By Joseph Roukoz and Babak Taghvaee
The first Malaysian Prime Minister Najib and Malaysian Minister of Defense Hishammuddin inaugurated the 14th edition of the LIMA’17 fair, which takes place every two years.
The aviation fair was held at Mahsuri International Exhibition Center and the marine one at Resorts World in Langkawi. The organisation can be considered successful due to the increased number of participating companies despite the distance of 30 minutes by car between two lounges.
Despite the economic problem affecting the world as well as Malaysia, the Prime Minister was optimistic. « We need to equip our fighting men with capabilities required to face modern warfare, both asymmetrical….The government has allocated a total of RM26 billion under the 11th Malaysia plan to cover the defence, public order and enforcement. Our defence expenses will continue to grow as the Armed Forces have embarked on a long-term capability plan to modernise and upgrade the equipment that we have at the moment », he said during the opening ceremony of LIMA’17.
Despite the fact that the number of delegations at the international level was lower than usual, as well as the number of visitors, LIMA’17 remains a fair of choice thanks to the efforts of the organisers and the warmth and friendliness of the Malaysians.
In the second part of the exhibition – the Maritime show – the French Industry presented its naval prowess with an impressive show. The French pavilion was organised under the aegis of GICAN with the support of the DGA and the GIFAS. Amongst the companies showcasing their wares at LIMA’17 were: ALSEAMAR, CNIM, DCI, DCNS, DIGINEXT, KERSHIP, LACROIX, OCEA, SECAMIC, SILLINGER, SOFRESUD, NCSIMUL, ZODIAC at the French Pavillon.
Malaysia has acquired two Scorpene-class submarines, commissioned in 2009. In addition, as a part of the Second Generation patrol vessels-littoral combat ships (SGPV-LCS) programme – six Gowind corvettes will be produced locally with DCNS providing the technological part.
This year’s 14th edition of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition witnessed the robust participation from UK Defense Industry. A range of British Technologies has been displayed at the show and UK Minister for Defense Procurement Harriet Baldwin was leading a sizeable UK delegation.
Mrs Baldwin said: « Our longstanding defence and security relationship with Malaysia continues to strengthen and we are keen to help to solve regional security challenges with innovative British technology and support … The UK’s commitment to the region was underlined by last year’s RAF Red Arrows tour and Typhoon exercises, and I’m pleased to represent our global interests and deep connection with Malaysia at LIMA’17 ».
MBDA is one of the very few companies in the missile sector that can supply a choice of guided weapons systems to all three armed services – air force, navy and army. During LIMA’17, MBDA was showcasing a range of weapons air-to-air and air-to-surface like Meteor and ASRAAM, anti-surface Brimstone for shorter range, as well as a new weapon under development – the new SPEAR for both stationery target and moving. Storm Shadow/SCALP and Taurus KEPD 350E2 were presented as the options for the long range.
For the navy, MBDA presented VL MICA and CAMM missiles with their more than 20KM range. National shipbuilder Boustead is currently working on the six stealth Littoral Combat Ship, which is based on the DCNS Gowind 2500 design selected for the Royal Malaysian Navy. In February 2017, the keel was laid for the second ship and the first one is scheduled for delivery in the next couple of years. The LCS programme allows MBDA to continue its long-standing history of working with Boustead by fitting a 16 cell VL MICA system on board of a new ship. Deployed from a DCNS Sylver launcher, VL MICA, selected by Malaysia in 2015, will give the LCS a high effectiveness, all-weather, high rate of the capability to defend against even the most aggressive of saturating anti-ship attacks.
Dassault Aviation group presented at LIMA’17 its dual military and civil know-how. Dassault’s big presence at this prestigious show reflects the preparedness of the company to meet strategic and technological requirements of Malaysia and the future needs of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. As well LIMA’17 was marked by the participation of Rafale.
Two Rafale multi-role fighters were making their appearance in Langkawi showing their readiness to own the island’s airspace with impressive aerial display routine at the show. This is the fourth time Rafale participated in the largest maritime and Aerospace exhibition in the region.
DCNS, a close partner of Malaysia, presented at LIMA17 its expertise and have become one of the key players on the Asia-Pacific market. Based on a long-term partnership experience, DCNS is determined to contribute to Malaysia’s self-reliance and sovereignty. That is why a local subsidiary, DCNS Malaysia, has been created.
The Group also has a strong industrial commitment in the country due to its partnership with Boustead group and their joint-venture Boustead DCNS Naval Corporation (BDNC) for the in-Service-Support (ISS) of the two Royal Malaysian Navy Scorpene submarines – Boustead Group and DCNS. Moreover, this commitment is nourished by the development of the future Gowind programme.
Airbus at LIMA’17 showcased A400M, CN235, C295W and A 300 MRTT Multi Role Tunker transport which is in service in Australia and has been ordered by Singapore and South Korea.
As for A400M, it should be mentioned, that, finally, after nine months of delay, which was mainly due to the technical work and redesign of some components of the Gearbox of Europrop TP400-D6 Turboprop engines, Airbus Defense had delivered the Fourth and the last Airbus A400M to the Royal Malaysian Air Force. It was officially handed over to the Air Force during the ceremony on the 22nd March 2017, the second day of LIMA 2017 airshow in Langkawi Island, Malaysia.
RMAF’s Chief of Air Force, General Dato’ Sri Affendi Buang RMAF was present at the ceremony as well as Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Minister of Defence of Malaysia who received the fourth Airbus A400M military transport aircraft on behalf of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
General Dato’ Sri Affendi Buang RMAF said, “We are very proud to take a delivery of our fourth A400M, which is equipped with the latest tactical capabilities. Our fleet of A400Ms ensures that the RMAF is well placed to respond and undertake a wide range of military and humanitarian operations within Malaysia and in the region.”
During the ceremony, Fernando Alonso, Head of Military Aircraft, Airbus Defense and Space, gave a plaque to the Minister, which symbolises the official handover of the aircraft.
Thales showcased at LIMA’17 their latest air and naval innovations and technologies, like the Sea Master, Amascos console and watchkeeper mock-up. The STARStreak missile is now in service of the UK army and has been procured by the Defense forces of a number of countries worldwide. The fastest missile in its category, STARStreak is unique due to its three laser-guided darts, which cannot be jammed by any known countermeasure. It has the capability to defeat any air target – even armored helicopters – as the last line of defense.
In the naval fair at Resorts World in Langkawi Thales displayed large interactive screens showing 360° videos and presentation. As well they presented Thales combat system integration capabilities, NS 50 3D surveillance radars, and the Fulmar UAV among others.
Defence Conseil International (DCI) was present at LIMA’17. During the interview the CEO Mr. Jean-Michel Palagos noted, « the region, especially Malaysia, is very important to DCI, considering the various programmes that the company has created in the collaboration with the Malaysian Armed forces ».
«In 2015 DCI launched a programme on digital learning and training design. This means that we upgrade our training process with new tools such as virtual reality, augmented reality and simulations», said Guy Zimmermann.
In Asia, DCI is reminiscing on previous projects, which successfully provided the training of the Malaysian Army on the use of night vision goggles (NVG), training of the RMAF pilots on the H225 helicopters, and the biggest project of all – the training of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) on submarines. DCI had given a big effort in assisting in the establishment of the RMN Submarine Training Academy in Sepanggar Bay, Sabah. DCI is involved in the building of the centre from the beginning of the project. RMN’s decision to engage DCI in the training of its submariners completes the Team France collaboration between DCNS and DCI, aiming to provide the best French technologies to the world.
The CEO of DCI told us, that DCI is ecstatic about their latest programme in Malaysia – the Helang Training Academy to train helicopter pilots and maintenance mechanics. It is important to mention that the facility is not only meant to support the Malaysian pilots and crews, but also the Asian region. In this project, DCI collaborates with local company Major Flagship in providing ab initio training for H120 known as EC120 helicopters. DCI is procuring one H120 cockpit simulator for this purpose.
RUAG Aviation presented the Dornier 228 in LIMA’17. The company has a strong presence in Malaysia through its maintenance business. The Dornier 288 has a good potential use in Malaysia and Southeast Asia as both a civil commuter and a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).
The Dornier 228 is already a proven platform for maritime patrol, says RUAG, adding that the aircraft is currently being used in Europe by the German Navy, Finnish Border Guard and Dutch coast guard.
Its characteristics make it an ideal platform for maritime patrol, and due to its high wing, the people inside the Cabin have good visibility below. The unpressurized cabin which means modifications to the aircraft can be made readily. The space inside the cabin is also maximised and it is ideally suited for installation of consoles and other equipment.
Besides being an ideal MPA aircraft for Malaysia and other South-east Asian nations, RUAG sees the potential in Malaysia and the region for Dornier 228 as a commuter aircraft.
Russia at Lima’17
The Pacific region accounted for almost half of the Rosoboronexport`s (a subsidiary of the Rostec state corporation) export in the last five years, a source in the system of military-technical cooperation told EDR at the LIMA 2017 exhibition.
“The Pacific region accounted for 45% in the structure of the Rosoboronexport`s export in the last five years. India and China remain the most important Russia`s regional partners in the area of military-technical cooperation. A significant volume of hardware is being delivered to Vietnam, which has created its underwater fleet with the required infrastructure thanks to Russia. Russia has good perspectives on the arms markets of Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and several other countries of the [Pacific] region,” the source said.
According to him, multirole frigates, corvettes, and non-nuclear submarines are among the most demanded types of naval hardware in the Pacific region. “The choice of the weaponry depends on the requirements of each country`s armed forces,” the source added.
In particular, the countries of South-East Asia reveal a specific interest in patrol ships. “They are interested in the patrol ships with a displacement of 1,500-2,500 t that can effectively monitor large sea areas. Russia has developed a number of ships of such type,” the source said.
For instance, Rosoboronexport offers the Gepard-5.1 ocean patrol ship to potential foreign customers. It has been developed by the Zelenodolsk shipbuilding plant named after M. Gorky on the base of the Gepard-3.9 frigate. It should be noted that the Vietnam People`s Navy operates two Gepard-3.9 frigates; two more ships of this class are to be delivered to the service by end-2017.
Gepard-5.1 is designed to patrol state exclusive economic areas and other important sea spaces; to suppress illegal usage of biological resources, smuggling activities, and piracy; to conduct search-and-rescue and humanitarian operations.
The ship has a range of up to 6,000 nautical miles (at a speed of 14 knots), a maximum speed of 25 knots, and an endurance of no less than 30 days. It features a hangar for a rotor-wing aircraft with a weight of up to 12 t and board-mounted launching and lifting gear for attack craft.
Russia`s Su and MiG multirole fighters are also in high demand on the Pacific market. “The countries of the Pacific region have taken the delivery of more than 250 Su aircraft. Several regional states have chosen Su-30 as the backbone of their air forces,” the source added. The Su-35S super-maneuverable multirole fighter, the Su-30MK multirole fighters, the YaK-130 operational trainers, the Il-78MK-90 aerial tanker, and the Be-200 multirole amphibious aircraft also kindle the specific interest.
According to the source, there are some perspectives of cooperation in the area of rotor-wing aircraft. The Mi-35M combat-transport, the Mi-17V-5/Mi-171Sh military transport, the Ka-52 combat-reconnaissance, the Ka-226T light utility, and Mi-26T/T2 heavy transport helicopters spark a specific interest.
Much attention is given to the Russian-originated air-defence systems, namely Igla-S and Verba man-portable air-defence systems, Pantsir-S1 self-propelled anti-air gun-missile systems, and other hardware of the type.
According to the source, Russia`s newest unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) attract interest of potential customers. “The increase of foreign buyers` interest in the Russian UAVs and UGVs comes against the background of their successful usage in Syria”, he added.
Rosoboronexport is planning to evolve a policy of military hardware licensed production with several Pacific states, the source added.
According to him, Russia and Indonesia are conducting consultations over the delivery of Su-35 multirole fighters to Jakarta. “The signing of the contract with Indonesia for the Su-35 fighters is anticipated,” he said.
Malaysia remains a prominent Russia`s partner for military-technical cooperation in the Pacific region. In particular, the issue of the modernization of the fighters previously delivered to Kuala Lumpur is being worked out. “The after-sales services of the Malaysian Su-30MKM and MiG-29N fighter jets have been finished in accordance with the contracts. At present, the aircraft are being maintained pursuant to frame contracts at the customer`s requests. The issue of the aircraft modernization is being worked out with the Malaysian side,” the source said.
The world premiere of the ‘Russian Knights’ (Russkie Vityazi) aerobatic team piloting new Su-30SM fighters is taking place at the LIMA 2017.
In Autumn 2016, the team received eight Su-30SM multirole fighter jets that were supplied by the manufacturer, the Irkut Corporation. Within a short term the pilots mastered a demonstration program with new aerobatic components that could be performed owing to the Su-30SM`s super-maneuverability. Four Su-30SM aircraft conduct demonstration flights at the LIMA 2017 show.
Previously, the ‘Russian Knights’ team (established in 1991) was flying single-seat Su-27 and twin-seat Su-27UB fighters. The pilots demonstrated their prowess piloting the aforementioned aircraft for many times at the LIMA exhibition in Malaysia.
‘Russian Knights’ is the first aerobatic team in the world flying heavy fighter jets that retain combat capabilities of serially produced aircraft.
“Su-30SM is an excellent aircraft, therefore, our demonstration program at the [LIMA 2017] exhibition will feature a lot of new solo flying components through the usage of the [fighters`] super-maneuverability,” the leading pilot of ‘Russian Knights’ Col. Andrey Alekseev told EDR.
The specific interest to the flights of Su-30SM at the exhibition is due to the fact that the fighter is the further development of the Su-30MKI and the Su-30MKM aircraft of India`s and Malaysia`s air forces, respectively.
Russia`s Ministry of Defense has been acquiring Su-30SMs for the Aerospace Forces (VKS) and the Naval Aviation since 2011. The state order for the Su-30SM fighters has exceeded 110 aircraft with over half of the planes already delivered to the services. According to Russian defense analysts, Su-30SM has become the most numerous Russia`s new fighter. The Russian military is planning to enhance the aircraft`s capabilities gradually through the medium of avionics upgrading and new weapons integrating.
Kazakhstan, the closest Russia`s partner in a regional military-political alliance, has been receiving Su-30SMs since 2015. Irkut also continues the export deliveries of Su-30MK fighters and supports the licensed production of these aircraft by India`s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) corporation.