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Honeywell Aerospace Sees Opportunities Everywhere In Asia

May 12, 2019

Via Wikimedia Commons.

This year’s Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace exhibition (LIMA 2019) in Malaysia upheld its reputation as the region’s most significant airshow. Although no major deals were announced the number of participants and the varied hardware put on display reinforced the host country’s position as a hub for the global aerospace industry. A significant presence at LIMA 2019 were American companies eager to maintain their corner of the market, which is quite large with so many local air forces dependent on US-made airframes.

Honeywell Aerospace reached out to 21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) for a discussion about its strategy in the Asia-Pacific.

According to Tim Van Luven, the vice president for aftermarket sales, Honeywell is still well-positioned for upgrading C-130 Hercules medium transports that are flown by six air forces in Southeast Asia. There are seven specific avionic products Honeywell offers for enhancing the C-130 including the JetWave satellite communications system powered by the Immarsat Global Xpress network that allows video conferencing and file transfers for the flight crew.

Van Luven emphasized Honeywell Aerospace’s commitment to the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) inventory that encompasses F/A-18 Hornet fighters and other US-made models. Without any major procurement efforts announced this decade, the outlook on the RMAF is maintaining its diverse air fleet. “[We] are constantly looking for ways to work with the RMAF in sustaining their aging defense platforms,” he told 21AAR. Van Luven described this approach as “RMU” or repair, modernization, and upgrade. “Through RMU solutions aircraft platform life can be extended to ensure optimal operational performance,” Van Luven said. “Therefore, defense forces can continue to meet evolving mission requirements in a cost-effective way.”

“We also use our industry expertise to provide Malaysian companies with strategic advice and support,” he said. Van Luven also shared that Honeywell Aerospace is still discussing a potential modernization for the RMAF’s F/A-18 Hornet squadron. In the medium-term, Van Luven sees connectivity as the next benchmark for ASEAN militaries and their branches. Connectivity is a broad term describing how large organizations that undertake complex tasks need better technology to monitor and organize their assets, whether it’s an offshore oil and gas enterprise, a busy international airport, or a navy tasked with defending maritime territory.

“Malaysia, for example, is looking to combine their army, air force, and navy into a Joint Special Operations Command to take on duties related to national and strategic interest,” Van Luven explained. “With connectivity, these individual units will be able to better centralize their
command structure and pull the different aspects of their specialization together, Honeywell is ready to support their requirements with our C5ISR capabilities,” he said.

The RMAF is a very capable branch with an estimated 15,000 personnel. Although its fixed wing combat aircraft inventory is smaller in size compared to Indonesia and Singapore, the RMAF does boast a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets and another squadron of Russian-made Su-30MKM’s. Augmenting these multirole fighters are additional squadrons of British-made Hawk trainers and US-made  F-5E/F Tigers. The token squadron of MiG-29’s bought from Russia is still in limbo, with no replacements confirmed. When it comes to logistics, the RMAF maintain four A-400M heavy transports and 10 C-130H medium transports. Malaysia’s annual military spending is a modest 1% of nominal GDP, or $3.5 billion in 2018.

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