KOTA TINGGI: In my post on the 2014 Budget, I had speculated that the small increase in the Defence Ministry’s allocation was probably due to higher emolument commitments. On this occasion, my guess have been proven right.
Defence Ministry Secretary General Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Ahmad when met on Wednesday confirmed that the hike was due to the higher emolument commitments which cover salaries, allowances and pensions. The bigger commitment meant that emoluments constituted 60 per cent of the the ministry’s annual Operating Expenditures with 40 per cent for other expenses (operational, assets and supplies). He said ideally the funds for other expenses should be higher than salaries. He however did not say how they were going to tackle the issue in the future.
To recap, for 2014, the Defence Ministry got RM16.1 billion – RM13.355 billion as operating expenditure (OE) and RM2.745 billion for development costs (DE)- some RM849 million higher compared to the budget in 2013 which was RM15.251 (RM11.970 billion for operating costs and RM3.281 billion for development.
The “small” increase – RM1.385 billion – according to Ismal was mainly to the salary adjustments to the Armed Forces personnel due to higher qualifications for recruits (SPM), time based promotions for low ranking soldiers and subsequent increase in allowance. Apart from this provisions were also made for new gear and uniforms for soldiers.
He also said there were also new measures in the budget – the procurement of school buses for children of Armed Forces personnel – which further details will be made known when Parliament debate the 2014 budget.
Asked whether the DE budget also include funds for new assets notably, Ismail gave a hesitant smile and said the allocation was mostly for assets that had been contracted previously like the LCS and the A400M.
Army Chief Jen Datuk Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor said although there were plans to procure the medium range SAMs, at the moment, the service was was being geared up for current threats like those which occurred at Lahad Datu.
Malaysian Defence met up with Ismail and Raja Mohamed Affandi r during their visit to the Surface to Air firing range at Tanjung Logok on Oct 30. The visit was in conjunction of Eksesais Panah Jaguh Siri 1/2013, the live firing exercise for the Grup Artileri Pertahanan Udara or the Artillery Air Defence Group. The seven day exercise saw the live firings of GAPU assets from the BAE Systems Jernas SAM, Oerlikon 35mm cannon and IGLA, Anza Mk 11 and FN-6 MANPADS.
Unfortunately during the live firing exercise during the visit, only two Igla missiles on a SLU mounted on a Vamtac were fired at the Banshee Drone target and missed. The drone was re-routed around five times on the range for 3 more fire teams equipped with the Iglas, Anza and FN-6 failed to acquire the target and did not fire their missiles.
Note that since this was a training exercise the SOP was for the soldiers not to open fire if they fail to acquire the target
Soldiers at the range said that the firings a day earlier was more successful with all the firings from the Jernas to the MANPADS had managed to down their drone targets. The 35mm Oerlikons fired at a target sleeve towed by a Learjet. Both targets – the drone and towed slevee were provided by Aerotree Flight Services Sdn Bhd under a five year contract worth RM24.320 million or RM4.864 million.
Due to time constraints I was unable to catch the firing of the Jernas SAM later in the day. I had looked forward to seeing the Jernas in action after hearing so much of its travails in service but unfortunately time was not on my side. (Note: the picture of the Jernas being fired on the landing page is used by the permission of Dzirhan Mahadzir)
The location of the range – near the busy air corridor into two international airports – Changi in Singapore and Senai – meant that any live firing had to be coordinated with the respective air traffic controls and be limited to certain times of the day did not favour my time constraints schedule. Perhaps they will staged another live firing exercise soon.
Apart from the firing platforms, GAPU radar assets like the Skyguard, Giraffe and the TRML-3D were also involved in the exercise.
– Malaysian Defence.