Going Over the Top

A Sea Wolf missile being launched from a Royal Navy Type 23 frigate. The RN is retiring the Sea Wolf in favour of the Sea Ceptor.

SHAH ALAM: Going over the top. As we wait for the Defence Minister designate to be sworn in and make his first sortie to Jalan Padang Tembak, it is time for us discuss what ails the defence and national security sector.

Two Kedah class, KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176) berthed at Lumut jetty in early 2014. The ship on the other side is KD Mahawangsa. Malaysian Defence

For the last 40 years or so the sector became part of the national economic development agenda, which started during the 22 years of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad first premiership. And the practice continued during the two administrations that succeeded him.

RMAF MiG-29N M43-11 at Kuantan air base in 2014.

Placing the defence and national security sector as part of the country’s economic development is a common practice by many countries. For Malaysia, the national interest agenda was turned upside down when it was driven by parochial interests which led to unbridled shenanigans, to say the least. This mostly resulted in procurement of assets and development mostly due to political patronage with little regard for life cycle costs and long term viability.

A G-Wagon fitted with an AGL

Unfortunately this was not limited to the defence and national security sector alone. The problem is further exacerbated by insistence of local manufacturing, which further increase the initial cost of procurement as well as long term one. Most of these prestige projects are nothing more than reinventing the wheel while at the same time further straining the already limited budget.

AFV30 Gempita in desert camouflage. Social media

While some had benefited from these largesse, its always the Armed Forces that had to deal with the aftermath whenever something bad happens and it was not just the economy.

Maharaja Lela. Her name could be seen on the stern.

Remember that we spent billions to get six corvettes unsuitable for high intensity fighting and also too expensive for mundane patrols. This happened even as the coast guard is starved of proper funding to get the patrol boats it needs to secure our long maritime borders.

A CGI of the MMEA OPV

Remember that we have two submarines which are very expensive to operate and maintain while the surface fleet lacks the capability for proper anti submarine warfare.

RMAF A400M M54-04 on approach to Subang on March 14, 2017.

The air force got four new transporters although it don’t need them. It needs new fighters, MPA, airborne radars and training jets though.

A Pendekar MBT firing its main gun during firepower demo rehearsals in May, this year. Army picture

Its the same with the army, despite some highlights here and there, the infantry remained the king. As of recently it got some 100 8X8s from a 257 order though it’s sole tank unit is still stuck in first gear, literally and figuratively.

Firing GMPGs from the tripod mount.

What’s the solution then? I have none for the PM – he probably has the solution already figured out as he bide his time to oust his successors.

Two Lipan Bara MRAP armed with M134D mini-guns at the farewell parade for the Army chief on Dec. 9.2016. BTDM picture.

As for the Minister, I think it’s time for him to stop campaigning and deal with the problem together with the PM and of course the Armed Forces. I know it’s difficult to do that after 40 years in the trenches. Its time as they say to go Over the Top.

PASKAL operators trained for maritime demonstration with Super Lynx helicopter. RMN

Am I feeling nostalgic over the previous regime? None whatsoever. Just wary though I am grateful at least that the chance of me being blacklisted by the ministry has gone a long notch down already. And no, this is not an attempt to whitewash Najib and Pak Lah et al and lay all the blame on Dr Mahathir. They deserved everything that are lined up for them and more.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1630 Articles
Shah Alam

63 Comments

  1. @ Mahalim.
    Perhaps you can advice on what the 2nd Mahathir administrationship can do differently compared to his 1st. While I might be accused of being a cybertooper, I would dare say Paklah’s and Najib’s follies are just a matter of following what goes before them, namely the rojak done by a certain 4th PM. What we seen so far is either using ill-suited equipment (Mig-29, AUGs) or shoehorning those we want into ill-suited platforms (SU-30 MKM with Western avionics, Gempita).

  2. “What’s the solution then? I have none for the PM – he probably has the solution already figured out as he bide his time to oust his successors.”
    if i understand right,i love what you think. here to see that thing happen.

    its all start with Dr M step down and dont want to become adviser as he is tired with all those stupid thing and want us,the citizen to think independent without him. then come pak lah who well……too good nature.have money but think positively(we have peace loh,no need more security).with pak lah goes,come najib which you all know how he is.

    each admin have cause enough damage to our security from laksamana class to A400 transport. start with have enough money to no money right now. all we can hope now relies with the council to oversee all the security progress and the transparency which have been the theme song since they run to Putrajaya.

  3. Lets give Tun a chance. Its early days. But if we can cut at the right places money csn be found. But then again many ministries have been out of gund gor dome time. Like MOH for medicie n replacement of equipment like basuc lines. As the holes are too many n very substsntial give some time

  4. Hmm…

    Yes the rojak was started in mahathir’s 1st administration, but then it balooned into buying gold plated items and things so expensive and not required like the A400M that sucks every little budget the air force was allocated.

    What is to be done.
    – make sure the operational budget is enough in the 1st place. No use of expensive hardware but relegated to parades only.
    – no more gold plated items in the next 5 years. So things like the LMS, MRSS, Gempita, MRCA, MPA need to be reviewed if it is already in progress (Gempita), stopped (MRCA) or to look for a more cost effective solutions (LMS, MRSS, MPA).
    – to get APMM to have its needed ships for patrol. They are getting good value out of their NGPC and OPV programmes and should be expanded.

    Probably there will be cuts in the defence budget for RMK-12, but I am hoping that it would be offsetted by sepending wisely.

    @ joe

    “What we seen so far is either using ill-suited equipment (Mig-29, AUGs) or shoehorning those we want into ill-suited platforms (SU-30 MKM with Western avionics, Gempita)”

    – mig was bought for a strategic point of view. Sending a big massage that malaysia is not tied to the western block.

    – AUGs? If not for the political fall out, it is a decent weapon.

    – Su-30MKM and gempita. In a hindsight, we developed the best SU-30MK variant there is and was later used by russia itself as the Su-30SM. The unrefuelled combat range is unmatched by any western fighters and a very useful feature to patrol the SCS. As for the gempita, was one of the critics, but now most countries are jumping into the heavy IFV bandwagon. A second batch should be way cheaper than the 1st batch, and the cost need to add up the hull price to FNSS, turrets and ATGM to Denel, electronics, BMS, engines etc etc. That all adds up to something, but not as cheap as the FNSS numbers people quote, and not as expensive as what DRB charged the government for the 1st batch. Probably somewhere in the middle.

  5. @…
    At least you’re a level headed person I can discuss with.

    Mig-29 – yes, it was a message statement but at what cost? It was yet another one of Mahathir’s grandstanding showing-the-middle-finger approach to the West. Yes, it did make waves amongst the ASEAN powers for a while but it resulted in an arms race (F-15s for SG, Sukhois for Indon, F-16s for Thai). And yet, our Migs are the first to be retired due to platform not designed to last. We lost in this game of one upmanship.

    AUGs – yes, decent weapon but wasn’t what TDM wanted. And its a deadend development weapon. Australia needed to extensively modify the platform to continue usage in modern times (Picatinny rails all round). An AR-15 based would have a longer shelf life, not to mention the multitudes of enhancements from US private companies.

    SU-30MKM – with all the Western avionics & system, its basically a Western plane in a Russki body but w/o the durability of a Western plane. So why not just buy a Western plane? Same goes with Pendekar.

    LCS – apparently we didn’t gold plated it enough since we went for the cheaper, and lousier VL Mica instead of the better and more expensive Aster. Such shortsightedness by the Najib administration.

    Gempita – It was expensive but its because of the integration needed and I agree with you that it was quite a foresight by the movers of this project but since this is Najib’s baby I shouldn’t say too kindly about it or I’ll be accused of being a trooper, so I will let the more senior readers here to comment.

  6. Seems majority here understands defense issues.
    I’d like to see all the Gempitas AV8s and LCS/ LMS delivered under Mat Sabu. We do NEED them.
    I like to see we cut the crap and set a time-date for buying fighters and maritime patrol planes. Buy new JF17s Block 3, or buy ex Kuwaiti Hornets. Trainers? There’re cheap 2nd hand refurbished Hawks out there. Tanks? Easy, PH govt is reviewing many mega projects.Buy the VT4 MBT then. It’s new, still not far removed from the PT91s. Period. * I have this distaste for armed forces bluebloods that thrives only on Western equipment. And get YB Mat Sabu to turn the screw on those who line their own pockets while lobbying MinDef to buy new assets.

  7. I have no love for the new administration but I think some pause and rethinking of our national defense strategy or rather, a lack of it would be beneficial. No doubt all of the PH’s fiscally populist measures will mean no new toys for the Armed Forces in the near future so we need to ask ourselves why we need our Armed Forces. Who is our potential enemy? What can we realistically do against the enemy? Which branch should get priority? On 4chan, foreigners marvel at our mish mash of equipment bought for “strategic reasons”, H&K fetishism, propensity for buying snowflake one-offs and just plain cronyism. Maybe the previous (and current) government were adverse to mark any countries as a future enemy *cough*China*cough due to the potential diplomatic fallout but that is the reality that should guide our defense spending.

  8. I don’t know about you guys, but everytime I look at the Maharaja Lela class, I consider it lesser armed and lesser capable than the Formidable class. I mean, why put a pea shooter 57mm on a main line surface combantant? Even if in RMN service the main purpose is AA, why not the 76mm?
    The RMN should have got a proper frigate, say a vessel around 120- 136m long, with a 76 or 127 gun, but then again some people may say it’s too big for RMN use.

  9. – The Fulcrums were bought mainly because they were cheap and Russia accepted part payment in the form of commodities. A problem faced was the contract did not include a maintenance/support contract. That was negotiated separately and the whole deal later was a big surprise to us as we had no experience dealing with the Russian way of doing things. Another shock was discovering the Russians were unable to provide a full flight simulator for the reason that even they didn’t have one during that period.

    – My complain with the AV8 was it’s price tag – caused largely by the costs to enable local production and various modifications. Even during the period when it was ordered, it was clear that wheeled AFVs were getting bigger and there was no getting around this if one wanted to meet certain mobility and protection standards.

    – The AUG was bought because Styer was willing to allow local production. The army wanted the M16A2 but Colt wouldn’t allow local production. Despite years of production SME did zero upgrades or modifications to it. What SME did was try to sell it to a number of countries including one which became a “Axis of Evil” member. It was and is a decent weapon which shouldn’t have been replaced.

    – The MKMs range is useful but we must take into account that for operations over the SCS it will probably be operating from Labuan. We got the Cobham pods – useful – to enable them to refuel other MKMs and so when performing strike missions; they can fly circuitous routes for tactical reasons. Indeed the MKM on paper was the most capable variant but given the lack of numbers, cash spent on integration and certification, was it worth it? Also, given that the variant was unique to us; neither the Russians or Indians could help us formulate a combatt doctrine/syllabus specific to that variant. All they could do was help us with a maintenance syllabus. Like other “mega” projects neither the MAF or taxpayer got their ringgit’s worth.

  10. “AUGs? If not for the political fall out, it is a decent weapon”
    i”ve had experience with those.i really don\’t like them,telescopic sight tend to fog up when used in the jungle.it’s too heavy to lug around on long patrols,the plastic mag tend to not work properly and often become brittle when exposed to the element.the trigger pull gets harder after the first shot. i like the m16/m4s better.just my personal opinion though..

  11. @ joe

    “Gempita – It was expensive but its because of the integration needed and I agree with you that it was quite a foresight by the movers of this project but since this is Najib’s baby I shouldn’t say too kindly about it or I’ll be accused of being a trooper, so I will let the more senior readers here to comment.”

    ^^ Wasn’t the Gempitas expensive because it has too many variants. 12 variants cmiiw.

    Reply
    It is expensive because it was not yet fully developed when we bought it, we bought the IP and also paid for the factory while at the same time buying only a small number. And the same time with almost the same budget

  12. – Su-30MKM. Was it worth it? For just USD50 million each with all the modifications yes it was. What other fighter (especially western ones) we can buy for USD50 million for the same capability?

    – the fulcrums has plenty of flying hours left. It is grounded as the overhauls are due, not because its flying hours are exhausted. But without any upgrades it is not comparable to something like the gripen or an upgraded fa-18 or f-16. So why not revisit the indian offer to buy them? As for the history, yes it was a big learning curve for us, and that experience was put into good use for the MKM.

    – LCS. It was a compromise on what the navy need and the shipyard which wants more margins. So no compromise on ASW and ASuW but with VL mica as the shipyard wanted. At USD400 million the price is reasonable, looking at what the SGPV is at USD300 million and ships that germany and UK is getting. 57mm pea shooter? With the rapid firing capability of the 57mm, it can put more HE per minute at a target than a 76mm could.

    – LMS. This is so far looking unreasonable, a patrol ship that is way more expensive than the MMEAs bigger OPV. But it seems that it is too far along to cancel or change.

    – refurbished hawks? I maybe an avocate of used items but not hawks. The inherent design is too compromised and requires a lot of maintenance.

    – VT4? Yes it is a good tank on its own but getting those will just add to the rojak we have now.

    – AUGs. Each weapon has its pros and cons. When we got them does anyone predict the longevity of AR15 platform and the widespread availability of mods for it? No. So actually going back to AR15 platform is both a good and bad move depending on how you see it.

    Reply
    Its more likely that the MKM cost something like $60 million to account for the French avionics, pod and the Saab EW systems as well as integration. More if include the weapons.

  13. On the subject of VT4, we do need additional MBTs. The 48 PT91s were at best ceremonial,…only 48 tanks what??? VT4s are capable MBTs, good for the West Msian context and shouldn’t cost a bomb.
    Am not a pessimist with the navy. 15-5 vision of the navy should continue. Am not a sailor, (mabuk laut) but think we should be expanding our navy with more ships, even if it means buying less capable ships. (# I thought it’s the assets we put on the ship that counts, not the ship itself)

  14. … “the fulcrums has plenty of flying hours left. It is grounded as the overhauls are due, not because its flying hours are exhausted.”

    Problem is those flying hours are expensive to get out of the platform. The air force would like to retire the Fulcrums and use the budget for other things, but it can’t until we have the MRCA in service.

    SSO: Steyr AUG

    Referring to your magazines being brittle. AUG polymer mags are tougher than M-16 aluminum mags. If they crack, it’s less due to exposure and more to age and dropping on hard surfaces.

    We have issues with our M-16 mags too. Problem is we don’t recognise that magazines are consumable items that should be replaced when damaged. Someone once commented here that we responded by serializing and matching magazines to weapons, which shows how little we understand the problem.

    The AUG does have an overall plastic feel to the weapon. The plastic over most of the body does feel thin, hollow and cracks around corners, such as around the safety. I suspect local quality control is at fault, but then I’ve never seen a foreign AUG.

    I can’t say it’s heavy, most rifles of the same barrel length weigh the same. Likewise fogging of the optics is a universal problem. You can have anti fogging coatings but these wear off.

    Reply
    The foreign AUG I handled still feel plasticky though the colours did not fade. I had too little time with them to check for other wear and tear issues thoough

  15. Marhalim “The foreign AUG I handled still feel plasticky though the colours did not fade. I had too little time with them to check for other wear and tear issues thoough”

    The plastic is supposed to be soft and to feel hollow since it covers so much of the weapon. But it’s not supposed to crack. It could be quality or the soldier not assembling it properly.

    Reply
    The best way to identify Austrian made AUG and SME ones is still the color, the foreign ones dont fade.

  16. Taib,

    They were certainly not “ceremonial”. The requirement was for for a regiment’, hence 48. Sure one can make the argument that 48 wasn’t enough but that was the requirement at that time and we had other areas to address. Those 48 hulls gave us the needed MBT experience. Also, what constitutes “enough” and in relation to what? Does our threat environment call for a large MBT fleet at the expense of other areas? If we had a large MBT fleet, would we have the IFVs, arty, engineering assets and other stuff needed to operate alongside this large MBT fleet? MBTs, like everything else, doing operate in a vacuum.

    On ships, what is your definition of a “less capable ship”? Yes what goes inside the hull is what counts but if the RMN fitted out its ships the way it would like to; those ships will not be “less capable ships”. We can have a hull made of high grade steel and with stringent DC standards and shock/noise reduction but if it’s not fully fitted out or has entry level radars and other systems; it’s still a “less capable ship”.

  17. @ taib

    I’m from the perspective of having a leaner navy but with better armed ships, with the patrol ships (cost effective ships as per the current OPV and NGPC) under a bigger better equipped APMM.

  18. Zainal,

    You’re staying the obvious – the Formidables have longer range sensors and missiles; of course they’re more capable! Also, the Formudables perform slightly different roles compared to the LCS …

    As for the main gun; whether 57mm is better than 76mm is academic. The main- in our context – role is AA and both can do the job – an aerial target is just as vulnerable to a 57mm shell as it is to a 76mm one, both anyhow will not be employing rounds with contact fuzes so the calibre is irrelevant. Firing on surface targets is a secondary role, depending on where it hits and the type of ammo used, a 76mm round won’t necessarily cause more damage than a 57mm one …… In fact, the 57mm one might have better penetrating ability. Unless we seriously want to get into the NGFS role there is no point in going for a 127mm mount.

    The displacement of our ships depends not just on finances but on actual requirements. Given that we operate mostly in or near home waters and that we don’t foresee getting involved in a high intensity war; we don’t need “large” ships. Sure, a larger ship offers advantages, it can carry more stuff, there is more internal and deck space for upgrades and it has better range and endurance but won’t be practical for our needs. Who wouldn’t want a 7,000 tonne hull with a long range radar, a 36 VLS cell, 16 SSMs and hanger space for 2 helos?

  19. The “cheap” cost of the MKM is one thing but looking at things objectively in totality and not in isolation; they’re other factors to consider when determining whether it was a good buy and was worth it. We faced delays in the programme, we got a platform that was more maintenance intensive than the F-18s and one that was not cheap to operate on account of the MTBF of the engine and other systems. In short, the MKM is a good platform but in our context it didn’t fully meet our requirements and brought along its share of issues.

    At the end of the day, like other equipment the MKM was not selected because it suited our requirements or was the most cost effective but because of political reasons. We custom made our own variant, got a limited number of airframes and we paid the penalty. One tends to get what ones pays for. Sure a Weatern type would have cost more but we would have avoided the need for costly and time consuming integration/certifications issues and we would have got a full fledged MRCA. The MKM – as capable as it is – is great for high to medium altitude intercepts and precision strike but it doesn’t excel at lower altitudes. In the long term, a more expensive to buy Western type would have been a more practical and cost effective solution.

  20. For the navy.

    The current LCS SGPV in the form of the Gowinds is a good fit for TLDM. A batch 2 would be great, probably with a more potent SAM and radar.

    I would like to see additional subs around 2025-2030, not after 2030. a total fleet of at least 6 subs would be great.

    Have a few (9-12) really potent and heavily armed LMS for real littoral warfare capability.

    Around 12-15 LMS-B with the capability of MCM, minelaying, distributed lethality (containerized missile systems), hydro survey, logistics, HADR and normal patrols. LMS-B to commercial standards.

    MRSS? strengthen indo-malaysia relations and just get the off the shelf PT PAL SSV design. Cheap (less than the chinese LMS) and proven design.

    No need for more Kedah class. Pass all Kedah class to APMM when Gowind batch 2 is available.

    Just make sure Pelan Perancangan Strategik Maritim Malaysia 2040 is realised. I calculated that a steady CAPEX of USD500 mil per Rancangan Malaysia is enough to achieve the targets of PPSMM 2040, which is to have 20 large OPV and 96 medium PC by then.

  21. @Azlan
    About the MKMs. I would disagree that it didn’t suit our requirement. My opinion is that it did, and the only reason why it did was because we shoehorn all those Western avionics, systems, pods. My take is, the RMAF would want a Western plane with all those gear (after their experience on the Migs) but the Government then were looking at Russia. So a compromise was reached by combining both into one platform: SU-30MKM. Basically a poor man’s Western plane, but it fulfills it role. The rest of your statement, I fully agree.

  22. Joe,

    The requirement was for a MRCA. The MKM is not really a MRCA in the truest sense of the word. Yes like the F-15 it started life as a high altitude interceptor but unlike the F-15 can it’s airframe take the stress tolerances encountered during low level flights? Does the Bars have a terrain avoidance mode? I mentioned this a couple of years ago but what I said was disputed.

    It required expensive and time consuming modifications to suit the RMAF’s operational requirements – the price to pay for buying Russian. It had a lower servicibity rate compared to the Hornets and was not cost effective to support – in relation to other types. All this was the penalty incurred to buy something based on political considerations. How exactly did it meet our requirements? If one argues that the MKM has a range advantage virtue of its large fuel tanks, I can point out that depending on the load out, the MKM doesn’t always fly with full tanks and for operations in the SCS it operates from Labuan. I can also point out the MKM has a RCS the size of a barn door.

    Countries like Vietnam and Indonesia actually got their money’s worth as they performed as little modifications as possible; doing away with the cash needed for integration and certification. I’m not saying that the MKM is a sub standard platform; merely that it was the wrong choice made by politicians. As always the end user ended up paying the price.

  23. Taib “I have this distaste for armed forces bluebloods that thrives only on Western equipment.”

    joe “SU-30MKM – with all the Western avionics & system, its basically a Western plane in a Russki body but w/o the durability of a Western plane. So why not just buy a Western plane? Same goes with Pendekar.”

    Western designs cost more for a reason. Russian designs are intended for a different market from western equipment, namely those willing to pay less. Future Russian equipment will be intended for these markets which is why they will continue to have certain limitations.

    In return for lower prices, the customer has to accept trade offs in durability, support, performance and so on. Because if it performed as well and came with fewer political conditions to boot, it would be higher priced.

    We’ve captured some of the MKM’s characteristics but there are others we haven’t covered. For example, the Su-30’s avionics take a long time to start up compared to western fighters. For all its maneuverability it is a large and heavy aircraft meaning it trades off sustained turn rates and RCS.

    A western type would have cost more up front compared to the MKM and would have less in terms of range and payload than the MKM. In fact, none of our current MRCA candidates have as much range and payload. But if we don’t need these, then a Typhoon, Rafale or Super Hornet could do the job just as well as say an F-15E.

    The question is whether we really had a requirement for the MKM’s strengths and had to westernise it for ourselves, or whether we got it for reasons that had less to do with performance. This isn’t the only reason, but would France or the US have sweetened the deal by helping us put a man in space?

  24. @ azlan

    “Countries like Vietnam and Indonesia actually got their money’s worth as they performed as little modifications as possible; doing away with the cash needed for integration and certification”

    Even with all the modifications and the flight testing required for them, the 1st MKM was delivered within 4 years of contract signing and all 18 aircraft 2 years after that. I dont think there is any delay with the MKM programme. We got the 2nd most advanced fighter in SEA to date (after the F-15SE, which was the answer for the MKM, not our MiGs) for Gripen C/D money. And how much would it cost for a paltry 8 typhoon or rafales? If you lament the small quantity of 18 MKM for USD900 million as expensive, what about the CAPEX cost of similar number of typhoons or rafales? And OPEX for typhoons and rafales are close to the MKM numbers too.

    The point is, even if we take into account all the CAPEX and OPEX we spent in the past 10 years on the MKM, can we get a similar capability (operational independence, long range radar, IRST, eastern+western weapons, advanced DRFM jammers, advanced MAWS system, thrust vectoring engines) with that amount of money with any western platforms?

  25. I doubt the MKM was for the MRCA requirement. Do recall that this requirement only came up after delivery of the MKMs (hence the competition between Typhoon & Rafale). I don’t know what the MKMs were for, but I would hazard a guess might be primarily air superiority & SEAD over SCS and Northern region, with secondary ground attack via guided weapons. The numerous hardpoints, GBU drop capability and Damocles pod is evidence of this requirement. For low level missions, the MKMs might be tasked for overwatch on the Hawks.

    Yes, it wasn’t ideal but unlike the Migs which we bought off-the-assembly-line and then tried to get it working to our needs, the amount of customisation on the MKMs points to a system carefully selected for our operations which is then shoehorned into a Russki plane. Its expensive compared to a pure Russki plane but cheaper than a Western equivalent. Still I prefer they went for F-15s instead, but then the wingroot problem would be a massive political albatross.

  26. Other things that can be done:

    Brazil. Advanced defence manufacturing capability (aircrafts, land systems, naval ships and submarines) yet not ashamed of getting good used systems, some for free.
    http://www.janes.com/article/80229/us-to-grant-new-hardware-to-brazil

    Commercial off the shelf equipments (COTS). Why not just use things like civilian dual cab trucks, hobby drones, ruggedised laptops, commercial offshore helicopters and oil and gas ships?

    Military off the shelf equipments (MOTS). Leverage large volume products for our small volume needs. Do in-country manufacturing for big volume/big budget items only, or something that can be done cheaper than existing MOTS. Things like special forces vehicles or MRAP should just buy MOTS.

  27. Our experience with 2nd hand have been a mixed bag to say the least. Remember PERISTA and the A4 scandal? But 2nd hand use for certain equipment is doable, though it must be from a platform that’s mechanically reliable, easy to maintain and not cause injuries or deaths if it fails. The M109 contract is a testament to that, in my opinion. 2nd hand Leopards would be nice too. BTW Brazil’s buy of 2nd hand arty is doable because they have the capability to manufacture the barrels, and we don’t. Otherwise, we would just be paying for their carriages.

    COTS i believe is an ongoing practice by MAF for non-combat critical assets. Our prime movers are Isuzu/Hicom & Volvo trucks.

    MOTS is a game of chance. Other countries requirements that’s on the production line may not suit our needs, or perhaps too overspec (resulting in us overpaying for something we can’t use or don’t need). Unless its something common and easily readapted for our needs, of course.

  28. With 7b of the 2017 budget cuts being used for 1MDB and expected further expenditure consolidation in coming years, IMHO RMN should just remain with the 6 LCS (for main 3D combatant), 6 NGPV for non-combat patrol and 2 submarines for strategic sub-surface warfare for the next 10 years. The ordered LMS just passed it to APMM. Later once the Kasturi expecetd to be retired by 2021-2024 and Lekiu’s by 2030 onwards, savings from the 4 ships to be used for additional subs.

  29. @ joe

    Regarding the second hand equipments. That is why i stress that – make sure the operational budget is enough in the 1st place.

    What happened during PERISTA was we bought more than we can afford to operate. Our southern neighbour bought used skyhawks, hercules, KC-135 tankers, f-5e tigers with no major issues.

    MOTS is better for low volume buys, rather than build something that we need just a handful. Just look at the lipanbara for example, plenty of MOTS items that could be bought instead.

  30. @ joe

    Regarding the second hand equipments. That is why i stress that – make sure the operational budget is enough in the 1st place.

    What happened during PERISTA was we bought more than we can afford to operate. Our southern neighbour bought used skyhawks, hercules, KC-135 tankers, f-5e tigers with no major issues.

    MOTS is better for low volume buys, rather than build something that we need just a handful. Just look at the lipanbara for example, plenty of MOTS items that could be bought instead.

  31. … “Our southern neighbour bought used skyhawks, hercules, KC-135 tankers, f-5e tigers with no major issues.”

    Their Skyhawks were worn out and had major issues that were only fixed by a deep upgrade and re-engining.The other types were operated safely, but we need to know the cost of keeping them in service.

    Also note that they chose simple, low cost platforms- the C-130, A-4 and F-5 were designed to be affordable and easily maintained. Fighters today are much more complex and if we went for a second hand type, we can expect to have issues. Going second hand for simpler equipment, such as ground vehicles would be much less risky.

  32. Not just we bought more than afford, the refurbishment wasn’t done well, the regular maintenance wasn’t done well, the training and mission profile wasn’t suitable. Carrier planes are hard-worn and those we bought were at the last legs of their life yet we took them in and risked using them. IINM, our southern neighbour constantly re-life those used fleets and operate them sparingly. They know how to take care of their antiques unlike us, and that’s why I said that 2nd hand is a mixed bag for us, and if it fails it better be on level ground.

  33. AM,

    Interesting to see what’s been done with the Su-35. It has no canards and the air brake is located elsewhere. Apparently the engine and other components
    have a much higher MTBF/TBO.

    I think the Su-30 is a great aircraft but that people have put it in a pedestal. Local magazines in the past called it the “most sophisticated”, “most capable”, etc, which it isn’t. Water under the bridge but the MKM was something we could have done without. Sure, it has thrust vector controls but in this day and age most engagements take place at BVR. Not all of the maneuvers performed at air shows have actual utility in an actual engagement and air craft at air shows fly with minimum fuel and no ordnance to keep weight levels down.

    Sure, it was cheap to buy but in the long term this came with certain unavoidable penalties. Strain was added on an air arm that was already facing issues in budgetary, human resource and other areas. We customed designed a variant unique to us, in small numbers when we could have avoided doing so. Objectively viewed, it wasn’t logical, nor was it a long term cost effective solution.

    We only have to ask : how does the MKM compare to the Hornet in terms of sevicibility and which is more maintenance intensive (requiring more work due every hour flown)?

  34. Replying to sdr Azlan’s take on my MBT comments: I don’t see MBTs playing a major role in our national defense, hence my comments on VT4 buys. We shouldn’t have bought those PT91s but purchase them we did. I do believe we made the right assessment in getting Gempitas. If there’s a ‘need’ for tracked fighting units, perhaps in should be in the form of light (medium) tanks. I see Indonesia getting Turkish help to develop medium tanks. Again, the Chinese led the way in medium tanks via their VT5s. I’d rather see development in that area than getting more MBTs. Then again, the top brass in green may just persuade YB Mat Sabu to go another way and perpetuate the existing rojak cycle on land, air and sea.😉

  35. Joe,

    To keep them further in service the RSAF’s A-4s underwent a comprehensive upgrade. A Board Of Inquiry recommended some changes to our A-4s including a new engine but the government didn’t want to spend more than what was needed to keep them flying. We certainly had issues with them but they were certainly not in the “last legs of their life”.

    All had plenty of hours left and all underwent thorough structural and other checks at Grumman before upgrading. The problems we had with them were not due to them being too old or being close to exceeding their flight hours. We bought pre owned before in the form of ex RAF trainers and ex RSAF Alo 3s; these served well. We had a less than happy experience with the Albatross but this was mainly to spares and high maintenance issues.

  36. Azlan,
    “We only have to ask : how does the MKM compare to the Hornet in terms of sevicibility and which is more maintenance intensive (requiring more work due every hour flown)?”
    From a layman point of view, last Merdeka flypast, out of the 18 SU-MKM only 4 did the flypast. On the other hand 5 out of the 8 Hornet were in the air. I could only conclude, they’re very careful with the “health” of our SU-MKM.

  37. Damage has been done. Reset is the answer.

    1. Keep continue LMS programme. These ships is needed and could be a backbone of RMN. Hold LCS programme for just 6 ships.

    2. Scrap 12 variants of gempita, just buil 4 variants only: apc, ifv, ambulance dan command.

    3. If russian is still willing just trade in those migs and mkm for SU-35 with little modifications if needed. It has much longer workhours (6000 hrs), with 200 hrs flying hours a year it will last for 30 years before upgrade needed).

    4. If getting 2nd hornet is failed, maybe looking for gripen/rafale is a good idea to replace hawks and f5. Buy in batches in small number, maybe a lease can be considered.

    5. Buy TA/FA 50 for light fighter and training.

  38. @Azlan
    There was a White Paper on the A4s back then. I can’t recall the details, but iinm it did refer to wing fatigue that caused some of the accidents and while SG A4s were re-engined, we stayed with the originals hence my oversimplification that our A4s were on their last legs. A structurally sound plane without an engine is just as useful as a rock, no?

  39. @Romeo.
    Agree with your points except the last. Am leery of TA/FA50. Aside from the American engine, it’s hardly better than the other trainers/ LIFT aircraft. In our case, any new trainer is welcome to replace the Aermacchis and Hawks.

  40. @ azlan

    “We had a less than happy experience with the Albatross but this was mainly to spares and high maintenance issues.”

    The albatross with its thirsty radial engines and salt water landings have a high cost per flight hour, it is mostly of the design.
    https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/article/lady-of-water-and-sky

    It is like a F-16 flying cost would be the same, no matter if it is expensive brand new or cheap used. Cheap used does not automatically mean cheap operating costs too.

    @ taib

    Hardly better than other trainers/lift? Yes if you are looking at purely a trainer aircraft. But does other LIFT aircraft capable of going supersonic (something useful for QRA scrambles) to be able to be used as an affordable peacetime air patroller to ensure the integrity of our airspace? Do you need a MiG to intercept an airliner when a FA-50 can do the same at a comparable performance but lower operating costs? And remember the TA-50 cost the same as a new hawk AJT, and the FA-50 only a few million more.

    @ joe

    There was no wing fatigue issues on the Skyhawk. It is mostly due to our maintenance. The skyhawks was left in the open under rain and sun for most of its operational life, and due to the 80s financial crisis some continued to be flown with INOP systems in the aircraft. They were flown hard, and there would be weekly ACM of the Skyhawks above southern Terengganu airspace, with the booming sound of the Wright J65 turbojet filling the sky and rattling the windows of kampung houses. Compared to the Hawks it was like whisper quiet.

  41. @ Romeo

    1. Keep continue LMS programme. These ships is needed and could be a backbone of RMN. Hold LCS programme for just 6 ships.
    A: Why do you want a small slow expensive boat with 30mm guns to be the TLDM’s backbone? The LMS does not worth USD68 million each!

    2. Scrap 12 variants of gempita, just buil 4 variants only: apc, ifv, ambulance dan command.
    A: Scrap is easy. What do you plan to replace the capability (esp the recce and 30mm ATGM variants) with? IMO if to scrap the recce Vintaqs (to move to a smaller more agile IFV), ambulance (MRAP/ condor variants), recovery (armoured wrecker trucks would be better for this role)

    3. If russian is still willing just trade in those migs and mkm for SU-35 with little modifications if needed. It has much longer workhours (6000 hrs), with 200 hrs flying hours a year it will last for 30 years before upgrade needed).
    A: No way there would be a publicly announced deal with russia until the MH17 issue is resolved. That is why the India route is still the best if you want the SU-30 (of course with discreet russian approval)

    4. If getting 2nd hornet is failed, maybe looking for gripen/rafale is a good idea to replace hawks and f5. Buy in batches in small number, maybe a lease can be considered.
    A: Rafale?? we dont have money for that. Gripen?? that cost the same as MKM!!

    5. Buy TA/FA 50 for light fighter and training.
    A: The FA-50 ican perform 70-80% of gripen C performance at 50% of the cost, so in a way it could perform tasks undertaken by the F-5/Hawk 200/MiG-29 in TUDM. Cutting operational costs and increasing operational availability.

  42. Right now buying shiny things that is not too useful in protecting our borders in peacetime should not be the main priority, hence things like MBT and MRCA would be at the back of the list.

    IMO the priority for now

    1. Real time surveillance capability
    – maritime and air radars
    – UAVs
    – MPA/ISR
    – AEW&C

    2. patrolling the EEZ
    – NGPC
    – OPV

    3. ASW warfare. Tracking foreign subs in EEZ
    – Gowinds
    – ASW helicopters
    – Scorpenes

    4. ESSCOM
    – fully armed LMS
    – new CB90s
    – fast interceptor boats (APMM perantas)

    5. Land Border
    – individual soldier equipments
    – micro UAVs
    – C2
    – Network systems

    6. Airspace
    – 24H QRA with supersonic fighters of low operational cost (LCA)

    7. EW / Cyber

  43. @…

    A: Why do you want a small slow expensive boat with 30mm guns to be the TLDM’s backbone? The LMS does not worth USD68 million each!
    Agree with price but the platform is good enough. A 70m ship platform with helicopter deck can be modified from patrol ship to FAC or small corvette. This kind of ship should be the biggest number in RMN fleet. Speed and weapon system can be differ depend on the role.

    A: Scrap is easy. What do you plan to replace the capability (esp the recce and 30mm ATGM variants) with? IMO if to scrap the recce Vintaqs (to move to a smaller more agile IFV), ambulance (MRAP/ condor variants), recovery (armoured wrecker trucks would be better for this role)
    Gempita and other vehicle is not substitution but rather complementary. You can have 2 types of ambulance. Btw, Gempita is not suitable for recon/recce it is just too big. My point is just reconsidered to build 12 variants of gempita, too many and too costly. 4 variants of gempita should be sufficient.

    A: No way there would be a publicly announced deal with russia until the MH17 issue is resolved. That is why the India route is still the best if you want the SU-30 (of course with discreet russian approval)
    India has its own problems. The indian only has 40 plane left until their license is expired and SU 30 is not the platform that I was recommend.
    Not being insensitive about MH17 but there is MH370 too, but national interest come first. I do believe the russian has no point on starting problem with MY.

    A: Rafale?? we dont have money for that. Gripen?? that cost the same as MKM!!
    That’s why I recommend buying in batches in small number or lease. Gripen is 1st on my list. 2 types of 2 engine fighter will not help the budget. RMAF can have an AEW too in the package.

    A: The FA-50 ican perform 70-80% of gripen C performance at 50% of the cost, so in a way it could perform tasks undertaken by the F-5/Hawk 200/MiG-29 in TUDM. Cutting operational costs and increasing operational availability.
    TA/FA 50 initially was design for training. It only has 1,5 mach of speed, not enough to perform as interceptor or air supriority role. It can not replace migs role. It has limited capability as a fighter.

    Btw, I hope current gov can speed up buying a capable UAV. MPA and MRSS should be on priority. Just modified those CN235 to MPA version no need to have ASW capability. I dont care if makassar class variant is taken. It is cheap and reliable. If it can serve TNI and PN then it is good enough for RMN. The important thing is save the budget.

  44. I see the enthusiasm in support of any future FA50 purchase. But there is an alternative in the form of tge Leonardo M346 AJT or in its latest morph, as the M346FA. Our southern neighbour Spore is using M346 for some time minus complains. It is twin engined (a plus) using Honeywell F124turbofans and does offer Mach 1.1 transonic speeds with 7 hardpoints. It’s just a thought

  45. We can all agree that we should get an LCA type because we will never have enough MRCAs. In an ideal situation, we would work on an LCA first because it is cheaper, therefore easier to get funding for and simpler for the air force to get into operation.

    But before we talk about which LCA to buy, note that we’ve covered before that getting an LCA or even upgrading an existing type will lessen the chance of getting the MRCA funded.

    edliew: “From a layman point of view, last Merdeka flypast, out of the 18 SU-MKM only 4 did the flypast. On the other hand 5 out of the 8 Hornet were in the air. I could only conclude, they’re very careful with the “health” of our SU-MKM.”

    That’s rather simplistic. We could do a one-off “surge” and fly all our fighters on Merdeka Day. Of course, that would leave us defenceless because we would have no aircraft available for alert duty at that time and for some time after. We are more concerned with sustained availability rates over time, the cost of such maintenance and how quickly we can get parts shipped among other things.

  46. I agree with …’s list above, immediate priority should be ISR on land, sea and air. No point having shiny aircraft and tanks if you cannot see the enemy coming. I would also like to add advanced Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) to point 6. It would add another layer of air defence for relatively smaller cost (compared to MRCA) and will complement an LCA like a fa-50/m346/hawk, especially in a networked environment.

  47. … ,

    Ah yes, the F-5E, if Northrop still build them, people would still buy them. Such short sighted move by Northrop not to implement some parts such as the canopy and radar from the F-20 into the F-5E.

  48. @ taib

    Yes the M346 is a good aircraft on its own, but remember its flying kinematics does not meet the specs for USAF’s new jet trainer requirements. FA-50 has a bigger nose cone area for a comparatively larger radar, common GE F404 engine with the Hornets which already have maintenance systems in place locally, a larger aircraft fleet (5 countries and counting) to leverage the logistics system.

    @ Romeo

    Agree with price but the platform is good enough. A 70m ship platform with helicopter deck can be modified from patrol ship to FAC or small corvette. This kind of ship should be the biggest number in RMN fleet. Speed and weapon system can be differ depend on the role.
    A: the LMS price will be USD68 million for not much of a ship. It has no helideck. How can speed differ by role? It is a slow ship by hull design and engine size. Rather than have that LMS they are having now, better use the budget to buy more OPVs for MMEA, as the DAMEN OPV, is cheaper and bigger than this LMS, and can perform tasks that is done now by the Kedah NGPVs. The costs is fine, but I really want a fast, well armed littoral ship (that is meant to be dominating the littorals, not play stand in for the OPVs in deep waters) for the USD68 million budget.

    India has its own problems. The indian only has 40 plane left until their license is expired and SU 30 is not the platform that I was recommend.
    Not being insensitive about MH17 but there is MH370 too, but national interest come first. I do believe the russian has no point on starting problem with MY.
    A: I am suggesting to buy some from the current IAF fleet, so it is a buy between India and Malaysia. BTW how would you tell the families of MH17 crew that you are directly buying a weapon from the same people that killed your loved ones?

    That’s why I recommend buying in batches in small number or lease. Gripen is 1st on my list. 2 types of 2 engine fighter will not help the budget. RMAF can have an AEW too in the package.
    A: Gripen does not offer any advantages for its price compared to MKM and Hornet other than Datalinks (which can be retrofitted to any fighters, and standard on FA-50 too). Want to have AEW? just get AEW, no need to buy something else in order to get them.

    TA/FA 50 initially was design for training. It only has 1,5 mach of speed, not enough to perform as interceptor or air supriority role. It can not replace migs role. It has limited capability as a fighter.
    A: It is adequate enough for peacetime air policing, making sure that our airspace is secure. Intercepting airliners, foreign aircraft approaching malaysian airspace without prior identification, air patrol on important events etc etc. We still have MKM and hornets for high end missions, but for day to day airspace defence, we need something that can be frequently and regularly flown at low cost but with a decent supersonic dash capability. Why get expensive MRCA but mostly the ground due to high operating costs during important situations (like MH370 or the recent Scoot Air bomb threat)?

    @ h1909

    GBADs is more of a want than a need in peacetime defence scenario. The needed capability for airspace defence is basically a 24 hour Quick Reaction Alert to intercept any flying objects in malaysian airspace. Early warning and affordable operating cost supersonic fighters is what we need.

    BTW this is just my opinion, that happens to be different from you guys. At the end of the day i understand we all want the best for our country

  49. Poland has re-ordered the M346 a testament to its design and ruggedness. Israel uses some of its 30?40? odd 346s as aggressors. Singapore uses them as pure trainers over France. Perhaps the Sporeans can share their experience on the aircraft before Msia commits to any buys. FA50s are good too, but I have some discomfort buying them. Maybe due to fact they are not pure American planes. Like buying Apple products nowadays. …made elsewhere

  50. @ taib

    But you are comfortable with a design italian cheated out of the russians, and with classified design flaws that has caused a few crashes now?

  51. @ joe

    PC-21 is a great plane. I like it. But it is additional variant that will add to the rojak and also additional step in the training flow (need to go to OCU to go to their 1st fighter assignment). And it is a pure trainer, not much a dual-use item (unlike TA-50, which could be easily upgraded to FA-50 standard by adding the missing additional hardware and softwares, for example thai t-50 are to full fa-50 spec except missing datalink).

    Additional hawks are a poor fit to replace the MiGs current QRA role. Q means quick, and hawks have the same speed the airliners it need to intercept. That means the MKMs and Hornets would be needed for QRA, and the high cost probably mean that there is not much QRA done as is currently.

    After 10-15 years, IMO the only realistic platform that could do LIFT, light combat and QRA would probably still be the TA/FA-50. Unlike MRCA, after 10-15 years there would be more choice in the form of FC-31, TF-X, KF-X, Su-57.

    @ kamal

    You answered your own question. IMO the best thing to do with the MiGs is to accept india’s request to buy them and probably swap with 4 MKIs?

    Reply
    There is no request by India to buy our MIGs. Najib was misinformed.

  52. @…
    Wouldn’t be too rojak as we already using PC 7s. And PC 21s do have hardpoints and software integrated for weapons delivery. Its the reason why the Swiss were willing to move on from their Hawks. The reason why I advocate it is because it fulfills its LIFT role well and at best cost. SG too have moved onto PC 21s as well. Dual purpose is just, as you so well describe, gold-plating it. Land attack options, we already have Hawks.

    And speaking of the Hawks, yes, its as fast as modern airliners but if the Hawk fleets were sufficiently placed around and the radar boys were doing their jobs, the Hawks will have ample time to scramble and reach them. The Quick also means fast response to be in the air. Moot point, but if the radar boys WEREN’T doing their jobs even the TA/FA 50s will unable to reach a rogue airliner in time. Besides, if the Hawks can’t catch it, certainly the AIMs will.

    Have India solved their engine teething problem in the MKIs?

  53. @ joe

    You wouldn’t want to shoot down unidentifed airliner before confirming visually and giving ample visual warning for the airliner to comply. Without supersonic dash capability, in 15min time to scramble, a rouge airliner probably left malaysian airspace, or heaven forbid, crashed into somewhere.

  54. @ marhalim

    If there is no request from india on the MiG-29N, why there is news about it in india, and even news from india for IAF men visiting Malaysia to look at the MiGs and even the mention of the status of malaysian MiG-29N health (its good maintenence, average fleet flight hours)? Had there is no info from india, we would have no idea of what the condition of the MiG-29N fleet is.

    Reply
    The report on the health of the MiGs were originally from Airod either from Lima 13 or Lima 15 on their proposed upgrade. Of course after this you will link me stories of such, anyhow.
    There was no inspection by the IAF on our MiGs. The so called inspection story came about after an Indian AF delegation visited Kuantan AB on a scheduled visit shortly after the so called Indian offer on the MiGs. Even I reported on the Bernama story quoting Najib on this. But that was the end of it. However if you’re inclined to believe other reports please do so I am not stopping you.

  55. Good point on 346 design flaws. It must have been ironed out considering Leonardo came out with the FA version last year.
    So it can’t be a bad fit considering the fact the Israelis are still flying them. Those IDF jockeys are admittedly the best in the Mid-East. Again, just a thought.

  56. @…
    Even with Mach 1 supersonic, the intended plane would be hard-pressed to make up a 15 minutes time lag, especially so if their limited numbers are based in far flung airbases.

    My idea of using the Hawks is, they can be more numerously based in all our airbases, hence they can reach the scene via interception course, faster than a Mach 1 plane from further away.

  57. @ joe

    More numerous? We have just 12 Hawk 208. Adding 10 ex oman birds that is just 22. Say spread to 4 airbases (butterworth, kuantan, kuching, labuan) that is just around 5 aircraft per airbase. Without supersonic dash capability you need 4 QRA teams. That is a massive undertaking. And of course you cannot have all aircraft on duty as they need maintenance. You need at least 4 aircraft per active QRA duty (2 flights of 2 fighters on rotation). That leaves just 6 for other duties or maintenance.

    The FA-50 has a supersonic dash speed of Mach 1.5, which is around 1,600km/h. An airbus a320 like airasia uses have a speed of around 800km/h. Hawks OTOH have a max speed of around 1000km/h (mach 0.85).

    Other things to note is the rate of climb (how fast it could go up to altitude) and service ceiling.

    The FA-50 has a max rate of climb of 198m/s. Bae Hawk? 47m/s. From a flight international test, the T-50 prototype can go from takeoff roll to 40,000 feet altitude (12km altitude) in just 5 minutes without using its afterburner. With afterburner at max rate of climb probably less than 1 and a half minutes. 40,000 feet is the usual airliner operating altitude. Bae hawk service ceilling is 44,000 feet while the FA-50 48,000 feet.

    My plan is to get 24 FA-50 and 16 TA-50. The FA-50 (plus some TA-50) in 2 squadrons each in kuantan and labuan. 1 training squadron with 12 TA-50 in kuantan. So normal peacetime QRA would be done from this 2 bases. As there is just 2 QRA teams there is just 8 aircraft on active QRA duty at one time from the fleet of 24 FA-50. Of course if there is any escalations, the MKM and Hornets can be put in the air more often. But other times, the FA-50 would be the airframe that is flown regularly.

  58. @…
    We have 19 Hawks (including the 2 seaters) and if plus the 15 Omani 103&203s we can get up to 34 planes. Converting all of them into QRA role and disperse them into all the airbases, and we will have 8~9 units per airbase. If rotated between Standby, Training, Maintenance, Rotation, we will always have 2 ready for QRA per airbase.

    In terms of cost efficiency (if the new Menhan only looks at dollars & cents), then my idea is a more workable (read: cheaper yet viable) solution compared to getting 40 new planes, with all the new training, maintenance, etc required. I’m not saying its a bad idea. It really is a good long term solution, but we must look at the political realities of today.

    And even then, realistically, I think even this cheaper idea might be a stretch to the new Government pocketstrings.

  59. edliew – ”On the other hand 5 out of the 8 Hornet were in the air. I could only conclude, they’re very careful with the “health” of our SU-MKM.

    No. You’re making assumptions. Maybe some MKMs were undergoing squadron level maintenance or were on QRA.Who knows? Just because they were less MKMs than Hornets doesn’t mean anything.

    joe – ”we stayed with the originals hence my oversimplification that our A4s were on their last legs. A structurally sound plane without an engine is just as useful as a rock, no?”

    No they were not on their ”last legs”. A Board of Inquiry recommended new engines but this didn’t happen. If we had bought air frames that were short of hours then yes by every definition they would have been on their ” their last legs” but this was not the case.

    Taib – ” I don’t see MBTs playing a major role in our national defense, hence my comments on VT4 buys. ”

    If one desires a combined arms unit; one that can maneuver and deliver firepower and mobility; then having MBTs is a must.

    Taib – ”Again, the Chinese led the way in medium tanks via their VT5s.”

    Just like how a IFV armed with a 105mm or 120mm gun can never take the place of a full fledged MBT; a medium or light tank can never take the place of a full fledged MBT when it comes to mobility, protection and firepower. Most armies tend to go for light/medium tanks for the simple reason that they see themselves operating in certain areas where the road network requires something smaller and with a lighter logistical footprint and something easily deployable by air.

    Joe – ”I doubt the MKM was for the MRCA requirement. Do recall that this requirement only came up after delivery of the MKMs (hence the competition between Typhoon & Rafale).”

    Of course it was. The requirement during that period was always for a MRCA.

    Joe – ”but cheaper than a Western equivalent.”

    Cheaper to buy but in the long run after taking into account operating/support costs?

    … – ”I dont think there is any delay with the MKM programme.”

    There were. To be expected when the OEM has to cooperate with various vendors/supplies to ensure everything fully meets contractual obligations by being fully certified and integrated.

    … – ”can we get a similar capability (operational independence, long range radar, IRST, eastern+western weapons, advanced DRFM jammers, advanced MAWS system, thrust vectoring engines) with that amount of money with any western platforms?”

    Water under the bridge but if we had got Super Hornets Block 2 [which was offered to replace the Block 1s originally offered] would they not have provided the same capability? Sure Super Hornets wouldn’t have had the same range and endurance [to be expected] but zero integration would have been required and the level of support we would have got via FMS [itself not perfect] would have been better than what we experienced with the Russians.

    Also, thrust vectoring has been cited as a big reason why the Su-30 is ”potent” but most engagements now tend to be a BVR and even at WVR how much utility would thrust vectors have in most situations? As for ”eastern+western weapons” sure the Americans didn’t [and still don’t] have supersonic ASMs and anti radiation missiles but Harpoon and HARM would have suited our requirements just like how AMRAAM [with a proven track record] would have delivered the same capability as the R-77. As for the internal jammer offered with the Super Hornet; we can’t with any certainty say it’s inferior or for that matter, even superior compared to what went on the MKM.

  60. Azlan “No. You’re making assumptions. Maybe some MKMs were undergoing squadron level maintenance or were on QRA.Who knows? Just because they were less MKMs than Hornets doesn’t mean anything”
    Yes, I was making assumption and no, I was told they’re hoping to get 6 MKM when I was in Trengganu two day before the fly past. Just a bit disappointed then.
    Any how, I can say, a layman point of view again, they are very serious on the good “health” of the MKM 8)

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