LANGKAWI: The 555 exhibitors at this year’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA ‘17) exhibition marks an increase in participants from 512 in 2015.

The significant increase in participants necessitated the expansion of exhibition space at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) for the aerospace segment; and the maritime display area at Resort World, by 15,000 square meters to 119,209 square metres.

An upbeat Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, said organisers are expecting 80,000 trade and public visitors from around the world at this year’s event.

"This LIMA is historical, as it will be the biggest in 27 years, with dramatic increase in total gross space occupied at the exhibition.

"It will see increases in not only number of exhibitors, but also number of assets on display," he told reporters in a joint press conference with Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai during a hi-tea with media members onboard the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN)'s KD Jebat at Porto Malai, here today.

Hishammuddin and Liow were accompanied by Defence Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi and Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor.

Also present were Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin and Royal Malaysian Air Force chief General Datuk Seri Affendi Buang.

Hishammuddin said LIMA'17, which opens tomorrow and runs until March 25, will also be the first to see an array of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) on display.

They include the United States Air Force's MQ-1 Predator, the US Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout, Thales Fulmar’s Mini-UAV, SAAB’s AUV 62AT and Ukraine's TBN UAV.

Among event highlights of the exhibition, Hishammuddin added, are the Chiefs of Navy Roundtable Talk, which will bring together 12 Navy chiefs and 24 representatives; and the LIMA'17 Air Chiefs Conference.

He said the exhibition will also receive important visitors, including ministers and government representatives from the US, the UK, Turkey, Qatar, Australia and Southeast Asian nations.

Following the hi-tea session, Hishammuddin and Liow, accompanied by Kamarulzaman, boarded the RMN's submarine, KD Tun Razak, for a visit.

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The 555 exhibitors at this year’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA ‘17) exhibition marks an increase in participants from 512 in 2015. (Pix by DANIAL SAAD)