Looking Through Glass

Gempita AFV30 ATGW

SHAH ALAM: Looking through glass. If you are like me and everyone else, it is likely you are on social media, basically to keep up with things that interest you, though nowdays its more like what people want to get you to be interested in.

Anyhow within a month before the presentation of the 2018 budget, from the things posted on the social media channel of those in the Defence Ministry, one is likely to surmise that next year will not be the year of the MRCA.

The new camps being build for the armed forces.

The ministry this week – out of the blue – posted an infographic on the construction of new camps around the country. A hint of what we are getting perhaps? Anyhow, some of the camps mentioned in the infographic have already been publicised – the Hutan Melintang one has been inaugurated – but some are made public for the first time.

Soldiers from 11th RMR before conducting FIBUA training, They were training at abandoned quarters at Kem Penrissen, Sarawak.

Although these are funded under the succesive Malaysian plans, the actual allocation are made annually under the budget and it is likely it will be included during the presentation expected on Oct. 27. Despite the funding, it is also likely that these camps are also paid via the built and transfer method where the government grant the developer the rights to a piece of land which previously belonged to the military.

The 30mm MSI gun on Gagah Samudera.

It is not really an ideal situation as most of the military land are located in prime areas while the new ones are not. And what ever one might think of the British, the locations they chose for military camps were really ideal, one that could stand the test of time apart from the creeping urbanisation of course.

A drone picture of the recent Armed Forces Day parade participants.

Furthermore, the military will not get any long term residual funding from the redevelopment of the old land. And following the end of the warranty period, maintenance costs of these camps will have to come from the operational allocation, which tends to come under pressure every year.

A parade conducted for the Armed Forces Day at the 3 Kor Armor Rejiment at Sg. Petani. Note the the Mercedes wrecker on the far left.

To be clear, I have no problems with the idea of building new camps though it must be said these must also be accompanied with the modernisation of assets and capabilities. Camps are not build on a whim but usually part of an overall plan. However, if only parts of the plan are followed upon and the rest is deferred, it is likely that the shiny new installation will become a glorious white elephant.

Nuri 50th anniversary graphic.

Moreover, it is of no use for soldiers to live and stay in a new, modern camp when their “office” are an obsolete piece equipment that are way beyond its retirement date.

Damen Enforcer LPD 10000

On military social media network this week, there were also saw a lot of praise for the on-going RMN 15-to-5 transformation. I have no idea what is going on – just yet – but it is likely funding for new ships – MRSS? – is expected to be part of the 2018 budget.They cannot be praising for something already in the pipework – LCS and LMS – right?

* Pictures and graphichs are sourced from Armed Forces social media network.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1188 Articles
Shah Alam

20 Comments

  1. I don’t see the nuri as an obsolete piece of equipment. It is designed as a logistics enabler, and as a rotary wing, most of its life-limited parts can be swapped with new ones indefinately, unlike a fixed-wing airplane.

    There are more than a few other aircrafts that is going to serve more than 50 years, the B-52, the huey helicopters, F-16s, to name a few.

  2. On the topic of used legacy hornets…

    Latest news on canada. They have also looked at kuwaiti legacy hornets, but they are not availabe in the timeframe canada wants.

    — There are growing signs that the top option could be to buy used F/A-18s from Australia, which is getting rid of the fighter jets as it upgrades to the controversial F-35 stealth aircraft.

    Kuwait, too, plans to sell its own used F/A-18s after securing its own deal to buy Super Hornets. There had been speculation the aircraft, which are similar to Canada’s CF-18s, would be in good shape.

    But Kuwait won’t be ready to sell fast enough for Canada, Sajjan said, and the government is instead working closely with the Australians about possibly buying their jets.

    “We have looked at the capability of the Kuwaiti fighters,” Sajjan said.

    “The biggest thing is right now they are not currently available. But we still want to pursue every single option. As you know, we are pursuing this option with the Australians at this time.” —

  3. Even if a particular pierce of equipment is “obsolete” in every sense of the word; doesn’t mean it still can’t be used. The important thing is that it can still be supported, operated safely and meets operational needs.

    Take the Model 56s, we can argue that it has a limited range and is not robust (a main reason re Brits. Aussies and Kiwis retired theirs) but as long as the barrels haven’t worn out and spares are still available; they still can still be operated despite being aged and “obsolete”. Similarly, people like to suggest that the Nuri should be retired on account of age but the frames still have plenty of hours left and spares are not an issue.

  4. F-18s have flying over K.L and
    P. J. for the past few days. Anybody know why?

    Reply
    F1 flypast, they are based in Subang until Sunday.

  5. Btw any news on the 5th division orbat?

    Any battalions moved from the penisular to sabah, or new battalions raised?

    Reply
    At least one battalion from Semenanjung will move there

  6. “… says: September 29, 2017 at 8:54 am I don’t see the nuri as an obsolete piece of equipment. It is designed as a logistics enabler, and as a rotary wing, most of its life-limited parts can be swapped with new ones indefinately, unlike a fixed-wing airplane. There are more than a few other aircrafts that is going to serve more than 50 years, the B-52, the huey helicopters, F-16s, to name a few.”

    Err… No. Currently the US planned to phase out all F-15, F-16 and both Hornets as the maintenance cost is nearing the cost of buying new one. Huey is phased out before the millennium, and they made new B-52s. The old B-52s are stored at their boneyards.

    “Azlan says: September 29, 2017 at 12:54 pm Even if a particular pierce of equipment is “œobsolete” in every sense of the word; doesn’t mean it still can’t be used. The important thing is that it can still be supported, operated safely and meets operational needs. Take the Model 56s, we can argue that it has a limited range and is not robust (a main reason re Brits. Aussies and Kiwis retired theirs) but as long as the barrels haven’t worn out and spares are still available; they still can still be operated despite being aged and “obsolete”. Similarly, people like to suggest that the Nuri should be retired on account of age but the frames still have plenty of hours left and spares are not an issue.”

    Almost all operators of Sea Kings had retired theirs because the maintenance was too expensive and reaching the cost of procuring new helicopters. As for the frames, the Canadians faced the consequence of their aging Sea Kings as it literally broke mid-flight. You don’t want to waste the lives of the operators when it can be prevented.

  7. Between the expanded GOF brigades (into 2; brigades for both northern and eastern sector) and the upcoming 5th division in Sabah, I think we have adequate personnel to protect the state. Recently, a new GOF battalion will be set up in Kunak which brings the number to 6 battalions.

    We need more vessels to guard Sabah’s water tho. not just assets for RMN and MMEA but for PM as well

  8. With regard to the Nuris, you have to look at several things: flight hours, metal fatigue, spares availability. the problem with flying older aircraft that are no longer in production is people don’t make the spares anymore – this is the reason why the USMC and USN’s priority for F-35 conversion has been the legacy Hornet community. Admittedly our Hornets aren’t as well used as the American Hornets, but we’re going to be in that position too, one day.

    Also there are very few F-16s that are 50 years old. The youngest F-16 in the USAF is a 26-year old C model. 35 year old F-15Cs are literally having their wings fall off. There’s a reason the JSF project is such a huge buy, with the US committing to 2600 airframes – it’s because it needs to replace its tactical air fleet, which is averaging 30+ years old.

    So yes for now we can keep running Nuris, but at some point we will need to seriously consider a replacement of the fleet. When the maintennance cost becomes higher than the procurement cost, when the system is quite outclassed by it’s competitors, it’s time to look for a replacement, because as it stands our Fulcrums are no longer competitive, and while the Hornets are great birds, as Cope Thunder 2014 showed, legacy pulse-doppler radars can be defeated by modern ECM pods. AESA radars are expensive, but they’re the way of the future.

    As for MRCA, still hoping for the Rafale; it might not have the F-35’s stealth, but it’s got good payload and superb kinematics and very advanced avionics. Though let’s be fair: 18 Rafales isn’t going to help us contest the RSAF lol. The power of money! Singapore has it and we don’t.

  9. Just in, There was a shootout near kunak’s water.

    This is why we still need PM. Hoping they’d get more speedboats as well as 25-30m patrol boats

  10. Nik,

    Almost no Nuri accident has been caused by matters relating to old age or metal fatigue. The fact remains that our Nuris still have plenty of hours left on their air frames.

    With regards to the Canadian Sea King that broke apart and the reasons behind retiring them; we have to look at things as a whole and not just from isolation. What were the circumstances that led to a helicopter breaking apart; when was its last scheduled depot and squadron level maintenance checks and under what operational conditions was the fleet flying and the number of hours compared to our Nuris?

    Whiskey Golf,

    It’s not “stealth” (more accurately called “low observibility”) that makes the key difference but “connectivity” ….

  11. (If it aint broken why bother fix it)

    Meh ruskies been using stuff from the cold war till now.

    i dont really think the nuris will be phased out anytime soon with all these budgets. But it’d be best not to wait till choppers start dropping from the sky to start replacing them.

    If anything it’d be nice to get secondhand merlins from the brits or their neighbours

    Btw @Marhalim are the boys at Butterworth airbase preparing for something seen them fly at preety low altitudes lately. (flew over penang couple of times)

    Reply
    Probably training for the F1 flypast today

  12. @ Nik and whiskey golf,

    Continued…

    Right now there is no F-16 flying over 50 years old, but USAF is planning for a comprehensive SLEP to 841 block 40/42 and block 50/52 F-16C extending the flight hours to 13,856 hours and operationally past 2048 (google this for more info).

    USN, specifically USMC is planning to fly legacy hornets up till 2030. They have planned maintaining them up till then so safe to say support for tudm hornets are good up till then too. Buying off some aussie hornets for spares reclaimation would be a good idea too. USMC bought the whole RAF fleet of harriers just to use as spare parts for its own fleet.

    AESA, there is already a retrofit kit designed and tested for the legacy hornet. Cost? For example taiwan is spending usd300 million to upgrade 144 of its F-16 to F-16V spec, including AESA radar. So the upgrade to AESA is only around usd 2.5 million per aircraft.

  13. @ Nik and whiskey golf,

    There is no new build B-52. The youngest B-52H flying today was build in 1963.

    Helicopter crashes because xxx breaking apart? xxx is usually the rotor blade or the gearbox, which in a helicopter can be easily replaced unlike a wing on a fixed wing aircraft. Brand new composite swept tip rotor blades can still be bought for the nuri. Most of crashes involving the nuri is caused by limited visibility due to bad weather or by wind gusts that could down any helicopters. Problems with limited visibility has been solved by adding weather radars, and could be further improved by adding FLIR and GPS with synthetic vision systems. BTW the nuri’s highest flight hours currently are around 8,000 hour mark, and s-61 flying offshore terengganu in the past has 20,000 hours and still operating at that time. Most nuris have been extensively rebuild with new wiring etc that it looks as new (go to an airshow, get a close look around a nuri and tell me how does it look)

    To be continued

  14. “Err… No. Currently the US planned to phase out all F-15, F-16 and both Hornets as the maintenance cost is nearing the cost of buying new one. Huey is phased out before the millennium, and they made new B-52s. The old B-52s are stored at their boneyards. ”

    What are you on about?

    The F-15 and F-16 are here to stay because the planned numbers of USAF F-35s are unaffordable. The Golden Eagle program is fitting F-15C single seaters with AESA and possibly an increased missile payload like the F-15SA.

    It would be nonsensical to phase them out because many mission sets don’t require an F-35.

    The UH-1 is no longer the main utility helicopter of the US Army, but it remains in service with the USAF. Moreover, it serves well in armies and air forces around the world.

    And of course there is the new production UH-1Y.

    “they made new B-52s” – Are you high??? The last B-52 was produced in 1962. In fact, they’re talking about replacing the TF33 engines so the aircraft can serve more economically well into the future.

  15. “If anything it’d be nice to get secondhand merlins from the brits or their neighbours ”

    Has 3 engines. Expensive to operate.

  16. Marhalim,

    Bit off-topic, but seems Lekiu is now sporting new EOTS (Sea Eagle), new Scanter and ESM during the recent exercise wth USS Coronado

    Reply
    Yes Jebat is being fitted with the same things around this time

  17. There are some misconceptions here. Fixed wing or rotary frame can be refurbished to any extend as long as the owner willing to foot the bill. Malaysian been rebuilding 74s, 73s, Hercules, and even reinstalling 380s wings. In turn it begs the question if Nuris are only fit for being a logistic enabler, why not get a bunch of used Pumas Ls or even Cs. It is out the box slings more than the sea kings and Mahathir bought a full cap of maintenance from the British 20 years ago.

    AF has some proud history in cannibalizing within the fleet for various of logistic reason, let’s just leave it this way.

    Nuri’s hour is kinda number game. Most of the surviving frames have been living many lives on their death peers.

    The Nuri crashes were half half between mech failure and pilot error. Unrecoverable mech failure due to design and low power margin on the old engines, plus pilots that had insufficient emergency skill set were not really helpful. But of course, some butt hurt patriot would contest the fact.

    Huey is dying away slowly. Other than the marines which has always been the odd one, all other branches are phasing out with Black Hawks, which itself could be on the chopping board sooner or later and it is the lobbyist whom is keeping it alive. Bell is even trying to bid the contract with their 525 that they had yet to figuring out the FBW.

    The eagles were not replaced not because F-35s are expensive, but instead unfit to. Its true successor was the F-22s but were also killed by lobbyist so that the “6th Gen” contract is free for all again.

    The Canadian’s rumor to buy used Hornets is not a show of merit. In fact, the decision to buy used is to delay the decision to buy or not to buy F35s.

  18. In the Marines, the UH-1Y has its place among their Ospreys and Stallions because not all missions require those. The same goes for many forces around the world. Helicopters are getting bigger but the direct replacements of the Huey are are not always larger.

    The Marines have the UH-1Y for several reasons. It is marinised. It is logistically straightforward and carries over from their previous UH-1s. They could have developed their own version of the Seahawk which is already marinised, but it was not found necessary.

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