In June, ADR will attend Eurosatory in Paris, France. It’s one of, if not the biggest arms show in the world, serving as a showcase for the international defence and security industry’s latest products. Conway Waddington and Richard Stupart have front row seats, and will be exploring some of the trends and novel developments being demonstrated at the expo.
Compared to, say, ITEC, which we’d attended in Prague last year – and was predominately focused on visualized training solutions – Eurosatory is a far more general event. It features everything from small arms to vehicles (supply, transport, armed – tracked and wheeled), to naval and airborne equipment, electronic warfare and communications, and a vast array of logistics-related, training, and medical solutions. Then there are further, highly specialised niches such as custom fabric production for uniforms, and ballistic alloys companies.
Other events are generally geographically focused – such as the aptly-named African Aerospace and Defence, held in South Africa since 2006, which we will be attending later this year in Tshwane. What Eurosatory lacks in regional focus, though, it makes up for in sheer scale. When we attended for the first time in 2014, we’d initially joked about the telephone book-sized catalogue of companies and displays, but soon found ourselves overwhelmed by the massive hangars and outdoor arenas filled with stands ranging from kitchen-sized single desk affairs, to entire office blocks with complex sound stages and display screens. The outdoor section included a complete Iron Dome launch platform and armoured cars and tanks from across the world.
Although Eurosatory is an international event, our particular interest will be in predominantly Africa-related defence industry developments. We are interested in how developments in the defence industry relate to, and could apply to African defence and security scenarios. Eurosatory serves as a launchpad for most new technologies, making it an ideal place to pick up on emerging defence industry trends that may appear in African conflicts in the near future. A process, incidentally, which is mostly a one-way street, since aside from a few South African companies, the international roster for attending suppliers/manufacturers is almost entirely lacking in African companies.
So we’ll be looking at what is on display through the prism of African application. What will be useful in African theatres? What’s likely to be making an appearance soon? Limited logistical support, lacking infrastructural capacity (in terms of transport and logistics or telecommunications), limited training, maintenance and operational budgets – all of these feature as potential limitations for defence technologies hoping to appeal to African purchasers.
We’re looking forward to publishing a range of material on the African Defence podcast, our Facebook page, and here on the site itself. Richard (@wheretheroad) and Conway (@ConWaddington) will also be tweeting from their personal accounts, as well as via our @africandefence handle, starting from 11 June. So if you have any questions you’d like to ask about life in an arms show, next week will be the week to send them through.