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Virtual training was a big topic at the Space & Missile Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., this week. Here, a symposium attendee tries his hand at using a shoulder-mounted missile to wipe out virtual opposition at the Blue Halo booth. (Lee Roop/lroop/TNS)

(Tribune News Service) – This week Space & Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville is the 25th annual, and the locals say that sometimes it feels like a high school reunion to see friends and colleagues from past conferences on the big show.

They were especially happy to see each other this year, as the pandemic subsided enough to make the event seem more normal. But this is not a meeting. It is filled every year with briefings from the nation’s top military leaders on future needs and plans and stand after stand of systems, devices and simulators to demonstrate new defense technology.

Here are some of the companies working with military commands in Alabama to bring that technology to this year’s conference and support the Huntsville defense industry and the Army commands at Redstone Arsenal.

Blue Halo is a private defense and intelligence company based outside of Washington in Arlington, Virginia, but has teams working in Huntsville on space defense, air missile defense, cybersecurity and “counterintelligence.”

One of its products is a fully autonomous “swarm of drones” that communicate with each other to detect and defeat enemy drones on a battlefield. It’s called the “Hive program” and all of the company’s drone design and manufacturing is done in Huntsville. At the show, Blue Halo’s famous training “room” allows customers to enter a virtual room and fire a shoulder-fired missile at various threats in a simulation.

MOOG is a 63-year-old company active in “space, missile and ground military systems” and its main selling point is “precision motion control”. The founder of the company invented the “precision servo valve” which is a key part of many systems in many vehicles. When the pilot lowers the flaps to land the Boeing 737 flight, for example, he or she pushes on a servo valve invented by MOOG.

The company is now completing work in Huntsville to build the turret that will go on top of future Army vehicles. For the symposium, he put everything on a large display turret: guns, missiles and lasers. The Army can choose the combination it needs and hire or train personnel accordingly.

Parsons is a global technology company with several thousand employees in Huntsville teaming with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

Technology company Parsons “went for it” and brought a life-size “Space Invaders” game to its booth at this week’s Space and Missile Symposium in Huntsville, Ala. (Lee Roop/lroop/TNS)

Huntsville chief James Lackey said the company is active in designing weapons systems for MDA on Redstone Arsenal and satellite communications equipment that works from ground to space and back. Satellites for communication, tracking and performing other missions are increasingly numerous and critical for future defense, and pose “classified threats” that Parsons is also working to resolve.

Parsons also brought what might be the booth’s most popular attraction: a life-sized Space Invaders game with side-by-side seating where gamers could fight wave after wave of aliens with evil intent. As in the late 1970s version before some of them were born.

ENERCON is working on the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles fired at America or its military installations.

ENERCON in Huntsville is an example of a familiar local structure. Based in Maine, it has 100 people in Alabama who work directly on THAAD. The missile is assembled in Troy, Ala. by Lockheed Martin. Its radar is supplied by Ratheon and its cooling equipment is supplied by Teledyne.

At the symposium, the company showed its large mobile power unit for the system that the Army will rely on in future field operations.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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