A Case for ABM capability?

PETALING JAYA: North Korea is expected to launch a rocket in a few weeks time. According to the wires:
“North Korea announced earlier this month it would launch a rocket between April 12-16 to put a satellite into orbit to celebrate the centenary of Kim Il-Sung’s birth.”

The move has been condemned by the United States, South Korea and other nations as a pretext for a long-range missile test banned by the UN.

North Korean missile range

It has also jeopardised a deal with the United States announced last month on suspending uranium enrichment and long-range missile tests in return for food aid.
A senior US official warned that the rocket launch would be aimed south for the first time and impact in an area “roughly between Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines”

Clearly the range of the missile is well within our own shores. And yet we persists on buying short range surface to air missiles!

It appears that even the US is thinking of having a BMD shield in Asia. Read Here

Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2146 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Chances are, if we ever in the future come under ballistic or cruise missile attack, it will be from our ‘cousins’ from seberang. There are some who share the opinion that Singapore’s getting Iron Dome is due to fears that a country in SEA will get ballistic or cruise missiles, not due to the ASTROS, as in commonly believed. Anyway, I don’t see what the big deal is from the North Koreans, as the whole of SEA has long been well within range of Chinese ballistic missiles.

    Yes, China has more ballistic missiles but its not called a rogue country….

  2. koxinga,

    For the Japanese, South Korans and the U.S., indeed, but for us?

    I am asking because with a defence policy calling for a Forward Defence, it is strange we are buying shorter range missiles…

  3. Marhalim,

    I don’t expect you to post these links, as they are very “sensitive”. For your information though…



    Considering the high profile that this case has in France, I doubt that the MoD will go with any additional large French contracts any time soon.

    I let it go as to me they are not sensitive to me. But some people are expecting so much and so fast from the French courts. As the Taiwan case took almost a decade to be settled I dont expect the Scorpene case to be very fast either. And it will mostly limited to whether or not the money paid to Perimekar is considered a commission or not.

  4. Improve air defences – Absolutely!

    Develop ABM capability – Ha! If we can’t manage basic programs, how would we ever get ballistic missile defence right? It seems we have caviar tastes but only a McDonald’s budget.

    As for Singapore’s ABM defence plans, we should benefit from their largesse. Any system they put in place would most certainly cover a large portion of at least the peninsula.

    Of course any move towards ABM capability means that we need to step up our plans and capabilities. But doesnt that show that Jalan Padang Tembak is at least making a serious show for the funds expanded? Presently the evidence does not point that way, it is mostly confirming what the antis are claiming that defence are just to fill up some people’s pockets…..

  5. Iron dome isnt for ballistic missiles or cruise missiles. David’s Sling is for shorter range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

    The likes of the North korean missiles with range is in excess of 500km is meant for Arrow 2/3.

    The protective bubble of Singapore’s improved i-hawks (45km range) already covers large parts of Southern Johor.And the i-hawks are slated for replacement after the rapiers. Rapiers are being replaced by Spyder SR(>15km range) missile system.

    If requested and necessary, Singapore may even deploy air defence assets to protect Butterworth and other RMAF bases. The last thing Singapore wants is an enemy at her doorstep.

  6. The I-hawk replacement has to be a system that allows seamless and easy incorporation of anti ballistic missile systems in future, if necessary.

  7. Lets take a look at the anti-ballistic missiles available in the market.Iron Dome is Israeli manufactured and needs to be crossed out. Then there is the Patriot. Will the States sell these to us?. A big big question mark.This leaves only the Russian systems -where for money, they are willing to sell anything you want. What are the sytems available and how effective?. We need both long range missiles and also medium range weapons in case the long range missiles fails to bring down the missiles in the first shot. So some BUK M2’s for a start to beef up the medium range defence?

    I was thinking more of a sea-based BMD system which at the moment is limited to the US Standard missiles. We have the option of choosing the SeaApar from Thales which is capable of controlling the SM-3 to newer upgrades from the light Aegis purchased by the Aussie or Norway. I know the ships and systems are expensive, around RM7 billion a piece. But we are spending up to RM7 billion to buy six ships armed only with self-defence system.
    As I mentioned before there should be a total revamp of planning to accommodate a BMD capability perhaps even the need for ASEAN-BMD initiative but that would take a lot of work doesnt it?

  8. Wouldn’t ASTER 30, whether land or sea based, also be able to perform the ABM role?

    Not the current one. But MBDA is proposing an ABM version

  9. One good thing about Israeli and US products is that they are battle tested. Israeli systems are tested everyday.

    Look what happened to Syria’s Russian Buk missiles. So much hype.
    What happens in the end?

    Malaysia cannot buy from Israel and that’s the end of the story

  10. Evolved Aster 30 Blk 1 versions can intercept ballistic missiles with range of 500km or less. Block 2 is like SM 3 but it requires external funding i think as the french cannot afford it currently.

  11. Here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K01syDHRbk

    Aster 30 SAMPT is a candidate for Singapore’s I-hawk replacement. We should hear news about this soon as recent upgrades to the i-hawk which accords multiple engagements for saturation attacks is a gap filler measure.

    It will be the Patriot that will replace the Hawks

  12. Tomahawk,

    What happened to Syria’s Buk-1s? If I’m not mistaken, the only combat use of the Buk was in the Georgian war, in which a Russian Blinder was shot down.

  13. What about Syrian BUK-M2E? The Syrians just introduced those last year, new equipment for the Army. Its fine to agree and disagree, or love and hate the Russians but no need to go about stirring false crap.

    Don’t get confused with the older KUB with the BUK. Both China and India used a derivative of the BUK system land and sea versions. If the system was bad then those two Military Powerhouses wouldn’t be bothering to field them.

    Why bother with the BUK when the S300 or S400 are more capable? However, it must said that the Russian systems will be incompatible with our current AD set-up, a whole lot more money will be spend to integrate them into the system

  14. Syria has a whole gamut of Russian anti missile systems. Fact is; in 2007; the Israelis shut all of them down without them firing a single shot. It’s certainly fine to agree to disagree on which systems are better as is the choice to be made on purchasing one.

  15. Actually, India is already favours Baraks MR/LR from Israel. China doesnt really have much of a choice. They would build their own ones in future Id reckon.

  16. I just think it is somewhat reckless to say a certain system is unfavorable due to the circumstances. Syria now has BUK that we know of, whether they had them in 2007 or not we don’t know. But the thing is during peace time not all weapon systems are going to be activated. How were they to know the Israelis were going to attack them crossing through the Turkish borders, most missile systems are located in the Western part of the country towards Israel. It would be silly to aim the KUB system, and have fixed missile systems up North at their Muslim Turkish neighbour because those two countries are mutual friends toward one another. Israeli ships were crippled by cheap Chinese anti-ship missiles used by rebels. I guess it must mean Phalanx CIWS is now useless too then and American missile systems onboard Israeli ships are as well.

    We will agree to disagree alright. As long as it does not become personal

  17. Israel just flew around them, bypassing the Syrian heavy AD via Turkey and destroyed a nuclear site in a remote location. Well the point is if they wanted to defend that area they would have done so and put up more fixed missile defense systems there but they chose not to due to wanting their nuclear site to be more discrete and under cover. The Syrians probably already knew they were up in the skies, tracking them but they don’t have the AF to do a thing about it.

    Of course the S300 is a fine system but to have a true integrated defense system one cannot just rely on long range systems like S300 without medium to short range systems like BUK and Pantsyr to defend them. And besides bringing in something like the S300 would only introduce a new arms race in the region. Singapore has the money to buy Patriots even THAAD but they chose something less passive like Spyders so to not upset her neighbors. Buying French is a bad option, overpriced equipment a country that is known for giving away customer weapons codes due to pressure. In times of war can one really rely on the French systems without getting jammed? I have my doubts.

  18. Small Mouse,

    The Phalanx on the INS Hanit was not even activated so to say that Phalanx and American missiles are ‘useless’, is way off. In the case of the USS Stark, its Phalanx was also not activated. You notion that countries won’t buy something if was ‘bad’ is false – as many countries often don’t have other choices. In China’s case, it would love to buy French but can’t due to an EU arms embargo.

    Whether its the ‘KUB or the BUK’, the fact remains that both still remain largely untested in combat, which is a fact…. The only successful use of Buk so far, was against a 35 year old Blinder that was flying at high altitude and was not even deploying any chaff or ECM.

  19. The latest on Astros II…

    Brazilian Cruise Missile Development Contract Nears

    AWIN First Mar 28, 2012
    Robert Wall wall@aviationweek.com
    SANTIAGO, Chile

    Brazil is expected to give the go-ahead this year to a new ground-launched cruise missile development program.

    Avibras has been working on the technology to launch the new weapon, called TM (Tactical Missile), from the Astros II artillery rocket system, but more serious engineering work will require government funding. A production contract is expected to follow in three to four years, according to an industry official.

    The missile would have a range of 300 km (190 mi.) and carry a 250-kg (550-lb.) warhead. It would use a booster and sustainer motor. Each Astros II launcher vehicle would be able to fire up to two missiles.

    No firm plans exist for a naval version, the industry official says, although others note it could follow in the future.

    The TM would augment various Astros II projectiles fired from the 6 X 6 launcher vehicle. The other projectiles include the SS-30 127-mm rocket with a range of around 10 km and the 300-mm, 80-km-range SS-80. A vehicle could fire 32 of the smaller projectiles before reloading, or four of the larger rockets.

    The Astros II was designed to be transportable by C-130. Each launcher is augmented by a 4 X 4 fire control vehicle, as well as other support systems. A battery of six launchers comprises 16 vehicles, with a battalion-sized operation using three batteries and a battalion command-and-control vehicle.


    And so much for the vaunted Indian Army…


  20. All of this discussion got me thinking…

    IMO, spending billions on weapons systems (in this case highly-sophisticated air defence systems) that can be defeated with cheaper alternatives (unguided rockets) is always foolish. (Example: “Each of the 20 rocket interceptors loaded onto every $50 million Iron Dome battery costs some $62,000. That’s 62 times the cost of the cheap $1,000 Gazan terrorists spend to fire the rockets in the first place… The 73 attempted rocket interceptions in the Gaza conflict cost Israel a whopping $4.5 million…” Do the math and imagine what would happen if the Israelis faced 1000 incoming rockets! The system would be defeated at a fraction of the cost.) So even if we acquired an advanced air defence system, how many missiles would we be able to afford? How many tracking radars? Fire control systems? Etc. Any air defence system that we would be ABLE to build, could be dismantled by a much more CAPABLE adversary in no time. That does not mean that we should forgo air defences, but rather we should be mindful not to overreach.

    Thats why we must be smart and work with our allies. But to get into the club, we must spend some money to show we are serious about it. Thats the reason I said that we must first upgrade our plans and strategic thinking first. It is not simply a case of buying out and buy the biggest gun out there, as an example.

    On the cost effectiveness of weapons versus the adversary. Of course its cheaper for the Palestinians they are technically not an armed forces, if they did dont you think they will have people like Razak Baginda to jack up the price! Seriously, the Israeli will say its money well spent….

  21. I wonder the condition of our missiles…

    “March 20/12: Cracked AMRAAMs. The Taipei Times reports that the ROCAF currently has 120 AIM-120C-5 and 218 AIM-120C-7s in inventory, with deliveries that began in 2004. Unfortunately, some of them were experiencing cracking in their pyroceramic radome nose cones. American investigators concluded that Taiwan’s high humidity, plus the pressure created by supersonic flight, were the problem. The ROCAF will respond by improving storage and rotation cycles.”

    And our life safety systems…

    “A particular complaint of F-5 pilots is that the cartridges that power their ejection seats are expired. Al Hasani recalls a colleague who died in an F-5 crash 13 years ago; the aircraft suffered mechanical problems, and when the pilot attempted to eject, nothing happened. “It’s the last chance for your life,” stresses Al Hasani. “You have to be able to exit.” (from a recent Aviation Week article on the Yemen’s air force)

    All the things on board high performance jets get their expiry dates, that’s the reason careful planning is needed.

  22. I agree the Iron Dome is one expensive equipment to field. In order to defeat it one can just simply shell artillery down on them and even MLRS to spoof it. A few cheap shelling from multiple ground mortar crews firing in various locations is all that it takes to deplete the systems stockpile of munitions.

    As for monitoring the skies with long range radars and EW it would be highly considerable to look into places from the former Soviet blocks like Czech and even Belarus for equipment. Due to them having a lot of radar tech passed down onto them from the fall of the Soviet. One does not need to break the bank to field high end equipment if they chose to look around hard enough for the right proper tools.

    Belarussian Vostok radar is said to work great for counter stealth with a reported range of over 250km. It would be the perfect little toy for the MY to track and detect small objects like cruise missiles and aircraft.


    The Iron Dome was never designed to take on a conventional army; it was built in response to intermittent rocket attacks which were meant to wear down the defenders, much like the IEDs used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The answer to a bunch of cannons or MRLS out in the open would be tanks in the driveway or several tonnes of LGBs

  23. The Serb experience against NATO, in using concealment, terrain and decoys, offers a lot of lessons. It seems that locally made active radar decoys were very useful drawing away HARMs from real targets. Then there also the case of the Iraqis in 2003 using terrain and a primitive early warning system to their advantage at Karbala, where almost every Apache in the regiment suffered damage, with some crash landing. Another important lesson of course is the need to have lots and lots of reloads for your MANPADS :}

    Ultimately, lessons from Iran and Serbia show that if an adversary has control of the skies and the proper assets, given time, any ground based air defence network, working on its own, will be severely degraded. Like minefields, which are more effective when supported by covering fire, ground based air defence networks are in theory, expected to be defended by ones air assets.

    It was reported a few years ago that the avionics on Taiwanese Mirages were facing humidity issues. One reason that we never see live missiles carried by our fighters is because we want to maintain their shelf lives. The only missiles I’ve seen carried in the air are training Sidewinders by the Hawks and Alamos and Archers by the Fulcrums [with black stripes to indicate training/dummy rounds]. Which begs the question – do our missile storage facilities met the standards that are set by the missile OEMs?

    I am not worried about Raytheon but more concerned about Vympel

  24. I know it’s not very interesting but just to mention, I was told by an ex-DDr Fulcrum pilot that the Archer and Alamo come delivered in sealed plastic bags. After a certain period, the missiles are removed for testing and are then re-sealed again in the plastic bags. According to him, after German re-unification the Luftwaffe found that if the Archer and Alamo were stored in conditions that were specified by Vympel, they actually had a longer shelf life than Sidewinders and Sparrows.

  25. Hey guys here is link to a blog that reveals the procedure to handling and storing the R77 missiles. As you can see Vympel sets a clear standard to India on control room temperature, amount of hours one can take off with and train and what not. It shows how to safety handle the missiles and the shelf life too.


    As for Iran and Serbia you are right Azlan, one cannot just have SAM system without having an AF to defend. With MYs terrain there is plenty of cover and places to hide to use MANPADs and SACLOS systems like RBS70/Starstreak. Long ranged SAMS may not even be necessary when it comes to cost savings, systems like Italian SPADA-2000 and Russian Pantsir is really all that is needed to cover some good ground.

    The Egyptian and Syrian AF were smart back in the days because they were able to lure their rival planes into the umbrella of their SAM and
    got easy kills in that method. If ground crew SAM can work together with the AF then it makes it an even more effective fighting unit.

  26. Small Mouse,

    Most of the Egyptian SAM kills was during the ‘War of Attrition’, eventually however, the IAF found a way to work around the SAMs, through evasive maneuvering, ECM and new tactics. In short, just like during Yom Kippur, though the SAMs initially were a problem for the IAF, they came up with ways to deal with them and in the end, the SAMs did not prevent the IAF in carrying out its missions.

  27. All this talk about integrating this and that makes me think that setting a company that can do that would make mucho money. You would think that in these days of HTML files things could be made to talk to everything else.

    Of course you can. Its getting Russian stuff to talk to Western stuff and vice versa is the hard stuff.

  28. Integrating is a large part of the problem but not the only one. You also need someone to do the documentation and to certify it.

    And maintain it

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