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Report on Asian Aerospace in Singapore.

Report on Asian Aerospace in Singapore

The fifth Asian Aerospace Show firmly established the biennial event as one of the world's key exhibitions. With 950 exhibitors, from 33 countries, the 1990 show boasted a 41% increase in industry participation compared with 1988. The number and quality of visitors increased in parallel.

The Singapore Aerospace


It is now acknowledged that Asia is the fastest growing market for the industrialised countries, be it for direct sales of sophisticated equipment and aircraft, for cooperative ventures, or for licence production of complete systems or subsystems.

Almost all the countries in the region are already capable of participating in joint ventures, while some have advanced beyond this point. Singapore itself is a shining example of what Asian nations are capable of achieving in the aerospace field.

By 1989 Singapore's aerospace industry had cumulative fixed asset investments of almost $600 million, compared to the previous year's $450 million. As an immediate result, the industry's output now stands close to $1 billion annually. Continued rapid growth is predicted for this decade. In essence, within the past 12 years the output - excluding Singapore Airlines - has increased almost twentyfold.

More than 20 local firms are either engaged in the manufacture of components or provide a comprehensive range of specialized aviation services for military and commercial aircraft. Some 25 firms are subsidiaries of or run joint ventures with leading foreign aerospace companies such as Aerospatiale, ATR, Bendix, Bell Helicopter, Ferranti, General Electric, Garrett, Pratt & Whitney, Sundstrand and Westinghouse, to name a few.

Of the local companies, Singapore Aerospace Industries (SA) and its subsidiaries SA Engineering, SA Systems and SA Engines are of specific interest to the military. SA Engineering produces high quality aerospace products, composite materials and engine components. It is engaged in the assembly of SIAI Marchetti 211 jet trainers for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), the conversion of former US Navy A-4 Skyhawks to TA 4S two-seat trainers and the installation of refuelling probes in A-4s of the RSAF.

The firm also specializes in refurbishment, structural repair, overhaul and upper echelon maintenance. It is assembling and/or constructing Aerospatiale Super-Puma, Dauphin and Ecureuil helicopters for commercial and military clients.

It was announced during this year's Show that SA is to participate, with Aerospatiale and CATIC of the PRC, in the development of a new 4-5 seat helicopter. Designated P120L, the new machine is planned to succeed the Gazelle and Lama series. Its first flight is scheduled for 1993.

The primary work of SA, however, is the re-engining of 52 A-4 Skyhawks of the Singapore Air Force with General Electric GE404-100D turbofans. The new power plant delivers 11000 lb of thrust, as compared to the original 8400 lb, and is more fuel-efficient. As a result of re-engining, the A-4 weighs 1000 lb less, has a 35% faster climb rate, a 40% increase in acceleration, a considerably enhanced turn rate and a 15% better dash speed. Overall, performance has been increased by more than 25%.

All RSAF Skyhawks are expected to have been converted by the end of 1991. It is hoped that after this date SA Engineering facilities will continue to be kept busy with re-engining some 30 Skyhawks of the Malaysian Air Force.

Malaysia's Airod

Singapore's northern neighbour Malaysia has a fledgeling aviation industry. Its main company Airod Sdn. Bhd., in a joint venture with Lockheed Aircraft Services International (LASI), specialises in depot level inspections, modifications, refurbishment and repair. It has customers throughout the Asian/Pacific region and is about to enter the African and Arab markets. It reportedly plans to buy and refurbish 30 A-4 Skyhawks from the US government from a batch of aircraft that had been reserved for the Malaysian Air Force. Airod would sell the modernized A-4s to foreign customers.

IPTN of Indonesia

Indonesia's IPTN Nurtanio is already a well-known firm in world markets. It was exhibiting as part of the country's Strategic Industries Group, which presented its wares and capabilities on 200 sq m of space. In collaboration with CASA of Spain, IPTN-Nurtanio produces the CN-235 and CN-212 transports, with Aerospatiale the Puma and with MBB the NBO-105 helicopters. Deliveries of IPTN-produced fixed wing aircraft and helicopters to both domestic and foreign customers has reached a total of approximately 250 machines, which have logged up a total of more than 600000 flight hours between them.

IPTN's Weapon System Division, established in 1981, produces the FFAR (Folding Fin Air-launched Rocket) under license from Forges de Zeebrugge of Belgium, and the wire-guided SUT (Surface Underwater Torpedo) under license from AEG of West Germany.

Other recent IPTN activities include an offset programme from General Dynamics for the manufacture of certain components of F-18 fighters. The first delivery of IPTN-produced F-16 components was made in December 1988.

In the near future IPTN will share in the production of communication satellites. This is to fulfill the cooperative agreement between IPTN and Hughes Aerospace Systems International (HASI) of the USA signed on June 27, 1988. IPTN is already involved in the production of the Indonesian communications satellite Palapa-C.

A cooperative agreement has also been signed with Dassault, under which IPTN will assist Dassault in marketing the Falcon aircraft. In return, Dassault will assist IPTN in marketing its locally designed and produced N-250, after certification in 1995. The N-250 turbo-prop aircraft is the most ambitious undertaking tackled by IPTN so far. Its design philosophy allies high-tech (in the form of extensive use of advanced structural materials) with low cost by the application of simple construction principles. Special care has been taken to give the fuselage the greatest possible cabin width for passenger comfort. It is laid out as a pressurized 50-seater. Its maximum take-off weight will be around 46000 lb, and maximum range 1100 nautical miles. Two Indonesian regional carriers have already placed options for 127 aircraft.

The N-250 is also intended for use in the Maritime Patrol Aircraft role and IPTN seems assured of a wide market for it. Roll-out is scheduled this year, certification in 1994 and service entry in 1996.

Indian Defense and Aerospace


India occupied a large section of one hall where the country's manufacturers exhibited their capabilities in design and production of aircraft, electronics, missiles, warships and main battletanks, under the label of Indian Defense Industries.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is India's premier aerospace industry. The growth of HAL is synonymous with the growth of aviation, thus making it the only vertically integrated aerospace organisation in South-East Asia. HAL's capabilities encompass a broad spectrum of products, varying from aircraft manufactured under license to those which are indigenously designed, developed and manufactured. Aircraft built under license include the Prentice, Vampire, Gnat, MiG 21 series, Jaguar, MiG 27M, Dornier 228, Chetak and Cheetah (original name Alouette III and Lama) helicopters, etc. The aircraft manufactured to indigenous design include HT 2, Pushpak, Krishak, Kiran Mk II, HF 24, Basant, Ajeet, HPT 32 and HTT 34, etc.

HAL has an excellent design and development division which is currently engaged in the joint development and manufacture of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) with MBB of the West Germany and of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) under the aegis of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of India.

Of particular interest is the planning for the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft), which will be the first completely indigenously designed combat aircraft since the half-hearted attempt to produce the HF 24 fighter bomber in the 1960s. Nothing has been published about the aircraft on the official level, but after discussing the LCA with industry at the show, it seems that the program is a very ambitious national undertaking involving several imported, but also locally developed, advanced technologies.

The LCA has been conceived as a lightweight, delta-wing, Mach-2 fighter with STOL properties. It will be a control-configured vehicle, employ a four-channel fly-by-wire system, have digital avionics and feature a distributed survivable computer system linking all functions of the aircraft and engine. Wherever possible, use of advanced composite materials is envisioned. The prototypes will be powered by a single General Electric GE404-F2J3 afterburning turbofan, but series manufactured aircraft are due to be fitted with the Indian-designed and built CT 35VS engine.

The multi-role LCA is said to have a take-off weight of anywhere between 10000 and 18000 kg. As a fighter bomber it can carry a maximum weapon load of 4000 kg on seven stations. No information was available about the combat radius or armament. It was rumoured that in the second half of the '90s about 200 LCAs are scheduled to be built to replace the Indian Air Force's MIG-21s and -23s. On the whole, India's exhibit was designed to show indigenously developed and manufactured hardware and expertise at all levels of the defense industry, and to demonstrate the equipment's off-the-shelf availability.

PRC Industry

On the stand of the People's Republic of China (PRC), missile, weapon and space systems were the primary exhibits.

The PRC is in the market for subsystems ranging from engines to radar and head-up displays. For its key military programs like the fitting of 50 Shenyang F-8II fighters with western avionics and nav/attack systems it relied primarily on US aid. Grumman was prime US contractor, but this was stopped by the Bush administration after the PRC government's use of force against the pro-democracy movement in Beijing.

Although the US ban also limits technology transfer in the civil sector, several existing joint programmes have continued. These include the CATIC/M88 development of the MPC-75 80-seat airliner and CATIC's production of McDonnell Douglas MD-82.

CATIC's latest joint venture is with Aerospatiale and Singapore Aerospace, on the development of the new P120L civil/military helicopter (see above).

Despite the White House ban, US equipment which has obvious military applications still reaches China, however. For example, Rockwell Collins Division recently granted a production license for its electronic flight instrument systems (EFIS) to CATIC. However, the agreement is subject to the approval of the US government. This is expected to be forthcoming because other nations in search of export markets are not too restrictive in their marketing approaches to China.

GIFAS Activities

While the US have been rather lethargic in setting up joint ventures involving advanced technologies, other nations have been aggressively pursuing this approach in search of new markets. The French aerospace industries association GIFAS (Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales), for example, set up an Equipment Support Office in Singapore in 1989 to keep a close eye on the evolution of its industries. Singapore was chosen for its ideal location covering all the countries located between Japan and India, its active, fast growing aerospace industry, its easy accessibility and its stable business conditions. One of the Singapore office's roles is to keep in close touch with all Asia-Pacific operators of aircraft with French equipment on board, examine their problems and obtain from manufacturers good performance in such areas as spare parts deliveries, repair turn-around time, warranty administration, technical assistance and quality of documentation. Another important role is to create links between Asian aerospace companies and French manufacturers who, in an effort to decrease their production costs, are looking for cheaper sources of materials, components and equipment, or wish to enter into manufacturing license agreements with regional companies.

Matra Seeks Partner

for Missiles

In view of this aggressive French marketing approach, it came as no a surprise that Matra announced a press conference its intention to search for a joint venture partner in the South-East Asia region for the production of the Mistral light air defence missile. It was also mentioned that the future partner would be expected to participate in the conception, design and production of missiles needed in the next century. Local industry sources explained that talks between Matra and regional authorities had already been progressing since last year.


Joint Ventures

Aerospatiale has joint ventures with Australia, China, India, Indonesia and Singapore. As a result it has been able to make remarkable progress in selling its military as well as civil products in the Asia/Pacific region. Aerospatiale now has permanent offices in most regional capitals. This has been particulary beneficial to the Airbus program. Orders have been placed by carriers in the region for roughly 250 aircraft.

Though this represents a magnificent success by itself, it seems small when compared to the total of over 1000 Aerospatiale helicopters flying in the Asia/Pacific region in military or commercial service. AS-332 Super Pumas, AS-350 and AS-355 Ecureuils, SA-365 Dauphins as well as Pumas, Lamas and old Alouettes are still found soldiering on in Malaysia, Pakistan and above all in Japan.

Thomson-CSF Regional


Since 1970 Thomson-CSF and its subsidiaries Thomson Sintra ASM, LMT Radio Professionnelle, Thomson Brandt Armements and Wilcox have been consolidating their activities in the Asia/Pacific region, and the company now has subsidiaries and offices in nine different countries in the region. World leader in air traffic control, the firm enjoys a particularly strong position in the Asia/Pacific region where it is responsible for most of the radar coverage in Indonesia, and recently signed two major contracts in New Zealand and Australia. Thomson-CSF has also installed landing aids in Singapore, China and Malaysia, and recently shipped an Astre radar to Hong Kong.

In the simulation market, Thomson-CSF has sold Air-bus A300 and A320 simulators to airlines in Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea.

In the defense sector, Thomson-CSF has had considerable success in selling anti-submarine warfare, tactical radiocommunications and battlefield surveillance radar systems, automatic artillery fire-control systems, aerospace equipment, and armaments. Thomson-CSF pursues a policy of industrial cooperation with local industry right across the board. As the company's activity in the region flourishes, the transfers of technology and production are expected to increase in proportion.

Lockheed Ventures

As mentioned above, US firms have been inhibited by their government's policy in introducing advanced technology into the region. Their visible efforts are therefore primarily aimed at logistic support and maintenance ventures with local enterprises.

Typical of these are the international aircraft maintenance and modification operations of the Lockheed Corporation, which are conducted through Lockheed Aircraft Services International (LASI), a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporation.

LASI's operations include technical assistance programs and joint ventures. For Singapore, Lockheed has provided technical expertise, management assistance and training to establish the Singapore Aircraft Maintenance Company which, 10 years ago, evolved into Singapore Aerospace Industries Pte. Ltd.

Lockheed is also in a joint venture in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Airod Sdn. Bhd., to provide maintenance and modification services including airframe, engines, and avionics for Malaysia and other countries in the region. This joint venture was established in 1985.

In 1988 a joint venture was formed in Guangzhou, China. The joint venture partners are the Civil Aviation Administration of China with 50 percent holdings, Hutchinson China Trade Holdings, Ltd. of Hong Kong and LASI, with 25 percent each. The company, Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co. Ltd. (GAMECO), began operations in October 1989 for the maintenance of aircraft operated by the CAAC's Guangzhou Regional Administration.

General Electric Engine


General Electric Aviation Service Operation Pte. Ltd. (GEASO), set up in 1981 as part of GE Aircraft Engine Group's worldwide product support strategy, has expanded its component servicing capabilities from GE engines to other types. The Singapore subsidiary, with 19000 sq m of factory space and over 700 workers, remains the Group's only engine component repair facility outside the US. GEASO's most recent $12 million expansion went into the enlargement of existing product lines as well as the addition of new lines. The firm mainly repairs and re-manufactures hot-section components such as turbine blades, vanes, shrouds, combustors, seals and compressor blades for the GE range of large commercial engines. It also covers components for some Rolls-Royce engines. In all, GEASO has more than 62 airline and other customers worldwide.

Westinghouse Singapore

Westinghouse Electric Corporation has recently opened in Singapore its first overseas regional logistic support centre for servicing Asia/Pacific users of its fighter aircraft radars and other airborne electronic products. Also the first such facility to be set up in Singapore by a defense electronics prime contractor, the $25 million Westinghouse Pacific Electronics Service Center (WPESC) is seen as a significant milestone in the development of Singapore's aerospace industry.

British Aerospace and Lucas

Numerous British companies are cooperating with Asian partners. For example British Aerospace is active in the region with Singapore British Engineering Pte. Ltd. which it runs as a joint venture with the Sheng-Li Group and Singapore Aerospace.

Lucas Aerospace this year signed a cooperation agreement with IPTN covering a wide range of equipment, including engine control systems, actuation systems, gearboxes and transmissions. Lucas Aerospace will thus participate in IPTN's N 250 programme.


Rolls-Royce, like most of the world's major defense contractors, has been focusing attention on South-East Asia. The company provides power plants for advanced trainers, multirole strike aircraft and military helicopters. In the trainer field, with many nations in South-East Asia seeking to update their fleets with advanced trainer aircraft, Rolls-Royce can offer two highly successful engines, the Adour and the Viper.

More than 5000 Vipers have been sold to various customers, including 30 air forces. The engine has accumulated more than ten million flying hours. Throughout its life, the Viper has powered trainer aircraft. Some are in service in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, and earlier this year the New Zealand Defence Ministry selected the Aermacchi MB339 advanced trainer powered by the latest Viper variant, the Mk. 680. Its 4400 lb rating is 15 percent higher than the previous Mk. 632. Rolls-Royce is confident that the MB339/Viper 680 combination will win more business in Asia.

The Adour is the result of successful technical cooperation between Rolls-Royce and Turbomeca of France. It has been in service for 20 years, logging a total of over three million flying hours with the armed forces of 15 countries. Reheated versions power the Jaguar strike aircraft and more than 150 T2/F1 trainer/fighter aircraft of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force, while unreheated variants power the British Aerospace Hawk. Indonesia currently operates a number of Adour 851-powered Hawks.

Late last year, IPTN and Rolls-Royce signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering the production of a number of components for RR engines in Indonesia. Rolls-Royce is also currently negotiating a joint venture with SA in Singapore. It can be assumed that the British company is attempting to make agreements with competent partners in the Asian region as a means of extending its involvement in the International Aero Engines joint venture linking Britain, Japan and the USA in the development of the V-2500 commercial engine.

Soviet Representation

It can be readily seen that Asia represents a key potential market for western industries. But the Soviets too have recognised its importance and were represented strongly at Asian Aerospace & Asian Defence '90 by numerous executives and a hospitality chalet. They also need new markets for their equipment, services and aircraft. An Su-27 fighter and a Ka-32 helicopter were flown daily and demonstrated their agility. On internal fuel alone, the two Su-27s present at the exhibition had flown the 3000 km distance from Calcutta to Singapore in a single leg. The Su-27 is claimed to have an unrefuelled range of 4000 km.
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Title Annotation:exhibition
Author:Geisenheyner, Stefan
Publication:Armada International
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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