DSEI: a week in the spotlight for the defence industry

Crowd | Defence Contracts InternationalThe Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2013 showcase recently took place at the ExCeL exhibition centre in London. MOD DCB reporter Paul Elliott was there to cover the event and assess the variety of products and solutions on offer.

With over 1500 exhibitors, the sheer scale of this year’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event, held at the ExCeL exhibition and international convention centre in London from 10 to 13 September, was almost overwhelming. Rooms full of giant stands surrounded by giant screens gleamed under huge lighting rigs.

“Depth of innovation on show”

Once acclimatised to the exhibition environment, with its prominent visual displays all competing for one’s attention, the visitor soon came to see and appreciate the real depth of innovation on show.

Perhaps nothing was more symbolic of that innovation than the Bloodhound SuperSonic Car. Bloodhound is a testament to the impressive capability of British design, engineering, manufacturing and technology. It’s an astounding vehicle, capable of travelling four and a half football pitches in a single second, or 150 metres in the blink of an eye – faster than a bullet fired from a Magnum 357. With a maximum speed of 1050 mph it can accelerate from 0 to 1000 mph in 42 seconds. The physical vehicle itself is highly impressive too, standing at three metres tall and over 13 metres long.

Bloodhound SuperSonic Car
Photo credit: Siemens

The enthusiasm surrounding Bloodhound was infectious, as witnessed by the well-attended Dstl Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) supported networking event for delegates keen to meet the companies supplying components and solutions for the Bloodhound project. The companies featured included Serco, URT, SHD, Titan, Ultimate Hearing Protection and Timken. There was much discussion regarding the challenges they faced and the solutions they forged to succeed in their area of expertise on the Bloodhound. This demonstrates the kind of positivity that can be generated at industry events when ideas, knowledge and best practices are shared.

F-35 Lightning II

In the Media Centre, Lockheed Martin and Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne made a joint announcement highlighting the UK’s role in LM’s F-35 Lightning II multirole fighter programme. Over the next 40 years, British industry will continue to play a prominent part in the F-35’s global production, follow-on development and sustainment, bringing strong economic benefits to the UK.

Steve O’Bryan, Vice President, F-35 Business Development at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said: “Our suppliers here in the UK are essential to the success of this programme. Together, they will produce 15 per cent of each one of the more than 3100 F-35s planned for the global fleet. That is no small task. Five hundred British companies make this happen. Together we are building opportunity – opportunities for hardworking men and women to earn a living in these challenging times. We are building opportunities for businesses in the face of unprecedented financial pressures to grow and invest and position themselves for future success.”

These figures were welcomed by industry representatives present, as were projections that 24,000 jobs will be secured across the supply chain in the UK by 2039. The message was very much about the opportunity presented by F-35 and the significant export revenue that will be generated for the UK over the course of the programme. Thirteen British companies were recognised at the event for their role in F-35: BAE Systems; Cobham; EDM; GE Aviation; Honeywell; Martin-Baker; MBDA; RE Thompson; Rolls-Royce; Selex ES Ltd; Survitec Group; Ultra Electronics; and UTC Aerospace Systems.

Philip Dunne said: “The F-35 is the largest defence programme in the world, today and probably for all time. The UK’s involvement will generate billions of pounds and tens of thousands of jobs for the British economy for decades to come. Backed by this Government’s strategic vision for UK aerospace, the F-35 programme allows us to continue to build on the strengths of our nation’s avionics, systems and sensors industry.”

Secretary of State for Defence The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MPAnother Ministerial statement at DSEI came when Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced a £250 million deal with MBDA for the Sea Ceptor missile, which is to be fitted to the Royal Navy’s Type 23 and later Type 26 frigate fleet. Also, during his keynote speech in the Land Theatre on day one of DSEI, Mr Hammond explained that while Defence Reform is ongoing to produce a smaller, more efficient Ministry of Defence, these reforms find an echo in what is now expected of industry.

He said: “By making MOD a more intelligent customer, we’re putting the emphasis on industry to make itself more efficient, to reduce its overheads, to streamline processes, to invest in the latest equipment facilities. That, I know, will not be a pain-free challenge. This exhibition is an excellent example of the opportunities that we can create when government and industry work together, hand in hand, with a shared objective.”

Britain: Open for Business

UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) presented a UK Capability Showcase at DSEI 2013, with large screens announcing ‘Britain: open for business’. This comes on the back of another successful year for UK defence and security exports, which in 2012 totalled £11.5 billion. In defence alone, £8.8 billion of new UK export business was won, up 62 per cent on the 2011 figure, in a global market that grew by 45 per cent. The UK continues to be the second most successful defence exporter, only behind the USA, and to capture 20 per cent of the global defence export market (based on a rolling ten-year average).

Designed to illustrate the partnership between government and industry in the UK, the UKTI showcase displayed a range of equipment and solutions while promoting the Government’s strong export message. The range of capabilities on display came not only from the UK’s innovative prime contractors but also from a number of small and medium-sized companies who can offer solutions not just for current, but also future requirements.

Innovative solutions

Ultimately it was the innovative solutions on display across the four days that stole the show. One such solution was offered by British company OptaSense, which is owned by UK research and technology company QinetiQ. OptaSense specialises in Distributed Acoustic Sensing, which takes existing regular communications fibre-optic cables and converts them into virtual microphones. This is done by shooting light down the cables and measuring disturbances in how the light bounces back. What’s impressive is that OptaSense is able to detect and tell the difference between vehicles (even when they are not on the ground) and footsteps.

Two possible applications of this technology are critical site security and border and military security. For example, the system can be deployed along borders to deliver alerts on trafficking, smuggling, illegal entry and other activity requiring monitoring. It can also be adopted into existing security infrastructures to enhance monitoring over longer distances – a single OptaSense Interrogator Unit can act as a live listening sensor to cover over 40 kilometres of border.

Magnus McKewan-King, Managing Director of OptaSense, said: “In a lot of the markets we are touching there is no solution. The reason you don’t have CCTV every ten metres across a border or a perimeter is that it’s too expensive to do it. So what we’re tapping into is the need for persistent total surveillance of the entire length of these linear assets.”

speedboat 2 (2)

In the Naval Zone, CTruck offered demonstrations of its Twin-Hulled Offshore Raider (THOR). Inside THOR there is an array of surveillance screens, while there is no need for seatbelts as the catamaran design offers impressive stability within the vehicle despite its acceleration and sudden stops. Through the narrow windows around the sides of the vehicle, only the spray of the Thames was visible when THOR demonstrated its manoeuvrability. There was always, however, an aura of complete control.

THOR is designed to fulfil a number of roles, including protection of amphibious sea lanes, casualty extraction from a beach, carrying and deploying a pre-landing force, riverine patrol, protection of harbours and offshore installations, unmanned surface vessel operations (for protection and mine countermeasures), and disaster relief.

Defence and security is a broad and far-reaching industry, as the stands and displays at DSEI 2013 amply demonstrated. It would be easy to be swept up in the whirl of business, marketing and spectacle found throughout the event, but the innovation, ideas and solutions on display were truly remarkable. In areas such as surveillance, communications, medical solutions, space, counter-terrorism, cyber security, sustainable biofuel, product testing, and vehicles – companies showcased pioneering solutions demonstrating that the UK defence and security industry has capability in abundance, with much of it crossing over into the civil sector. The skill-set within UK defence is clearly strong, and the industry’s originality in concept, design and manufacturing looks bound to continue.

Further Information

For further information, visit: www.dsei.co.uk

 

DPRTE 2013 – the next major defence procurement event

Defence Procurement Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2013 is the next major defence event to mark in your calendar, taking place on 20 November in Bristol.

DPRTE presents the most significant opportunity for policy makers, technology users and technology producers to fully explore the changing dynamics of the defence sector and emerging technology markets and identify new business growth opportunities within the UK and overseas defence and security markets.

For more information on the event, visit www.dprte.co.uk