Holding Pattern

SHAH ALAM: Holding Pattern. It appears that every planned procurement programme under RMAF – and likely the other services as well – has been put off for the time being as the new Pakatan Harapan government seeks to stabilize and improved country’s financial position.

RMAF chief Gen Affendi Buang in a press conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the service, pretty much acknowledged that everything under consideration for the service had been placed on hold. This includes MRCA, MPA as well as the upgrades for the Hawks, Hercules and Nuri. The LCA rumoured to be part of a future buy will remained that way.

Nuri M23-29 flying over the Kota Belud air to ground firing range.

For the MPA, funding could be revived within the next few years, Affendi said. The previous government had approved the funding for the MPA in the 2018 budget with a seed allocation of RM10 million.

Apart from the freeze on new contracts, current operations are also under review with adjustments to be made based on funding availability.

Fulcrum M43-03 at its hangar at Kuantan airbase on June 1, 2016.

The fleet of Mig-29 Fulcrums remained under storage with no further development on its future. If the fighter jets are not upgraded, the RMAF will have to consider selling them to third parties.

RMAF Hawk and Sukhoi at Labuan airbase for Ek Paradise 2015.

Contracts that had been signed are continuing like the maintenance and upgrading of RMAF air defense and air traffic control radars signed with Zetro Services Sdn Bhd.

Hercules M30-08 landing at Labuan airport.

Freezing defence procurements were among the things we had expected when the new government said it had to deal with country’s RM1 trillion debt incurred by the previous administration. The cancellation of several infrastructure projects as well as the review of others was a signal for defence and national security sector, which had seen funding slashed whenever the economy goes south.

Two Hawk Mk 208s outside their dispersal shed. These are the two aircraft which took part in the firepower demonstration at Kota Belud air to ground firing range in 2017

So whats next for RMAF then? Based on the statements by the chief, the service has some options to turn to in due course. The first are the Kuwaiti Hornets, available from 2021 onwards as a cover for the MRCA programme. Additional Hawks from Oman (and others if the numbers from Oman are not enough) to cover the LIFT as well as adding more airframes for the 208 fleet.

A Nuri, CN235 and Hornet, among the aircraft that took part in Eks Paradise.

As for the MPA, the best option is to sign off the option to add surveillance equipment to the three CN-235s as with the contract with Indonesian Aerospace. I believed the above as well as upgrades to the Hercules will not cost more than RM1 billion a palatable solution to funding crunch for the within the next three years and subsequent RMK.

— Malaysian Defence

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