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Welcome to DSEI, the biggest military show in the world

September 16th, 2015 at 5:35 PM

From tanks, helicopters, special forces All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and fast-attack craft through to the most advanced weaponry in the world and much, much more – the Defence and Security Equipment International Show (DSEI) is the place to be this week.

The biggest show of its kind, approximately 32,000 visitors from 121 countries will walk the floors at the ExCel Center in London, U.K. this week, seeking out the latest military and security technologies. The four-day DSEI event kicked off Tuesday.

Every other year, top military and security technology manufacturers converge with military buyers from all over globe. Buyers will have the chance to review tech from more than 1,500 international exhibitors encompassing aerospace, land, maritime and security technology.

Related: New military radio uses soldiers’ bones to send messages

DSEI is where the world’s militaries can window shop for everything from missiles and warships to knives and parachutes from more than 50 countries.

The most lethal firepower is also on offer here – from drones and sniper rifles to machine guns and shoulder-launched rockets.

So who is here?

More than 2,800 VIPs and 150 official delegations representing nations from all four continents are in London to evaluate the technology on display at DSEI. Defense titans like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman Raytheon, Airbus Group, L3, MBDA, United Technologies, Thales and BAE Systems are here in full force. But small businesses with ingenious advances show up and draw crowds too.

At DSEI, however, folks are judged by the innovation, not by the size of the company.  This year has attracted a record 448 first-time exhibitors.

This year’s newbies

There are four primary dedicated zones – Air, Land, Maritime and Security. New areas for Medical Innovation, Special Forces and Unmanned Systems will also feature this year.

The largest ever Land Zone is playing host to some serious vehicles. Mammoths like BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Jankel Armouring, Land Rover, Rheinmetall, Streit and Supacat are showing up in full force with their vehicles prominently displayed.

A Future Soldier Showcase also features this year, giving companies the opportunity to show off tech for dismounted warriors that looks like the stuff from movies.

The Security and Special Forces Zone has grown this year. Focused on equipping police and paramilitary, the zone features a range of security and counter terrorism tech and tactical equipment.

Related: Navies could harness 3D-printing to build military vessels, report says

Military aviation features prominently at DSEI, encompassing a host of helicopters from Apache, Chinook and Merlin through to the Puma 2, Sea King and Wildcat. Other aircraft on display include the fast jet Eurofighter Typhoon.

Moored in the dock adjacent to the exhibition halls are eight striking ships from around the world. Throughout the week, Special forces are conducting dynamic demonstrations of technology on the Thames River.

The U.S. Pavilion is the largest ever with 107 companies, while other major companies set up shop throughout the floors. In total, the 190 American companies have pitched up at DSEI.

Ebola day

Reflecting the ongoing importance of Ebola, the disease is a featured issue at DSEI where delegations from different countries can share lessons learned.  The conference, “Ebola Learning Exploitation” includes an address by Air Marshal Paul Evans, surgeon general of the U.K. Defence Medical Services.

DSEI also has a dedicated military medicine zone where armed forces medical personnel can find the latest innovations – from battlefield trauma care to rehab.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at or follow her on Twitter@Allison_Barrie.

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