The 35th iteration of the International Training & Technology Exhibition and Conference (IT2EC) – took place at London’s ExCel Centre this April 9-11. MS&T’s UK-based editorial staff members Andy Fawkes and Dim Jones attended and filed this report. 



The ExCel, in London’s Docklands, is always a popular venue for IT2EC, and this year proved no exception. The show floor and conference halls were shared with another Clarion event, Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) and, although there were separate entrances for the two, once inside there appeared to be no barrier to attendees gaining access to both – which, I should have thought, would have been a good advertising tool but, if it was deployed, I missed it. Registration was relatively simple with print-it-yourself photo badges issued in advance, but this didn’t seem to obviate all the Morning 1 “faffs,” such as Media who were also exhibitors gaining access to the floor beyond show hours. Admin arrangements were generally good, with venue support during booth set-up particularly responsive. The ExCel boasts many catering outlets; for those delegates able to lunch on the show floor, the fare was sustaining if not gourmet.



The show floor itself was well laid out and, if a little smaller than in previous years (66 stands and 85+ exhibiting companies, plus a DisTec theatre), it was a pleasant environment in which to do business. There were many notable absentees in the list of exhibitors, among them Boeing, Leonardo, Thales, Cubic and – for the first time I can remember in any training exhibition - CAE. On the plus side, this gave the many SMEs and start-ups the opportunity to showcase their wares. Happily, both Elbit and Rafael were there in strength (and IAI at UDT), mercifully with no sign of demonstrators. As in previous years, there was some booth-sharing, particularly where the companies concerned were involved in some specific joint venture. It was good to see the NATO Modelling and Simulation Group and ACT front and centre at the exhibition entrance. For the first time, there was a large UK MoD stand, embracing Army, RN/RM, RAF, StratCom and Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), and 34 nations sent delegations; however, many exhibitors noted an overall lack of uniformed personnel.



The conference facilities comprised a shared Keynote Theatre and 3 smaller halls for each event. The acoustic problems which this could have generated were completely avoided by the use of individual headsets and Bluetooth technology – an excellent innovation! The overarching conference theme was “‘Enabling Operational Advantage Through Training and Simulation.’” and the 3 sub-streams looked at Technologies & Architecture, Human Performance, and Emerging Solutions.

The opening session was joint (although one might have been excused for not noticing this, given the massive preponderance of UDT logos over IT2EC (more sponsorship money?)). Paradoxically, the keynote theme, “Challenges and Requirements of the Next Generation Workforce” was better suited to IT2EC than UDT but, appropriately, the keynote address was delivered by the RN’s Director of People & Training and Naval Secretary, Rear Admiral Jude Terry.  The programme comprised presentations and panel discussions, and the impressive list of speakers included military, industry and academia.


On The Show Floor

Days 1 and 2 on the IT2EC floor were very busy, Day 3 less so. Exhibitors were generally upbeat, with many reporting an abundance of enthusiasm and goodwill, but little in the way of up-front funding. One or two were more optimistic than this, anticipating a significant change of attitude, perhaps not unconnected with a perceived increased threat.  A cynic might observe that the message of the cost-effectiveness and operational necessity of high-end T&S is finally getting through to the decision-makers. AI, Extended Reality, Big Data, Advanced Analytics and the Internet of Things were well represented. Full-scale visual displays were physically absent, although Treality’s stand, among others, suggested that they still have a place in an ST suite. There were some mini-dome visual displays, plus many VR headsets (including Varjo’s XR-4 Focal Edition) and several motion platforms.



If there was a thread running through this year’s show, it would probably be partnerships and collaborations: 4C Strategies have joined forces with Hadean to enable interoperability of the former’s Exonaut Resilience and Training Readiness platform; Leonardo and Cole Engineering have collaborated as Team Aurelian to bid for the UK’s Army Collective Training Service (part of CTTP) collective training programme; Czech company Vrgineers are partnering with Lockheed Martin in a programme to provide F-35 pilot training for the Czech Air Force; Swiss simulator company Brunner teamed with Norwegian multiSIM BV to integrate the latter’s D-SIM and D-World software with the Novasim MR I F-35 cockpit simulator; and, lastly, projector manufacturers Norxe, VISIM IG providers AMST, and image electronic and optical warp and blend software specialists Scalable and GBvi repeated their successful alliance from IT2EC 2023. Norxe projectors were in evidence around the show floor, not least in the 3DPerception Draco Fast-Jet Mini-Dome display.



Other exhibits which caught the eye included Babcock’s Immersive Training Experience (BITE), which uses a configurable container to replicate, for example, an ops room set-up where sensory inputs, such as sound, temperature, smell, smoke and vibration can be used to create a high-pressure operating environment. Saab, having recently been awarded a new contract to support the UK Army with live instrumented training, displayed their latest hardware, including an instrumented drone which can be used to increase troops’ awareness of this threat, recently thrust to the fore by the conflict in Ukraine. Among the many IT2EC press releases, Ruddy Nice announced the opening of their Serious Games Simulation & Wargaming Centre, a new 2000ft2 facility in Salisbury.

There was increased interest in training data, with companies such as 4C Strategies, VRAI, RE-LION and Cervus to the fore, and in the AI with which to exploit it. In her keynote, RAdm Jude Terry emphasised the use of data analytics to monitor and improve training outcomes, ensuring that training is effective, personalised, and adaptable to the needs of individuals such that “fairness, accuracy, and the level of assurance that perhaps has not been possible before.” Battlespace Simulations Inc (BSI) showcased their Modern Air Combat Environment (MACE) combat simulation framework and associated Augmented Reality Mission Observation & Rehearsal (ARMOR) products. Ternion, a company which dates back about 35 years, has adapted its business model to align with that of Epic Games, such that their Flames product is free to acquire and develop until “used in anger;” and have integrated Flames with Unreal Engine. Marathon Targets (familiar to attendees of Levels of Fidelity) manufacture mobile live training targets which provide a more realistic shooting range than fixed targets and require zero range modification. A number of robots can be controlled by one operator, with autonomous behaviours programmed through a live-constructive simulation integration. Marathon are considering whether they could use their technology to equip robots with explosives for use in actual operations. And BISim were out in force partnering with a number of companies, and launching their new pricing and “fellowship” strategy (as covered in our interview).


IT2EC 2025

IT2EC 2024 was an enjoyable and useful show and conference, well-received by those who took part. IT2EC remains the premier event of its kind in Europe and, after a gradual decline in size over several years, seems to have stabilised in numbers. However, the ExCel, which hosts alternate events, is regarded as something of a “home game.”  IT2EC 2025 moves back to Scandinavia which, given the extra costs of travelling and exhibiting, is a courageous effort. It will co-locate with UDT once more, and will take place in Lillestrøm, on the outskirts of Oslo, between 25th and 27th March. MS&T will be there.