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Global Arms Manufacturers Converge In DSA 2016

April 19, 2016

Malaysia PWTC in KL

The 15th Defense and Security Asia 2016 is expected to draw more than 30,000 visitors throughout its four-day duration. DSA 2016 is held every two years and is Malaysia’s other successful showcase for the global arms industry after LIMA. This year’s DSA is being held at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur from April 18 to 21, from Monday until Thursday.

Show hours are from 10am until 6pm for the first three days. On the 21st, the last day, the venue opens at the usual 10am but ends earlier at 5pm to allow booth disassembly. At least five separate conferences are scheduled to take place on site or in adjacent venues. Access to DSA 2016 is reserved for Malaysian royalty, foreign delegates, government ministers and employees, conference speakers, along with “defense professionals” who are either exhibiting or attending for business reasons.

21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner for DSA 2016.

Par for the course among trade shows is having VIPs arrive with the media in tow. So DSA 2016 launched on April 18 with an official ceremony attended by Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

DSA 2016’s organizers boast they’re the fifth largest tri-service–land, air, and maritime–arms show in the world today. The numbers back up the claim and 1,200 companies from 60 countries are exhibiting across seven halls and 41,000 square meters of space at DSA 2016.

Exhibitor groups are clustered into 29 national pavilions and this year features a token presence among bit players from Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Denmark, India, Iran, Hong Kong, Monaco, Montenegro, the Philippines, and Switzerland.

Major participants from Europe and North America are out in force. These include the usual giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, Textron, BAE Systems, Thales, and Finmeccanica. Russia and China are also well-represented with the latter having at least a dozen exhibitors. Malaysia, after all, is a customer for Chinese-made missile systems for its ground forces and navy.

Given the distinct absence of any firms from Israel, whose defense contractors are an indelible presence across global arms shows, DSA manages to remain inclusive for everyone else. The understated highlight for DSA 2016, given the sheer volume of exhibitors and potential deals, is the strong showing among ASEAN defense contractors from the homeland, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore along with nascent exporters from Turkey, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Even with a smaller budget for 2016 the $4 billion dollars allocated to the Malaysian Armed Forces should cover a range of acquisitions, from offshore warships to air defense systems and armored vehicle upgrades. Yet Malaysia’s big ticket acquisition for multirole aircraft remains in limbo.