LANGKAWI, Malaysia, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The 14th Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) kicked off on Tuesday, as major defense companies are striving to take a bigger share of the increasing Asian defense market.
Malaysia's Ministry of Defense said 555 exhibitors from 36 countries and regions took part in the five-day exhibition, covering an area of 119,209 square meters, the biggest scale so far. The ministry hopes to attract 40,000 trade visitors and more than 140,000 public visitors.
In total, 101 aircrafts will take part in static display and aerial display, in which aerobatic teams from Russia and South Korea will also put on fabulous airshows. Sixty-one maritime assets, including guided-missile frigates and submarines, also joined the exhibition.
Major defense companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin from the United States, Saab from Sweden and Dassault from France, came to the show with the intention of taking the first mover advantage if Malaysia replaces the MiG-29 fighter jets in its air force with a new model, a plan announced two years ago but is yet to be materialized.
In a keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said defense expenditure is likely to continue to rise in the region, "given the traditional and non-traditional threats facing this region and beyond."
According to Najib, Malaysia has allocated a total of 26 billion ringgit under the 11th Malaysian Plan (2016-2020) to cover defense, public order and enforcement.
It is also the first year for LIMA to have Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) on display, which include MQ-1 Predator, MQ-8 Fire Scout, Thales Fulmar Mini-UAV, Saab AUV 62AT and the TBN UAV from Ukraine.