by Paolo Valpolini
The 20th edition of Milipol, the homeland security exhibition and conference that takes place in uneven years at the Parc des Expositions de Villepinte, north of Paris, featured a number of new small arms models, from handguns to assault rifles. However the change in paradigm was quite obvious: the focus was not so much on weapons, cybersecurity, UAVs, counter-UAV systems and anti-ramming barriers having taken over the primacy from arms, ammo and body armour. Recent terrorist events are shaping the market, police and security services looking with increased interest in military calibre weapons considering the spread of military-type systems among terrorists. In the handgun field, all major companies have developed, unveiled or are developing striker pistols, also in view of some bids awaited in the near future in many countries. Cyber defence (cyber attack is banned, at least officially) is the new priority: “kidnapping” database has apparently become quite a lucrative business, but other cybercrimes are becoming common, not to mention the need to protect databases and control systems of key national assets. The availability of commercial UAVs on the free market generates the need for counter-UAV systems, as drones with sufficient payload capacity can be easily transformed into flying IEDs. Once a secondary subject, defensive barriers have been brought to the forefront by recent attacks: considering only 2017, 12 ramming-vehicles attacks were carried out in Canada, France, Israel, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is thus unsurprising that items designed to counter that threat became quite popular. With over 1,000 exhibitors from 54 different countries, the number of visitors has not yet been announced, but the organisers’ expectation was to reach 30,000.