The Future RMN Armada

SHAH ALAM: THE LCS and NGPV will be the backbone of the future RMN armada – if the plan proposed by the navy to have only five class of vessels in the fleet – is taken up and fully funded. The other three classes are the submarines, Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) and Multi-Role Support Ship (MRSS).

RMN chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Baharuddin said the 15-to-5 fleet transformation was part of its plan to strengthen and modernise its armada and be cost effective at the same time.

“If the transformation programme is endorsed by the government the replacement process will be done in stages. We will focus on building ships from the five classes harnessing the abilities of the local industry,” he told reporters after presenting promotions to RMN officers at KD Sri Gombak yesterday.

RMN ships berthed at the Lumut naval base in early 2014, KD Kasturi, KD Lekiu (hidden) and two Kedah class.
RMN ships berthed at the Lumut naval base in early 2014, KD Kasturi, KD Lekiu (hidden) and two Kedah class.

Kamarulzaman said as the navy realised that fiscal challenges was the biggest obstacle in modernising the fleet, they want to prioritise RMN’s requirements.

KD Tun Razak during her trials in the Mediterranean prior to her commissioning in 2010.
KD Tun Razak during her trials in the Mediterranean prior to her commissioning in 2010.

“In the past, we may want the best platform available to meet our requirements but in reality we cannot afford them. So we are looking at ways to meet the challenges,” he added.

KD Sri Perlis, one of the oldest vessels in RMN today. Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
KD Sri Perlis, one of the oldest vessels in RMN today. Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Under the transformation plan, RMN will also retire old ships as it was too expensive to maintain them. The money saved would be used to buy new ships of the five classes. Both the LMS and the MRSS are still in conceptual stage at this stage, however.

A graphic of a China made LPD displayed at LIMA 2015. The ship was proposed for the RMN MRSS requirement.
A graphic of a China made LPD displayed at LIMA 2015. The ship was proposed for the RMN MRSS requirement.

According to Kamarulzaman, the LMS will be smaller, less capable and more importantly, less expensive than the LCS. It will be multi-mission ship capable of conducting patrols and other duties. Both the LMS and MRSS and the rest of the future armada will be locally built to reduce the procurement and maintenance costs.

KD Lekiu and KD Jebat sailed together with USS George Washington in Andaman Sea. US Navy picture
KD Lekiu and KD Jebat sailed together with USS George Washington in Andaman Sea. US Navy picture

Kamarulzaman did not explained what kind of MRSS is being envisioned by the navy. He pointed out that despite having five class of ships, the number of vessels in the future fleet will be much bigger than the present one. He did not specify numbers.

Two of the Mahameru class berthed at the Lumut naval base in January, 2014.
Two of the Mahamiru class berthed at the Lumut naval base in January, 2014.

On the LCS, Kamarulzaman declined to confirm the missiles nor the engines specified by the six-class ships being build at Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) in Lumut. Asked whether the NSM and the VL MICA had been confirmed, he said the announcement will be made when the ships are completed.

A mock-up of the VL MICA at Imdex 2015.
A mock-up of the VL MICA at Imdex 2015.

On the engines, Kamarulzaman declined to say whether it will latest propulsion system to enhance underwater acoustic signature. It is likely that the LCS will be fitted with four diesel engines in the CODAD configuration – just like the Lekiu and Kasturi classes. He also said the name of the ships and pennant numbers are still under consideration.

CODAD engine arrangement.
CODAD engine arrangement.

By the way we may operate at least several variants of the LCS if we go by the infographics blasted by the Defence Minister social media team on Wednesday.

One of the info-graphics published by the Defence Minister social media team. Its the Gowind corvette, not the LCS.
One of the info-graphics published by the Defence Minister social media team. Its the Gowind corvette, not the LCS.

When told that they had used the wrong CGIs, the handlers replied that it was just for illustration purpose only. And they will have the correct graphics once the LCS is completed!

News Analysis
If you think why the NGPV (six ships) classification is maintained, well, Kamarulzaman seemed to want more of the Kedah class. In an interview with Janes (access via paid subscription) late last year, Kamarulzaman stated that they would like to get at least 12 more of an improved version of the Kedah class.

Two Kedah class, KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176) berthed at Lumut jetty in early 2014. The ship on the other side is KD Mahawangsa. Malaysian Defence
Two Kedah class, KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176) berthed at Lumut jetty in early 2014. The ship on the other side is KD Mahawangsa. Malaysian Defence

For me at least, the NGPV is a dead end. To improve it meant more money is needed to be invested . If money is available it should be spend on more LCS instead. It’s a newer design and any improvement to the current design will not need as much money compared to a ship which is already out of production.
As for the LMS, if the design remained as it is we might as well buy them from Singapore.
An infographic on the LMV. RSN
An infographic on the LMV. RSN

Anyhow, even if the transformation plan is green-lighted – which will cost some RM30 billion (my estimate) – it is unlikely that funding will be made available in the next few years due to the current economic headwinds. Any money available will be consumed by the LCS as the government seek to ensure its completion.

Kedah, while she was still call Business Focus One back in 2002.
Kedah, while she was still call Business Focus One back in 2002.

How they are going to save money by building warships locally is beyond me. Especially what had happened in the last decade or so especially with the NGPV and the training ships. We end up paying more, not just the direct costs of the ships but also indirect ones as older vessels are retained beyond their out-service-dates.

PCU Gagah Samudera, prior to her launch.
PCU Gagah Samudera, prior to her launch.

While they might save some money by building the hulls locally (though the steel still need to be imported as we do not produce them locally) the majority of the ship’s components still need to be imported. Furthermore we end up paying more as the shipyard will need to buy them from the middlemen. For example, for the NGPV and LCS, the only major component being sourced locally are the fire control radars.

A close up of Kedah class bridge. Note the EADS 3-D radar and FCR
A close up of Kedah class bridge. Note the EADS 3-D radar and FCR

And it is unlikely any local company will be able to come up with a marine engine design as good as the Germans. Unless, we followed what China did, simply copy them. Or we could just buy their ships!

Algerian Navy Adhafer corvette at berth at BCC today. www.malaysiandefence.com
Algerian Navy Adhafer corvette at berth at BCC today. www.malaysiandefence.com

Yes, China made ships (and components) are a lot cheaper than Western and even Eastern ones. The question remains do we really want our fleet to carry the Made in China tag?

— Malaysian Defence

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44 Comments

  1. Our deficit this year is predicted at around rm40 bilion. I hope mr najib can find a way to reduce it .more subsidies cut please.

  2. Any money for the navy’s plan would be after 2020, during rmk12.

    Current budget has been mostly spent on the gowinds and sub refit.

    Its good to hear the navy chief’s plan is realistic, and is looking to add a lower specced ship (with a current in service design too) than the gowinds. Hope the chief of the airforce could be as grounded to the realities like him.

    As for my ideas on how to get the meko100 design up to date, fully armed and cheaper than the previous iteration, that is for another reply…

    Reply
    As for Mek100 design, write something around 1,000 words and I will used it as a guest post.

  3. I ok go for more Meko although it not the latest technology but it design is consider a model vessel which almost same like F-2000. As patrol vessel, it can help RMN for at less coming 30 years…

    It will cheaper than we get LCS. we already have the right to produce it, so it not a major problem for us to restart it again. yes, restart a project may cost a lot but if RMN serious to get 12 of it.. that cost is cheaper and it cheaper than we try to import a new vessel (except source from china)

  4. Is RMN planning to arm the Kedah class to be on par with the Gowind or something more low-key? And can someone please explain to me the rationale of having both the NGPV and LMS? (serious question)

  5. @ anas

    The kedah/ngpv would be something that would slot below the gowind in capability, not on par capability wise. That should also mean a lower overall (aquiring and operating) cost than the gowind (not including what happened during the PSC saga of course)

    The LMS although without clear info from tldm, a guesstimate:
    – Something smaller and faster than the ngpv, optimised for near shore operations (selat melaka, esscom area)
    – equipped for surveillance, intercepting, boarding and destroying fast hostile boats, rhibs, bot pancong. Means dedicated boarding teams, fast rhibs, armoring for small arms fire, small ASM but in larger quantities to combat swarming attacks etc.
    – Probably mine hunting equipment to replace mahamiru capability, using mostly long range remotely controlled mine hunting equipments. Interchangeable equipment or specific hulls built for minehunting but with 90% commonality with normal hulls.

  6. I believe it could be done. 18 fully armed NGPV, 18 LCS and 24 LMS will be a potent force to reckon with. Plus 8-12 subs and around 6 MRSS, I’m sure our navy will be highly respected and become a major deterrent factor for any potential occupying force.

    This could be emulated by the air force as well, to have a few aircraft types with more numbers in quantity for each type, a major factor to reduce acquisition and operating cost, whilst opening the possibility of manufacturing those aircrafts locally.

    I guess the said have been done for the army, we have gained the expertise to produce some of our land systems requirement, more potential could be explored to manufacture lots more to fulfill our land forces needs.

    The coming DSA 2016 will be a great venue to check out what and how we have progressed so far, since its inception nearly 30 years ago.

    Wish Malaysia all the best in becoming a major defence equipment producer and exporter in the future. Its been a long and winding journey.

  7. Nanono

    Are u on meds or something bro?? Joking aside theres simply not enough money to go around.. yes its a dream. But a wet dream. Im just hoping that the Lcs is delivered on time and on budget. But looking back at the ngpv and training vessels saga… it doesnt look good guys.

  8. @ nanonano

    I don’t think we have the budget to aquire and maintain that much number of new ships.

    Even with the best case scenario, I think in rmk12 the navy would be allocated usd3 billion, around rm13 billion.

    That would be good for probably:

    6 additional ngpv plus upgrades to the current 6 (usd 1.2bil)

    No additional gowinds

    9 LMS (usd 0.6bil)

    1 additional scorpene (usd 0.7bil, only way to get more or cheaper is to go used, or mini subs)

    2 MRSS (chinese LPD) (usd 0.2bil)

    Probably could get a bit more cash is to sell off the quite new f2000 frigates and the older fs1500 corvettes, at most you could get usd300-400million for them.

    My silly idea for the future rmn frigate aka LCS fleet is… Sell off all the f2000 and fs1500 after we have at least 4 gowinds in commission (that would probably be in 2021). Consolidate frigate/LCS fleet with gowind and… I know this is a radical idea… used french lafayette frigates. Buy all 5 lafayette frigates (they are to be replaced by FTI multimission frigate) and refit/slep them in lumut. So the LCS fleet would consist of 6 gowinds and 5 lafayettes. Name the 5 lafayettes with laksamana melaka names (hang tuah and friends).

  9. @…

    Thanks. So, the NGPV class will be patrol/combat patrol corvette and the LMS would be multi-purpose FAC/missile boat?

    Marhalim, there’s something wrong with the ‘im not a spam bot’ button..

  10. “18 fully armed NGPV, 18 LCS and 24 LMS”

    Sounds like we’ll be increasing the navy’s development budget by 5X at least, and enlarging many of our base piers, dock yards and ordnance depots. We’ll have to recruit, train, pay and house many new sailors.

    I get that we need more patrol hulls, but why do we need such a large battle force? Are there even enough operational scenarios to employ them?

  11. For the littoral mission vessel plan, the intermarine mhmr concept looks good as it combine both patrol and mine countermeasure capabilities in one platform.

  12. What is needed to achieve nanonano vision is A) a lot of money allocated to MINDEF or B) reliable, well armed but cheap ships.

    Now option A although desireable and may be possible but it is unlikely to happen in the next 4-5 years as Malaysia is targeting a balance budget by 2020, which means by 2020 all our operation and development needs (in the year 2020) shall be fully funded by local taxes and GST, no more borrowings. Well unless our tax collection become super efficient (currently only 1 in 13 malaysian pay any personal income tax, estimated only 60% of malaysian companies are tax compliant, Custom collection is only at 50% of what it should be and GST coverage only at 60% at best) then may be we can get more money to Mindef and RMN ultimately.

    Option B while still cost money but lesser and seems doable currently, if we do away with the requirement that it must be done in Malaysia plus TOT. Option limited though as US and European design will cost at least USD100 million for a minimum armed PV (guns only, again depending on specs), the Korean design would be considered a medium class producer. Cheap one i beckon would be the Chinese (F22P type Frigate fully armed for 3D warfare is less than USD200 mil) and Russian designs but not sure whether the technology would be as want our serviceman wanted.

  13. Chill bros… Never mind to wet dream. From dream human try to achieve their objctives. It has been a long saga. Did I mention almost 30 years? And we are still struggling, but at least we have achieved something that is not bad at all. It wont be now or near future that we need that number of ships said, for long term planning and requirement it’s not in the impossible thing to do.

    The total number of ships that I wet dreamt above just hovering around 74 the least. W used to have around 70 ships in the 70s n 80s albeit smaller ones. But who cares about the manpower for bigger ones? Modern ships operates with lesser number of crew nowadays. So it’s not an unachievable thing, just long term financial commitment is the main obstacle.

  14. Anas – ”Is RMN planning to arm the Kedah class to be on par with the Gowind or something more low-key?”

    How can it be on ”par” when there is very little deck space to add new stuff? On the ‘B’ position, the space below is utilised so that whatever goes there must be non deck penetrating. Apart from weapons there is also the question of the CMS. In a 2 part profile Gut Toremans [naval writer and photographer] did on the Kedah class for Warships International a few years ago; he mentioned COSYS being suitable for low threat work and in need of software upgrades for more serious stuff. I asked him about this and he said he was told this by the OEM.

    Michael – ”I ok go for more Meko although it not the latest technology ”
    The actual design is fine. All the other stuff on board like the sensors and CMS can be replaced with ”latest technology”.

    We have to bear in mind that original plans called for the Kedah to replace the Vosper built PCs in order to perform low threat, peacetime constabulary roles like EEZ enforcement, anti- piracy; as well off course as certain wartime [albeit low threat/secondary] roles. The most serious stuff was always to be handled by the Lekius.

    AM – ”I get that we need more patrol hulls, but why do we need such a large battle force?”

    The idea I suppose is that we may have to deploy ships in more than 1 area and that at any one time, ‘X’ number will be in dry dock or at pier undergoing routine maintenance.

    …… – ”1 additional scorpene (usd 0.7bil, only way to get more or cheaper is to go used, or mini subs)”

    Unfortunately there are no used Scorpenes and going for another design will be foolish from an a logistics viewpoint. Mini subs are great for special forces insertion and for surprise attacks in choke points but simply do not offer the operational flexibility that real subs do on account of short range sensors and shorter range and endurance. We were offered COSMOS mini subs on the past.

  15. Just because it’s a meko doesn’t necessarily it’s gonna be the A100 variant. there are bigger A200 variant, which is about twice as heavy as NGPV.

    Or we can outright buy frigates from South Korea. It could be a bigger-sized Gagah Samudera class ship

  16. @ azlan

    Of course there is no used scorpenes, im thinking of probably the sweedish sodermanland class subs with aip (similar to singaporean archer class), which 2 of them could be had for half the price of a new scorpene. Yes it is old and has limited life but it is younger than the singaporean ones. It also has AIP, which tldm scorpene lacks.

    Another option is the scorpene 1000 fka the andrasta. It is said that 1 scorpene could buy 2 andrasta’s

    As for minisubs I was thinking something along the lines of the Hyundai hds-400 or the croatian drakon 220 (said to cost euro 50mil each)

  17. kamal – ”then may be we can get more money to Mindef and RMN ultimately.”

    No. Even if the economy improves by tenfold; defence will not be a priority and we’ll continue the policy of spending only when cash is available. Until we are faced with a clear threat; that actually threatens out economy or our ability to safeguard our direct interests; things will not change. I’m absolutely convinced that if we did a referendum, the majority of rakyat will call for further cuts in the defence budget : not surprising given the antipathetic view most or many Malaysians have towards defence.

    Nihd – ” the intermarine mhmr concept looks good as it combine both patrol and mine countermeasure capabilities in one platform.”

    I will be interesting to see what the RMN decides to replace the Mahamirus with : with full fledged MCMVs or anti-mine modules that can be fitted to any naval or commercial ship. Like most navies we still rely largely on the wire sweep/opresa but some, including the RN, have abandoned it and rely on robotics.

  18. Face the reality…

    My suggestion based on our current financial situation.

    6 SGPV
    6 Kedah class (armed to the teeth 3D warfare)
    2 lekiu ( upgrade to NSM and ESSM)
    2 Kasturi class ( full upgraded to ASW configuration)
    4 Laksamana class (upgraded to FAC M)

    2 Perdana Menteri Class (install AIP)

    This is the best we can do with current financial situation.

  19. Iirc, there were some korean ship on the propsosal few years back.
    Would that be our lms?

    Reply
    In the same Janes interview the RMN chief seemed to indicate that the proposal is dead.

  20. You are right, Malaysia and Malaysians tend to be a bit lax with defence. We probably need more emphasis and money and should probably aim to increase our defence budget modestly, closer to 2% GDP in the coming years (as what Australia is doing).

    Saying that, it is better not being too belligerent like our southern neighbour or the Chinese. The military is misused as tool for social cohesion. I can say this as I am Chinese, albeit Peranakan.

    I really prefer all Malaysians to be cohesive for what we are, our love for food and eating, rather than develop a siege mentality.

    Spending 3% plus of our GDP on defence will take the country nowhere in the long term.

  21. ……,

    Buying a new design would mean that the RMN operates 2 types of subs; equals to the need for 2 different training, logistical and support infrastructures. The Sodermanland may be cheaper – by virtue of being pre-owned – but what will the long term operating costs be of a pre-owned boats which entered service in the late 1980’s? And how maintenance intensive will the be compared to the much newer Scorpenes.

    Apart from special forces insertion and maybe the gathering of ACINT; I see very little need for mini-subs in our context. They’re just too small and with limited endurance, sensors and range for anything useful. Off course there will be the odd case when a mini-sub proves useful [the sinking of the Cheonan; which incidentally was not at action stations] but it will be rare.

    Tom Tom – ”Saying that, it is better not being too belligerent like our southern neighbour or the Chinese. ”

    Singapore has valid reasons to take defence seriously : zero strategic depth, almost totally dependent on access to the world’s shipping lanes – easily interdicted – for its food and other vital imports; surrounded by much, much larger neighbours, etc. The Chinese may be acting ”belligerent” buy so have others in the past. Remember that Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines claimed and occupied parts of the Spratlys way before China dis; albeit off course on a much smaller scale.

  22. @ azlan

    That is option b,c,d of my deduction, so I have run through what you said about those options.

    Thats why I put 1 additional scorpene in my original post…

  23. When the Lekius’ Seawolf needs to be replaced, it is only sensible that they get the same missile and VLS that is on the LCS.

    The combat system will be different, nothing we can do about that unless we upgrade it to Setis.

  24. Azlan,

    Believe me, I know their mentality. The Chinese claims are excessive, aggressive, dubious and not based on current international law. This is the crux of the whole matter. Also, artificial or man made islands do not count when claiming territorial waters.

    Malaysia’s claims are modest but importantly, well within international law.

  25. I agree with u tom tom but most of us who never mix around with the chinese be it lical or overseas tend to think they ar like malysian malays polite with 5idak apa attitude……wait till the dragon grow fangs n breath flames even the mat salleh can never stop them

  26. In what way is the Southern Neighbour belligerent? To me, it just smells of sour grape mentality. They are smaller but better equipped blah blah. Every nation have their own mentality.

    Focus on ours first. We have our own requirements, they have theirs. Misused for social cohesion. That’s not what their people think. It unites them, a source of pride. Of course there will be those hu disagree, but see the results for urself. Compare to us, are we socially cohesive? Look at the news everyday, broken all over.

    We have our own problems n issues to resolve. Modernisation to concentrate on. Slowly but surely. We can’t compare, we shouldn’t compare.

  27. Marhani,

    Agree with u, slowly but surely we will modernise and expand our numbers according to our capability, as the country progress and the population increases. No need to compare with others, no matter within this region or not. We will modernise to our needs and requirement.

  28. Marhani – ”They are smaller but better equipped blah blah. Every nation have their own mentality.”

    Actually ….. every country has it’s own priorities, fears, insecurities and threat perceptions.

  29. Tom Tom – ”Believe me, I know their mentality. The Chinese claims are excessive, aggressive, dubious and not based on current international law.”

    Well I’m glad you’re an expert on the Chinese.

    China is a ”immature’ and ”insecure” super power; finding it’s way around. How China is acting now is no different from how Britain, France, the U.S. and other powers did when they were on their way to become super or imperialist powers. When the U.S. secured control of the Caribbean and places such as the Philippines; it didn’t care about the wishes of the locals, the European powers or about human rights and democracy – it did what it had to do for its self-interests. History repeats itself.

    BTW, I’m not pro-China; merely a realist and cynic. Everybody has their own agenda an self-interests to watch out for; even if it’s contrary to what they publicly preach. The trick for us is to maintain our hedging policy and strike a steady balance when it comes to relations with Uncle Sam and China.

  30. “Misused for social cohesion. That’s not what their people think. It unites them, a source of pride. Of course there will be those hu disagree, but see the results for urself.”

    It’s a little propagandistic to say Singaporeans are united and proud because of the SAF. Singaporeans are united and proud because Singaporeans all think the same way.

    It’s true that many Singaporeans are proud of the SAF. But that is odd because everyone has so little interest and knowledge in the military as a whole, despite having served in it for two years. Even if they were keen to know, there is so little public information on the SAF that it is hard even for an expert to know whether to be “proud.”

    The amount of information that we have on other militaries does not exist in Singapore. Of course, the Singaporeans have their valid reasons.

    For example, even though everyone serves national service, almost no one knows the composition of any unit above a battalion. Even the existence of units may be out of date information from year to year -partly by design and partly because the falling birth rate is changing the way the SAF maintains units and fills those units. No one knows how many Terrexes were built or how many Leopards are in combat configuration, but everyone knows we will have 257 Gempitas, the configuration of our LCS or that in the US, Congress authorized 25 F-35s or 48 Abrams for this year.

    They’ve got some impressive equipment there, but with so little information to go on, that’s quite irrelevant in knowing whether the SAF is doing well against these constraints or is leaving gaps quietly unfilled.

    What’s for sure is that by inducting everyone at a young age for two years of national service, it imparts obedience to authority and it makes the country “socially cohesive” in that sense and produces citizens conditioned to follow only the government ordained way.

  31. That’s the strength isn’t it, doing things quietly, keeping others on their toes. I rather we keep silent and mum on certain things too, without the need to showcase at times.
    In what way is it propagandistic when it’s a foreigner who points out their strength. Can’t we learn from each other? Especially their style of working silently, no bishi bashi of hey I’m doing this, we gonna have this. Or hey we gonna have this, but i’m gonna tell you only 75% of it 😈.
    No one knows the Apaches existed till years later. No one knows the SOF existed till they can’t hide it eventually.
    At the end of the day, results show for itself.

    If we take the mistakes they made and how they overcame it and apply it to our defence industries, I think we can gain somethink. They have been exporting arms for years, again, doing it hush hush.
    Conclusively, that little information they churned out, they had already won half the battle. I’ve retired after decades of working there. If time were to turn and u asked me if I will have done e same now, yes. Ask them if they would want to work here instead, oh well, depends. It’s awesome, such a tiny dot, but so many secrets. But yes, you are right, that’s the Singaporean way, they only let you see what they want you to see, they keep the trump cards hidden. Pedra Branca anyone?

  32. AM – so much sweeping statements which r so wrong.

    am always surpise to note how north people have so little understanding of southern neighbor. It like u want thing to fit into ur world view of thing.

    now i also wonder if the same little understanding exist abt other country and peoples. This may not be good ting in long run.

  33. AM – ”No one knows how many Terrexes were built”

    Or even how much was spent developing it; as well as the unit cost.

    AM – ”Of course, the Singaporeans have their valid reasons.”

    OPSEC; they often say on forums/blogs.

    When you do meet Singaporeans abroad however; once they open up to you and realise you’re not fishing for info, for nefarious or dubious reasons; they’re quite candid as to the problems they face within the SAF and the cock ups that happen [just like in any other military]. Just a month ago – by chance – I met a former Guards Sgt. We had a good talk and he was quite open about the issues he faced and the cock ups. Malaysian and Singaporeans have their perspective misconceptions about the SAF and the MAF and just like the MAF, there are people in the SAF who go places or who are promoted based not on merit but for other reasons.

    AM – ”What’s for sure is that by inducting everyone at a young age for two years of national service”

    I would argue that because of NS [the the shared experience Singapore males share] and because the government constantly reminds Singaporeans of how vulnerable Singapore is and that Singapore’s neighbours are friendly because of a strong SAF; there is higher level of defence awareness in general amongst Singaporeans and the SAF is more of a national institution compared to the MAF in Malaysia.

    AM – ”that’s quite irrelevant in knowing whether the SAF is doing well against these constraints or is leaving gaps quietly unfilled.”

    The SAF, compared to the MAF, is under much less public and press scrutiny compared to the MAF : for a number of reasons. Another thing going for the SAF is despite whatever complains some citizens and the opposition may have about the Singapore government; the majority are aware of the need for a strong SAF and for the investments needed to maintain a strong SAF.

    Over here, if the government announces that the RMN is to get 4 new helos; people will say “who are we going to war with?”, ”ohh, the only purpose of the contract is for the middleman to make money”, ”why buy helos when the cash can be used to build schools”? Others will say we should save cash by buying used. Whilst I have absolutely no problems buying used; factors such as commonality, the availability of spares and long term operating costs must first be taken into account.

  34. To the contrary, I would be making a sweeping statement if I said the SAF was good or no good. I made very clear that I reserved judgment. because there is so little that we know. It is impossible to tell when there is so little information on a military and it has never been in a war.

    Good equipment is not enough. The Saudis have excellent equipment and a big budget, so too did the French at the start of World War 2. How much does domestic SAF equipment cost, considering the limited numbers bought, and how does it perform relative to other pieces on the market? That can’t be discerned because the cost is not released and the equipment has not yet been exported in most cases.

  35. Marhani – ”we take the mistakes they made and how they overcame it and apply it to our defence industries, I think we can gain somethink.”

    The BIG difference between the Malaysian and Singapore defence industry is that Singaporean companies receive much better support than the government, there is much, much less political interference there and there is more cash to go around. What’s the point of a Malaysian company producing something worth buying if the government can’t commit to orders?

    We also have provided military assistance/training abroad; ”hush, hush”, namely to Cambodian rebels fighting the Vietnamese and anti Cambodian [then Kampuchea] government. During a coup attempt in 2008 the East Timor President was injured by shots fired by an ex-Malaysian HK-33 [some 300 were given to East Timor].

    Marhani – ”No one knows the Apaches existed till years later. No one knows the SOF existed till they can’t hide it eventually.”

    No. The purchase of the Apaches was announced publicly and it was covered by the mainstream and defence press. What was not announced – amongst others – until it was displayed publicly were the AMX-13s.

    Marhani – ”. I rather we keep silent and mum on certain things too, without the need to showcase at times.”

    We do keep silent on certain things. What we ”showcase” is known to be in existence so there’s no point keeping hush about it. In this day and age the taxpayer needs to see what he/she is paying for. We are not North Korea or a country in a state of war or tension with a neighbour; only so much we can keep under wraps before it becomes public.

    Marhani – ”. They have been exporting arms for years, again, doing it hush hush.”

    Their first or biggest order was to Malaysia back in 1969 – about a million rounds of small arms ammo. The initial plan was for us to buy ”Made in Singapore” M-16A1s but Colt intervened. Singapore had previously sold M-16s to the Philippines without first seeking U.S. approval. Ex- Sing M-16s have turned up in Myanmar in the hands of rebels [via a third party based in Thailand – the unofficial arms capital of South East Asia] and in the 1990’s Ultimaxs turned up in Croatia. The CIS salesman I spoke to at DSA 1993 denied this off course, despite photographic evidence

  36. Am – you dont understand the meaning of sweep statement. ur previous post were factual wrongs, esp on sg society. Or an exampel we have lil knowledge on militri. Azlan hit the nail:Opsec. We r far more sensitive on this as it we r born with the knowledgement tat it affect our survival. I come from a unit that will surge into the unknown. I do noe wut equimen we use.. or how many. But i wont share. In a way we are more organise in term of how we manage our info. But the same go for MAF i suppose. Can a maf officer reveal opsec. wut is opsec depend on ur doctrine of course. 🙂

    Unit cost of developmen is relative. ST is part of Temasek Holding which is a US200 billion Sg soveriegn wealth fund. Sg has another soveriegn wealth fund call Government of Singapore Investment Corporation or GIC with about US400 billon. SG govt has ard US250 billion foriegn reservelock away not including current reserve which Sg govt can use. Sg govt can afford to spend a bit more la.

  37. Tomahawk, how do you know my nationality and whether I have served national service in the SAF or not?

    No crime on my part, I have not revealed a single drop of secret information.

  38. AM – ”How much does domestic SAF equipment cost, considering the limited numbers bought, and how does it perform relative to other pieces on the market? ”

    From what I’ve heard; not cheap. At one of the shows I visited years ago I was told that ST Kinetics 40mm ”smart” ammo costs about 2-3 a pop. Within the industry, the Sings are known to be tough dealers and very picky/choosy [even if they seem to know what they’re doing compared to regional counterparts]; when it comes to dealing with and ”Made in Singapore” kit – in general – pricey.

    Tomahawk – ” wut is opsec depend on ur doctrine of course.”

    Actually, it depends more on other factors such as paranoia and threat perceptions. The Israelis off course go to great extents to maintain OPSEC [at one point IDF officers weren’t even allowed to use handphones] but the unlike Singapore; Israel is surrounded by neighbours whom it has gone to war with in the past. Sure, there is need for OPSEC but not allowing people to take pics of an Apache at an airshow and answering questions to everybody – at airshows – except those with a Malaysia tag [speaking from direct experience here] is taking OPSEC a wee bit to far; ludicrous.

  39. Azlan, you are right. The things they say don’t pass the common sense test.

    From the officer’s perspective, refusing to answer your questions is ludicrous, but is safe. He has long learned from others that it is better than answering and being punished by a superior who is equally ludicrous, especially if his quote makes the press and circles back via Gombak camp (Mindef).

    Singaporean journo David Boey lamented that when he covered the RSS Endurance’s tusnami relief mission to Aceh, his report for the Straits Times casually mentioned that Naval Divers were enjoying a well earned game of mahjong in their evening downtime. This was taken badly by the higher ups (who else then) and and he could only hope that not too much befell those involved behind closed doors.

    http://kementah.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html

    “I am reliably informed it was a talking point at Changi Naval Base that Sunday, when a command group supporting OFE met to discuss the operation.

    The Major in charge of the NDU detail aboard Endurance also had some explaining to do.

    Years later, I still meet MINDEF/SAF officers who talk about the piece.

    Others go into finger pointing mode whenever I step aboard their decks, whispering like gossipy kids. I may be myopic but I am not deaf and I do have friends in the Navy who pass on the fleet’s scuttlebutt.

    I worry for the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) if its ranks are populated with weak-minded individuals who apparently cannot tell the forest from the trees.

    Indeed, while in-theatre, a CO of one LST even suggested that I may have mistaken the sounds from an operational man-of-war, like dripping water (I kid you not), for a mahjong game in full play. He may have looked at me with condescending eyes, perhaps unaware that I have sailed aboard more warship classes than most RSN servicemen. So I let it pass.”

  40. AM,

    During the 1980’s things were also quite silly here. In 1988 or 1988 the army had a 2 day exhibition on the grounds of Central Market. It was the first time I had seen a Scorpion in the flesh and I was taking close ups of the Cockerill. A Chinese Major threatened to take away my camera if I didn’t stop [strangely a FNSS Nurol guy at DSA 2002 also tried to stop me from taking a close up of a Bushmaster]. Glad to say however that things have improved – at exhibitions or Open Days there is no restrictions on what photos you can take of displayed stuff [makes perfect sense given that everything is on public display anyway and that practically nothing that can’t be obtained via open sources can be obtained by visitors taking photos] and troops/airmen/sailors are more than happy to talk shop; even if those asking the questions are foreigners. Off course there are questions that will never be answered but then one has to use common sense anyway and know what can or can’t be asked.

    It’s very hard for collectors here to get MAF badges or uniforms but funny enough; SAF stuff can easily be found at flea markets and certain shops – everything from the ERDL pattern, to the Israeli influenced chest rig, to ammo boxes, to even helmets with camo netting have seen here for sale. In fact, barely weeks after they introduced their digital pattern, brand new sets were seen here for sale. Whether all this stuff was bought at Beach Road by Malaysians and brought back here or was obtained via other sources is unknown.

  41. SAF items will be much more available because there are conscripts who demobilize every year and sell the surplus items when they don’t need them anymore.

    After full time service, there is annual reservist training (uUsed to be 13 times until Mindef announced a few years back that they brought it down to 10 years). One then goes to the individual reserve with no unit assigned and no training until discharged of legal liability at the age of 40 (50 for officers). And of course at every stage from full time to reservist, there are people who get their physical status downgraded partially or completely and are able to sell their things earlier than others.

  42. Yes but given the importance they place on security and stuff like that; I would have thought that it would be harder for civilians/collectors to get their hands on issued stuff there. In Malaysia if you walk in a store; unless the person behind the desk knows you; one can’t even buy a unit patch without first producing military ID. In Beach Road; no questions are asked and one can buy practically anything. In Israel for example; conscripts are required to hand back most of their issued stuff once their period of conscription has ended; same goes with Switzerland.

  43. (updated) About 20 years ago, most SAF equipment was issued from the unit’s quartermaster for the duration of full time NS, returned at the end, and drawn out for reservist training. It wasn’t even taken home. If it was damaged, you went to the unit quartermaster for a new one.

    One can imagine the effort of keeping each unit store supplied, policing the condition and quantity via regular inspections and ensuring it didn’t deteriorate in storage. Those webbing D-rings are prone to green rust.

    You may be aware that every soldier is now given a set of equipment when enlisted. He is given a yearly credit amount to replace any damaged items at a chain of outlets called E-Mart, run by ST Logistics. Some of these outlets are in public areas, for reservist convenience, and civilians or soldiers who lose too much equipment can even buy the equipment (or uniforms, patches, ranks) in cash. The only equipment you can’t buy are the ballistic helmet and the new vest.

    The vest itself is yours to keep.Only the infantry get the ballistic plates issued from stores and they have to return it. Which gives you an idea of the amount of control they want.

    Returning the equipment is optional. If you don’t, you are left to decide whether to keep or destroy it.

  44. There is no perfect control of issued uniforms n other accessories. I use to buy wxtra green drill dress n even my combat camouflage uniforms. Why?. Simple. The issued uniforms are just insufficient if we are to attend courses. We also keep new ones for special occassions like honour guard duties that does not require full dress.
    For convenience i buy my hammock, extra poncho n webbing. The webbing for real usage i wont maintain. The one for parade etc, i always use those in good condition.
    We are required to hand back the issued uniforms only. Those we make n buy we keep

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