In Southeast Asia, geographical constraints and political tensions have combined to create a growing market for maritime surveillance aircraft. Multiple platforms are being proposed to meet this requirement.
Several exhibitors at the 2016 edition of the Singapore Airshow chose to highlight their solutions in the maritime surveillance sector. This year is likely to see a similar proliferation, as new developments in the region continue to underline the need for such systems.
The geography of the region alone is enough to justify the requirement. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan are all composed of groups of islands. Vietnam and China have long coastlines facing the South China Sea, while Singapore is an island at the heart of one of the world's busiest sea lanes. All of these nations thus have a need for a maritime surveillance capability to defend their sovereignty and protect their economic interests.
Regional geopolitical tensions — particularly in the South China Sea — and the persistent threat of piracy serve to further amplify the requirement.
Three types of manned platform are on offer: high-wing turboprops like the ATR 72MP, C295MPA and Force Multiplier; modified bizjets from Dassault and Saab; and large, long-range platforms from the U.S. and Japan. Northrop Grumman is developing the unmanned Triton for the U.S. Navy, and other drones could come onto the market offering persistent surveillance capabilities (up to 24 hours).
For a full review of the multiple platforms currently on the market, see our Show Preview here.