Commentary and analysis from Howard Wheeldon FRAeS on DSEI 2017.

Larger and most likely, better than ever before, DSEI 2017 which also happens to be the tenth Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition event, opens its doors next week at the ExCel Centre in London. With conference events being held on Monday the official show event will run for the 12th to 15th September. 

Attended not only by a very significant number of foreign military delegations, senior politicians, high ranking members of the military, senior industry leaders and participants, DSEI 2017 will be attended by just about everybody that has a genuine vested interest in defence and security equipment and services if they possibly can. 

Without doubt a must attend showcase event and one that continues to grow in both stature, quality and scale, those attending whether delegates or visitors will be able to cast an eye or touch and feel a vast array of superb technology, capability and services on show. Events such as DSEI 2017 are where ideas are born, where partnerships are created and where real business is done. They are also a place to simply observe, network or plan.

Being to my knowledge the largest defence and security related exhibition held in the western world and with this year over 1,600 companies exhibiting, DSEI 2017 can be expected to welcome in excess of 34,000 visitors at the superb and ideally suited London ExCel venue when the show opens its doors next week.

With an anticipated 300 plus high level speakers at conference and floor events ranging from Cabinet Ministers, leaders and senior members of the defence staff and other visiting military speakers, leading industry figures and approximately 300 programmed delegations there is little to beat DSEO in terms of scale and reach.

DSEI has a proven track record of bringing the entire defence supply chain together on an unrivalled scale. This is a show event for the many smaller and medium sized enterprise that are just as vital to defence and the economy as are the very large prime contractors. Of course it is without doubt a major event for the large primes as well to show off their full range of wares. The interaction between exhibitors and visitors at DSEO never fails to impress and as a networking and business and trade event, DSEI is unsurpassed in what it provides. The same is equally true in respect of what DSEI provides to all those engaged across all aspects of security.

Senior UK Cabinet Ministers who are known to be attending include the Rt. Hon Sir Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence and the Rt. Hon Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade. Various other UK ministers, senior military including Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Chiefs together with senior members of Joint Forces Command and an important array of senior allied military leaders and personnel will either be speaking at conference events or attending DSEI.  

The number, quality and diversity of the delegations visiting DSEI has long been a distinguishing feature of this event. To that end the organisers are anticipating that 3,000 VIP (one star and above) visitors will be attending DSEI 2017 and my understanding is that programmes have now been arranged in order to accommodate around 250 international delegations from traditional and emerging defence and security markets.

As in the past, DSEI 2017 will host a range of dedicated national pavilions which apart from the UK also include those of Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Norway, Poland, Slovakia,, South Korea, Spain, Sweden Switzerland, Turkey, UAE and the USA.

DSEI 2015 had welcomed delegates from 121 countries and that year received a record number of international delegations. The importance and value of attending DSEI 2017 cannot be understated particularly in view of the large number of senior official visitors attending and that these most usually represent the highest level within national and foreign governments, central defence staff, national armament directorates and military from land, maritime, air and security.

To put some numbers on what trade exhibitors and those attending either conference and stand events or for general business reasons, DSEI 2017 expects to welcome over 250 programmed delegations, in excess of 2,874 additional domestic and international delegations, VIPs, including members of Official Overseas Defence Delegations together with Defence Ministers, Military Chiefs of Staff and other important guests. Some 300 high level speakers will also be attending the array of special conference and floor events planned

Held every two year, the organisers of DSEI have never rested on their laurels despite the show’s considerable record of success. An example of this is that for DSEI 2017 the Land Zone has grown by 52% over that of DSEI 2015 and will this year include new features including a dedicated showcase designed to open up opportunities for even more suppliers to attend.

The Air Zone this year will feature the strongest military aerospace offering to date, comprising fixed, rotary wing, and unmanned platform assets. Military aircraft on display will include Saab Gripen and Panavia Tornado GR4, military helicopters including Chinook, Apache, Wildcat, EH101 Merlin and others will make for an interesting array of static displays. A variety of RPAS equipment will also be on display. The Air Zone is fully supported by the Royal Air Force and Joint Helicopter Command and contains a large capability area dedicated to the military aerospace supply chain.

As part of the Naval Zone, delegates will be able to watch choreographed waterborne displays close to Royal Navy ships including a Type 23 Frigate, Minehunter, Offshore Patrol Vessel, and two inshore Patrol vessels together with visiting ships from the Belgian Navy and Irish Naval Service. The ability for DSEI delegates and visitors to go on board the various military ships moored at DSEI has always been popular and this year will be no exception. 

The Security and Special Forces Zone will showcase a range of security equipment and services ranging from security and special forces training, tactical equipment, personal security, perimeter security and covert and overt surveillance and camera equipment.

DSEI 2017 will also see the Inaugural Joint Zone, an area that will containing a plethora of products and capability related to C4ISTAR, Communications, Electronic Warfare, Joint Enablers, Logistics, Medical, Robotics and SATCOMS. Supported by Joint Forces Command, the zone has been developed to host range of global businesses that provide capabilities across single services, Special Forces and humanitarian organisations. There will also be an innovation hub incorporated within this. 

Organised by the UK MOD’s Defence Medical Services (DMS) Medical Directorate, the Medical Innovation Zone which had been such a huge success at the previous DSEI 2015 has been further expanded to include more companies and larger demonstration area.   

Visit the Royal Aeronautical Society on stand N2-164.

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
8 September 2017

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