Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Interest in 'Eye-in-Sky' Programmes

WHEN the curtains go up at this year's edition of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition (Lima '13) today, Datuk Seri Najib Razak will likely be reflecting on one thing in particular.

Events in Lahad Datu must surely underscore the value of having a show such as Lima, as well as the Defence Services Asia exhibition, in the region.
After Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, credited as the man whose brainchild was the Lima series of exhibitions, Najib is known as the biggest supporter of the biennial show. The prime minister values exhibitions such as Lima and DSA as a catalyst for dialogue between Malaysian and foreign companies.
On the back of the incursion by armed gunmen in Sabah, interest from the government in force multipliers, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, surveillance and command and control systems, has ramped up. There's a renewed interest in security systems and "eye-in-the-sky" programmes to ensure the safety and security of the East Malaysia Safe Zone.
Companies making such systems are here in force, as are those interested in bidding for Malaysia's multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) replacement programme. This programme, according to industry and ministry insiders, is a little further along the priority list.
Apart from this, the show is all set to dazzle as usual, with a small surprise for media members. At the very last minute, the Russian Knights aerobatic team confirmed participation for the air show segment of Lima '13, something that had not been publicised.

Flying distinctively liveried Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers (the predecessor of the Su-30MKM Flanker the Royal Malaysian Air Force operates), the Knights have not been back in Langkawi since the 1995 edition of Lima.
On Dec 12 that year, while the Flankers were on their way back to Russia from Langkawi, three of the five aircraft crashed into a mountainside while approaching Cam Ranh airfield in Vietnam in adverse weather.
Joining the Knights on aerial display will be the Jupiter aerobatics team from Tentera Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Udara, flying seven Korean Aerospace Industry KT-1B turboprop planes. This is the team's first appearance at Lima.

Malaysia's own Krisakti aerobatics team, flying the Extra 300L turboprop, will also put on an aerial display, as are the RMAF's Flankers and MiG-29N Fulcrums.
MRCA replacement programme hopefuls -- the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Aviation Rafale, Saab Gripen and Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet -- will impress again, while the massive C-17 Globemaster jet transport, with its short take-off and landing and reversing abilities, is set to wow the crowds in Langkawi for the second time.
These aircraft will also be on static display, joined by a range of helicopters and aircraft from the RMAF, Royal Malaysian Navy, Army Air Wing, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Fire and Rescue Department, Department of Civil Aviation, police air wing, United States Navy Seventh Fleet, Royal Australian Air Force, Republic of Singapore Air Force, Russian Air Force, AgustaWest-land and Bell Helicopters, among others.
On the maritime side, the RMN and MMEA make up the bulk of the 63 boats and ships being exhibited, with the former having 14 such vessels, and the latter showing 29.
Leading the way is the navy's Scorpene submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Other Malaysian companies are also here with their vessels, with the foreign contingent comprising naval vessels from Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Russia, Bangla-desh, Brunei, Myanmar and Indonesia. Russia and Myanmar are appearing for the first time in the maritime segment of the show.
Arguably the most famous of these vessels is the Russian Navy's Marshal Shaposhnikov, a destroyer which was involved in an operation off the coast of Somalia in May 2010 to rescue a Russian tanker hijacked by Somali pirates. In the operation, the crew detained 10 pirates and killed another.

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