Strategic partners: why Germany’s defence sector is increasingly turning to Lithuania for innovation

Strategic partners: why Germany’s defence sector is increasingly turning to Lithuania for innovation

At a time of global political uncertainty, the defence industry is among the fastest-growing sectors in Europe and around the world. As the sophistication of military and defence technologies has increased, defence spending has moved up government policy agendas, leading to increased investment in R&D. With world-leading expertise in technologies from lasers to navigation systems, Lithuania’s defence contractors are attracting interest from around the globe – and are now among the most sought-after partners to some of the biggest names in Germany’s defence industry.

Laser-focused on innovation

One of the companies at the forefront of international cooperation is BROLIS. The creator of some of the world’s finest infrared laser products, the company collaborates closely with partners across Europe and America, particularly in leading NATO member countries such as Germany.

BROLIS develops electro-optical systems and components for security, surveillance and reconnaissance – ranging from conventional visible aiming lasers to sophisticated infrared camera systems, night vision and thermal vision devices. Close cooperation with end-users in the military and law enforcement allows BROLIS to develop next-generation systems that fulfil the requirements of even the most demanding missions.

One example is the world’s first shortwave infrared (SWIR) weapon sighting system for medium-range surveillance and target capture. The sight is currently deployed by the military and law enforcement in Lithuania and other European countries. The device operates outside the conventional infrared spectrum band, so its laser pointer and illuminator cannot be detected by conventional night vision devices.

“This is a real advantage on the battlefield – when you are not seen and you can see everyone,” Ričardas Bagdonas, field test engineer at BROLIS says of the company’s innovation. “We do not know of any other company that has developed such a product.”

Other innovations developed by the company include a wide range of laser devices, sights, markers, illuminators, IR filters, as well as thermal vision devices that fully meet modern tactical requirements.

Trusted partner for cooperation

Another success story is that of the country’s largest defence contractor, Elsis – a group of information and communication technology (ICT) companies. Established in 1991, Elsis develops and implements software solutions, information systems, telecommunications and tactical communication systems as part of various defence systems and security infrastructure projects.

The group has a proven track record of scalable, integrated R&D partnerships with German companies, having worked together with Airbus Defence & Space since 2012 on major NATO projects, as well as with ESG Elektroniksystem and software company Zuken.

“By working with us, German partners say they gain access to world-leading expertise they cannot readily find at home,” says Gediminas Viškelis, head of the export division at Elsis PRO. “In addition, we share a culture of precision and mutual respect. And with the advantage of cost-efficiency that we can deliver, we expect to see many more such international collaborations.’

“The defence sector is undoubtedly growing steadily,” Gediminas Viškelis adds. “It is receiving more and more funding, so there are really many opportunities to expand and implement more and more projects – especially when it comes to the field of space defence.”

Indeed, Elsis anticipates further innovations in the future: “We have an ambition not only to be partners in R&D, but also to develop our own products,” says Gediminas Viškelis. “For example, one of our products, Shift, is aimed at air navigation services. We have already implemented it for the Brazilian Air Navigation Service.”

Lithuania’s defence sector is a strong and multi-faceted ecosystem that spans aerospace technologies; communication and information systems; components; ammunition; air/ground support systems; detection, location, acquisition and deception technologies; vehicles; personal equipment and R&D. With one of Europe’s most highly educated populations, Lithuania’s defence industry draws on a formidable pool of talent to develop world-class solutions through its international partnerships across a range of technologies.

Photo by BROLIS

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