The first Philippine defence and security conference and expo opened today despite Typhoon Glenda's destruction, which did not dampen anyone's mood or diminish their resolve. Rather, the national emergency in the form of this violent storm and the joint civil and military resilient response underscored what this event was all about: The mighty spirit of the Philippine people and their ability (with the right equipment and technology) to overcome any challenge together.
The event was opened by the Secretary of Defence Voltaire Gazmin
, who said this event provides "...additional vibrancy to the Philippine economy as the organizers have created genuine opportunities for our domestic companies to establish business linkages with participating international exhibitors (sic)
." Secretary Gazmin was followed by an invocation of prayer by the top military chaplain, reminding one of the strong Christian heritage here. This was followed by Andrew Marriott, managing director of ASIA PAC EXPO the organisers of ADAS, who framed up very succinctly and clearly why this event was taking place now and it's relevance to regional peace, stability and prosperity. Marriott cited the Philippines’ improved economic situation as among the reasons behind their decision to launch ADAS on top of the government’s commitment to pursue the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act.
His remarks were followed by a spirited address from President Benigno Aquino III, who - among other things - provided an impressive list of items the Philippines was buying this year as part of the budgeted Modernisation Programme. (See next installment for his speech and military hardware shopping list.)
He praised the efforts and sacrifices made by the men and women of the Philippines' national services: the armed forces, emergency management and transportation agencies who - like the military - perform a range of duties to help those in distress and need, especially natural disasters.
The AFP Modernization Act is in the first five-year phase of activity and significant progress has already been made since its enactment with the government’s recent acquisition of various aircraft, naval vessels, helicopters, and armored vehicles.
To paraphrase the official line of the Philippine government, the ADAS organizers have "brought in" products, solutions and services for evaluation to determine if they meet the specific requirements of the concerned government agencies represented at ADAS - ironically, all are involved in some way with the recent response to the typhoon's damage. one of the main facts brought to light by ADAS is that the Philippine government is a potential growth market for international defense, security, and crisis management industries and products...indigenous and foreign.
The ADAS exhibition hosts 130 companies from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, Brazil, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, and Belarus, among others from the region. It is a healthy mix of companies serving the forces of air, cyber, land and sea warfare spectrum.
Overview: Main Themes
If we ignore the conference Programme for just a moment, which I suggest we do for only a moment, then we can review the exhibitors' offerings and see exactly what is important to the Philippine armed forces. ADAS has effectively matched requirement to exhibitor.
Helicopters & Fixed wing turbo-prop
The work horse of the Philippine defence forces is still the helicopter. They have at least 25 old Huey's that could be modernised to a "Huey Two" level extending the life of this airframe at least another 10 years for around 10% of the cost of replacing them with new helicopters. Sources say that the Philippine government has about 80 more moth-balled Huey's of which about 60 per cent could be rehabilitated and modernised. This would be a suitable option to fulfill the AFP's requirements. Otherwise, AgustaWestland
- which just sold a number of 412s to the AFP, Airbus Helicopter
- which has more than 50% of the civil market there - and Sikorsky
are all ready to sell their latest multi-mission rotor airframes and technologies to the AFP...this includes Beechcraft
for a fixed wing air frame that resembles a WWII Mustang or Spitfire, but very, very effective. Their main competitor at ADAS is a Czech aerospace company, LET
, which has been manufacturing a high standard of fixed-wing prop aircraft for nearly 100 years. The post-Soviet era in the Czech Republic has given way to a renaissance for their defence and security industry - one that increasingly is a significant rival to that of Poland. A company out of Oklahoma City, ARINC Aerospace
, works closely with governments thought North America and Asia for jet transport (eg KC 110) and helicopter (eg Mi17) integration, maintenance and upgrades.
Jet Fighter Aircraft
Korea Aerospace Industries
) had a magnificent display of its Golden EAGLE. Saab
is hoping that it's successes in Thailand with the GRIPEN will yield another satisfied Asian customer in the Philippines, where US fighter craft - and any other defence products - dominate the AFP "supply cupboard." Saab's Bangkok-based Market Area Asia office feels very confident about the GRIPEN's suitability for the Philippine armed forces that they recently hired a former GRIPEN pilot to work in "BKK" and introduce the airframes virtues to this neighbour of satisfied GRIPEN Customer Thailand.
Counter Terror / CBRN
According to Gwynn Winfield, CBRNe editor and pundit, this focus will remain a priority in the Philippines as long as it has insurgent threats throughout the vast archipelago nation. This certainly explains the interest of Avon
, Bruker Daltonics
, and even water purification company Maep
in the AFP. Emergent bio solutions, which recently acquired RSD Decon, is finding the Asian market particularly profitable. They committed to having a full-time, very experienced team of professionals based in Manila for some time, led by a former US DEA-agent with a speciality in dangerous materials in the Asia-PAC region. He is finding that the "decon" paradigm that focuses on powders is changing, and decision makers and practitioners are accepting their solution as the decon paradigm with the greatest efficacy and cost effectiveness.
Beyond the CBRN, PPE includes body armour. MKU
displayed its line of helmets, etc. while Australia's BondStrong
demonstrated how they are able to bond ballistic protection fibres together, forming a better level of protection. DuPont
, innovators and manufacturers of Kevlar is reasserting itself in the Philipines with a massive stand, as everyone from AuTx-Kaminskvolokno
, DSM Dynema
, and others bring lighter and stronger materials to this market...but, DuPont is the only "yarn" manufacturer to invest in ADAS attendance. Who do you think will win this race?
Radios, boots, garments, knives, SCBA, decontamination, firearms, BMS, etc. There were a fair number of APPROVED or OFFICIAL resellers as well as OEMs for soldier equipment. Canada's NewCon Optik
, which uses Russian Gen III night vision tubes, joined FLIR Systems
and others to show what is available for the AFP. Greece's Theon Sensors
was showcasing their own line of night vision devices which range from clip-ons to binoculars with 4x and 6x magnification. They have supplied more than a dozen military and police organisations in addition to the Greek Army. The also have a well-established Theon Far East Pte. Ltd. office based in Singapore.
's rifles and pistols and Trijicon
's sights were delayed in customs, MKEK
from Turkey and David's Stone
's exclusive partner in the Philippines) where able to show off their fire power. As of the first day, Trijicon's and Remington did a stellar job talking attendees and delegates through their offering. CZ made an excellent workshop presentation on their "new" P-09 pistol, a step up from the earlier successful P-07(which has been upgraded to a "Mark II" version, putting it almost on par with the P-09). They also had a queue the length of the exposition hall of punters lining up to receive their own personally autographed poster with the latest "Guardian Angel" pin-up girl. Take the public's mind off of what they want and refocus it on something else they want, while feeling they've seen what they originally came to see. Genius! (...really!)
and Dynamit Nobel
were showcasing their various anti-tank / structure weapons at their respective stands. Saab also brought a large complement of other wares including the 9LV, GBAD radar, and ceramic pellet-based armour (a result of their purchase of Protaurius in early 2013). Oddly, Shenzhen-based Hytera Communications
(mostly radios for "blue light" services) has a Manila-based office. Giant Rohde & Schwarz
(Philippine office in Manila's Makati City) was certain to make sure that the AFP Modernisation Programme does not forget about them. UK-based Easat Antennas is keen to make a substantial footprint in the Philippines, which it feels has the best model to help make their AFP's communications more reliable.
Radar, Sensors & EW
Belarus's Radar Design Bureau
made an appearance to show-off their full range of sea and land based radar solutions. Noting Saab's radars from above, one could also find Sea GIRAFFE on North Sea Boats famous sleek, stealth X3K trimaran.
North Sea Boats
was joined by Hyundai Heavy Industry
, who would be "Happy as Larry" to sell a few boats to the Philippines, which - in the case of Navantia - includes submarines.
Finally, there is PROPMECH
... From installing Caterpillar propulsion systems to designing crafts to refurbishing second-hand boats, this Philippines-based company offers a complete range of services for every kind of vessel. Their literature states that they "...make certain every ship is reliable and ready for the challenges it'll face." This means that they can rebuild Caterpillar engines as well, extending the lifetime of a vessel's power train.
All-in-all it has been an intense first day that successfully combined the first two days of this significant conference and exposition. Heard on the floor: "It's too bad about the weather; but, today has really made coming all this way worthwhile
...I have to agree.