CBNW Deputy Editor David Oliver visits the UK’s Defence and Security Exports Showcase

In 2019, the value of UK Security export sales was £7.2 billion, an increase from £5.2 billion in 2018, lifting the UK to third place in the rankings. The UK’s largest security export markets were Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific

UK Defence and Security Exports (UKDSE) is part of the Department of International Trade (DIT) and provides specialist export advice and practical assistance to British defence and security companies. It works closely with industry and government departments: Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Home Office, and the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU).

DIT/UKDSE has around 100 staff in London and another 27 members in its Export Support Team (EST), as well as a small number of diplomatic posts overseas.

Export Support Team
The EST comprises of serving military personnel with a wide range of expertise. It is staffed by regular officers and soldiers from the British Army, including members of the Royal Artillery, the Royal Armoured Corps, the Royal Engineers and the Infantry. Collectively possessing a wealth of knowledge and experience both in training and on operations, the EST is a unique and intrinsic part of UK Defence and Security Exports.

The purpose of the EST is to provide specialist military services and advice to legitimate UK defence and security companies in order to help them succeed in the export market.

Services provided by the EST include support at international defence and security exhibitions. This includes ‘soldier on stand,’ giving impartial military advice and assisting with promotional material by participating in photographic and video shoots, demonstrations, and presentations at home and abroad. The EST also host visits by foreign delegations (in normal times) and provide after-sales training and support.

Based at Larkhill Garrison in Wiltshire, the EST are co-located with regular British Army units where they can arrange access to training grounds throughout the UK that can be used for product evaluations and demonstrations.

The base houses a permanent showcase facility for UK defence and security companies to promote their products to key visiting military, industry and foreign dignitaries. The showcase features four specially themed areas which include desert, jungle, urban and rural scenarios providing creative environments to display products and services.

NP Aerospace specialises in advanced armour systems using lightweight, high-performance composite materials. The company designs flexible ergonomic bomb disposal suits for reduced fatigue and optimum performance with comprehensive options for disposal, search and breaching operations.

In the urban area NP Aerospace showed its 4020 Elite Suit, a high-protection bomb disposal suit, protecting the EOD technician while delivering outstanding flexibility and manoeuvrability.

Key features include integrated cooling to reduce operator fatigue, a high-performance helmet incorporating de-misting technology and a quick release mechanism allowing for suit removal unaided in under 20 seconds. The CBRN Visor is designed to integrate with the 4020 Elite bomb suit and accommodates the wearing of leading CBRN face masks, and an air purifying system to protect the EOD technician where a CBRN threat is present.

Among companies displaying their products in the jungle area is Environmental Defence Systems Ltd which showcased its BlastSax, a blast mitigation system that can be rapidly deployed for use to contain all fragmentation and hazardous materials. BlastSax can also be used with aqueous decontaminants to neutralise CBRN threats.

Avon Protection is recognised as a world leader in respiratory and ballistic protection, delivering life-critical solutions for militaries and first responders worldwide. At Larkhill the company displays its newest generation of modular CBRN Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) in the jungle area. Designed for use with Combination Unit Respirators (CURs), the CS-PAPR enables the user to select the level of protection dependent on the threat, to provide increased duration on target and safer operation.

In the desert area, PSSUK showcased its ISO-CAPSULE, designed for the temporary isolation of patients thought to be contaminated by infectious pathogens or a chem or bio incident while transporting them to a hospital or Infection Control Unit (ICU).

The ISO-CAPSULE incorporates a combination of HEPAOrganic Vapour Air Filters and PAPR, creating a negative pressure environment. As a result, the contaminated patient can be confidently transported with a significantly reduced risk of contamination. The capsule includes a full-length vision panel, eight glove access points, and an internal patient securing system.

New contracts
In August 2020 the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) awarded Avon Protection a ten-year contract to supply a complete CBRN personal respirator system. This procurement was led by Finland and Norway to establish technical requirements and based on end-user testing.

The framework contract will enable NATO countries and partners to purchase Avon Protection’s market leading respirator system based around the FM50, full suite of filters, Multi-Position Powered Air Purifying Respirator (MP-PAPR), ST53 (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus – ST53), and accessories.

Developed in conjunction with the US Department of Defense (DoD) to counter the multiple CBRN threats met in modern warfighting, anti-terrorist and peacekeeping operations, the FM50 is the world’s most operationally proven and widely deployed battlefield respirator.

A leading UK manufacturer of decontamination equipment and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is PPSGB, providing complete solution packages to several hazard-prone industries. One of its Rapid Pro range of Decontamination Showers was on display. The company has developed these shower units for those attending any emergency where there is uncertainty about the nature of the hazardous agents they could be exposed to.

The portable and lightweight decontamination systems are rapidly deployed within a few minutes. They have articulating external frames with locking straps to allow speedy deployment, and high system integrity through highly flexible, tear- and chemical-resistant fabric. The units are equipped with articulating framed internal shower basins.

While most international defence and security trade exhibitions have been cancelled in 2020 along with some visits from overseas delegations, the EST Showcase remained open with COVID-19 restrictions since March 2020. There has been a significant interest from both prime and smaller companies to exhibit their equipment. Post COVID-19 and post-Brexit, the DIT/UK and its EST will play an even more important role in promoting the UK’s vital defence and security industries in 2021.

Avon’s respirators on display in the urban area of the EST Showcase.
©Crown Copyright