, Italian, and even Eastern European cuisines can be found within walking distance from the show.
As for Brisbane itself, it is a very enjoyable and vibrant city to visit. It is the capital of the state of Queensland and its largest city. It has a wonderful history, great beaches and some good museums. The best, in this writer’s opinion, is one a little ways down the river from the show called the Maritime Museum, with its main attraction being the HMAS Diamantina, a frigate from 1946. Across the Brisbane River is a large shopping area called Queen Street Mall with smaller shopping centers in the surrounding area. There is plenty to buy there and no shortage of restaurants, including the Australian brand of Burger King known there as Hungry Jack’s. As for a suggestion on a good place to eat, the Black Hide Steakhouse is a must.
As for what is outside of Brisbane, there isn’t much. It’s too far from the outback, as well as the southern cities of Sydney and Melbourne. There is a large zoo not far away, as well as the local rainforests. Also not far away is a city called the Gold Coast, Australia’s sixth and fastest growing city. One can find the tours to these places by just walking down the street and you will find a few tourist agencies easily. And for Scuba divers, the Great Barrier Reef is unsurpassed.
The people of Brisbane are friendly and quite helpful. They speak English so if you are visiting from the United States or another English speaking country you should be alright. If not, try and learn a few words, just in case – Aussie English can be a bit strange sometimes. Brisbane is a safe city with few problems and low crime and if you are in Queensland, Australia, be sure to pay this city a visit.