BUYING AND BUILDING
With defence budgets in many Western nations under pressure, Asia is attractive for makers of weapons, communications gear and surveillance systems. Lockheed Martin and Boeing’s defence division both expect the Asia-Pacific region to contribute about 40 percent of international revenues.
“The maritime environment in the Pacific has everybody’s attention,” Jeff Kohler, a vice president at Boeing Defence, said at the Singapore Airshow in February.
Vietnam got 97 percent of its major weapons - including frigates, combat planes and Bastion coastal missile systems - from Russia in 2007-11 but is looking to diversify by talking to the Netherlands and the United States, SIPRI says.
The Philippines, which relies on the United States for 90 percent of its weapons, plans $1.8 billion in upgrades over five years as it sees a growing threat from China over the South China Sea squabble.
The focus is on the country’s naval and air forces that analyst Sam Bateman sees as “rather deficient”.
“The particular requirement of the Philippines is air surveillance,” said Bateman, principal research fellow at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security.
Anti-submarine capabilities are a priority, a Philippine defence department planner told Reuters.
Thailand, whose military has staged 18 successful or attempted coups since 1932, has built a patrol vessel designed by Britain’s BAE Systems. It plans to modernise one frigate and, within five years, buy the first of two new ones.
“We are not saying these will replace submarines but we are hoping that they can be equally valuable to Thailand,” defence ministry spokesman Thanathip Sawangsaeng told Reuters.