DSEI 2017: Glimpses of a Flourishing Market
The organisers of Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) hailed its unrivalled scale, hosting more than 1,600 exhibitors from 54 countries. A record 36,000 visitors were vetted and went through security checks before being allowed inside the cavernous ExCeL Centre to mingle with exhibitors, ministers and heads of the world’s largest militaries. Governments and private companies alike had set out their technologies and products, with the Royal Navy even mooring warships in Royal Victoria Dock for the occasion.
The Expo was punctuated by speeches and seminars featuring the glitterati of British defence, including the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, Ministers and the Chiefs of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and Joint Forces Command. Uniformed officers and soldiers from a number of countries and delegates gathered at stalls and pop-up theatres for the talks as others gathered at stands offering wine and beer or roam countless displays.
Some of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers were present at the Expo including BAE Systems, Raytheon, Rhienmetall, Nexter, Northrop Grumman, many of them within their respective country pavilions. Some of the ‘big boys’ chose to maintain their own identity and had huge stalls of their own, close to the country pavilions. The Indian Pavillion consisted of BEL, OFB, Garden Reach and DRDO. BEL also chose to showcase its Akash Missile System, a medium range surface to air missile system. Zen technologies, a leading Indian company specializing in simulation and training systems was located adjacent to the pavilion while MKU, a major in survivability solutions was allotted space a slight distance away.
Buyers at DSEI included delegations from a large number of countries across the world. Suited officials from around the world could be seen mingling with military officials and politicians, perusing displays including robots, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, drones, jets, underwater vehicles, ballistic missiles, hand grenades, rocket launchers and mortars.
“Advanced precision kill weapon system,” read the label on one missile. A tank had “British by Birth” emblazoned on one side. Other stands were less blunt, opting to lure in potential buyers with exhibits stressing on precision and accuracy, some offering even balloons, sweets and mascot teddies. The wares on offer ranged from the lethal to the mundane, including berets, tents, embroidery and even socks. Many of the exhibitors at DSEI showcased protective and medical equipment for troops, or non-lethal devices that “disrupt” attacks by enemies.
As always there were protesters too at the show. Their main grouse was against weapons meant for offensive actions, and not so much for protective gear and training material. While some believed that the protesters had an over simplistic view of the controversial event, activists were unconvinced, launching days of protests attempting to disrupt the arms fair that resulted in more than 100 arrests. The UK Defence Secretary called for Britain to use defence exports as a means of “spreading its wings across the world”. Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, defended the UK’s multibillion-pound arms export industry by claiming that if countries were unable to acquire weapons legally, there would be an eruption of unregulated sales. He was the first of many senior British Government and military officials to appear at DSEI and delivered the Keynote Address on the Opening Day. He defended the strong regulatory mechanism for export of defence technologies and products that exists in the UK.
Some of the innovative products unveiled at the show:-
• The Barrett 4075 high-power software defined radio (SDR) couples 500 W and 1 kW liquid-cooled linear amplifiers with Barrett’s existing 4050 SDR HF transmitter, which has a transmit frequency range of 1.6-30 MHz and a receive range of 250 kHz-30 MHz, with a seven-band low pass filter. The liquid-cooled solid state design, which uses a water propylene glycol mixture and is claimed by Barrett to be unique, reduces the requirement for forced air cooling.
• Stilleto’s (Ukraine) STL-016 is a .300 calibre rifle that incorporates a patented rifling is capable of delivering lethal effects on soft targets out to a maximum range of 2,000 m, according to Stiletto director KhalitKhabibullin. At 300 m the rifle is capable of a 1.2 cm grouping and at a range of 800 m can penetrate 11 mm of armour.
• Strategic Robotic Systems (SRS) presented its Fusion hybrid unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). Designed using computational fluid dynamics to optimise speed, stability, and endurance, the underwater vehicle, which weighs 27.5kg in air and has neutral buoyancy in fresh water, has been constructed of composites where possible.
• Dragonfire, under development by an MBDA-led consortium which includes Qinetiq, Leonardo-Finmeccanica, Arke, BAE Systems, Marshall and GKN, will be a 50kW class directed energy weapon designed for use on both land and sea. According to the consortium the weapon – which is being optimised for use on land and at sea – will ultimately be used for short-range air defence, close-in protection for naval vessels, counter-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
• Gripen Aggressor was unveiled by Saab at the DSEi. Gripen Aggressor has been tailored for pilot training role, and that the UK Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) and the US Adversarial Air (AdAir) requirements.
DSEI has the distinction of being one of the biggest defence expos around the world in the land and maritime section . This year’s event lived up to the reputation.