Seeing through the noise at DSEI 2017

By Dave Robertson, International Sales Manager for Defence and Security

spectrum operations

As the premier event for the global Defence and Security market, DSEI was the place to be seen last week for many companies including CRFS. Of course, the biggest challenge was achieving the balance of meeting key suppliers and customers, and hearing from the numerous distinguished keynote speakers. Whilst innovation was once again a key theme, it was encouraging for CRFS, a leader in RF spectrum monitoring capabilities, to see a subtle shift from Cyber to CEMA (Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities). However, there is still much to be done to merge the CONOPS and doctrine behind Cyber and EW across the Defence sector.

The shift to better understand all aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum was apparent in many a presentation and meeting.


  • The importance of the Electromagnetic Environment

There was indeed a very impressive array of military hardware on display throughout the exhibition, from tanks to helicopters, frigates to fast jets. However, one particular UK MOD speaker rightly pointed out that these ‘shiny toys’ were becoming ever more reliant on the ability to understand and exploit the electromagnetic environment to achieve the desired military effect. Sadly, it would appear the impact of the electromagnetic environment still does not rate highly on the key user requirements for these high value military assets, with the possible exception of the 5th generation fighter aircraft currently being deployed.

  • We were all droning on about the same thing

Drones were a central feature of many exhibitors displays. However, rather than being seen as an asset to support military operations they were seen as a threat. There are well documented cases of insurgent groups using weaponised drones to attack military positions in conflict zones across the Middle East. The counter drone solutions on display consistently showed the need for multiple sensor types, including radar, electro-optic and RF systems, to maximise the probability of intercept of an enemy controlled drone. Although the ability to detect the drone and the pilot is only possible using a system with an RF sensor system at the core.

  • Getting lost in the noise

The continuous development in military communications and radar systems is only matched by the electronic countermeasures and jamming system developments designed to defeat them. Delegate and exhibitor alike were critically concerned about deliberate jamming from enemy forces. It was therefore surprising to not have discovered an exhibitor actively working to find new ways of identifying and classifying signals of interest. In simple terms, this is a big data problem but one where there has been little open interest or need for a new solution. As a consequence, the interest shown by end users and exhibitors in our work to develop Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence tools for this very purpose was hugely encouraging. All being well this will be something to share in much greater depth soon.

DSEI 2017 was certainly a hugely successful and worthwhile event for the team at CRFS. In four days, we were only able to scratch the surface of the requirements and use cases our technology is perfectly suited to. Having learnt so much in such a short time, our first and biggest challenge is to make the Defence and Security market fully aware of the capabilities we have on offer and how best to exploit them. And all this before we start planning for DSEI 2019. We look forward to seeing you then, if not before.


About the author

Dave Robertson is International Sales Manager for Defence and Security at CRFS. This follows over 20 years working in Engineering, Communications and I.T. in the military. He has an M.Sc. in Computer and Information Networks and a BEng in Electronic Systems Engineering.

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