Strategic Defence Intelligence has released its first Yearbook. In this new venture for SDI, we take a look back at the world events and technological breakthroughs that shaped the year and investigate how the defence industry is responding to the challenge of the global economic downturn.

2012 has seen significant political, economic and geographic shifts in the defence industry. As the drawdown from the Middle East continues, attentions shift to the next potential theatre of war, with Asia Pacific being a key focus. This year’s The Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2012 maritime warfare exercise was the world’s largest with an eye on increasing stability in the region.

The repercussions of the Arab Spring reverberate through the Middle East and North Africa, and new enmities and alliances are forged across the globe. We examine how the international community is responding to world events and the economic shift as defence budgets are slashed.

Defence cuts, however, have not curtailed significant investments in military robotics, and 2012 has been a remarkable year for new announcements and breakthrough technologies. From an animal-inspired robotic menagerie through soldier-worn exoskeletons to increasingly autonomous aerial drones, we see how these futuristic machines are staring to break into the military.

As new, more interconnected technologies develop, cyber security issues have climbed the agenda. With the number and complexity of attacks increasing, we take a month-by-month look at the key cyber events of 2012 and how policies are being developed to fight a future cyber war.

With more than nine million tickets sold, the 2012 London Olympic Games and Paralympics presented one of the biggest ever national security challenges. We look at how the defence industry and military personnel pulled together to make the events totally safe without spoiling the fun.

To offer an at-a-glimpse guide to the world in 2012, we have done some number crunching and come up with 20 memorable statistics that we think best illustrate the military world over the past 12 months.

Finally, we ask colleagues from global defence companies about their most significant events of 2012 and how they are planning for the year ahead.