The Defense Industry is a leader in innovation

The Defense Industry is a leader in innovation

The Defense Industry is a leader in innovation 400 300 Journalist

It has over 1.5 billion Euro turnover annually and invests 500 million in high technologies, says the co-chairman of the BDIA Acad. Stefan Vodenicharov.

akademik Vodenicharov ACCENTS

  • We make 2.97% of the country’s GDP
  • The bulgarian companies export products to 120 countries and work on the European and American markets
  • 30,000 people employed in the industry
  • We show the projects of the young scientists

The innovations in the Defense Industry of Bulgaria will be presented today at the National Conference with International Participation “Defense Industry – Leader of the Innovation in Bulgaria”. The prestigious forum is organized by the Bulgarian Defense Industry Association (BDIA). It includes 21 companies – the largest producers of defense products in the country. The conference is under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov and Minister of Economy Emil Karanikolov.
One of the major goals of the forum is to present the capabilities of the Bulgarian Defense Industry companies to participate in the projects for the modernization of the army. Present will be the investment projects of the Ministry of Defense. Karanikolov’s office will acquaint the industry with the European Industrial Defense Development Program and the European Defense Fund to boost the competitiveness and innovative capacity of the defense industry. The BDIA report will focus on new developments of the companies, the capabilities and opportunities, the successes on the international markets, the established long-term partnerships with internationally established companies, and others. “Standart” is the media partner of the event.
What are the expectations of the defense industry and how Bulgarian companies can participate in the projects for modernization of the army, we have asked for an interview the co-chairman of the “Bulgarian Defense Industry Association”, Academician Stefan Vodenicharov.

– Acad. Vodenicharov, what are the objectives of the National Conference with International Participation “Defense Industry – Leader of the Innovation in Bulgaria”?
– The Bulgarian Defense Industry Association (BDIA) aims to develop and serve as a legitimate forum for the exchange of ideas between state authorities and the industry to solve problems, related to the defense industry and the defense and security of Bulgaria and to achieve a sustainable development of the industry.
With the forum today, we set three big goals. The first is to present the European Industrial Defense Development Program and its role in strengthening the national and European defense capabilities. The second is to present to the executive power and the public in Bulgaria with the capabilities of the Bulgarian defense technology industrial base for the realization of the Ministry of Defense investment project: “Acquisition and maintenance of basic fighting equipment for battalion battle groups as part of the mechanized brigade”. Bulgarian companies in the defense industry are world-class. Their production is mainly for export – they cover all NATO requirements. And when we are talking about earmarking 1 billion levs for the production and purchase of new armored machinery for the army, we need to know that none other than the native companies are the ones who have the innovations and the production bases and the professionals to make them. Our third goal is to support the young scientists.

– How do you plan to do that?
– We want to make it possible for young talents from higher education institutions and science-research institutes in support of the development of the economic foundations of security and defense.
Therefore, in the second plenary session of the forum, young scientists will present their organizational, technical and technological developments that can be used or are already used in the defense industry. They are in the fastest growing areas: mechatronics, optoelectronics equipment and systems, information and communication technologies. Reports will be presented by scientists from: the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy, the Institute of Electrochemistry and Energy Systems – BAS, the Institute of Metal Science, Equipment and Technologies with Center for Hydro and Aerodynamics – BAS, as well as young representatives of the member companies of the Bulgarian Defense Industry Association”.

– In the Bulgarian Defense Industry Association there are 21 member companies – the leaders of the defense industry in Bulgaria. Tell me more about the association?
– Indeed, members of the BDIA are the largest producers of defense products in the country. In 2017, our defense product turnover is over 1 billion Euro, and by adding and so called “Civilian” sphere, the volume of the products and services we provided exceeds 1.5 billion Euros. These results represent 11.3% of the relative share in the value added of the economy of the country of the industrial sector, which represents 26.3% of the value of GDP – 50 427 million Euro for 2017. Or if we need to be even more precise , we provide 2.97% of the country’s GDP.

– On what markets are the Bulgarian companies working?
– The members of the Association produce and realize their production mainly on the European and the American markets. They mainly export. In terms of value and product ratio, over 95% of the volume of defense production produced in the country is exported to more than 120 countries worldwide.

– How many people are employed in the sector?
– More than 30,000 employees work in the member companies of the Association. Together with subcontractors in the country, they are several tens of thousands more. Over 90% of the employees in our companies are scientific and technical staff to ensure the development and production of high-tech, high quality, and in many cases no analogue in the world, defense products. Through its activity the members of the Association are at the core of the local economies of whole regional centers in Central and Northern Bulgaria, guaranteeing their economic stability and social peace.

– What investments has the branch made?
– Over the past 5 years, our companies have invested over 500 million Levs to build up-to-date manufacturing capacities and to create and acquire top technologies, validating them on the international markets as leaders in the relevant niche markets.
We are the only representative of Bulgaria in the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe.

– The innovations, that the Bulgarian defense companies make are the main focus of the forum. Which innovations would you distinguish?
– The activity of “Optix”. The company is the leader in the sphere of optronics. The group employs 1000 people with an average age of 36 years. It is the only Bulgarian company nominated for a Horizon 2020 project in the field of security and an approved project for an European Industrial Development Program by the Ministry of Defense. Exports the developed and produced products and services to 45 countries worldwide.
“SAMEL-90” made prototypes of armored vehicles. They were produced this year at SAMARM – a joint venture between Samel-90 and IAG. The company has over 50 years of history, experience, competence and trust. It has over 500 employees, 75% of its output is for export to 85 countries worldwide. It has a closed technological cycle for complete design and integration. The company has manufactured and integrated more than 650 different IED radiosensors against improvised explosive devices over the past 5 years for customers in over 10 countries.
Last but not least, I would like to note the innovations of the oldest and largest defense company in Bulgaria – “ARSENAL”. It has over 10,000 employees, of which over 1,200 technical staff. The main business of the company is focused on the development, production and supply of small arms and artillery systems, ammunitions and components, pyrotechnic military products and civilian products – tools, hunting and sporting weapons and ammunition. The company produces over 10,000 items sold in more than 120 countries worldwide.

– The French aircraft engine manufacturer giant, SAFRAN, are participating in the forum. On what will the representatives of the company emphasize?
– The idea is for foreign companies to present the organization in their companies in regard to innovations, co-operation with partners, participation in projects of the European Defense Agency and other.

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