It has been reported that the US Department of Defence has shrunk the size of its delegation traveling to the 2020 Singapore Airshow next week and U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin Corp said it would not attend, as the impact of the coronavirus has reduced participation in the event.
Undersecretary of Defense Ellen Lord will no longer attend the event “due to extenuating circumstances,” Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews said in a statement.
Lord is the chief weapons buyer for the US Department of Defence and its lead representative at the event. Other leaders from the department including uniformed military officials are reported to continue their plan to attend.
Lockheed Martin is the first major U.S. defense company to announce it will not attend the airshow due to the coronavirus.
“We determined this was in the best interest of our employees and aligned with the U.S. Department of Defenses decision to reduce its presence,” Lockheed said in a statement.
The airshow will continue next week, but organizers might look to limit public visitors, a Singaporean official said on Friday after the country’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) was raised to Orange yesteday (7 February).
Prior to that, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced three new novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases of unknown origin.
Along with the first case of unknown origin was announced by MOH on Thursday, these cases add up to a total of four individuals in the country, with no links to previous cases and no recent travel history to China have been tested positive for the deadly virus and a total of 33 infected cases so far.
MOH noted that since there are now a few local cases without any links to previous cases or travel history to China, it has stepped up the risk assessment from DORSCON Yellow to DORSCON Orange.
Business jet manufacturers Bombardier, Textron and General Dynamics’ Gulfstream division are also among those to have pulled out of the airshow.
Together with Lockheed Martin, a total of sixteen exhibitors have pulled out of the Singapore Airshow 2020, and an associated leadership summit for aviation leaders has been cancelled.
However, the airshow will still be seeing China’s air force taking part in the Singapore Airshow for the first time next week.
While Singapore has barred passengers who had recently travelled to mainland China from landing or transitting through the city in a bid to contain the virus that has killed hundreds and infected tens of thousands, the organiser Experia Events said in a statement this Wednesday, “The Ba Yi aerobatics team has taken proactive measures like health checks and temperature screenings to ensure that they are healthy before they fly into Singapore,”
Chinese nationalist newspaper Global Times quoted experts saying that Singapore did not quarantine the Chinese pilots who arrived on Wednesday as a sign of its “high level of trust in China’s epidemic control measures”, reported South China Morning Post.
The state-owned tabloid further said that the August 1st team’s arrival should be considered a strong sign of support for Singapore, given the number of exhibitors that have pulled out of the air show. It also quoted a statement by China’s defence ministry saying the PLA’s participation reflected “good military cooperation relations” between both sides.