Swimming in A Fishbowl

RMAF Hawk MK108 (front) and MK208 (behind). RMAF

SHAH ALAM: Swimming in a fishbowl. IT appears that my post on Kuwaiti Hornets was overly optimistic. RMAF chief Gen. Affendi Buang downplayed the possibility in response to written questions posed to him ahead of the service’s 61st anniversary today. He said that although it welcome any offer of used aircraft, the conversations with Kuwait was only casual and not a firm commitment. He said the same thing when the question came up during an interview held for the same reason on May 29.

Anyhow what is being purchase soon after the slew of RFIs early this year? One single air defense radar, actually, from the three sought by the RFI. It is unclear when the contract to be sign though.

ThalesRaytehon GM400
ThalesRaytheon GM400

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.

Leonardo ATR 72 MP. Leonardo

The LCA, has yet to be approved though. So all talk about a deal to be concluded by year end is of course, wrong. RMAF is pushing for it to be funded in RMK12 though, so much so it had decide to defer the Hawk upgrades. Affendi said if they get the funding, 12 will be purchased in RMK12 with another 24 to be purchased in subsequent procurement cycles.

Two RMAF Hawks flying over Penang at the recent 25th Silver Jubilee. TUDM

When the first 12 LCA arrived, some of the Hawks and MB-339CM could be retired, said Affendi indicating a preference for a twin-seater for the new programme. A likely indication that the T-50, M346, Yak-130 and even the Hongdu L-15 would be the preferred choices ahead of the Tejas and JF-17.

Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten performing a display at LIMA 2019. Zaq Sayuti.

As for the Hercules and Nuri upgrades, Affendi said the contracts are expected to be finalised by year end. The 11 year service for the Sukhois is expected to be funded by next year.

RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM M52-18 during its display at LIMA 17

As for the facilities built to replace the Kuala Lumpur airbase, it is being completed and RMAF is expected to get the certificate of fitness before year end before the facilities are fully manned and operational. The new facilities are those in Sendayan, Kuantan and Subang.

The main buildings of the Sendayan airbase. Air Times

— Malaysian Defence

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49 Comments

  1. The optimist in me says it’s great that the new government has actually approved – in principle – the UAS and MPA requirement.

    The pessimist in me says that we have a long history of the government approving funding for something, only for that funding to never materialise leaving the requirement unrealised.

    My hunch says the said radar will be another ThalesRaytheon one. The interesting question is : to be used as a gap filler or as a primary one, as part of a new SOC?

  2. To whom it may concern, If it’s not much to ask, can we get a couple more of greeneries here and there at the Sendayan Airbase though? Seem kinda hot & dry with too much brightness going on. More trees can definitely freshen the surrounding area a little bit. Just a thought.

    Anyway, go get them KAF Hornets like, pronto!

  3. On paper the best compromise for our MRCA requirement is to add more legacy hornets to our current 8 units and use them up to 2030 when hopefuly the budget is available to replace the hornet with 5th gen fighters. Whether it would happen or not at least now adding more Hornets to the current fleet is a part of the official TUDM plan, unlike the outright denial of it a few years ago. The 1st choice to get additional hornets is of course from Kuwait (kuwait is no stranger to selling its retired fighters, selling its skyhawks to brazil for example. But with our snub to saudi, i dont know how this would affect kuwaiti appetite to sell to malaysia) . But we should not discount the option of getting the aussie classic hornets like what canada did, even if the planes are a bit older than those kuwaiti ones.

    As for the AD radar, yes we need to replace 5 of our old radars that dates back to the 80s and early 90s, plus to add 3 additional ones as per CAP55. So replacing them is a good priority.

    For UAV, MPA, LCA, lets talk about it when the DWP is out, and hopefully there will be a written budgetary commitment to TUDM for each Rancangan Malaysia to come.

    Reply
    I was at the PC, the FMT took the quote completely out of context and got the story completely wrong

  4. @Azlan
    IINM, the UAS & MPA approvals had preceded the new administration. Either the prior approvals were rescinded and the Government are re-approving what was approved, or they are just affirming their own stamp of approval on the prior approval.

    The Kuwaiti Hornets are gonna be retired soon in another few years and they will likely try to secure a buyer before that, yet we are still CASUALLY TALKING about it? By the time the Government actually get their acts in order and seriously consider this option, the Hornets would have long ago found buyers. The early bird gets the worm, even a kid knows that! Really shake my head.

    As for LCA, if the doctrine requires them to be 1st responder to SCS incursion by China, then better not go the Chinese route. OTOH, MH17 is still unresolved so I hope the Government rejects Yak-130 and any other Russian weapons for that matter.

    “Hercules and Nuri upgrades. Affendi said the contracts are expected to be finalised”
    This thing have been blowing hot and cold for so long, I will believe it when I see the last unit of Hercs & Nuris have been fully upgraded. While the Hercs are nobrainer for upgrading, neither TUDM nor PUTD are keen to hang onto their Nuris.

    “The 11 year service for the Sukhois is expected to be funded by next year.”
    This I’m quite confused. Is this referring to the stalled then restarted MKM SLEP program? Or is it a continuation of that?

  5. What did he really say about the nuris?

    Conflicting stories, some reporting that it is to be replaced, some say it is to be upgraded.

    I hope there is a clear future for the nuris written in the upcoming DWP. Continue to use them? I am okay with it, but it needs the badly needed upgrades. Replace them? I am okay with that too long as proper budget is allocated for that.

    On the LCA rather than buying it in batches (with high risk of future batches cancelled or another rojak bought), can all it be signed off like at 1 go, but delivery and payment staggered through 2 Rancangan Malaysias? But the value of the LCA (previously reported at up to RM7 billion) is comparatively small and should be completed in 1 Rancangan Malaysia

    Reply.
    He says the Nuri will be replaced but not when. As his answer were not definite I did not bother with it. Furthermore as the Nuri upgrade is supposed to be contracted it is likely no replacements until 2030

  6. We should opt for the Russian Nebo-M radar instead. It’s cheaper and has the capability to detect stealth because of it being the UHF kind, eventhough the accuracy won’t be as spot on.

    To be honest, I rather have the current Hawks to be converted to Advanced Hawk standard and use it for LIFT and LCA. Converting our MIG 29 to MIG 35 is not a bad idea too.

  7. Just get the Kuwaiti Hornets General! Get 6-8 if it’s not possible for a dozen or more. That’s a better option. For now. We can’t just dawdle away our chances at getting them unless you don’t want them in the first place.

  8. Joe,

    The MPA requirement gained approval and was a priority under the last government. The UAS one hasn’t reached such an advanced stage. Of course under its original long term plan; the RMAF was supposed to get MPAs “after” the Su-30s and Cougars but “before” the MRCAs but that’s water under the bridge.

    The Hornets – like I mentioned several times before, the RMAF has perfectly legitimate reasons as to why it’s not keen on pre owned airframes that are already several decades old and which will be several years older by the time they are delivered; irrespective of the fact that they are in good condition and are low houred. Many long term factors to be considered; not just how readily available they are or how “cheap” they may be.

    What may seem logical or should be a priority to many; may differ greatly from what the RMAF feels should be it’s priority. At the moment it has its hands full : ensuring it has sufficient funds to maintain what it presently has, to get a number of long delayed upgrade programmes going and to seek approval to replace what it can, based on the government’s penny pinching budget and indifference towards defence.

  9. Joe,

    It’s not “doctrine” but availability and placement of assets. At some point in the future if circumstances require a LCA to perform a peace time intercept; so be it. It doesn’t make a difference if the aircraft being intercepted is Chinese and the LCA is Chinese made. There have been times when Hornets have scrambled to “greet” aircraft that unintentionally strayed – briefly – into our airspace. Those aircraft turned out to be American.

    In the past someone questioned if a subsonic platform could perform QRA. It can depending on the circumstances; i.e. the direction the intruder is flying, it’s speed, how much early warning there is, etc.

    The RMAF hopes that a future LCA will double as a LIFT and as a light attack platform; with some level of air to air capability. Until a time when new fighters are available those LCAs can also take some strain off the Hornets and MKMs. Not every situation requires a Hornet or a MKM and a LCA will be cheaper to fly and maintain.

  10. A year ago .. we have 1 trillions debt… Now we still have 1 trillions + debt due to liabilities so n so….even we had come out the defense white paper i dun think we have that budget.. I really no idea how can we get mpa, uav + lca in a same period of time while we still have problem to maintain the existing. Let’s just keep the hawk, nuri, Hercules fly as per now without upgrade. Modify the cn235 become mpa… If we really have $ only think about new toys. On that time, Mat Sabu can shout “once more Malaysia defense is the best in Asean and we shall have peace….”

  11. Off topic

    Mat sabu in shangrila dialogue singapore.

    There was a question regarding chinese coast guard ships in malaysian EEZ. He replied that malaysian navy will not respond and malaysia will only respond through diplomatic means. That IMO is a wrong answer and more reason for China to use their coast guard ships to do what they will in malaysian exclusive economic zone.

    The correct response is that we would response with our own coast guard ships, and is currently building more of them for the future.

  12. Yes Michael and when speaking
    about Huawei in Japan, Dr. M said something along the lines of “”everyone knows they can just walk through Malaysia”. Rich, given a lot of the long-standing issues faced by the MAF are due to decisions he made, for national interests.

    Also, is our debt really RM1 trillion as they maintain? I have no idea. What criteria did they use to come up with this figure?

  13. To be honest, the RMAF CAP55 Plan is just to ambitious for current political climate and budget constraint. That is a bitter pill we would have to accept.

    Proposing a new platform ie LCA when we have many stalled programmes on the table like Nuri upgrade/replace, Hercules upgrade, MPA, UAV and MRCA squadron is just straining the already limited resources and the govt coffers.

    Timing is evrything when proposing budget. We shall complete the approved programmes contract first like Nuri, Hercules and UAVs before proposing LCA. It is also made more economical sense to upgrade the Hawks and supplement their numbers rather than buying an altogether new LCA platform. I also think that it is to ambitious to get both LCA and Kuwaiti Hornets. We shall make it alternatives to the other.

    Let the govt decide if they can afford brand new or used jets. We cant be expecting too much from our Defence Minister. It is only Mat Sabu.

  14. Wan,

    It is the job of the armed services to lay out their requirements and try to get them approved – irrespective of whether there are actually funds at the moment. It is the government’s job to inform the armed services as to what can be afforded and what can’t; as well as also giving a likely timeframe. This enables the armed services to plan accordingly and to make the needed “adjustments”.

    On the MRCAs, it was the previous government which told the RMAF that the requirement has been approved. It was also the previous government that was not keen on pre owned or on a leasing option. First it was Gripen that had backing, then Typhoon became the favourite followed by Rafale. What the RMAF recommended was secondary. The present government at the moment is just clueless and hasn’t the political will; it hasn’t got around to focusing. Because of that the RMAF decided on the cheaper LCA requirement. Then again who knows? In 2-3 years time the government could change its mind and consider MRCAs instead of LCAs.

    On the CAP 55; it’s not ambitious, it’s spread out over too long a period and like the 5/15 can be subject to change due to various factors/uncertainties. It’s important to note that under the previous long term plan; after the MKMs and Cougars; the intention was to progressively get an AEW, radars, basic trainers and then only MRCAs. This was to happen over a 15 year or so period. Alas the only requirement that was met was the basic trainers.

    The plan also was to (like the Nuris and Charlie’s) to upgrade the Hawks, many moons ago. If the government cant provide a commitment to the LCAs then obviously only the minimal should be spent in order to keep the Hawks flying for a few more years. Also note the long delayed LIFT requirement, for which the LCA is also intended to meet.

    Upgrading the Hawks or getting attrition replacements doesn’t do away with the fact that the RMAF has no LIFT ( one can call the MBBs intermediary or advanced trainers but they are not LIFTs in the truest sense of the word). On what’s “economical” there are 2 sides of the argument. One can say the Hawks are still good for secondary roles and have plenty of hours left. Someone else can say upgrading them doesn’t provide a good return of investment because of their age and the cash can be used for a newer and better performing replacement.

    One thing is clear, we should not rush doing anything (certainly not because something is cheap, available and eagerly sought by others) as what we buy now (if issues are later encountered) will have an adverse long term impact. People tend to overlook this. I’m not saying we should give the armed services carte blanche to get whatever they want; merely to listen more to them on what does and doesn’t suit their long term requirements based on sustainability and other issue. This ensures the armed services get the desired capability and the rakyat their ringgit’s worth.

  15. What i mean is if we go for either choice we shall go all in;

    1. Kuwaiti Hornets – Get at least 16 platforms, bringing the total nos to 24 nos or 2 squadron of twelve each. Retired the MB339CM and only retain enough Hawks for LIFT(around 12? Need expert opinion). Probaly the more economical choices in short term.

    2. LCA – Go for 36 as planned in 3 batches. Retired Hawk and MB339CM. If hav additional funds go for just 4 nos of Kuwaiti Hornets used them until 2035-2040 (Even the USMC planned to used their legacy Hornets until at least 2030s and currently planning massive upgrades). Seems to be the current trend. Make sense in the long term but replacing with a new platform could be expensives with new logistics chain hence the option to upgrade Hawks and suplement nos to 24 or 36.

    Though the govt political will for both is low though. They only raise RFIs for LIMA attendance purpose without any followup. Afterall good LIMA is in Mat Sabu’s KPIs.

    Off topic; Palm oil barter with China agreed and to include defence deals. What deal?

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/01/msia-strikes-palm-oil-barter-trade-deal-with-china/&ved=0ahUKEwjHhsTA3MjiAhWTXSsKHU6LCHAQqQIIJygBMAA&usg=AOvVaw2zu6mLrv9-o7m79WI2u3St

    Reply
    AFAIK there was no deal per se, just a general agreement if Malaysia decides to buy from China it will be partially paid with barter trade

  16. “can we get a couple more of greeneries here and there at the Sendayan Airbase though? Seem kinda hot & dry with too much brightness going on.”

    As the title of this post ” swimming in the fish bowl”, allow me to add another phrase from Pink Floyd album “wish you were here”.

  17. Azlan, that comment you made at 06:57am on June 1st (yesterday), I wholeheartedly agree with it. 100% ✓! I am entering a phase in life where I tend to disbelieve rather than believe any announcement or excuse made by ‘any’ government of the day !

  18. @Azlan
    >”Also, is our debt really RM1 trillion as they maintain? I have no idea. What criteria did they use to come up with this figure?”

    Debt guaranteed by the Govt on behalf of corporations including 1MDB which those corporations could not pay, and is now dependent on the Govt to pay.

    Same principle as when you become guarantor for your friend’s loan; banks will then hold you liable.

    Indonesia also was criticised by ratings agencies for the same thing.

  19. @ wan

    Both of those 2 choices we need to go all in, not to be seen as hornet or LCA. Because those 2 choices are IMO the most cost effective choice that will also set up a better overall condition for the airforce in 2030 to buy a new 5th gen MRCA. If we do not implement either one, we will be in big budgetary trouble in 2030 to buy 2 big ticket items at the same time.

    Retain enough hawks for LIFT? Right now our training for future fighter pilots is in a mess. We dont have enough LIFT platform and had to use Pc-7 Mk2 for parts of the training, which the pilatus is not the best platform, and robs the plane from training ab initio pilots. Currently we have only 5 twin seat hawks available, and 7 MB-339CM with dubious engine condition.

    Why adding more hawks is not ideal in our situation? Answer – MiG-29 is gone, and tudm operating budget is slashed. We need a low cost fighter that we can use for daily air policing duties without breaking the bank. We cannot let something like MH370 or FlyScoot turnback in kuantan airspace to happen without TUDM able to intercept them.

    http://cna-sg-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/q_auto,f_auto/image/10108502/16×9/991/557/caccd1ed1f08f6ce8480ac6d116038d7/BW/scoot-bomb-hoax-timeline.png

    A BAe hawk have the same top speed of a boeing or airbus passenger jet. While good for defending airspace from aircraft going towards their direction, it is another issue altogether to chase something going away from them. A reason IMO to get a supersonic LCA/LIFT.

    Basically this is our fighter fleet right now (june 2019)
    18x Su-30MKM
    8x F/A-18D
    12@13x Hawk 208 single seat
    5x Hawk 108 twin seat
    7x Mb-339CM

    This is singapore
    50x F-15SG
    60x F-16C/D block 52+
    12x M-346

    Indonesia
    16x Su-27/30 (11x Su-35 on order)
    32x F-16A/B/C/D
    31x Hawk 209/109
    15x T-50i

    Thailand
    53x F-16A/B
    11x Saab Gripen C/D
    34x F-5E/F
    18x Alphajet A
    4x T-50TH (8x T-50TH on order)
    35x L-39ZA/ART

  20. Wan,

    We can look at all the options, discuss their respective merits (some are convinced buying several decade old Hornets is the way to go, some for whatever reason feel buying Chinese is the way) and also discuss wish list theocratical options till the cows come home but let’s look at the facts.

    Never mind what makes sense on paper or what is economical. Looking at recent statements it’s crystal clear that the only jet the RMAF is seeking (and realistically expects to get) in the coming years is the LCA : period/full stop.

    Unless something drastically changes that is the plan and priority; for the LCA to progressively enter service and replace the Hawks and MBBs. The only thing that remains to be seen is for the government to actually allocate funding.

    Adding number to the MKM and Hornet fleets is a possibility but not a priority. Both can continue (just barely) to meet peacetime commitments until the LCA arrives to shoulder some of the responsibility.

  21. Azlan,
    I do understand that it is the RMAF job to determine their requirements to the govt. I think CAP55 is realistic and a good plan. I am talking though about the timing of the release of the proposal. Shooting proposal after proposal to the govt when many didnt materialise is more like a try and error process. I worked as Mtnc Planner for a certain GLC, i do know bit about requesting budget and sadly whether it is private or public, it’s more political the higher the stake is and there is no more higher than recapitalising of major assets. Proposing now means low govt will, short coffers, still pending programmes, incompetence, and out of budget cycle. Making any progress is just difficult. Thus the need for alternatives proposal for power to be.

    I do agree with you about the Hawks and LCA though. Those really something need to be considered based on available options and study. Also when have the govt listened to the RMAF? The bitter pill.

    Ted,
    More like Bohemian Rhapsody right now

  22. I’m not saying a LCA can’t be used for “air policing duties” (supersonic or otherwise) but in RMAF service the LCA will mainly do stuff the Hawks have been doing, namely light attack and anti maritime: plus a limited air to air capability. The big difference is that the LCA can double up as a LIFT which the MBB is not. Call it what you want “advanced” or “intermediate” trainer but the MBB is not a “LIFT” in the strictest sense of the word.

    On the subject of QRAs and subsonic aircraft; I’ve pointed before, various factors come into play. Sure a supersonic platform is more ideal but depending on the circumstances a subsonic or a LCA can do the job : what direction is the intruder flying in – away or towards a QRA aircraft?, at what speed?, what are it’s intentions?, is it a military or commercial aircraft, is it a routine peacetime intercept or one during times of heightened tension and how much lead time has the QRA aircraft been given to intercept?

    Like the Hawks the LCA will be used for routine air patrols but whether or not they will have a QRA tasking remains to be seen.

  23. Taib,

    I’ve learnt a long time ago to be wary of anything said by any government. After all, governments anywhere have one agenda : to stay in power. To do that they need votes and to get the needed votes they have tell the taxpayers not only what they want to hear but to also play on their fears.

  24. “Adding number to the MKM and Hornet fleets is a possibility but not a priority. Both can continue (just barely) to meet peacetime commitments until the LCA arrives to shoulder some of the responsibility.”

    To be precise, are we currently meeting the commitments as they are written, and how reasonable are these requirements?

    “Dr. M said something along the lines of “”everyone knows they can just walk through Malaysia”. Rich, given a lot of the long-standing issues faced by the MAF are due to decisions he made, for national interests. ”

    It also shows that his attitude towards the MAF hasn’t changed. Defence will continue to take a back seat to other sectors, and acquisitions will continue to be used to support the government’s other foreign policy initiatives.

    Less clear is whether his threat perceptions have changed. Does he still feel our security environment is as benign as it was in his first tenure -perhaps he feels that other countries are unlikely to attack us despite having developed stronger means than they had 20-30 years ago-, or do his comments indicate resignation in that Malaysia is hopelessly outclassed if pitted against potential threats -with our fortunes resting on whether we are attacked and whether anyone comes to our aid, rather than on anything that we can do for ourselves?

  25. Wan,

    To be fair the RMAF did have a long term plan to be carried out over a 15 or so year period : MPAs, basic trainers, LIFTs and then only MRCAs, after the MKMs and Cougars were bought. It was a realistic and sustainable plan but not only was the government unable to provide funding or give indication as to when but it also kept changing its mind about what should be the priority.

    Like the 5/15 the CAP 55 is great if I happens on time and receives the needed funding but it binds the RMAF to a plan that is subject
    to many uncertainties over the years and to factors beyond it’s control. I have no idea about tCAP55 but 5/15 was met with lots of scepticism with the RMN; many unconvinced it would provide the needed capabilities.

    On the LCA and other stuff approved in principle by the government; I won’t be surprised if in the next couple or years or so; the government decides something else should be a priority. Just like how I predict that in the coming years the RMN’s 5/15 will die a natural death without achieving its goals and by leaving the RMN in a “neither here not there” situation.

    As long as it can do what we need it to do and we get it in decent numbers (rather than say 12 in 2021 and a “maybe” a follow on 12 in 2032); I couldn’t care less what LCA we buy; which has a longer range, higher payload or better cruising speed at certain altitudes.

  26. On the LCA

    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/light-at-the-end-of/

    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NSt-1015×1024.jpg

    From the menhan himself

    “Based on the CAP55 planning, RMAF is looking to replace its MiG29Ns, Hawks and MB339CMs with light combat aircraft (LCA), which provide capabilities relative to that of a MRCA but at a lower cost so that it would be possible to acquire and maintain a large number of the platforms with similar operating expenditures.”

    “The LCA will be able to conduct lead-in-fighter training but satisfy the spectrum of operational combat duties expected of RMAF.

    “This allows cost savings on training duration, human resource planning and aircrew development, which can be channelled back for future asset upgrade.”

  27. “To do that they need votes and to get the needed votes they have tell the taxpayers not only what they want to hear but to also play on their fears.”

    Now, I cannot help but note that in March, a prominent foreign blogger “highlighted” our army’s ability to conduct simultaneous, sustained and large scale movements and operations across the full extent of our territory.

    The notion of which, in the same article, he lent equal significance to his own country’s announcement of a multi-billion dollar acquisitions roadmap that explicitly mentioned F-35s, “LST”s that can carry them, a host of new, locally developed AFVs and SPHs and which surely included many other unannounced plans.

    I’m not pointing at him or his country out of resentment (I never have), just citing it as an example of the point Azlan made.

    I do however feel there is room for improvement if the intention is to justify the expense of the announced plans and the country’s overall emphasis on defence. Yes, Malaysia’s capabilities are impressive to the uninitiated and to those who take his writings at face value. But it would be desirable -for both our countries and for him as a personage- to move beyond what we’ve been doing for all the 54 years that we’ve been neighbours. Threats and trends have evolved immensely in recently years. Even if these cannot be mentioned expressly for political reasons, some other ways to foster a wider, wiser outlook can surely be found.

  28. @ azlan

    ” To be fair the RMAF did have a long term plan to be carried out over a 15 or so year period : MPAs, basic trainers, LIFTs and then only MRCAs, after the MKMs and Cougars were bought. ”

    Did that actually happen?

    What actually happened was.

    After Su-30MKM, it was the EC725, then the A400M.

    Next priority was MRCA, even when there are talks of MPA and others, it was always the MRCA that is the top priority of the government and TUDM. It started around 2011.

    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/mrca-programme-its-official/

    Yup you commented there and i also commented that it is not an urgent need then.

    It was only at the end of 2017 that they finally concede that MRCA cannot be funded, then MPA and LCA was seriously talked about.

    Basic trainers we bought in packets of 5, which at most cost USD 5 million each, that hardly can be considered a big ticket item.

  29. Chua,

    With dumb bombs, rockets and the 30mm Aden. They always had a anti maritime role, against lightly defended, small surface units. A very regular occurrence at MAF and FPDA exercises has been Hawks conducting low level attacks on our ships and foreign ones. At one point in the 1990’s Sea Eagle was seen as a possibility to arm the Hawks but it was never a serious option, thankfully.

    AM,

    I enjoy reading “Senang Diri” although he often gives us more credit (whether intentional or not) than needed and between the lines Malaysia is always a potential opponent.

    As we all know PAP for decades has made it a point to constantly remind Singaporeans on the need for a strong SAF and what Singapore’s neighbours might do if the SAF wasn’t strong. It’s ingrained in their national psyche.

    Dr.M’s attitude (not towards the MAF per say but towards external threats) is that we’ll never go to war. If things get hot, diplomacy with external help (whether the UN, neighbouring countries or Uncle Sam) will always prevent a war from occurring. Thus we should only spend on defence when we have the extra cash and even then, national interests comes first, not what really suits the MAF. When he makes statements like the one uttered in Japan; it’s typical Dr.M saying preposterous things. If the head of the country can say things like that, what can we expect from the likes of our esteemed Defence Minister?

    To his credit however, despite his so called or perceived anti American stance, it was Dr.M that was responsible for the close defence cooperation (in the form of exercises and exchanges) we have with Uncle Sam. It started during his time in office. It was also under Mahathir’s time when the MAF received a lot of equipment and him of course that made several flawed decisions for which the MAF is still suffering from.

  30. Yes, even RSAF also uses A4S for antiship role, even toting maverick missiles, “MAF received a lot of equipment and him of course that made several flawed decisions for which the MAF is still suffering from” i do hope, this time around, he or the PH,does not repeat it again.
    As for Singapore, its not PAP per se, a tiny island has no choice but to carry a big stick. Its is THE only insurance,The recent concluded Shangrilla meet, Defence Minister has declared that they will invest more in defence.
    As for uncle Sam, seriously, i doubt uncle SAM would comes a running to anyone aid with current political climate in US. FPDA, maybe ,neighbours, it depends.. imho

  31. …..: – “Next priority was MRCA, even when there are talks of MPA and others, it was always the MRCA that is the top priority of the government and TUDM. It started around 2011“

    Who made it a priority? The government or the RMAF? If the government had followed the plan: MRCAs would have been acquired after MPAs and other stuff. I know you have a tendency to revisit old ground even after it has clearly been explained but get the narrative right.

    It was the government that kept backtracking and changing its mind; not the RMAF. The RMAF had a plan to be implemented over a certain period: small numbers of platform to give it balanced capabilities ; the fact that it didn’t happen (you mentioned the obvious) is due largely to the government (the RMN also has a list of plans that never happened) that couldn’t make up its mind and had changing priorities. Thus the narrative that the RMAF’s priority was MRCAs at the expense of stuff like MPAs is a completely false one. Even the former deputy PM went on record as saying that other programmes would have to be put on hold should Typhoon be bought.

    RFPs for MPAs were issued in the mid 2000’s, the late 2000’s and the years preceding the MAS tragedy and in 2014 so how can anyone say that only MRCAs were the main priority? The plain fact is that MPAs have long been a priority and it wasn’t only after 2017 that the RMAF “seriously” (as you put it) started pursuing it.

    …. – “that hardly can be considered a big ticket item”

    Who said anything about it being a “big ticket” item and so what if it’s not? I did clearly say that along with MPAs and other stuff it was part of long term plans and they were progressively ordered. No mention at all about it being a “big ticket” item. On the A400M it was a sudden decision by the government for which the RMAF had no requirement for.

    ….. – “It was only at the end of 2017 that they finally concede that MRCA cannot be funded, then MPA and LCA was seriously talked about”

    No ….. It was the previous government which insisted on keeping the MRCA programme going and with the change of government the RMAF obviously realised this wasn’t an option anymore; thus it decided to focus on other programmes like the MPA which is long needed and is an easier deal to sell to the politicians.

    I’m not suggesting the RMAF is infallible or blameless and I’m the last person to be an apologist (in jest or not; you once asked if I stood to gain financially if MRCAs were bought, merely because I voiced my concerns on buying pre owned aged platforms) for anything or anyone but let’s not accuse it of stuff it didn’t do or is not responsible for. Like it’s sister services it has its share of cock ups, has made flawed decisions and is fully dependent on governments which can change their minds on when and what should be funded and when.

  32. @Azlan
    >Hawks

    Wow. Just about the one thing possible that we have that could possibly be brought down by Iglas or Simbad.

    >Senang Diri

    I don’t have any doubt that he’s just an asshole showering left-handed “compliments”.

  33. @ azlan

    ” A very regular occurrence at MAF and FPDA exercises has been Hawks conducting low level attacks on our ships and foreign ones ”

    They are not practising to attack ships. The hawks are used to simulate subsonic anti ship missiles such as harpoon or exocet to test the ships defence.

    ” Who made it a priority? The government or the RMAF? ”

    Both. Asking around for information does not mean it is a top priority. The fact is that right after MKM and EC725 it was all about MMRCA, and most of it is from TUDM top brass themselves. The A400M, yes it is something pushed down the throat by the government, but you cannot say the same about the MRCA.

    Nothing more to say as i know you are a loyal defender of all TUDM plans (especially the MRCA).

  34. @Azlan
    Doctrine IS IMPORTANT to the role of LCA. If they are expected to intercept China planes, they better be able to detect, and deter them. If the LCA were China built, they could be programmed so that its IFF will ignore Chinese planes or at least will not lock onto them. Could we bypass that possibility via using Western systems (like MKM)? Maybe, but it would be much more expensive and we may not like the final price tag. Comparing buzzing US planes and China planes? For one US planes are unlikely to shoot us down in international waters and they had proven to be less antagonistic towards neutral countries as compared to China.

    As for the Hornets, yes they are old but moderately used. Legacy Hornet lifespan could be quite accurately predicted due to the longer and harsher usage by other users and certainly RMAF could use such historical data (or get advice from Boeing), to consider whether the Kuwaiti Hornets are worth buying. Certainly Canada don’t seem adverse in getting more older and more used Aussie Hornets to augment their fleets, and I guessed above explanation is the reason why they went for Aussie high mileage Hornets.

    @Chua
    World Bank has criticised the current Government on including 1MDB in their debts. because its akin to taking a loan to develop the land whereby the land itself is the collateral. Plenty of private ventures follow this modus operandi but I guess its unique for a government to do that. Anyways I digress.

    @…
    If we were to consider Menhan’s logic that LCA can do a nearly job of an MRCA, then the next question would be; is there a need for dedicated MRCA if LCA can do a nearly there job? The answer; of course the MRCA are still needed because LCA is just not capable! How can anyone thought that LCA would be able to intercept and take on top tier fighters from our neighbour or China, is not using his brains enough. Chinese J-20s would run rings around our LCA if they tried. MRCA is MRCA and performs the role of MRCA. The LCA can in limited ways perform similarly but those in power shouldn’t be delusional expecting it to perform like an MRCA. MRCA is not a priority and I would prefer we wait for more 5th gen stealth tech fighters to mature and then we plunge for it.

  35. Alpha Zulu “Yes, even RSAF also uses A4S for antiship role, even toting maverick missiles, “

    At the time, the RSAF would also have used Maverick equipped F-5s in the role. They would also have used their cannon. Needless to say, ship air defences in the region have changed much since those days.

    “As for Singapore, its not PAP per se, a tiny island has no choice but to carry a big stick.”

    Singapore’s neighbours understand her need for strong defence forces, and no one here is questioning or alluding ulterior motives to them.

    My point is the justification Senang Diri chose to employ is crude and well worn. Case in point is how all the commenters (and they were likely to all have been locals) on that article to date, have been focused on guessing the specs of the new SAF equipment. Nobody was taken by the red herring that was our little exercise, it didn’t garner even a single mention.

    To me, there were a million other ways to go about it. I could have gone on about how the new capabilities are necessary in the current threat context or to overcome current limitations, how they might lower the cost in lives in war, how they are necessary because future birth cohorts will be smaller or maybe how the local content develops Singapore’s strategic tech base or keeps the money in Singapore. But I guess nothing has the same ring to it as saying the hordes are at the gate, and they are able to marshall a few troops around on home ground without getting lost.

    As the SAF’s unofficial mouthpiece, he ought to do better.

    Chua “I don’t have any doubt that he’s just an asshole showering left-handed “compliments”.

    Try this: “Certainly more risky when the airspace around TUDM Gong Kedak will be defended by BVR-capable Su-30MKMs and ground-based air defence assets.”

  36. ……. – They are not practising to attack ships. The hawks are used to simulate subsonic anti ship missiles such as harpoon or exocet to test the ships defence“

    Profound difference between simulating a missile strike using an aircraft and actually simulating an attack on a ship by an aircraft.

    Last year’s FPDA exercise saw a ship CO (RAN if I recall) clearly stating that simulated attack’s in his ship by RMAF planes provided his crew with useful training against low level attack’s by “aircraft”.

    …. – “. The fact is that right after MKM and EC725 it was all about MMRCA, and most of it is from TUDM top brass themselves”

    In your mind maybe but in reality – as I’ve pointed time and again – the long term plan after MKMs and Cougars; was to also acquire MPAs, basic trainers and LIFTs. The MRCA requirement was only supposed to have been after a 15 or so year period in which MPAs, basic trainers and LIFTs had been acquired.

    …… – “Both. Asking around for information does not mean it is a top priority”

    On the contrary it does and does away with your constant narrative that MPAs were not “seriously looked at. Reports by the local media throughout the 2000’s as well as those by IDR, Janes, Military Technology, Flight International and others make clear mention by RMAF top brass of the vital need for MPAs. Also after the MAS tragedy the RMAF clearly states that it has been actively seeking MPAs but has been denied funding.

    …. – “Nothing more to say as i know you are a loyal defender of all TUDM plans (especially the MRCA”

    “Nothing note to say”? Well let’s see. Me insisting on getting the narrative right makes me a “loyal defender”? If I criticised the RMN for the fact that several of its plans were ditched; does that make me a harsh critic of the RMN?

    I’ll repeat what I said earlier which clearly stated my stand and should have done away with you saying what you did : “I’m not suggesting the RMAF is infallible or blameless and I’m the last person to be an apologist (in jest or not; you once asked if I stood to gain financially if MRCAs were bought, merely because I voiced my concerns on buying pre owned aged platforms) for anything or anyone but let’s not accuse it of stuff it didn’t do or is not responsible for.”

  37. @Azlan
    “make clear mention by RMAF top brass of the vital need for MPAs”
    Perhaps they pushed but did not push as hard as for MRCAs? The MPAs would largely be patrolling maritime waters, something TUDM might be thinking that is the role of TLDM, hence their hesitation maybe?

  38. @ azlan

    ” The MRCA requirement was only supposed to have been after a 15 or so year period in which MPAs, basic trainers and LIFTs had been acquired. ”

    So can you explain to me why MRCA official competition/request was held before MPA and LIFT, and was the main priority above MPA, LIFT and all others since 2008 up till 2018?

  39. Joe,

    Do we actually have a doctrine? Don’t assume we do. If circumstances in the future lead to a LCA intercepting anyone, it would probably be due to operational necessity rather than “doctrine”.

    On my mention of us intercepting U.S. planes that have strayed, you miss the point. Using a Chinese LCA to intercept a Chinese plane has zero risks. For one, the IFF codes are set by the customer, as are the radar frequencies. There is no chance of misidentification or the Chinese finding it easier to jam Chinese made gear. The same silly arguments were made by some on the LMS.

    On the U.S. not bring likely to fire on anyone in international waters, yeah right.. Stray too close to a U.S. ship and ignore warnings; you will be fired upon. I have a friend who use to fly with 21 Squadron. His CN was on its way to Sabah and despite being some distance away; was warned and questioned by a USN carrier group.

    There is no reason at all why a LCA can’t perform routine peacetime air policing. As I’ve mentioned time and again, depends on the circumstances. Nobody’s suggesting we send it into combat against MRCAs. Hawks have long been doing routine peacetime patrols and have intercepted foreign aircraft.

    Instead of looking at the LCA in isolation, note that the LCA is intended to complement MRCAs, by doing things alongside MRCAs and by doing things that don’t require a MRCA. Do we need a high/ low end fleet? We do, based on our circumstances.

  40. Chua,

    True but until recently not many ships had MANPADs and at the low altitudes attacks take place, can a MANPADs react in time? Fine if it’s an integrated mount with early warning but if it’s not?
    An operator with a MANPADs on his shoulder, on the deck of a rolling ship, with just his eyes for a sensor will probably not be able to react in time.

    Yes it would be silly to perform low level attacks on targets using unguided munitions in this day and age but low level attacks (as opposed to simulated missile attacks using aircraft) provides useful practice for aircrews and ship crews alike .

    Just like how the days of WVR are largely over due to better sensors and longer range missiles but aircrews still practice “dogfighting”. Similarly despite the proliferation of guided munitions; aircrews still practice using dumb bombs, which depending on the threat level, type of target, terrain and weather, can at times be more suitable than a guided munition.

  41. Chua “I don’t have any doubt that he’s just an asshole showering left-handed “compliments”.

    He’s not your run-of-the-mill asshole bearing a run-of-the-mill grudge against Malaysia. I’d say he suffers from at least two kinds of split personality.

    Lets start with the first kind. Some of his posts show a legit respect for Malaysia and an understanding that Malaysia is a good friend to have. Pieces such as those praising the MAF’s public affairs unit or real world operations are not the kind of back-handed compliments that some others are. The same motivations apply in his not writing on instances when our performance was less than impressive.

    At the same time, he needs a bogeyman to justify the expense in taxpayer’s money, NSmen’s time and constant propaganda that the state has deemed necessary. It won’t do for him to use Indonesia, or to ever mention that a certain country offered (not genuinely, but more as a warning shot) to supply us with unspecified radar and missile systems for us to station in Johor, because their reactions would be predictably vicious. Even though it doesn’t come from an official’s mouth. That leaves us, a fellow Asean and FPDA member whose security interests coincide with theirs in many ways.

    I should add there are historical reasons for the Malaysian bogeyman. Our leaders had very public spats in the 90s. People were less educated and availed of information, and tended to believe what they were told. The SAF was less capable at the time and among the few it could have credibly taken on was the MAF. But it has since grown up.

    On to the second. The other sense in which his personality is split is how he produces some truly insightful pieces for an informed audience, and at other times spits out Malaysian bogeyman drivel that fools no one. Literally none of his commenting audience is fooled- this time, no one even mentioned our exercise and the last few times he extolled RMAF air power, their response was mocking.

    It should be clear to him that his audience is educated, enthusiastic for the SAF’s new capabilities, supportive of the government’s defence policies and more than likely has an appreciation for who the real threats are. They expect at least common sense, not a national day singalong. He isn’t reaching stupid readers and if he is, they aren’t commenting. I have to wonder why he keeps writing for them. Again, the SAF has grown up, people’s IQs have gone up and it is time he grew with them.

    joe “World Bank has criticised the current Government on including 1MDB in their debts. because its akin to taking a loan to develop the land whereby the land itself is the collateral. Plenty of private ventures follow this modus operandi”

    1MDB’s debt is counted because they are government guaranteed. Where 1MDB defaults, the government is liable to pay out of its coffers, which we did last year before the election.

  42. …… – “why MRCA official competition/request was held before MPA and LIFT, and was the main priority above MPA, LIFT and all others since 2008 up till 2018”

    Gladly. I’ve explained this time and time again but gladly.

    The LIFT requirement was always there and was pushed by the RMAF but the government decided that it could wait a little longer and the RMAF would have to make do with the MBBs. As part of the original plan LIFTs should have been acquired before MRCAs. Way before MRCAs became news and was approved in principle, a RFP was already issued for a LIFT and RMAF teams has already visited factories in the U.K. and Italy.

    Again, from 2008 the RMAF was actively pushing for MPAs and numerous reports and statements reflect this; as do the RFIs and RFPs. Just because you didn’t hear widely about an “official competition” on MPAs doesn’t mean it was not a priority. Yes there was a requirement for MRCAs but it was not at the expense of MPAs as both were supposed to have been funded at different times.

    I was told this by someone who was part of the evaluation committee and this was in the 2009 period. After he was transferred another committee was later formed and way before the Jap P3s, we had already been offered ex USN ones.

    The MRCA was never the “main priority” (as you continue to allege); it was a priority yes but not at the expense of others. Way before 2014 and the MAS tragedy; there was a strong requirement for MPAs and the RMAF (after the government decided MRCAs should come first) made it absolutely clear that LIFTs were urgently needed.
    The MMEA having its Bombardiers also to some extent effected the RMAF’s requirement, with the bureaucrats, even though budgets came from different sources.

    Despite urgings from the 3 armed services it is the government that decides what should or should not be a priority. It is also not the fault of the RMAF if the government decides MRCAs should be a priority or if senior government officials choose to go gaga and comment more about MRCAs rather than MPAs and LIFTs.

  43. Chua “Wow. Just about the one thing possible that we have that could possibly be brought down by Iglas or Simbad.”

    As outdated as it is for an aircraft to attack a ship with unguided bombs, and as unlikely as countries are to rely on it as a primary mode of attack, it is a possibility nonetheless. Just as the most capable defensive weapons are exercised, it must be anticipated that even last season’s threats have a chance of getting through and everyone in the chain (from the sensor operators (and the lookouts) to commanders to the weapons operators) has to be ready to employ the simplest, shortest ranged weapons as well.

    I’ve been told that autocannon intended to deal with small watercraft will be employed against ASMs if these aren’t shot down by other defences, aimed by radar, EO or the naked eye if need be. The crew also trains to aim and fire them manually in the event the other guidance modes fail (which I’m sure they enjoy, in peacetime).

  44. Lift – L15 twin engine China
    MPA – y9 from China probably cheapest
    Mrca – wait for the j31 to mature than replace all our current fighters with it

  45. 12 scaneagle vehicles ordered by govt in 2017 and reaffirm again in 2019 thru USA FMS,are all 12 goes to APMM or distributed among agencies?

  46. AM,

    Whether operated manually or with fire direction they are only good against slow moving targets. If the target is a supersonic ASM it has no chance. The 30mms on the Lekius have their own director as do the Mausers on the Kedahs.

    Operating the Emerlecs (which on the Kasturis had unresolved fire director issues till they were retired) was no joy as it’s an enclosed system and only had a blower. The gunner would be wearing a flash hood and gloves, plus a fire resistant 1 piece overall.

  47. Joe,

    Think about it. How can the RMN feel what you suggested given that a MPA spends most of its time in a maritime environment. On the contrary it is the RMAF that should complain : MPAs will be bought using funds from its budget, be maintained from funds from is budget and be crewed and maintained by RMAF people; yet the RMN gains the most.

    One reason the RMAF was pushing for MPAs was because of its increasing workload over the Spratlys and other areas and because the Beechcrafts had clear limitations for the task. I don’t indulge in hearsay or insist on “facts” to suit what I believe should be the narrative. Of course I’ve been accused of supposedly and conveniently being a poster boy for the RMAF despite me clearly stating my stance. Look at statements made by RMAF officials over the past decade or so, including in the aftermath of MH370. Look at reports carried by the local press as well as publications like ADJ, AD&D, Janes, IDR, Flight International and Military Technology.

    There is zero indication to indicate that MPAs were not a priority, were not seriously pushed or were secondary to MRCAs (which according to the plan were to have come after the MPAs). Again, it was the government which kept changing its mind on priorities.

  48. @Azlan
    “Do we actually have a doctrine?”
    Don’t assume TUDM don’t have one. They aren’t as imbecilic as what some might portrayed them to be. If the LCA are expected to be the 1st contact with stray intruders they are likely to face with Chinese intrusion more often than not. Which lead to point no.2 below.

    “There is no chance of …. Chinese finding it easier to jam Chinese made gear.”
    That’s the same argument put up by Huawei proponents yet evidence pointed out that there’s backdoors hardcoded into the hardware itself to have ‘extra’ functions whatever that may be. If their critical civilian equipment has it, I’m no doubt their export military hardware have such ‘features’ as well. FYI this ‘hidden features’ isn’t limited to Chinese tech as our genius Tun have theorised that US have means to remote control Boeing planes from anywhere in the world. Not trying to bash China here but their tech is such a black hole atm (civilian & military).

    “Stray too close to a U.S. ship and ignore warnings; you will be fired upon.”
    What I meant by US not likely to fire is, if they are the ones straying into airspace territories of other nations (that’s what you said right? See: “There have been times when Hornets have scrambled to “greet” aircraft that unintentionally strayed – briefly – into our airspace. Those aircraft turned out to be American.”)

    “crewed and maintained by RMAF people; yet the RMN gains the most.”
    If the TUDM were so kind as provide their budget and manpower for the benefits of TLDM, then they are very generous indeed. However after seeing a lion share of the budget got put into LCS, LMS, subs refits, has the RMAF changed their viewpoint? Who knows? Of recent, there seems to be more spotlights on MRCA rather than MPA. This could be the medias fault for making the priorities themselves or there was a shift in TUDM. I did heard of some longstanding resentment coming out from TUDM circles in doing the jobs for other services and not get recognition (ie Nuris lugging for TDM).

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