Guns and poses: International defence industry exhibition gets underway in Kielce
Military specialists, soldiers and officials have gathered in Kielce this week for the annual International Defence Industry Exhibition.
One of the highlights of the defence calendar in Poland, this year’s edition — the 27th — has an American emphasis.
Since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, military security has been back in the spotlight in Poland and other countries along NATO’s eastern flank. Poland is one of a handful of NATO members that spends at least 2% of its GDP on defence, alongside the US, the UK, Greece, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
In February, the country adopted an army modernisation plan worth 185 billion złoty (43 billion euros) for new equipment.
At the Defence Industry Exhibition in Kielce – the third-largest in Europe, after Paris and London – companies from Poland and abroad are presenting the latest military equipment.
When the event was first held 27 years ago, there were fewer than 90 companies. This year, there are several hundred, more than half of them foreign, from countries ranging from Australia to Ukraine.
For Poland, the event is an opportunity to present its own military equipment, as well as see what other countries’ defence industries have to offer.
“I hope that our industry will participate in the creation of new defence products; it is very important that as much of the money that we want to spend on strengthening the Polish army as possible remains in the country and drives the economy,” said President Andrzej Duda, opening the event on 3 September.
The Polish equipment on display includes Krab cannon howitzers and Rak mortars, as well as a new prototype for a Borsuk infantry fighting vehicle that is not being produced yet.
Alongside the displays themselves, the programme includes specialist seminars, meetings and parties hosted by foreign embassies, including the US Embassy.
The event runs from 3 to 6 September, followed by an open day on 7 September, when the public can visit the exhibition for free.