Air Content Boosts Britain’s DSEI Show

 - September 13, 2013, 2:00 PM
Air systems featured more in this year’s DSEI show than in previous years. Airbus Military promoted the C-295 (top left); MBDA received a contract for the Sea Ceptor missile (top right); UTC revealed a new inertial measurement unit for MBDA missiles (bottom left); and EADS Cassidian revealed the reverse IFF technique. (Photos Airbus Military, MBDA, UTC and EADS Cassidian)

The Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI) in London this week was supported by more than 1,500 exhibitors, with 30,000 visitors from around the world expected, according to organizer Clarion Events. DSEI’s main focus has traditionally been on land, naval and security equipment. But a number of exhibitors this year featured air systems, and the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) ran a series of seminars in which senior officers outlined the service’s capabilities and future plans.

The RAF is nervously awaiting the next UK defense review in 2015, having taking major cuts in the last one three years ago. In particular, it is hoping to secure continued funding for the Raytheon Sentinel surveillance system and the General Atomics Reaper UAS. During one of the RAF seminars, it emerged that core funding for another of the service’s airborne ISR systems has been agreed beyond 2015. This is the Raytheon Shadow, based on a King Air 350 airframe, of which six are in service. According to a Raytheon briefing at DSEI, this aircraft has “more than 20 ISR systems” integrated, mostly UK government-furnished equipment. The most controversial of the cuts in the 2010 review was the scrapping of the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft. The next review may allocate funds for a new MPA program; at DSEI, Airbus Military was promoting the C295 as an affordable solution.

Despite tight funding, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) did announce two big contracts at the show. MBDA received a contract worth approximately $390 million to start production of the Sea Ceptor air defense missile for the Royal Navy’s frigates and destroyers. The Sea Ceptor is based on the vertically launched, active seeker common anti-air modular missile (CAMM), and the MoD noted that it could be adapted for use by the Army and RAF, thanks to its flexible design.

The MoD also announced a $570 million, six-year contract award to the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca joint venture to support the RTM322 turboshafts that power the UK’s Apache and Merlin helicopters. The MoD said that by simplifying the supply chain, improving technical support and increasing the availability of spare parts, the new contract will help to reduce the number of major repairs needed on the airframes, keeping them in the air for longer, saving UK taxpayers $465 million.

The CAMM is one of a number of MBDA missiles that should benefit from a new, high-performance inertial measurement unit (IMU) to be developed by UTC Aerospace Systems (formerly Goodrich) in the UK. In a collaborative development with MBDA that was announced at DSEI, UTC will adapt its micro-electro mechanical systems technology to provide better guidance, navigation and control.

EADS Cassidian announced the successful testing of a “reverse IFF” technique. Using the latest encryption-secure NATO Mode 5 standard, the new capability allows military aircraft and helicopters to initiate the IFF interrogation, as well as respond to ground-generated interrogations. “This way, airborne platforms receive a valuable new capability without substantial modifications,” Cassidian noted.