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Home > News > Industry News > DSEI preview: Key contracts pr.....

DSEI preview: Key contracts protect the defence market

  • Author:Ella Cai
  • Release on:2017-09-07
As the DSEI defence technology show opens, Richard Wilson reviews key products on offer and drivers for the military electronics market.

More than any other technology market, the defence and security sector is influenced by a relatively small number of large value contracts; many with national government agencies. 

The world’s defence and security system suppliers are travelling to Excel in London for DSEI 2017 (12-15 September). The show is Europe’s largest military technology exhibition with more than 1,600 exhibitors. 

The market is benefiting from the award of a number of key contracts in the past few months. But the long-term outlook for defence suppliers is less rosy, with downward pressure on sales. 

Defence export sales are likely to fall next year for the first time, according to market watcher IHS Markit. Its report is based on 40,000 military programmes from the Jane’s Aerospace, Defence & Security’s Markets Forecast database. 

In the short-term, defence trade increased in 2016 and there is now a backlog in export orders, which have been placed but not yet delivered.

But, says Ben Moores, a senior defence and aviation analyst at IHS Jane’s: “For the first time we are forecasting a decline in our expectations for the global defence export market. This is happening for a number of reasons, including falling energy prices, increasing domestic production and the world simply pausing for breath after such a long run of increases.” 

Saudi Arabia is the largest importer, spending $8.3bn in 2016. It now imports nearly three times as much as its closest rival, India. 

In comparison, military imports throughout Western Europe increased to $8.9bn in 2016. The US remained the highest exporter in 2016, supplying $23.3bn-worth of military goods. 

Western European exports were $17.8bn in 2016, with Germany, France and Sweden all enjoying sizeable increases in export levels over the past year, primarily in military aerospace markets. 

Key facts
What is it? DSEI 2017
Where is it? ExCeL, London
When is it? 12-15 September
What does it cost? £175 for industry and academia; free for military, armed forces and MoD visitors with accreditation
Full details from the website at:
SDR takes security role

Suppliers at DSEi will be hoping that a growing need for public security systems will offset falling military sales. 

In June, for example, Munich-based Rohde & Schwarz (stand S2-268) won a contract from the German Federal Ministry of Defence to equip 50 command-and-control vehicles with a new secure radio communications. 

This new type of system, known as SVFuA (pictured left), is built on software defined radio (SDR) technology that is based on the internationally established software communications architecture (SCA). It is one of the first adoptions of secure SDR in military systems. 

Secure communication is made possible by deploying signal waveforms that enable the use of modern IP technology. These are jam-resistant waveforms which provide simultaneous voice and data communication. 

Another example is the Navics secure communications system from Rohde & Schwarz, which is notable for using commercially available IT technologies for internal and external naval communications.
The British Royal Navy equips its Type 26 Global Combat Ships with this system. Rohde & Schwarz will also showcase its Comint/C‑ESM solutions, which can be fully customised to meet the requirements of the most diverse intelligence missions.
These radio monitoring systems are deployed worldwide in land-based mobile and stationary applications and on naval and airborne platforms.
Real-time image processing

Another big government project driving technology forward is the UK Ministry of Defence’s new cross-industry project to evaluate the latest developments in real-time image processing. 

Companies including Plextek Services (stand S3-350), RFEL (stand S4-150) and 4Sight Imaging are working with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory to evaluate the use of FPGA-based image processing technology in defence and security surveillance applications. 

The project brings together sensor technology and real-time embedded video processing developed by RFEL and Plextek with DSTL and 4Sight’s adaptive algorithms. 

Other recent European contracts include visual display systems (VDS) by supplied to the French Air Force Fomedec training programme by Rockwell Collins (stand S2-191). The Spectraview VDSs, developed in the US, will be used with Pilatus PC-21 simulators. 

“This collaborative international programme taps into the strengths of each team member and will provide French Air Force pilots with a realistic and reliable training environment to prepare them for any mission,” said Lee Obst, managing director of Rockwell Collins in Canada. 

Elsewhere, Greece’s largest communications systems provider in the defence and security sector, IDE (Intracom Defense Electronics) (stand N9-382) has secured a contract to NATO member-nations for depot-level maintenance, overhaul, modifications, provision of spare parts and repair material for maintenance of Patriot ground support equipment assemblies and items. 

British firms at the show 

With so much activity in the sector, it’s no surprise that British electronics components suppliers will be out in force at DSEI. 

DSEI shutterstock_248182615 happy soldier WEBCharcroft Electronics (S4-310) will present the high-reliability electronic components it supplies for defence applications in the UK Pavilion. 

The distributor’s recent signing of a franchise agreement with AEM has added QPL-certified, MIL‑PRF-23419/12 fuses to the product range. 

Technical support is also provided on the custom passive assemblies and legacy passives manufactured in Charcroft’s UK-based CECC-approved production facility, which is also an approved Vishay Precision Centre. 

The North Wales-based distributor and manufacturer has recently added to its UK sales force by appointing Rob Weemes to the new position of business development manager for the South East and East Anglia. 

A priority for Weemes will be to help customers manage issues such as allocation or extended lead-times, as well as ITAR controls and traceability in the space and defence markets. 

AWS (stand S2-289) provides manufacturing services to the defence sector and at DSEI it will present its partnership with a UK defence company in producing PCBAs for prototype builds of anti-UAV systems and aircraft communication equipment. 

The manufacturer’s fast-track service has produced operational prototype units that are now in the field. Preparation for production is expected to be under way in the next few months. 

“This has always been a good exhibition event for us and we look forward to seeing many of our customers at the show, as well as discussing projects and opportunities with new entities,” said company CEO, Paul Deehan. 

AWS has also recently completed an urgent order for a large defence customer in relation to their police helicopter communication equipment. The project consisted of 14 different unit assemblies, over 100 sub unit assemblies, 100 cable assemblies and more than 40 PCBAs. 

Distributor TTI (stand S3-341) will be on the UK Pavilion, highlighting its European Defence Business Unit and its dedicated sales and support times for the military and defence sector. It will also give special prominence to three component manufacturers in the defence space: 

Kemet, with its component miniaturisation and capacitor technologies 

Honeywell, with its switches, proximity sensors and LVDTs (linear variable displacement transducers) for aerospace and defence applications products 

Vishay’s Sfernice division which provides highly reliable position sensors. 

Stadium IGT (stand S4-15) will demonstrate its specialist human machine interface (HMI) technology for the aviation and defence markets. 

This includes examples of previous custom-developed products such as military-standard control panels, capacitive switching control panels and the company’s patented thin‑film backlighting technology, which was developed for the consumer and industrial sectors, and is starting to be adopted in the defence sector. 

Test equipment rental firm Microlease (stand S2-162) has packaged up selected sets of equipment and test gear for aerospace and defence customers. 

Called the Aerospace and Defence Tool Box, it supports a range of activities including producing, commissioning or repairing equipment such as radar, microwave communication, mobile radio, satellite testing and electronic security systems. The range of equipment available includes analysers, signal generators and other instruments that are typically used in the aerospace and defence industries, from suppliers such as Anritsu, Keysight, Rohde & Schwarz and Tektronix. 

Microlease is also launching an asset management service specifically tailored for aerospace and defence manufacturers and contractors.
Called LEO 2, it will be available via the secure MoD cloud and includes standard MoD form reports and a KPI dashboard. 

“The test equipment asset base of a major manufacturer or contractor can have a value of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, with individual pieces of equipment costing between $10,000 and $100,000 or more,” says David Whitfield, CEO for asset management services at Microlease.

“The defence industry needs to ensure that it makes the best possible use of this resource, to achieve high levels of efficiency and business performance,” he says. 

Farnell element14 (S2-298) will demonstrate the importance of franchised distributors providing full traceability on any order quantity through the provision of date- and lot-codes on both product labels and despatch notes. 

Security in the supply chain is vital for the defence and aerospace sector. Distributors like Farnell element14 demonstrate their capabilities by being certified to BSI EN 9120:2010. 

Global connections

Apart from UK-based businesses, electronic component suppliers from around the world will be represented at the show. 

Analog Devices (ADI) (stand N4‑173) will showcase its range of relevant products, with three demonstrations on its stand. First it will show its phased array products, including a complete X-band phased array signal chain, including TR module, core IC, synthesisers, frequency converters and high-speed digitisation. 

A second demonstration zone will focus on secure communications, including ADI’s solutions for encrypted video data links and its RASKL key loader. Finally, a third demo will feature ADI’s high-performance MEMs sensors for precision stabilisation and navigation. 

Parker Chomerics (stand S2‑135) will show its range of shielding products that protect systems against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and other environmental factors. 

Parker will focus on its Cho-Seal 6502 and 6503 conductive elastomer gaskets, which are suited to harsh environments. It will also show its Cho‑Seal 1298, which incorporates a silver-plated aluminium filler in a fluorosilicone binder and offers shielding in the range 90dB-110dB and meets MIL-DTL-83528 type D specifications. 

Ultralife Corporation (stand N4‑196) will show its range of batteries for military communications equipment, as well as for systems such as security cameras in remote outposts. 

It will focus on its rechargeable batteries for wearables, in particular the UBBL35 range of form‑fitting batteries that provide a concealed and high-energy‑density power supply for wearable communication devices. 

Military connections

One key area of electronics that has attracted a number of suppliers to DSEI is connectors. 

Smiths Interconnect (stand S5-270) has recently brought together some of the most commonly-used interconnect technologies in the defence sector along with its RF devices under a single brand. The company will show its complete product portfolio, combining the EMC Technology, Hypertac, IDI, Lorch, Millitech, RF Labs, Sabritec, Tecom and Trak product families. 

Specialist distributor Lane Electronics (stand S4-255) will showcase Souriau circular connectors it sells that meet the requirements of MIL-DTL-38999 Series III. These high density, threaded coupling connectors are available in different shell materials including aluminium, composite, marine bronze and stainless steel. 

The connectors are manufactured by Souriau for whom Lane is an assembling distributor. The distributor says it can supply standard 38999 connectors on a next-day-delivery basis, but can also assemble to order custom connectors from its substantial stock profile of Souriau 38999 products and piece parts on short lead times. 

Lemo (stand S8-150) has a range of standard off-the-shelf rugged multi-pin connectors for the defence and security markets. It will focus on its M Series range of miniature high-density ratchet locking circular connectors, which, the company says, offer customers space- and weight-saving benefits. 

It will also show a range of innovations such as NiCorAL, the recently-launched corrosion-resistantconductive surface treatment, which offers users an alternative to cadmium without compromising performance. 

Harwin (stand S3-240) will be at DSEi to present the latest additions to its established Datamate range of high reliability connectors. Size reductions mean that each member of the Datamate Coax series comprises multiple (ganged) coaxial contacts in a single housing. 

Featuring 2-, 4-, 6- and 8-contact options, the contacts in each connector are arranged into single- or double‑ended jack formats with 4mm pitch.
They are specified up to frequencies of 6GHz. The connectors’ inherently robust construction means that they can cope with high levels of shock (100G) and vibration (10G/200Hz), plus extreme temperatures (-55°C to +125°C). 

Astute Electronics (stand N3‑410) will show its latest range of Eclipse hybrid power connectors from Positronic (pictured, right). This is described as an entry‑level product that uses the same low‑resistance copper alloy and specially machined elements as used on the supplier’s other power connectors, but incorporates a formed-and-stamped signal contact cluster to reduce cost. 

Designed for military, defence and communications applications, the connector’s solid machined contact and formed and stamped signal cluster deliver reliable power and reduced insertion loss. Eclipse boasts a minimum of 250 mating cycles. It is a low-profile component measuring just 11mm high and features a halogen-free insulator. 

Omnetics Connector (stand S2‑100), a supplier of miniature electrical connectors and cable harnesses for high-reliability applications, will exhibit at DSEI. Its product ranges centre on ruggedised Micro-D, Nano-D and circular connectors, as well as the hybrid version which carries both power and signal contacts. 

Amphenol Martec (stand S2‑156) is another connector business exhibiting at DSEI. A specialist in hermetic connectors and glass-to-metal seals, the supplier will show the recently-introduced QPL certified MIL-DTL-38999 Series III hermetic connectors which it offers in various versions with size 22D/20/16/12 contacts. 

TTI (stand S3-341) will demonstrate its QPL-approved European connector assembly service, which is authorised by its suppliers. It can build more than a million variants of connectors, and says lead times can be 48 hours without an MOQ, ship to forecast requirements or simply hold buffer/safety stock to meet procurement needs. 

Key connector assemblies are: MIL-DTL-38999 Series I and III, HE308, VG96912, VG95234, SJT circular connectors and rectangular EN4165 Series connectors. 

DSEI Innovation Hub

DSEI_Aisles2For the first time, DSEI will host an Innovation Hub. It will be supported by jHub, the Joint Forces Command initiative and will showcase disruptive technologies and seek to join the dots between military technology and applications outside of the defence sector. 

JHub, based in London’s Tech City, aims to identify and exploit new technologies across a range of applications. The Innovation Hub at DSEI will provide an opportunity for companies large and small to demonstrate their emerging technologies. 

DSEI event director Duncan Reid explains that the Innovation Hub “will complement the offering from DSEI’s established exhibitor base while helping other suppliers to break into the defence sector”. 

The hub will act as a marketplace for business that will, according to Reid, “assist those from the front-line commands who are, in some instances, seeking to deliver military capability with solutions from companies whose expertise lies beyond defence”. 

Key speakers at DSEI 2017

DSEI features a wide range of seminars and conferences with speakers from across the military world, including:
Sir Michael Fallon MP, UK secretary of state for defence
Liam Fox MP, UK secretary of state for international trade
Ben Wallace MP, UK minister of state for security
Harriett Baldwin MP, UK minister for defence procurement
Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, UK first sea lord and chief of naval staff
General Sir Nick Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen, UK chief of the general staff
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC, UK chief of the air staff
General Sir Chris Deverell KCB MBE ADC Gen, UK commander, Joint Forces Command
Jorge Domecq, chief executive, European Defence Agency
Dan Bailey, program director, joint multi-role/future vertical lift, AMRDEC, US Army
Lieutenant General Carlo Magrassi, secretary general of defence and national armaments director, Ministry of Defence, Italy
Lieutenant General Frank Leidenberger, commander DEU elements multinational corps/basic army organisation, German army
Major General Kathryn Toohey, head land capability, Australian Army
Major General JPA Pelletier, RCAF fighter program lead, Royal Canadian Air Force.