Light At The End Of ….

The front end of the Leonardo ATR 72MP of the Italian Air Force displayed at LIMA 17. Note the various antennas and sensors.

SHAH ALAM: Light At The End Of…Despite the doom and gloom it appears that the government is willing to fund the military’s wish list though it remains unclear what will actually be green lighted. Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu says the government will not cut budget allocation to the military. The New Straits Times in a June 30 report says the military will be spared budget cuts despite revisions to the country mega infrastructure projects.

The story is not available online currently though the Defence Ministry has put up a screenshot of the interview on its social media pages.

The NST report.

Once its available online I will include it in the post. Anyhow from the article we know that the Defence Ministry is talking with the Treasury for the 2019 budget allocation. However it is interesting note that the article only mentioned RMAF programs namely the MPA, LCA and MRCA.

Two RSAF Eurofighter Typhoon flies in formation. BAE Systems

Mat Sabu says that the government priority was the MPA project which are among the programs put on hold pending a review of the country’s finances.

Leonardo ATR 72 MP. Leonardo

As the MPA is already a program record, it could be restarted quickly. Perhaps once the ministry is assured of funding for the project it will be prudent to allow the RMAF to issue RFI or RFP as soon as possible without waiting for the budget to be announced. This will allow the decision to award the tender for the project within the next 12 months. This is of course dependent on the government allowing manufacturers to bid directly for the program instead of the old practise of having it tendered to local companies only.

Three U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 sit ready at Perth Airport in Australia April 8, 2014, to conduct search missions in support of the international effort to locate Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. VP-16 was deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy ships and aircraft were dispatched to assist a multinational search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people aboard. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney/Released)

Mat Sabu is also agreable with the RMAF plan to push ahead with the purchase of the LCA ahead of the MRCA. Unlike the MPA, the LCA is yet to be a program of record so it must clear the hurdles at the ministry and Treasury before funds could be allocated.

A photo on RTAF FB page celebrating the delivery of the two T-50THs on Jan. 25.

However with the MRCA supposedly being funded within seven years time, RMAF plans to have six LCA a year (three squadrons in total of 36 aircraft) before the introduction of the new fighters and the retirement of the MB-339CM (ASAP) and Hawks (by 2025) are looking good. That said it will just a pipe dream until the money is budgeted for it.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Sg defend minister confirm and annunce major buy by Sg. If u look at this is for long renge and help empower FPDA and Asean.

    1) f35 annucemen in nxt few mths. Sg will buy up to 100 F35 in batch order as inform by f35 program ofis.

    2) 155mm 52 cal Fh2000 howitzer to replace by AGMS – automated gun mobile sistem.

    3) ongoing production of ngafv to replace older apc and ifv. Two version known one is light tank 105/120mm version other one is 30mm cannon troop carrier.

    4) endurance class ships be replace by JMMS lhd. Two version seen so far..endurance 160 which is 170 plus metres long..other is endurance 170 which us 180 plus metres long and tonnage larger than South Korea Dokdo.

    5) Victory class to replace by new Multi Role Combat Vessel. It will base inside the ship RHIB, USV, UUV, UAV/UCAv and helicopter apart from new anti surface misel and Aster. It highly confugurable and can be anti ship, fleet air defend wit ard 32 to 48 vls asters, anti sub and humanitarian.Likely base on >120m ST Marine Sovereign class friget hull. Read up on German MKS 180 frigate.

    6) Type 218SG sub to replace both Archer and Challenger. Likely 2 more to be buy soon.

    7) extensif use of robots wit soldiers.

    8) i hawk being replaced with 120km renge Aster 30.

    Sg defend bajet will likely burst USD 12 billion ard 2020 to 2022

  2. Sounds like good news, but lets pray it will turn out well.

    However, purchasing 6 LCAs a year, will we still have funding for MRCAs then in 7 years?

    I prefer if we can delay further the MRCA need until there’s better options available like KFX, JC31, JFX(maybe), even Su57.

  3. @ joe

    That 7 years is the deferment of the MRCA program. 7 more years means not now.

    New LCA now will mean no need for new LCA in 7 years time.

  4. My comments on the NST report.

    NST : He said RMAF was formulating a transformation plan known as Capability Development 2055 (CAP55), which included new procurement, enhancements and upgrading of RMAF assets

    Ans : I really want to see the whole CAP55 plan. 2055 is 37 years from now, I can’t even think of what kind of tech available post 2040, what more 2055.

    NST : “The issues of affordability and sustainability remain the primary considerations in this development plan.”

    Ans : Finally no more living in day dream cookoo land. As of now we cannot afford those expensive rafales and typhoons. So next best thing we can persue affordable stuff like the MPA and LCA.

    NST : He said CAP55 was focused on eliminating issues, such as having excessive variants and types of air assets in small quantities, system obsolescence, escalation of maintenance costs due to ageing platform and providing sufficient air power assets to respond to national needs.

    Ans : Exactly what I have been saying here in

    NST : “Based on the CAP55 planning, RMAF is looking to replace its MiG29Ns, Hawks and MB339CMs with light combat aircraft (LCA), which provide capabilities relative to that of a MRCA but at a lower cost so that it would be possible to acquire and maintain a large number of the platforms with similar operating expenditures.”

    “The LCA will be able to conduct lead-in-fighter training but satisfy the spectrum of operational combat duties expected of RMAF.

    “This allows cost savings on training duration, human resource planning and aircrew development, which can be channelled back for future asset upgrade.”

    Ans : exactly like what I proposed here before. A supersonic LCA can take up the QRA tasks that is currently shouldered by the MiG-29Ns. The LCA can do LIFT and perform operational tasks like QRA and CAS. The savings from getting the LCA now would mean able to concentrate on getting the MRCA later post 2030.

  5. @…
    What I meant is, if we were to spend for 6 LCAs a year for 6 years as above, will we have enough saved up for MRCA when it starts coming in Year 7?

    If we were to go thru with this plan, then better to defer MRCA buy for 10 years instead. The 3 extra years might help saved up more. Meantime, we can make do with the Kuwaiti F18s, if we can get them.

  6. From the same Today newspaper articel with the infographic Minister say the Formidable friget will undergo mid life upgred focus on increase anti submarine and anti air capabiliti…no other details sl far.

  7. @ joe

    I understand where you are coming from. But in defence procurement, something you want to have in 10 years time, must be decided and ordered at least 3-5 years prior.

    Even if we order the new MRCA in 2025, we would probably get them in 2030, and in that meantime of course we would stil need to use the Hornets. That is why singapore is deciding on F-16 replacement this year, not because their F-16 now is kaput, but to plan ahead and get its replacement on time circa 2030-2035 timeframe.

  8. An LCA is great. It puts the latest F16 into the equation. Its the most advanced LCA now. The other choices open would be the KAI Tn FA 50. Then there is the Leonardo345.
    Even though the Saab also fits the LCA bill its very expensive.
    Its very good to have the new LCA but then we must have very good ground radar to detect n control the fighters. If we have no budget for that then we can consider the global fish from SAAB which can do Maritime surveillance n airborne control too to plug any gaps in our radar coverage

  9. Actually the NGAFV is not a replacement for the M113 Ultra as it has been almost out of service for several years. It is currently only in use for beach landings, carried in by LCTs.

    There was no mention that RSAF/RSN are looking for a newer, longer range anti ship missile than the Harpoon. It’s possible this will come as the JSM on the F-35.

    It was also not mentioned but probable that the F-35 will operate from the JMMS.

    As for numbers, it is not likely that RSAF will operate more F-35s than F-16s (70+).

    Airlift wasn’t mentioned but the C-130s will have to be replaced eventually. There is the C-130J-30 but if the RSAF is moving in the direction of larger assets (which would allow fewer to be acquired), something like the A400M is possible.

  10. “The LCA will be able to conduct lead-in-fighter training but satisfy the spectrum of operational combat duties expected of RMAF.”

    Sounds good if the LCA solution is also intended to solve the LIFT problem. However, one would hope we can take the reporters at their word this time, as the term “LIFT” may have been misapplied.

    The second part of the sentence is also vague. Our Hawks currently perform “operational combat duties” and if the intention is an aircraft capable of similar duties, candidates could include new Hawks, L-39/L159 and so on. As much as we would like to think so, it is not at all clear that the aircraft must be supersonic.

  11. @ lee

    The F-16 is probably not in the equation for the LCA. It is too expensive to be used as a pure LIFT platform. The LCA is to be a low cost supersonic capable single engined light fighter that could undertake LIFT training duties and operational taskings. And realistically there is like only 1 type that could fulfil those roles.

    BTW what is globalfish?

    I think its Swordfish, my mistake for not fixing it

  12. @…
    I fully agree with you, we should plan much earlier before the buy in dateline. But if instead of making a decision in these 2 years, where the options are Super Hornet, Rafale, Typhoon, Gripen- perhaps a decision at a later date, say, 5 years from now we might able to consider KFX, FC31, JFX, F35, for purchase and delivery in 2028.

  13. @AM

    I hear they want long renge “network” misel to replace harpoon. This allow rsn to full make use of SAF network web of sensors in air and and land to defeat countermesures and jamming and misel can fly almost nose cold. So it wont be NSM and JSM as not network. 3 are network western misel LRASM, Harpoon II+ ER (>300km renge) and if not wrg Isreal also got a new supersonic anti shp misel. I hear we dun have to wait long to hear news of the new misel.

  14. Note both Harpoon II+ ER and LRASM use same canister and same above deck ship space as the now harpoon misel and dun require much software and hardware cost savings and very impt in SG decision. likely aussie going for lrasm.

  15. @ Tomahawk

    I’m not really sure, but isn’t the NSM by kongsberg/raytheon that has been recently selected by US Navy as its new Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS) instead of the LRASM?

  16. Scrap the Mig, hawk, and macchi and buy gripen instead. Gripen can play the role of entry level fighter-trainer as well as MRCA. If we buy at large batch we wouldn’t have to sweat over MRO cost in the future. We would gain access to western made munition. Plus Saab ready to offer TOT on sensitive tech (namely IRST, radar and jammer) to their buyer. These systems, if we would be able to learn, can be applied on other land and naval platform as well.

  17. Harpoon Block II+ ER is still in development but it will offer a cost effective upgrade path for us when available.

    I’ve said before that maintaining a stronger anti ship capability through the MRCA (or even the LCA) can go some way to offset what we lack in naval surface units. Not to mention that MRCAs are versatile and air cover improves the chances of our surface units surviving.

  18. …: For now the NSM will equip the LCS and the coming frigates, and Maritime Strike Tomahawks will equip VLS ships ie CGs and DDGs.

    LRASM is still some time away and obviously will be the higher end weapon equipping CGs, DDGs and the future FFGs. Since the LCS don’t have VLS, barring a refit they will make do with NSM.

  19. @ Am

    Harpoon blk II+ ER was bought by Finland this year. Renge is 168Nm or abt 311km. And will be fielded by US.

    Ter r 2 contest. For OTH-WS contest for LCS friget both Boeing and Lockheed pull out becuz they say the additional sistem on board Harpoon blk II+ Er and lrasm removed from requiremen of contest so this making their misels more expensif then nsm.

    For Offensif Anti Surface warfare contest or OA-SUW to equip USN combat jet and destroyer and cruiser still going on. Competitor are lrasm, harpoon, tomahawk anti ship and jsm.

  20. @Am

    LCS can carry lrasm as lockheed has plans for surface luanch canister for those who dun use vls. Same as dimension as harpoon. Can google it. Certain US allys will consider it.but lcs us fokus on litoral so a longer renge misel may be overlap role of ddg and cg.

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