Deferments, A Blessing in Disguise? Part II

KUALA LUMPUR: Since we are talking about planning for the future, Malaysian Defence would like to list a few items that perhaps could be included in the armed forces procurement plans once the economic crisis is over. We understand that no one knows when the economy will be back on track but instead of waiting for the day its better to start the planning now for the 10th Malaysian Plan and beyond. This is not an Orbat but it may well lead to one. Due to budget restrictions, not all of these items could be procured within the confines of the 10th MP. It will take at least two decades to recover from mistakes done within the last 20-odd years. The platforms listed here could be changed or upgraded based on the circumstances as long as the goals are fulfilled but it will take great financial and political discipline not be to be sidetracked as we had mistakenly did in the past.

The Army
Goal: To become a truly modern army, able to win local wars, and if needed, regionally. Able to participate in multi-lateral force, in the right circumstances.

Upgrading the army is the biggest headache of course since there are so many things to replace/upgraded due to the multitude of dubious procurements within the last two decades which unfortunately only offered a small upgrade in capability. As Malaysian Defence believes the current army set-up is archaic and ill-suited for open war and insurgency, the army needed a total revamp. The wish-list below might seemed weird but its basically a US Marine style MEU (brigade size) force. Left out are the soldier’s individual weapon system as it would take too much space. The list below is for one Malaysian Army Brigade with two infantry and one combat engineering battalions backed up by an air wing and logistical support.
Cost? Around RM7 billion

40 Light Strike Vehicle for utility, fire support (mortars, ATGM and machine guns)
10 EOD and route clearance vehicles
30 armoured 4×4/6X6 MRAP vehicles for troop transport, reconnaissance, C4I, ambulance, FV and patrol
20 engineering vehicles (bridging, movers and mine clearance)
6 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicles with a 105mm gun
4 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicles for reconnaissance and C4I
6 155m wheeled self propelled howitzers together with 4 fire control and re-supply trucks
15 logistics 6×6 trucks
4 VTOL UAVs for reconnaissance, sigint, elint, imint and fire control
6 light twin helicopters (AW139/149 class) for troop transport, ambulance, C4I and utility duties
2 heavy lift helicopters (Chinook class) for troop and cargo transport
6 light attack helicopters (Boeing ARH (MD500) class) for reconnaissance, fire support and utility roles.
Boeing ARH

Air Force
Goal: A defensive force which is able to conduct offensive operations at will

Another revamp with most of the training asset eliminated to reduce costs, advanced flight training will be conducted overseas on pay-by-the hour deals with RMAF instructors. Only basic and intermediate flight training will be conducted locally, with private companies providing the platform with air force instructors.
Budget? RM15 to RM25 billion
3 MRCA squadron. One type of aircraft to be selected either the Su or F/A-18F. Selection will be based on the type 30-year operating cost.
6 multi-role tanker and transport (A320 class)
3 light twin helicopter sqdn for SAR, utility.
6 C-130J Hercules with the rest of the H-fleet upgraded to the same avionics package and engine package (if possible)
12 CN-235s for maritime patrol, VIP transport and utility duties
2 sqdn of MALE UAVs for elint, sigint, imint and reconnaissance duties.
2 VIP jets for the King and PM. Similar platform as the MRTT
4 AWACs. Similar platform as the MRTT.

Goal: Able to secure our borders and conduct offensive operations within the region.
All the current corvettes ( apart from the six Kedah-class) and FACs to be withdrawn from service as the newer vessels are commissioned. The amphibious fleet will be renewed with the addition of fast support vessels (at least four). As with the MMEA, the first two boats will be built and commissioned by foreign partners with the rest built locally. Additional submarines will only be procured once the rejuvenation of the surface fleet is completed.
Budget? RM15 to RM20 billion.

12 Kedah class type vessel with advanced ASW suite, ESSM and longer range SSM
16 fast missile boat, in the Stanflex class ( combat suite to be the same as the modified Kedah class,
4 fast-support vessels similar to the ones one proposed for the US Navy and Army.

Goal: Secure the coastal waters and augment the navy during crisis.
Since MMEA will be folded into the navy in wartime, it is imperative for its vessels and aircraft to be standardised as those in the other services,
Budget? RM10 billion.

14 Stanflex class patrol boats, with the same combat suite as the RMN boats, wired but not fitted with the SSM and SAMs.
24 CBH 90 combat boats for coastal patrols
40+ 26m inshore and harbour patrol boats
20 light twin helicopters (AW139/149 class) for SAR and utility duties.

Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Marhalim,

    Why did you leave out Medium Air Defence?Most vital capability against precision guided munitions which can be lobbed at military and strategic targets by enemy aircraft 40 km away at 30,00 ft high?We need to protect our fighter air bases, naval/military bases, power stations, telecom centres, petroleum centres, Petronas refineries, government centers etc from the threat.

    What is your criteria for producing the list?

  2. waaaaa….your planning values about RM47 billion to RM62 billion,that was really2 expensive plan i ever heard…well,that army planning same value with gov plan to save our economy.i think the value for the plan above is over the real because we already have some stuff above,maybe the plan just below RM30 billion.only cronies want the RM47 billion,you know they also want little mark up and waste the people tax.last day,i read the paper that our EPF fund still have about RM500 billion,why not we borrow it and use it to save and strength up our country sovereignty?what do you think?

  3. The projected cost is high but if you break it to two or three Malaysian Plan probably we need only to spend about RM15 to RM20 billion only every five years. I understand that it will mean that some assets will need to be replaced within two decades.

    Within that procurement budget at least another RM5 billion will have to be spent on infrastructure. Other assets will be procured as well, My main criteria is to create a more balanced force for day-day to duties with an embedded offensive capabilities

  4. It is my view that in the long run, we may well to have depend on the air force and navy for our defence, with a smaller army, perhaps a not more than eight active brigades and a similar number of reserve force.

    As Malaysia is surrounded by water and its prosperity depend on trade with others, it is important that we protect our sea lanes and air space to prevent any direct attack from nations or organisations. At the same time, preventing war would be our greatest priority while at the same time giving notice to anyone that our offensive capabilities are second to none.

  5. Would there be any difference in your proposed structure if we leave out the ‘participation in multi-lateral forces’ thing? IMO, multi-lateral forces operations benefit little except to the country that initiate the move to spread ‘freedom & democracy’ to the world, usually against some muslim country badged as ‘terrorist spreader’ and whatnot. Don’t know about current & past UN operations though, heard that the armed forces earn quite a bit from those participation.

    Agree with you with war prevention moves, but a country can only do so much. If Malaysian muslims decided to embrace islam somewhat fully (with support and consent of other non-muslim citizens), then we can expect somebody begin poking their noses into our affairs with whatever reason they can come up with, either intervening directly or through some proxy countries. Regional (& neighborly threats) are within our defensive capability, but against other world power (its not russia thats pretty sure) we need a backup plan.

    Would you change your proposed procurement plan if taking the above situation into account?

  6. We should only participate in multi-lateral operations of which the UN pay us (some of it) for participating like Bosnia, Somalia and Timor Leste. We are too poor to afford other type of operations.

    On whether or not we need to change the procurement decisions based on our own political scenario, perhaps but as long as the domestic situation remained civil no country would be able to poke their noses in. If we self-destruct, all bets are off course

    It is up to all of us to ensure that man-made armageddon never happened.

  7. Marhalim…someone has been spiking your Nasi Lemak with LSD baby…..even the SGs aren’t that ambitious!

    First of all, I see little or no reason to go mech so heavily for the brigades. A lot of our commitment is to areas with poor infrastructure and low force densities. (Malaysian Borneo lah).

    Secondly, we are incredibly lousy at maintenance and pushing down mechanization to individual battalions is just going to exacerbate our problems in this area. No, our Armor/Cav Regiments are good way to organize for sustainability.

    We don’t need Reserve brigades, it’s just lots and lots of HQ bloat for a 1% mission (mobilization). Far better to employ reserve units as round out forces for active brigades IMO. But who wants to join the reserves and be a second class soldier? Our reserve effort is a farce.

    There’s just no justification for the sort of money you propose to lavish on the Armed Forces. We can’t afford it and they don’t deserve it with the track record to date.

    Marhalim: Since I dont eat nasi lemak or rice or wheat I guess I am not a junkie yet…

  8. It may seemed a little bit lavish I must admit but what is the price of freedom? It is unfair world where bad things happened to good people. Bad track record does not abdicate the right for change.

    Part of the transformation process include the revitalisation of the reserve force, turning the smorsgabod of the volunteer bodies into one force,.

  9. We’d be free and broke. The armed forces of a nation must be sustainable to the economy of the nation, i.e. we have to live within our means.
    There is no threat to warrant this level of spending. Hannibal is not ad portas and netiher are the baby eaters from Katong. That they are the bogeyman is jsut another expression of the national insecurity……

    Our Army in particualr should be quite a bit smaller. It is currently much too large and this is having a serious effect of its ability to modernize and adapt.

    Ultimately though, the battle is in the mindset and not the gear. As long as we have a CODS that claims AWACS are needed for maritime surveillance, we’re frakked.

  10. The procurement you propose is rather luxurious.
    For the army, the air lift could basically pack into 6×6 of EC725 and AW109.

    The navy, 6×6 multipurpose and ASWKedah, with the current pending weopon suite is good enough. Probably u under estimate the RAM sys at this point. A total of 12 MEKO, 6 Laksamana, 2 Lekiu, 4 Lekiu II, 4 LPH + 12 multipurpose/ASW copers and 2-4 subs can form 2 battle fleets in 2 regions. The FACs are waste of money.

    The air force, we need no tanker since we have the Sukhois and existing tankers. The H keep’m fly but no more upgrade. Put the bet on future A400Ms. At least 4, ideal 6 sqd of fighters plus 6 AWACS that can secure air superior in two region is the way to go.

    with the above adjustment, u should see a better use of the same amount of money.

  11. Yes, we could reduce the cost by using the same helo which the RMAF for the army brigade (not air wing) and buying more 109s for fire support and utilities.

    Of course we can rely on the Hercules tankers to reduce cost but while the A400M is the future well its not there yet and the programme is seriously behind schedule. The Js are already flying and its cheaper (relative of course) costing around USD70 million for basic model compared to the 400M which is around EUro130 million and counting…

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