By Dan Shea
This was the ninth version of the International Exhibition of Technology for the Defense and Prevention of Disasters, including cybersecurity and drone technology. There were 27 countries represented at the show, 170 Peruvian and international exhibitors, and 30,000 Peruvian and international visitors. In short, SITDEF is a mature defense show, heavily attended, and prominent in the region.
SITDEF attracts many small arms manufacturers from outside Peru, but SITDEF is so much more. Vehicle manufactures, an entire section on arial drones, as well as a full cybersecurity conference are in the main building. In the entry building, rescue and fire services are featured. Visitors are sure to appreciate a show like this where the local military puts out displays of what is in use, as well as what has been in use.
Backgrounder: JAPANESE EMBASSY HOSTAGE CRISIS
On 17 December 1996 in Lima, Peru, 14 members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement took hundreds of high-level diplomats, government and military officials, and business executives as hostages at the ambassador’s residence in San Isidro. These people were attending a party at the official residence of the Japanese ambassador to Peru, Morihisa Aoki, in celebration of Emperor Akihito’s 63rd birthday. The crisis lasted until 22 April 1997. Túpac Amaru held 72 hostages that entire time. Called the MRTA, this was not the “Shining Path” rebel group but MRTA was also Marxist/communist and wanted to tear down the government. On 22 April 1997, after long preparation, tunneling, smuggling microphones in, and secretly instructing the hostages what to do to keep them away from the commandos who were coming to rescue them, the rescue began. It was fast, incredibly well executed, and all 14 of the Túpac Amaru members died in the assault.
During each of the editions of SITDEF, the heroes of the operation are remembered, usually featuring the actual diorama of the ambassador’s residence used to plan the assault, and many of the weapons of the dead guerillas are on display. This year, the display was somewhat toned down, but the event was commemorated with pride by the commando forces involved and attendees alike.
This brings us to a very interesting collaboration: the American company DS Arms joining with Carlos Tello Aliaga, Rear Admiral AP (ret.) for the elite DS Arms Training Academy, a firearms training center. He entered the Naval Academy in 1978 and retired from the Navy in 2013, always involved in the fight against terrorism. He was responsible for all planning on the explosive charges for the UEC Special Combat Unit, that allowed the entry of the commandos.
The DS Arms Training academy is near Lima Cienega. It is 16,000 square meters, with a 250 meter rifle range that can reach out to 650 meters, a 70-meter carbine range, three 50-meter pistol ranges, a shoot house, and a high angle shooting tower. This is one of the best firearms training academies in South America.
Disenos Casanave International S.A.C. is a Peruvian company that is making a new M2HB mount, as well as a wide variety of munitions.
FAMILY DAY AT SITDEF
Some exhibitors tend to dread the “family day” if they’re not prepared. In the case of Peru, there is a tremendous public support for the men and women who wear the uniform, as well as a massive interest in the weapons and equipment. The tanks outside are popular picture spots, as are the various Special Forces and Marines who appear to really enjoy talking with the children and family members. There are lots of outdoor events in an arena atmosphere, like firefighter contests, demonstrations of rappelling, helicopter insertions and the crowds love this. The children have an amazing time, meeting the (to them) larger than life men and women in uniform, there is a lot of public education going on. As far as exhibitors, most clean up anything in their booths that is not child friendly, and either shut down for the day or enjoy some interaction with the families.
SITDEF SHOW MASTER INFORMATION
Next event: May 2025 (Exact dates TBD)
Location Cuartel General del Ejercito
Recommended: Entrance Number 4
Telephone (+511) 578-1800
Focus Defense technologies (land, sea, and air) and natural disaster prevention, and cybersecurity.
Show Dress Most attendees are in uniform. Business attire recommended.
Weather In Lima, May weather averages a high of 72°F and low of 63°F. Rain is unlikely.
Hotel Hints Miraflores is a safe area of Lima about 20 minutes away from the exhibition. Go to tripadvisor.com for user reviews and ratings on hotels.
Power & Plug Types Power: 220 V / 60 Hz. Plugs: Type A and C (North American/Japanese 2-blade plug and European 2-pin plug).
Country Warnings Check visa and vaccination requirements before your trip. There is much debate as to whether the tap water is drinkable in Lima. Violent crime and theft are common, so be alert.
Cultural Hints Primary language: Spanish. Restaurants usually have smoking and non-smoking sections, so remember to ask for your preference. Lunch and dinner are eaten later, after 1:30pm and 8:30pm, respectively. Women dress modestly in Peru, showing a lot of skin will cause some to stare.
Cuisine Along with local cuisine, Chinese, Japanese, and Italian are popular in Lima. One much-loved subset of this is chifa, which is Chinese food made with local Peruvian ingredients. Coastal cuisine has lots of fresh seafood. Mountain areas have many unique specialties, among them cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca. Some recommended Lima restaurants: Jose Antonio (San Isidro, Peruvian), Wa Lok (Miraflores, chifa), and Bodega de la Trattoria (Miraflores, Italian).
Tipping Most restaurants add 10% gratuity, but it is customary to leave more if you receive good service. Taxi Drivers: do not tip. Hotel Porters: 2 to 3 soles per bag. Tour Guides: 15 to 30 soles per day. Housekeeping: 9 to 15 soles per day.
Currency Official Currency: Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN), but many places also accept U.S. Dollars.
Getting Around If possible, do not hail taxis. Arrange with your hotel for an airport pick-up and then obtain a reliable taxi dispatch phone number. Negotiate the price for your taxi fare prior to initiating the trip.
Tourism Lima Vision (limavision.com) is a safe, reliable and inexpensive tour company for the Lima area. Some of the most popular Lima sights include Museo Larco, Inglesia de San Francisco, Miraflores and the Larcomar shopping center, and the ancient ruins of Pachacamac. Most tourists who visit Peru bypass Lima for the Nazca Lines and Machu Picchu, but these side trips will take several extra days, so be sure to research thoroughly before booking your trip.