Evolving Technology Challenges Defence Industry Into Greater Collaboration


The ongoing evolution in defence and wider technology is shaping the capability options defence and security companies pursue in response, said Pӓr Henrikson, Saab’s acting head of communications, during a recent media briefing.

Henrikson pointed to four main technology trends: accelerated digitisation, which is challenging the West’s technological advantage; increased autonomy in the battlespace, particularly through the use of unmanned systems; continuing importance of information advantage; and the threat posed to high-value targets by adversaries’ anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), hypersonic, and space capabilities.

The respective implications for a company like Saab, he noted, are: the need to develop greater speed and agility in Western defence capability, underpinned with more integrated capability ecosystems; finding niche capabilities within the broad area of autonomy; increasing data fusion through improved sensors, command, control, and communications, and defence data clouds; and a focus on electronic and underwater warfare and disaggregated approaches.

“This is really a time where everything changes very fast,” said Henrikson. He added that the nature of the threat is driving defence customers to seek greater networked integration across product portfolios that companies like Saab produce.

Henrikson added that the changing technology landscape has broader implications for the shape of the defence industrial base. “The defence industry can be quite conservative … but now we are seeing all these [technology] changes coming into the industry, so I think we will see the defence industry change very much in the five or 10 years ahead of us,” Henrikson explained.

“We will probably see a lot more co-operation, collaboration, and joint ventures. That is because of increased defence spending – but we also see that, if you are you going into these new technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) or defence clouds, the investments are so big … that you need to partner with other companies in order to afford this.”

by Dr. Lee Willett