Tag Archives: Dubai

The World according to Shephard: Week 46

Dizzying displays in Dubai

If you have struggled to keep pace with the news coming out of Dubai this week then check out Shephard’s full coverage of the air show here.

A commercial kick for UAS

The Zephyr UAS is to enter the commercial market at the end of 2018 as part of Airbus Ariel’s commercial services offering. The platform can be used for large area image gathering as well as a communications relay for companies looking for satellite capabilities but are unable to afford launch costs.

Another long range UAS originally developed for military applications, Insitu’s ScanEagle, has burst into the commercial market after securing a seven figure contract with Shell’s QGC business in Australia. The contract requires Insitu to collect, exploit and deliver data gathered by its ScanEagle during inspections of infrastructure and hardware.

Scan Eagle/Insitsu Frontiers shoot

However for a market experiencing exponential growth the question of how UAVs should be regulated and who is ultimately responsible for the enforcement of laws remains unresolved. At the Commercial UAV Show representatives from small and large companies voiced concerns about the extent of illegal and unregulated activity in the commercial drone industry.

The chiefs speak their minds

Concerns of a very different nature have been voiced by former defence chiefs in the UK as the government begins its latest national security capabilities review. Air Marshal Barry North warned the UK Defence Committee that assumptions made in the 2010 and 2015 SDSRs could leave the country exposed to significant military capability gaps. The ex-chiefs also argued that UK forces are twenty years out of date and are unprepared for modern warfare.


Chinese influence abounds

The Ghana Navy has commissioned into service four Chinese made fast patrol boats that were donated by the Chinese government as part of a $7.5 million grant to equip the Ghana Armed Forces.

Meanwhile Chinese hardware has appeared in Rwanda with new photos revealing that the Army is operating Chinese-made Norinco SH3 122mm self-propelled howitzer. This makes Rwanda the first known foreign users of the SH3 which until now was not known to have been exported.


Norinco will also be delivering the first batch of 34 VN1 IFVs to the Royal Thai Army next year. The VN1 will be Thailand’s second Chinese-sourced APC after the commissioning the Type 85 in1987.

China shows no signs of slowing its search for export markets for its military systems as Chinese companies have pursued extensive research and development to hone their radar and identification, friend and foe systems.


US SOF hungry for new tech

The US Air Force is in search of technology to support future personnel recovery activities against a background of increasingly sophisticated operational environments. The requirements are focused on three major areas: locate/authenticate; support for isolated personnel and execute recovery.

Meanwhile the US DoD Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office is to hold an Advance Planning Briefing for Industry. The expected 500 attendees from government, industry and academia will be provided with a look at anticipated requirements that may be funded in FY19.

U.S. Special Forces Fast Rope On Target


I’ve been everywhere, man. I’ve been everywhere…

We’ve been flat out here at Shephard over the past few months, and if you’re in the defence game you will have likely seen either me or one of my colleagues hitting trade shows in Singapore, Orlando, Berlin, Los Angeles, Dubai, Doha, Nashville, Kuala Lumpur, Tampa, Cologne, and at least one or two others I can’t recall off the top of my head.

Not to mention doing the rounds locally here in the UK. If it happened and it was news, we were there –  chasing lovely new bits of kit, monitoring the financial performance and programme announcements of the aerospace and defence
major leaguers, making sure we covered all the news, trials and tribulations of this ‘quirky little industry of ours’, to quote our dear leader.

For my part there were one or two definite highlights: covering Defense Service Asia (DSA) in Kuala Lumpur was an eye opener, as the whole3cb830ea thing was just so comically chaotic. The complex where the event was hosted was a rabbit warren of disparately sized rooms and corridors, and buildings linked by over-bridges, with no rhyme or reason to the lay out – at least to my eyes.

However, the show ran improbably smoothly, despite being somewhat overshadowed by the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which tended to crop up quite frequently during press conferences with regional authorities.

By some miracle I was able to find my way around DSA with relatively few issues and talk to some pretty interesting people. The Russians, who rebuffed my overtures early on in the show, eventually relented and agreed to talk to me, and I’m glad they did, as they were not shy about voicing their opinions on the politics of American defence manufacturers.

I had a good chat to companies and delegates from all over the world looking to solicit and cement trade relationships with regional industry, with Malaysia constantly touted as the next big growth opportunity. Whether this is true remains to be seen, but for sure the defence industry in general is taking America’s (perhaps pre-mature?) re-orientation to the Asia Pacific seriously, and indulging in some pre-emptive strategic shuffling.

By contrast, my next venture to the ILA Berlin Air Show revealed a predictably well organised, efficient, logically presented – if somewhat quiet – European defence industry gathering. ILA Berlin happened to follow hot on the heels of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, effectively putting the military capabilities of any nation in close proximity to the Ukrainian crisis under the spotlight, or microscope, depending on your perspective.

The waking of the Great Bear, and the subsequent European disquiet, added a sheen of optimism to the show, asindustry players anticipated a flurry of defence spending by the Ukraine’s worried neighbours. While there were one or two interesting announcements, by and large this expectation went unrealised for a lot of attendees.

Up next is Eurosatory in Paris – and you can expect to see us there as well.