* Edited to add the view of Tim Huxley.
PETALING JAYA: Political scientist Farish A.Noor has opened a can of worms today by claiming that Indonesia had tipped the balance of the military equation by “operationalising” the Yakhont supersonic missile recently.
He claimed the ship-based Yakhont gave Indonesia an offensive capability unlike Vietnam who also have a similar missile but is land-based and therefore, can be considered as a defensive weapon.
He cited concerns of unnamed security analysts that the new arm purchases may sparked off an arms race. When a write of Farish Noor standing gave credence to these issues what are we, layman, going to say about it?
For the last few years, every body and sundry had been claiming that the region was in the midst of an arms race every time, apart from Singapore, buys anything.
Yes, Farish clarified that Indonesia and other regional countries needed transport ships, patrols boats and observation planes and other stuff but his clarion cry about an arms race will be vindicated those who had said it in the past.
I am guessing that more people will call their boats as Patrol Vessels and their planes as interceptors to avoid the tag of proponents of an arms race. Oh, well.
From NST. Read It Here.
“It is in this light that we need to consider Indonesia’s latest testing of its Yakhont anti-ship missile, which was launched in the Indian Ocean recently. The successful test-firing of the Russian-made missile marks a significant development in the military potential of Indonesia.
The anti-ship missile has a range of around 300km and flies at Mach 2.5, more than twice the speed of sound.
Vietnam, likewise, has the same missile capabilities, but its anti-ship missiles are based in land installations, rendering them useful for only defensive operations.
Over the past few years, other countries in Asean have beefed up their anti-ship missile capabilities: Malaysia has introduced underwater-launched anti-ship missiles in the Scorpene submarines.
The concern of some security analysts, however, is that these new arms purchases may inadvertently contribute to an arms race of sorts in Southeast Asia, and thereby decrease, rather than increase, Asean’s role as a peacekeeping arrangement between its member states.”
I am also adding what Tim Huxley is saying about a similar issue. From Defence News.
“Whether or not there is an arms race in Asia is a favorite essay topic for university courses in international relations and security studies. But this is a curiously semantic debate. It is evident that contemporary military developments in Asia closely resemble neither the pre-1914 Anglo-German naval arms race nor the U.S.-Soviet missile race of the 1960s.
However, it also is clear there is a real danger of multiple and wastefully expensive subregional military competitions destabilizing Asia’s security, and that there are no effective regional security institutions to mitigate this threat.”
So do brace for the word ‘arms race” whenever we buy anything especially we are certainly not buying transport ships, patrol boats and observation planes in the near future, although we needed those things more operationally. These words from Farish will be on every one lips in the near future.
— Malaysian DefenceIf you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment
Yes.Putting the missile on its ships means that the missile can now threaten many cities within the Asean region and get absolute control on the Straits of Melaka. With a 300km range, it need not even be near to a target and imagine hitting say Singapore from far out at sea or hitting KL while the ship is at the other side of Sumatra?.Now we must get the air launched version for our SU’s or buy Indian-the Brahmos are the equivalent of the Yakhont.
Now thats what I call an arms race…
Bro YM Lee,
yes there is a concern but try to see this from their point of view. With almost all but a fingerful of ships are about half a century old, with an archipelago that is rich with natural resources, with very limited defense budget, involved in territory disputes with almost every body and the bitter lesson of losing sipadan to malaysia, they need bang for buck type of weapon. Something that create fear while at the same time would not cost an arm or a leg. If i am not mistaken, they have less than half a dozen of this missiles and only one ship has been wired for them.
So i say keep an eye on them but no to knee jerk reaction.
on the other hand, if our wet dream list of 6 SGPV with MM40 Block 3 and ESSM plus another 18 MRCA ontop of the 18 su and 8 Hornet D, would not that create same effect on the Indonesians?
If only we get the full complement of the SGPV, 21 and four squadrons of MRCA plus the AEW, plus that and that…
Lets not get carried away. The Yakhont can only be used against ship targets… It is not a land attack missile like the Tomahawk or Brahmos. Furthermore, in a real world situation, picking up a long range target on radar and identifying it as such, are 2 very, very, different things. there is also the tricky part of hitting what you aimed at….
What Farish A. Noor, all due respect to him, did not mention is that to take full advantage of its long range, the TNI-AL will need more than just a helicopter and a data link. Unless you have sufficient sensor platforms and data-sharing capacity to make long range, cued shots, which the TNI-AL doesn’t but the Soviet navy did and to a lesser extent the Russian navy still has, a long range missile like the Yakhont is not really that useful.
The reason the Soviet designers made mega huge missiles like the Yakhont, Sunburn and Shipwreck was to compensate for the lack of accuracy due to their guidance systems. Anyway, whats all the fuss about???? The KH-31Ps, a training version was shown at the Subang open day event, carried by the MKMs have a similar range and speed. Supersonic anti-ship missiles have been around since the 1980’s….
Absolutely correct analysis, Azlan.
As for the ‘arms race, on need look not further than SIPRI’s military expenditures database. Currently, Singapore spends approximately 4.3% GDP on defence, or $7,651,000 USD. Malaysia, 2% or $3,259,000 USD. Indonesia, 0.9% or $6,009,000 USD. (Keep in mind that these figures probably do not reflect total defence related expenditures.) While these are not tiny sums, an ‘arms race’ they are not. SE Asia’s neighbor to the South, Australia, spends 1.9% GDP or $19,799,000 USD on defence. I don’t have to quote how much the neighbors to the North and West spend on defence to make my point.
P.S. What’s all the fuss about a handful of missiles, that have no land attack capability, fitted to 40 year old ships? The whole of SEA is within range of hundreds of Chinese ballistic missiles…. armed with both conventional and nuclear warheads. Northern Peninsular Malaysia is within reach of IAF MKIs based at the Nicobar/Andaman islands and Chinese fighters based at Hainan island, so what’s the fuss??
No idea that why I asked…
Why the knee-jerk reaction. It is OK for them to buy something “different”. This arms race better have a clear winner because at the end every one will be the loser – less money for hospitals, schools and text books.
Agreed. Even with a 300km range missile, the TNI-AL lack the air assets that is capable to guide the missile adequately. Even the Yankhont test involved static platform target. Their ability to fielded enough of this missile effectively is also a question mark. Even their Sukhoi squadron are lacking enough missiles and trained pilots.
However saying it is not capable to hit a land target is not 100% true either. Latest version of ASMs like Otomat, Harpoon and Exocet is capable to hit a static land targets provided that the user know the target coordinates. However it wasn’t really accurate unless the ASMs have a terminal phase guidance of GPS or camera…
Marhalim, you really consider Farish a credible writer on defence and security issues? Interesting that he talks about Indonesia/Malaysia upping ante and leading to ASEAN arms race, but no mention of Singapore’s role in such an arms race, not allowed to comment on country which he’s based in?
Actually no, but as I mentioned he is so renowned internationally his words carries a lot of weight.
Local academics who no doubt have a very in depth knowledge of international relations/politics and spending trends, unfortunatly have a very superficial knowledge of hardware. Whilst in no way am I claiming to be an expert, I feel that an academic like Farish A. Noor could have done a better job with his homework instead of writing such a shallow, sensationalist piece which does not tell the whole story but does gain public attention.
The only ‘game changer’ – something that would really change the regional strategic equation would be if a country introduced the land attack version of the Brahmos or something similiar. It is for this reason that Singapore already has plans to get the Patriot if it has too. Indonesia in the mid-1990’s had already expressed a public interest in Scuds…
Its not just the Brahmos, Lan. The latest version of the Harpoons and Exocets also have land attack capability although it is not comparable to the Brahmos or the Storm Shadow
The “big deal” about this is that we now have 2 ASEAN countries possessing missiles touching the MTCR 300km limit. The floodgate has now opened and expect other countries to follow.
Singapore will now have no reason not to get something like SLAM-ER or JASSM for their Eagles or maybe ATACMS for their HIMARS system.
With Indonesia and Singapore having such missiles, Malaysia will sure follow. Then Thailand and Myanmar.
So now we are now going to see a long range missile race in the region, in addition to the submarine race.
btw Azlan, I dont think Kh-31P has the same range as Yakhont.
Yes, Rosoboronexport, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, MBDA, Raytheon, Brahmos and Avibras could not get a better spokesman!
Azlan ,u may not call yrself an expert but the gist of what u said shows first hand knowledge.
U know what ur talking about.
YM Lee, understand yr worry but its actually just a concern , it does not in any way change any balance of power.
As for the Brahmos ,it has not completed the problem of which assets will use it,those already decided ,have not become normal yet.
A lot of testing, adjustments need to be done.Till then ……
If we think our military is mismanaged on the direction and procurement with politicans srewing things up, the Indons are far worse.
FPDA does give us the balance we need ,gives the indons something to think about.
And u have to admit the S’poreans have a mature ,stable military with the right skills and support from the big brothers.So chances of conflict will be on the elections of moronic leaders who are willing to pay a price for whatever it is they are pursuing,THEN we get worried.
Guys, it is so exaggerated to talk of an “arms race” just because one nation buys some kind of weapon and another nation follows. It’s the way things go. Should all nations in Southeast Asia stop modernising their armies to avoid the impression that they open an arms race? Or maybe get rid of all modern weapons and give only keris or parang and sumpitan, so no one can accuse the other of pushing the limit?
Marharlim, the latest version of the Exocet and Harpoon have a land atack function but they do not have the range the Brahmos has, plus smaller warheads.
Reading Dzirhan’s post, got me thinking that maybe the balance of power in the region had tilted years ago, when the RSAF had a fighter fleet larger than any of its neighbours, larger than the RMAF and TNI-AU combined, giving it the capability to deal with Malaysian and Indonesia simultaneously if required.
Azlan, the balance of power in the region shifted more than a generation ago (a generation being 20 years).
Right now, Singapore has an air force that is more capable and more mature than a generation ago, despite the fact that the RSAF has down-sized from 7 fighter squadrons to 5 fighter squadrons.
In the last few years (for the Army), the “reservist cycle” was cut from 13 years to the current 10 years. Even the duration of NS has been cut from 2.5 years to 2 years.
Azlan, ask yourself:
Q: Why is the SAF able to make these cuts?
I’m not going to answer the above question but the answer should be self-evident.
To further our discussion, below is a list of the top 6 SEA countries ranked by their defence spending to provide context to this discussion. The defence spending data is from SIPRI*, the Total Fighter Fleet** size data is extracted from Flight International’s Dec 2009, “World Air Forces” (keep in mind that this is not the most accurate of sources) and the #No. of Troops (active/reserve) are extracted from the IISS’ “The Military Balance 2010”.
**Total Fighter Fleet in 2009 = 99
(i) F-16C/Ds = 60 (other sources suggest higher numbers)
(ii) F-15SGs = 4 (20 on order)
(iii) F-5S/Ts = 35 (see other source on Singapore F-5s by tail numbers)
#No. of Troops (active/reserve)……….: 72,500 (active) and 312,000 (reserves)
2009 GDP (nominal) …………………….: US$182.23 billion (IMF data)
*Defence Spending as a % of GDP …: Between a low of 3.9% to a high of 5.1% (from 2000 to 2008)
*2009 Defence Spending……………….: US$7,966 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2004 Defence Spending……………….: US$6,661 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2000 Defence Spending……………….: US$5,997 million (at constant 2008 prices)
**Total Fighter Fleet in 2009 = 39
(i) F-16A = 7
(ii) Su-27/30 = 7 (3 on order)
(iii) Hawk 209 = 25
#No. of Troops (active/reserve)……….: 302,000 (active) and 400,000 (reserves)
2009 GDP (nominal) …………………….: US$539.37 billion (IMF data)
*Defence Spending as a % of GDP …: Between a low of 1.0% to a high of 1.4% (from 2000 to 2008)
*2009 Defence Spending……………….: US$4,908 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2004 Defence Spending……………….: US$4,840 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2000 Defence Spending……………….: US$2,970 million (at constant 2008 prices)
**Total Fighter Fleet in 2009 = 97
(i) F-16A/Bs = 50
(ii) F-5A/E = 47
(iii) Gripen C = 0 (other sources suggest that it is 6 +6 on order)
#No. of Troops (active/reserve)……….: 305,860 (active) and 200,000 (reserves)
2009 GDP (nominal) …………………….: US$263.97 billion (IMF data)
*Defence Spending as a % of GDP …: Between a low of 1.1% to a high of 1.5% (from 2000 to 2008)
*2009 Defence Spending……………….: US$4,117 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2004 Defence Spending……………….: US$2,673 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2000 Defence Spending……………….: US$2,702 million (at constant 2008 prices)
**Total Fighter Fleet in 2009 = 59
(i) Su-30MKM = 18
(ii) F/A-18D = 8
(iii) MiG-29 = 10
(iv) RF-5E= 9
(v) Hawk 208 = 14
#No. of Troops (active/reserve)……….: 109,000 (active) and 296,300 (reserves)
2009 GDP (nominal) …………………….: US$192.95 billion (IMF data)
*Defence Spending as a % of GDP …: Between a low of 2.0% to a high of 2.6% (from 2000 to 2008)
*2009 Defence Spending……………….: US$4,078 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2004 Defence Spending……………….: US$3,691 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2000 Defence Spending……………….: US$2,122 million (at constant 2008 prices)
**Total Fighter Fleet in 2009 = 202
(i) MiG-21 = 146
(ii) Su-22 = 38
(iii) Su-27/30 = 18 (8 on order)
#No. of Troops (active/reserve)……….: 455,000 (active) and 5 million (reserves)
2009 GDP (nominal) …………………….: US$92.43 billion (IMF data)
*Defence Spending as a % of GDP …: Between a low of 2% to a high of 2.5% (data from 2003 to 2008)
*2009 Defence Spending……………….: US$2,073 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2004 Defence Spending……………….: US$1,370 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2000 Defence Spending……………….: No data shown in SIPRI database
**Total Fighter Fleet in 2009 = 0
(i) S-211 = 13 (S211 is not classed as fighter aircaft, as its not even an AJT)
(ii) OV-10 =11 (ground attack and not usually classes as fighter aircaft)
[Note: I believe the actual working inventory may be lower]
#No. of Troops (active/reserve)……….: 120,000 (active) and 131,000 (reserves)
2009 GDP (nominal) …………………….: US$161.19 billion (IMF data)
*Defence Spending as a % of GDP …: Between a low of 0.8% to a high of 1.0% (from 2001 to 2008)
*2009 Defence Spending……………….: US$1,424 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2004 Defence Spending……………….: US$ 1,275 million (at constant 2008 prices)
*2000 Defence Spending……………….: US$ 1,270 million (at constant 2008 prices)
For the above, I have chosen to cite the fighter numbers extracted from Flight International’s Dec 2009, “World Air Forces” and since I took the data from there, I should for consistency reasons limit my present discussion on the RSAF to the same source for numbers.
For those who tries to equate defensive weapon to not arms race, check out ABM Treaty. You will find that the definition of arms race is more complex. In many of the case, the dilemma however is not what to buy or what not to buy, is to buy or not to buy.
The real thing coming from north
&vietnam today just begin to open
the pandora box of south china sea.
since we also joint the south china sea
games that long range arsenal must be
in our military inventory list..
I appreciate and get the point you’re trying to make. Not trying to deviate from the topic but I feel that many Singaporeans on various defence forums/blogs tend to forget or not realise that Malaysia’s threat perception, our operational requirements and the place ‘defence’ plays in the overall scheme of things in this country, differs greatly from Singapore. I think we will agree that unless some sudden serious threat appears on the horizon, aimed at Malaysia or Indonesia, Singapore’s military edge will remain uncontested, for the foreseeable future.
ehmmm… I doubt if malaysia ever have 9 RF-5E as suggested in the report….
Its not 9RF5E but total 9 F5-E &RF-5E’s.
Actually what is so threatening about the Yakont is not its accuracy and its range but rather its speed. Given thats its a supersonic missile, there is currently nodefence against such missiles.Both the Exocet,Ottomat and the Harpoon and also the Tomahawks are all sub-sonic and these can be shot down easily.But not the Yakont or the Brahmos.Their speed when combines with mid-course guidance can be deadly .Even if the warhead dont explode anything hit at supersonic speed can be damaged irreplaceably.
Since Brahmos got same platform
with our Mkm & Scorpene this super cruise missile will be the best contender
as india also operate Mki & Scorpene..
Supersonic missiles have been around since the early 1980’s and is nothing new. Whilst their performance is indeed impressive, it has yet to be seen if they can perform as advertised.
The best way to combat this threat is with a ‘hard kill and soft kill’ combination. ESSM and ASTER 15/30 are designed to deal with such threats. There is a reason why Western navies are still using subsonic missiles….
It’s 2 RF-5Es [M29-19 and M29-20], delivered in 1984 – the RMAF was the launch customer.
Acoording to a report somewhere, the cameras have been replaced by digital ones. The interesting question now is whether the RMAF is keen on conducting a full upgrade on its RF-5Es, like what the RSAF did for its Tigereye’s, or would it rather get a photo/recce pod, for whatever MRCA it gets in the future.
well this is interesting russia gives vietnam blue
print of yakhont..good bargain vietnam..
So I guess it will no longer be a defensive weapon only…
I am waiting to greet my new Javan masters with Pecel and Leleh.
look like russia & china
just pick up their franchise
license winner for Yakhont
& C802 in SEA..do we need that
Franchise license too..
I would rather bench marked us against SG compared to the other ASEAN member. If they are spending between 4 – 5% of GDP and still prosper, we should spend close to that figure if not as much.
Problem is when government always bow to political pressure and ends up doing the popular thing instead of the right thing.
Come on, abt 2% for defense compare to approximately 18% for health and 21% for education. Yet there are people who keep on screaming wastage, not enough schools, not enough hospitals blah blah blah
u can see all the comments regarding defence spending in the budget post/topic.
just let see our next year budget… normally marhalim will start this topic annually, hope he doing so this year after budget table up in parliment for the first hearing.
Singapore is a well-developed country and it’s just an island. Unlike Malaysia, we are bigger country if compared to Singapore and we are still a developing country. Defence sector is not the only priority here in Malaysia. We have many other things to focus on as well such as building infrastructure to connect between rural area in Sabah and Sarawak etc. It is unfair to compare Malaysia and Singapore in any terms because we are of two different kind of country. Furthermore, we all know here that one of their leader himself has admitted that Singapore existent depends on its credible armed forces and so, they have to build and maintain a very good armed forces.
Thats because the report is not exactly accurate and updated as OPSG has said. Thailand has already received many of its Gripens and Singapore has certainly received more than just 4 F15SG. Just google for the pics online. Also, other sources state a higher number of F5 S/Ts and F16s. Those numbers also exclude >12-20 more f16s Blk 52s whose whose last known status is stated as being on leased.
Patriot is so passe. Singapore is indeed looking for a replacement for its I-Hawks after purchasing Spyder missile system to replace the Rapier missile system.
The figures by OPSG as mentioned by OPSG are not exactly accurate as other sources will state higher or lower numbers and they are from 2009. For example, Thailand and Singapore has certainly received a lot more Gripens and F15SGs if not all. And many other sources would credit Singapore’s F16s and F5S/T or Malaysia’s Mig-29s with higher numbers.
I think Azlan or someone up there has hit the nail on its head. Indonesia cannot fully exploit the Yakhont to its fullest capability. Without proper sensors and guidance, it is just another 60-70km anti-ship missile parked on old ships which will light up on enemy sensors like large beacons. It is all about systems and not just platforms. The countries with the better systems win as they can see first and shoot first and react first.
At any rate, both the US and Europe have new supersonic anti ship missiles on the way i think.
‘Indonesia cannot fully exploit the Yakhont to its fullest capability. Without proper sensors and guidance, it is just another 60-70km anti-ship missile parked on old ships which will light up on enemy sensors like large beacons’
I coul’dnt agree anymore , there is nothing to afraid about indonesian navy capability. All that they have just only old ‘sampan’
Never underestimate your friends and enemies….
I would be more worried about the advancing capabilities of the ‘big guys’ in the neighborhood:
India To Test Air-Launched Variant of Brahmos Missile In 2012
AWIN First Jul 05 , 2011
Jay Menon firstname.lastname@example.org
India will test-fire an air-launched variant of the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile before the end of 2012, “so that it can be inducted into the Indian air force,” says Brahmos Aerospace CEO A. Sivathanu Pillai.
Various types of aircraft, including Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighters, are expected to be armed with these missiles.
Brahmos already has been inducted into the army and the navy. The submarine-based version will have the same capabilities as earlier variants and be designed to strike at both land and sea targets.
The Defense Research Development Organization also is designing a hypersonic missile in collaboration with Russia capable of achieving speeds of Mach 7. Development is projected to take five years.
Advocates claim Brahmos packs in nine times more destructive capacity than any other cruise missile of its class. Much of the missile’s blast impact is due to its high velocity, which translates into high kinetic energy. The cruise missiles developed by Brahmos Aerospace, a joint venture between India and Russia, can travel at speeds of Mach 2.8.
India is the only country to have a supersonic cruise missile developed in a joint venture with Russia. Brahmos was first launched a decade ago at the Interim Test Range at Chandipur-on-Sea in Orissa.
Other regional developments (the RMAF and RMN should look into close defence cooperation with Brunei):
Brunei Expected To Make Progress On Bell 212 Replacement
AWIN First Jul 01 , 2011
Leithen Francis email@example.com
The Southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei has a long-standing requirement for transport/armed helicopters to replace its Bell 212s, which explains why AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, Eurocopter and Sikorsky are all exhibiting at the Brunei Darussalam International Defense Exhibition on July 6-9.
The air force has 10 212s, according to U.S. consultancy Forecast International, and an industry executive familiar with the helicopter competition says the country plans to purchase at least 10 helicopters to replace the 212s. The executive says it is expected Brunei will downselect to two or three candidates at or shortly after the exhibition.
Industry executives say Brunei additionally needs two fixed-wing surveillance aircraft so tit can monitor its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea. It was assumed that Brunei would order the Piper Seneca V because the government’s investment firm Imprimis owns Piper, one of the executives says. But Brunei is now open to considering other aircraft types, he adds.
Brunei is also expected to use the show to unveil its much-anticipated defense white paper. The previous defense white paper, released in 2007, said Brunei wanted to develop its air reconnaissance, intelligence and surveillance capability.
Vietnam To Receive First Of Three Maritime Patrol Aircraft
AWIN First Jul 01 , 2011
Leithen Francis firstname.lastname@example.org
Vietnam will soon be receiving the first of three Airbus Military C212-400 maritime patrol aircraft on order.
The aircraft order, which was placed in 2008, was never officially announced, but the Swedish Space Corp. (SSC) says in a statement that the aircraft will be delivered to Vietnam Marine Police this year after the SSC MSS 6000 maritime surveillance system is installed. An industry executive familiar with the situation says the final acceptance process for the first aircraft is now under way and the other two aircraft will also be delivered this year as planned.
This purchase is significant because Vietnam normally buys its equipment from Russia, although Canada’s Viking Air did announce last year that Vietnam’s navy is establishing a dedicated air wing and has ordered six Viking Air Twin Otter 400 maritime patrol aircraft for delivery in 2012-14.
Vietnam is boosting its maritime patrol capability so it can better monitor its exclusive economic zone out at sea. There have been several hostile incidents in recent weeks in which Chinese vessels have cut the cables of Vietnamese oil surveying vessels.
While I do not want to under estimate Brunei and Vietnam both dont figure significantly in our threat radar. Its true both Brunei and Vietnam are also involved in the dispute over ownership of the Spratlys, it is much better for us if we can work with them especially Vietnam. Brunei however will always be under our protection (some sort, not official as it is a sovereign country) due to its smaller size, especially in terms of population.