It was mostly ‘heavy metal’, but with an S&T sanctuary. Europe Editor Dim Jones writes.
Eurosatory took place at the Parc Des Expositions, north of Paris, between 16 and 19 June. Billed as ‘the largest exhibition of Land and Air-Land Defence and Security in the world’, Eurosatory alternates year-and-year-about with its UK counterpart Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) in much the same way as the Paris and Farnborough Air Shows. There is much similarity between them, with the exception of the lack of a maritime strand at Eurosatory, there being no handy waterway outside the Parc Des Expositions in which to tether the boats. They are both essentially ‘heavy metal’ exhibitions, at which manufacturers display their most eye-catching hardware; S&T content is hard to find, even on stands whose owners have significant interest in this area, the emphasis appearing to be on the provision of training services to support the hardware. That said, there were nuggets to be had for the persistent forager: larger companies - RUAG, Thales, Saab, Kongsberg et al - all had some training displays; specialist S&T companies such as Havok, Antycip, Drew Defense (formerly Chemring Defence Germany) and MASA, were also well-represented, some on national stands or pavilions. Among many interesting exhibits, D-Box, in association with CM Labs, and using their Vortex technology, demonstrated a COTS-based ground vehicle driving simulator, which can be used in low-cost applications where cost would normally preclude a motion system.
At Eurosatory, two factors increased the visibility of the S&T community. The first was the grouping of most of the specialist companies into a ‘Simulation & Training Cluster’, thus making life easier both for those visitors who had an interest in this area, and for the exhibitors themselves, who were able to visit each other’s stands and exchange views with comparative ease. The situation of the ‘cluster’, at the far-flung extremity of one of the two massive exhibition halls, had its good and its bad points: the bad was that few were likely to find us by accident; the good was that the area was relatively cool, and ideally situated for refreshments, toilets, and – for those unable to contain their craving – a handy door to an outside smoking area. On the subject of catering, I have never seen a show so well-endowed with food outlets to suit all tastes, ambiences and expense accounts. These clearly reflected French priorities, and much business was conducted therein.
The other notable positive at Eurosatory was the overt support from the French Government – and, specifically from the DGA (the MoD Procurement Agency) for their national S&T industry. This is characterised by the ADIS Group, a French corporate organisation formed in 1994, and gathering in the Armed Forces, DGA and the defence industry, about which my colleague Walter Ullrich wrote in some detail in the article ‘Two Views’ in MS&T Issue 3/4-2013. One of the strands of the Eurosatory conference programme was ADIS’s military simulation symposium, SimDef 2014, the 11th of its genre, which progressed from a Keynote Conference on the second day of the show, through various other presentations and meetings over the following 3 days. SimDef also promoted an Innovation Competition, for which a prize was awarded on the last day, and sponsored the VULCAIN demonstration of S&T technologies in the Simulation Cluster.
In sum, Eurosatory, although in S&T terms very different from the likes of I/ITSEC and ITEC, was a well-organised, friendly and interesting show.