04/09/2018 09/09/2018

Europe’s third biggest defence expo launches in Kielce

Visitors will be able to view military equipment including Leopard 2 tanks. Piotr Polak/PAP

Defence ministry officials, businessmen and arms aficionados are gathering in Kielce, in south central Poland, this week for the annual International Defence Industry Exhibition.

Now in its 26th year, the event is the third-biggest defence fair in Europe, after London and Paris.

As the situation to its east remains fragile, Poland has continued to emphasise the need for security along NATO’s eastern flank.

A bill signed by President Andrzej Duda last year will raise defence spending from the current 2% of GDP – the NATO target – to 2.5% by 2030. In this context, the Exhibition in Kielce is a major event in Poland’s defence community.

“For 25 years, the Exhibition has been a window on the world for the Polish defence industry,” said its chairman Andrzej Mochoń, opening last year’s event.

This year’s event, which runs from 4 to 7 September, takes place on the centenary of the restoration of Polish independence, under the patronage of President Andrzej Duda.

It will feature over 600 exhibits, more than half will be from Poland. Delegations from several dozen other countries, from Albania to Ukraine, have registered, too.

Broad in scope, the event spans everything military-related, including weapons, equipment for the air force, navy, special forces and border guards, military transport and uniforms. Its strategic partner is Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, the holding company uniting Polish state-owned companies in the defence industry.

In addition to a myriad of private and state-owned companies, exhibits will include Poland’s military universities and museums.

The exhibition will also feature national exhibits where other countries present their defence potential. In previous years, these have included the United States, Britain, Israel and South Korea.

The event features a full programme of panels and presentations on military topics, from security in the 21st Century to previews of innovative military products.

Cybersecurity, European defence cooperation and Poland’s defence capabilities on the hundredth anniversary of regaining independence will also be covered.

After the event, the Exhibition will be open to the public on 8-9 September. Visitors will be able to view military equipment including Leopard 2 tanks, Rosomak armoured vehicles, submarines and torpedoes.

In addition to the exhibition itself, the two days will be packed with activities, including live demonstrations, from police dog training to aikido. Entrance to the open days is free.