DSEI 2019: Tech and topics to watch out for

Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) returns to London in September for its 20th year. As military equipment manufacturers from across the globe gear up to show off their products, make deals and unveil innovations, Harry Lye explores what we can expect from this year’s event.

// All images courtesy of DSEI


Autonomy in the armed forces
Autonomous systems are a key trend expected to feature across every sector of DSEI 2019, as significant investment is being made in naval, land-based and aerial systems to make military operations more efficient, safer and more cost-effective. This trend is apparent in the various conferences planned over the course of DSEI and hosted by the UK Armed Forces, with all three branches looking into how autonomy could change battlefield tactics and planning.

Big data and the military
Another technological focus of DSEI will be how to apply big data principles to the battlefield. The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl), for example, has looked into applying more data to naval systems and Lockheed Martin is doing the same to streamline maintenance of the F-35. This trend is expected to continue to grow with the proliferation of space assets and militaries looking to leverage big data across a variety of systems.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI already plays a role in a number of military applications, such as advanced autopilot systems, decision support tools and smart weapons. Just like autonomy and big data, AI will be a key trend explored at this year’s DSEI. Expect to see companies showing how AI can be used to control systems and digest data to give military forces a cutting edge.

Force multipliers

The technology trends above feed into the larger picture of force multiplication. Militaries are looking to do more with what they already have, so expect contractors from across the world to get in on this discussion. Force multiplication solutions come in the form of traditional land, air or sea platforms, as well as more novel cyber solutions – we’re expecting to see a number unveiled at this year’s event.

In the zones

As in previous years, DSEI will be separated into zones for the different military branches, showcasing systems and solutions that represent each area’s needs and requirements. This year, the aerospace, land, naval, security and joint zones will showcase the latest developments in aircraft, land systems, vessels, ammunition, border security, medicine and everything inbetween.


DSEI land capability conference

This conference, held on 9 September in partnership with the British Army, will explore how best to respond to modern day threats. The conference is set to look at the ‘grey zone’ of actions that don’t quite constitute conflict and how the army can keep up with them. With speakers from industry and the army, this is one to watch for those with a close eye on the changing world of combat.

Novel fighting vehicles
One of the highlights at the last DSEI, in 2017, was Rheinmetall’s Boxer armoured transport vehicle, and since then the company has announced a joint venture with BAE systems, focusing on British Armed Forces ventures and competitions such as the Challenger 2 upgrade programme. Both companies are presenting at DSEI, and the fruits of this partnership will be worth looking out for.

RAF Team Tempest
The Tempest next-generation combat aircraft partnership will be exhibiting in the aerospace hub and is certain to give an insight into what we can expect from sixth-generation air systems. Team Tempest brings together industry leaders including Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Leonardo and MBDA and has attracted heavy investment from industry and the Royal Air Force.

Return of the airship
British hybrid airship manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) will be at DSEI displaying the capabilities of its Airlander airship. The aircraft can fly for up to five days non-stop and take off vertically from any sufficiently large surface. HAV touts the Airlander as a possible solution for surveillance, border patrol and search and rescue. This modern take on old-school technology could provide an interesting solution to modern defence challenges.

DSEI Space Hub
There has been a recent flurry of activity in the UK, US and globally in developing, deploying and safeguarding space-based assets, so the newly established space hub at this year’s DSEI will certainly be one to watch.

Airbus is one of the companies involved in the new space hub. A spokesperson told Global Defence Technology: “We will be featuring secure military satellite communications with Skynet 6, the follow on for the successful Skynet 5 programme for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), optical and radar Earth observation capabilities, space situational awareness, and even active space debris removal concepts.”

The Royal Navy’s maritime capability conference
The Royal Navy’s maritime capabilities conference brings together naval experts from around the world to discuss digitisation, autonomy and the pace of modern naval combat. It will offer invaluable insight into how modern naval forces are looking into the technology sector to multiply and enhance the strength of their forces.

Maritime autonomous displays
In the run-up to DSEI, the event organisers called for proposals for autonomous ship and boat demonstrations. The Royal Navy is increasingly looking into autonomous operations, so we expect to see interesting new concepts in the Royal Dock at DSEI.