Defence Minister Interview with Defense News

SHAH ALAM: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was featured in the Interview section of the latest Defense News newspaper. To read the full interview, read here.

As expected the minister did not reveal much but his answers to questions on our procurement programme and defence budget is interesting, to say the least.

“Q. Could you say a little about your plans for procurement of conventional equipment?

A. The next 10 years or so will see us acquire a number of new platforms as we modernize and upgrade our capabilities. This is not a comprehensive list, but to give you an idea, just last month we purchased 257 wheeled eight-by-eight armored vehicles from FNSS of Turkey.

The Army is also looking at some of our local companies to research, develop and produce tactical unmanned air vehicles. We would look to originate the airframe locally and acquire the optronics and other systems from international markets.

We want better lift capability for the Air Force, which is why we have embarked on buying A400Ms from Airbus. We are also looking at buying new multirole combat aircraft capability. The Air Force is also very keen to develop airborne early warning capabilities.

The Navy will be getting second-generation littoral combat ships and other vessels.

For the armed forces as a whole, we are working on building network-centric capabilities.
Q. Do you see Malaysian defense spending increasing during the decade?
A. Normally, we do not spend more than 6 percent of our gross domestic product on the military, police and enforcement agencies. In the present five-year plan for defense, we are spending 26 billion ringgit [$8.6 billion], about 10 percent of that for procurement. For the remainder of the decade, I think we are not likely to spend much more than that due to our requirements to invest in education, health and certain infrastructure projects.”

Since we know already about the AV8, SGPV, A400M and MRCA programmes, the comment on the AEW is quite revealing. I have heard about this back in 2006 and had even reported that Eireye had been down-selected, now it seemed the project have been revived although no favourites had been bandied around lately.

The answer on the defence budget is quite contradictory as we know that Defence and Security was given only RM23 billion during RMK10 (10 per cent of the RMK10 RM230 billion). Was Zahid misquoted or the reporter got it wrong? Anyhow if its only 10 percent out of RM26 billion (the figure quoted in the interview) is being used for procurement how can one explain the amount being spent on the AV8, Eurocopter and SGPV? Or RM26 billion for both RMK10 and RMK11?

I have no idea, at the moment at least.

–Malaysian Defence

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