$108 Billion Market Predicted for Asia-Pacific Over 10 Years
By WENDELL MINNICK, SINGAPORE
The sixth biannual International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) attracted a record 22 vessels from 14 countries that opened their gangplanks to visitors at Changi Naval Base, while more than 135 exhibitors from 21 countries displayed their wares and services during the May 15-18 show at the Singapore Expo Centre.
During the opening ceremony, Ng Hen, minister for manpower and second minister for defense, pointed to maritime security challenges in the Singapore and Malacca straits from terrorism and piracy, which require a strong and coordinated response from regional navies.
“The straits of Malacca and Singapore alone carry 30 percent of the world’s trade and half its oil,” he said. “These are the arteries that connect the economies of Asia with those of Europe and the Middle East. Southeast Asia is also a critical battleground in the fight against terrorism.
“As an active partner of the international collaboration to promote maritime security in the region, Singapore is also setting up the Changi Command and Control [C2] Centre. Expected to be operational in 2009, the Changi C2 Centre will house the Singapore Maritime Security Centre, the Information Fusion Centre and the Multinational Operations and Exercises Centre.”
Many companies showed off maritime unmanned vehicles for port and ship defense. U.K.-based QinetiQ’s Winfrith Technology Centre displayed its new Sentry unmanned fast reconnaissance craft. Driven by waterjet, the Sentry can carry a variety of payloads. With a microwave data link and stabilized day/night high-resolution cameras, the Sentry is being looked at by Singapore, said Sarah Kenny, QinetiQ’s sea systems sales director.
QinetiQ produces an unmanned fast harbor patrol craft that is also equipped with a microwave data link and day/night cameras.
Israel-based Elbit Systems showed off its latest unmanned prototype, the Silver Marlin, which is armed with a stabilized remote-controlled 7.62mm gun, satellite communication system, day/night optical system and an obstacle-avoidance sensor.
The Silver Marlin has a top speed of 45 knots and a range of 500 nautical miles. Elbit also produces the unarmed Stingray and Sentinel unmanned vessels. Singapore is seen as a potential customer for port security.
Forecasts of Ships and Subs
Pietr Lindahl, an expert in U.S.-China relations and vice president for government programs at AMI International Naval Analysts & Advisors, Bremerton, Wash., pointed to a huge shipbuilding surge expected in the Asia and Australia regions in the next 10 years, totaling 841 vessels ranging from submarines to destroyers.
“Those vessels will equate to over $108 billion, of which $5 billion will be spent on combat systems: 82 submarines will be built over that period, 83 amphibious vessels, 82 frigates, 122 fast attack craft and 32 destroyers,” Lindahl said.
He said a total of $24 billion would be spent by 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region to acquire 151 vessels with anti-submarine warfare capabilities to deal with the growing submarine threat.
“Eighteen submarine construction programs are under way to build 83 submarines, which are being acquired by nine countries in Asia,” said Roger Marriott, co-chairman and managing director of IMDEX Asia Ltd.
“It is anticipated that China will have the largest new-build program for submarines. Other countries pursuing submarine programs are South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Taiwan. The submarine-building program alone is expected to be worth $29 billion.”
Sub Rescue Vessel, Trainer
Singapore Technologies (ST) Marine revealed the design for its new submarine support and rescue vessel (SSRV), being co-developed with U.K.-based James Fisher Defence.
“ST Marine has developed the SSRV as a versatile platform to meet the requirements of the Republic of Singapore Navy,” said an ST Marine statement. The ship will have “dynamic positioning capability and an A-frame for launch and recovery of the submarine rescue vehicle (SRV).”
ST Engineering also revealed its new aquaSIM Poseidon naval tactics and warfare trainer.
“The trainer simulates wartime scenarios with realism for train-ees to plan, fight and evaluate decisions made. When linked with other trainers, this sophisticated system allows commanders and their teams to train together and interact freely in a highly realistic virtual environment,” said an ST Engineering statement.
IMDEX in Doha
Richard Loh, director of the Qatar MICE Development Institute (QMDI), announced the creation of the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX), to be held March 17-19 at the Qatar International Exhibition Center in Doha.
DIMDEX will cover maritime defense in the Middle East and North African regions and will be the first maritime exhibition of its kind there, he said.
“Over the next 10 years, more than 350 vessels will be procured by 18 countries in the Middle East and the North African region, representing approximately $17 billion in market size and value,” Loh said in a statement.