IMDEX Asia 2023 Opens with Call to Enhance Regional Stability and Security

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Making a strong comeback this year is Singapore’s International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) Asia, Asia’s leading naval and maritime defence event following a pandemic-enforced hiatus of four years.

This edition marks the 13th iteration of the event as defence firms, navies and stakeholders from as far as Denmark, Italy and more converge on Changi Exhibition Centre in full force to display their latest products while navies discuss maritime concerns in the region.

Over 11,000 delegates hailing from sixty nations are attending the show with a record-breaking 250 companies participating in the exhibition.

Exhibiting at IMDEX Asia are some of the biggest names in the industry, such as returning exhibitors Dutch Damen Naval, Israeli Elbit Systems, RAFAEL and Israel Aerospace Industries, Italy’s Fincantieri and Leonardo, Germany’s Rheinmetall Defence, American firm Lockheed Martin, Singapore’s ST Engineering, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, France’s Thales, MBDA, Naval Group and more.

On top of that, a number of defence manufacturers will be making their IMDEX debut including Kongsberg Maritime. The country pavilions ranging from France, the Netherlands, Israel, newcomers Denmark, Italy and the United States are also highlighting firms that deal in autonomous and unmanned solutions.

Australia also makes its return to the show after a 10-year gap as host Singapore’s pavilion is the largest with 15 exhibitors.

Organised by Experia Events Pte Ltd, IMDEX Asia receives support from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and Singapore’s Exhibition and Convention Bureau.

Experia Managing Director, Leck Chet Lam spoke of the presence of diverse firms and countries singles out IMDEX Asia’s strategic position as a leading platform for the international naval and maritime defence industry as defence spending has steadily grown in the past half a decade.

Leck also added on their confidence of stakeholders convening to converse and take inspiration from emerging and technological advances which create momentum for changes in the industry. Many of the participating companies touch on sustainability and digitalisation as naval forces go green and explore the prospects of switching to biofuels, hybrid electrical technology to power their warships.

Meanwhile, digitalisation also takes centre stage as unmanned platforms such as drones and robots are featured heavily in contrast to previous editions. Many start-ups under the inaugural IMDEX Asia Innovation Challenge “What’s Next” are also present to gain exposure on the global stage and further develop and improve their products and solutions

Furthermore, 47 foreign delegations including 22 navy chiefs as well as coast guard directors along with heads of maritime law enforcement agencies gather for the 8th International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) and Maritime Information-Sharing Exercise.

Both are a series of exchanges co-organised by the RSN and RSIS from the 3rd to 5th of May that aim to facilitate mutual understanding and strategic discussions in the Asia Pacific region while simultaneously supplying navies and maritime agencies with the golden opportunity of reinforcing partnerships and work towards greater practical cooperation.

The exclusive conference focuses on Safe and Secure Seas: Emerging Stronger as a Maritime Community, and features a special session on Adapting Roles of our Community to Evolving Maritime Threats, and three panels on Impact of Geo-Political Developments on Maritime Security, Enhancing Peace and Stability to Emerge Stronger from Uncertainty and Cooperation and Collaboration in the Future Maritime Environment. 

Another integral part of IMDEX Asia is the much-anticipated Warships Display where 22 cutting-edge naval combat vessels from 13 countries are docked at RSS Singapura-Changi Naval Base (CNB) for visitors.

Highly advanced warships such as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) Mogami-class frigate JS Kumano, the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Anzac-class frigate HMAS Toowoomba, United States Navy’s (USN) Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS Mobile, the Royal Malaysian Navy’s (RMN) KD Lekiu of the Lekiu-class frigate, the Philippine Navy’s (PN) BRP Jose-Rizal-class frigate, BRP Antonio Luna, the Indian Navy’s Shivalik-class stealth frigate INS Satpura along with the Delhi-class destroyer lead vessel, INS Delhi are on display.

The display also features the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 054A Jiangkai II frigate, Yulin and minesweeper hunter Chibi that are coming off the bilateral naval drill—Exercise Maritime Cooperation 2023 with the RSN’s Formidable-class frigate RSS Intrepid and Bedok-class Mine Countermeasure Vessel (MCV) RSS Punggol.

Besides that, the Indonesian Navy dispatched three vessels including the Martadinata frigate KRI Gusti Ngurah Rai and KRI Dr. Radjiman Wedyodiningrat hospital ship, as the Vietnam People’s Navy’s (VPN) 015 Tran Hung Dao missile defence vessels are also taking part, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) sent Pattani-class patrol vessel HTMS Pattani alongside the Krabi-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Prachuap Khiri Khan, while the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) was represented by the Darussalam-class OPV KDB Darulehsan with the Italian Navy’s Paolo Thaon di Revel –class OPV ITS Francesco Morosini making its first ever appearance at IMDEX Asia.

Also participating are the RSN’s own Independence-class Littoral Mission Vessel (LMV) RSS Sovereignty, Formidable-class stealth frigate RSS Steadfast.

Opening IMDEX 2023 was Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, in which Dr Ng emphasised the importance of building up mutual understanding via platforms such as IMDEX Asia at a time of heightened tensions in a globally inter-linked world.

He reiterated further that IMDEX Asia serves as a bridge for the maintenance and possibly enhancement of regional security and stability, which is enough for government leaders and military leaders to attend as it is Dr Ng’s opinion that preventing a physical conflict in Asia within the next decade, if not longer should at the top of the list of all government leaders.

Accompanying Dr Ng on a tour of the halls of IMDEX were Senior Ministers of State for Defence Heng Chee How and Zaqy Mohammad, where both Senior Ministers also visited start-ups partaking in the exhibition and are also slated to visit the warships on display along with newly-promoted Chief of Defence Force (CDF), RAdm Aaron Beng, previously the Chief of Navy (CNV) and the first naval officer to take helm of the Singapore Armed Force’s (SAF) top job. –adj/dl (Pix: Singapore Mindef)