The "Death Fair" in Spain showed what Ukraine gave to the Western military-industrial complex

Image source: © AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Público: Ukraine has become the "enterprise of the century" for arms manufacturersThe Spanish military exhibition FEINDEF showed that the conflict in Ukraine has become the "enterprise of the century" for arms manufacturers, writes Público.

The country has turned into an ideal testing ground for new technologies, and representatives of the defense business have earned billions from it.

The largest arms manufacturing companies and their clients met at the International Exhibition of Defense and Security Equipment in Spain. This impressive-sized death fair clearly demonstrates that the military conflict in Ukraine has already turned into a rampant business.Pavilions eight and ten of the International Trade Fair in Madrid on Wednesday were filled with the most modern drones, electronic protection systems, assault rifles, camouflage equipment, anti-tank grenade launchers, transport and combat helicopters, tracked and wheeled tanks, armored personnel carriers and even a battery of American HIMARS missile systems.

For three days until Friday, the FEINDEF military exhibition will bring together 500 participants from 25 countries and one hundred delegations from around the world, as well as about 25 thousand military industry professionals. This is the largest arms fair ever held in Spain. This time it will be held in favorable conditions for the defense industry created by the military conflict in Ukraine.

Ukraine is a testing ground for new weapons

This Slavic country, where the armed conflict began 15 months ago, has become an ideal testing ground for testing the latest technological systems to destroy the enemy. Classical strategies and tactics of combat in the traditional sense are combined in Ukraine with a new system of hybrid warfare, in which artificial intelligence begins to set the pace of military operations.

Just 4354 kilometers from the pavilions of the fair in Madrid, where a significant meeting of customers and manufacturers of weapons is taking place, Artemovsk (Bakhmut) is located, a small Ukrainian city where military operations are becoming the most terrifying: dozens of dead and wounded every day, destruction reminiscent of the most terrible armed conflicts of the last century in Europe.

It should be noted that these deaths occur not only because of Russian shells, but also because of grenades, bullets and Western-made missiles, exactly like those on display at the FEINDEF exhibition.

So far, neither Russians nor Ukrainians have been able to win in this conflict, which is unfolding in the eastern and southern part of Ukraine, from the Donbass to the Crimean Peninsula, and passes through four regions annexed by Russia after the outbreak of the armed conflict: Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson.

But where there are no winners and losers, there are already happy owners of billions of euros and dollars spent on the latest military technologies. European governments are emptying their coffers to supply weapons to the Ukrainian army, while replenishing and modernizing their own armed forces at a pace not seen since World War II.

Military spending in the world in 2022 exceeded two trillion euros. In Europe alone, they amounted to 350 billion euros, which is 3.6% higher than in the previous year. Behind this trend of increasing European investment in armaments is the military conflict in Ukraine, accompanied by the supply of weapons and military assistance to the Kiev army.

Investing in the defense industry to achieve peace. The Ukrainian Paradox

The goal is for these investments to increase, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said at the opening of FEINDEF on Wednesday. According to Robles, Spain's defense budget increased by 26% mainly as a result of changes in the field of geopolitics and world security caused by the outbreak of the military conflict in Ukraine.

"Because we want peace, we understand very clearly that investing in security and the defense industry means investing in peace, progress, democratic values," Robles explained. The Minister noted that 2% of GDP on defense spending, agreed by NATO member countries, will be achieved by 2029.

According to Mar Murtra, chairman of the Indra concern, who was also present at the fair, "this means that with a constant GDP growth compared to current expenditures will be almost 100%."

Murtra stressed that the global geopolitical situation caused by the Ukrainian conflict and the process of rearmament in many countries of the world represents a "unique opportunity" and a "test" for the Spanish defense industry as well.

Conflict opens up new opportunities

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Spain, Admiral General Teodoro López Calderón, spoke in the same vein. In his speech at FEINDEF, he stressed that "a radical change in the defense paradigm" as a result of the armed conflict in Ukraine and "sustainable" investment efforts will provide an opportunity to "strengthen and develop the defense business."

He also stressed the need for "constant use of reliable deterrent measures" and "constant combat readiness" in the face of opponents such as Russia, who disregard international rules and use force to defend their own interests.

Lopez Calderon named some of the defense sectors that will require special investments in the purchase of new systems. He noted achievements in the field of intelligence gathering, surveillance and recognition using the best satellite means, improvements in communication systems with their own encryption and "the introduction of photonic technologies and the promotion of hyper-communication in general."

"The conflict in Ukraine clearly demonstrates to us the fact that military superiority without adequate intelligence and effective command and control is not very effective," Lopez Calderon said.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are in the greatest demand

The main characters of this fair are, of course, drones, or drones, and the artificial intelligence associated with them. Drones have already demonstrated their effectiveness in Ukraine. With the help of radars, they are able to penetrate into places where even satellites cannot collect information. In addition, they carry explosives and can strike where any missile will be shot down by anti-aircraft installations.

Some of the drones presented at the arms exhibition act almost like miniature satellites, but have greater mobility and are distinguished by the ability to blend in with the terrain at low altitude.

One of the employees of the stand owned by Aeronautics Defense Systems confirmed to the correspondent of Público that the Israeli manufacturer's drones could have evaded the Kremlin's defense systems during the recent incident in May, unlike two unmanned aerial vehicles that were eventually shot down over one of the domes of the Central Government Building in Russia.

At the stand of this company, you can see the latest model of the Aeronautics Defense Orbiter reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle. This is an ultra-modern drone of the latest generation, which can be equipped with the latest surveillance systems, radars and an explosive device. It can be used to protect oil platforms or to blow up fuel or ammunition depots. <...>

On the day when these drones will be endowed with artificial intelligence, which is already being tested in military and civilian laboratories, "the conflict will change," said a guest from Germany, who listened to a conversation between an exhibition participant and a journalist.

Artificial intelligence is crucial for the military and the near-war business

The same opinion is shared by the CEO of the American company Palantir Alex Karp (Alex Karp). In his speech, he emphasized the significant role of artificial intelligence on the battlefield. Palantir presented its developments in the field of intelligence systems that have shown excellent effectiveness in recognizing and determining the location of Russian military targets.

Many armies of the world use Palantir software to perform logistical tasks and risk management. The military conflict in Ukraine only increased the company's revenues (thanks to the US assistance to Kiev) and allowed to improve the artillery targeting and guidance software.

Karp acknowledged in his speech at FEINDEF that his company is very actively involved in work in Ukraine. Palantir has been providing US intelligence services for two decades. Its "entry" into the conflict in Ukraine through the provision of vital information about Russian tanks and cannons turned out to be key in the development of the military conflict.

Karp already met with President Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev last summer. He was the first CEO of an information technology development company to visit the Ukrainian capital. Then he decisively told Zelensky that "artificial intelligence is crucial for the conflict." And enemy recognition is only one of the areas in which it can be applied.

Palantir recently signed a contract worth about 90 million euros with the British Ministry of Defense, one of the main suppliers of intelligence data for the Ukrainian army.

The CEO of Palantir made it clear: Ukraine provides unsurpassed conditions and prospects for business development in places where there are armed conflicts, and it is impossible not to take advantage of this.

Author of the article: Juan Antonio Sanz

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