10th Malaysian Plan. Part 1

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S300 SAM system. A cheaper alternative to purchasing 100-odd 4th-generation fighters.

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Absalon-class combat support ship. A much better ship for RMN’s MPSS requirement. See below

KUALA LUMPUR: Life is unfair. Even while the Armed Forces are still reeling from the necessary but painful cuts to its procurement and development budget from the Ninth Malaysian Plan within one year from now, the Government is expected to table the next five-year development programme.

And all of this is happening as the nation grapple with what some experts expects to be the worst economic downturn in decades surpassing even the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

The decade-old crisis precipitated one of the worst cuts into Malaysian defence spending with only operational funds were made available during the 1998 to 2000 period.

Even as we wallow in this hard times, other countries notably our southern and northern neighbours, Singapore and Thailand, respectively, have announced plans for the expansion of their defence budget. Singapore claims the economic uncertainties may well be a prelude to a regional crisis and therefore its needs the money to prepare for any eventualities while Thailand cited its southern conflict as the impetus.

Other big spenders, the US, China, India and France have also announced bigger defence budget, all claiming the necessity to spend on defence in this troubled times.

As for Malaysia, the knee jerk reaction to a downturn was always to cut defence spending. Without a large local defence industry this may well be wise but for the armed forces its almost like a death knell.

Everyone expects the armed forces to defend the country but everyone expects soldiers and sailors to do it pitchforks! Money has always been tight for us but coupled with our political inanity meant that procurement and development programme for the armed forces also meant less capabilities in the long term. Planning therefore becomes an almost impossible task for anyone let alone our military planners.

Anyways with the economic uncertainties, politically it will be difficult to spent money for defence especially when the needs of the rakyat had always trumped our national security. This is especially true as past procurement policies turned out to be nothing more but political handouts to the select few rather capability making.

Malaysian Defence budget for the Tenth Malaysian Plan reflected the conundrum. It certainly wont influenced the government’s decision. Malaysian Defence is not in sphere of power and will probably never will but its not for the lack of trying!

First foremost, it must be noted that any money reserved for defence must be used for that purpose and plans and funds that have been approved should be used immediately lest they felt prey wavering minds.

For the next five years, Malaysian Defence proposed that the Government allocated RM13 billion for defence and security sector for procurement and development purposes. The annual operational allocation should reflect the needs of maintaining future and legacy equipment at the most optimum level so as to reduce waste.

For defence, the allocation is RM10 billion, to be divided equally among the three services with the last billion allocated for the Joint Force headquarters to ensure that operations and training could be conducted jointly as smoothly and efficient possible. Any leftovers should be used to purchase war stocks.

The security sector should make do with RM3 billion for the time being. Further allocations can be made should the economy improved for the better but any extra procurement should emulate and expand the original plan , instead of impulse purchases like those in the past.

The Army.

Procurement plans for the army is difficult as Malaysian Defence do not agree with the current army set-up. We would like to propose a US Marine style Air-Ground Task Force to replace the current infantry and mechanised brigade set-up.
With limited funding it is difficult to replace the current brigade into a AGTF on one-to-one basis but with selective procurement and smart allocation of current assets, at least three new task force.

The AGTF will comprised of two infantry battalion, two company of engineers, one company each of light tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and a headquarters company. An aviation company with six light attack helicopters will be the aviation segment of task force together with a small UAV detachment, both at the battalion and brigade level, for reconnaissance and artillery spotting duties. Armed drones should also be procured if they are available for procurement.

The AGTF is basically the same set-up as the Rapid Deployment Brigade (PAC) operating out of the Sg Udang camp so Malaysian Defence do not believe it will not be very difficult for the Army to morph into this new organisation. The current configuration, to Malaysian Defence opinion, is too disjointed for real world conflicts and at the same time, too expensive to procure and maintain.
The army only need to procure about 30 each of light tanks, MRAP vehicles, self propelled artillery and cargo trucks for the new task force. As for utility vehicles, the army could still use its beloved Land Rovers for the task.

And as for the armoured personnel carrier, Malaysian Defence proposed 6×6 MRAP vehicles instead wheeled armoured vehicles. MRAP vehicles are generally cheaper by almost 40 per cent compared to wheeled armoured vehicles and they could carry more soldiers.

As for light tanks, we may opt for wheeled armoured vehicles equipped with a gun turret, preferably one with at least a 105mm cannon like the Stryker MGS (picture below). The MGS is probably the most expensive ground equipment for the AGTF, costing about RM14 million per copy.
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For sell-propelled tube artillery, Bofors Archer (picture below) is a good candidate to fill the requirement although it remained under development with Nexter’s Caesar as the second choice. Tracked SPH are too expensive to operate and maintain.

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The rest of the allocation should be used to procure small arms (like the AI .338 calibre sniper rifle, picture below), mortars and anti-tank weapons, soldier protective gear; optics and night vision devices.

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The Navy

The government should start negotiations with the Brunei government for the purchase of the three Nakhoda Ragam (picture below) corvettes furloughed in the UK after their completion. It will be a bargain if we can purchase all three of them for RM1 billion, which should include the cost of putting the vessels into active service.

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Further reading. Nakhoda Ragam

Should the Brunei government refused to sell us these ships or put up a higher price (more than RM1 billion) the allocation should instead be use to procure the Absalon class combat support ship from Denmark. These multi-role vessel would be the alternative answer to RMN’s long cherish dream operating an LHD-type vessel like the USS Wasp. LHDs are too expensive to procure and maintain for a navy which fleet’s average age is 30 years….

Absalon-class ships. Further reading

We should spent another RM500 million to procure the weapons for these ships and those of Kedah class ships (first batch). The rest of the allocation should be used to procure at least 10 FACs like those of Denmark’s Flyfisken class. These multi-role FAC are heavily armed with SAM, SSMs and a 76mm gun. Some of these FACs could be configured for anti-submarine and anti-mine duties without losing their anti-air warfare capabilities. The Coast Guard should procure the same FAC, built locally after the first two are built and certified combat ready at the original yard, to reduce the cost.
Any leftover allocation should be used to procure war stocks of missiles and ammunition.

The Air Force

We should opt for the purchase for two regiments of S300PMU2/S400 SAM system. A typical S300/S400 regiment consists a command post and engagement control center, a 3D continuous wave pulse Doppler target acquisition radar, the I-band multi-function phased-array trailer-mounted engagement radar and up to 12 semi-trailer erector-launchers which mount four tubular missile container-launchers.

The Russian system is highly regarded and the cost of procurement should be around RM1.5 billion. The SAM system while not compatible with the current Malaysian air defence system, will certainly boost our air defence capabilities ten-fold. If more money is available we should opt for at least four more brigades, a much cheaper alternative to boosting our fighter fleet to 100 fourth generation fighters.
The rest of the allocation should be used to procure additional Flankers and war stocks.

Further reading

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1179 Articles
Shah Alam

12 Comments

  1. S300PMU?

    Better buy additional 6 SU30 to get 2 Sqn’s of 12 planes. Plus additional MB339/ hawk / F/A-18 2nd hand to complete existing Sqn’s

    S300 can’t patrol the seas, shot at ships, do interdiction/ strike as fighter planes. IMO fighters are more cost effective/ multi task-able than static SAM defences.

  2. Sorry Marhalim but I disagree with almost everything you suggest. You’re planning for a war we cannot afford to fight and letting your ego get the better of you. Where are we going to find the money for all this? Not only is there significant capital outlays, the real killer is the hidden structure costs that you haven’t factored in.

  3. I am only asking for RM10 billion for defence for five years, which is basically RM2 billion per year. I am sure the mini-budget to be announced today will be a lot more than that…..

  4. Hmmm, Singapore builds a lot of their own stuff. How can they do that? What’s the cost like?

    marhalim: the price is comparable to other stuff but its a bit more expensive as they dont have the volume. That is one of the reason they hike their defence spending so they could help the companies, which is basically singapore government owned companies. Even if its cheaper dont expect us to buy from them, most of ASEAN countries have so far refused to buy anything from their neighbours, hence you see every other country with their own military factories. Thailand reportedly have bucked the trend however as recently it was announced that it was buying an Endurance-class LST for USD199 million. After the controversy with Thaksin and Singtel, I wonder whether the purchase will go on however…

  5. The Nakhoda Ragams are fitted with different search and navigational radars. With so many different kinds of radars, chaff launchers and combat managements systems in the RMN already, lets not introduce any new systems unless we really have to. Unlike the Lekiu class it has a jammer but no hangar. As for the S300s, these are useful for intercepting high altitude targets only and are very expensive. At the moment we cant even afford more Jernas. And how much will have to be spent integrating the S300 to the current air defence network? The lessons to be learnt from the MKM deal is that integrating eastern stuff to western stuff is very, very expensive. It will make much more sense to go for more SHORADS to protect army units. At the moment the army only has one Regiment of Starbursts, one Anza battery and only 4 alerting radars. The problem with the Archer is it cant fit in an C-130H. But then again, it will fit in an A400M.

    Marhalim: I am not suggesting that the S300 be integrated into the current air defence network, it may be clumsy not to do so but rather than spent millions on integration. Perhaps the system should be linked to the joint force headquarters only. I agree the Nakhoda Ragam class ships are not really compatible with the Lekiu frigates. However I would opt for them, if the price is right, based on the short delivery time alone, to boost our ships numbers. It must be noted here that the Lekiu batch 2 would probably have different sensors than Batch 1 themselves…..

  6. Holy ….t…. we’re gonna get stuck with paying that off while some class F contractors laugh all the way to the bank. NO. WAY. JOSE.

  7. Our troops don’t shoot enough as it is. The price of .338 LM ammo is about USD5/round in the open market so by the time the mark ups are pur on, they’ll be cloaser to USD 8/round. It’s a very high velocity/pressure round so they eat barrels…and having seen how we maintain precision rifles….they’ll be ready for the bin in short order.

    We need a sea change in the way we structure the Armed Forces and their mission. Like everything in this country, there is the overt and the unspoken. The latter makes it well nigh impossible to make meaningful change.

    Marhalim: I know they are not shooting enough. But luggin around 308 calibre rifles which only has an effective range of not more than 800 metres is criminal to me, they also carry around suppressed 308 rifles with shorter ranges, sheesh. They are already buying 338 rifles, anyway, the Blazer (with two barrels, 308 and 338) and the AI. Small batches for GGK, Paskau and Paskal,

  8. Agree with Nakhoda Ragam option but disagree with S300 taking over most of 100-odd fighters. My suggestion is that procurement of any sort of military hardware for all three services should be in a hi-lo mix but in more standardise manner.

    Of course, we can’t afford to buy all the good things that are currently available in the market but none of those cheap one does not operate effectively. What we should do is try to find balance combination, operate them effectively and manage them wisely and timely.

    Furthermore, try to opt equipment which interoperable between services. They should be tailor made to suit the need of individual services though they may come from the same source. For example getting the same FAC platform for MMEA and RMN much like Marhalim mentioned before.

    However, i’m not sure whether acquiring Absalon class caters the need for MPSS. It may be good for the Navy but does it goes the same to the Air force and the Army personnel whose going to operate on board of such vessel? A flat deck like Dokdo class LHD or LHD like Enforcer class LPD are more flexible and spacious to cater multi purpose operation of JTF.

    All in all, I may be wrong..but then again, if any of those paltforms, equipments etc are good for our nation’s defence then I won’t regret spending any of my cents and ringgits.

    Marhalim: The Navy wants a LHD type vessel which can embarked helicopters. I once joked with a Navy three star saying that we should be looking at buying Chakri Nurebet from the Thais, he laughed but ended the conversation saying that they want something which become a mother ship. One of the big issue against our current fleet of MPSS is that they cannot keep up with the Lekiu and Jebat. With that in mind, one must think that the navy wants something with four big diesels (they have the phobia with gas turbines after Rahmat engine blew up in the 70 or 80s) which can speed up to 30knots

  9. If the funds avalable this is what I would like to see.

    Navy
    Armed the current 6x NGPV with SAM/SSM/ASM torpedoes. Build the next batch of 6x NPGV with the same configurations.
    Buy additional 2x second hand LST, Newport class (same as the Sri Inderapura) from the US, I don’t think you need much funds to upgrade the ship. Since we have operate dthe current ship for sometime the navy guys should be able to know what are the necessary upgrades.
    Forget about the Brunei corvettes and go for the Lekiu Batch 2. If the above 2 too much for funding might as well go for the Absalon Class (2x ship).
    Forward looking additional 2x Scorpene

    Army
    Replacement for the 105mm oto Melara Pack56 with Caesar SPH. It’s proven and tested and should not be an issues. Ordered by France, Thailand, Saudi and can’t remember another Gulf state. Caesar able to be transported by RMAF C-130H
    Additional batch of 300 Adnan and that should be able to formed another mech brigade.
    150 to 200 AFV with 105mm like Stryker for Sibmas replacement.
    VL Mica to supplement Jernas

    Air Force
    Retire the MIG-29 and high time more quantity and less type of fighters.
    Additional 10 to 12x SU-30MKM, should be able to formed 2 sqds. Pilots avaialble from MIG-29 and easily absorbed into the SU-30MKM after the conversion training.
    For the LIFT will have to live with the current HAWK and MB-339
    12x CSAR Cougar should have ordered anyway…….hmmmm
    Upgrade the current FA-18D and these are still very potent bird although small in numbers. Maybe buying 4 to 8x surplus from US Marines. The configurations should be the same as RMAF birds.
    This will make a complete sqd. I do not see why this can’t be done and there’s so many F-16 currently sold or transferred around the world.

    marhalim: your plan looks workable if money is available apart from the second hand LSTs. As I mentioned above they want LHDs capable of keeping up with the Lekiu and Jebat…

  10. My idea of the defence spending for the 10th M’sia plan…

    ARMY
    – New wheeled 4×4 APC to replace the Condor
    – Additional ASTROS MBRL
    – 105mm Otomelara Modernisation (new barrels, ballistic computers etc)
    – Improved C3I systems
    – Combat Boats for sabah
    – Additional Jernas SHORAD
    – BUK M1 SAM’s??
    – More high altitude, desert and cold weather battalion-sized training overseas (eg. central asia, middle east, canada)

    NAVY
    – the Nakhoda Ragam’s
    – 6 more NGPV OPV’s
    – New Multi Purpose Ships (if enough budget) or
    – 1 or 2 Inderapura class LST from USA (2nd hand) – (there is still 4 of them in USN reserve/monthball)
    – 20 additional CB90HEX combat boats
    – 6 more Fennecs

    AIR FORCE
    – 6-10 SU-30MKM (new) + 4-8 SU-27UB (2nd hand) for training
    – 4 F/A-18D (2nd hand) + 2 F/A18B (2nd hand) for training
    – 6 CN235 cargo
    – Hercules modernisation
    – 8 additional Beechcraft 200T MPA ( a necessity i think)
    – 40 Mi-171 for nuri replacment (long overdue replacement)
    -12 Cougars for CSAR
    -11 PC-7Mk11

    As for malaysia’s defence, it is not only to counter our southtern neighbour, but there are pirates, terrorists to deal with too. Also there is more and more requests for peacekeeping and disaster relief as in timor leste and sumatra. Advanced “feel good” weapons are of no use in those situations. More heli’s, cargo planes, LST/LPD’s are needed for rapid deployments of our forces. As for the idea for the additional newport class LST’s, it is better than nothing and can be bought cheaply. Malaysia bought the inderapura for just about USD18Mil, and even after adding refurbish, refit costs, it is still a value for money buy. But politicians dont favor buying 2nd hand as there is no “kickbacks” as it is usually bought from a government, not a private company…

    Marhalim: On the Inderapura, we spent about RM50 million to repair the boat after it caught fire a few year ago. I have checked on the availability of a Newport class for second hand purchase a few years ago but none were available. The Tarawa class LHD is being decommissioned BTW. Your plans calls for a budget of more than RM50 billion (my calculation, correct me if I am wrong). I do not think we can afford those numbers….

  11. This is my suggestion for next RMK10
    TD
    – New APC multi variant (Scrapped AV8 and
    buy Rosomak instead)
    – Caesar or Archer SPH
    – New M-SAM for GAPU
    – Upgrade Nuri for logistic/utility (PUTD)
    – 10-12 attack heli.
    – Tactical UAV
    TLDM
    – I agree for Absalon coz multi-role and can
    be used as flagship
    – 6 SGPV with better armament
    – 6 more Fennecs and Super Lynx
    – USV
    TUDM
    – Trade-in all Fulcrums for 6 Su-30MKM
    – AEW & C aircraft
    – additional MB 339 CM or M346 for LIFT

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