The 2017 edition of DSEI attracted record numbers of high-profile stakeholders affiliated with the defence and security sectors, reflecting the important role of the show in the defence sector
The latest edition of Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), staged 12-15 September 2017, cemented its position as the market leading event for Air, Land, Naval, Security and Joint applications of defence and security products, technology and services. This year’s event not only proved the most popular to date but it also attracted record numbers of high-profile stakeholders affiliated with the defence and security sectors.
At a time of severe security risk, with a multifaceted terrorist threat posed from the digital battlefield to civilian streets, DSEI provided a key platform for senior international military and political representatives to candidly discuss current threats and get an exclusive view of the latest equipment and services designed to tackle these threats.
35,008 visitors walked through the doors of ExCeL London. Delegates from 110 countries joined 1,604 exhibitors, and 42 international pavilions on a packed exhibition floor. In total 2,759 VIPs were in attendance marking yet another milestone for DSEI 2017 and enhancing its reputation as the key summit for the defence and security community. The event once again featured theatres in each of the exhibition Zones – Air, Land, Naval, Security and Joint and around 300 seminars and keynote speeches by MOD Service Chiefs, Ministerial keynotes and thought leaders from the international military, government, industrial and academic community.
Remarkable ministerial and services presence
DSEI has attracted an unprecedented level of UK government support involving the Department for International Trade; Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Home Office and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The line-up of ministerial guests included the Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, who attended for three days in a row, giving two keynote speeches; Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade; Harriett Baldwin, Minister for Defence Procurement; and Ben Wallace, Minister of State for Security.
Ministers made a number of visits to DSEI, delivering keynote speeches and engaging with exhibitors. Rear Admiral Simon Williams, chairman of DSEI organisers Clarion Events, Defence and Security, said: “The support we are receiving from the UK Government is solid evidence of their commitment to the nation’s defence and security sectors. It is very pleasing that our industry's performance and potential in key areas such as innovation, technology development and exports are being recognised in this way.”
On the event’s opening day, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon delivered a keynote address in which he described DSEI as ‘a remarkably stable landmark in an otherwise turbulent world’. He chose DSEI to outline his vision for the UK to take a bigger share of the international defence market and said: “As we look to life post Brexit and seek to spread our wings across the world, it’s high time we do more to compete for a share of this international export market.”
Meanwhile, away from the exhibition floor, the seminar programme included a number of engaging presentations from international speakers including: Michael Vaccaro, director at the Office of Strategic Industries and Economic Security, U.S. Department of Commerce; Maj Gen Kathryn Toohey, head of land capability for the Australian Army; and Brian Johnson-Thomas, a former arms expert for the UN.
As the world leading event that brings together the global defence and security sector, DSEI is the place companies choose to announce product launches and new contracts. Among the wide range of product launches on the exhibition floor, Saab used DSEI to unveil its Gripen Aggressor, which is used to act as an opposing force in advanced military combat training.
Swarm Systems’ stand featured its Owl 4 ‘Nano UAV’ which can be carried in soldiers' pockets and deployed to help them see around corners or over hills without exposing themselves to gunfire. BMT Defence Services unveiled an innovative mine countermeasures (MCM) platform concept, designed and configured to exploit next-generation offboard vehicles, mission systems and operational concepts. Meanwhile, Dutch firm Delft Dynamics showcased its ‘DroneCatcher’ counter UAS system for the first time at DSEI 2017 - one of the only technologies of its type which can eliminate rogue drones by catching the threat in mid-air.
DSEI 2017 featured its strongest aerospace offering yet, comprising fixed wing, rotary and unmanned systems. The popular Air Zone, fully supported by the Royal Air Force and Joint Helicopter Command, included a capability area dedicated to the aerospace supply chain. The zone hosted a comprehensive seminar programme focused on procurement, training, export maximisation and promoting opportunities for SMEs.
An impressive range of aerospace platforms on display included: Gripen; Tornado; Wildcat; Merlin Mk 2 and 4; Apache AH64-D; Chinook; Blackhawk; and Brimstone. Furthermore, DSEI also hosted presentations by top level UK and overseas senior air officers, emphasising the importance of DSEI as a leading business forum for military aerospace professionals.
The DSEI 2017 Land Zone showcased relevant exhibitor-produced equipment which is set to be used by the British Army and other NATO militaries. The zone also featured two displays: a Dismounted Soldier Showcase, featuring capabilities for the modern close combat infantry soldier, and a Static Display area area, showcasing a range of vehicles currently used by ground forces worldwide.
The range of new technologies and innovation that was on display clearly emphasised that DSEI is the global hub of defence and land-based expertise for all Armed Forces’ requirements.
Navies will be investing over $150 billion worldwide in new-build surface ships over the next ten years. In this complex market, all stakeholders in the maritime defence and security enterprise need DSEI as a platform to engage, develop and secure trusted partners, and to understand the dynamics of the market.
Moored in the dock adjacent to the exhibition halls were seven outstanding examples of maritime capability: HMS Argyll - Type 23 'Duke' Class frigate, Royal Navy; HMS Cattistock - Hunt Class Mine Countermeasures Vessel, Royal Navy; HMS Mersey - River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel, Royal Navy; HMS Puncher - Archer Class Patrol Vessel, Royal Navy; HMS Trumpeter –Archer-class Patrol Vessel, Royal Navy; BNS Pollux – Belgian Navy; and Le Samuel Beckett – Offshore Patrol Vessel, Irish Naval Service.
The main theme of this year’s waterborne demonstrations, which took place every day in the Royal Victoria Dock, was how terrorist attackers are diversifying their methods and the new defence responses. Operation MARCAP - a program of live-action from nine specialised vessels, focused on a Royal Marines team identifying, surveilling and boarding a suspect vessel under the cover of fire-support.
The modern security threat environment is varied and complex. Intensifying state competition, regional instability and civil unrest, and the borderless realm of cyber space have manifested a number of emerging security trends globally. These include innovative cyber capability and skills, the digital modernisation of legacy systems, the Internet of Things, enhancement of regional and national border security, military and police interoperability, and the growth of militarised police forces.
The Security Theatre seminar programme considered the evolving threat picture and the role of industry and government in reshaping security policy and propelling security capability into the future.
DSEI 2017 saw the introduction of a Joint Zone encompassing the key joint enablers of medical, unmanned, training, electronic warfare (EW) and command, control, communications, computers, information/intelligence, surveillance, targeting acquisition and reconnaissance (C4ISTAR).
This year saw the set-up of a brand-new feature, the Innovation Hub, in collaboration with TechUK and the Defence and Security Accelerator. The aim of the hub was to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Exhibitors within the hub included: Swarm Systems, Nexor, Vocavio and Sea Sure.
Alongside the Innovation Hub, the Defence Medical Services ran demonstrations focusing on simulation, defence engagement and research & exploitation. The citizenAID team also hosted demonstrations on its new app designed to provide reliable public safety and life-saving interventions for public use in future terror attacks and incidents.
People and skills – 100 years of women in the Navy
While equipment and procurement is a traditional core focus area of DSEI, the event in 2017 expanded its content to cover what is considered by many to be the most important capability of all – the people and skills of the defence and security sector. Whether it’s recruiting the next generation of defence and security professionals, training, retaining or supporting the work force, the seminar programmes across DSEI on day four were dedicated to this important element of the sector.
Day four was also the opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women in the Navy. Hosted by DSEI, former members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) met up with current serving members of the Royal Navy to learn how life has changed since the separate service was disbanded, and 'Wrens' were fully integrated into the Royal Navy. The Naval presentation, given by Captain Sharon Malkin, looked back at those early days of 1917, putting the efforts of the first WRNS pioneers into context of the current Royal Navy.