Friday, November 27, 2009

LIMA 09: Range of aircraft promises an impressive air show

KUALA LUMPUR: The skies will be the "grounds" for regional solidarity during the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition 2009 next week.

This year's exhibition will also see the largest participation of Asean countries at the biennial event.

Royal Malaysian Air Force chief Gen Datuk Seri Rodzali Daud said the exhibition was a great platform to promote regional defence and security collaboration between Asean- member countries.

"This is as envisioned by our Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

"This will prove that Asia is capable of developing its defence industry on its own and not rely on Western countries," he said yesterday.

The Royal Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has agreed to send two high-tech aircraft -- an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet and an AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter -- for the exhibition's air show.

They will perform with three of the RMAF's Mig-29N Fulcrum and one Su-30MKM Flanker jets, and their new MB-339CM jet trainer, an F-111 Aardvark jet from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and a B-52 Stratofortress bomber from the United States Air Force (USAF).

All of which will make for an impressive air show, promised Rodzali.

He said the opening day on Dec 1 will be a grand tour-de-force of the four countries' aerial might, capped by a low fly-past by the more than 50-metre long B-52.

The RMAF will hold two air shows daily over the course of Lima, with a slightly different line-up of aircraft.

The massive Stratofortress will not take to the skies after the opening event.

It will be replaced with an RMAF PC-7 training plane and a Bombardier CL-415 amphibious plane from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The twice-daily air shows will last 30 minutes, with the first show starting at 10am and the second at 2.30pm.

More than 25 countries will take part in the static exhibition on the ground giving visitors a chance to get up close with at least 20 different military-grade aircraft.

The RMAF will, on Dec 2, receive a shipment of its new MB-339CM training jets from the builders, Alenia Aermacchi.

Rodzali said the large number of foreign participants this year was a high point for Lima, which is in its 10th instalment.

"This proves Lima is on par with other world-class exhibitions."

On participation of local aerospace industry players, Rodzali, who chairs the national Aerospace Working Group, acknowledged that the local industry hadn't grown to a level the RMAF was aiming for.

"The industry must be serious and invest heavily in research and development. With proper collaboration, we can achieve RMAF's target. We are working hard towards that."

Rodzali noted that Lima, as a premier exhibition ground for military aircraft, would also attract youths to join the air force.

*Taken from NST

*For LIMA website, click here

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