FINN is fresh back from Abu Dhabi for the silver jubilee of the IDEX show.
The show saw a key theme of collaboration and co-operation, with countries from around the world doing deals.
These are our highlights, featuring drones and how to counter them and plenty of new technology.
First, get a sense of the spectacular display in the show’s opening ceremony, where a fictional scenario at a military airbase allowed the three services of air, land and sea to work together in beat the enemy. Pyrotechnics from modified Armed Black Hawks – making their first public appearance – along with Mirage jets, F-16s and AWACs from the UAE’s Air Force played their part until the enemy’s ballistic missile was destroyed.
One element of the fictional scenario was hitting close to home. Clusters of enemy UAVs coming over the horizon is a real threat in many parts of the world. At IDEX, Lockheed Martin, Diehl Defence and Saab unveiled a new air collaborative air defence system called Falcon.
The three companies shared a stage to introduce Falcon, which integrates Diehl’s 40-kilometre range interceptor and vertical launcher, Saab’s 360-degree Giraffe 4A radar through Lockheed Martin’s flexible SkyKeeper command and control battle manager. Falcon’s open architecture allows the system to easily integrate into any air operations centre.
The threat from drones is becoming real – but there is no single solution. While the majors were worrying about countering the threat of lethal drones others, like UK’s Steel Rock, were offering proven solutions to the nuisance drones that can halt operations at airports or prisons.
International cooperation was a theme running through the event, with more than 63 countries exhibiting. But it was nowhere more important and nowhere more so than from the UK.
Britain is facing Brexit as it removes itself from the European Union and is keenly reaching out to new markets. The UK’s defence procurement minister, Stuart Andrew, talked to us about knowledge transfer.
Actions speak louder than words and UK company BAE Systems signed an MoU at the show for an MRO partnership with AMMOC, the UAE-owned military maintenance business. The deal will help the Emiratis develop knowledge on BAE’s equipment on F16 aircraft and will ultimately lead to parts being built in Abu Dhabi.
Another UK company following the partnership route is Qinetiq. Their joint venture with an Emirati firm to build and market target drones is called Houbara. We talked to chief executive, Tim Allen.
Of course, technology and innovation shone throughout the show. CHina’s CTEC was showing its Tian Shao, or Sky Sentinel. This JY300 is being configured as an unmanned early warning system.
And my favourite bit of kit was with Collins Aerospace making its major international defence show debut under its new brand. Their Coalescence is a fabulous mixed reality sim system that puts a new dimension on training. Watch out for the full report on FINN soon.
The defence industry can get a lot of stick from the general public but after visiting this show I feel a lot safer about the world around me. We have learned about how threats can be neutralised and that by working together we make the world a better place.