On the opening day of DSEI 2019 (Defence and Security Equipment International), held at London’s ExCeL arena from 10 to 13 September, Minister for Defence Procurement Anne-Marie Trevelyan delivered a speech summarising the highlights of UK defence projects currently under way. Specifically, the minister discussed how the UK defence industry is leading the way in innovation across projects in construction, including more investments and less exclusivity.
Defence contracts to drive development in SMEs
Ms Trevelyan focused on the important and integral role SMEs play in defence procurement, expressing the philosophy that has always been core to the DCI brand – helping businesses of all sizes find, bid for and win defence contracts across the UK and internationally.
She spoke of pockets of brilliance in every corner of the four nations that make up the UK, using her own constituency, Berwick-upon-Tweed in the far north east of England, as an example. “I recently discovered that Hardy Fishing – who make the best fishing rods in the world by royal appointment – also use their expertise in weaving to manufacture slender fibres of incredible toughness for the wings of our regal Typhoon.”
It is important to recognise the expertise SMEs possess throughout the supply chain and their contribution to keeping UK defence procurement a thriving marketplace.
Future investment in defence people and security
The biennial DSEI fair regularly attracts a measure of controversy, with criticism over the range of arms and other military hardware on show. Ms Trevelyan addressed these concerns in her speech, stating that by investing in equipment and kit for the Armed Forces, citizens are protected against unthinkable dangers.
Defence procurement is as much about training talented people to make positive changes in the defence industry as it is about purchasing weaponry.
New investments in personnel training were announced at DSEI, including £31 million to provide a Joint Fire Synthetic Trainer at multiple sites across the UK. This project, which originated in an Israeli idea, will sustain jobs and allow students from the British Army, Royal Navy and RAF to train together in realistic battlefield scenarios.
There has also recently been a powerful drive to include more women in UK defence. Formally launched by Ms Trevelyan at DSEI 2019, the new ‘Women in Defence Charter’ project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Defence, Women in Defence UK and leading aerospace trade association ADS, among others. This partnership is a bid to get more talented female leaders winning top spots in the industry.
Getting SMEs into defence procurement
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