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03 March 2016

Conference Focus on Paradigm Change in Defence Industry

Last week in Bonn (Germany), the German Society for Military Technology (DWT) held its annual conference and exposition covering “Applied Research for Defence and Security in Germany.” In more than 30 lecture slots, speakers from industry and research institutes presented defence relevant developments and trends in land, sea, air, space, and cyber-space arenas, and discussed their finding with approx. 300 participants.

Approx. 300 representatives from politics, administration, science and industry attended the DWT conference and exposition in Bonn. (Photo: DWT)

One of the presentations’ leitmotif was that, similar to other industries, the defence industry sees itself confronted with paradigm changes (digitalisation, disruptive technologies, and new players) and constrained R&D budgets. Dr. Peter Hunke, Head of R&T Management at Airbus Defence & Space (DS), in his keynote speech among other things emphasised the importance of cyber security in times of groups like the so called Islamic State (IS) and others attacking and hacking IT infrastructures. “Today, defence is a totally networked process. The question is: Who has got sovereignty over interfaces?”

In Hunke’s eyes a great deal of work (and investment) is still to be made in order to both improve cyber security and substantiate network-centric warfare doctrines with an IT infrastructure that really makes essential use of big data: “In this fields Germany, as a highly developed country, only ranks mid-field. This should not stay like that!”

As to disruptive technologies, Hunke mentioned the opportunities additive manufacturing (AM) – commonly known as 3-D-printing – can provide for MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) amongst others. “Smart basic materials make it possible to add previously unknown characteristics to weapon systems and machines," he stated.

In order to investigate the mentioned potentials of AM, the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) recently opened a Centre for 3-D-Printing in Erding, Germany. During the conference a representative of this centre explained how lightweight AM design can increase material stiffness and reduce costs at the same time, using the examples of the ammunition feed of a medium-calibre weapon and components of a guided missile, the latter being conducted in cooperation with Diehl Defence.

In the exposition area research institutes as well as enterprises presented ongoing projects and showcased new products. (Photo: DWT)

A large part of the presentations focused on ISR technology. Experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (FKIE) and Diehl Defence discussed the growing importance of multispectral imagery for mission planning, object tracking, and terrain analysis; with smart sensor data fusion providing real-time information for soldiers on the ground, being the coinciding end goal. Corresponding to that, a representative of AIM Infrarot-Module provided insight in the research activities around IR sensor technology, explaining how the combined use of detectors based on different spectral ranges (Medium Wavelength IR - MWIR and Long Wavelength IR - LWIR) via enhanced contrasts leads to higher reconnaissance performance.

In other sessions, Airbus Helicopters e.g. presented its research activities around hostile fire indication (HFI), Dynamit Nobel Defence annotated study results towards reducing the signature of a Davis gun, and CeramTec-ETEC explained how their PERLUCOR transparent ceramic aligns ballistic protection with weight reduction.

Also see other blogposts:
ISL Presents Smart Autonomous Visual Event Detector B-SAVED
ESG and Diehl Deployed C-UAV Defence System at G7 Meeting
Unmanned Systems to Support Infantry Units

Alexander Kolberg