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This year’s Eurosatory international security and defense exposition will take place in Paris 11-15 June. If you’ve seen movies like Lord of War or some of the recent James Bond flicks, you know the sort of show we mean. It brings together defense industry vendors, government and military representatives, and who knows what other…ahem, “interested parties” under one massive roof.
Last held in June 2010, the show then attracted some 1,329 vendors and over 53,500 visitors. The militaries of 108 countries were represented. With nearly 300 new products displayed, unmanned aerial vehicles were a popular item, and several were the subject of live demonstrations—outdoors, of course.
You might assume that “Eurosatory” is a contraction of some longer name, but that isn’t the case. The expo traces its roots to 1967, when the French Procurement Agency (DGA) began assembling about 30 French defense contractors for a three-day show every two years. But prior to 1960, equipment in use by the French Army was displayed annually by the French Army Experimental Unit at the Satory Military Camp near Versailles. For one day during the display, military attachés from the various embassies in nearby Paris were invited to attend.
The biannual shows by the DGA lasted until 1990. In 1991, the French Land Defense Manufacturers Association (GICAT by its French acronym) took over, and in 1992 the show was renamed the European Exhibition for Land Defense Equipment.
In 1994 North American and other European companies were included, so in 1996 Eurosatory became the International Exhibition for Defense Equipment, with exhibitors from five continents. Since 1996 the formal name has continued to change with every show, but the far less cumbersome (and far more reliable) “Eurosatory” has remained the favored nickname.
The exhibitors for this year’s show have not been announced, but the list from 2010 was an impressive one that included manufacturers hailing from countries ranging from the U.S. and Russia to Germany and France to Estonia, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Lebanon, Croatia, and Slovenia. Industry stalwarts like Lockheed Martin, EADS, Raytheon, FN Herstal, Rheinmetall, BAE Systems, Rosoboronexport, and Trijicon just to name just a very few—were there.
The event is open to “professionals only,” but should you be in Paris this June and find a way to wrangle admission, by all means do so. You’ll get a look at the newest weapon systems destined for a battlefield near you, have a chance to watch senior military officers from dozens of countries drool over hardware they’d love to shoehorn into their budget, and probably pick up some awesome promotional items.
Besides, where else can you see a bunch of guys in suits climbing all over a main battle tank?