Antoon Burgers, Program Manager – Special Tactics Equipment at Holmatro details how cooperation between industry and special operations forces are helping with the fight against crime and terror
A trend that has developed in recent years is that the industry is more frequently approached by Police and Defence special operations forces for help in the development of new tools to improve their tactical operations and to ensure a quicker, safer way of working.
Because special operations forces have got very specific requirements of their tools, it is very expensive and time-consuming to develop entirely new products from scratch. For this reason, it is increasingly common to look at existing products used by others for similar types of operations. These products can often be adapted relatively easy in order to make them suitable for use by special operations forces. A good example was the need for better tools to break open access doors to houses and/or companies. Modern houses have been equipped with better quality doors and locks, so it becomes more and more difficult to quickly and quietly (until the very last moment) open these doors. A quick and efficient way of opening an access door is an essential part of special tactics operations in which surprise plays an important role.
The advantages of hydraulic tools
Hydraulic rescue equipment used by fire and rescue services worldwide formed the starting point for fulfilling this need. These rescue tools have been in use for many years for vehicle extrication and saving human lives in all kinds of rescue situations. These tools are of course specially developed to fulfil the requirements of the rescue services and produced with a number of unique properties. Rescue equipment is for example very robust and must be usable on a daily basis. As it concerns saving human lives the tools must be and remain very reliable in various circumstances. They must also be easy to maintain and not liable to malfunction. Furthermore, they must be safe for the user and his environment. As these tools are also used in emergency response scenarios (e.g. to get access into hard to reach places) they must be very easy to use and suitable for operation by one person. Additionally, they must be able to exert an enormous pressure, in order to cut or spread reinforced material and support or lift heavy objects during rescue operations.
Special operations require specialised equipment
The above-mentioned properties were also present in the requirements of the special operations forces. However, they wanted to add something extra to the existing range; their operation had to be silent. In order to increase the surprise effect of a raid, it is desirable that there is no noise until the very last moment. It is also important for special operations that the tools are given a mat black exterior. Special operations forces often operate in the dark and a conspicuous or reflective colour could give away their presence and position prematurely. The door opener also needed to be strengthened and be able to be pushed itself with great force between the door frames. Then it needs to be able to switch easily from sideway pressure to forward pressure in order to breach the door. With this extreme force, any locks and hinges on the door have to break open so that the building can be accessed quickly and efficiently.
Once the requirements had been incorporated the new tactical tools were tested ‘in real life situations’ by the special operations units for some weeks. As special operations forces are known for only using materials in which they have 100% confidence, only qualitative and highly reliable materials pass the test. Nowadays, hydraulic special tactics tools are an essential part of their daily equipment in many countries for a variety of scenarios.
Once it was evident what could be achieved in close cooperation with the industry and confidence was gained in the strength and applicability of hydraulic tools, other applications for these type of tools are continuously examined. In this way, they try to contribute to a safer and more efficient way of working for special operations forces. This, in turn, helps maintain a safer and better society in which we all must live.
Program Manager – Special Tactics Equipment
Tel: +31 (0)162 58 9200