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Asia's Biggest Air Show Set To Open in Singapore

February 9, 2016 (Photo Credit: Tech. Sgt. Chrissy Best/US Air Force)

TAIPEI — Asia's biggest commercial aerospace and defense air show, set to open Feb. 16 at Singapore's Changi Exhibition Centre, will feature air power displays from across Asia, North America and Europe.

Lockheed Martin will promote its F-35 stealth fighter and F-16 midlife upgrade (MLU) program. South Korea, Taiwan and, more recently, Singapore have awarded Lockheed MLU orders, which include Northrop Grumman's scalable agile beam radar (SABR). The SABR is an active electronically scanned array radar.

AgustaWestland-Finmeccanica will display its Project Zero tilt-rotor technology demonstrator. First unveiled at the 2013 Paris Air Show, the electric-powered aircraft can hover like a helicopter and convert to a fixed-wing aircraft for forward flight.

Defense News asked air show officials about potential competition from Seoul ADEX and Airshow China (Zhuhai), both rising stars in defense air shows in Asia.

Singapore Airshow officials insist their show continues to be Asia’s largest and one of the most important aerospace and defense exhibitions in the world.

“Industry analysts project positive growth in both the aerospace defense and commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.” By 2018, defense budgets across the Asia-Pacific are expected to grow by over 19 percent to about $612 billion, officials said. 

“Rapidly developing Asia-Pacific nations increasingly place the budget emphasis on procurement and research and development, shaping the region as a key defense market and a domain in defense technology, innovation and defense technology.”

Unlike other Asian air shows, Singapore will feature a wide selection of military aircraft from both the West and East, including the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, fourth-generation F-16 and F-15 fighters, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, C-17 Globemaster III, AH-64D Apache attack helicopter, South Korea’s Black Eagles' T-50B aircraft, Dassault Rafale fighter, and Malaysian-operated Su-30MKM fighter.

“We are actively engaging our partners, including Airbus, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer, in order to secure the best possible line-up of aircraft for display at the airshow,” an air show news release read. “Visitors can expect an extensive line-up of aircraft ranging from business jets, commercial jets, military aircraft and transport planes, to military and commercial helicopters as well as unmanned aerial vehicles."

UAVs will include the Israeli-built Hermes 450 and Heron 1, with expected displays of UAVs and UAV support systems from AeroVironment, Asian Aerospace Conglomerate, China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC), General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Insitu Pacific, Northrop Grumman, SCHIEBEL, ST Engineering, UAV Factory Ltd., and Unmanned Integrated Systems.

Chinese companies, including CATIC, will draw a great deal of attention as many Western analysts identify Beijing’s military modernization efforts and maritime expansionism in the South China Sea as drivers for regional military procurement and new requirements.

CATIC will once again have a chalet and a booth this year, but overall there will be fewer Chinese defense companies with their own booths. CATIC is a Chinese state-owned company that manages export sales of aviation defense and commercial products. It is not unlike Russia’s Rosoboronexport and operates under the Aviation Industry Corp. of China, which builds a wide range of fighters, helicopters, components and systems.

Chinese-related companies attending this year include Dornier Seawings, which is a new joint venture between German-based Dornier, and two unidentified state-owned Chinese enterprises in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China. They will be exhibiting the amphibious, multirole Seastar aircraft capable of coastal surveillance, patrolling, emergency medical services, search and rescue, drug interdiction, and disaster relief. There has been increased interest in China for amphibious aircraft due to Beijing’s expansion in the South China Sea.

Defense News will be sending a team to cover the air show, including Naval Warfare Reporter Chris Cavas, European Editor Andrew Chuter, Asia Bureau Chief Wendell Minnick and Vice President/General Manager Katie Taplett.

Organized and managed by Experia Events, the air show is also a platform for high-level conferences dedicated to leading players in the global aviation industry, featuring the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit, as well as co-located events, such as the A*STAR Aerospace Technology Leadership Forum and the Singapore Aerospace Technology and Engineering Conference.

The Singapore Airshow has an obsessive history with security, and once again this year banned items for visitors, including brass knuckles, spear guns, walking sticks with a concealed dagger, industrial acid, Kung-Fu nanchakus and machetes. A more extensive list can be found on the air show’s website.


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