Following the success of DSEI 2015, the leading UK defence event will return on 12-15 September this year at London’s ExCeL. Defence Business previews the UK’s largest defence showcase
DSEI brings together the entire defence and security industry to source the latest equipment and systems, develop international relationships, and generate new business opportunities. Held every two years, DSEI 2015 was a major success with 34,038 unique attendees arriving at the ExCeL to learn more about the sector, and a further 1,683 exhibitors, including 42 international pavilions, exhibiting the latest content from around the world.
Alongside a plethora of international pavilions and feature areas, DSEI 2017 will have five key sector-focused zones: the Air Zone, which addresses the frontline operational requirements and support functions available to the aerospace sector; the Land Zone, which provides insight into the future of global land capability; the Naval Zone, which displays a range of vessels, from warships to high speed craft, along the Royal Victoria Dock; the Security Zone, which will tackle current issues such as the impact of international terrorism and regional instability on security decisions and humanitarian needs; and the Joint Zone, which is being expanded in 2017 to offer more companies the chance to network and a wider demonstration zone in which to learn.
With 2017 bringing new world leaders, new governments, controversial elections and mass political change across Europe and the U.S, the DSEI Strategic Conferences and Seminar Programme will carefully consider the global defence and security market amid the changes. Demonstrating the importance of global sharing of expertise, the DSEI Strategic Conferences will examine the influences on industrial strategies, technology and organisations and tap into the ideas and theories of the people who drive the defence and security sector forward in pursuit of innovation and long-term economic prosperity.
Advancing Air Capability
Superiority in air defence is fast becoming a primary objective for military forces around the world and air support is playing an increasingly important role in a number of conflicts globally. Many nations are looking to expand their capabilities, but with governments looking to streamline defence budgets, air forces are now assessing ways in which they can acquire equipment via the secondary market, or how they can upgrade and extend the life of current platforms. The Gulf states of Qatar and Kuwait have taken this approach and are set to buy 36 Boeing F-15 fighter jets and 28 F/A- 18E/F Super Hornets, from the United States, in deals worth $3 billion and $4 billion respectively.
The Air Capability Conference, supported by the Royal Air Force, will explore the challenges of fleet modernisation, the future air battlespace and the secondary market. It will also assess the development and integration of fifth generation platforms to operate alongside third and fourth-generation equipment, including how the F-35 programme will operate alongside platforms such as the Typhoon.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Land Warfare
Advances in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are being recognised across the defence and security industry. The US Defence Department’s latest budget allocated $18 billion to be spent over three years on a variety of technologies, including those needed for autonomous weapons. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is designing robotic fighter jets that would fly into combat alongside manned aircraft, has tested weapons that can decide what to attack and has built ships that can hunt for enemy submarines without human assistance.
The Land Capability Conference, led by the British Army, will welcome experts from around the world and leading figures from a range of industries to assess advances in sensors, robotics, computing and AI, and their future potential. The conference will also explore how developments in robotics and autonomous system (RAS) technology are being driven by non-traditional industry; presenting both opportunity and risk for many established sectors.
Impact of Maritime Collaboration
The critical importance of maritime trade and industry to the UK’s national prosperity is widely recognised. The UK government has stated that the National Shipbuilding Strategy is pivotal to its strategy to deliver a growing economy, and announced eight Royal Navy Type 26 frigates will be built on the Clyde at a cost of £8 billion – safeguarding around 3,000 jobs.
Demonstrating the ways in which the Royal Navy and the Department for Transport (DfT) are setting the conditions for future maritime success, the Maritime Capability Conference has been designed specifically for those visiting DSEI and the concurrent London International Shipping Week event.
Future of Military Rotorcraft
Rotorcraft will remain vital to military and security operations for a long time to come. Whereas the market for civil helicopters has become soft, figures by analysts show an upward trend in the military market. Aircraft broker AvBuyer forecasts the $21.7 billion global military rotorcraft market will reach $28.1 billion by 2026.
As such, it is imperative that professionals examine how new military rotorcraft are being designed beyond traditional lines to increase their performance – particularly in range, speed and altitude. Responding to this growing market, the Future of Military Rotorcraft Conference, supported by Joint Helicopter Command, will look at aspects of rotorcraft design, including the integration of mission systems for deployment in a rapidly changing defence environment.
Trauma Innovation and Military Medicine
In times of conflict, military medicine and trauma care are forced to continually innovate and improve. However, when the intensity of conflict dissipates the level of innovation also drops. This requires the defence industry to think outside the box and establish what technologies and treatment modalities are available to break the mould of conventional thinking.
Trauma Innovation and Military Medicine (TIMM) will bring together military and civilian healthcare professionals to discuss future equipment, facilities and capabilities to care for those who have been severely injured, whether that’s in a hospital or at the scene itself. It will also showcase the current research activity of military nurses and highlight how quality improvement initiatives are transforming care in the UK and overseas.
The programme will also host Triple Serpent, the UK Surgeon General’s biennial conference to which the NATO COMEDS and international Chief Medical Officers are invited.
Duncan Reid, event director at DSEI, commented: “Governments across the world often look beyond their own borders when sourcing defence equipment, training and expertise. Global alliances are key in sharing this information and cooperation between nations in some instances leads to a unilateral approach to national security. Britain leads the way in this respect, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon recently reaffirming Britain is committed to playing a leading role in global security at a meeting of European Union Defence Ministers in Brussels. DSEI’s expanded Strategic Conferences will bring together key stakeholders in the air, land and maritime sectors to innovate, share knowledge and showcase the latest equipment and systems industry has to offer.”
The Air Superiority seminar will address the issues that are currently engaging global air forces and their suppliers, with current proposed topics including developing a squadron of Fifth Generation fighter pilots and platform upgrades and the secondary market. With the introduction of new platforms, upgrade of legacy platforms, enhancement of airborne ISR and extension of global mobility, the technology, training, procurement and support required to deliver these are challenging suppliers, squadrons and air forces around the world.
Elsewhere, armies around the world are faced with an increasingly challenging environment which requires the modern soldier to be more agile and more capable, and infantries more tactical and adaptable. The Land Seminar will examine the government policies, army strategies and capabilities which influence the configuration of modern warfare on the ground, with proposed topics covering projecting land power at distance with minimal logistical support and battlefield intelligence and support.
In today’s defence and security environment of joint and unpredictable, short notice operations, navies are adapting to enable the agility and efficiency required for rapid deployment at sea, while continuing to maintain its more traditional strategic responsibilities. The Naval Seminar will delve into the maritime capability challenges for navies and the supplier community with proposed topics including agile navies and interoperability in the Joint space, ballistic missile defence and maritime autonomous systems.
The Security Seminar will consider the evolving threat picture and role of industry and government in reshaping security policy and propelling capability into the future, covering cyber, border and gendarmeries. The modern security threat environment is varied and complex, and therefore proposed topics will cover border security and monitoring, joint border security operations, cyber threat, security and capability and signals intelligence.
Warfare in the Joint space is undergoing necessary and rapid transformation in response to the changing strategic environment. The modern forces structure of joint enablers has brought about a new approach to hybrid warfare and operational optimisation, altering the way in which information and intelligence is exploited to enable a more efficient and capable force.
The Joint Seminar will look at how this dynamic environment is continuing to evolve at pace, with proposed topics covering harnessing big data and connectivity, electronic warfare and airborne sensors and advanced technical and operational capability in military medicine.
In an increasingly competitive defence & security exports market, industry is being challenged to do more and do better in order to meet complex customer requirements. Outpacing competitors by creating new technology and bespoke, future-proof products at affordable prices has become a priority for both governments and industry. To stay ahead of the game, emerging technology and disruptive innovation are now the most important assets in the exports market. DSEI will explore current ideas and thinking emanating from this step-change across the defence and security sector, with the Emerging Technology Seminar including proposed topics covering artificial intelligence and wireless and smart technology.
While equipment and procurement is the traditional core focus of DSEI, the event in 2017 will expand its content to cover what is considered by many to be the most important capability of all – the People & Skills of the defence and security sector. Whether it’s recruiting the next generation of engineering professionals, training, retaining or supporting the work force, the seminar programme across DSEI on day four will be dedicated to this important element of the sector. Proposed topics include modernising service personnel, regulars and reserves, equality and diversity in the military and cross-sector career transition.
The full programme and additional speaker information for the conferences and seminars will be available on the DSEI website soon.