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EXHIBITIONS AND CONFERENCES

Mar 07. The Future of the UK Defence Industry. ‘More than a year on from the launch of the Defence Industrial Strategy and Defence Technology Strategy, we are still seeing no mechanism encouraging primes and the MOD to engage with our industry?s SMEs, despite the white paper’s intention to ensure their part in the future or our defence industry and provide and indigenous supply chain,’ says Ross Bradley, Chief Executive of Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC). This was the resounding message from the FAC’s first Annual Conference, held at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst recently. Ross continues: ‘There were many notable addresses but one of the most reverberant was by Dick Martin of Kembrey Wiring. Dick gave a powerful presentation from an SME’s perspective, highlighting his belief that the DIS has completely frozen SMEs out of the defence supply chain and sent them into a world of isolation’ quite the opposite to its supposed intentions.’ Dick stated that the route to market is channelled through the primes, meaning that SMEs are still being by passed and as a result the MOD is missing out on their entrepreneurial approach, which could improve innovation and potential reduce costs. Dick believes that there should be greater transparency of primes’ supply chains and MoD programmes, and a better understanding of SMEs’ needs and financial position.’ Bill Kincaid, Editor of RUSI defence systems, also provided some serious food for thought. Ross adds: ‘As an independent onlooker, Bill’s view of the DIS is that it will fail just as similar strategies and initiatives, such as the Smart Acquisition, have before. He was able also to thrust the questions on everyone’s lips to the foreground, asking just how much the aims of the DIS would cost, and more importantly, who would pay for them?’ Bill raised issues with partnering, asking if industry was really committed to making it work or just looking at profit, and if the MoD was just implementing a short term fix, with strategic partners long gone in 10 years time? He also raised issues with science and technology stating that it is woefully under funded and that the transatlantic technology gap is widening fast. If we can’t stop it widening, he asks, will we have to buy everything from America in 10 years time? The Rt Honorable James Arbuthnot MP, Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee was also outspoken about partnerships and funding as well as issues of sovereign capability. He talked about the continuing interest of the committee in the issue of technology transfer on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft programme. He says that during the committee?s second inquiry into the Defence Industrial Strategy, it told that the MoD had obtained assurances from the US that the UK would receive all the information it required to operate the JSF aircraft independently. However, the Committee is looking to take further evidence that these assurances will deliver. James also reported that the Committee has been disappointed that the MoD has not outlined how much it would be investing in defence research. He went on to discuss the launch of a report on The work of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the funding of defence research, published just a few hours before the FAC conference. The report calls upon the MoD to assess whether there is scope to open up to competition some of the defence research budget that is currently allocated to Dstl and scope to allow Dstl to compete for defence research work currently undertaken by others. It also calls on the MoD and Government to invest more stating that without it the future capability of our military will be substantially reduced. Other keynote speeches were made by Major General Alan G Sharman, Director General of the Defence Manufacturers Association who discussed the role of SMEs in the future defence industry. He highlighted the specific technologies and areas that the MoD would be looking for and

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