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This event is held annually in the last full working week of August at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. It remains the focal point for European infantry weapons and small arms developments and complements the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Joint Armaments conference normally held annually in May in the United States.
The Shrivenham Symposium provides a personal atmosphere, giving a vital opportunity to ‘network’ and the 27th annual Small Arms and Cannon Symposium held in August of 2013 continued to be well attended, even if budgetary constraints prevented some from attending. This year the symposium was again held in the two full day format (changed by attendee’s request in 2011 from two full days over a three day format) and this years’ Symposium was therefore held over the 21-22 August 2013. It is rumored that the 2014 edition of the Small Arms and Cannon Symposium will include an extra event- a live fire exercise where attendees can participate and vendors can have their products on the line for testing. This discussion started many of the industry attendees who did not have booths this year to discuss setting up booths and going to the range- always a hit for everyone involved. Attendees get to try lots of weapons and accessories, vendors get to show the “proof in the pudding” by letting potential buyers try their wares. Fingers are crossed that this will be possible in 2014.
In addition this year, the second edition of a one-day Wound Ballistics Symposium was held immediately prior to the Small Arms & Cannon Symposium to enable delegates who wished to attend both symposia to do so in a single visit.
The programme format consisting of short presentations on various subjects is well established and allows maximum coverage of a large subject matter area to cater for the varied interests of those attending. The programme over the two days offered twenty presentations and the wide-ranging spectrum of the presentations covered the following subjects:
- How will the British Infantry be Equipped, Train & Fight in the Future? – UK MOD
- Details of Future Themes – UK Army HQ
- Improving Lethality by Non Equipment Means – UK, Small Arms School Corps
- Small Arms as a Last Resort – Independent Consultant, UK
- The Use of Soldier Error Budgets to direct UK Lethality Research – SEA
- Tactical Effectiveness – Nammo, Sweden
- Soldier Integrated Precision Effects Systems (SIPES), An Industry Perspective – Colt Canada
- Automatic Cannon Ammunition 20-57mm: Caliber’s, Applications and Projectile Developments – IHS Jane’s
- Where to Now? – Independent Consultant, USA
- An overview of the Canadian Small Arms Research (FSAR) Program – Defence Research and Development, Canada
- 12.7mm (.50 cal.) Multipurpose Effectiveness Study – Nammo Raufoss, Norway
- 12.7mm ‘Reduced Ricochet’ Ammunition – ARMAOME Ltd
- MAC Lightweight Polymer Ammunition – Status and Path Forward – MAC LLC
- Grenade Launchers and their Ammunition: An International Survey –HIS Jane’s
- An update on the Canadian Research and the Small Arms Program – National Defence HQ, Canada
- The HALVAR Small Arms Model – TNO, The Netherlands
- Serious Games Herald Increased Interaction and Collaboration in Defence and Security – Serious Games International
- GPMG Rate-of-Fire Considerations – Independent Consultant, Germany
Following on from previous years, subject matter of the presentations reflected an increasingly pragmatic approach to what is achievable in the immediate future, (particularly when set against financial constraints). Again absent were the presentations, or indeed updates, on Future Soldier. While in excess of twenty such programs remain globally on the books, with perhaps the notable exception of Canada, all appear to be moving forward, albeit slowly with the business end of the programme retaining existing small arms and light infantry weapons already in service or somewhat modified to support the primary areas in which such programs are indeed advancing, such as situational awareness, command and control at the unit level and enhanced personal protection levels.
As commented here last year, recent combat operations have fined-tuned the needs of the warfighter in terms of the infantry weapons mix required, which had seen the return of the larger rifle calibre 7.62 x 51mm weapons in general and the ‘Sharpshooter’ or ‘Designated Marksman’ rifle in particular. The low and high-velocity grenade-launcher is clearly here to stay and the user has an increasing variety of options in terms of ammunition types available, including less-lethal options.
The current draw-down and pending final withdrawal from Afghanistan of NATO forces has required participants to review their national inventories post-operations. UK MOD briefed on the way ahead in terms of small arms inventories – the L129A1 Designated Marksman Rifle (Sharpshooter) purchased in considerable numbers as an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) is to be taken into the core inventory, the Combat Shotgun (L128A1) will not be. (In this author’s opinion, the militarized shotgun has seen an ad-hoc use over the decades in the British service, primarily in insurgency operations or for use in explosive ordnance disposal, being purchased as needed and is needed). The selection of the Glock 17 as the future handgun (L131A1) in the British service will also see a change in issue strategy – gone will be the issue of a handgun to every combatant as a defence against ‘Blue-on-Blue’ encounters, reverting, as in the past, to one of need or primarily a means of self-protection when either duty or circumstances dictate against carriage of a larger weapon.
Attention continues to be directed at the harmful effects of small arms ammunition discharges, with tests showing that issues can also arise with the new non-toxic types (lead-free) currently being introduced. The operational use of weapon suppressors has also raised the issue of post-operational use as standard under a ‘duty of care’ banner.
Simulation modeling continues to play an important part in predicting current and future weapon effects, covering both bursting munitions and individual small arms fire.
Additional activities provided as part of the Symposia programme include visits to the on-site DA-CMT Small Arms Facility, which is a teaching and reference collection of infantry weapons. The staff of this facility also provide a live-firing demonstration of selected weapons and accessories to which delegates are invited. The Symposia itself is held in the Defence Capability Centre (DCC – not to be confused with DCC – Dismounted Close Combat) which houses the Defence Academy collection of artillery, armoured vehicles and ammunition, and tours of the various collection can be arranged on request.
A long-established feature of the Shrivenham Small Arms and Cannon symposia has been the formal evening dinner. The venue again this year, after a very successful event last year, was the Steam Railway Museum of the Great Western Railway in the nearby town of Swindon. The museum is situated in the renovated premises of the former Swindon Railway Works and guests were seated among the major and minor historic artifacts of the museum for an excellent four-course dinner, with pre-dinner drinks (with a chance to wander around the museum) and wine in abundance. A good time was again, as the British would say, had by all.
SADJ would like to encourage the small arms community to lend their support to the XXVIII Small Arms & Cannon Symposium to be held in August 2014.
2nd Wound Ballistics Symposium
The Inaugural Wound Ballistics Symposium was held in 2012 with the intention, if successful, that a similar event be held every two years. In the event, however, the considerable number of papers submitted could not be presented over the allotted one-day period and the decision was taken, as all papers were of significant value and relevant to the community’s needs, to present half at the inaugural symposium and the remaining papers the following year. It is expected that the 3rd Wound Ballistics Symposium will be held in 2015, and again for convenience, to run concurrently with the Small Arms and Cannon Symposium to allow delegates to attend both symposia if required.
Eight papers were presented during a busy day. These are listed by title for the benefit of those professionally involved in the subject matter area as a guide to future attendance:
- The Development of a Skin-Skull-Brain Model for Ballistic Testing.
- Postmortem Alterations on Gunshot Wounds in Ribs Recovered from Marine and Terrestrial Environments.
- The Use of Lethality-Related Terms in the Metropolitan Police Service.
- What’s lethality got to do with it?
- A Comparison of Incapacitation Criteria: Kokinakis and Sperrazza vs Courtney and Courtney.
- The Role of Hydrocode Modeling for the Development of Enhanced Lethality Small Arms Ammunition.
- Evaluation of Bone Surrogates for Wound Ballistics Studies.
- Using Real Data for Validation of 3D Injury Modeling.
It goes without saying that the subject matter of the presentations is not for those of a sensitive nature and those who work in this area must be given credit for continued work that has seen significant advances in recent years in the understanding of the wounding mechanism and concurrent support to the forensic science community.