The perception that the American military is closed to foreign suppliers is wrong, says United States Col Randall Catts - and he's got a $30million-plus annual budget to prove his point.

Catts is at the show - in the American Pavilion - to meet non-US equipment suppliers who want their kit evaluated by the US forces. "We're not just here offering free advice: We're here offering money to get foreign vendors on evaluation programmes," says Catts.



Catts runs the Foreign Comparative Testing Program (FCT) which enables foreign companies to have their equipment tested, at the expense of the American tax-payer.

Evaluation ranges from comparative testing against US equipment to qualification testing and technical assessments.

"What we bring is the funding to enable that to happen," says Catts.

Describing himself as an "information broker", Catts can put non-US companies in touch with the right contacts in the US military.

The administrative process for choosing the candidates for evaluation projects takes about a year, although exceptional products can be adopted at a late stage.

In the current financial year, more than 20 companies - from countries such as Britain, France and Russia - have equipment being evaluated.

Catts says that anyone on the program will receive feedback very quickly.

He adds that since its launch 17 years ago, the DoD's investment of $600million in FCT - and resulting purchases of foreign equipment - has saved the US military $2.5billion. It has resulted in $4.5billion worth of procurement from foreign companies.

Source: Flight Daily News