Delegates at the 26-30 March Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition would be wise not to hold discussions in the corridors between stands. If they do, they will unceremoniously be shooed to the side by urgent men in suits. Shortly thereafter, a large delegation will push through. While the prime minister's delegation of possibly 100 aides and security personnel will inevitably be the largest, every general, politician, and senior civil servant will attend the show with an impressive entourage.
Despite the lavish delegations snaking through LIMA's two smallish show halls, Kuala Lumpur's ambitions for its air force are best described as modest. This is the opposite of the situation at the Singapore air show, where modest-sized, polite delegations belie a steely ambition to maintain Southeast Asia's most potent air force.
Perhaps the only big change from the last instalment of LIMA in December 2011 is the show's timing, which has been brought forward by eight months to late March. Show organisers say the revised schedule is easier for the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the country's navy to accommodate. The move also goes some way to deconflicting LIMA and the Singapore air show, the next iteration of which falls in February 2014.
One thing that has not changed since December 2011, however, is the security situation confronting Kuala Lumpur. As ever, Malaysia's western seaboard commands the Strait of Malacca, a waterway of inestimable importance to Northeast Asian powers such as China, Japan and South Korea. Its eastern seaboard fronts the South China Sea, where Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and China have conflicting territorial claims.