MPA and MALE UAV in RMK12

The MQ-9 Predator displayed at LIMA 19. Zaq Sayuti.

SHAH ALAM: MPA and MALE UAV in RMK12. The procurement of two maritime patrol aircraft and three medium altitude long endurance UAV will take place in RMK12, says the Defense Ministry. The possibility of the purchase of the MPAs and drones being deferred to RMK12 was raised in the interview with the RMAF chief published on June 1.

As for the UAV and MPA, Affendi said both programmes have been approved though funds are not yet available. Asked when they expect funding be made available, Affendi said it was unclear. It may well be in RMK12, which starts in 2021

The MQ-9 Predator displayed at LIMA 19. Zaq Sayuti.

The timeline for the MPA and long range drones were confirmed by the ministry in a statement issued in response to the speculation regarding the order for 12 ScanEagle drones for Malaysia. Some people are speculating why Malaysia is spending some RM80 million for the drones.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ScanEagle is launched from the flight deck of the Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce . US Navy

From MalaysiaKini (its Hari Raya, I dont have time to translate the Mindef statement)

“The US through the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) programme has provided assistance in the form of capability (assets) and capacity (training) to partner countries including Malaysia to help improve maritime domain awareness in Southeast Asia,” said Mindef.

The programme is fully funded by the US government without any expenses incurred by Malaysia, it said.

Under this MSI programme, the Royal Malaysian Navy will receive assistance in stages, starting from 2019 and running through to 2022.

“The first batch of six ScanEagle drones is expected to be delivered by mid-November this year,” said Mindef.

“Apart from the Malaysian Armed Forces, other enforcement agencies will also receive benefits under the MSI programme to improve maritime surveillance and information sharing among enforcement agencies and the armed forces,” it added.

“The future purchase of these drones will help Malaysia in maritime supervision activities, while the further addition of two Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) and three Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Airborne Vehicles will be carried out as per the 12th Malaysia Plan,” it said.

Anyhow it appears also that the funding for the MPA and long range armed drones, will be at the minimum. As reported before the requirement was for four MPA and six drones. It is likely that the next batch of MPA and drones will be purchased in RMK13.

Leonardo ATR 72 MP. Leonardo

For the record, the MPA contenders are the Leonardo ATR-72MPA, Airbus C-295, PTDI CN-235, Boeing P-8A Poseidon and the Kawasaki P1. As for the drones, its the General Atomics MQ-9 Guardian, AVIC Wing Loong II, the Leonardo Falco and the Turkish Aerospace Anka.

Three U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 sit ready at Perth Airport in Australia April 8, 2014, to conduct search missions in support of the international effort to locate Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. VP-16 was deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy ships and aircraft were dispatched to assist a multinational search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people aboard. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney/Released)

It must be said the Poseidon and P1 are probably the best candidates due to the ASW requirement which requires endurance when fully armed. Both are pricey though.

Kawasaki P-1. JMSDF

As for the drones, I think the Anka is the odds-on favourite here with Guardian second though again its very pricey.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1161 Articles
Shah Alam

83 Comments

  1. 2 MPAs? What is the rationale for that number? Would this be explained in the next DWP? Any new stuff to be bought in RMK12 and RMK13 should be thoroughly explained in the next DWP.

  2. The rationale for just 2 is that the government just isn’t willing to fork out anymore cash and wants to also spend – what limited cash there is – on other things. An order for 4 would be ideal; a mere 2 will result in a “bit of everything but not enough of anything” situation.

    With just 2, ensuring 1 is operational at all times will be challenging and the 3 remaining Beechcrafts will have to continue in service; despite their clear limitations.

    The P8 is a great aircraft but we need it like we need a hole in our head. It will never happen. Too expensive to buy and superfluous for our needs. It’s not as if we’re going to be conducting long range missions over the North Pacific or Andaman Sea.

    Reply
    Yes but I spoke to various industry people for the last several years that if the requirement involved armed patrol ASW, the P-8 or also the P-1 are the best for the job. The twin engine turboprops are not capable enough for ASW especially if one wants to carry weapons.

  3. The P-8 will have one big advantage over other MPAs : the ability to detect and engage subs from high altitude. Whether or not the U.:S. will be quick to provide the capability to non NATO or other allied P8 users remains to be seen however.

    Of course like almost everything else; the P-8a effectiveness in U.S. service lies not only on its capabilities per see but it operating as part of a networked environment.

    Given the costs involved involved in giving a MPA an attack capability and maintaining that capability; I would be very surprised if the MPAs we buy will actually have such a capability.

  4. “The programme is fully funded by the US government without any expenses incurred by Malaysia, it said.”
    Which is why I said our pivot to US is beginning to reap rewards. Why else we got much more ScanEagles compared to other regional nations? Certainly no one gives for free without expecting some returns. We shall see what that is.

    Reply
    Its not a pivot lah. I heard about the offer in 2017 so it was on the works all this time

  5. Joe,

    You don’t get it. You might be convinced there is but in actual reality there is no “pivot”. We’ve had close ties for decades – started when Dr.M signed a bilateral agreement on 1983/84 at the Pentagon. Secondly, in various ways we have benefited from this arrangement – in various different ways – for a long time now and are not just “beginning” to.

    Of course the Americans benefit. It’s long been part of their policy to cultivate close ties with regional countries. They want a stable region and if countries are too weak or under equipped to adequately monitor there own waters; this can lead to regional issues, not to mention the threat of non state actors. Why do you think a few years ago they gave us a radar for eastern Sabah?

    The fact that we got more stuff than other countries can be due to various factors : don’t read too much into it. Doesn’t mean favouritism on their part.

    They are under no illusions that we’ll suddenly become pro American or. buy more American just because they given us stuff funded by the American taxpayer.
    At a time when they are in stiff competition with China for regional influence; giving countries stuff also generates goodwill. So yes they expect something in return but yes but it doesn’t necessarily has to something detrimental to our own interests or something totally new.

  6. @ marhalim

    On the need for ASW kill capability for MPA.

    We are not doing ASW in an open ocean. Any ASW hunt would be in conjunction of the Scorpenes, Gowinds and future ASW helicopter. Our MPA ASW capability should be focused on tracking and situational awareness of foreign submarines plying in malaysian EEZ, and embedded submarine kill capability should not be a required mission for the MPA.

  7. Azlan “Given the costs involved involved in giving a MPA an attack capability and maintaining that capability; I would be very surprised if the MPAs we buy will actually have such a capability.”

    Even if we had that capability, we couldn’t afford to exercise it (by dropping sonobouys, which aren’t cheap) frequently enough to be proficient.

    Yet it is one of the P-8’s key advantages, take it away and it becomes much less special, while still remaining an expensive platform. It also packs a few things we don’t need, such as ISR capabilities and a very long range.

    Better to have more of some other MPA for the same money, than just two or so P-8s.

    Marhalim “it must be said the Poseidon and P1 are probably the best candidates due to the ASW requirement.”

    Could you tell us a bit about this requirement please?

  8. 2 MPA is too less to replace the beechcraft.

    Since RMAF going to have 1 sq of MPA and I think 18 units is the best number to guard Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak with 6 for each. If RMAF just want to keep keep 2 type of airlift craft, this is the time for us to release CN-235. My idea is to convert the existing Cn-235 become CN-235MPA. This will build up 9 units. This is much faster way for RMAF get up total 18 units. if we maintain 2 units per RMK, it will too slow + end up we are in Rojak MPA.

    Convert existing CN-235 will help reduce the workload of the new MPA. If we go for the same model, I ok with it as it already well proven. If we choose a new type, my choice will be ATR-72MPA.

    For Male UAV, we can go with the plan, even Rojak also not an issue because get a Male UAV is a lot cheaper get a MPA.

    Reply
    The MPA is for four aircraft. As I said in the post it is likely two more will be paid for in RMK13

  9. Doesn’t that make it 5 MPA, there is the current 3 being converted.

    Reply
    No, PTDI offered 2 new CN235 plus two modified from current transports but its part of the offer for the MPA requirement. There is the clause in the MRO contract for RMAF to convert a number of the CNs to MPA but that option has not been exercised

  10. I hopes the Mindef@gov requested the surplus ex P-3 Orion for gap filler…

    Reply
    There will be no request for the Orions no one wants them

  11. Has it been mentioned how the Scan Eagles would be operated? I suppose the RMN will operate those from ships with a helipad. In this case at least we could have reap something from the mostly ‘unoccupied’ helipad of the many RMN ships. 2 Lekius, 2 Kasturis, 6 Kedahs, 2 Saktis, and even the 2 training ships.

    In future this will be a drone war…

    Reply
    No RMN have not detailed their plans on operating the ScanEagles apart from standing up the UAV squadron. I believed the first operational mission will be conducted on the Sharifah Rodziah sea base in ESSCOM

  12. On the overall airborne maritime patrol requirement.

    IMO the ideal number for ASW capable MPA would be 6. That would enable at least 2 available to be airborne on patrol. The main operational area would be in south china sea in support of the scorpenes and gowind frigates.

    That would be complemented by 6 MPA of the same capability of the current beechcraft B200T MPA to be operated by MMEA, to patrol areas with low submarine activity like selat melaka plus kelantan and terengganu waters.

    Other assets that would suppport airborne maritime patrol would be the MALE UAVs; fulmar (MMEA) and scaneagle (TLDM) UAVs and also the RAAF P-8A Poseidon MPA detachment at Butterworth.

    ASW capable MPA should also be looked as a part of the overall malaysian ASW capability that includes the Scorpene (flank sonars), Gowinds (variable depth sonars), and ASW helicopters (sonobouys and dipping sonars). As a part of the larger overall ASW capability, IMO an embedded sub kill capability is not needed for the MPA, as that can be tasked to the scorpenes, gowinds and ASW helicopters.

    Sonobouys are expensive, and there is plenty of background noise in littoral waters. Past few months there has been advances in MAD sensor capability that can be exploited for our MPA requirements. It is smaller, lighter and has more powerful processing capability. This can be integrated on smaller MPA like the CN-235.

    http://www.navalnews.com/naval-news/2019/06/caes-mad-xr-next-gen-magnetic-anomaly-detection-system-enters-production/

  13. “We are not doing ASW in an open ocean. Any ASW hunt would be in conjunction of the Scorpenes, Gowinds and future ASW helicopter. Our MPA ASW capability should be focused on tracking and situational awareness of foreign submarines plying in malaysian EEZ, and embedded submarine kill capability should not be a required mission for the MPA.”

    A very central purpose of MPAs is to range far from any surface and subsurface assets. Assuming the MPA has detected a submarine and one wants to kill it, there may not be other assets nearby to do it. By the time they arrive, the contact may have been lost. The MPA may also be vulnerable hanging around.

    Of course, the budget is tight and any MPA at all is a step up for us, even if it has no submarine detection capability at all. It would give us domain awareness on the surface, something we currently lack in many areas and at many times.

    What we have a requirement for now and what we may wish for in wartime can be very different. If someone suggested that we get a low end MPA and a high end ASW capable one when we can afford it later on, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Can I just check if the three MALE UAVs are intended for seaspace patrol? The announcement was made concurrently with that of the MPA but I don’t want to assume they will go towards the same purpose.

    Reply
    The UAV is for seaspace patrol and armed strike. It must be noted that the ATR, CN235 and C295 could also be fitted for ASW and armed just like the P8 and P1. But when fully kitted out the endurance of the turboprops goes out the window

  14. @ AM

    ” A very central purpose of MPAs is to range far from any surface and subsurface assets ”

    That is true if you are playing in an ocean. But in our case, our ships can easily sail at the edge of our EEZ limits in the south china sea, and the MPA coverage would overlap with the variable depth sonars and flank sonars of the gowind and scorpenes. So killing a sub with the MPA should not be a main functional priority.

  15. I’d like to see if rmaf could get an example of P-3 and ask airod if they could do something about it.

    If nothing else, airod could expand their expertise to include refurbishing and upgrading the Orions

    Reply
    Dont think RMAF in a position to get Airod to do something without any returns

  16. AM – “Even if we had that capability, we couldn’t ”

    Never mind the cost of buying sonobuoys or torps and using them; maintaining the capability will also not be cheap and will soak up resources.

    Which is why I’ve constantly harped that although ASW and ASuW is a capability we should have; it’s one that should wait. Not only are funds an issue but the pressing requirement is for a MPA to perform other roles.

    Yes MPAs should be seen as part of an overall network comprising other assets and they must be networked. It’s 2019 but whether discussing MPAs, UASs or fighters; some still tend to look at the actual platform, rather than the systems. Assets have to work together and to share a common picture. Will be silly if a MPA is persecuting a contact alongside
    a LCS but both are not fully aware of what the other is doing and are unable to share a common picture.

    Our MALE UASs will be used for various things to complement ones with shorter range and endurance.The priority however is for surveillance of our maritime domain. On ASW in a littoral environment; yes most of our waters but at the edge of the continental shelf; does get deep.

  17. “That is true if you are playing in an ocean. But in our case, our ships can easily sail at the edge of our EEZ limits in the south china sea, and the MPA coverage would overlap with the variable depth sonars and flank sonars of the gowind and scorpenes. So killing a sub with the MPA should not be a main functional priority.”

    Our ASW capable assets will be spread thin, to say the least. And they will have missions of their own. At the speeds ships and subs move, it might be the better part of a day before one reaches the last reported location, the target sub would have moved on and maybe eluded the MPA.

    Also, hostilities won’t necessarily be confined to our EEZ.

    I’m not saying we should develop a serious ASW capability now. It all depends on whether we have resources and will to do so. Without the money to have regular practice, having a few assets doesn’t mean much.

  18. …… – “, and embedded submarine kill capability should not be a required mission for the MPA“

    An MPA with a ASW capability is needed to complement the LCS; detecting and engaging contacts at a distance away. Even if a LCS is able to detect and identify a contact at some distance; it’s ability to actually engage the contact is limited by the range and endurance of its embarked helo. Also at the range an embarked helo engages a contact from the ship, the ship will probably be in range of the sub’s weapons. As such a MPA complements the ASW capabilities of the LCS; both in detecting and keeping track of subs: as well as engaging it.

    Also, it must be pointed out that by and large MPAs usually don’t go hunting contacts on their own but usually only after a contact has been been detected by other means. Only when there is good certainty a sub is in the area or when indication has been provided by other means, does a MPA switch on MAD and release sonobuoys.

    Given the limited funds available however, I doubt if our MPAs will have the capability.

    Alex,

    If the RMAF is not a P-3 operator why on earth would AIROD want such a capability when the only other regional P-3 user is Thailand and the RTN already has a way to conduct MRO for its P-3s.

  19. “I heard about the offer in 2017”
    Hmm… was what you heard is the initial 2 sets or for 8 sets in total? I do wonder if the follow on 6 sets just announced had been planned all along or was an afterthought.

    Reply
    I was not told the numbers as the person was very reluctant to divulge more details likely fearing I would write about it here. As mentioned in the post the offer was for six with an option for further six. Its likely the current administration had exercised the option as even when RMN first announced the deal in November last year it was for six airframes only

  20. AM “ The MPA may also be vulnerable hanging around.”

    Indeed. The ability of an MPA to do what a ship or a helo can’t do; to hunt at long range and to complement a ship’s capability; is dependent on there being no enemy fighters in the immediate vicinity (if I recall correctly RAF Nimrods had Sidewinder). Matters will also become somewhat more complicated for a low flying MPA if a sub is armed with a MANPADs. At the moment tube or mast launched MANPADs haven’t really caught on but this might change.

    An ideal situation in our context would be for a sub to be detected at long range by a ship and for a MPA to be sent to to the area to detect, track and engage. Even with Tier 1 navies a sub’s presence is usually detected first by SIGINT, satellite, underwater sensors or other means; only then does a MPA go “active” with MAD and sonobuoys.

  21. I wonder what happened to the pair of Schiebel Camcopters that were paid for by Petronas (if I’m not mistaken) for use in ESSCOM?

    If I recall correctly the army’s intel Corps also had a pair of Camcopters.

    Reply
    Those are the same things. No idea whether it’s still operational

  22. @ AM

    ” Our ASW capable assets will be spread thin, to say the least. And they will have missions of their own. At the speeds ships and subs move, it might be the better part of a day before one reaches the last reported location, the target sub would have moved on and maybe eluded the MPA.

    Also, hostilities won’t necessarily be confined to our EEZ ”

    1. We have no reason to hunt for subs outside of our EEZ. Even if a sub is detected in our EEZ during peacetime, it is perfectly legal for it to be there, as our EEZ is not our territorial waters.

    2. If we are going to track foreign subs in our EEZ, all our ASW capable assets should work as a single integrated system, not independently. In no circumstances that an MPA should be hunting subs on its own.

    3. The only critical area for us to track foreign subs is in Sabah and Sarawak EEZ of the south china sea. A constant satellite geospatial monitoring of submarines at port in cam ranh bay, yulin-east hainan and changi would roughly guess how many subs are there out at sea. Captas 2 VDS sonar of the gowind could probably listen to any subs anywhere in the south china sea. Scorpenes should closely tail any subs detected in our EEZ. An MPA with latest MAD only passive sensor without sonobuoys, would still be a good combination with the scorpenes and gowinds. There is a recent US Navy study of detecting subs in littoral waters using only the new generation MAD sensor without using sonobuoys, and the results are encouraging.

    http://air-land-sea-training-simulators.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/a-MAD-XR.pdf

  23. I wonder why the Saab Swordfish is not being considered for the MPA…

    Reply
    Saab is no longer marketing the Swordfish

  24. Another thing to consider.

    We cannot base our ASW doctrine on countries operating in large open oceans like USA, Australia, India or even Chile and Brazil.

    We need to base our ASW doctrine and the use of MPA for ASW on countries such as Turkey, Italy and Germany. Currently germany has no MPA, Italy ATR-72 has no ASW equipment on board and Turkey has 6 CN-235MPA with ASW capability, with 6 more ATR-72 with the same ASW suite on order.

  25. This is the overall view of the south china sea, and our EEZ is just like only 20% of the south china sea area. And do consider that only the internal waters and 12nm terratorial sea is really the territory of a country. The EEZ, while resources like fish and petroleum in the area is exclusive to the said country, it is really still the high seas, and not a territory of the country. That is what the US is emphasizing with the freedom of navigation exercises.

    http://ameliabusinessdirectory.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/South-china-sea-map-from-cil-8.gif

  26. @Azlan
    Yes the Nimrods had Sidewinder, but only as a last-ditch defence or to shoot down enemy MPA. Ordinarily an MPA would be dead meat for any fighter.

    I agree that the ASW and ASuW mission is probably out of the question due to budget. I wonder if it’s possible to buy an MPA with just maritime surveillance and synthetic aperture radar, and FFBNW ASW and ASuW equipment.

  27. Just wondering if the navy and airforce would share resources to get a SAAB Global Eye. Based on recent UAE additional order of usd238mil, it would make it 79.3mil per aircraft.

    A good bargain for an awacs and mpa combined. Plus, it no longer a paper airplane as uae have paid for its development cost as launch customer. I remember saab displayed them (small model)during LIMA or DSA. Cant remember which

  28. “We have no reason to hunt for subs outside of our EEZ. Even if a sub is detected in our EEZ during peacetime, it is perfectly legal for it to be there… The only critical area for us to track foreign subs is in Sabah and Sarawak EEZ of the south china sea.”

    There’s a jump from what you quoted me as saying and what you replied with. We were all along discussing whether in wartime (emphasis here), the MPA should have the ability to not only track but also kill subs as it will be problematic to rely on other assets for the kill.

    Also, while we seek to patrol our EEZ in peacetime, who is to say once a conflict starts that it will take place only within the EEZ?

  29. Can someone please explain the difference between CN 235 and CN 295? Apart from the longer range, etc, my understanding is that the avionics are also different.

    If the CN 235 fits the requirements, why not buy 2 new and have 2 converted as said by Marhalim

    Reply
    Not much difference really apart from the PTDI one is offered with Thales Amascos as already fitted on the Beechcraft. Airbus is offering it’s own developed MPA C&C called FITS

  30. Let’s make it simple, forget ASW n focus the sea patrol. RMAF project 4 mpa at the beginning but they should proactive. Stop cn235 airlift operation, use it as part of mpa conversation. It they don’t do so, CAP55 1sq mpa plan n target will not achieve based on our country ppl on defense knowledge + our roller coaster economy & politics. If we always just throwing a solution for future for better economy n get more assets. FORGET IT! Let’s face the reality with a workaround solution to provide what we need.

  31. @ AM

    ” once a conflict starts that it will take place only within the EEZ ”

    Once a conflict starts, it will be when rather than if any surface ship and unarmed MPA will be sunk and shot down by the adversary. In all out conflict, our main lifeline to strike back would be our scorpenes and MKMs. That is why I want to see the sub force to be increased to 6 and MKMs to be upgraded.

  32. Chua – “I wonder if it’s possible to buy an MPA with just maritime surveillance and synthetic aperture radar, and FFBNW ASW and ASuW equipment”

    Of course it’s possible. That’s the route I feel we should take and that’s what I think will happen.

    Then again a cynic could always say that if a MPA enters service FFBNW it will never be actually “fitted for”.

    …. – “our main lifeline to strike back would be our scorpenes and MKMs”

    Yes, maybe but both, despite having their own sensors to detect, track and engage targets; ideally both the Scorpene and MKM would also benefit from input provided by other assets.

    – “We cannot base our ASW doctrine on countries operating in large open ocean“

    We won’t. ASW tactics (I won’t go as far as use “doctrine” yet) will be based on our specific requirements and circumstances. NATO MPAs work on the basis that they’ll always be operating alongside other partners and that info on enemy subs will be available from various means available to NATO; whether SIGINT, satellites or underwater sensors.

    ….. – “ In no circumstances that an MPA should be hunting subs on its own”

    Correct. All should share a common picture and should know what the other is doing. A MPA will be able to detect, track and engage targets beyond the range a LCS and it’s embarked helo can and if needed can also provide inputs to a LCS : that’s where it’s main value is.

    Both have their respective merits and complement each other. A LCS’s main means of engaging targets is its helo but it’s helo will be constrained by range and endurance.

    AM – “Also, while we seek to patrol our EEZ in peacetime, who is to say once a conflict starts that it will take place only within the EEZ?”

    Good point. Whilst any ops would likely take place within out EEZ, in a littoral setting, there is always the possibility – however slim – that it could take place around the periphery, including in deeper waters at the edge of the continental shelf.

  33. Michael -“RMAF project 4 mpa at the beginning but they should proactive“

    Who’s to say with any certainty that the RMAF is not “proactive”?

    Who’s to say that it’s the RMAF and not others which has ditched plans to convert the CN-235s to MPAs? Like the previous possibility of going for a MRCA leasing option, the RMAF has long looked at a CN-235 conversion alternative but at the end of the day it doesn’t have the final say.

    Who’s to say that the RMAF doesn’t realistically expect to equip future MPAs for ASW but has been told to include the possibility in its proposal presented to MIINDEF and the
    Ministry of Finance: as well the RFIs and RFPs?

  34. ….. – “That is why I want to see the sub force to be increased to 6 and MKMs to be upgraded.”

    True. If we go on the assumption that we’re facing a non peer adversary in an open conflict; the life span of any MAF ships and aircraft will be short. Another factor to consider is that our subs will be very vulnerable whilst at base.

    It’s also true that subs are less vulnerable compared to ships and aircraft but what’s there to say that against a non peer adversary which has a qualitative and numerical advantage; that our subs will perform any better or last longer than our ships or aircraft?

    By virtue of being underwater and harder to detect our subs may last longer and escape destruction but there are actions an adversary can take to prevent our subs from doing what they’re meant to do. In short our subs might escape destruction but might be unable to engage enemy units; being focused on escaping detection and destruction. Like in WW2 and other conflicts; an enemy might not necessary have destroyed an opponents subs but preventing them from launching attacks (to the extent that they contribute nothing) is just as good.

    Ultimately, whatever we buy and however much we increase our defence budget; our planners are under no illusions that we can go head to head with a adversary which spends more on its military and which has a numerical and qualitative advantage. The best we can hope for is for the MAF to have a balanced/credible (call it what you like) deterrent capability; in line with our budget and other limitations a country our size and with is budget, industrial capability and population faces.

  35. Azlan
    “a cynic could always say that if a MPA enters service FFBNW it will never be actually “fitted for”.”

    True. However at least we get a platform that can do the minimum, rather than an endless tug of war between those who say it’s pointless buying ASW aircraft and those who want nothing but a P-8 Poseidon and absolutely will not settle for less…

  36. @ azlan

    ” that it could take place around the periphery, including in deeper waters at the edge of the continental shelf ”

    The depth of the water is a non issue. Kilo class subs max dive depth is 300m, scorpenes 350m. The main issue in open ocean is the unlimited direction a sub can sail to. In case of south china sea, there is quite a limited direction a sub can run to, a lot of areas with less than 100m depth that is not ideal for a sub to hide.

  37. “I agree that the ASW and ASuW mission is probably out of the question due to budget. I wonder if it’s possible to buy an MPA with just maritime surveillance and synthetic aperture radar, and FFBNW ASW and ASuW equipment.”

    I suppose it’s possible to take a ASW and ASuW capable aircraft and simply not buy the relevant systems. It goes for used aircraft too, Vietnam was considering EDA P-3s without torpedo capability.

    Then again, the MPA is not considered a priority. Buying FFBNW adds to the cost but we might never secure funding to fully kit it out. Even if we do, by such time the intended fittings might be obsolete.

    We have successfully justified upgrades for things before, like the Hornets which we’ve upgraded several times and the MKMs which we got new weapons for. Obviously however, the MPA will not receive the level of same priority.

    We could get a low end one now and a higher end one later on, even if it is an entirely separate aircraft. The trouble here is that once we have the former, it will be harder to justify getting the latter.

  38. @ azlan

    ” The best we can hope for is for the MAF to have a balanced/credible (call it what you like) deterrent capability ”

    My point of view lately is shaped by 2 things.

    1. Day to day sovereign security and defence capability. Its why i no longer favor fully arming the kedah class, or even getting batch 2 of them, prefering the cheaper MMEA OPVs. Why also I am in favor of LCA/LIFT before getting MRCAs.

    2. Logical achievable, affordable deterrance capability, and a survivable second strike capability in the event of an attack to malaysian interests. In regards to our resources in south china sea, that would be our subs and maritime strike fighters. As a small country it should be an all out defence and strike, in the hope of forcing all parties to the discussion table as soon as possible.

  39. ….. – “ In regards to our resources in south china sea, that would be our subs and maritime strike fighters”

    And the cheap to buy; almost zero maintenance sea mine which can be deployed from anything with rails and which is hard and takes time to detect and neutralise.

    In reality against an opponent which can deny us the use of airspace; he’ll probably be able to deny us the use of the sea as well. He doesn’t necessarily have to physically destroy our subs; merely prevent them from doing what they’re supposed to do; to the extent that their priory is evading detection and the destruction that follows.

    ….. – “As a small country it should be an all out defence and strike”

    If we’re basing our assumptions on us going against a non peer opponent with a technological, qualitative and numerical superiority; we have no chance; irrespective of whatever we do. It will boil down to attrition; plus the economy collapsing.

    The only way we can realistically come out of such a scenario, whilst at the same time gaining some political objectives and having something to actually negotiate about; is if we were part of some coalition.

    From the very start, our deterrent capability (whether under PERISTA, the 1988 MOU with Britain and later periods) was intended to deter potential regional near peer opponents. Against an outside power, our hopes was largely based on diplomacy and forming relationships with countries like Australia and Uncle Sam.

    Now the situation has changed in that neighbouring countries that have territorial disputes (which were seen as potential opponents) with us have not only caught up but in various areas have surpassed us – on paper – in actual capabilities. On top of that we have to manage relations extremely delicately with a country that has overlapping claims with us but which our economic well being is also dependent on.

  40. @ azlan

    ” He doesn’t necessarily have to physically destroy our subs; merely prevent them from doing what they’re supposed to do; to the extent that their priory is evading detection and the destruction that follows ”

    Finding and destroying a sub is far more harder than a surface ship, even if we lose our air superiority above south china sea.

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/1982-one-diesel-submarine-took-royal-navy-and-survived-27596

    The main point is if there is an attack, we will and should fight back (unlike self defeating current leaders. Even if we lost, like the sacrifice of Lt. Adnan in Bukit Chandu, it should be a moral obligation to fight for our nation. It is why we sing “tanah tumpahnya darah-ku” in our national anthem)

    ” The only way we can realistically come out of such a scenario, whilst at the same time gaining some political objectives and having something to actually negotiate about; is if we were part of some coalition ”

    If we are on the right side of the international law, international community will force the aggressor to the discussion table. Our defence needs to make sure that we can hold out till then.

    ” Now the situation has changed in that neighbouring countries that have territorial disputes (which were seen as potential opponents) with us have not only caught up but in various areas have surpassed us – on paper – in actual capabilities. ”

    Why our DWP needs to be frank and list all our potential opponents – Neighbours, Non-state actors, China. We need to be frank because we cannot lose our EEZ in south china sea, as our economy greatly depends on petroleum resources found in that area.

  41. @Azlan
    “Now the situation has changed in that neighbouring countries that have territorial disputes (which were seen as potential opponents) with us have not only caught up but in various areas have surpassed us – on paper – in actual capabilities. On top of that we have to manage relations extremely delicately with a country that has overlapping claims with us but which our economic well being is also dependent on.”

    Well put.

    So what now?

  42. Chua,

    Simple : we continue doing what we’ve been doing for decades.

    1. Do what we can to ensure the MAF is trained and equipped to handle the threats we are likely to face. It’s also important that politicians fully understand the strengths and limitations of the MAF as to what it can and can’t realistically do. One of the things it can’t realistically do is engage in a attrition based conflict with a much larger and richer country; one that spends much more on defence, has more diplomatic influence, a larger population and a larger and much more advanced technological/industrial base. This is a hard fact no matter how one wants to spin it.

    2. Simultaneously we continue to engage in diialogue/consultations and military exercises/ exchanges (whether bilateral or multilateral) with regional and other states.

    3. I place more importance on what is done rather than what is said. In public we are “neutral”, “non aligned” and view everyone as a @friend”. We don’t – at least not publicly – see China as a “threat”. At the same time it’s very telling that we train more regularly with Uncle Sam than we do with anyone else; followed by Australia. Compare that with our defence ties with China which is more symbolic, politically, rather than having any long term tangible benefits.

  43. @ Chua

    ” So what now? ”

    We need to have a clear DWP, not only as a guide to the masses, but also to the politicians in power and people in the government.

    What good is a defence force if those in power thinks it is futile to use them? Might as well we have no military at all.

    Of course diplomacy is the 1st thing to do in any disputes. But having a weak defence, and a public statement of not going to use them means our potential opponents will seriously consider the option of using force to settle the issue.

  44. @ azlan

    ” One of the things it can’t realistically do is engage in a attrition based conflict with a much larger and richer country; one that spends much more on defence, has more diplomatic influence, a larger population and a larger and much more advanced technological/industrial base. This is a hard fact no matter how one wants to spin it ”

    Lets put it in this way.

    Yes we cannot engage in an attrition based conflict with a much larger and richer country, and expect to win. But we must defend ourselves to our best ability if we are attacked by them, we must be able to strike back make their life difficult, and force the issue to be solved at the diplomatic table.

    Why we need to list out our defence concerns? Because different concerns needs different solutions.

    What is the current concern with a much larger and richer country? Right now it is mainly about our EEZ in South China Sea. How can we counter, or show a deterrance capability? Shadow all of their ships in our EEZ. Coast guard ships with MMEA ships. Navy ships with TLDM ships. Intercept and escort their aircraft that is flown above our EEZ. Surface our submarine once in a while near their ships to show that we can lurk undetected. Do flyovers of their ships with our maritime strike fighters to show that we can reach out to their ship. When we can show our deterrance, then we can discuss about the issue diplomatically.

  45. ….., – “Surface our submarine once in a while near their ships to show that we can lurk undetected?”

    – What makes you think “we can lurk undetected”? Even non PLAN ships may have sonar and they may have underwater sensors in the area.

    – With just 2 subs, they have better things to do than surface in close vicinity to a Chinese ship, just to make a point. Using them for that purpose is not putting what few resources we have to good use. Not only that but with just 2 subs; how often can we do – even “once in a while” – what you suggest? Without doing what you suggest we can still maintain and show a presence; and we do.

    – Doing what you suggest also makes no sense as we’re not in a state of tensions or on strategic competition with China and doing that could lead them to retaliate in ways we can’t respond to.

    – Also, using submarines to make a point against non PLAN ships is escalation. Very few of the ships that intrude and stay in our waters are PLAN ships. Which is why ideally, in the future the MMEA should shoulder much of the responsibility when it comes to intercepting and shadowing ships that are there to make a political point and which have no hostile intent.

    …… – “Shadow all of their ships in our EEZ”

    We have been doing exactly just that…… With difficulty no doubt but we have been for quite a while now.

    ….. – “ Do flyovers of their ships with our maritime strike fighters to show that we can reach out to their ship”

    Seriously?

    That is called upping the ante and acting extremely provocatively. The Chinese are not doing that to us – their military or non military aircraft are not “buzzing” our ships. We resorting to that doesn’t benefit us in any way. Even without doing what you suggest, they are well aware “we can reach out to their ship” – we don’t have to physically do it; especially when they haven’t been doing it and can do it with far more regularity and intensity if they wanted to.

    And what will happen if a RMAF plane “buzzed” a ship of theirs and was fired upon? Who bears responsibility? “Buzzing” a foreign ship – whether in disputed or international waters – is a provocative, dangerous action which can be also considered a hostile act.

  46. “Shadow all of their ships in our EEZ. Coast guard ships with MMEA ships. Navy ships with TLDM ships. Intercept and escort their aircraft that is flown above our EEZ.”

    To your list, I would add that we have to escort our fishing vessels when they conduct legitimate business in our EEZ, and keep foreign ones out.

    Btw, a Chinese fishing boat has rammed a Korean coast guard vessel again. This time it was the fishing boat that sank, it was the other way around in 2016.

    See also: https://shanghai.ist/2019/03/04/argentine-coast-guard-fires-warning-shots-at-chinese-boat-for-illegally-fishing-off-its-coast/

    We have to recognise that escalation at sea runs the risk of incurring economic punishment. It would take a lot to reduce our exposure in this area, and it is very likely that any government of ours will find it easier to continue our policy of rolling over and hoping the humiliation keeps a low profile.

    Among the things we would have to do would be to reduce our dependence on exports to China and commodities in general, and limiting their investment in their desired infrastructure projects (because control over them would give additional leverage over us).

    Having to take it is one thing. Showing that we like it by continuing to do business is another.

    See also: https://thediplomat.com/2019/05/is-china-ready-to-take-its-economic-coercion-into-the-open/

  47. @Azlan
    Point 1 – sad but true. That is why I keep harping on economic, budget and spending issues as well; at the very root of almost all problems is resource limitation.

    Point 2 – not sure how useful this is coupled with our non-aligned (read: non-committal) attitude.

    Point 3 – We train with them but to me it looks like we mainly do demonstrations rather than interoperability exercises and even the few joint ops exercises we do seem to be antipiracy and HADR-focused… then again maybe it’s just a reflection of our capability limitations.

    And then from a political, economical and socio-cultural angle it seems we are mainly opposed to Uncle Sam… So the military can do and say what it wants during exercises but when it comes down to the crunch we seem to back other people in key issues.

    My observation.

    @…
    “we must be able to strike back make their life difficult, and force the issue to be solved at the diplomatic table”

    IMO to be realistically able to do that, we need an Air Force and Navy four times the size of what we have, about almost the size of the future Australian force structure. And it’s just impossible for us to achieve that.

  48. @ azlan

    ” With just 2 subs ”

    That is why i have written before that we need at least 6 subs.

    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/another-look-rmn-15-to-5/

    ” Which is why ideally, in the future the MMEA should shoulder much of the responsibility when it comes to intercepting and shadowing ships that are there to make a political point and which have no hostile intent ”

    Yes, that is why i think TLDM should get out of the OPV business and leave it to MMEA. Less escalation.

    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/apmm-plans/

    ” We have been doing exactly just that…… With difficulty no doubt but we have been for quite a while now. ”

    Yes we do shadow chinese ships, but the duration was patchy at best, and plenty of time they are in our EEZ unescorted. We need more ships so that we can shadow them 100% of the time.

    ” The Chinese are not doing that to us – their military or non military aircraft are not “buzzing” our ships ”

    I did not write buzzing such as what the russians did to american frigates in the black sea. Just a fly over once in a while at safe altitude, showing that our airforce is regularly flying air patrols.

    And all of this is very far from the statement of ” China’s coast guard ship is bigger than Malaysia’s war ship, we cannot chase nor fight them “

    @ chua

    ” IMO to be realistically able to do that, we need an Air Force and Navy four times the size of what we have, about almost the size of the future Australian force structure ”

    IMO i dont think so. We are defending our own backyard, not trying to do war in far away places. We can have quite a potent deterrance for the south china sea with:

    1. At least 6 subs. To enable at least 2 at sea at all times.

    2. High operational readiness of the Su-30MKM. Getting and integrating new anti-ship missiles for the MKM such as the brahmos NG and NSM. Medium GBAD for Gong Kedak or robust plans for the MKM dispersal to other airfields.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UMrLdwG-bmI/WVdqyzHVoLI/AAAAAAAAJpk/wXVjzI9WsGYIOg9fTqpG1130_2dQMKvLQCLcBGAs/s1600/Su-30.jpg

    Is that feasible? Well vietnam is currently having the same deterrance in place, and i think it is a tactic that is viable and affordable.

  49. What happens right now in the philippines, where filipino fishermen, and filipino oil and gas surveys are harassed while sailing in their own waters should be a reminder to malaysia that we need to defend our EEZ from being denied of our own use.

    https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/chinese-vessel-sinks-filipino-fishing-boat-in-contested-waters-manila-seeks-probe

    A sad note from a filipino forum:

    ” Happy independence day (12 june). A day that our own fishermen can’t fish in our own waters “

  50. …… -“That is why i have written before that we need at least 6 subs”

    Never mind what you’ve written before : even with a 6 sub fleet we’ll still struggle to keep 2 (1/3 of the fleet) at sea, we are not in strategic competition with China and such a moves achieves nothing. On top of that there are far more important things our subs can be doing.

    Surfacing near a Chinese ship (almost all in the area are not PLAN) not only fails to show them anything and doesn’t result in tangible benefits but, like flying over their ships, can be considered a hostile act and they can respond to in ways we’ll be unable to respond to in turn.

    Yes Chinese ships intrude and stay in our EEZ but unlike with Vietnam and the Philippines; we haven’t actually been the victims of any hostile or provocative acts.

    None of our ships have been prevented from supplying our troops in the area (the case with the Philippines) and they’ve never tried to ram any of our ships (the case with Vietnam). There is a country that tries to ram our ships, enters our waters to detain and extort our trawlers, openly stated they were close to opening fire on a FAC and pointed guns at a Lynx : Indonesia. Chinese planes to date do not fly over our ships and reefs and do not intrude in the area we claim.

    …… – “. Just a fly over once in a while at safe altitude, showing that our airforce is regularly flying air patrols.”

    Flying “over” a foreign ship – irrespective of the altitude – is still considered an unfriendly, provocative act and is something the Chinese don’t do to us. Also such an act will not deter them (they know what we have, the regularity of our air patrols and what we deploy in the area). If they start doing that in the future then we can follow but so far they’re not.

  51. @…
    Australia isn’t configured for power projection either. They just know what it takes to be a realistic deterrent force.

    The objective is to contest control of the air and sea, and strike at the key enemy capital ships – carriers and amphibs.

    For this you would need an inventory of around 72 top end combat aircraft to be able to call up a force that can fight through a carrier strike group’s CAP, since in this case say half of them will also be delivering anti-ship missiles. It may sound many but some will be unavailable, some will be tasked elsewhere and of course some will be shot down.

    Brahmos isn’t a bad idea, but I would personally pick Exocets or Harpoon. The Western belief is that sea-skimming terminally-manoeuvreing missiles are more effective than just supersonic.

    Additionally you’d need a few attack subs to provide intelligence and try to put in a few torpedoes, always a good thing to hope for. Again you need a few more for attrition and rotation purposes. Not as many as the planned Attack class, 6-8 perhaps.

    To support these a surface action group is always useful. ASW ships help protect your own subs and chase away the enemy’s; missile corvettes can be astonishingly effective especially if they throw their missiles at the exact same time the airstrike goes in; and you need good AA ships to defend these against enemy airstrikes.

    And that’s really the minimum you need to be a genuine deterrent in the Asia Pacific game. Okay so maybe 4x current force is the “preferred” number; 3x is the minimum. 72 combat jets, 18 frigates/corvettes, and 6 attack subs.

    Anyway, one can dream…

  52. AM – “To your list, I would add that we have to escort our fishing vessels when they conduct legitimate business”

    – The RMN doesn’t have resources and it’s the MMEA’s job by right. Hundreds of Malaysian registered trawlers put to sea daily across a very wide area.

    – Trawlers are routinely harassed by Indonesian ships (mostly non TNI-AL) in the Melaka Straits along the disputed boundary. A problem we also face is that our trawlers use to routinely cross over into their waters to buy from their trawlers. Our trawlers traditionally never operated in the Spratlys and are currently forbidden to.

    – The RMN has detained Vietnamese trawlers in the past in the Spratlys but of late it’s mostly Chinese ones there. Apart from making a political statement; Chinese ships in the area are there to also draw away RMN ships from Chinese trawlers.

  53. ….. – “Finding and destroying a sub is far more harder”

    Obviously but that’s not the point.

    Preventing a sub from operating effectively prevents it from influencing events. Just like how disabling a ship to the extent that it has to head home, due to damage, is just as good.

    If our air and surface assets have been destroyed; there is no indication that subs (because they are harder to detect) would be more survivable or would be able to operate effectively. Especially against an opponent which also has subs in the area, surface units with a decent ASW capability and total command of the skies. Not to mention qualitative and numerical superiority.

    Also if we lose air superiority an opponent’s surface and air ASW assets can operate unmolested against our subs. Subs also tend to be more effective when operating with other assets- in this scenario our subs will be alone. History shows that when operating against an opponent which has control of the skies and surface and which also has other advantages: subs eventually lose out.

    Sure one can say that the presence of just a few subs can have a effect way out of proportion to their numbers but history also shows how subs – when an enemy controls the surface and skies – can be rendered impotent to the extent that they ultimately contribute nothing.

    ….. – “If we are on the right side of the international law, international community will force the aggressor to the discussion table””

    Since when does being on the “right side of international law” count for anything? I would be great if being morally and legally right ensures justice but alas it doesn’t always.

    It’s realpolitik and self interests that dictates what happens and whether it’s 2019 or the 18th century, the stronger side has the upper hand.

    You mentioned the negotiation table. Depends – are we negotiating from a position of strength or weakness; are we negotiating alone or alongside others; negotiating with a neighbour or a member of the UN Security Council, do we have anything to bring to the table and are we being pressured by a friend or ally to make concessions.

  54. ” On top of that there are far more important things our subs can be doing ”

    What other important things then other than to regularly sail as a deterrence? As if i want the subs to only chase chinese ships and surface near them every single time.

    ” None of our ships have been prevented from supplying our troops in the area (the case with the Philippines) and they’ve never tried to ram any of our ships (the case with Vietnam) ”

    Because they haven’t taken any reefs in our EEZ, unlike vietnam and the philippines. If we let down our defences, and let them take over beting raja jarom or beting patinggi ali, which is in between Sarawak and Gugusan Semarang Peninjau (GSP), it will happen to us too. If we just roll over and let them do what they like in our EEZ, sooner or later they will take over beting raja jarom or beting patinggi ali and reclaim land and build their bases there.

    ” Flying “over” a foreign ship – irrespective of the altitude – is still considered an unfriendly, provocative act and is something the Chinese don’t do to us ”

    The reason they dont fly in our eez is simple. We are very far from their airbases in Hainan, and they currently does not have many MPAs. They dont even overfly reefs nearer to them such as off the philipines, which is telling.

    http://sites.tufts.edu/lawofthesea/chapter-4/

  55. ….., – “ We are defending our own backyard, not trying to do war in far away places”

    Let’s put things into proper context and look at things in entirety.

    First of all we are not “defending” anything but “safeguarding”. Sure a country is intruding in areas we claim and is claiming areas we claim but it is not “attacking” us. Neither are we in strategic competition with that country or are in a state of tensions with it. Someone might point out that these are obvious facts but nonetheless these are facts which often are overlooked when discussing problems with China.

    I’m suggesting we bend over and let anyone do what they want freely. No of course not but how we handle things depends on various factors namely our overall ties with that country and the economic importance to us, as well as other factors like the limitations of the MAF, overall regional stability and the importance of maintaining the status quo by not doing anything that could lead to heightened tensions.

    …. -“ TLDM should get out of the OPV business”

    Obviously but what it should and can do are two profoundly different things. Unless or until the government allocates the needed funds to the MMEA the RMN will have to continue to shoulder certain responsibilities. Similarly it’s the RMN that should operate MPAs but as it stands the RMAF is the only one with the resources to do so.

  56. @ chua

    Your plan is a force capable of winning a conflict. In no circumstances we can outfight a much larger and richer country.

    Australia plans so that they could operate thousands of miles from australia continent itself, such as in the pacific ocean, indian ocean or the south china sea. We don’t, and we should concentrate our plans for operations mainly within our borders and our EEZ (except for a few units such as 10PARA).

    As i said previously, yes we cannot engage in an attrition based conflict with a much larger and richer country, and expect to win. But we must defend ourselves to our best ability if we are attacked by them, we must be able to strike back make their life difficult, and force the issue to be solved at the diplomatic table.

    In a conflict, we should be able to strike and sink a few of the agressors ship, and force a stalemate for say 2-3 weeks until the international community forces both parties to go to the discussion table.

    @ azlan

    First of all we are not “defending” anything but “safeguarding”. Sure a country is intruding in areas we claim and is claiming areas we claim but it is not “attacking” us.

    Yes of course, as i said there should be:

    1. Day to day sovereign security and defence capability. This is the normal day to day “safeguarding” as you put it. In SCS case to be lead by the MMEA, with back up by TLDM and TUDM.

    2. Logical achievable, affordable deterrance capability, and a survivable second strike capability in the event of an attack to malaysian interests. This is a plan in case of any attack happening to our interests in SCS, such as taking over our islands.

    Without no2. a a much larger and richer country with a strong military would consider using force to grab maritime areas rather than giving consessions to malaysia in a diplomatic discussion. It happened to the philippines, happened to vietnam when its navy is weak. IMO the way vietnam is modernising its force for the SCS, upgrading its coast guard with more ships, the navy gettting 6 kilo submarines, and its air force getting Su-30, with land based anti-ship missiles is a credible deterrant, and malaysia should consider doing something similar.

    ” History shows that when operating against an opponent which has control of the skies and surface and which also has other advantages: subs eventually lose out ”

    Of course, but it is all relative, compared to surface ships. Surface ship can be detected, and taken out within 24h of 1st hostility. Subs probably 1 week, or more. And it can wreck plenty of havoc before it is even detected. If the enemy is forced to spend a lot of resource to hunt for subs, that is less resource for them to attack and capture islands or other things that they need to capture in the 1st place.

  57. ….,

    Integrating Brahmos will also lead to the need for structural modifications to enable the MKM to carry it. The anti ship/radiation missiles (though not having a land attack capability) we have are sufficient for anti maritime work, which is our main focus.

    It has a anti maritime function but Brahmos is utilised by the Indians more as a means to strike strategic level targets or at the very least, targets at a deep operational level – they have the ISR assets to detect those targets and track them in real time. Brahmos might be an overkill for our needs.

    What we should be doing is increasing our ISR capabilities (which we are to an extent with the Scaneagles) so that we’ll be in a better position to provide added SA an OTHT for our strike assets.

  58. …. -“What other important things then other than to regularly sail as a deterrence”

    I knew you’d ask that.

    More “important” things like training, conducting surveillance missions covertly, etc. All done while remaining unseen.

    They don’t have to physically surface near a Chinese ship to act as a “deterrent”. That’s a misuse of submarines and a poor use of one’s already extremely limited resources. A deterrent doesn’t have to be physically visible for others to know its there.

    Increasing the number of assets we have in the area and increasing the number of patrols we conduct will send a better message rather than flying over or near a Chinese ship and having a sub surface near a Chinese ship : both can be consisted provocative and can lead to China retaliating by doing the same but on a bigger scale and with more regularity.

    …… – “As if i want the subs to only chase chinese ships and surface near them every single time”

    I didn’t say or imply you did so why bring this up?

    You’re convinced doing what you suggest will send a clear message to China. You also mentioned “lurking undetected“ -what’s to say they can really be “undetected”. On top of that we only have 2 subs and even if we had 6 ensuring 2 are at sea will be very challenging.

    Not to mention the fact that a sub’s main advantage is it’s “invisibility” underwater. Surfacing and letting others know it’s there is silly and pointless. It’s not as if we’re shadowing a potential enemy!s task force and want to surface to send a message or need to surface during an exercise to show a friendly ship that it got close enough to engage. What’s to say a RMN sub that has surfaced near a Chinese ship won’t be detected and shadowed by a nearby Chinese sub?

    …..- “Because they haven’t taken any reefs in our EEZ, unlike vietnam and the Philippines”

    No….. Think about it.

    Because they treat each country differently. The Philippines is seen as a U.S. lackey and has openly spoken out against China. Vietnam is seen as drawing itself closer to Uncle Sam and has had skirmishes with China in the past. Like the Philippines,Vietnam has regularly spoken out against China.

    ….. – “The reason they dont fly in our eez is simple”

    Even if it’s that “ simple” : more reason why we should not up the ante by doing what you suggested. The Chinese also don’t fly over our reefs because that might antagonise us and draw us closer to Uncle Sam. If they wanted to fly over our reefs they could, imagery has clearly shown runways being built on their reefs.

  59. ….: – “Surface ship can be detected, and taken out within 24h of 1st hostility. Subs probably 1 week, or more”

    I’m not trying to be argumentative but if we want to speculate one can say an unlucky sub can arrive in the area and be destroyed a few hours later by a bottom laid mine or a MPA. The sub is operating alone; in an area where the enemy has full control of the sky and surface and also has subs in the area.

    At the end of the day; even if it survives longer and ties down enemy resources: a sub that’s focused trying to avoid detection and destruction still accomplishes nothing.

    ….. – “malaysia should consider doing something similar”

    Vietnam has centuries of history of conflict with China, in modern times it has faced a land invasion, a few skirmishes at sea, has fought China indirectly via a proxy in Cambodia and has been at the receiving end of Chinese moves that are clearly aggressive and provocative.

    Sure like Vietnam we have overlapping claims with China but we’re in a slightly different position. Yes we need to make more investments in defence but in a slightly different manner. We don’t feel as threatened and don’t have a common land border with China.

    Vietnam is in a position where it can focus most of its resources on China. We also have to worry about East Malaysia (not only ESSCOM but keeping sea lanes of communications open), the Melaka Straits, unresolved sea boundaries with Indonesia, possible tensions with Singapore over long-standing issues, non state threats, etc.

    …… – “capture islands or other things that they need to capture in the 1st place”

    I get the point you’re making but if war broke out China doesn’t have to immediately occupy the reefs. All it needs to do is deny us access to the reefs.

  60. @ azlan

    ” Integrating Brahmos will also lead to the need for structural modifications to enable the MKM to carry it ”

    I am specifically talking about Brahmos NG, a smaller lightweight version of the original Brahmos. The Su-30MKx can carry 3 Brahmos NG without any structural modification to the airframe, unlike only 1 original Brahmos with the need of structural modifications.

    ” More “important” things like training, conducting surveillance missions covertly, etc. All done while remaining unseen ”

    All of that is part of sailing as a deterrant. Sailing as a deterrant will of course mostly be unseen. I have never ever said deterrant is popping out beside every chinese ship all the time.

    ” I didn’t say or imply you did so why bring this up? ”

    Yes by your lengthy comments on subs such as:

    ” Surfacing and letting others know it’s there is silly and pointless ”

    The point of deterrance is to show that we have the capability, which surfacing by chinese ships once in a while will do. I am not asking the sub to surface in hostility! Or to surface every time beside every chinese ship!

    ” If they wanted to fly over our reefs they could, imagery has clearly shown runways being built on their reefs ”

    Be ready for regular flyovers when they start permanently stationing MPAs in spratly.

    ” I’m not trying to be argumentative but if we want to speculate one can say an unlucky sub can arrive in the area and be destroyed a few hours late ”

    Which compared to a lucky surface ship will almost confirmed to be killed in 24hours of a serious hostility.

    ” We also have to worry about East Malaysia (not only ESSCOM but keeping sea lanes of communications open), the Melaka Straits, unresolved sea boundaries with Indonesia, possible tensions with Singapore over long-standing issues, non state threats, etc. ”

    Why I have been specific that the deterrance for SCS is 6 subs and Su-30MKMs. That is of course is not the entirety of our defence capability. Additional 4 subs can be had within the original 15 to 5 budget (tudm just plans for 2 more) by only using the budget planned for the 12 PVs (aka kedah class batch 2). Other defence issues (that should be clearly laid out in the future DWP) would be covered by the army (would be a future write up after DWP is out), MMEA (my writeup APMM Plans), the rest of TLDM fleet (including LMS, Gowinds, MRSS) and TUDM (LCA, MPA, AWACS, EW aircraft etc, see my writeup Another View on TUDM CAP 55).

  61. ….. – “Yes by your lengthy comments on subs such as”

    Well as usual, if you insist.

    My lengthy posts – if you interpret them correctly – details why surfacing near.a Chinese ship is a silly exercise, carries avoidable risks and that subs have far more important things to do. You asked what those things were (pretty obvious actually) and I gave you those reasons. BTW, routine covert surveillance missions are not considered “deterrent” patrols.

    …… – “The point of deterrance is to show that we have the capability, which surfacing by chinese ships once in a while will do. I am not asking the sub to surface in hostility”

    Nobody spoke about surfacing in “hostility” (you have a knack of saying things in response to certain things that others never said or implied). Whether it’s flying over a ship or surfacing near a ship; it’s considered upping the ante and can be considered provocative. Again : the Chinese can respond with more frequency and intensity for which we’ll be unable to respond to.

    As I have also tirelessly pointed out; we don’t have to engage in exercises or acts of this nature as the Chinese are fully aware of what we have, what we deploy in the area, what we haven’t but can deploy, the frequency and lengths of those deployments and our actual combat – on paper – capabilities.

    Unless there is a specific reason such as during an exercise or when intending to send a message to someone you’re in strategic competition with it during times of tension; people don’t have to physically see a sub to be reminded it’s there or to be convinced of its deterrent effect. In fact it has a bigger deterrent effect when people know it’s likely there but can say for certain exactly where. Surfacing a sub also runs the risk of it being spotted and trailed by a PLAN sub.

    ……. – “Why I have been specific that the deterrance for SCS is 6 subs and Su-30MKMs”

    Never mind you being specific.

    I merely pointed out that unlike Vietnam which can focus most of its resources towards China; we can’t. I also pointed out why Vietnam feels more threatened and insecure towards China than we do.

  62. @ azlan

    So what are you suggesting as a credible deterrant for SCS?

    Declaring to the world we can do nothing to stop china would not make china give favourable consessions to malaysia on the discuasion table.

  63. ……,,

    We are not “doing nothing” and I (nor anyone else here) never implied we should. We may not be doing enough but that is profoundly different from “doing nothing” which we’re certainly not

    “Credible deterrent” sounds great but depends entirely on the context. What is the “credible deterrent” intended to deter and under what circumstances? Against a country which is acting more assertively in a peacetime setting or against a country acting provocatively during a period of actual tensions? Is the “credible deterrent” threat or capability driven? We are taking steps to improve our ability to safeguard what we have but unfortunately slowly and with insufficient drive.

    We do has to be in line with our actual abilities, overall relations with China. the economy and regional stability in mind. It’s not as if China is making active moves to evict us from the reefs we occupy or deny us access to areas we claim. It’s not the fact that our reefs are the furthest away that determines what China does but current state of relations.

    If China suddenly changes its behaviour and does to us what it has been doing to Vietnam and the Philippines then of course we will decide on ways to respond. Yes we have to be better prepared and to have some level of capability but actually departing from our standard script by doing something we’ve never done or something that will be seen as provocative (even by those who are supportive of us) is wholly dependent on the situation changing. It carries an element of risk that has to be weighted with the possible benefits and backlash.

  64. @ azlan

    ” If China suddenly changes its behaviour and does to us what it has been doing to Vietnam and the Philippines then of course we will decide on ways to respond. Yes we have to be better prepared and to have some level of capability but actually departing from our standard script by doing something we’ve never done or something that will be seen as provocative (even by those who are supportive of us) is wholly dependent on the situation changing. It carries an element of risk that has to be weighted with the possible benefits and backlash ”

    The problem is IMO that we (or our leaders, especially menhan) changed our behavior, and say something that previously we see only the likes of the philippines have said towards china. We need to really beef up our defence before china reacts to what our leaders has been saying.

    Yes, right now we should probably not change our defence reaction, but must be ready to, by having the minimum essential capability to effectively deter china. We need to increase our capability (both peacetime capability and deterrence capability), within our means, to effectively react if china increases its activity in our EEZ.

  65. As we’ve seen today, if we use a UAS over disputed waters, we must anticipate the possibility that in the event of escalation, it is more likely to be shot down than an aircraft with a human pilot on board.

    This is an example of behaviour that we can’t respond to, as Azlan has put it. If it were to happen to us, there would be almost nothing we could do about it.

    And there is precedent in the seizure of that ocean glider in the South China Sea in 2016, right in front of its mother ship. Drones have been fired on, even if unarmed and without a shooting war going on.

    I would say there is a significant chance of it being done to other SCS claimants that are acquiring such systems (including those in the same programme as our Scan Eagles). For a large and powerful country, it represents a forceful way to get a much smaller, less well-resourced country to modify its behaviour. It can be done, indefinitely repeatedly and with near impunity for the larger country and unsustainably for the smaller country.

  66. @ am

    That is why i think that buying just 3 brand new UAVs is not cost effective.

    IMO it is better to get EDA perdators, so we can get more airframes for spares and attrition replacements.

    IMO we should only fly our UAVs in our EEZ and airspace only. We should not fly them over any islands and reefs not owned by malaysia.

    What happened recently is because that UAV is probing iranian airspace. We should not use UAVs to probe other countries airspace and if we are shot down in our airspace or our EEZ, IMO that is something we can cry foul for.

    Reply
    AFAIK the US has not offer the retired Predator under the EDA programme.

  67. …… – “We should not fly them over any islands and reefs not owned by malaysia.””

    Of course that’s not going to happen. The last thing we want to do is be accused of raising tensions or engaging in provocative acts. Our policy has always been to maintain the status quo.

  68. “We should not use UAVs to probe other countries airspace and if we are shot down in our airspace or our EEZ, IMO that is something we can cry foul for.”

    The problem here is that we can cry as foul as we like, and we will still be in no position to change their behaviour or make any progress as far as our territorial integrity is concerned. In fact, it is more likely that we will cry as little as we can or not at all, because no government likes to admit to its electorate that it is powerless. That is what we’ve done all along.

    Another problem here is an assumption that they will shoot down a UAV only if we escalate with the UAV itself ie do something with it that provides an excuse to shoot it down. (You mentioned “probing” their airspace and by this I presume you mean entering it, although aircraft on intel missions have been shot down for less). Such a reason can be easily made up. Indeed the RQ-4A was shot down in Iran-claimed territory that lies beyond the internationally recognised border. Any evidence you can provide that you did not is unlikely to matter much to the party shooting it down.

    For example, they could say they shot down our UAV because it endangered a coast guard ship or fishing vessel, even if we had done nothing of the sort. Or they could say they had nothing to do with the UAV crashing on its own.

    The points here are that: 1. a powerful country can do such things to us if we displease them, such as by escalating elsewhere in an entirely separate area 2. we can’t sustain such losses of UAVs 3. there is nothing we can do in other areas in response 4. we can’t count on outside intervention on our behalf in such a scenario, especially if we have escalated somewhere 5. the facts that we were the right and telling the truth are not likely to matter.

  69. There is no doubt that finding a sub at the best of times is hard.

    The thing is we often hear more about the times when subs were undetected but less of the time when they detected. A RNZN Leander detected a TNI-AL Type 209 shadowing the INTERFET fleet, on numerous instances PLAN subs have been detected shadowing USN ships, NATO routinely detects Russians subs in the Norwegian Sea on their way to the Atlantic, recently IN ships in a visit to SEA claimed a PLAN sub (which later docked at Sepanggar) shadowed them, etc.

    There are times when subs have to make themselves noisier so ships have a better chance of detection during exercises but times when surface units with MPAs easily detect subs.

    We also often hear about how subs can have an effect way out of proportion when it comes to their actual numbers : the 1971 Pakistan/India war, Falklands and others come to mind. This is well known but often forgotten is how when faced against an opponent that enjoys major advantages, either in technology or in numbers; subs can be rendered impotent in that they are unable to influence events, either because they are too busy evading detection and the destruction that comes with it or are unable to press home attacks: : we saw thus in WW1 and WW2. Lessons learnt then are just as valid today.

    The Falklands was a prime example of how just a single or a couple of subs can influence an enemy’s actions. The Royal Navy (the world’s premier ASW outfit) failed to destroy any Argie subs (the area was vast) but ultimately no RN ship was lost to a sub; for a number of reasons.

    Ultimately a sub’s deterrent value and its capacity to wreak havoc buy virtue of its “invisibility” also depends on a multitude factors. There are times when a sub is more vulnerable and times when it’s extremely silent. Technology, training, skill, water conditions and luck all play a part.

    Even with the latest technology, a sub’s traditional weakness is its ability to locate targets in certain conditions and ranges. Yes a sonar can detect a contact at long range (depending on the water conditions) but identifying the contact and getting into position to launch a weapon can present challenges. Even if a sub has a long range missile the conditions may call for another asset to provide OTHT in order to maximise the missile’s range. A torp can take out a target a long range but it depends on how solid the contact is and at long range a target has more time to take evasive measures.

    Even USN subs are also intended to work with other assets. Like the P-3s a role the P-8s perform is to provide SA to subs. Info gained from underwater sensors and satellites are also shared with subs. There’s been thousands of words here about our Scorpenes; their deterrent value. how hard they are to detect, how many we should ideally have. etc but hardly anything on the limitations they face if not supported by other assets and other things like how info can be shared by a MPA or problems keeping in constant contact with shore without the potential of being detected.

    An SSK’s Achilles heel is it’s batteries. A CO’s main concern will always be his battery levels and he will do certain things to conserve supply; like shutting off part of the AC and some screens but if he’s hunted for a long period he will need adequate supply. To snorkel (if there’s no AIP) exposes him to detection. The worst thing that can happen is if a hunted sub is forced to surface because it has run out of power.

    We also have to look at a sub’s weaknesses and not just its strengths because looking at just its strengths gives a distorted impression.

    Like all things subs are not intended to operate entirely alone. Whether in 1943 or in 2022 they are intended to work with other assets to get the best of their capabilities and their value as a deterrent is not given but dependent on various factors.

  70. The most important thing is how unproportionate the cost of resources you need to expand to find and kill a sub, compared to say a frigate.

    Let say a sub cost 0.5 billion. To find it the adversary need to deploy frigates, other subs, helicopters, MPA aircrafts that would cost probably 5-10 times the cost of the hunted sub.

    They need to deploy ships, subs and aircrafts to find this menance. This wil distract them from their original tasks. This will buy some time for the defender, as the adversary is distracted by having to hunt for subs.

    A large country like india needs 21 days to find a single rogue sub with all the resources that they have like P-8 Poseidons, nuclear subs etc. Replace hunting the sub with hunting a frigate for example, they surely can find and destroy it within 24 hours.

  71. Like I said : it’s well known that subs tend to be hard to detect and can have an effect far out of proportion to their actual numbers and that by virtue of being underwater, are hard to detect. Everybody knows this. You can mention the Indian example but I can mention examples of subs being detected easily (including subs operated by navies with decades experience). Does it actually tell us anything new?

    Again : depends on the circumstances We can’t look at the example you mentioned and conclude or hope that future scenarios may be the same – especially when we don’t fully know what happened. It would be like me giving examples of subs that were detected easily and suggesting other scenarios would share the same script. Back to the Indian example; I can be a devil’s advocate and say, yes finding the sub was hard but as it was being hunted did the sub actually have a opportunity to strike back if required or was it too busy avoiding detection and unable to do anything else?

    As I keep pointing out; a sub’s value as a deterrent can only be realistically measured by looking at things as a whole: i.e. how successful a particular navy is in ensuring that it’s subs benefit from working alongside and with other assets; in order to supplement a sub’s capabilities and also to overcome its weaknesses. Most talk on subs largely focus on its strengths with hardly any mention of its limitations or weaknesses.

  72. ” I can be a devil’s advocate and say, yes finding the sub was hard but as it was being hunted did the sub actually have a opportunity to strike back if required or was it too busy avoiding detection and unable to do anything else? ”

    Even if the sub cannot actually strike back, it takes away plenty of adversary resources that can be used to win a conflict. That in itself is a big distraction for an adversary, and a big advantage for the defender.

  73. Drawing away one’s resources is great but ultimately what does this accomplish or what if an enemy – despite having to allocate resources to hunt the sub – still has other resources that can do what they’re supposed to do but unhindered by the sub?

    Also, the amount of resources an enemy can spare for the sub hunt is dependent on the amount of resources he can allocate and has to allocate based on overall circumstances – 2 different things. If the hunt took place in a large area like the southern Atlantic or off India’s western coast then obviously more resources would have to be allocated compared to if say a same scenario was played out in a smaller, more confined area.

    Ultimately navies buy subs for the operational flexibility they provide (whether for sea denial, covert surveillance or as a strategic deterrence) and if a sub is busy drawing away resources but is unable to do anything else; then the sub is really not accomplishing much in the long run.

  74. Okay, if you are in the same scenario, but instead of only subs you have only Frigates. Would that accomplish more?

  75. Of course not but that’s not the point. Frigates are meant to do certain things; subs are meant to do certain things – why would direct comparisons be made given that both do certain things that are different.

    Drawing away resources is great but there might be instances where an opponent has enough resources to commit both for the hunt and for other things; other things made easier by the fact that the sub (the hunter became the hunted) can’t intervene. In some cases – depending on the operational circumstances – one might not have to deploy lots assets to hunt a sub.

    Ultimately – apart from the fact that it can’t can’t do much because it’s being hunted – in a scenario where a sub being hunted has resulted in one having to commit lots of resources; there can be a very fine line as to who is being tied down and who ultimately gains their objectives….

  76. My point is

    1. In a full scale conflict scenario, involving a regional power, a submarine would be more survivable and have a higher probability to execute its mission compared to a frigate. As a deterrant, it would be more fearsome as it cannot be easily seen or tracked.

    2. On day to day peacetime duties, against IUU fishing, smugglers, pirates and such, a frigate or even a high naval spec OPV like the Meko A100 is over specced for the mission.

    This is why in my writing about alternative 15 to 5 plan, and the APMM plan i would prefer no more additional Kedah-class OPVs, with all OPV operations concentrated with APMM. The frigate numbers would be a bit higher (13 compared to 12 gowinds with very far build spacings) and we will add more submarines (to 6 overall, compared to just 4). Just an additional 2 compared to te original plan, within the original planned budget is something achievable.

    We are discussing what can be done better, not what cannot be done, right? This is what i think we can do better, so what is your suggestion to do it better?

  77. By this stage I’m well aware of what your point is and I never said you were wrong. What I am saying is that you appear to be making assumptions. I never disputed the fact that a sub has a deterrent value or that it can tie down resources : what I’m saying is that it depends on the circumstances : is it a short war, does the enemy have lots of resources, do the operational conditions call for the need for a lot of resources to hunt the sub, how many subs does one have, is tying down enemy resources the main objective of the sub, etc,etc.

    You pointed out cases where subs are hard to detect. Fine but I also pointed out cases where subs were easy to detect. I also mentioned that to avoid getting a blurred impression of what subs can do, we also have to take note of their limitations. I also mentioned examples of how subs that are being hunted (the hunter became the hunted) and are focused on avoiding destruction; are not contributing to the overall effort.

    On “suggestions” I’ll leave it to you. I prefer to stay away from “what if” scenarios and to not focus too much time on “alternative” plans but I’m speaking for myself.

    On the Kedahs and the MMEA; I’ll say what I’ve said several times before : what the RMN should do and what it has to do are two profoundly different things.

    Yes MMEA OPVs should be the ones safe guarding our possessions in the Spratlys but until the MMEA can be adequately funded the harsh reality is that the RMN still has to perform various roles that by right, it shouldn’t.

  78. ……. – “We are discussing what can be done better, not what cannot be done, right”

    I’m discussing what can be done but also what can’t; based on present realities. Merely discussing or focusing on what “can” be done doesn’t given a balanced picture.

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