18 Nov 12. Defence companies help with global challenges. A number of defence and aerospace companies have begun to explore how they could apply their skills to help with global challenges like energy shortages, the environment and natural disasters. But is this just a potentially lucrative new market to compensate for stagnating defence budgets? Some of those involved in the initiative recently gathered at a conference in London. One of the instigators, Nick Cook, a former aerospace journalist who now runs a company called Dynamixx, explained how he latched on to the idea. “It was patently obvious to me that the aerospace and defence sectors had technologies which operated in all segments of the eco-sphere from sub-sea to space,” he said. “So why should they not know about the environment and how to go about tackling some of the particularly big problems encapsulated by climate change?” Storm Sandy battered the US, but could defence firms have helped? It is not new for defence companies to be looking at, for example, alternative power supplies, or for aerospace companies to be developing more fuel-efficient engines. But the intent of this initiative is clearly to take things a lot further. Recently, five of the major defence and aerospace companies – US firms Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, and Saab and Finmeccanica from Europe – signed up to a statement promising to look at co-operation to tackle what they called “global challenges”, that could include renewable energy, climate change, and disaster relief. Of course, just what that will mean in the end is another matter. Among the technologies that might be of use are satellite surveillance, long-range drones to plot the impact of ice melt, and robust command and control systems to help communities cope with natural disasters. The Vice-President for Research and Innovation for Raytheon, John Zolper, points to his company’s involvement in air traffic control systems. There is, of course, a potentially significant economic incentive. Defence spending globally is still growing. But Western defence budgets are stagnating or declining, and the global market is getting more crowded. On the other hand, it has been estimated that the market for global infrastructure development could amount to $40trn (£25trn) over the next 25 years.
20 Nov 12. ADS launches Global Intelligent Systems. ADS, the trade organisation for UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space, together with Airshow organisers, Farnborough International Limited (FIL), have announced a new event to be launched as a joint venture in July 2013. The event, Global Intelligent Systems (GIS), will take place 16-17 July 2013 at the FIVE venue in Hampshire where the Farnborough International Airshow is held every other year. GIS 2013 aims to provide an international showcase for the technology behind Autonomous and Intelligent Systems where its capabilities can be demonstrated and a forum for discussion and debate as to the future development of this major growth market. The defence sector will be represented by products such as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Other sectors including energy, rail, automotive, healthcare and agriculture will also be represented, highlighting how the use of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems technology is already being widely applied throughout global industries. GIS 2013 will be a two-day conference that will feature speakers including leading figures from industry, high-level academics and government officials, as well as offering opportunities for seminars and focus groups to discuss industry topics in greater detail. An exhibition will run alongside the conference where products and technology will be displayed and live demonstrations will take place. A gala dinner will provide further networking opportunities on the first evening of the event and residential delegate packages will be available for attendees.