6 November, 2011 – The Mount Merapi volcano was acting up about 450 kilometers from Jakarta, and many of us were stranded at diverse airports on our way in to Indonesia. This author slept on the floor of the club room in Changi airport in Singapore, a decidedly better option than on most other “overnights” in the past. Others in our party were stranded in Guangzhou and Hong Kong, as the volcanic ash was deciphered by the air traffic control wizards of the region. U.S. President Barack (“Barry,” as he is called in Indonesia) Obama was on a major tour of the Far East, with imperial-sized entourage in tow, so the pressure was on the wizards to get it right. President Obama had missed two previous visits to Indonesia in 2010 already, and as evidenced by the signs in the squares, his standing was drifting downward from, “We love President Obama” to “Where is Fat Barry?” It was important for President Obama to show up on this third attempted visit to the most populous Muslim country in the world, and show up he finally did. It was a one day whirlwind, but he and his entourage missed what is considered by many to be one of the best Defense shows in the region: Indo Defence. Those of us set up at the booths were hoping the President would appear, but, were sadly disappointed on that. The show was excellent as always with many high ranking military from the region in attendance. I went on from Jakarta to Seoul and onward to Busan for live fire at S&T Daewoo, our aircraft touching off the ground in Seoul just as the North Koreans decided to shell South Korean territory. On my return, my darling wife said, “So, you flew in just under the volcanic eruption on the day of a Tsunami, then when you were leaving South Korea, the North Koreans attacked? Coincidence? I think NOT!” I’d like to take this space to ensure that our readers know that my lifelong penchant for being in-country for military coups, riots, earthquakes, rocket attacks, volcanic eruptions, shellings, advancing armies, etc., is simply the” Luck O’The Irish” in motion. I had nothing to do with causing any of those events. Onward to our presentation about a fascinating show. -Dan
Indo Defence is a Tri-Service defense show holding the combined Maritime, Air, and Land warfare military shows. This 2010 event was the 4th Annual Indo Defence exposition and there were over 700 exhibitors from 38 countries with approximately 20,000 attendees from military groups and the trade. There were a total of 480 plus companies in 17 national pavilions, and the attendees represented over 42 countries. This year’s event had grown considerably from the 2008 event, which was held in large tent structures at the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base. The 2010 event was moved indoors at JIExpo, which was a much more suitable venue.
Pavilions for manufacturers from Singapore, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Germany, Poland, South Korea, United States, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom were prominent, and there were many more. Regarding the quality of the attendees, Indo Defence managed to bring in the brass. There were high ranking decision makers from many countries as well as the top personnel in the Indonesian military. Reports from small arms manufacturers were that they had made many good contacts. Small Arms Defense Journal can attest to that as we had brought thousands of copies of SADJ to the show, and by the second day, we were metering them out. The enthusiasm for small arms related information in the various militaries attending was very high.
Like most defense shows today, there is a conference attached to the show, and Indo Defence is no exception. The organizers managed to hit on all the basics that make for happy attendees: keynote speakers who can explain clearly what the needs of the Indonesian military community are; who can identify the priorities today; and try to show their view of future defense priorities. It is difficult for the industrial complex to provide the necessary product and solutions to the military needs without having some idea of the direction they need to be addressing. The conference had three faces – ground forces, air forces, and maritime forces. Influential members of all groups were in attendance at the show. Exhibitors were also invited to present papers and product announcements, and of course, the popular air show was performed overhead, including the RAAF Roulettes.
It takes a lot of work to stage a successful military show, and making a regional show attractive to the rest of the world shows that the diligence necessary is part of the promoter’s skill set. Indo Defence has not failed to impress, and the three times we have attended we found many contacts and saw a lot of business being done by the vendors. Likewise, attendees told us they were pleased with the contacts they were making in modernizing and maintaining their systems.