LIMA expo opens with exhibitors looking to surge in regional naval requirements

Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan opened the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2023 (LIMA 23) on Tuesday. The event is being held for the first time in four years, due to delays caused by the COVID pandemic.

During a press briefing on Monday, this author asked the Defence Minister if acquiring joint operating capability for the Malaysian defence forces was an issue that his Defence Ministry was addressing. He replied saying that exercises conducted through the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) – between the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand – were helping his department to identify what was needed in terms of priority.

Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan
Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

Exhibitors and attendees alike were talking of a regional intent for a variety of nations to build-up national maritime capability and modernise existing fleets, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Malaysia is generally in the process of modernising its forces and although jointly sponsored by the Ministries of Transport and Defence, the majority of the exhibiting companies were from the defence industry, particularly the maritime sector.

Exhibitors here included Fincantieri announcing its FCX30 series corvette into the Asian region. The FCX30 will be available in three configurations: baseline, multi-purpose and full configuration. It has been built for lean crew operation, although the technology will ultimately be under the control of mission specialists, and to have modularity so that it can be upgraded and modernised when required.

One of Leonardo’s main themes during the show was to explain the utility of its modular fully integrated combat systems that can be installed in its Multi-purpose Offshore Patrol Vessel (PPA).

The Italian Navy’s Francesco Morosini is one of the naval vessels attending LIMA 23, being berthed at the maritime site not for from the main LIMA expo site at the airport. The Francesco Morosini is designed for dual-use missions and is equipped with several latest-generation Leonardo systems, including the ATHENA MK2, a new generation two-man naval cockpit, as well as a new electro-optical DSS-IRST (Distributed Static Staring-InfraRed Search and Tracking System), which is designed to help protect the vessel from multiple littoral and Blue Water threats.

Marco Melani, vice president Electronics Marketing and Sales Far East, said that the composition of Leonardo (through a variety of acquisitions over the years) is in a prime position to offer both sensors and weapons systems, managed by a combat management system. “Any customer can rely on one single supplier for a complete combat system,” he said. Commenting on the company’s presence at LIMA, he said that the region “is rich in opportunities” for companies offering products in the maritime sector.

LIMA is being held from Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia.

by Andrew Drwiega