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Top defense topics ranging from interoperability, electronic warfare to sustainability dominate WDS on Day 1

RIYADH: With Saudi Arabia pushing ahead with modernizing its defense systems with the key focus on developing domestic capabilities, top defense players attending the ongoing World Defense Show in Riyadh emphasized the importance of having partnerships and technological collaboration to achieve that goal. 

Partnerships are critical to driving interoperability, and “Saudi Arabia has a leading position in defense interoperability,” said Dana Mehnert, president of Communication Systems at L3Harris Technologies. 

Emphasizing the importance of partnership, Hesham Altaleb, chief product development officer at SITE, said, “I’ve never seen a defense industry thrive without the correct partnerships.”  

He pointed out that the market leaders across multiple sectors sit at the top of priorities when fostering the right partnerships and building up their capabilities.

Opened on Mar. 6, the region’s biggest four-day defense event has some of the world’s leading manufacturers showcasing their military technology and solutions while trying to win contracts and forge partnerships with the Kingdom defense players.  

While Saudi Arabia is ramping up its defense capabilities with hard military equipment and systems, top defense plyers pointed out that cybersecurity and electronic warfare are some of the emerging threats that countries also need to be prepared for. 

The integration of cybersecurity with electronic warfare should be considered seriously, especially this time when digitization is evolving rapidly, said Sultan Al-Morqi, vice president of Defense Electronics at Saudi Arabian Military Industries, or SAMI. 

He said there are five domains in defense technology –  base, air, land, sea or maritime and cyberspace.

From the operational point of view, Al-Morqi explained they are divided but “they have to integrate with one another” with the key enabler for these two areas being the “electro-magnetic spectrum.”

In implementing digitization, he insisted that firms must make sure cybersecurity is paramount as they assess the risks of electronic warfare.

As Saudi Arabia has put sustainability at the center of its all developments as part of Vision 2030, the topics relating to energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions received some attention during the event, with companies talking about their sustainability goals.

During the event, Ted Colbert, chief executive officer of Boeing Global Services, noted that fleet renewal, operational efficiency, and alternative fuels are some of the key factors that could complement digitizing the defense sector. 

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