With Russia’s war of aggression, the defence of our own national borders and NATO’s military clout have returned to the forefront of security policy after decades. At the same time, the security threats posed by conventional conflicts are becoming increasingly complex. In addition, there are asymmetric conflicts between parties with different weapons, organizational and strategic strengths, politically motivated cybercrime, civil unrest, and the conflict potential associated with migration movements.
As a result, the need for appropriately adapted operational concepts for armed and security forces is growing at an increasing rate worldwide. The focus here is on increasingly networked and intelligent solutions. After all, the challenges of the future can only be met if superior situational awareness can be developed by networking platforms across multiple domains (so-called “multi-domain operations”). Sensor technology and defence electronics are thus at the center of attention.
As a leading provider of electronic sensor solutions, HENSOLDT develops the mission-critical elements for next-generation defence systems. Technologically sophisticated and innovative, they will make a decisive contribution to security in Germany and Europe in the coming years and decades.
HENSOLDT is fulfilling this key role on a strong entrepreneurial basis. Since going public in 2020, the company’s sales have grown twice as fast as the overall defence electronics market. Order backlog and workforce size are now at record levels. As a technology company, HENSOLDT has always had a strong focus on innovation in this regard and has also significantly increased its annual spending in R & D since going public. And the signs for HENSOLDT continue to point to success: With innovative technologies and a consistent focus on customer application scenarios, the company has significantly expanded its strategic market position. Moreover, the importance of defence electronics and thus its share of the growing defence market will continue to increase in the coming years.
The basis for the success of today and tomorrow is the clearly growth-oriented corporate strategy HENSOLDT 2031. With this strategy, HENSOLDT aims to become Europe’s leading platform-independent provider of sensor solutions for the defence and security sector with global reach. To achieve this, HENSOLDT 2031 focuses on what makes the company tick: inventive spirit, consistent customer focus, ambitious goals, quick decisions, and excellent implementation. Or, as Celia Pelaz, Chief Strategy Officer of HENSOLDT, sums it up: “Our ambitious strategy sets the course with clear goals. The HENSOLDT team turns it into a successful growth story day by day – in line with our vision: Together we make the difference for a safer tomorrow.”
In 2021, four years after the company was founded, HENSOLDT had already achieved many defined goals and milestones significantly faster than planned. With a view to the dynamic development of technologies, threats, and customer needs, the company has therefore sharpened its target image for the coming decade and concretized its orientation along four strategic vectors. Forming the core of HENSOLDT 2031, these compress the strategic priorities and broad lines of corporate development:
For each vector, there are specific business initiatives that are backed by measurable targets. Implementation is tracked on the basis of strategic indicators and continuously reflected by the Management Board – for example, with regard to the development of R&D expenditure in the area of integrated solutions or the changes in investment structures in companies with strong digital expertise. In this way, the corporate strategy, condensed into four vectors, also serves as a tangible guideline for decisions in day-to-day operations.
Against the backdrop of the Zeitenwende (turning point) for German defence and security policy and the build up of defence capabilities also decided at EU and NATO level, HENSOLDT comprehensively analyzed known and possible effects on the company in the summer of 2022 and compared them with its strategic orientation. This clearly confirmed HENSOLDT’s strategic goals – in fact, the company intends to achieve them even faster than previously planned. This applies in particular to the first two vectors. Celia Pelaz: “The new geopolitical reality has shown: Our strategy sets the right priorities. In this Zeitenwende, however, we will once again significantly increase the pace of implementation.”
The focus will thus remain on HENSOLDT’s greater contribution to military defence and civil security expertise in Germany, Europe, and worldwide:
With increasingly complex challenges as well as the enormous amounts of data that modern defence systems process, the needs of HENSOLDT’s customers are also becoming more extensive. Further intensified by the Zeitenwende, they more than ever need a partner who thinks beyond individual components and subsystems, delivers overall answers, and thus enables rapid action.
HENSOLDT has prepared for this at an early stage and with foresight. As a “sensor solutions house,” the focus has long been on more than just individual technologies, products, and their (further) development. Rather, sensors are merged with each other, platforms are networked across all domains, and classic sensor technology is connected with virtual sensor technology. Complete solutions are created that can be integrated in line with the plug-and-play principle and offer comprehensive, holistic decision support in use. With them, HENSOLDT is significantly expanding its presence in defence platforms.
“As a technology company in the key areas of defence electronics, data analytics, and cybersecurity, we are developing holistic answers to tomorrow’s security requirements today,” Celia Pelaz summarizes.
This evolution into a solutions provider goes hand in hand with more integrated collaboration within the company across divisions and domains. In addition, HENSOLDT is increasingly assuming system leadership and overall responsibility in complex defence projects when the company leads the relevant industry consortia as a system integrator.
In most cases, transformation of the way in which defence and security scenarios are handled usually has a common denominator: data. Increasingly intelligent security and defence platforms must be able to collect and process a flood of data and use it to provide real-time decision-making information. Not least, Russia’s war against Ukraine illustrates the relevance of data-driven information superiority. Thanks in part to smart technologies, Ukraine is able to hold its own against a numerically superior opponent.
HENSOLDT’s ambition as an innovation champion is to drive the digitalization and networking of defence technologies. On its way to becoming a leading data analytics house in the German security and defence sector, HENSOLDT is developing increasingly intelligent applications. By combining sensor data with additional data sources, reconnaissance systems are created at a completely new level of quality. Raw data becomes actionable information. Superior situational awareness emerges.
“We are increasingly making the difference for a safer tomorrow by combining our capabilities in software-defined sensor technology and optronics, artificial intelligence, and data analytics,” says Celia Pelaz.
In view of the particular dynamics in these areas, innovation partnerships that HENSOLDT enters into with highly specialized companies are also increasingly contributing to this. Development cycles can be additionally accelerated in this way. Finally, “smart partnering” creates further competitive advantages.
The demands on reconnaissance and defence technologies are becoming ever more comprehensive. Threat situations are increasingly developing globally. Alliances such as NATO have taken on new relevance as a result of the war in Ukraine. The need for deeper European cooperation is increasing in order to achieve greater interoperability, efficiency, and innovation.
With its roots in Germany and a strong presence in France and the UK, HENSOLDT sees itself as an active shaper of this future. In close cooperation with strategically important partners, HENSOLDT realizes complex European key projects and thus contributes to strengthening Europe’s sovereignty in defence matters. With a strategic focus on the UK, the US, and Australia as part of the so-called “Five Eye Countries,” HENSOLDT is also specifically expanding its global profile in order to be able to serve customers worldwide even better. Thereby, regional focuses complement each other in the demand for HENSOLDT products: While European customers are currently strengthening land and air defence in particular, HENSOLDT technologies for maritime surveillance are in particular demand in the Asia-Pacific region; in North America, and the Middle East, the focus is on solutions for border security.
“We continue to expand our own international presence and, in parallel, engage in strong innovation partnerships. HENSOLDT is a driving force for deeper cooperation and collaboration in the European defence industry,” says Celia Pelaz.
HENSOLDT’s global growth strategy strengthens the company’s competitiveness in all markets. In addition, both NATO’s new strategic concept and the European Union’s Strategic Compass provide further incentives for member states to strengthen joint capability development. Uniform technology platforms are to be developed more quickly and efficiently through increased international cooperation. With its increasingly global footprint, HENSOLDT is proving to be a strong partner in challenging times.
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine shows how conflicts are increasingly no longer confined to the military level alone, but include all areas of society and the economy. Technological progress is also increasingly blurring the boundaries between military defence and civil security. They form a single entity. It is no longer a question of military strength alone, but of comprehensive resilience.
HENSOLDT is addressing this development with the aim of going beyond the defence sector to open up those civilian markets whose customer profiles, requirements, and technologies are close to the core business. For example, the company’s technologies support drone defence and border security, critical infrastructure, and airports.
“More than ever, defence and security are two sides of the same coin. Our customers are increasingly thinking of them together – and we are acting in the same way to be able to support them in the best possible manner,” explains Celia Pelaz.
With its products and solutions, HENSOLDT thus also contributes to the civilian sector to recognize threats in time and to be able to counter the hybrid conflicts of the future. For a decisive increase in security.
CELIA PELAZ, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER
“Our path is very clear: from sensor specialist to integrated solutions provider for superior situational awareness.”
“With HENSOLDT 2031, we are consistently implementing our claim as an innovation champion. We offer our customers more than just data: actionable intelligence.”
“We are developing HENSOLDT into Europe’s leading platform-independent sensor solutions provider and data analytics house for defence and security applications. Our reach is becoming increasingly global.”
“HENSOLDT solutions ensure security and technological progress – even beyond the defence sector. That’s why we are very successfully tapping into targeted new market segments for our company with civilian applications.”
The two European defence programmes "Future Combat Air System / Next Generation Weapon System (FCAS/NGWS)" and "Main Ground Combat System" (MGCS) are regarded as important guarantors of future security in Europe. HENSOLDT plays an important role in both programmes. They thus also represent the dynamic development of the company along its strategic vectors.
As the future “air force,” FCAS will represent a networked system of manned and unmanned aircraft, while also integrating existing aircraft such as the Eurofighter. FCAS thus stands for networked activity: extremely flexible, scalable, interoperable, and protected against any kind of threat in highly complex mission environments of national and alliance defence, including from cyberspace. With a project volume estimated at 300 billion euros, this is currently the largest European defence programme, with German investments from 2023 also being financed from the special fund for the Bundeswehr.
The nucleus for FCAS is the “Next Generation Weapon System (NGWS)”: consisting of a new combat aircraft and various unmanned “remote carriers,” it will be networked by the Air Combat Cloud and have an ultra-fast sensor-effector network: multistatic sensing, cross-platform fusion, and exchange of sensor data as well as transfer of target information to other platforms’ effectors will give the NGWS a key operational role – including in multidomain operations.
Here, HENSOLDT’s leading expertise in developing integrated and networked sensor solutions is highly valued: as part of FCAS/NGWS, HENSOLDT is leading a high-performance industrial consortium comprising Diehl Defence, ESG, and Rohde & Schwarz and thus bears national responsibility for the NGWS sensor demonstrator. As part of the complementary research and technology programmes of the German Ministry of Defence, HENSOLDT is also responsible for the work package “Sensor Data Fusion / Sensor Resource Management” and the further development of the “Electronic Warfare” capabilities.
The NGWS is to be introduced in stages starting in 2040. At the end of 2022, Germany, France, and Spain reached an agreement on the next programme phase. In this phase, industrial companies from the three countries will jointly define the future-oriented technologies and demonstrate them in prototypes that will later be integrated into manned and unmanned platforms.
As the next-generation ground combat system, the MGCS is expected to replace the Leopard 2 in the German army and the Leclerc tank in the French army from around 2035. As a special feature, the new system will integrate optronics, radar, self-protection, electronic warfare capabilities, and laser communications of all vehicles and aircraft in the field and network sensor data. The results will be displayed – thanks to augmented reality – in a clear and user-friendly overall system.
HENSOLDT also formulates holistic, progressive answers to the challenges of tomorrow for MGCS: The company develops almost all the necessary electronic, sensory, and optronic solutions, including automated data fusion and evaluation using artificial intelligence. In this context, HENSOLDT is responsible for the development of one of a total of 12 so-called “main tech demonstrators” for Germany.
As a technology of the future, MGCS will build bridges: between the numerous electronic and optronic sensors, between multi-mission radars with 360-degree panoramic vision in an environment of up to 40 kilometers, between self-protection systems – including against explosive devices – and friend-or-foe detection, between systems for signal jamming and defence against attacks from cyberspace, between laser communications that are insensitive to interference, and much more.
German participation in MGCS has also been included in the special fund for the Bundeswehr. An initial technology demonstrator is to be developed by 2025. In the next step, the defence ministries in Berlin and Paris will designate the industrial leadership of the companies cooperating in MGCS.
With the accelerated implementation of “HENSOLDT 2031,” the company is increasingly becoming the driver of three key developments:
With integrated, increasingly intelligent defence and security applications that fully harness the power of data.
With deepened European cooperation that strengthens interoperability, promotes efficiency, and produces leading technologies for the global market.
With innovation starting from the defence sector as a driver of progress far into the civilian sector.