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25 Jul 23. Integrated Force: Industry showcase shows value of collaboration. The Thales 2023 Customer Day at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham, highlighted the efforts of Defence and industry partners to integrate Integration is about ensuring that the Armed Forces can act in a way that is greater than the sum of their parts, fused across Government and with our Allies and international partners. Realising the benefits of integration requires Defence to work in closer partnership with industry.
The theme of the day was ‘Enabling the Integrated Force’. Over 150 participants got the chance to view some of Thales’ most innovative multi-domain capabilities, which also highlighted the importance of data sharing to enable decision advantage.
Lieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes CBE, our Deputy Commander and one of the keynote speakers, said:
Strategic Command was created to be Defence’s integrator. It is a key part of our raison d’être, along with support to campaigning and leading the cyber and electromagnetic domain. Integration is about teamwork.
A critical enabler for integration and central to our approach, as laid out in the Defence Command Paper Refresh, is improving our digital skills across the Defence Enterprise, for specialists and generalists. There is a national shortage of skills, so we need to double down on our apprenticeships and increase our support to STEM at schools and universities, and we should do all that hand-in-hand with our industry partners.
The Deputy Commander was then joined in a discussion panel by colleagues from Thales UK, including Alex Creswell, CEO, Justin Walker, Vice President of Digital Transformation, and Sam McBriar, Director of Maritime Strategy. The audience heard from the panel about the importance of digital deterrence, digital skills for defence, and how we can apply lessons learned from recent conflicts – this also examined the ways that industry can help join up across the Defence Enterprise.
Strategic Command will demonstrate how we contribute to sharpening Defence’s edge at DSEI 2023 in London this September, with an emphasis on Achieving the Integrated force.(Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
19 Jul 23. ARMY EXPO 23 in London was an immersive walk-through of a series of scenes taking place on the forecourt of Wellington Barracks in London, reports Bob Morrison. This year’s ‘By Invitation Only’ ARMY EXPO taking place this week in London is, by the very nature of its urban location, a much smaller event than the British Army’s inaugural expo held last September on Salisbury Plain. That does not mean, however, that it is any less interesting for the military, civil service and defence industry invitees.
We were granted the privilege of attending the first walk-throughs, on Tuesday afternoon and evening, where among other exhibits we saw both one of the first UK specification BOXER Mechanised Infantry Vehicles, a REME Fitters variant, and an AJAX. We also officially learned that the First Fusiliers will be the first battalion to receive their new 8×8 BOXER fleet by the end of this year.
There has been lot to take in today, not least because the UK Defence Command Paper Refresh was also published earlier, so please bear with me while I process all that I have gleaned before penning a longer piece on ARMY EXPO 23.
This photo album of wheels and tracks spotted at ARMY EXPO 23 in London has been produced primarily for our military vehicle aficionado readers, writes Bob Morrison.
Carl and myself know from our mailboxes (both individual and through our social media presence) that a fair proportion of our readers are interested in walk-around photos of military vehicles, rather than just the single front/side views usually included in news stories. This album of photos snapped on 18th July at ARMY EXPO 23 in London, although not taken in ideal circumstances and only shot at ground level, hopefully provides a little bit more detail on a pair of new British Army vehicles and on some experimental concepts which might enter service in the not too distant future.
WOLFRAM is an evolving project to mount MBDA BRIMSTONE missiles on a Supacat HMT 600 platform to “equip the Light Forces commander with capability to deliver precision anti-armour effects at long ranges whilst retaining the high mobility of the HMT 600”. When we first saw this concept last September at ARMY EXPO 2022 the launcher was displayed on an older trials vehicle with enclosed cab (FG76AB) but at this year’s show it was mounted on an in-service COYOTE 6×6 Tactical Support Vehicle.
The AJAX Armoured Fighting Vehicle is no stranger to these pages, mostly for its chequered development history and the serious late-running of the programme, but five months ago Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace stated the procurement is now “back on track”. The vehicle displayed at ARMY EXPO 23, registration TC43AB, is understood to be in full production configuration; regrettably it was locked down for the duration of our visit and we were unable to get a peek inside, far less take photos.
A UK specification BOXER 8×8 Mechanised Infantry Vehicle was also on display, albeit inside a marquee with ‘dramatic’ lighting and assorted clutter preventing full walk-round photos being taken. However as this was our first opportunity to see a British Army version (at previous military expos it has usually been a Dutch or German spec vehicle or a pre-production prototype on show) I endeavoured to get the best shots possible. I was also given the opportunity to photograph the interior, under supervision and from one angle only, and offered the chance to go inside, but on security grounds full internal photography was understandably not possible. This is the Specialist Carrier variant, configured as a REME fitters’ vehicle with demountable stowage racks and seating for three personnel in addition to the crew.
The FOXHOUND on show, which we also saw last year at the truncated ARMY EXPO 2022, is primarily used for experimentation and is wearing a camouflage ‘skin’. The concept under trial here allows a base colour vehicle to be reconfigured for different operational theatres (e.g. Urban, Temperate, Arid or Arctic) without a total repaint or the addition of a temporary paint scheme which can either partially wear off under field conditions or be problematic to easily remove completely before the next deployment. Think of it being like those advertising skins added to buses and periodically changed. Personally, I think it is a great idea but wonder if this one will get past those bean-counters who only seem to think in the short term.
Finally we have the GDLS (General Dynamics Land Systems) TRX (Tracked Robot 10-ton) which was conceived as a multi-mission, multi-payload robotic vehicle for the US Army’s S-MET programme. This example was configured with two MBDA BRIMSTONE launcher pods and two remote weapon stations (7.62mm and 12.7mm). The idea with this one is that it would be teamed with and operated from an Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle, giving the infantry section both long range precision anti-armour and additional suppressive fire capabilities. The shape of things to come?
Our thanks to the British Army Engagement Team and all involved with ARMY EXPO 23 for smoothing our path to and at Wellington Barracks.
25 Jul 23. Turkish defense firms showcase new systems for air defense, ground ops. Two of Turkey’s state-controlled defense companies will showcase new systems for air defense and unmanned ground combat at the IDEF 23 exhibition in Istanbul this week.
Military electronics specialist Aselsan, Turkey’s biggest defense firm, said July 23 that it launched the GÜRZ (“mace” in Turkish) air defense system, designed to protect stationary units as well as military convoys on the move.
The weapon is “an answer to an increase in need to possess assets with strategic maneuvering capabilities,” Aselsan said.
It is designed to target very-low or low-altitude targets like artillery munition or missiles as well as drones, helicopters and fighter jets. The system comes fitted on a 8×8 wheeled platform.
Some analysts here have likened the GÜRZ to an advanced version of the Russian-made Pantsir, a self-propelled, medium-range, air-defense weapon.
Meanwhile, military software company Havelsan, also state-owned, said it delivered its new Barkan unmanned ground system to the Turkish military. Havelsan said it has been testing the robot over the past year and a half, incorporating a 12.7 mm weapon. The company plans to upgrade the system with grenade launchers and other missile variants.
Barkan II, the advanced version, features enhanced mobility. It doubles the vehicle’s weight capacity and is equipped to carry heavy weapons. The Barkan also will be displayed at IDEF 23, the manufacturer said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Jul 23. Growing high-profile lineup for inaugural public-private partnership in defence conference. Airtanker UK is one example of a successful public-private partnership.
With the inaugural Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the Defence and Security Sector conference just three weeks away, the number of confirmed keynote speakers is growing by the day, and now includes the 2015 Defence Review committee chair, head of Armscor, and the top man at the Border Management Authority.
The event, to be held on 16 August at the CSIR International Convention Centre, will delve into the opportunities for and challenges of developing successful PPP projects in South Africa’s defence and security sectors.
Defence Minister Thandi Modise has emphasized the need for the defence industry to contribute innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the South African National Defence Force and this conference will help address her request.
The conference will bring together key stakeholders from government entities such as the SA National Defence Force, Denel and Armscor; the defence and security industries; private funding institutions; and academic and research institutions, amongst others.
Some of the currently confirmed keynote speakers include Border Management Authority (BMA) Commissioner Mike Masiapato; Director of the In Transformation Initiative and 2015 Defence Review Committee Chair Roelf Meyer; Armscor CEO Solomzi Mbada; and Centre for Military Studies Director Moses Khanyile.
Meyer’s presentation is entitled ‘Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) in advancing the relationship between government and private sector’ while Mbada will answer the question of why now is the time for PPPs in the defence environment.
Attendees will also hear from senior representatives from National Treasury, Gautrain Management Agency, Federation of European Defence Technology Associations (EDTA), Cede Capital, Metbank, South African Aerospace Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD), Global Command and Control Technologies, Orion Consulting and more.
Lindokuhle Hlatshwayo from the Government Technical Advisory Centre will give an introduction to public-private partnership guidelines as set out in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA); Tshepo Mpete from Cede Capital will examine industry financing guidelines for defence PPPs; William Dachs from the Gautrain Management Agency will unpack the Gautrain as a successful example of a South African PPP; and Sandile Ndlovu from AMD will discuss engaging with Government on the next steps in leveraging PPPs for defence funding and capacitating the defence industry.
Some of the many other topics up for discussion on 16 August include the AirTanker UK PPP; European PPP defence initiatives; the pros and cons of PPPs for the private sector; barter arrangements as an alternative model for funding PPPs; and opportunities and challenges for PPPs in the security cluster.
In addition to the growing speaker lineup, another conference highlight will be an exhibition featuring displays from leading defence companies, such Milkor, Global Command and Control Technologies, OTT Solutions, the CSIR etc., showcasing their products, services, and capabilities.
For more information and to register, visit: https://events.defenceweb.co.za/ppp2023/registration/
DSEI 2023 – POWERING PROGRESS, DEFINING YOUR FUTURE
DSEI connects governments, national armed forces, industry thought leaders and the entire defence & security supply chain on a global scale. With a range of valuable opportunities for networking, a platform for business, access to relevant content & live-action demonstrations, the DSEI community can strengthen relationships, share knowledge and engage in the latest capabilities across the exhibition’s Aerospace, Land, Naval, Security & Joint Zones.