Kuala Lumpur: Since the deferment of defence projects under the Ninth Malaysian Plan due to the economic crisis was announced last year, Malaysian Defence have been collecting news article and talking to people on the subject hoping to have a definitive list of these programmes.
True to our nature however, only a few public announcements were made and most of these were already well known. Since the defence projects slated for the 9MP were never made public in the first place, the blackout was expected but it also meant that we have to take the word of MINDEF of projects that have been deferred. Technically with our convoluted procurement process, everything the armed forces wanted, may well have been listed for in the five year development/procurement plan.
Malaysian Defence does not claim the list below is definitive nor can claim full veracity. Totally left out is the development projects like camps and other facilities. Since this is less sexy than arms purchase, even less is known about them!
The official deferment list is with Pak Lah, Najib, PAT and the service’s chiefs. MINDEF top officials are also in the loop as well as those in the Finance Ministry and many others well. Malaysian Defence do not have the security clearance to obtain such documents, which is fine as even if I did has access to the document, I would not be able to share it! With that in mind, the only reason, the Malaysian Defence list is documented here is to act as a guide when the 10th Malaysian Plan is tabled.
In the past some projects that was deferred to the next five year plan due financial reasons had to make way for other projects, with less military importance but major National Interest prominence! Malaysian Defence must also point out that inclusion in the Malaysian Plan is not a iron clad guarantee that a project will be funded. Otherwise, our boys in Lebanon will not be patrolling in their Condors.
The Nuri Replacement Programme is not listed as it was to be funded under a special allocation from the PM’s Department (the allocation was made in 2007) following the Genting Sempah crash. If its revive in the 10thMP it will surely cut into the Armed Forces 20 Year Modernisation Plan. The original time-line for the Nuri replacement has slipped back to the 11thMP
Three of the projects listed below were the lynchpin of the modernisation plan, notably the MPSS, AEW and Super Hornet. If there is any hope of the armed forces plan to be realised within the next decade, tenders for the projects must be issued now so when the funds are available, the procurement can proceed as soon as possible.
Malaysian Defence List of Deferred Defence Projects Under 9MP
Multi Purpose Support Ship.
During Lima 2007, DPM Najib announced that at least one MPSS will built in 9MP with the second ship to be funded under the preceding Malaysian Plan. While Malaysian Defence disagree with the main reason for funding such ships, the Somalia anti-piracy operations have boosted the proponents of the project. Indeed, our support ships are old and lacking facilities but these ships are maintenance extensive. With our limited funding and the same time the lack of patrol ships, Malaysian Defence wonders whether there enough funds will be committed to both of these important projects. This will be the first programme to be revived once funds are available. It must be noted that both our southern neighbours have modern landing ships (Singapore, 4; Indonesia, 2 with 2 more coming) while Thailand has an aircraft carrier. The Indonesian ships reportedly cost US$19.9 million each.
Wheeled APC Replacement Programme.
This programme has been still-born since it was first announced soon after the Somalia UN mission. Financial reasons have been cited widely for the delays but for Malaysian Defence, it was mostly due to the National Interest mentality. When money was available, funds were instead made available for other programmes, like the Adnan APC, PT-91M MBT and the MLRS regiments. This time around, the economic crunch was yet another excuse to defer the programme leaving the Condor and Sibmas to soldier on for an unforeseeable future. Patria’s AMV came out tops during trials conducted two years ago although Piranha IV remained the favourite of those involved in the selection process, mostly due to the local manufacturing arrangements which had been in placed since the last ten years.
Further Reading: Patria AMV
FS2000 Batch 2 Programme.
Malaysian Defence described the programme as another National Interest project due to the decision to built these two frigate, an updated version of the Jebat/Lekiu frigates, at the Sabah shipyard. It was this turn of events that forced the hand of the prime contractor BAE Systems to add in a risk clause to the cost of the frigate, ballooning it to a reported cost of more than RM3 billion each. The huge expense caused even MINDEF to blink and the delays in negotiations meant that the project was among the economic crisis first casualties. The RMN had proposed that both ships be built in the peninsula to reduce the cost but there wasn’t enough time to avoid the economic-crunch imposed deferment. Since the ships weren’t supposed to be build until 2010 (they need to prepare the yard and trained its workers), Malaysian Defence believed that the only partial funding was supposed to come from the 9MP with the rest coming from successive plans. Malaysian Defence have been told that if the ships were to built in the UK, the frigate would only cost RM1.5 billion each.
Further Reading: Batch 2 Frigates
PV Second Batch.
If not for the folly of awarding the PV project to Sdr Amin Shah, the second PV batch would be in the yards already. As it is, the delays into the programme had sunk any chance of the second batch to be build during the current five year plan. With four ships commissioned and two more on line, the PV project is up and running with all the flaws and warts created by the delays. There is still no word whether funding will be made available for the weapon systems that were supposed to be installed on these ships when the need arises. Furthermore, we paid for ships fitted for helicopters and its associated equipment but funding for embarked helos remained elusive and uncertain.
Further Reading: PV Project Fiasco
Additional Super Lynx
RMN have a requirement for six more Super Lynx optimised for anti-submarine warfare. See above
With the impending arrival of the Aermacchi MB-339CM, it was planned that additional Hawks would be purchased as attrition replacement and the whole fleet would be reconstituted as a light attack squadron while the fast jet training pipeline was supposed to be conducted on the Macchis alone.
Talk was abound last year (before the inflation crisis) that the Government had finally given the clearance for the purchase of the AEW aircraft. The Saab Eireye radar was reportedly the chosen system fitted on the Saab 2000 aircraft. Two systems were supposed to be contracted from 9MP funding with at least another two in the successive plans. The armed forces stated requirement is for eight jet-powered AEW platform.
Army Small Arms Replacement Programme
In 2007, MINDEF floated various tenders for small arms from pistols, assault and sniper rifles plus 5.56mm, 7.62mm and grenade machine guns. Obviously the programme did not survived the cuts. With the army not receiving new small arms in the near future, Malaysian Defence hopes that MINDEF will continue fund the small arms spares and parts programme, otherwise we will be defending our borders with rocks and sticks! Small purchases for elite units of the army continues despite the cuts but for the big army, the 12,000 M4s procured in 2007 will not be supplemented soon
Super Hornet Procurement
The Super Hornet remained an essential programme for the RMAF despite the selection of the Sukhoi Su-30MKM for the MRCA programme. It would have been difficult to induct into service the American-made strike fighters during the current campaign to boycott US products, but the economic crunch meant that we do not have that conundrum!
Further reading: Super Hornet vs Flankers
Medium Range SAMs
In 2004, the government in principle had agreed to purchase the Chinese KS-1A medium range SAMs and in return, China will transfer the technology to SME Ordnance to manufacture the FN-6 Manpads locally. The deal was brokered by China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) local agent, Aneka Bekal Sdn Bhd. DPM Najib had said if the negotiations was finalised, the procurement would be financed during the 9MP. Since that MOU signing, little has been said about the deal, and the slashing of the defence 9MP budget was the final nail in the coffin.
Further reading: KS-1A SAM System
M4 SOPMOD Package
Since we bought the iron sighted and accessories-bare M4, the SOPMOD package was certainly part of the procurement programme. With optical sights and laser pointer costing more than RM20,000 each it would have been a huge windfall for the preferred local agent. The agent should be satisfied with small purchases for elite units, however.
Further Reading: Sopmod package
To be Updated