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  SoldierMod Volume 10 - Jan 2013
Volume 10 Articles

World Business ResearchHow Do We Operate Effectively in an Austere Economic Environment?

Robert Alcock talks to Nick Dowdeswell,
Marketing Manager, WBR about industry changes

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Photo: © WBR.
Photo: © WBR.

The way in which governments spend on soldier equipment is changing in line with national defence restructuring and the wind-down of the war in Afghanistan. As a result, investment in soldier modernisation, like other areas of defence spend, is being scrutinised to ensure the government is getting value for money and is developing capability against future operational needs.

How has the landscape changed?

National defence spending is changing. Defence budgets are in decline forcing governments to reprioritise investment. However there are signs that there still opportunities despite current conditions.

Companies are finding that their customer base is shifting; spending on soldier equipment has shifted to BRIC countries and the Middle East. This can be backed up by results from the ADS 2012 UK Defence Survey: UK land defence export sales increased by 4% in 2011 against 2010 with land holding 16% market share of the UK defence industry in 2011.

Many Western nations are focusing on affordable spending; they are seeking economies of scale by buying equipment common to the soldier, marine, airborne and special operators. As a result, funded programmes still remain. For example, Sweden, Norway, Canada, UK, Germany, Australia – all still have funded programmes where spend is yet to be allocated and opportunity remains.

Also Defence R&D is now a bigger priority – in peacetime defence R&D agencies typically spend more as they remain funded.

Affordable capability is the key and for industry the next few years will be about focusing on three specific areas.

  • Making sure they know who is spending and how much they have to spend on what
  • Getting in front of these customers as often and for as long as possible to understand their needs
  • Demonstrating what they can do for their customers outside traditional equipment delivery for example focusing on service and support

To support military agencies and industry companies in the current climate, the Soldier Technology Conference and Exhibition is changing format and focus in the following ways:

  • Enabling more information exchange and networking through shorter programme and tech briefings, more open discussion and more time networking
  • The creation of a new SME innovation zone to encourage development of new technologies
  • New categories will be represented such as airborne and mounted soldier equipment enabling industry to develop capability across the soldier domain
  • New geographical regions will present to enable discussion for export opportunities. For example Brazil, Russia, India, China, Japan, Turkey and Eastern Europe
  • Wider range of briefings to give a holistic view of investment opportunities from international soldier programmes, R&D, SME’s, prime contractors and tire one suppliers

Which capabilities are being prioritised?

Following research for Soldier Technology programme, military and government agencies are focusing on the capabilities below. They want to brief on and identify new capabilities and equipment from component manufacturers, suppliers and integrators of:

  • C4i / Communications equipment
  • Optronics, Surveillance, Night Vision systems
  • Power, Batteries, Portable Power, Solar Power sources
Photo: © WBR.
Photo: © WBR.

Soldier Technology will feature presentations of how the capabilities need to be developed and what they would like to see from industry. The exhibition alongside the conference will enable visitors to identify the latest innovation and test equipment.

Soldier Modernisation works closely with Soldier Technology as a content partner and will distribute the latest Soldier Modernisation Journal for free at the event.

If you would like more information about how to participate, please visit

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