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The 31st International Defence Industry Exhibition (MSPO) in Kielce, Poland, had already broken all records well before it even started. As at the end of August, the exhibition space already amounts to 34,000 m2, while the exhibitors list includes 711 companies from 36 countries. For the first time, the MSPO exhibition will this year use an additional 2,800 m2 expo hall.

Defence industry representatives joining the event, held in the Świętokrzyskie capital, will come from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

South Korea is playing a unique role at this year’s MSPO as the exhibition’s lead nation: a natural consequence in light of Poland purchasing a significant amount of military equipment from the country. South Korea’s Lead-Nation Exhibition, in fact, will showcase the platforms that will soon be part of the Polish army’s inventory. It is worth recollecting that at the end of July 2022 Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak approved contracts to purchase a thousand K2 main battle tanks and over 600 K9 self-propelled howitzers from South Korea.

This year’s MSPO, which will be the largest ever iteration of the show, will feature South Korea as the lead nation. (Photo: MSPO)

The Lead Nation Exhibition will present South Korea’s most important achievements in the defence industry domain. The Hanwha company will display the Chunmoo multiple rocket launcher, which will soon be delivered to the Polish armed forces, along with a multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). Hyundai Rotem will display the K2 tank, which is already used by the Polish army, the K808 wheeled armoured vehicle and mock-ups of military unmanned aerial vehicles and UGVs. Kia Corporation will showcase its KLTV light tactical vehicle and the hydrogen-powered Armoured Tactical Vehicle. The equipment from SNT Dynamics includes a mortar system mounted on a light tactical vehicle. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) will interestingly also develop the expo space; the FA-50 light combat aircraft, which will also enter Polish service, and the prototype of the KF-21 advanced multi-role fighter will be on display.

The largest Polish exhibitor at the show is MSPO’s strategic partner: Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and the companies that are a part of the PGZ holding. This continues the expo’s tradition of many years.

Also following the example of many years, the Polish Armed Forces Exhibition is being prepared by the Inspectorate for Armed Forces Support – SZ Bydgoszcz. This year’s exhibition is held under the banner of ‘New equipment – new challenges – new opportunities’.

Space scholarship and important conferences  

This year’s MSPO witnesses the launch of the ‘Al Worden Endeavor Scholarship’ project for the Republic of Poland. The project, the objective of which is to encourage young Poles to work as engineers and space explorers, will culminate in four students and a teacher being selected to participate in a week-long training programme for astronauts at the US Space & Rocket Center’s Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The scholarship is supported by the Polish Space Agency, Targi Kielce and Kallman Worldwide. Alfred Worden was a US Air Force colonel who as a US astronaut was one of the Apollo 15 mission crew. Colonel Worden was the featured guest at the US Lead Nation Exhibition at MSPO 2019.

‘Space’ is also on the agenda of the debate organised by the Polish Ministry of Development and Technology on the second day of MSPO. The event enables discussion on the development of EU industrial policy, the role of the defence industry, and international industrial co-operation, including the development of synergies with the space sector in terms of economic and defence challenges. Important stakeholders of the European defence sector have been invited to participate in the debate, with the panel including industry experts and representatives from the political sphere and academia. The discussion offers a platform for institutional and business leaders to reflect on Europe’s defence transformation in a changing security environment.

MSPO will be taking place from 5-8 September 2023. An individual MSPO day ticket, which can only be purchased by an adult, costs PLN 100 (EUR 22.4), while a ticket entitling the holder to multiple expo visits costs PLN 250.