8 Things We are NOT Getting in RMK11

SHAH ALAM: BEFORE we start, let me say that this is not the official RMK11 Dump list. Its just the Malaysian Defence’s Eight Things We Are Not Getting in RMK11.

Why eight? Because eight is supposed to be a lucky number. Further more I am pretty sure the eight items listed here are not in the RMK11 list even though I have not gotten any official confirmation.

Whether or not the items here will remained unfunded in RMK11 depends on other issues of course – mostly monetary and political considerations. As it is the principal author of RMK11 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has come under tremendous pressure recently.

The pressure had ratcheted up a notch over the weekend following the publication of claims that he pocketed billions of ringgit from 1MDB.

And with the country’s ringgit coming under pressure following the crisis in Europe (apart from the low prices of oil and other commodities) one have to wonder whether there will be enough funds for RMK11 for the things that got approved.

The blame for all of the troubles facing the country is of course according to the critics, lies with the PM. So much so that the word among the political circles are that big changes are scheduled to take place after Hari Raya or perhaps even sooner.

Whether or not this will happened or whether the change will boost the country’s fortunes, we will have to wait and see.

Typhoon and the moon
Typhoon and the moon

BTW, please do not get confused and state that the list below are the things we are getting in RMK11. This is the things we are NOT getting in RMK11.

1) MRCA
It is obvious isn’t it ? Spending at least RM5 billion for a bunch of fighters is a huge political decision for any country. And the politician making decision must have some solid backing either politically or security wise.

With our Defence Minister stating that the threats we faced currently and in the near future are a bunch of guys from Mindanao and the IS, clearly there is no political will to fund the programme.

A Rafale being tested for the F3R standard.
A Rafale being tested for the F3R standard.

Despite the political put down, the MRCA remained a priority of the Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysian Air Force specifically. It is because of this there is persistent talk
about the possibility of a special allocation to fund the MRCA programme. I have heard about that before and I do not make much about it. If they didn’t think it is important enough for RMK10, why should they do it outside of it?

F/A-18
Boeing Super Hornet F/A-18F at Lima 2011

For the record, RMAF has shortlisted four aircraft for the MRCA programme, the Boeing Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale , Eurofighter Typhoon and the Saab Gripen. All the candidates are the latest variant, the F Super Hornet, Rafale F3R , Tranche 3 Typhoon and the Gripen NG.

Gripen NG
Gripen NG

It is unclear however whether funds will be available as a stop-gap measure either through leasing or the procurement and upgrade of second hand fighters. As I had mentioned previously, both the Typhoon and Gripen have offered the option as part of a lease and buy programme.

Two Kuwait AF F/A-18C seen here with a couple of F-16s. Internet.
Two Kuwait AF F/A-18C seen here with a couple of F-16s. Internet.

As for the possible procurement and upgrade plan, Kuwait is expected to sign on either the Typhoon or Super Hornet in the near future which will allow it retire around 40 legacy Hornets, single and dual seaters. These Hornets is expected to be available around 2018, however. And due to the current operations in Yemen, their flight hours are much higher than in the past.

Will funds be reinstated if there is a change of leadership. Unlikely.

2) MIG29 Upgrade
With no upgrade funded, RMAF Fulcrum will just fade away. There will not be any celebration or farewell party however. The current political situation dictates it.

Fulcrums with ACMI pods
Fulcrums with ACMI pods

When will the aircraft be retired then? As I had reported before (gone now) the RMAF will crossed the bridge once it gets there. The former RMAF chief had stated previously that the Fulcrums will retire by the end of 2015, which his successor declined to confirm nor deny whether they will abide by it.

The Fulcrum upgrade however is the obvious choice for reinstatement in RMK11 if there is a change in the country’s top leadership in the near future (if it happens of course).

It will be very costly to upgrade the Fulcrum if the decision is made to continue flying them is made at the last moment, however.

3) Missile Corvettes

Daewoo Shipbulding & Marine Engineering Ltd (DSME) created a lot of stir in late 2014 when it was reported that the company had got an order for six Missile Corvettes from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).

A model of the missile corvettes proposed by DSME for RMN.
A model of the missile corvettes proposed by DSME for RMN.

According to the report, three vessels will be built and assembled in South Korea starting from January 2018 while the rest will be block built in South Korea and assembled in Malaysia with DSME’s cooperation.

I subsequently reported that DSME actually signed the deal with the local company, NMEL Sdn Bhd, which look very much like a successor to NGV Tech Sdn Bhd, the failed builder of RMN’s two training ships.

Another angle of the DSME missile corvette.
Another angle of the DSME missile corvette.

In the same report I also stated that if the funding for the missile corvettes in RMK11 was secured, the deal was a foregone conclusion. I must state now that I was told that there is no funding for missile corvettes in RMK11.

Apparently RMN has to cope with the current situation in South China Sea with its current fleet and the LCS. The only saving grace is that the SLEP for Jebat and Lekiu as well as the Laksamanas have been funded.

Could the missile corvettes be re-instated if there is changes to the RMK11? Perhaps, I am pretty sure RMN will welcome it though.

4) MRSS

The MRSS programme was supposed to be funded back in RMK10. Heck they even started – NGV Tech Sdn Bhd the preferred builder – building a shipyard in Bagan Datuk, Perak for the project. But the economic downturn around 2010 (yes we have many of those) put paid to that hopes. It was also the coup the grace for NGV Tech, which went belly up even before finishing up the two training ships for RMN.

A model of a Logistics Support Vessel from DSME.
A model of a Logistics Support Vessel from DSME.

The MRSS was put up again for RMK11 considerations again this year, however it failed to be funded. I guess we have to wait for the LCS project to be completed before the MRSS programme will get any funds.

Well what about the China made LPD which Malaysian Defence wrote about in April? As the project comes under a PFI scheme of course there is no need to list it in RMK11.

A graphic of a China made LPD displayed at LIMA 2015
A graphic of a China made LPD displayed at LIMA 2015

In fact, I believed the PFI proposal was one of the reason the MRSS programme failed to make the cut for RMK11. Anyhow, it appears that the RMN has little interest in any of the proposals involving China either ship building or systems sourcing.

With the backers of the proposal coming from one side of the political divide, any changes to the leadership will severely dent such hopes. Furthermore with China’s stand on Gugusan Semarang Peninjau, any deal with the republic’s state owned arms manufacturers – cheap or not – will faced strong headwinds.

TO be continued…

— Malaysian Defence

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