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The latest defence insights from DSEI

Just a few weeks ago, tens of thousands of people descended on London Docklands for DSEI 2023 - a cornerstone event for the global defence and security industry, and one Clear B2B’s PR team had the privilege to be part of. We were there running PR launches and media relations for clients, making the most of the opportunity to spend time with industry colleagues and press, broadening our own knowledge and delving into the key theme for this year’s event: ‘Achieving an Integrated Force’.

Here, our Head of PR, Ally Higgins, shares her insights into some of the key conversations we had during the event.

Vision for an Integrated Force

We are no stranger to this term, many of our clients in the defence world are already working to deliver products and solutions that can help the MoD (Ministry of Defence) deliver an integrated defence industry.

The MoD has been very clear about its vision for the UK - a seamless blend of Maritime, Land, Air, Cyber & Electromagnetic and Space domains - all working together to ensure the country is prepared for emerging threats and challenges. The goal is to achieve this by 2030.

Naturally, the messaging around delivering an Integrated Force, was communicated in the context of recent global events and political challenges. Most obviously the war in Ukraine, but also the challenges of decarbonising the military, a greater focus on social values and a general increasing sophistication of the threats facing the West.

How do we deliver the future vision of integration?

Here are just a few of the insights from the Show:

1. Being ready for emerging threats

One of the big areas for discussion at DSEI was UAS (unmanned aerial systems) - both their capabilities and the increasing challenges posed by them. Their accessibility and the level of UAS technology available to hostile actors is growing rapidly.

While conflicts in the Middle East have driven this trend, the threat is undoubtedly spreading. And so counter-drone systems are becoming a focal point, with the general feeling being that more agile and cooperative approaches to developing and deploying counter-UAS measures are a must.

Rather than responding reactively to each new challenge, an Integrated Force, driven by technology and proactivity, is what will keep our military one step ahead.

2. AI-driven defence capability

The UK Government’s Defence AI strategy vision states that: “In terms of AI, we will be the world’s most effective, efficient, trusted and influential defence organisation for our size.”

A year on from the industry being told AI needs to be an essential part in defence modernisation, we are seeing huge amounts of investment into technology-driven AI. AI is already being applied to products all around us, but the main applications in defence are sensor fusion, reconnaissance, logistics, cyber security, and on the battlefield itself.

For instance, AI is being used to support operational commanders in their decision-making, crunch through huge amounts of data to offer actionable insights, optimise supply chains, identify suspicious IT activity, and predict when maintenance is needed on weapons and other equipment.

AI is also being used to control vehicles and aircraft, while new weapons like ‘loitering munitions’ have AI-enabled autonomous capabilities.

It was interesting to see the varied range of solutions on offer at DSEI, all using AI as a central focus.

3. Leveraging civil technologies into defence

Where once the military led the way, with defence technology discovering the potential for consumer innovations like microwave ovens and car satnav systems, there has been a paradigm shift in the development of technology in recent years. Now it’s the commercial world that’s pushing the boundaries, developing solutions that enable all of us to live lives on the go.

Many of the new and evolving solutions and technologies we see every day are readily adaptable to military needs. Taking the best in class products from the civil space, and adapting them to military grade, enables the military to keep up with technological developments and achieve best value for money.

This was a hot topic of conversation and one we look forward to following in the coming months.

4. Land Industrial Strategy

Naturally this is the conversation on everyone’s lips. The Land Industrial Strategy (LIS) sets out the conditions for ‘long-term collaboration between the MoD and industry, supporting co-investment in capability delivery and innovation.’

The LIS sets the intent, ways of working, and actions by which the Army, wider MoD and industry will collaborate to maximise the value from investment in Army modernisation and transformation. It will ensure the Army receives the capabilities it requires in a way that drives opportunity for UK industry and the economy.

There are many sub-programmes within this strategy, and again it was interesting to see what this year’s exhibitors are doing to support the LIS. From tactical solutions, such as improved connected radio communications for soldiers, right through to ensuring manufacturers are also proving themselves in terms of social values.

5. Future-proofing

Time and time again during DSEI, we had conversations with journalists around what insights they were seeing, what little nuggets they were picking up, and it always came back to one thing - future-proofing the MoD, future-proofing our military, future-proofing industry.

The organisers of DSEI coined it perfectly:

“For DSEI 2023 attendees, the message is clear: the future of defence lies in agility, technological advancement, and integration. The Defence Enterprise must be agile, adapting and innovating as situations demand. This includes harnessing technological changes, such as digital transformation, and investing in capabilities that are future-ready.

The theme ‘Achieving the Integrated Force’ is not just a tagline - it's a roadmap for the future and one thing is certain: together, we can achieve a defence force that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

2023’s DSEI was once again a great event.  A chance to learn about the latest innovations in defence and an opportunity to learn about the inspiring work taking place across the industry.

To find out more about what the Clear team was doing on the ground at DSEI for clients, or to discuss how we can support you with marketing, PR and communications, drop Ally a line. 

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