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DSEI 2019: What to expect from the UK MoD

4th September 2019 - 09:00 GMT | by Beth Maundrill in London

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With the UK government having already been through three defence secretaries over the course of 2019, this year’s DSEI brings much speculation about what the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will bring to the table in terms of announcements and messaging.

With the MoD keeping its cards close to its chest in advance of DSEI, Shephard spoke to RAdm Simon Williams, chairman of Clarion Defence and Security, the events company that puts together the biennial event, about what he believes MoD will bring to the table this year.

‘I think you'll see three things. I think the first is most importantly commitment. And the UK military is absolutely committed to remaining on the forefront of defence, technological edge and understanding what the world is going to look like in a decade's time and being prepared for it,' Williams said.

He added that through this commitment he envisages that the government will be ‘embracing’ industry more.

Secondly, he argued that as part of an emphasis on embracing ‘all aspects of defence and security’, this messaging will be reinforced by the likes of the Joint Forces Command (JFC) evolving into the Strategic Command. 

The-then Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced that JFC would be known as Strategic Command during a speech on 18 July. Speaking on the current threats that the UK is facing - such as that from non-state actors - and the need for the JFC to take on greater responsibility, she said: ‘If we’re to respond, we must have strategic integration across the five warfighting domains - land, air, sea, space and cyber’.

Turning to his third point and taking a more focused look at the land, air and sea domains, Williams confirmed that he expects more to be revealed regarding the Royal Navy’s Type 31e programme. Slated to be awarded to Babcock with its Arrowhead 140 design, the programme looks to supply the service with five new frigates at an average cost of £250 million per ship.

On the aviation front, Williams commented: ‘The air force with its Tempest project is looking forward to both the future of manned and unmanned flight and integrating those and what the new ages of technology will bring.’

The proposed Tempest stealth 6th generation fighter aircraft has also seen international interest with Sweden joining the UK-led effort in June 2019.

‘And in the land environment it’s about how you better equip the individual soldier and then how you operate, how you operate those individuals collectively with the new technologies that are on offer. And you will see those elements at play as well.’

Williams did not comment on any of the ongoing British Army Efforts such as the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) or the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (LEP).

However, it is known that Lockheed Martin UK, the prime contractor for WCSP, will showcase one of the demonstration vehicles during DSEI. Rheinmetall, one of the bidders alongside BAE Systems for the Challenger 2 LEP, is going to further highlight its offer for the tank upgrade project.

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