Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2023


According to a DSEI press release on September 21, 2023:

Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) delivered the most successful edition for its customers, key stakeholders, partners in its 24-year history.

DSEI broke all records last week in terms of overall attendance, number of visitors, and international delegations. Attendee numbers were up by 23% compared to DSEI 2019. The event hosted more than 1,500 exhibitors, with over 250 of those exhibiting for the first time, while our online industry buyer and supplier networking tool, MeetMe, enabled over 3,200 connections, and facilitated over 1,300 meetings throughout the busy show floor.

DSEI is an international hybrid event with truly global reach, with 36 international country pavilions including Ukraine and the largest being North America, which doubled in size from the last edition. As ever DSEI hosted international delegations from across the world. The event had an increase of senior military and government attendees, with over 3250 VIPs and delegations from close to 100 nations visiting the biennial event, surpassing that of the existing record numbers achieved in 2019.

Many of the new exhibitors at DSEI 2023 were within “Future Tech”. Sony, IBM, Oracle, Panasonic and Palantir were among the companies, demonstrating the broad reach of DSEI beyond its traditional defence and industrial base. These companies exhibited alongside the traditional defence industry, including all the major manufacturers.

Visitors saw outstanding displays of military capability, including representation from the Global Combat Air Programme, a host of warships from the UK and visiting nations, and land vehicles and aircraft from the highest calibre of exhibitors. The UK Capability Showcase was a big draw for visitors. It demonstrated the latest, cutting-edge capabilities being developed by the UK’s defence and security industry. The showcase served as a platform to demonstrate the UK’s “best-in-class” advancements, innovations, and expertise across all domains.

Alongside an increase in physical attendees, DSEI saw impressive take up of its digital offerings – DSEI Connect and MeetMe. DSEI Connect provided access to all live streamed keynotes, product demonstrations, thought leadership presentations, and analysis throughout DSEI 2023. MeetMe enabled attendees to book and plan meetings with industry buyers and suppliers before, during, and after the event.

The DSEI Forums were free to attend for all visitors and ran for the duration of the show. Featuring panel debates and keynote speeches from international thought leaders, they explored the current strategic-level challenges faced by the global defence industry and provided a platform for sharing valuable ideas with allies. Although the five main forums were divided into operational domains, all the theatres played host to cross-Force discussions and welcomed input from audience members with different perspectives.

DSEI Director Grant Burgham said,

“The global defence and security community convened again at DSEI 2023. Representatives of both British and international defence companies, including hundreds of SMEs, were in attendance at DSEI this year. It proved to be a vital opportunity to build connections, seek innovative collaborations and for the UK to export world-leading capabilities.

Our theme, ‘Achieving an Integrated Force’ was well observed. To achieve an integrated force, supply-chains need to be understood and strengthened, thus creating an unbreakable cohesion between military and industry. DSEI was the ideal platform to accelerate this.

DSEI works in close partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence, the Department for Business and Trade and the UK Armed Forces, our event sponsors, our partners and the media. Without their unfailing support, DSEI would not be able to provide such a range of valuable opportunities to exhibitors, governments, and visitors alike.

On behalf of the whole DSEI team, we are taking stock of the opportunities this show has given, and also look forward to welcoming everyone back for DSEI 2025.”


3rd Combat Aviation Brigade

U.S. Army Paratroopers descend on a drop zone as Task Force Nighthawk, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, supporting 4th Infantry Division, provides aviation support with two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, during airborne training at an airfield in Daugavpils, Latvia, June 28.

The 4th Infantry Division’s mission in Europe is to engage in multinational training and exercises across the continent, working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward deployed corps in Europe,



Video by Sgt. Cesar Salazar Jr.

112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Countering Chinese Espionage Requires More Than a Government Response


By Richard Weitz

Recent incidents make clear that Chinese hacking and espionage remain a core U.S. national security concern. The scope and scale of these activities are breathtaking. Defeating this threat requires an optimized public-private partnership since the magnitude of the challenge far exceeds what the federal government can combat on its own.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been sounding the toxin about Chinese cyberespionage for years. On September 18, FBI Director Chris Wray reiterated that Beijing’s cyberespionage program has grown so vast that it transcends the size and scope of all its major competitors combined. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) employs tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of skilled hackers, whether as government employees or semi-private contractors, in a full-court campaign to steal foreign secrets.

There have been many reports over the years of major PRC espionage operations targeted against the United States that have severely compromised U.S. secrets; many more cases are likely unreported. Though Chinese human agents and spy balloons often gain the most popular attention, the most pervasive threat to Americans’ secrets comes from the PRC’s massive cyber espionage. Even in recent months, senior cyber officials fear Chinese hackers so deeply penetrated some sensitive U.S. computer networks that they still may have access to them.

In a major foreign policy speech earlier this week at Hudson Institute, former Vice President Mike Pence acutely observed that, “China is the greatest strategic and economic threat facing the United States in the 21st century.” It is imperative that the United States prevent the Chinese Communist Party from accessing our sensitive information, especially classified U.S. defense and intelligence data.

Though government bodies like the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) seem inclined to assume more responsibilities in this area, the United States would do better by having the private sector hold, manage, and store more of this data.

OPM has not been a reliable guardian of Americans’ secrets. Its vulnerabilities permitted one of the most egregious data breaches in history. In 2015, a PRC entity, likely the Jiangsu State Security Department, which is a subsidiary of China’s Ministry of State Security spy agency, stole the records of more than 22 million Americans.

Despite years of congressional hearings and generous appropriations designed to strengthen its cyber defenses, the OPM still received a cyber score of F on the July 2022 Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard. Since OPM is the Human Resources authority for much of the federal government, cyber security issues often receive insufficient attention as the Office strives to provide and implement human resources policy and guidance for myriad other issues across many federal government agencies.

Unfortunately, many other U.S. government bodies are also not well positioned to secure U.S. cyber security efforts. In May of this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that an array of government agencies have not implemented critical cloud security practices, including defined security metrics. GAO listed almost three dozen recommendations that these government bodies had to follow to fully implement these practices.

In contrast, private sector companies have a more consistent and effective track record with preserving the integrity of the U.S.’ sensitive information. They must receive FedRAMP authorization, which means they must use sophisticated cloud technologies that have modern security and protection protocols to keep federal information safe and secure. Furthermore, private sector companies focus more closely on human capital needs and data security.

As the Chinese cyber espionage threat continues unabated, it is critical that the government lean more heavily on these entities in the years to come.

Featured Image: Photo 213003071 | Chinese Espionage © Lakshmiprasad S |

4th Assault Amphibian Battalion in Intrepid Maven Exercise


U.S. Marines with 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion conduct squad attack drills during Intrepid Maven 23.4. Intrepid Maven is a bilateral exercise between U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command and the Jordanian Armed Forces designed to improve interoperability, strengthen partner-nation relationships in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, and improve both individual and bilateral unit readiness.



Video by Cpl. Keegan Bailey

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command

RAAF and Marines Work F-35 Support


U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airmen with RAAF No. 3 Squadron, conduct maintenance and launch training events at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia, June 27, 2023.



Video by Sgt. Joshua Brittenham 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Digital Maintenance in the Shift to Distributed Maritime Operations


By Robbin Laird

The U.S. Navy and USMC are working closely together in shaping their approach to distributed operations. The Navy refers to distributed maritime operations; the Marines to expeditionary basing operations. Working closely together they are focused on weaving these approaches together to shape a more lethal and survivable approach.

What can be missed in this strategic shift is the challenge posed for logistics and support of such a concept of operations. For the Marines, part of the challenge is to ensure that the force deployed on their expeditionary or amphibious fleet is fully operational with high state of readiness and sustainability.

Part of the answer of how to do this can be found in what effective digital maintenance can deliver.

The Marines latest air system to go onboard the expeditionary or amphibious fleet is the CH-53K. This new air asset is coming to the force after more than a decade of Marine Corps experience with digital maintenance experience in such systems as the F-35. In other words, the CH-53K is coming to the fleet as the military and commercial aircraft users have more than a decade now of experiencing the benefits, opportunities and challenges of working with digital systems and predictive maintenance. The CH-53K will bring its own capabilities to this change to maintainability.

And connecting such capabilities to the needs of a distributed force is a key part shaping a way ahead for the Marine Corps. If one has more accurate data and predictive performance data then the ability to anticipate what parts need to be where can help to ensure the highest readiness rates possible for the CH-53K.

Recently, I talked with Pierre Garant, a former Marine with many years of logistics and sustainment experience who now works at Sikorsky on the CH-53 program, about the CH-53K and digital maintenance.

What we initially focused on was that having a maintenance system based on digital systems generated data which allows you to do fleet management.

As he noted: “With the S-92, Sikorsky manages a fleet with close interaction with its customers. We manage aircraft tail numbers with serial numbered items and predict the behavior of the component airframes and then can anticipate the need at the node wherever that is in the world.  This works if the company and the customer shape a common culture able to leverage the data; and this is crucial as well with the military customer.”

The DoD customer now has more than a decade of experience with digital maintenance systems but has to continue its journey to fully work with industry to replicate what commercial customers have experienced in terms of the increased availability of aircraft by leveraging digital maintenance systems.

As Garant noted: “It is as much about process as about technology. It is about sharing data in a collaborative workspace to achieve the common objective to have higher readiness rates at less cost.  We have focused on having collaborative data sharing in our analytics workspace in order to position the CH-53K for progress in this area.”

We then turned to the question of how this capability intersects with what the regional combatant commander needs and wants.

As Garant noted: “With the S-92 center at Sikorsky has managed data that is regionally specific. We can do the same for the CH-53K. We can build a data base that provides predictive maintenance data for the various regions that the Marines will operate the aircraft.

“Regional combatant commanders want more certainty with which systems will be available for which operations and in what time frame. The purpose of having a much more effective predictive maintenance regime is not an in itself activity; it is directly tied to the need of the combatant commanders.”

Featured Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Kricket Harper, CH-53K King Stallion pilot, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461, Marine Aircraft Group 29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, operates a CH-53K King Stallion over the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, California, during a training exercise, April 13, 2023. The purpose of this training was to give junior pilots opportunities to fly in a new environment and build cohesion with their crew. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Gideon M. Schippers)

For my recent book focused on the coming of the CH-53K, see the following:

Denmark, Northrop Grumman and the 21st Century Version of the Arsenal of Democracy on Display: September 14, 2023


By Robbin Laird

September 14, 2023 was a significant day in the demonstration of the 21st century version of the arsenal of democracy and Denmark’s role in its realization.

The first involved the arrival of the U.S.-led coalition built, sustained and operated high-end combat aircraft, the F-35 in Denmark.

One of the first four F-35 Lightning II take off from the Lockheed Martin Fort Worth facility enroute to Fighter Wing Skrydstrup, Skrydstrup Air Base,Vojens, Denmark. Credit: Lockheed Martin

The second received must less notice but is very significant as well.

The U.S. company, Northrop Grumman, announced an agreement with SH Defence in partnering in the next phase of Danish-led modular shipbuilding. Here the U.S. major prime, whose role is significant in the first event, the arrival of the first four F-35s in Denmark, given its role in the F-35 global enterprise, entered into a partnership with a much smaller firm, but one leading the way globally as part of the Danish generated re-think of ship modularity.

The first event was highlighted in this comment by His Royal Highness Brig. Gen.  Prince Joachim of Denmark: “As newly appointed Defence Industrial Attaché, it is a privilege to oversee the first aircraft ferry of Denmark’s new F-35 Lightning II. The F-35 is a huge step forward in technology. The arrival of the F-35 provides Denmark and the Danish Armed Forces a beacon to transform the armed forces to the 5th Generation. It is a pleasure to note that this unique piece of military hardware also holds Danish industrial components and is testimony to the close ties between the United States and Denmark.”

The second event occurred on the third day of the DSEI show in London. Last year I talked with SH Defence and the Danish Navy in both Copenhagen and at the Euronaval show in Paris. The Danes are in the throes of building a new warship for themselves and then for a major Asian ally which will in effect be a new class of ship, motherships which can carry a significant number of maritime automated systems.

SH Defence’s Cube System is designed to use standard shipping containers to contain various weapon systems and to load and move those systems around on a ship. As the CEO of the company, Renè Bertelsen noted in my interview with him last October at Euronaval: “Our navy needs to get the right equipment to a hotspot at the right time. Rather than thinking of traditional categories of ships, such as an OPV or a destroyer, the task is to get the right payload to the area of interest, not simply a narrowly defined class of ships. We are looking toward multiple-payload vessels rather than defining them as multi-mission organic ships.

“In other words, we are focused in building or reconfiguring different classes of ships to be capable of handling a variety of different payloads. And our system can allow them to do so without returning to port or a naval base, but able to swap out from standard containers – 20 or 40  – at sea.”

Bertelson at the DESI roll out announcement.

In a way, this creates a Rubik-cube fleet enabled by a diversity of payloads which can swap out rapidly ashore or afloat. This also has the advantage of strategic deception as once in the container, the adversary cannot identify what is in the containers which means that the payloads could be for strike, ASW missions or enabling maritime uncrewed systems to add to the fleet or to support existing capital ships already engaged in the battlespace.

At the DSEI show, NG UK announced that it had reached a partnership with SH Defence.  This was their announcement: “Northrop Grumman UK Ltd and SH Defence signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of new multi-mission solutions that can be added to an existing vessel to strengthen critical capabilities across naval operations.

“Collaboration builds on Northrop Grumman expertise with advanced control system solutions for naval vessels SH Defence mission modularity solutions include The Cube™ which has the flexibility to provide for multiple missions Modules can include a range of systems including mine hunting advanced intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition, or deployable vessels.”

Bertelsen indicated during the roll out of the agreement: “We have developed an innovative system using modules to incorporate a variety of payloads for combat ships. But we need not just to put equipment and systems into boxes; they need to be integrated overall within the ship systems. Our new partner specializes in such integration.”

As he added afterwords in our discussion: “This agreement allows us to explore the domain of the possible in term of integrating our Cube system within the ship’s backbone so to speak. What resources do we need for our modules onboard the ship? How best to integrate those demand signals within overall ship operations? This agreement provides a way ahead to work on this critical question.”

Katharine Sealy at the DSEI roll out announcement.

Katharine Sealy, Managing Director, National Security Solutions, Northrop Grumman, UK,  emphasized in her overview that NG’s expertise in “integrating essential systems on critical mission platforms” would enable integration of the Cube system within combat ships as the modular approach moved forward.

She added: “Maintaining competitive advantages in the complex environments of tomorrow will require deployed capabilities that are adaptable and versatile. We need to be able rapidly to equip naval operators with the tools that they need in an ever-changing threat environment.”

Modularity is key way to do so within an integrated solution set aboard a combat vessel.

In the discussion afterward, she underscored how the arsenal of democracy evident in this agreement was moving forward: “I think we’re seeing companies working a lot more collaboratively across the globe.

“And certainly, Northrop Grumman is doing so. We’re focused on building on the best of both of our U.S. enterprise, and on what we can deliver here in the UK.  We’re building on some of the work and the projects that we’re doing here in the UK where we are very experienced with regard to platform management systems.

“And we’re leveraging some of the modularized approaches that our U.S. colleagues are able to bring. I am very excited about the opportunity to be able to deliver the best of both to this agreement and partnership.”

Featured Photo: That was then:`The Arsenal of Democracy` corridor of the National WWII Museum.

Note: I discuss in some detail the question of building a 21st century version of the arsenal of democracy in my recently published book entitled: Australia and Indo-Pacific Defence: Anchoring a Way Ahead.













Indonesia Changes Course: Dual Buy of Western Combat Aircraft


By Pierre Tran

Paris – Indonesia’s drive to become an Asian regional superpower can be seen in last month’s multi-billion dollar announcement of an order for more French Rafale fighters and a pledge to buy the export version of the U.S. F-15EX Eagle fighter.

That procurement of two Western advanced fighters signals a policy switch by Jakarta, which previously pursued a non-alignment doctrine, equipping its force with Lockheed Martin F-16s and Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighters.

These aging fighters came from opposing sides of the Cold War, marking a procurement policy steered by Indonesia’s avoidance of a close alliance with one side or the other.

There are a few firsts in those fighter-deal August announcements from Indonesia, which played the host for last year’s G20 meeting, held on the island of Bali.

Indonesia will be the first client for the export model of the Boeing F-15EX air superiority fighter, rebranded as F-15IND. The U.S. aircraft builder said August 21 it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia for the sale of 24 F-15 fighters, subject to Washington authorization.

U.S. clearance for the sale of the digital fly-by-wire fighter is expected to be granted, with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency saying Feb. 10 2022  it had approved a foreign military sale (FMS) to Indonesia for up to 36 F-15s, in a deal worth some $13.9 billion.

Jakarta has been looking to buy the F-35, but the U.S. authorities were reported to have decided the Indonesian air force was not quite ready to fly a fifth generation fighter. The U.S. view was a fourth generation or 4.5 generation fighter was more suitable, and pitched an updated version of F-16 Block 72 Viper fighter.

That partial U.S. snub led to Jakarta’s pick of the F-15 heavy fighter and lighter Rafale.

Another first was the Rafale order, the first fighter procurement from Indonesia for the French prime contractor, Dassault Aviation.

The French deal with Jakarta was announced in February last year for a total 42 Rafale and missiles, worth $8.1 billion, with a first batch of six units. That was followed by the August announcement of a second batch of 18 fighters, with the final tranche of 16 to be ordered at a later date.

That mixed buy of U.S. and French fighters will require Indonesia to invest in training two streams of pilots and support personnel, and build stocks of spares for two types of fighters.

That will be on top of the present fleet of F-16, Sukhoi fighters, British Hawk trainer/light fighter, and KAI T-50 Golden Eagle, a South Korean supersonic trainer and light fighter.

Indonesia will also need to support for the first time a fleet of secondhand Mirage 2000-5 fighters, to train pilots for the Rafale F3-R, the same model flown by the French air force. Qatar was the previous owner of the Mirage.

For Dassault, the Rafale deal opens up the Indonesian market for the family-controlled company, which will likely support its fighter for two or three decades after first delivery, due  in early 2026.

That French fighter sale opens access to a key Asian nation, keen to make its presence known in a region marked by rising tension between China and Taiwan, and ambitious North Korea, building its military capability with great determination.

Funding An Order

A key issue for Indonesia was finding the funds, which led to a staggered purchase of Rafale, with the first batch reportedly financed by money previously earmarked for buying Su-35 Flanker fighters. Jakarta dropped that deal with Moscow, reportedly under U.S. pressure through its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, intended to quash sales to Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

Purchase of Russian goods is under hostile scrutiny in the West, and Kyiv looks to allies to punish Moscow through sanctions, following its incursion into Ukraine February last year.

Apart from the foreign political pressure, Russian forces will need all their weapons and stores, following the Ukrainian counteroffensive, with Kyiv fighting to recover occupied territory, paying a high price to its forces and equipment.

An unusual visit of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, travelling to Russia on an  armored train, to meet Sept. 13 president Vladimir Putin at the remote Vostochny space center in the Russian far east, is seen as a way for Moscow to restock military stores with deadly North Korean kit.

Indonesia’s 2020 G20 statement

Besides the choice of Western fighters, a strategic rethink in Indonesia could also be seen in a message of clear support for Ukraine at last year’s G20 meeting.

“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy…” the G20 statement said at the Nov. 15-16 meeting, held on Bali last year.

That was seen as more sharply worded than the statement after the 2023 G20 meeting held Sept. 9-10 in India, which was seen as more bureaucratic and somewhat tame, in view of the perceived risk sparked by the Russian invasion.

“Concerning the war in Ukraine, while recalling the discussion in Bali, we reiterated our national positions and resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly (A/RES/ES-11/1 and A/RES/ES-11/6) and underscored that all states must act in a manner consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter in its entirety,” the 2023 G20 statement said from New Delhi.

“In line with the UN Charter, all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”

French Reach to Indo-Pacific

A view on the French side could be the Rafale deal with Indonesia helps French ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region, seen as an area of geo-strategic importance.

That could be seen in the French air force Aug. 31 presentation of its Pégase 23 air mission at the weekly press briefing held by the armed forces ministry at Balard, on the edge of town.

The Pégase mission points up the importance of the Indo-Pacific as an essential zone for France, the opening of the presentation said.

“An operational deployment demonstrates our capabilities and the assets of air power,” the service said. “The mission also serves to strengthen partnerships.”

The mission deployed 320 personnel from June 25 to Aug. 3 in the Indo-Pacific, and flew 10 Rafale, five Airbus A330 Phénix multirole tanker transport (MRTT) jets, and four A400M Atlas airlifters, the presentation said. The aircraft carried 55 tons of freight, and made 11 stop overs at nine partner nations in the region and visited 14 allied air forces.

Indonesia was one of those partner nations, and the air force mission stopped over at Japan and South Korea for the first time, on the return flight to France.

The Indonesian order for the Rafale shows bilateral relations and arms procurement have gone a long way since Jakarta’s 2012 order for the Caesar, a French truck-mounted 155mm 52 caliber artillery built by Nexter, in a relatively modest deal worth €108 million, mostly funded by commercial bank loans.

Human Rights Abuse

There have been concerns over Indonesia’s record in human rights, which previously made arms sales to Jakarta controversial. The times appear to have changed, as the fighter deals indicate.

The U.S. 2202 state department’s country report on human rights notes there are in Indonesia “significant human rights issues (which) included credible reports of:

– unlawful or arbitrary killings by government security forces

– torture by police

– harsh and life-threatening prison conditions

– arbitrary arrest or detention

– political prisoners

– serious problems with the independence of the judiciary

– serious restrictions on free expression and media, including unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists”

The list goes on in a dense paragraph of further alleged abuse of human rights.

Back in 1999, there were British press headlines on the then Labour government, led by prime minister Tony Blair, allowing the delivery of three Hawk jets to Indonesia, amid reports of the British aircraft being used in East Timor, where Indonesian forces forcibly displaced thousands of civilians, amid reports of summary killings.

The president of Indonesia, Joko Widido, often known as Jokowi, said in January there had been “gross human rights violations” in the country between 1965 and 2003, which included extensive killing and jailing of communists and political activists.

While seeking to deal with a bloody past, Jokowi is also looking to make Indonesia into a major regional power, backed by the air power of French and U.S.-built fighters.

Jokowi is seeking to build Indonesia into a “global maritime fulcrum” of the Indo-Pacific, The National, a United Arab Emirates daily, reported in August last year.

Indonesia Adds to its Rafale Fleet: August 2023