Tuesday, December 15, 2009

LIMA ’09

blogtunm.blogspot.com Tun M 
1. This year’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition is not as big as the previous ones. This is to be expected as the countries that produce aircrafts and warplanes are going through financial and economic crisis. All international air shows are not as well represented as before. But for such a period of recession the turnout at LIMA in terms of exhibitors, airplanes and ships is still quite impressive.

2. But what is worthy of note at this LIMA is the progress of Malaysia’s own aerospace industries. This took up almost one-third of the space and the exhibits were reflective of their progress and sophistication. Malaysian companies now design and produce electronic command and control systems. They proudly exhibit their capabilities in the production and servicing of sophisticated aircraft components and mastery of aviation electronics.

3. There were quite a number exhibiting UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). These remote-control airplanes come in many sizes. They can be used for aerial photography and target location and even for aggressive attacks against the enemy.

4. The first Malaysian submarine, KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, was also on show. I had more than an hour briefing on the different functions and features of the submarine.

5. Of all the fighting crafts I have seen the submarine is easily the most complex. It has scores of monitors and TV screens to inform the operators of what is happening in every part of the craft. There were wires and tubes everywhere. All of them I am told are crucial to the operation of the vessel, on the surface, at periscope depths and underwater.

6. Because of the small space available everything is cramped and overlap each other. I wondered whether the crew can identify all these wires, tubes and equipments and locate where they head to. The commander assured me that they could. They have learnt to locate things in the dark even in case of electricity failure.

7. I noted that all the parts bear scientific names. All the manuals on operation and emergency measures were in English and French.

8. The sleeping bunks are tiny. Once in bed the crew can hardly raise their heads. It was claustrophobic and I don’t think I can survive in that environment. But the boat sailed all the way from France to Malaysia without mishap. The crew do not seem to suffer from anything serious.

9. A group of MPs including from the opposition also visited the submarine and they were as impressed as I was.

10. I remember the first navy vessels of the Royal Malaysian Navy, which I visited in 1958 when they sailed right up to Alor Star. They were wooden boats, rather small and armed with a small gun. A friend laughed when I told him about my visit. We have come a long way since then and the Royal Malaysian Navy is now as modern a force as any other country.

11. I would have liked not buying the submarine. I don’t think we would be going to war. But the neighbours have bought submarines and our navy would feel rather inadequate if they don’t have at least two of these very costly vessels.

12. Altogether I would consider the 9th LIMA a success. Apart from the displays LIMA has helped initiate and stimulate Malaysia’s aerospace industry.
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