A not-too-subtle attribute at this year’s Navy League Expo was the strong presence of non-US companies and associations from around the globe. While companies were present at booths supported by their parent nations’ military and industry defence organisations, their follow-on success in the very competitive 2017-era defence market, is dependent on these companies’ continued ability to partner and collaborate with businesses at home and in other countries and, at the end of the day, sell their products, systems and services beyond their home nation borders.
Team Defence Australia’s booth provided delegates with a sample of offerings from the more than 3,000 small to medium enterprises in the Australian defence industry. One Australian-based entity at this expo was Calytrix, a training and simulation company specialising in developing and delivering synthetic environments and integrated live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training solutions, highlighted its TITAN VANGUARD, a new synthetic environment. “This is significantly different from synthetic environments and gaming engines you are familiar with,” Shawn Parr, the company’s founder and CEO, said.
The first fundamental change is the product supports the entire globe. So, whereas some products support ground units, space and other operational domains, “what we’re able to do now is combine those into one synthetic environment. It is 3-D, it’s much more ‘visually attractive’ than the older engines some of our other competitors are working on,” the industry veteran added.
And while TITAN VANGUARD combines the operational domains into one systemme, the product is “open” so anyone can come along and develop new content. Titan Vanguard is used to support training readiness missions for joint terminal attack controllers, naval marshalling onboard ships, unmanned air systems and other activities. “We are supporting quite a few custom-made activities at the moment,” Parr continued.
While the new product supports about six simulator projects for the Australian Defence Force, Calytrix has also been delivered to support a JTAC training system in Jordan. Similarly, Titan Vanguard was reported to be a US-certified JTAC system. Calytrix’s industry partner for this product is Titan IM of Australia.
“This year the first of the two QUEEN ELIZABETH-class carriers will begin sea trials, and the second will be formally named,” Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock, Royal Navy Second Sea Lord, said at remarks at the UK Innovation Zone. The senior naval leader continued: “For years the United States has been looking at its European partners to take a significantly greater share and responsibility for security for our side of the Atlantic. With this and other strategic investments I have described, the United Kingdom is ready to answer the call.”
But the real underpinning of the Royal Navy’s ability to send its new carriers and other weapons platforms to operate in the warfighting domains is technology and innovation. To that end, Woodcock asserted, “we are committed to leading the development and application of innovation or normal and disruptive technologies that will keep the UK and our allies at the forefront of technology.”
While the second sea lord recalled that UK industry and the Royal Navy fielded the first 3-D printed maritime drone two years ago – which still continues to fly – it also completed in the fall 2016, the largest international gathering ever of maritime reconnaissance systems ("Unmanned Warrior") (see article on Liquid Robotics here). Cambridge Pixel was one of the UK-based companies at the innovation zone – and with good reasons. Mark Saunders, the company’s sales director, modestly said his company, “focuses on the nuts and bolts. We make ‘shovels’ rather than dig for gold.”
In fact, the company’s software (the majority of its portfolio) is delivered to suppliers including Frontier Electronic Systems (Stillwater, Oklahoma, United States), in this instance for the Aegis weapon system, as well as integrators.