About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. These are strange times indeed….. I won’t be surprised if in a few months, an announcement is made AGAIN, that the Fulcrums wiil be retired. Maybe wiser heads have prevailed and the government has realised that if the Fulcrums are retired, RMAF fighter numbers will be at an all time low since the 80’s.

    Marhalim, who chooses the headings of your articles in the Malay Mail, is it the editor?
    IMO, ”billion dollar dive” is a bit too sensational and could give those who are not so aware of the local defence scene, negative perceptions.

    Marhalim: I have no control over the headings, I also sometimes cringed at the headings they used, I can only propose…..

  2. The answer is simple, we’ve no fund for new fighter aircraft and we can’t afford to let down another squadron of air fighter.

    This is a predictable govt decision. Last time, I wrote here maybe there’ll be no new procurement of fighter aircraft in the next 4-5 years but now, I guess there’s no hope for new fighter aircraft procurement in the next 10-12 years.

    And again, we should revise back our Vision2020 plan for the defense scene because from what we can see now, we’re not even can fulfill the need of the armed forces in the RMK-9 and yet RMK-10 will only focus on the abandoned project of the RMK-9 and RMK-11 I guess we’ll focus on the abandoned project of the RMK-10.

  3. Yahoo. That’s a relief. I was afraid that they gonna retired the MiG without finding the replacements first. This is the rite way, find the replacements than u retired the MiGs. At least know, we didn’t have to worry of the “holes” in the sky when we are waiting for the new MRCAs…..

  4. it’s a correct decision as in 5 years time(2015), PAK-FA would be scheduled to be operational and hopefully, marketed by the russian. Malaysia as one of the major target by Ros’Expt surely would be one of the earliest countries to be offered the fighter.
    By that time, we have more fighters to choose from and the latest tech esp EASA radar & BVR missile would mature enough.

  5. What happened to the decom 6? cannibalised for parts? Well i assume the 10 will only go for engine over haul and avionics referbushment.

  6. Want to find out why?? Because they have no money AND Dr. M said so:
    “He said the ministry’s decision also took into account the views of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his blog, who felt that the MiG jet fighters should be retained.”
    ha! ha! I guess the old man still runs the country on part time basis through his blogs…

  7. Wise decision indeed and in the meantime wait for the PAK-FA to enter full production. I’m pretty sure the fulcrums are still lethal but we need to boot third party leecher and go direct for spare parts in order to save cost.

  8. I m aggree what omanjedi said, PAK-FA should be the choosen one cos Singapore may ready the JSF-35 during that year but other fighter being consider.

  9. I’m not surprise that decision has changed.
    Waste another RM1.3 bil for the next 5 yrs and that does not include the upgrade by ATSC which I doubt they are able to do. I thought just a while ago the reason for retirement was due to costly 260mil expenditure anually.
    Best the money use to allocate for improving the armed forces…eg like the Nuri replacement and many!

    Either the RMAF or the MINDEF is fickle minded or there’s some wayang or for the interest of certain parties.

    It is sad to see the decision made since the last 2 decades.

  10. Wise decision i must say…Selling this fine aircraft is not the rite move when the problem is cost of maintenance…if poorer countries like Sudan, Peru and Myanmar can maintain theirs…why we cant maintain ours?

    anyway…anybody knows if any other country besides Germany and Romania that retired their fleet of Fulcrum?

  11. Omanjedi and Fadiman…. who’s to say the PAK-5A programme will not be delayed? More importantly for us, who’s to say that given a free hand, the RMAF’s top brass want anything Russian? It’s no secret that both the MiG-29N and Su-30MKM deals were based on political decisions and both were not the RMAF’s first choice…… Will the engine, radar, airframe, landing gear, etc, on the PAK-5A have a longer TBO and MTBF than current U.S. fighters and the F-35? Will it’s operating costs be higher?

    It’s funny how the Defence Misnister said that ”due to the economic climate” the Fulcrums would soldier on because there was no cash for replacements. Is he implying that when an announcement was made to retire the Fulcrums, funds were avaible in 2-3 years for a replacement? Earlier he had cited the main reason the Fulcrums were to be reitired was due to the economic climate and the high cost of overhauling the RD-33s. The Fulcrum saga goes on and on… but at least ATSC is happy.

  12. Dear Azhan,
    I’ve to disagreed with you regarding the maintainence cost matter. If it is not economic anymore to operate that aircraft then we shouldn’t do so anymore. Are we too desperate for new fighter aircraft at the moment? The answer is Yes but it’s not the main priority so far. We’re not in a conflict region like Myammar which is conflicting with Thailand. We’re focusing on developing our nation economy so that when we have more money we’ll have more budget to funds the armed forces.

    Lately, our dear PM have announced the recovery of our economy from the 2009 Economic Downturn and this is a good signal for the defense scene.

    Yes I agreed with Azlan on the fighter matter. Most of our procurement-made are based on political reasons and I might add economic reasons. Obviously we can see this in the Sukhoi deal.

    Our defense scene is full of surprise (isn’t?). Nuri-lah, Tiger 2-lah, Fulcrum-lah and after this apa pula-lah?

  13. Marhalim, in the Borneo Post and Utusan [24th] there was an article quoting the Army Chief saying that under the 10th Malaysia Plan the army plans to form a Unit Helikopter Tempur. Have you heard anything? Whilst it’s good that the army and not the RMAF will operate it, I’m really surprised, given the lack of army pilots, operational budget and ground infrastructure, not to mention a whole list of more pressing requirements for the ATM. Or perhaps the media got it wrong and the army only intends fitting rockets and door mounted guns to the A109s and calling them ”light” gunships?

    Marhalim: He basically said the same thing to me in answers to my questions, of which he only answered four, basically the questions published by the above newspapers… he did not answered six of my other questions.
    I was told the QNA was supposed to be embargoed until March 1………

  14. Flip flopping national defense strategy.
    Why 10 and not 13, 15 or 16? What is the basis of the decision made? national security or contractor’s interest?
    Where did the minister and the RMAF chief plug the figure of RM 260 million annually to maintain the jets. RM260m for how many jets? 1,3, 10 or 16?
    How did they figure out that with 10 jets the figure will be reduced? All along the RMAF can’t even get 10 jets per day.
    What happen to the technology transfer? Do Malaysia benefit or it is just the contractor is squeezing the money with the blessing of the RMAF?
    Another cock and bull story from the defense corridor of power and a blatant lie from the incompetent lots. Can we trust them to protect the nation?
    The Chief of Defense Force can go to … and start searching for the missing F5E engines in Uruguay or Dubai!!! or he needs to go for a holiday with daughter and son in law in ……!!! surely …. can sponsor the trip!!!

  15. Dear Hazwan,
    Yes all of us afraid that they are going to retire the MIGs before finding for it successor first. But, but the funds for operating the armed forces won’t permit this, it’s the best way to stop from using the MIGs and just save the money from maintaining the MIGs for other purposes.

    Taking about the hole in the sky, although we’re desperate for new fighter aircraft, but the priority is for the procurement of more beneficial assets like the chopper. Fighter aircraft is useful when we’re in a conflicting region like in the West Asia.

    Dear Azhan,
    My record show that Czech Republic is one of the former operators of the MIGs. The Israeli was reported to have a MIGs for training purposes.

    Yes I agreed with Azlan on the MIGs matter. Lately, our Dear PM has announce that our economy have slightly recovered from the 2009 Economic Crisis downturn, but so far I can’t foresee anything good for the local defense scene.

  16. If budgetary constraints is the key issue and there is no real threat of conflict for at least the foreseable future, then it makes sense not only to ground the MIGS but several other aircraft namely the hawks 200 and maybe F5E (are we still using it?). Put them in reserve and only activate them when there is need to. Although not completely cost free, at least will be a lot more cheaper than keeping them running on full service. But then again there could be other consideration that i do not have the privilege to gain.

    The money saved could be used to improve the heli fleet, either buying new ones or upgrading the existing ones IMHO

    Marhalim: The problem with putting these planes in war reserve is the fact that we need to maintain a lot people, pilot and maintainers current on these aircraft, even with the current set-up the air force is straining to get enough funds to keep the personnel current…..

  17. Grounding the Hawks to save costs would make no sense. Even without a BVR capability, the Hawk 200 still performs a ueful role as a short range interceptor. ShahSF pointed out that the HAWK 200 radar is actually more capable than the one on the Fulcrums. Apart from the newly delivered MBB-339s, the Hawk 100s and 2 F-5Fs are the only dual seater aircraft available for LIFT. I’m not sure if the RMAF intends on retiring the surviving MBB-339As… Marhalim?

    If the government were truly serious about saving dosh perhaps they could start with selling part of the large rotary/fixed wing VVIP fleet that is flown and mantained by the RMAF but is owned and paid for by the PMs Department – 1.Global Express 2.Boeing 737 BBJ,3. Falcon 900, 4. Fokker F28, 5. 2 CN-235s, 6. 2 AS-61Ns, 7.2 S-70s. Delivered with the 2 AS-61N were 2 A-109s, one was written off in a crash. I’m not sure if the surviving A-109 is still in service. Even with such a large VVIP fleet, RMAF assets such as the Nuri and CN-235 still are used to ferry big-wigs.

    Marhalim: I am trying to get something on the Machis, if I got it it will be published in The Malay Mail… sole A109 is still being used as a VIP helo….

  18. Marhalim, we know what roles the 2 RF-5Es and 2 F-5Fs perform but what about the surviving
    F-5Es? Up to the 90’s the F-5Es were used by pilots to maintain their hours and as a training platform against the Fulcrums and Hornets. I’m not sure if this is still the case.

    Marhalim: Basically the F-5Es are used for escorting the RFs and also as a trainer for those for those assigned to fly the RF after graduating from the twin-seaters and also to keep their proficiencies…

  19. What we see here is 2 many problem with our management, inventories assest and manpower, why don’t we look at swedish style, in order to cut cost there developed 1 type of fighter aircraft, more flexible, multirole, easy to maintance,cost saving, less manpower and less headech…….1 malaysia pikir lah.

  20. Bit hard to emulate the Swede model. They’re really serious about their defence, unlike us. The have more skilled manpower, a stronger technological base, a bigger economy and have been builing fighter for decades. They also have an agency – FMV – which oversees all defence projects and purchases.

  21. get the Israelis to upgrade the fulcrum, and it would be 10 times deadlier than its present form. Get it new engines which has more better TBO, and the problem is solved. An improvement in capability with lesser maintenance cost per year. But nooo… thats not gonna happen. They are gonna stick with the money swindling 3rd party who are more interested in buying their benz, or BMW’s than to really SAFEGUARD THE COUNTRY.

  22. Dea Nevidimka,
    I suppose that you knew our country have no diplomatic ties with the Israeli so please review back ur statement above.

    Dear Fadiman,
    Like what Azlan said, the Swedish have greater economy and stronger military will so it doesn’t make sense when u want malaysia to follow the swedish step. We don’t even have our own designed-assault riffle dude.

  23. Malaysia’s position is that until Israel obeys UN Resolution 242, that calls for the withdrawal of all the territory occupied in 67, there will be no ties with Israel. But who’s to say that there aren’t un-official contacts or that Israeli made stuff, routed to 3rd countries and retagged, doesn’t end up in Port Klang? BTW, the TNI-AU’s Skyhawks were ex-Israeli and training for Indonesia’s BIN intel agency was provided by Mossad….

  24. Malaysia should replace with mig-35,su-35,gripen or rafale….i think the most cheapest Malaysia should buy mig-35

  25. IMHO, if we have the financial capability then we should have a two tier fighters, one the High tech heavy MRCA either liks in F15 SG, Rafale,Su 37, PakFa etc then a light cost efficient MRCA like gripen, hawk 200, even JF17. However as i believe that we are not financially well endowed then we should have only one type of fighter in order to be more cost efficient.

    What type and how many, will depends but at the end i believe a well trained train pilots and well maintain aircrafts will be the key to a credible airforce.

  26. When has money never been an issue? More pertinent is the question of whether Malaysia actually needs lots of MRCAs in our security environment. I would suggest that they are primarily a prestige item that is of limited utility to the nation and driven almost entirely by our irrational need to keep up with the Lims. The nation would be far better served by investing in lift capability, particularly rotary wing and STOL as well as ISTAR platforms both manned and unmanned.
    While it might not be particularly sexy to be flying KingAirs, they are probably far more operationally useful in our day-to-day security needs than a SU-30.
    The sentiment generally expressed is highly indicative of our penchant for ‘gaya’ over substance.


  27. In my opinion, the decision to re-commission 10 MiG-29s back to service is still can be considered as a good decision. We need the MiGs to support other aircrafts in RMAF’s inventory, at least until we can find and acquire a suitable replacement for the MiGs. Because Su-30MKMs which we recently acquired are still in familiarization process, the MiGs can be used to support the former especially in air defence role.
    I also think that we don’t need to upgrade too extensively for the MiGs. We just need to maintain the present form. All we need to do is just refurbish it (to increase flyable hours) and adding BVR capability by introducing ‘fire and forget’ R-77 missile to be carried by the MiGs.

  28. Interesting viewpoint MeesterT. There must be a very strong reason for Malaysia to want to keep up with the Lims, or should I say The Republic of Singapore and Thailand. First up, an armed force of a country needs to justify its existence. And, realistically, who are the most likely conventional enemies Malaysia will end up fighting? Her neighbours. That is of course a worst-case scenario, which most probably will not happen due to the good relations Malaysia enjoys with her Asean neighbours. But an armed force is an organisation built to plan for worst-case scenarios and such planning does not come cheap or can it be built overnight. Buying the right equipment and training the personnel to use and maintain them properly takes years, if not decades. I am sad to say that we have still not got things right so many years after independence. If we truly believe that we will NEVER end up fighting our neighbours, then we should not be spending so much trying to catch up with Singapore’s armed capability. And we if we come to the conclusion that we MUST have a decent deterrent for whatever reason, then let us have the political will to build a realistically attainable credible force, not based on fantasy or as a vehicle to line someone’s pockets.
    There are so many needs to be met. Currently, fast jets get the most attention not only because it is more “glamorous” but maintaining air control is obviously crucial in any conventional conflict. What amazes me is how our small air force has so many types of fighter/attack jets in its inventory. At the most, just settle on two types. I think the RMAF should place its bet on the Su-30MKM since we have already invested so much in it. Don’t dream of a 5th generation fighter for the time being. The JSF comes with too many political “strings” unless you are S’pore or Australia and a Russian JSF or F22 is still decades away. When it is time to get rid of the MiG 29, just get more Su-30s. Keep updating the F-18s for their attack role. I think we can wrangle up enough to buy another 12 to 15 Su-30s at least. And stick to just one fast jet trainer/light attack airframe – 10 will do.
    That will leave the government with enough to retire the tired old Nuris. And I do not think we have the luxury here of going for uber pricey things like EH101s, NH90s, Cougars or Blackhawks. Just get some updated Hueys – UH1Ns or AB212s. You just want to haul troops and stuff without all the other trimmings. I really do not think we can ever replace the lift capacity of the Nuris unless you are thinking about Mi-8s or 17s even then I do not think we can afford 30 units of the Russian chopper. At most, just 20 or so UH1Ns, AB212s, Mi-8s or 17s. Maybe we can push the figure to about 28 if we opt for the late model Hueys. And, another thing we can stop dreaming about is a high-end dedicated attack chopper like the AH-64D, Rooivalk or Tiger. Unless we are going for cheap versions like the Mi-35 or, which I think is quite good, the AH-6i Little Bird. And please do not let the army dream about getting its own air arm. The 10 LOH they got have only wasted what good money we have. For the Navy, maybe, since they have very specific roles but any function that the army needs can be done by the airforce’s helicopters. I will keep this reply to just air assets.

  29. Dear Marhalim,

    I just heard a rumour that TUDM will be ordering additional 4 CN235 MP soon. Is there any truth?

    I really pray that they kick off the Nuri Upgrades and the Cougar program soon, now that money already trickling in to the treasury. I say both as IMHO we still need both Nuri and the brand new Cougar. let the nuri be relegated to daylight transport duty and medevac role while Cougar as an all weather day/night utility and CSAR chopper. If we retire the Nuri now with out proper replacement, we will be taking out 30 choppers out of service and left with only the 12 cougar (if we ever buy them).It would be lowest chopper number we ever had since the late sixties i think.

    Marhalim: The thing about the 235 rumour was reported by Flight International based on sources from Indonesia which must be taken with a grain of salt. Cougar? Nuri upgrades, I believe we have to wait until the announcement of the 10th MP.

  30. There cannot be an arms race between Singapore and Malaysia – because it would not be a race. In an April 2010 interview with Defence News, Singapore’s DPM Teo Chee Hean revealed that Singapore spends about 4.5 percent of GDP on defence. The Singapore 2010 budget for defence is S$11.46 billion dollars (or US$8.13 billion). If I may use an analogy, it’s a race between a normal athlete [[i]Singapore[/i]] and a man with one leg (Malaysia). The Malaysians not only spend less than Singapore, their government also spends their defence dollars more ineffectively. This is an opinion held not just by me but also by astute external observers. According to SIPRI data, Malaysia’s defence spending as a percentage of GDP from 2005 to 2007 (2008 and 2009 figures were not available) and the amount spent for defence in [b]constant (2005) US dollars[/b] were stated [[i]side by side with Singapore’s figures[/i]] as follows:

    2005 – Malaysia: 2.3% (US$3,120 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 4.6% {US$ 5,464 m}[/i]]
    2006 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$3,054 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 4.4% {US$ 5,670 m}[/i]]
    2007 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$3,409 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 4.1% {US$ 5,806 m}[/i]]
    2008 – Malaysia: not available (US$3,479 m) –[[i]Singapore: not available {US$ 5,831 m}[/i]]

    And if you look at the data from 1995 to 1999, the comparable figures are as follows:

    1995 – Malaysia: 2.8% (US$2,055 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 4.4% {US$ 3,376 m}[/i]]
    1996 – Malaysia: 2.4% (US$1,976 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 4.4% {US$ 3,698 m}[/i]]
    1997 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$1,858 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 4.6% {US$ 4,150 m}[/i]]
    1998 – Malaysia: 1.6% (US$1,365 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 5.4% {US$ 4,700 m}[/i]]
    1999 – Malaysia: 2.1% (US$1,847 m) ——–[[i]Singapore: 5.4% {US$ 4,788 m}[/i]]

    In the SIPRI data set, Malaysian defence spending as a percentage of GDP was highest in 1991, at 3.2% (US$1,690 m) [[i]Singapore: 4.7% {US$2,486 m}[/i]]. So there might have been the potential for a Malaysia-Singapore arms race in the 1990s but the 1990s came and went (Malaysia in particular cut back her defence spending in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian economic crisis).

    Marhalim: One must also remember that Singapore has a large military industrial conglomerate under its belt, Singapore Technologies, so they need to spend more on defence to keep up these companies. I admit however that they are doing it much better than us….

  31. Seems like shopping spree again, buy different types of arms and again who ever who offer more under table money…they will take it!

  32. OPSSG has illustrated very clearly how much Singapore spends on defence. And yes, it is currently an unequal race. The sad thing, in my opinion, is not that we cannot afford to spend as much as the Singaporeans, it is the fact that our government “spends its defence dollars more ineffectively”, as OPSSG puts it. We of course know the reason for this and I think one can write a whole book about all the “shenanigans” that go on in the arms purchase game in our dear country.
    It is without doubt, that Singapore will slowly lengthen their superiority gap in the years to come if they choose to press on the pedal. Again, I keep my topic to that of military air assets.
    They are already taking delivery of their 24 F15SGs and they plan to acquire the JSF F35. For them, it looks like a choice of either more F15SGs or F35s. According to “some sources”, even if the F35 does not come on stream soon (with more delays), the RSAF have plans to push up their F15SG numbers to about 50 or 60. Some say it could be up to 80.
    So, what do we have planned when the MiG 29s retire? More Su30MKMs? Gripens? F18E/F Super Hornets? Again, we have to be realistic. What can we get without breaking our bank. Let us just say, optimistically, we somehow manage to get the Gripen or F18E/F. How many do you think we can afford. 8, 10, 12, 15, 18? I would say, tops, 18. And are we going to keep the current F18Ds on our flight line?
    However it turns out, it looks like we will be outnumbered about 2, 2.5 or maybe even 3 vs 1 in the end, as far as high-performance fighter aircraft are concerned. But never mind that. 18 Su30MKMs and 18 Gripens or F18E/Fs; or just 36 Su30MKMs plus some advanced trainer/light fighters is still quite a potent looking force. It will still make a potential adversary with Singapore’s future force levels think carefully about any military adventures.
    But there are also MANY things we can do to make whatever we have available more potent. Things like maintainability of the aircraft, serviceability, flight time and training, and survivability of our precious fighter force.
    It is good to base the Sukhois at Gong Kedak right at the other end of the peninsula to put as much distance as possible from a potential adversary but what about THE OTHER potential adversary from the NORTH. And what kind of hardened aircraft protection is there available on our bases? I really hope there are.
    Also, what kind of SAM system is being deployed to protect our air bases? We cannot beat Singapore in the numbers game but we must at least try to protect and preserve what we have and hope to acquire and use them in the best way possible. Anything less than that is just “sandiwara.”

  33. James, why measure against Singapore?

    1. The worse case and more likely scenario (but not most likely scenario) for armed conflict for Malaysia with it’s neighbors is not Thailand or Singapore. It is with Indonesia that is the far bigger potential threat (the TNI has 400,000 active & 400,000 reserves – not including Marines and paramilitary forces).

    (i) From 1962-1966, there was the Konfrontasi. Further, Malaysians forget that on 7 December 1975, Indonesian forces annexed East Timor. Operasi Seroja (Operation Lotus) was an invasion of East Timor by Indonesia with about 20,000 to 30,000 troops. It involved naval bombardment of Dili, landing of troops from the sea and paratroopers assault.

    (ii) In fact, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia on 22 December 1978 with 120,00 troops supported by artillery and armour (Phnom Penh fell to the advancing Vietnamese armoured forces in 17 days). Thailand was the front-line ASEAN state, serving to insulate Malaysia from the late 1970s until Vietnam became a full member of ASEAN in 1995.

    (iii) It is silly to identify Thailand and Singapore as threats but yet leave out the most obvious potential threat.

    2. I would define a threat as intent plus capability. Thailand and Singapore both fail the intent test to be a threat.

    3. Let us examine the Indo-Malaysian relationship, in particular at Indonesian intent. East Malaysia shares a longer and more porous border with Indonesia (with illegal immigration issues) and the two countries have active boundary disputes and naval stand-offs1 from the two countries. The bilateral relationship between the two countries have suffered and we see the emergence of ‘anti-Malaysia’ groups in Indonesia. In fact, the TNI is going to establish two new armor battalions in 2011 and 2012, both based on the island of Kalimantan/Borneo. This coincides with the fact that the Indonesian army is planning to create a new regional command (“Kodam”), in Kalimantan this year. For the TNI, a Kodam is comparable to a division in strength and task.

    4. So which is the threat that Malaysia is really preparing for? Further, the force structure required to fight a country like Singapore or Thailand is quite different from that required to fight Indonesia.

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