(From Reuters)

The market for spy planes and surveillance platforms is buoyant in Southeast Asia, where countries are facing off against China — and each other — in the resource-rich South China Sea, industry insiders at the Singapore Airshow said.

Indonesian Air Force personnel stand next to their CN235-220 maritime surveillance aircraft displayed at the Singapore Airshow

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam have all been seeking information from suppliers, trade sources said, as maritime patrol aircraft and intelligence gathering platforms become more of a priority.

Some of the kit is needed for traditional activities such as counter-piracy, fisheries protection or disaster response, but China’s growing assertiveness in the region’s seas is looming increasingly large in the thinking of defense planners.

“They did not know that China was building artificial islands,” said one industry source who regularly talks to the region’s navies.

The rising tensions in the region are fuelling demand for advanced radars, sensors and other equipment known in defense jargon as “ISR” – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“People don’t trust their neighbors, resource and territory claims require a keen knowledge of what the other guy is going, and military operations other than war demand strong situational awareness,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice-president of analysis at Teal Group, a U.S.-based aerospace consultancy. Read More

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