LIMA 2023, A Preview

The LCS major equipment detailed by RMN in 2016. RMN graphic

SHAH ALAM: LIMA 2023, a Preview. LIMA 2023, the 16th edition of the maritime and aerospace show held in Langkawi, starts tomorrow (May 23, 2023). Defence Minister DSU Mohamad Hasan and Transport Minister Anthony Loke is scheduled to open the show later tonight. Both will also grace the opening ceremonies – the aerospace segment at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) – located adjacent the Langkawi airport, tomorrow, May 23. They will then head to the maritime segment held at Resort World Langkawi, located some 12km south-western of the airport, for the demonstrations there.

This will be the second time Loke co-opening the LIMA series exhibition as he did it the first time in 2019 when it decided that the Defence and Transport ministries will be co-hosting the show. It will be the first time for Mohamad though.

Prime Minister DS Anwar Ibrahim is expected to be at LIMA 2023 only in the afternoon of May 23. He is scheduled to answer some questions in Parliament in the morning as the latest session starts today. I wonder whether I will see him at this LIMA as the last time I saw him at the exhibition was back in 1997. This was about one year before he was sacked by the-then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

MIEC has been the venue of the venue of the aerospace segment since 1995. The LIMA series started in 1991 at a temporary exhibition venue adjacent to the Langkawi airport. The site was developed into MIEC, which was used for the first time for LIMA in 1995.

Resort World Langkawi known previously as Awana Porto Malai has hosted the maritime segment since 1997. The maritime segment started in 1995 with the naval ships taking part berthed off the waters opposite the Langkawi airport and Langkasuka resort (built specifically for LIMA in 1993). It was decided then that when Awana Porto Malai (now known as Resorts World Langkawi) opened in 1995, it will be the venue of the maritime segment for future LIMA series. Awana Porto Malai was built to cater for cruise ships and high speed ferries from Penang and nearby Thailand.

ROKAF Black Eagles practising their demonstration routine ahead of LIMA 2023 opening on May 23. RMAF

Anyhow, what is expected to be the highlight at LIMA this year? The airshow and the warship display, some will claim. Typically for an airshow, it is what is signed either by the government or private sector, that will really matter. The displays are just the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, for LIMA (and even the DSA series), the government via the Defence Ministry had muddied the water by including contracts signed long before the show to boost the value of contracts signed at show. Malaysian Defence called it the LIMA shuffle. This is because unlike other airshows, no private companies had signed contracts at LIMA.
PLAAF August 1st air demonstration team practising for LIMA 2023. RMAF

For example, it is likely, the public contract signing of the MPA, FLIT/LCA and MALE UAS will be done at LIMA 2023 (traditionally on the third day). With this, the value of the deal done at LIMA 2023 will surpass the RM3.665 billion reported for LIMA 2019. I am guessing the value of the contracts this year will be as high as RM5 billion due to the inclusion of the three RMAF deals.
An Airbus EC725 likely from No. 10 Squadron showing its acoustic hailing device bought under Op Benteng UOR. RMAF

Anyhow, it is likely that the sixth supplementary contract for the LCS will be signed at LIMA 2023. As they had not released the details on the previous supplementary contracts, I am not sure what will transpire at LIMA. We will have to wait and see.

It is unlikely there will be a tender announcement for the LMS Batch II let alone a contract signing. Some details will come out though and I hoped to report on them. Other public contract signing may well be include the submarine maintenance deal as reported a few days ago.

There will also not be an announcement regarding the National Defence and Security Industry Policy at LIMA 2023 even though it was announced that it will be done at the airshow. Malaysian Defence was told the Cabinet had yet to approve the policy.

Apart from this, it is likely that contract signing for the Black Hawk helicopters for PUTD will be done at LIMA as reported. As for others, it will have to wait until the opening day.

— Malaysian Defence.

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Shah Alam


  1. Off topic

    Latest news is that USA has officially declined Thailand’s request to buy F-35A. Instead USA is proposing F-16V or F-15EX for Thailand.

    I am not surprised at this, as nobody in SEA except Singapore has been approved for F-35, and also with the current Thailand military close relationship with China.

    With this, I also believe that the F-35 will not be approved for Malaysia in the near future, and our best choice for our future MRCA is the KF-21 Block 2 with internal weapons carriage.

  2. … – “and also with the current Thailand military close relationship with China”

    A reason could well be Thailand’s current track record on issues such as democracy, human rights, etc. It was reported somewhere that Indonesia faced the same issue.

    Also, does Thailand have a “close” military relationship with China per see or a “long established” one and is it really a factor which led to the inability to get an export approval? You will note that Thailand has a closer military relationship.
    with the Yanks and as part of any agreement related to the F-35 or other things; Thailand would have to ensure that no 3rd parties have any access.

    … – “With this, I also believe that the F-35 will not be approved for Malaysia in the near future”

    As it stands there is nothing to indicate that Malaysia would be denied a sale if it made a request and agreed to adhere with the long list of pre conditions on issues regarding security and the technology. Coming to conclusions based on Thailand’s inability to get export approval is presumptuous and highly speculative.

    … – “I am not surprised at this, as nobody in SEA except Singapore has been approved for F-35”

    Quite often countries only get approved for things after they’ve made a formal request to acquire it …

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