Defence and security evolving rapidly as new technologies emerge


“The world’s security environment is utterly unpredictable,” according to Sihle Mayisela, Executive Manager of Strategic Affairs at Hensoldt South Africa, and new technologies are altering it rapidly, from drones to cyber.

Mayisela was one of the keynote speakers at the Aerospace, Maritime and Defence (AMD) Conference held last week.

In his address, Mayisela cited various examples of recent developments within the global defence sector, specifically in terms of technology, and outlined what some of the future scenarios within defence both locally and globally might look like.

“The use of small drones to attack or trigger air defence systems has become a very real threat, and the race is on to develop effective counter drone systems,” he said. “Small drones technology and drone countermeasures will continue to dominate the next decade.”

Hensoldt offers counter-drone technology, notably its Xpeller system. Hensoldt South Africa brings together a comprehensive range of products, systems and services across both defence and civil markets, from electronic warfare and optronics, to spectrum monitoring and security solutions and is a vital supplier of sovereign electronic warfare technology to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Mobilising defence within the context of the “fourth industrial revolution” is also on the increase, with the technological opportunities afforded by the Internet of Things, advanced data processing, cognitive radar, 5G cellular networks, microchips and the like creating opportunities for artificial intelligence, protection of infrastructure and detection of attacks.

“The world is already in a transition period. Advances in technology will continue with its natural evolution, with economics, politics and the natural environment continuing to influence the speed of this advancement,” Mayisela said.

In terms of the future, new strategies of cyber and hybrid warfare will include more advanced network attacks, and space will become a new warfighting domain.

Hensoldt believes that international investment and cooperation utilising local infrastructure, skills and capacity is a proven recipe for local economic growth and business success. Last year saw Hensoldt bring together its two subsidiaries in South Africa, GEW Technologies and Hensoldt Optronics South Africa under the new consolidated Hensoldt South Africa brand. This move also saw a commitment to invest a further half a billion rand locally over the next 5 years, as well as the aim of doubling its turnover and staff compliment in order to open up new market opportunities as well as develop critical skills.

In June, Hensoldt South Africa acquired Tellumat’s air traffic management and defence and security business units as part of this local expansion plan.