SHAH ALAM: Muddling Through 2017. So what’s in store for the Malaysian defence and national security in the new year?
Not much really and like the whole of the country, its likely to muddle through the year, much like what had happened in the past.
With oil prices seemingly under pressure (despite what is being done by OPEC) and the possibility of further economic downturn, the security sector prospects is not that rosy as the budget crunch forces the government to be very selective in its spending. As we have managed to get through difficult period in the past, hopefully this will also pass.
It’s telling that the preview of the new year starts with the most junior agency. Whatever one might think about APMM, at least we know that its getting new assets in 2017. Three, exactly, two ex-Japanese coast guard vessels and a brand new patrol boat. KM Pekan, is to be delivered next month while KM Arau later in the year.
And although the launch of the NGPC has been delayed, in all likelihood by the end of 2017, it will be commissioned into service. APMM is also likely to sign the contract for the three brand new OPVs at LIMA 17 to be held this March. Though I hazard to guess that if the economy goes further south, it could be deferred as well.
The senior service is likely to commission the first of two training ships next month. The first LCS is still under construction while the LMS remains under final technical consideration. As for the interim measure mentioned previously, it is still under negotiation so it remains to be seen whether RMN will be getting new, albeit second-hand ships for its fleet.
Despite this, the RMN is set to inaugurate its Eastern Fleet headquarters at its base at Teluk Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu and a new regional command in Bintulu, Sarawak.
With the new command, RMN will gained several new flag officers. It will have three three-stars (it has two currently) making it on par with both, the Army and RMAF. Both the Army and RMAF have an extra three-stars each. However, as both of them are with the Armed Forces headquarters, they do not count in overall scheme of things.
Anyhow, the RMN on Dec. 21 retired its tug boat, KTD Kepah, after 36 years in service. She was the first ship to be retired from service as part of the 15-to-5 transformation programme. More decommissioning is expected within the next year or two.
The service is likely to get its fourth and final Airbus DS A400M transport aircraft before LIMA 17 this March. Two more EC120B is also likely to join Pulatibang 2 in Kolej Tentera Udara, Alor Setar to add to the two leased examples already operating there.
A digital cockpit Nuri is also expected to make its debut at LIMA 17. And before you ask, the MRCA deal will NOT be signed at LIMA. The weak economy does not favour a multi-billion ringgit deal at this point in time. I was told that if money was available however, it will be…
The Army is expected to get more Gempitas this year though exact numbers remained undetermined. So far I believed only 60 Gempitas from all variants have been delivered. I stand to be corrected of course.
Due to the budget crunch, I do not think the numbers will cross 100 by 2018. Lipanbara deliveries however is expected to be completed this year though again numbers already delivered remained hazy. Training for the MD530G light scout attack helicopters are expected in the new year though delivery dates will be another guessing game similar to other assets including the M109 SPH.
Its difficult to write anything about the police as most of my contacts had already moved to other positions or retired. Hopefully it will be easier next year. Anyhow its likely that the police’s new air wing headquarters at Subang airport will be opened in the next 12 months. The police’s new AW139s are also expected to be commission soon, most likely at LIMA 17 as well.
So that’s my take for the Rooster year. Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all of you, wherever you are.
*edited to fix name of the first APMM ship to be delivered. It is KM Pekan. Initially it was to be KM Arau but APMM changed it to KM Pekan.
— Malaysian Defence