Seen and Heard in Bratislava, Slovakia
On 16 May in Bratislava, Slovakia, the 7th IDEB international defence and security exhibition commenced, highlighting current developments in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), especially in the Visegrad Four (V4) group of countries (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary).
IDEB takes place bi-annually in even years and alternates with IDET in Brno (in the neighbouring Czech Republic). This year a total of 170 exhibitors from 18 countries, by and large from Europe (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), but also from Brazil, Israel, Kazakhstan, Turkey and the United States are showcasing their defence solutions. This year represents a clear growth over IDEB 2016 with 152 exhibitors from 20 countries
The exhibition’s main partner this year is Lockheed Martin, who presents its F-16 Fighting FALCON Block 70/72 V fighter and AGM-114R HELLFIRE II missile, as the show concentrates on ongoing modernisation programmes of the Slovak Armed Forces in the segments of armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) and manned aircraft to replace legacy Soviet systems.
Saab presents a full-scale mock-up of its JAS 39 GRIPEN fighter aircraft and other exhibitors include BAE Systems, KMW, MBDA, PSM, Patria, Renault, FNSS and Otokar, as well major regional companies like AMZ-Kutno, CZ, Kerametal, MESIT, MSM Group, SVOS, VOP CZ and Zetor. Official delegations from the V4, France, Greece, Turkey and Montenegro (since 2017 the newest member of NATO) are also participating at IDEB.
There is a total of 23 systems and products that are being presented at IDEB for the first time, among them: Patria‘s NEMO 120 mm self-propelled mortar system, Renault‘s SHERPA family of armoured personnel carriers (APC), Zetor GERLACH 4×4 tactical vehicle, Nurol‘s EJDER YALCIN 4×4 AFV, Compel Industries UGV-150 ISTAR 4×4 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) and PREDATOR AX-1 attack unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Tomark VIPER SD4 basic trainer aircraft, Aliter Technologies SILWA – Silent WATCHER reconnaissance airship and VIMA – Virtual Mast, Retia ReTWis 5 portable perimeter security radar, and Agados PK4 (KAGA) mobile field kitchen. Some of these systems are also nominated for the Grand Prix IDEB 2018 prize, a total of 15 solutions are competing for this recognition.
The signature issue of IDEB 2018 is the ongoing market survey and preliminary testing of both AFVs/APCs and light armoured vehicles to validate requirements of the Slovak Armed Forces and to narrow down the field of prospective contenders in future tenders. This process has facilitated a large gathering of companies, which provide solutions in these market segments, including various degrees of international defence industrial cooperation. As a result, most of Hall D of the Incheba Expo is dedicated to them. Among local companies, Kerametal is represented by its ALIGATOR 4×4 MASTER II AFV, MSM Group presents the TITUS 6×6 tactical infantry transport and utility system (by Nexter on a Tatra chassis in the French Police Nationale special units version) and KBV-12 PATRIOT AFV (also on a Tatra chassis), which is nominated for Grand Prix. Patria exhibits its AMV platform equipped with the NEMO 120mm mortar system as part of an ongoing Finnish-Slovak bilateral development programme. It is also considering possible CEE regional opportunities and will be holding live-fire demonstrations at the upcoming HEMUS in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in late May/early June. Presence of the German defence industry is significant, with PSM offering PUMA AFV with SPIKE anti-armour/multi-purpose missile system (by Eurospike) and KMW exhibiting its DIMGO 2 armoured wheeled vehicle.
Among the most important in-service exhibits of the IDEB host country are Sikorsky UH-60M BLACK HAWK medium-lift utility helicopter of the Slovak Air Force, newly introduced DELOSYS artillery command and control (C2) system, ZUZANNA 2 and M-2000 155mm self-propelled wheeled howitzers, EVA 155mm 8×8 truck mounted gun system, BOV 8×8 wheeled AFV, Iveco LMV and Kerametal ALIGATOR 4×4 armoured vehicles. Also present are S-300PMU (SA-10 GRUMBLE) mobile air defence system, Tatra T-815 trucks (in many different modifications) and Bozena remotely-operated de-mining system.