Asian Exports Surge into World Defence Markets
Asian companies are rapidly populating the higher end of the world's top 100 defence manufacturers
There are plentiful opportunities for niche manufacturers around the Asia-Pacific region, and Asian Military Review spoke to one such, Australian based Electro Optic Systems (EOS), about its range of remote weapon stations (RWS). Exports make up 80 percent of its business, explained Matt Jones, executive vice-president of EOS Defence Systems.
EOS is meeting ongoing requirements for lightweight RWS for vehicles such as special forces all-terrain vehicles, or RWS for logistics vehicles to keep occupants safe. Another area of growth is heavier RWS with weapons like Northrop Grumman’s Mk44 30mm cannon. Jones explained: “Militaries don’t want to necessarily replace a vehicle platform with a new vehicle, but they do want to bring 21st-century firepower, accuracy and authority onto a platform they’ve been operating for 10, 20, 30 years.”
This is occurring in second-hand vehicles handed over to Ukraine, for example. “It’s a way of seeing significant capability enhancement without the billion-dollar investment you require to replace an entire vehicle fleet. You can leverage existing infrastructure, training facilities and experience on vehicle platforms, and add a new high-firepower modern system, which is what we’re doing with a range of customers at the moment,” Jones elaborated.
Trends in modern warfare are creating other growth area for EOS too. These include counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) engagements, with huge benefits to be gained by using an existing RWS to hit both ground targets and UAVs. Directed energy for C-UAS tasks is another area of investment. Right now, EOS is also delivering its first naval R400 30mm cannon RWS weapons to a Middle East customer, and it has worked with Elbit Systems to develop the T2000 unmanned turret.
Jones continued: “The other thing we’re doing is a lot of work in the UGV [unmanned ground vehicle] space. UGVs are obviously a fast-evolving capability area. Increasingly, we see the battlespace thinning out, and more UGVs or unmanned or uninhabited systems being employed in the air, ground and at sea. And as that occurs, those systems when they’re armed need to be equipped with something like a remote weapon station. So we’re working with at least five different countries at the moment in support of their individual development programmes for the development of tactics, techniques and procedures for the employment of UGVs.”
Jones said EOS is a globally focused company. “Our major delivery contracts have been into the Middle East, and we’re growing opportunities in Europe and North America. But I’ll also say that our success in those places has been built off the back of our success in the local market. We can’t go completely global and ignore the local market. We’re an Australian company; we bring Australian values and expertise and technology to the market.”
What drives EOS’ success as an exporter? Jones shared: “I think, to be completely brutally honest, the Australian government doesn’t provide a lot of support ... Really, from my point of view, it’s about our people and our engineering capability. EOS is a research house with an engineering pedigree and a passion for excellence.”
Australia’s defence procurement agencies are particularly demanding, but Jones said the silver lining is that “they really hone your project management, engineering, preparation, documentation and expertise, and then that really gives you a very strong standing when we do go into the global market”