More Life For The Hawks

Two RMAF Hawks flying over Penang at the 25th Silver Jubilee in 2019. TUDM

SHAH ALAM: More life for the Hawks. It appears that BAE Systems has demonstrated its Hawk trainers has a service life of 50,000 hours. The demonstration of the structural life of the Hawk was done in Australia by BAE Systems.

The release from BAE Systems:

RAAF Hawk LIFT. Bae Systems

A Hawk aircraft, the advanced jet trainer used to prepare Australian pilots for life in a fast jet cockpit, has completed the equivalent of 50,000 ‘flying’ hours as part of a major structural testing program in a joint project involving BAE Systems and DST Group.

The world first test program was conducted at DST Group’s Fishermans Bend facility in Victoria where for 14 years a Hawk air frame was subjected to the range of loads that it would experience in actual flight, simulating real life fleet usage based on projected operational requirements.

The 33 Hawk aircraft operated by the Royal Australian Air Force have a clearance of 10,000 flying hours – 50,000 flying hours of structural testing is five times the current clearance of the most modern Hawks in air forces across the world and more than ten times the current flying hours on most of the Australian fleet.

Based on current usage, the fatigue life remaining in the Hawk airframe would allow the aircraft to continue operations well into the late 2040s.

BAE Systems Australia Director Aircraft Sustainment and Training Andrew Chapman said:
“The Full Scale Fatigue Test is a hugely important achievement for the Australian Lead In Fighter program and was made possible by the collaboration of a small dedicated team across many thousands of kilometres.

“The Hawk is the world’s most successful and proven military aircraft trainer, built on more than 35 years of fast jet training experience.

“The 2019 completion of Hawk (LIFCAP) upgrade ensures the aircraft is freshly updated and available for service in the RAAF for many more years.”

Omani Hawks.

Will this have any effect on RMAF Hawks? I dont think it will make much difference anyway even it was likely that RMAF would have been made aware of the experiment being conducted in Australia. As you are aware RMAF wants to divest itself of the Hawk fleet by 2025 (if its possible) with the much delayed upgrades not funded even in the next RMK.
Hawk M40-04 from 15 Skn at the Firepower Exercise in Gemas on May 22, 2017.

Anyhow any plans to retain the Hawks will undoubtedly involved acquiring more airframes – especially the 108s – as the current numbers are unsustainable in the long term.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

95 Comments

  1. @ marhalim

    ” The next generation Hawks (120, 127 and 128) feature a new wing, forward and centre fuselage, fin and tailplane.The aircraft have only 10% commonality with the existing first generation aircraft. The new variants also have four times the fatigue life of the original aircraft. ”

    Our hawks are not the next generation version. So those tests are not applicable to TUDM hawks.

  2. breaking news

    Seems like one of TNI-AU T-50i has crashed just now?

    Hopefully the pilots are safe.

    Reply
    No lah just skidded, both pilots ejected

  3. How about Advanced/ Combat Hawk, last time BAe n HAL developed for IAF last time with improved avionic and performance…another choice for RMAF..

  4. I thought Leonardo wanted to offer the M346 FA for our old Aermacchi?

    Won’t that be a better solution then we can retire and sell the Hawks?

  5. Whatever it is, the hawk has too low performance to be able to become our LCA while as it is perfectly suitable for LIFT.

    What we require right now is 1 type of jet that could fulfill both the LCA and LIFT requirement without much compromise while doing both tasks.

    For the LCA task, we need a moderately supersonic capable aircraft so that we could do Quick Reaction Alert taskings.

    For LIFT we need a trainer that could seamlessly transfer student pilots to operational aircrafts.

    Right now the platform that is in the sweet spot for both LCA and LIFT taskings is the TA/FA-50 Golden Eagle.

  6. IMHO the M345 & M346 combo is the best fit platform for our LIFT & LCA requirements. We can save cost by trading in the old MB339s, there is redundancy with twin engines, SG is already using them so they must have seen the pros vs others, and with more availability of M346s early on we still have the opportunity to sell the Hawks before their value drops to junk. The plane is fully wired in all purposes as a high end fighter with a wide upgrade path, and curiously have an LO upgrade kit with RWR & MAW to make it ‘stealthy’ so the LCAs could stand a chance in a 5th gen air fight. It has battlefield system redundancies and yet designed to have economical running cost so for us with stingy bean counters, it is perfect since we already would know how much exactly it would cost to run & maintain them before buying. Best of all, Italy seems open to non-monetary trade deals as with Israeli purchase of their M346s. So if we play it right, we could give them something they need (like maybe 1million latex gloves or condoms? 😉 ).

  7. What trainer to buy depends in part on what MRCA will be bought. The more compatible they are, the easier it is for the pilots to train

    That I think is part of the reason for the holdup

  8. I wish there was some good news for our troops. This is looking gloomy ever since that gowind news. What’s in store for us in this depressing year of 2020. Your guess is as good as mine..

  9. @i m b a
    “wish there was some good news”
    How about Covid spread is still under control? It is one thing for them to see and able to fight the enemy, but if its an enemy they can’t see nor fight, they would feel powerless. More powerless and helpless than against the full Chinese military might. So in our fight against Covid, there’s still a silver lining of hope for them.

  10. Unstable government will just make all this plan not well going. LCA role is more than a LIFT can do. Our existing Hawk may only meet the minimum role of LCA requirement set by TUDM. Aussie will retire their Hawk around 2026 and if our LCA still no movement, I think we should try to get it from them and try to fit the minimum LCA role requirement. Between fact and reality, we had no choice to choose reality unless we are a $ generator country.

  11. Yeah true our lca procurement slate to kick off in 2021 (rmk12) but hearing nothing yet..hopefully that plan will not get scrap post covid 19..for lca/lift better use a single platform only or does m346 cant be lca and lift at the same time? Kai’s lineup got ta50 purposely as lift and fa50 as light attack role..if we gonna go with kai’s then it quite clear gonna be a combo of ta50 and fa50..

  12. Yea, got option on M346 or T-50 for lca/ Lift if got fund available but can if budget limit can consider ex Oman AF hawk or ex Hawk RAAF if available..

  13. ….

    Based on the article you posted, it said that

    “The basic design dates to 1968 when the then-Hawker-Siddeley aircraft company was asked to propose a successor to the Folland Gnat. The design, innovative for its time, was named the Hawk in 1973 and flew in 1974. It entered RAF service in 1976. The Hawk Mk120 LIFT and other “second generation” Hawks (Mks 127 and 128) only have 10% commonality with the original and feature new wings, forward and centre fuselage, fin and tailplane”

    Unless I missed the nuances and writings between the lines, the paragraph implies that the “10 percent commonalities with the original” are comparison made between Hawk mk120 and the old hawk T1s. Mk100 hawks also featured redesigned wings and fuselage and the difference between mk108 and mk120 is mainly avionics

  14. From an economic POV;

    1) coronavirus and previous financial instability will significantly impact the world in at least the coming 1-3 years and Malaysia will not be spared

    2) our coronavirus measures added quite a few billions on top of our existing 1 trillion debt

    3) the new govt has shown no major economic plan so we don’t know where we will go in the next 2-3 RMK, as a nation

    4) palm oil is dying and we are no longer part of the controlling players in petroleum; furthermore petroleum is reaching the top of growth potential as alternatives, electric and nuclear power generation matures

    5) the nation remains uncommitted to wiping out corruption which multiplies the effective cost of any purchase, any operation

    6) defence continues to take a quantum leap in expense; coupled with our falling MYR you can expect an effective average per annum inflation in the latest defence products of double digits

    7) furthermore the rising cost of living we move from “developing” nation into “developed” status means we cannot afford the manpower of an army our size any more, because our soldiers and their families would not be able to live on what we pay them

    8) defence is a low priority as there is an perceived attitude ever since China’s fait accompli annexation of the SCS that our defence capabilities are so far backward that we might as well forget about defence altogether

    9) and will remain a low priority for at leat the next decade because as a nation, we don’t even know what to do to earn money. We are in the position of a man told that his job is becoming obsolete.

    I like our country and I like the field of defence, but, gentlemen, I honestly don’t see a good future for ATM at the moment. Brace yourselves for a transformation in our armed forces, as I see it is the only way out.

    For example, if we could shrink the army by 25%, we could free up salaries for investment in equipment.

    Either that, or we continue the long slow slide….

  15. @ dundun

    It is clearly stated as Mk120 and above. Older hawks need to be carefully flown in order not to overstress the airframe.

    @ chua

    Reduction in size is already happening. Most infantry battalions is down to just 3 Companies + 1 support Company + HQ Company

  16. @Chua
    The main conundrum isn’t how to reduce army size, because as our population ages manpower will be scarce in the future and if future people get disinterested in the Armed Forces, that is the end of us. Take a look at SG, perhaps in one generation more, it would have to rely on mercenaries and hired Blackwaters to safeguard their country despite the NS policy still stands.

    No, the main conundrum is how can we boost our economy to be able to afford for those shiny gadgets we want. ie SG GDP is surprisingly on par with MY today but with 3% defence budget vs our 1%, they can outspend us 5X more solely because of their stronger currency. So what comes first is how we can strengthen our economy in order that our currency is on par with SG. Then we can afford the high end things that they can get.

    I have argued about this before but some think defence expenditures should exist in a vacuum unaffected by external economy pressures.

  17. Chua – “For example, if we could shrink the army by 25%, we could free up salaries for investment in equipment”

    As it is most of our units are below authorised strength and in an average combat unit what is the average rifle strength? For every rifleman what is the ratio of non combat troops (whether administrative, signals, transport, etc). A problem is that we have bloated command set ups.

    We can only downsize the army if current levels are sufficient for our needs and if we can avoid any detrimental effects from a downsize. To use a cliche; if we can “do more with less” then fine but if we can’t ….

  18. “Take a look at SG, perhaps in one generation more, it would have to rely on mercenaries and hired Blackwaters to safeguard their country despite the NS policy still stands.”

    Not so. There are many policy options available to Singapore, and several are already being pursued. It should be noted while a decrease in the annual cohort of NS eligible males will reduce the size of the standing NSF force, the size of the reserve force and individual reserve pool as long exceeded the SAF’s operational needs and will continue to long into the future.

    -Singapore is recruiting more regulars and is enlarging an all-regular army battalion that was previously an adhoc unit.
    -Reserve units have an important role in the SAF’s orbat and this can always be enhanced.
    -Women are being recruited. In extremis they can be subject to NS, perhaps for a shorter term and perhaps for certain unit types or non-SAF organisations (the police and the SCDF’s rescue and medical units currently receive NS recruits) to free up males for the SAF. However the SAF is a long way from having to do that.
    -The police force has cut back on the number of NS recruits it receives to free them up for the SAF.

    The idea that the SAF will not have enough manpower, rests on an assumption that the threat environment requires the SAF’s most manpower intensive branch, the army, to broadly maintain its current size and composition. This assumption is questionable for several reasons.

  19. Chua “The more compatible they are, the easier it is for the pilots to train. That I think is part of the reason for the holdup”

    You are imputing a lot more common sense to the reasons than I think prevails. In my view the problem is simply an inability to fund the program.

    To test this assumption one simply has to ask- would an abundance of funds and a clear preference for a particular MRCA type, see us making a logical choice? No one can say yes, for sure.

  20. Azlan “As it is most of our units are below authorised strength and in an average combat unit what is the average rifle strength?”

    Can we afford to shutter some battalions in favour of keeping the others more fully manned? It should be noted that being undermanned is hard on members of a unit. No one enjoys pulling duty more than they are supposed to. There are qualitative and financial costs when we can’t retain people in the numbers we would like.

    I don’t know what the average rifle strength is, but I know that many units have less than their complement of authorized equipment, that there is a lack of standardisation of said equipment and that rifle platoons are burdened with much more than they should be carrying.

    “For every rifleman what is the ratio of non combat troops (whether administrative, signals, transport, etc). A problem is that we have bloated command set ups”

    Something we are in no hurry to fix.

  21. The size of your average section is 8 ppl, following BIS (battalion infantry standard) structure, so can say that the average strength of a battalion is ~600 men. This is for regular grunt as ppl in AW or RS typically maintain the 12 men per section

    We already have
    >AW
    >RS
    >PGA

    and even rela for secondary/tertiary defence and other ancillary roles and you can see in Esszone,PGA is being expanded so the regular army can focus on its main role as our main force

  22. AM – “Can we afford to shutter some battalions in favour of keeping the others more fully manned””

    Given the numbers of battalions we have and our peacetime commitments; as well as the raising of the new division for Sabah; unlikely …

    What we can do is to improve in the way we do certain things. Given we can’t afford to equip the whole army the way we’d like: we should make best use of our resources by focusing on certain units; not just equipment wise but also (or more importantly in organisation).

    Instead of having arty and support arms under the administrative and operational control of higher HQs; to be parcelled when needed; these can be organic to the brigade it’s supposed to support. The benefit in doing this is that the brigade gets the capability when needed and both the combat and support arms get to train together on a regular basis.

    Another thing we can do is to gut our HQ elements; ensuring they are not bloated and ensuring they are not a dumping ground for those placed there merely for promotional or other reasons. Whilst taking steps to improve signals, logistics and engineering elements; steps have to be taken to reduce the level of manpower in administrative/bureaucratic elements.

    Manpower will always be an issue because it’s a volunteer army and only so many enter annually; of which only so many join a combat unit or a supporting army.

    AM – “d that rifle platoons are burdened with much more than they should be carrying.”

    Depends on whether they have transport or have to leg. Of vital importance is the need to keep units supplied : on time, in the right quantities and in the face of enemy action. We’ve been lucky in that our logistics was not stretched to the limit during the Confrontation and 2nd Emergency.

    In a future war things might be different – why I’ve always stressed the need for investments to be made to our support elements/arms. All the new gear we’ve bought over the last decade or so; means there are much more things which need fuel, spares, tyres, batteries, ammo, filtres, etc, etc, etc.

  23. AM – “ It should be noted that being undermanned is hard on members of a unit”

    Whether it’s at full strength or not; a unit will still be expected to do certain things; notwithstanding its actual strength. An under strength unit will also rapidly lose its combat value once its suffers losses.

    Another problem in the event of a protected conflict is – in the event of heavy losses – our ability to replace our losses whilst also maintaining the same level of quality; whether in NCOs in combat units or trained support personnel whose numbers are scarce to begin with.

  24. AM – “Something we are in no hurry to fix”

    Due to various reasons; namely that it’s a peacetime under resourced volunteer army and that by and large the army is extremely careful with regards to change. Look at our organisation; hasn’t changed much in decades. To be fair the ability to change things is also dependent on the quality of manpower one has; as well as politics within the army itself. Just as how things have changed over the past decade or so; things will change with the new generation of senior leadership.

    Not that the army can’t innovate and react to circumstances. Bosnia was a wake up call and MALBATT/MALCON which was a self contained unit influenced is a big way when we created our first combined arms manoeuvre unit.”

  25. @AM
    “The idea that the SAF will not have enough manpower”
    Stems from the fact that their natural-born population is on the decline while PRs & migrants (which don’t need to do NS) is increasing. More of these natural-borns are migrating enmassed to Western countries & Aussie/NZ, a matter which did came up in their Parliament for debate which shows how serious this matter had became, and those that stayed have lesser & lesser reasons to join the Armed Forces, which already have parents disapprovals on their children in NS at the first place. The death of their well-known TV star during NS combat training only reinforces their apprehension for anything to do with NS & the Armed Forces. The main reason why their Formidables and newer ships are specified with high automation, to reduce reliance on manpower getting scarcer by the day. Not just their Navy but their entire Armed Forces as well Governmental structure are gearing for reducing manpower needs.

  26. Most of the air force in the world prefer single engine turbine for their LIFT/ LCA requirement cos of simple maintenance and cost effective includes logistics support but of course twin engine is preferable.

  27. @joe

    I think you need to fact check that. Their birth rate is typical of highly industrialised nations. Their boys are not emigrating en masse. Sons of PRs do serve. Majority of PRs become Sgreans. Like the USA, it is this injection of new blood that keeps Singapore creative. Right now many rich Hong Kong citizens are settling down.

  28. We are not tapping on our creative minds. I think we can do much more with less otherwise. Perhaps, a scheme with some sort of honorarium. Get our brilliant engineering minds involved in some of the processes. We may even cut costs. Countries like Israel, Singapore and South Korea get to use them free during NS or reservist.

    Reply
    Not for free thats why they spent tonnes of money. I

  29. Lets just pick m346fa as lca..3 countries north of us used yak130 bar thailand..three other used kai lineup..if we pick m346fa..thats make us the second nation in asean operating them..

  30. Nazri- “Countries like Israel, Singapore and South Korea get to use them free during NS or reservist”

    These are countries which take their defence far more seriously then we do and which spend much more …

    We don’t even have a holistic defence policy in place. Not only is defence not a priority but when we do spend it’s either on the wrong things or in the wrong manner; intended for national interests; including benefiting the local industry.

    When it comes to attracting the right manpower; we can’t even afford to mount a effective and sustained recruitment campaign (intended to attract the kind of people needed( on digital, print and social media; with the help of a agency.

  31. Firdaus – “Lets just pick m346fa as lca”

    It’s not as simple a buying a car.
    We can’t just “pick” anything.

    First the RMAF has to identify which type best suits it’s requirements (just because aircraft “A” has impressive specs on promotional brochures and meets the needs of others doesn’t automatically mean it will meet our needs). The RMAF might find that a particular aircraft is great as a LIFT but not so as a LCA – a certain level of trade off will have to be made.

    The RMAF will also have to factor in such things as operating costs ;(including whether it will significantly over the years), the costs of spares, growth potential, whether it needs to integrate and certify anything non standard (we hope not); etc.

    Ultimately it will be the decision of the Finance Ministry and other ministries/departments who will evaluate various things; not just the military aspects. Things like our relations with the OEM’s country and the OEM’s willingness to offer some offsets and perhaps take part payment in palm oil will also play a part.

    The key danger is that we might end up with something ill suited because of political reasons or because the OEM is willing to accept palm oil.

  32. M345/M346 would diversify our supply chain even more. Why? Cause they use different engine to what we have now. TA/FA-50 uses same engine as hornet, same model, same company, simpler supply chain and probably lower maintanance overall cost. Plus FA-50 is super sonic while M346FA is not. Another advantage is that we can use the leverage of FA-50 to buy KFX post 2030. Of course FA-50 also have it’s downsides like being single engine but that should not be a big issue. Look at F16, gripen, and F35.

  33. Luqman – “Of course FA-50 also have it’s downsides like being single engine but that should not be a big issue. Look at F16, gripen, and F35””

    The issue of whether a jet should be single or twin engine really depends on the end user. In our case whilst we’d certainly want a MRCA to be twin engined: we might not mind the LCA having a single engine.

    The K/A/-50s a great platform but unfortunately merit doesn’t determine selection but a whole host of issues. The RMAF might want it but the actual decision makers might not be keen on a platform which is operated by 3 immediate neighbours.

  34. @Nazri
    You need to do your own fact checking and not look at things thru adoring eyes. Their human resources are on the steady decline commensurate with the birth rate and mass emigration natural born citizens. It will impact on their defence manpower and by extension on a Governmental level.

  35. @Luqman
    Engines are only part of the equation, you have to consider the avionics, airframe lifespan, upgradability & cost to operate, service & update. The M345/M346 platform has all these mapped out so our bean counters can crunch the numbers to a relatively known projected TOE. Our main Achilles heel isn’t that we can’t buy high end equipment, but the fact that we can’t maintain them well enough to get more service life. Take the Skyhawks, the Fulcrums, the Nuris, the MKMs. These planes were used by other countries far longer than we have and the reason why we prematurely retire them (bar MKMs) is because we didn’t keep to the servicing and updating as necessary.

    If we don’t change that, even with the advantages of TA/FA-50 platform, they will face the same problems as plagued their predecessors. The M345/M346 platform gives us that paradigm shift in allowing TUDM to front load the maint budget allocation ahead so there are lesser chance of hiccups as seen on MKMs.

  36. @ Joe

    Thanks. I did and there is certainly no “mass emigration” of locally born citizens.

    Thier birthrate is not steadily declining actually but it is actually lower than they want consistently. But they increase their ranks via selective immigration so much so that their population will actually increase but with the majority core still being locally born Singaporeans. The bulk of the naturalised Singaporeans will have locally born children.

    Marhalim has a great site. I just want things to be factual so that we have an equally great conversation minus all the agnst.

  37. @Azlan
    There are some quarters who don’t like relying on US military aid. And the US you must admit doesn’t do anything for nothing. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing, just saying it’s a consideration that some will make.

    @Joe is right. SAF have around ~75k personnel, CDF and police ~20k. About ~60k of the total ~95k are NSmen, mostly in the Army (35k NSmen out of 50k).

    ~40k births were recorded in 2019. So all going well, the 2040 cohort will be something like ~20k NSmen.

    Security manpower will shrink from ~95k to ~75k. Even if ALL NSmen are assigned to the Army, that is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul; the CDF/police will shrink in turn. Nor would it totally make up the shortfall. So the total Security Forces will see cuts of roughly 20% nonetheless.

    Extending active NS service period has significant economic and sociocultural expense, and it would take huge political power to extend NS to females. NS service is frankly a career disruption of ~3 years to civilians, on top of 8% of the rest of one’s active adult life.

  38. @ joe

    M345/346 combo is 2 different platforms to maintain, with not much parts that can interchange between the 2 platforms. That in itself will be a burden to the resources.

    Another is the needed mission capability that we want to do with our LCA so that we can put aside our hornets/MKM from performing this mission. QRA and air policing mission. Right now this is not done 24/7 in both east and west malaysia due to the current lack of numbers and also the high cost using hornets/MKM to do so. With even normal airliners cruising at mach 0.8, we need a supersonic capable LCA to even have a chance to intercept an airliner in a normal peacetime scenario. A subsonic only platform would be fine for the LIFT mission, but would it be adequate to perform our needed LCA missions?

  39. Chua – “. And the US you must admit doesn’t do anything for nothing””

    Who does? That’s the nature of foreign policy; to do things that are in one’s national interests …

  40. Chua

    You will need to differentiate NSF( active serving conscripts who serve full time for 2.5 years) from NSmen (reserve conscripts who are called to serve 1-2 months yearly until 40 years of age). The 20k figure you cited refers to yearly NSF. This seems to be a constant of around 20k to 30k yearly since 2000s. So at any point of time, Sg will have about 40k-60k NSF in addition to 25k regulars (note: this was the 1980-90ish figure cited by Tim Huxley)
    As cited above, Sg has been increasing the number of its regulars.
    So, the bulk of their forces are Nsmen. In the 1980-90s(when they had a population of 3 million+) they can call upon a force of 350,000 Nsmen.
    It is not a force to be toyed with when armed with sophisticated systems.
    As i have relatives there, my impression is that their national service is not something scorned but respected. Of course, there will be detractors everywhere.

  41. @…
    Thanks for info.

    With better aerial visibility on the perp, there may not need to have supersonic planes to catch up to perps travelling at subsonic. Its like the police doesn’t need to have a Lambo to catch a perp racing in a Lambo. With better visibility on the possible paths, a properly vectored police Preve can close down the Lambo effectively. Similarly, the M346 can be properly vectored to meet and close down potential troublemakers. Don’t forget it has radar too, so it don’t necessarily need to be WVR.

    Supersonic planes incurs more maint cost than a subsonic one, so basing on our poor maint upkeeping, anything with lower operating cost (and with more visibility) is on the overall better since we gained on the efficiency and uptime availability thru the years of use. I always tell my guys, its nice to have a higher end truck with bigger HP but if its gonna spend more time at the shop waiting for me to afford to maint it, I rather get a lesser truck that I can keep running more often.

  42. Nazri- “It is not a force to be toyed with when armed with sophisticated systems”

    Off course not and anybody suggesting so would be indulging in gaga cloud cuckoo land thinking.

    Of all the regional militaries the SAF is the only one which actually has the ability to engage in multi domain high intensity sustained ops; on foreign territory.

    Unlike others which are still focused on internal security and which adopt a mixed threat and capability driven procurement: Singapore actually has a policy of ensuring it maintain a qualitative edge over its immediate neighbours.

  43. Ideally a QRA platform should be supersonic but various factors come into play.

    First is early warning/reaction time. A QRA has to be scrambled on time; dependent on how fast the order is given; dependent on turn the needed orders being given in time and how early the contact has been detected.

    Also playing a part whether the plane to be intercepted is a subsonic airliner gone astray; a supersonic fighter testing our reaction times or a UAS along the common air boundary. Whether the aircraft is heading away or to the QRA also arises; as does the actual distance between both.

  44. Chua “~40k births were recorded in 2019. So all going well, the 2040 cohort will be something like ~20k NSmen.”

    To be precise, 35K were resident births (citizens and PRs). The male children of PRs, and the males among the remaining 5k who are children of work visa holders etc who have resided on dependent or student visas, will be given a choice of serving NS or leaving Singapore. Around 2010 it was reported that one third of the children of PRs choose to leave rather than serve, but some children of non-PRs do serve.

    “NS service is frankly a career disruption of ~3 years to civilians, on top of 8% of the rest of one’s active adult life.”

    Full time NS currently 2 years for all draftees. In the very early days, officers served 3 years. Then officers and NCOs served 2.5 years before their term was cut to 2 years in 2004. Enlistees (the SAF term for those below NCOs) have always served 2 years.

    To be precise, reservist obligations are a legal maximum of 40 days per year before the age of 50 (officers) or 40 (other ranks). In practice, you aren’t called up after you have attended 7 high key and 3 low key events. A high key event lasts 3 or 2 weeks for combat arms and other arms respectively, a low key is 2 or 1 week. A battalion cohort is established at the start of one’s full time NS. It is recalled to train these ten times and is disbanded when it is done. Then the members enter the individual reserve but aren’t called up further.

    “Extending active NS service period has significant economic and sociocultural expense, and it would take huge political power to extend NS to females.”

    Extending full time NS results in a larger standing force but does not raise the total number of troops or units. It would hardly serve a purpose as mobilisation is rapid in Singapore and reservist units are maintained in a good state of competence, at least early in their cycle.

    But as said, I doubt that the SAF has to maintain a force structure that requires such large numbers in the first place.

    Nazri “As i have relatives there, my impression is that their national service is not something scorned but respected. Of course, there will be detractors everywhere”

    I would say less so than 20 years ago. Nowadays people are more conscious of the economic cost and resent the fact that PRs they compete with in the workplace can avoid it if they deliberately defer taking up PR until past their early 20s. On the whole, immigration has caused a lot of resentment. The government has recently come to realise that resentment matters and the fact that PRs from somewhere often remain loyal to their home country.

    “Thanks. I did and there is certainly no “mass emigration” of locally born citizens.”

    Singapore has a relative high rate of emigration per capita.There is indeed dissatisfaction coming from the government’s belief that it can do what it want without costs and tradeoffs. But the numbers are not anywhere near militarily significant. It should also be noted that almost no one leaves before full time NS (it is legally almost impossible to do so) and many of those who live overseas retain their Singapore citizenship and are back in a few years.

  45. Chua “~40k births were recorded in 2019. So all going well, the 2040 cohort will be something like ~20k NSmen.”

    To be precise, 35K were resident births (citizens and PRs). The male children of PRs, and the males among the remaining 5k who are children of work visa holders etc who have resided on dependent or student visas, will be given a choice of serving NS or leaving Singapore. Around 2010 it was reported that one third of the children of PRs choose to leave rather than serve, but some children of non-PRs do serve.

    “NS service is frankly a career disruption of ~3 years to civilians, on top of 8% of the rest of one’s active adult life.”

    Full time NS currently 2 years for all draftees. In the very early days, officers served 3 years. Then officers and NCOs served 2.5 years before their term was cut to 2 years in 2004. Enlistees (the SAF term for those below NCOs) have always served 2 years.

    To be precise, reservist obligations are a legal maximum of 40 days per year before the age of 50 (officers) or 40 (other ranks). In practice, you aren’t called up after you have attended 7 high key and 3 low key events. A high key event lasts 3 or 2 weeks for combat arms and other arms respectively, a low key is 2 or 1 week. A battalion cohort is established at the start of one’s full time NS. It is recalled to train these ten times and is disbanded when it is done. Then the members enter the individual reserve but aren’t called up further.

    “Extending active NS service period has significant economic and sociocultural expense, and it would take huge political power to extend NS to females.”

    Extending full time NS results in a larger standing force but does not raise the total number of troops or units. It would hardly serve a purpose as mobilisation is rapid in Singapore and reservist units are maintained in a good state of competence, at least early in their cycle.

    But as said, I doubt that the SAF has to maintain a force structure that requires such large numbers in the first place.

    Nazri “As i have relatives there, my impression is that their national service is not something scorned but respected. Of course, there will be detractors everywhere”

    I would say less so than 20 years ago. Nowadays people are more conscious of the economic cost and resent the fact that PRs they compete with in the workplace can avoid it if they deliberately defer taking up PR until past their early 20s. On the whole, immigration has caused a lot of resentment. The government has recently come to realise that resentment matters and the fact that PRs from somewhere often remain loyal to their home country.

    “Thanks. I did and there is certainly no “mass emigration” of locally born citizens.”

    Singapore has a relative high rate of emigration per capita.There is indeed dissatisfaction coming from the government’s belief that it can do what it want without costs and tradeoffs. But the numbers are not anywhere near militarily significant. It should also be noted that almost no one leaves before full time NS (it is legally almost impossible to do so) and many of those who live overseas retain their Singapore citizenship and are back in a few years.

  46. Ideally a QRA platform should be supersonic but various factors come into play.

    First is early warning/reaction time. A QRA has to be scrambled on time; dependent on how fast the order is given; dependent in turn in the needed orders being given in time and how early the contact has been detected.

    Also playing a part whether the plane to be intercepted is a subsonic airliner gone astray; a supersonic fighter testing our reaction times or a UAS along the common air boundary. Whether the aircraft is heading away or towards the QRA also arises; as does the actual distance between both.

  47. @ joe

    There is no roads in the air. There are time you need to chase an aircraft going away from you. Unlike on the roads where most cars are going at only 50-70% of the a police car top speed capability, airliners are going at around mach 0.8.

    Also QRA ROE is always need to have visual ID.

  48. @joe
    I like your analogy, however the importance of supersonic interceptors is that a QRA interceptor has to catch up a lot of distance especially if the suspect aircraft is far away, or performs evasive manoeuvres, or is sent by a foreign state to look-see

    Transport aircraft and civilian airliners already operate at high subsonic, for example an Air Asia A330 cruises at about Mach 0.8. True fighters can go supersonic with a useful weapon load, but not, for example, a converted trainer-light attack like a Hawk 200 which has about half the speed of a true combat jet. The moment a pair of, e.g. AIM7s and fuel goes on, there is no way it hits the sound barrier at level flight. It can only about match the speed of your average cruising airliner.

    To demonstrate the problem this makes – consider an equilateral triangle of points A-B-C; let’s say the QRA base at C detects a passenger aircraft MHxxx flying from point B to point A has turned off its radar. To intercept the aircraft, Hawk must fly from point A to point B, no other solution allows it to catch up. So it flies towards point B… but then halfway through, MHxxx makes a u-turn and starts flying back to point A. It has now become physically impossible for Hawk to catch up.

    See the problem?

    @Nazri “my impression is that their national service is not something scorned but respected. Of course, there will be detractors everywhere”

    Ah yes, sorry, I’m not clear on the proper terminology. I guess I should have said “operational reservist” or “serving reservist” vs. “active reservist”.

    Of course their NS service is not generally scorned, outwardly. Human nature is such that when one is forced to do a thing, one tends to find ways to convince oneself that it is enjoyable or right to do that thing. And the Army, like all Armies, uses all the psychological methods available to mankind to create an esprit de corps and convince people that they are absolutely doing the right thing. Pride, elitism, peer pressure, carrot and stick, etc.

    However, to any person who does not see the military as a career, spending 2-3 years of one’s preciously short life to do something that totally does not contribute to one’s career and life aspirations, and which other people don’t have to do (i.e. the girls) definitely carries some deep-seated feelings. And although outwardly they may say one thing or another, especially to non-citizens, in their private thoughts they certainly do count the cost in time and effort.

    That is my experience from having lived in Singapore for some time. Air tenang jangan disangka etc.

  49. @ Joe

    Your article references working abroad to upgrade oneselves and gain experience. They remain Singaporeans.

    This is no correlation about your claimed mass emigration. Hardly the whole gang leaving – 6 out of every 100 Singaporeans abroad. I also note that many of these overseas Singaporeans are sponsored by the Government. Many are also children of PRs who admittedly have relations overseas.

  50. Correcting myself

    “To intercept the aircraft, Hawk must fly from point A to point B”

    Hawk must fly from point C, QRA base, to point A, interception point

    Sorry

  51. Chua “And the Army, like all Armies, uses all the psychological methods available to mankind to create an esprit de corps and convince people that they are absolutely doing the right thing. Pride, elitism, peer pressure, carrot and stick, etc.”

    Which is why decades ago the SAF renamed NCOs as Specialists. And why they used to hold the ranks of private to corporal while attending the School of Infantry Specialists, but now hold Specialist Cadet 1-3 ranks while attending Specialist Cadet School.

    SISPEC was rightly regarded as a place of angry, abject, thankless misery. Cadre always had a chip on their shoulders against those they regarded as overeducated whiz kids at OCS and they took it out on their charges by pushing them harder than OCS did theirs. Along the way someone at the top decided to bestow them a less plebeian image. They even got themselves termed a “command school” alongside OCS and do their parade in No 1s too, just like the uni grads to be. Now everyone wants to get in.

    Nazri “As i have relatives there, my impression is that their national service is not something scorned but respected. Of course, there will be detractors everywhere.”

    NS is not scorned, only the NSFs are. Older people will jump at the chance to get a pic of (or reprimand) anyone in uniform misbehaving in the slightest, earning them a shit detail when they’re next in camp.

    Singaporeans are curious people. Females are most reluctant to serve NS and are among the most ignorant people on military affairs in the world, but are very outspoken on the need for males to do it and dismissive of anything you endure or learn in it. Without any irony, they also think the world of NSF officers and turn their noses up at anyone who isn’t.

  52. Guys, yes supersonic is needed if you intend to intercept it from the rear but my point with using the police as example is you don’t have to ‘chase’ it if you have better visibility of its heading. Rear chasers are just to cut off any escape route going back when the door is shut in front. They don’t have to be supersonic to do that.

    Of course if the perp is traveling at supersonic you might want supersonic to intercept too, but if that perp’s Mach is higher than FA-50 top speed, what does it matter whether the QRA has supersonic capabilities or not? Again its how you vector the planes effectively, whether it be supersonic or not, to shut the door before it escapes. A more efficient and higher uptime airfleet will give you that noose to tighten around the perp instead of 1-2 supersonic planes unable to catch up to it.

    @Nazri
    Others here have made the point, I don’t have to elaborate more on that. Suits yourself how you wished.

  53. @Chua
    Thanks, I use civvie analogies as its relatable to more people and simpler to get a point across.

    As to your math question.
    I would vector QRA planes from point C and importantly point D closest to A from the opposite side of point C heading of the perp at front and if supersonic then I further vector planes from point B to close in the noose. How can I do that? Because that is the reason why we are getting 30-40 LCAs, no?

  54. “Guys, yes supersonic is needed if you intend to intercept it from the rear but my point with using the police as example is you don’t have to ‘chase’ it if you have better visibility of its heading.”

    That would require not just the benefit of awareness but also favourable geometry in all cases. For that you need to have many more bases than otherwise needed with faster fighters, and have sufficient fighters at each base to always have some on alert.

  55. joe “Guys, yes supersonic is needed if you intend to intercept it from the rear but my point with using the police as example is you don’t have to ‘chase’ it if you have better visibility of its heading.”

    You are making 2 assumptions.

    1. You have to form a prediction/assumption of the contact’s course and pray that the contact does not deviate from YOUR assumption.

    Since a contact may not seek to reach an inland objective but merely to penetrate your airspace to some degree and test your defences, will be well aware of the performance characteristics of your fighters and locations of your bases, and likely have radar of their own, it’s safe to say they will react to your interception attempt and increase the distance from your fighters.

    2. You not only need the benefit of perfect awareness but also favourable geometry in all cases. This means you need many more bases in separate locations than otherwise needed with faster fighters, and have sufficient fighters at each base to always have some on alert. This is neither possible nor desirable.

    Both are tenuous assumptions, considering the adversary would know very well where our bases are and what we are capable of- how many fighters we have, what speeds and ranges they are capable of, roughly how many are in mission capable status and so on.

  56. Joe and am are both right..but if u can get a supersonic lca with the same price (or alil bit high..1-3 usd mill high) of non supersonic jet, the logical way at least for me is to get the supersonic one right..unless theres a huge price different between the two..say usd10+m different..

  57. @joe
    “Engines are only part of the equation, you have to consider the avionics, airframe lifespan, upgradability & cost to operate, service & update.”

    And you are going with the cheapest route? FA-50 ticks all of that while being able to use the engines and radar that we are used to operate. Can be upgraded also with AMRAAM and EE pods. M345 use different engines than M346. While FA-50 use same engine as our hornet.

    “The M345/M346 platform has all these mapped out so our bean counters can crunch the numbers to a relatively known projected TOE.”

    You think KAI FA-50 dont have that kind of maped out numbers?

    “We prematurely retire them (bar MKMs) is because we didn’t keep to the servicing and updating as necessary.”

    On what basis are you saying? I never heared we had to ‘retire’ MKM’s radar

    “If we don’t change that, even with the advantages of TA/FA-50 platform, they will face the same problems as plagued their predecessors. The M345/M346 platform gives us that paradigm shift”

    If you say like that even we cannot take advantage of M345/M346 even repeating past mistakes if we dont changed something.

    “Guys, yes supersonic is needed if you intend to intercept it from the rear but my point with using the police as example is you don’t have”

    Oh now u say we need supersonic for QRA from the rear only and that situation wont happen???? So that enemy plane can dictate anytime they want to engage and re engaged, and we dont need to chase and shoot them? Even our mig29 which used as QRA is supersonic.

  58. @AM
    Yes, a lot of assumptions, that goes with predicting the routes it might take, what are the objectives (ie no perp would fly towards Taman Negara for what reason). To do that we have to have radar visibility on our entire airspace and networked to a CnC nervecenter (something Azlan had stressed) and with planes scrambled from strategically located airbases. Yes, I am advocating for more bases located away from traditional hubs like Gong Kedak & Butterworth. These, like Sg Besi, have been encroached by development and well observed even by Google Map, and hence presents a security risk. More locations means we can coordinate the response effectively.

    @Firdaus
    Not just the plane price, as I mentioned our weakness is sustaining the maint and upgrading. We tend to buy new and high specced but failed to maint them. A platform with entire TOE mapped out will at least enable TUDM to plan and budget ahead to maint them and prevent such surprises like with the MKMs.

  59. AM – “would know very well where our bases are and what we are capable of- how many fighters we have, what speeds and ranges they are capable”

    Very true; yet so easy to overlook when discussing things.

    There are so many variables : “whether the plane to be intercepted is a subsonic airliner gone astray; a supersonic fighter testing our reaction times or a UAS along the common air boundary. Whether the aircraft is heading away or to the QRA also arises; as does the actual distance between both“

    Ultimately all depends on a contact being detected and orders being given (whether it’s a peacetime scenario or during times of tension plays a big part) for a QRA to be launched.

  60. “Rear chasers are just to cut off any escape route going back when the door is shut in front. They don’t have to be supersonic to do that.”

    If a contact is coming straight at you, you will never have the speed to get behind him unless he turns 180 degrees,heads for home and puts you on his rear.

    “With better visibility on the possible paths, a properly vectored police Preve can close down the Lambo effectively. Similarly, the M346 can be properly vectored to meet and close down potential troublemakers.”

    You can physically block all the lanes and exits on a road, but you can’t do the same in the air. If a contact has superior kinematic performance, you will never get your fighters in position in time to block all egress routes.

    “Don’t forget it has radar too, so it don’t necessarily need to be WVR. ”

    If you’re talking about shooting down the contact, then a proper fighter is going to come out ahead of your armed trainer. If you’re talking about investigating and identifying an unknown contact in peace time then nothing but flying alongside is going to cut it. A proper fighter is also going to have better radar and SA of your dispositions than an armed trainer.

  61. Comrade Pilots, we are pretty sure Malaysia has a secret S-400 SAM site in their capitalist bourgeois Taman Negara, we will test their defences by flying our H-6 bomber into their airspace around this secret SAM site. Make the Party proud!

  62. @Luqman
    “You think KAI FA-50 dont have that kind of maped out numbers?”
    The M346 platform has been designed with such goals from the onset unlike KAI program.

    “On what basis are you saying? I never heared we had to ‘retire’ MKM’s radar”
    Since when did I said that?

    @AM
    Think 3D mate. A head on doesn’t have to be within the same altitude as the perp but as long he can see you in his radar, or closer to WVR. The point of QRA isn’t to go toe to toe with an intruder but to let it know we can send up an effective response, where ever, when ever, however, we want.

    “If a contact has superior kinematic performance”
    Can be predicted his course of routes, a plane going supersonic can’t turn so easily and thus his flight path is easier to predict. A plane trying to make a lot of evading moves will lose a lot of speed more and more with the noose tightening, just like a Lambo trying to evade police blocks will lose his speed advantage as the traps shuts.

  63. @Luqman
    “So that enemy plane can dictate anytime they want to engage”
    You forget the first rule of combat, if you let your enemy dictate how he plays, you already lost. If your play is so predictable, you already lost. If your response to a perp Lambo Gallardo (325kmph) is to chase him with a Lambo Huracan (341kmph), what happens if he brings out his Huracan too? How are you ever going to catch him by merely following at his top speed? Get an Aventador (350kmph)?

  64. joe “Think 3D mate.”

    Oops. In 3D terms, we’re even more at a disadvantage since the intercepting fighters must climb to altitude.

    But don’t digress from your original point, which is “Rear chasers are just to cut off any escape route going back when the door is shut in front. They don’t have to be supersonic to do that.”

    If you’re struggling to get to the nearest starting points of your trap, how do your “rear chasers” get to the further points ie travel a greater distance in the same amount of time? Do explain how, if you can.

    joe “A head on doesn’t have to be within the same altitude as the perp but as long he can see you in his radar, or closer to WVR.”

    In many cases, you won’t even know who the contact is- whether it is a foreign fighter or transport, or a stray airliner. You have to be WVR to find out.

    “The point of QRA isn’t to go toe to toe with an intruder but to let it know we can send up an effective response, where ever, when ever, however, we want.”

    And whatever aircraft we buy, the limitations will be common knowledge to everyone. The greater your limitations are, the more they will be tested.

    “Can be predicted his course of routes, a plane going supersonic can’t turn so easily and thus his flight path is easier to predict.”

    “A plane trying to make a lot of evading moves will lose a lot of speed more and more with the noose tightening, just like a Lambo trying to evade police blocks will lose his speed advantage as the traps shuts.”

    Hope you’re not telling me the interceptors won’t have to react to the contact’s moves or won’t lose speed in the process.

    As you’ve been told, if you’re struggling to get to the nearest starting points of your trap, how do you get to the further points? How many roadblocks must you establish before the Lambo is sufficiently slowed, ie how many subsonic fighters must you buy for every single contact, before the equation works for you?

    For a supersonic fighter vs an armed trainer, evading is more like blipping the throttles to GAIN speed and shooting a few miles ahead. It’s not hard to consistently stay out of effective missile range when you have superior SA and kinematics.

  65. Actually I like rhe idea of downsizing n right sizing. Instead of having too many battalions and divisions we should just chop off some battalions n spread the men released to boost up the strength of the remaining batalions.
    In addition we must try to economise by using our existing assets more efficiently. To do that we need to keep existing assets operating as much as possible. Thus the culture of maintenance n servicing n taking care of all our assets must be driven into every soldier n must be promoted top down n get buy in every soldier. This includes taking care of small matters like makung sure all toilets work, damaged windows replaced etc.
    We have some well trained Wataniah formations. We need to put them to good use. Maybe once a year such Wataniah soldiers can be used to do patrolling of our borders n other duties once every year during their annual training. This means the armed forces manpower is increased immediately. This will also provide realistic experience to everyone from officers down to the NCO’s n soldiers too.
    As we cannot provide enough transport n armour support to all batalions it may be worthwhile to refurbish older transports for the Wataniah n refurbish the reserve armoured vehicle to support our wataniahs too. If the govt opts to do that money would also be injected into our local industry n giving employment

  66. Lee Yoke Meng “Maybe once a year such Wataniah soldiers can be used to do patrolling of our borders n other duties once every year during their annual training.”

    Fair enough, I’m sure it provides useful training but I’m concerned that rotating people through a job, each for a short time, means the job is never done well.

    “This means the armed forces manpower is increased immediately.”

    Also not sure for how long we are entitled to take our reservists away from their civilian jobs in peacetime vs how long we actually do so vs what the unspoken expectations are.

    “If the govt opts to do that money would also be injected into our local industry n giving employment”

    Of course, this should not be the motivation of the exercise.

  67. @Joe
    >”No, the main conundrum is how can we boost our economy to be able to afford for those shiny gadgets we want.”

    As I wrote, at this moment I’m not even sure how we will boost our economy to survive the next couple of decades where we currently are as a nation.

    If something doesn’t change, we will simply see us slide back down the drain back with all the other 3rd world countries.

    >”SG GDP is surprisingly on par with MY today but with 3% defence budget vs our 1%, they can outspend us 5X more solely because of their stronger currency.”

    Uh no this math doesn’t make any sense. SG and Msia GDP are roughly par. Therefore if we spend 3% like they do, we will spend the same. Both amounts are denominated in USD so there us no further multiplier.

    The real problem is that we export low value goods and services comparative to SG. Their trade balance is 100x to 150x of ours; about half a trillion USD yearly when ours barely reaches a couple billion USD. Think of trade balance as the “profit” of the nation; although it is not exactly so, it is a good way to think of it.

    >”So what comes first is how we can strengthen our economy in order that our currency is on par with SG. Then we can afford the high end things that they can get.”

    Very long way to go then, to overcome a lead of 40 years.

  68. Lee – “Instead of having too many battalions and divisions we should just chop off some battalions n spread the men released to boost up the strength of the remaining batalions”

    If you take into account that a lot of units are under strength and that a large part of the army consists of non combat troops; we don’t have an abundance of manpower.

    The key prerequisite for downsizing is to first ensure we have adequate numbers of troops; that there’s a good ratio when it comes to actual rifle strength and have adequate numbers of trained and equipped reservists. We don’t ….

    Also how can we downsize when we are in the midst of raising a 4th division?? Instead of downsizing what we can do it to trim certain parts army; namely our bloated HQs and units which have personnel performing bureaucratic administrative stuff which contributes little or nothing to the army’s overall combat performance. What we can also do is make organisational changes to ensure we get the best what we currently have.

  69. P.S.

    Before we talk about downsizing; in addition to meeting prerequisites like having sufficient numbers in the first place; a good ratio when it comes to actual rifle and non riffle strength and adequate reservists in the right numbers; we also need a long term threat assessment ….

    – We need to figure out the actual possibility of a conflict; the type/intensity/duration and with whom – the numbers we need to deal with the type of threats we foresee.

    – Do we foresee a major state on state conflict or one of limited scale confined to border areas?

    – Do we even have adequate officers, NCOs and trained support personnel to begin with?
    Can we replace our combat losses?

    – In parallel with downsizing the army; logically we’ll devote more resources to the RMN and RMAF. After all our much threat lies in our maritime domain.

    So many factors at play and questions which need answering we seriously contemplate downsizing …..

  70. @ azlan

    in the regards of our land forces

    – We need to figure out the actual possibility of a conflict; the type/intensity/duration and with whom – the numbers we need to deal with the type of threats we foresee.

    What we need in the next 10 years is to mainly beef up our posture in east malaysia to prevent lahad dato mk2, and also as a preparation for the eventual movement of indonesian capital to kalimantan. Then is the improvement of Cyber defence/attack, ISTAR, long range fires, and air defence of our strategic locations.

    – Do we foresee a major state on state conflict or one of limited scale confined to border areas?

    State on state conflict would probably happen at sea rather than on land. Of those on the border areas, most probably because of the still unstable condition of mindanao region. We would depend on the goodwill of our neighborhood to not escalate any issues into an armed conflict.

    – Do we even have adequate officers, NCOs and trained support personnel to begin with?
    Can we replace our combat losses?

    I dont see us lacking officers and trained support personnel. on the combat losses. I would prefer a radical rework of our wataniah, by eliminating them, and pairing reserve companies directly to operational units.

    – In parallel with downsizing the army; logically we’ll devote more resources to the RMN and RMAF. After all our much threat lies in our maritime domain.

    Downsizing would probably be in the form of manpower only. We still need the same (or more) investment to increase the capability of our land forces.

  71. … – “I dont see us lacking officers and trained support personnel””

    Actually this has long been an issue; especially with support personnel needed for certain equipment. They are available in small numbers, it takes times to train them, years for experience to be gained and when people leave the service or are transferred elsewhere; it can and does become an issue.

    …. – “o as a preparation for the eventual movement of indonesian capital to kalimantan”

    To me this is not an issue. What is an issue and may be a future problem is Ambalat and unresolved boundaries in the South China Sea and Melaka Straits. Problems there may lead to problems in land.

    …. – “Of those on the border areas, most probably because of the still unstable condition of mindanao region”

    The passing of the Bangsa Moro agreement has made Mindanao a much more stable place. What remains a concern – for us – are the non state actors further south along our borders; in the Sulu area; i.e. Jolo, Basilan and Tawi- Tawi.

    …. – “Downsizing would probably be in the form of manpower only””

    Well; we have to decide what to do with the excess manpower (not that we actually have any( and ensure the costs savings from a downsizing (won’t happen anytime soon) is put to good use elsewhere.

    …. – “Then is the improvement of Cyber defence/attack, ISTAR, long range fires, and air defence of our strategic locations.”

    Certain organisational changes for certain units (to improve the way we do things and ensure we get the best of what we currently have) and improving our engineering, support and logistical services to cope with the fact that the army now has a much larger footprint now compared to previous yeses and that we might find ourselves in a future conflict in which the circumstances will be unlike anything previously faced.

  72. … – “ air defence of our strategic locations”

    GAPU needs a medium range capability to defence anything which needs defending: whether strategic locations or other things.
    The issue is that we’re unlikely to buy more than a regiment’s worth; comprising 1-3 batteries at the most.

    What is also needs are additional early alerting devices – whether radars or passive devices – to provide early warning.

    There are many things it can do but only a few it can actually focus on given funding. The threat can comprise various things; from terrain hugging fighters to swarms of mini UASs (hard to visually detect and with a low RCS and IR signature). Early warning and coordination/integration is everything.

  73. … – “Downsizing would probably be in the form of manpower only””

    And is dependent on several prerequisites being met. The “doing more with less” cliche makes good PR but is hard to actually do; especially in a all volunteer under resourced army in which units are under strength (whether rifle strength or otherwise) to begin with.

  74. Regarding the LCA. We need to look back at the years of the cold war. The Russian Bear would send their long range patrols to overfly the northern Peninsula. The IADS would pick up the blib n inform our Bitterworth base. The base would send up the Sabres n later the F5s. The Russians would then completely jam all radar n radio transmisions of the aircrafts sent up to intercept. Photos would be taken of each other. There are lessons to be learnt from the past. Relearn these lessons. Things are never straight forward.
    AM every year the wataniah has an annual camp/ training. The economic implication would be like what it is now.
    As for whether the payroll would be done properly n effectively trust me. Even the regulars admit the wataniah does their work more enthusiastically than them

  75. @ chua

    F-5E in its heyday is a supersonic fighter for countries that cannot afford or is blocked from getting F-4 panthoms or F-16 fighting falcons.

    The nearest equivalent today would be the JF-17, Gripen C or the FA-50.

  76. @…

    And currently countries are blocked or cannot afford to buy Super Hornets and Lightnings.

    The performance of some upgraded F-5 variants already matches the FA-50 somewhat, and certainly exceeds the Gripen C and JF-17. Hence why I said the next step up is most likely the 16V and Gripen NG.

  77. @Chua
    “Both amounts are denominated in USD so there us no further multiplier.”
    Yes. Our expenditure for defence is USD$3Bil for 2020 while the same year for SG is USD$15Bil, hence the 5 fold over us. They can afford that 5X more with just 3X budget due to their stronger currency you see.

    “Their trade balance is 100x to 150x of ours”
    Much of their trade is pass-thru trade from their entreport, not much goods are exported out from SG itself unlike MY our trade goods comes from our own resource/production. A real positive trade balance would be something like China(in the extreme) or Japan & Korea(moderate), which is why The Donald is taking punitive measures on them to rebalance trade. If even countries like MY is jittery with these measures, why is SG not even breaking sweat? Because the trade of materials doesn’t come from them so these measures doesn’t affect them directly.

  78. Lee – “Russian Bear would send their long range patrols to overfly the northern Peninsula.”

    Most of them were actually Badgers and Antonovs; on their way to or from Vietnam. Quite a number of them were transiting via the Middle East; others via Indian airspace from the southern part of the Soviet Union. A number of Cam Ranh Bay Bears did briefly stray into our airspace over the South China Sea whilst monitoring USN activity.

    Take note that we – and the Thais – did at times allow Russian aircraft to overfly our airspace for transit.

    Lee – “There are lessons to be learnt from the past. Relearn these lessons””

    Actually …… we have never forgotten these lessons. Most of the SOPs in place with regards to SOPs haven’t changed much from the days when we had Sabres and later F-5s on QRA.

    The prerequisites are early warning (up to the late 1980’a we only had S-600 to cover the northern region – ATC at Butterworth also contributed), a command set up that enables QRAs to be launched with minimal delay after various conditions have been met, etc. Maintaining a QRA is resource intensive; yet we’ve always maintained one despite the low number of aircraft we have.

  79. Lee Yoke Meng “The base would send up the Sabres n later the F5s. … Photos would be taken of each other”

    I wish some photos would be released, but there is no chance of that happening.

    “every year the wataniah has an annual camp/ training. The economic implication would be like what it is now. As for whether the payroll would be done properly n effectively trust me. Even the regulars admit the wataniah does their work more enthusiastically than them”

    I am not taking issue with the cost, just asking if people sent to patrol a given area once a year can gain sufficient familiarity. The smugglers operate year round.

  80. The F-5 was the choice for countries which not only were not cleared or could not afford F-16 but also those who did not need the capabilities it offered.

    Whilst Gripen is just as complex and capable as the likes of Typhoon and Rafale (on a platform basis/level); it also requires a much less intensive support infrastructure being based on Swedish requirements; to operate from landing strips/alternate airfields (with the minimum of support facilities) and to be maintained by conscripts who have minimal training.

    Based on the fact that the technological and capability divide between a Gripen and Typhoon and Rafale is not as wide as that between a F-5E or a F-16A; I would argue that there is no current equivalent of the F-5
    (a cheap to buy and operate platform and relatively unsophisticated platform) although as Chua notes Gripen is probably the “closest”.

    As far as upgraded F-5s go: sure they are much more capable than a baseline F-5E but then how truly capable any platform is in this day and age must really been seen in the context of it being operated at a systems level.

  81. “The F-5 was the choice for countries which not only were not cleared or could not afford F-16 but also those who did not need the capabilities it offered. ”

    To be precise, the F-5 was intended as an affordable fighter for export from the start, and was in service long before the F-16 existed on paper. While it surpassed expectations and was bought by some NATO countries, it’s intended market was the third world.

    Conversely, the F-16 was intended for use by the USAF and NATO. It was intended as an affordable, numerous platform for battlefield roles, leaving high end air superiority tasks to the F-15, but still intended to operate against a sophisticated peer over the most high tech battlefield on earth.

    Advancements in electronics are the reason for today’s F-16s far surpassing the original aircraft in purpose and capabilities, and the reason the Gripen can offer such capabilities from such a small platform.

    “Based on the fact that the technological and capability divide between a Gripen and Typhoon and Rafale is not as wide”

    By the time the Gripen came along, the state of electronics made it possible to offer relatively high end capabilities in a small platform. So from the start, it was intended to offer the general capabilities of a Typhoon or Rafale or late model F-16, but at a lower level of price, capacity and performance.

  82. joe ”Our expenditure for defence is USD$3Bil for 2020 while the same year for SG is USD$15Bil, hence the 5 fold over us. They can afford that 5X more with just 3X budget due to their stronger currency you see.”

    Wrong. Their budget is SGD15 billion, not USD15 billion for 2020. This is USD10.95 billion at today’s rate. Our budget is USD3.7 billion. Do the math, it’s three times ours. Chua is right.

    joe “Much of their trade is pass-thru trade from their entreport, not much goods are exported out from SG itself unlike MY our trade goods comes from our own resource/production. … If even countries like MY is jittery with these measures, why is SG not even breaking sweat? ”

    Actually a reduction in world trade is very good reason for an entrepot economy to worry. And contrary to not “breaking a sweat” the Singapore PM has probably asked the two sides to mend their relations more times than any other country.

    If you’re dependent on the trade of others and it slows down for whatever reason, there’s nothing you can do about it. Singapore is in the fortunate position of having built up hefty reserves to draw on in times like these, and for having used those reserves to make investments whose returns towards funding a good amount of government spending. Defence wise, they don’t have a huge backlog of unfunded requirements stemming from years of neglect.

  83. AM – “To be precise, the F-5 was intended as an affordable fighter for export”

    AM – “ it’s intended market was the third world.””

    It was intended for countries that could not (either due to funding or other reasons) get the F-16; as well as those which due to threat perceptions could afford but did not need the capabilities offered by the F-16.

    It remained this way long after the F-16 entered service. Long before the F-16 came along; the F-5 was the only option for many. Prior to the F-5 being available American fighter options would have been the F-8 and F-4; both being beyond the capabilities or even the needs for smaller air arms.

    As a successor to the F-5 Northrop came out with the F-20 which we almost bought. Like the F-5 the more advance F-20 was targeted at countries which could not or didn’t want to get the F-16. It was also seen as being exportable to certain non 3rd World countries.

    AM – “but at a lower level of price, capacity and performance”

    It was based purely on Sweden’s requirements and was also intended to be less resource intensive; needing a less elaborate support infrastructure; due to the requirement for it to operate from alternate runways/landing strips and to be maintained by conscripts.

    Along the way Gripen matured in capability/performance to the extent that it’s just as sophisticated/complex/capable as more expensive twin engine designs – which is why it’s so appealing to various customers who cant afford something else or who are put of with the high associated supper/operating costs of other aircraft.

    The fact that Typhoon and Rafale are seen as being more capable is to be expected given they are more expensive and were based on slightly different operational requirements. To be expected Gropen’s price has risen in line with its improved performance compared to earlier variants – it’s cheaper than its competitors (price wise) but it’s no more “cheap”. In the long run however it will be much cheaper to operate/support.

    Like Rafale and Typhoon; Gripen was also from the onset intended to be operated as part of an integrated network. The prime difference is that in Swedish service Eriye wasn’t intended purely for early waning and battle management (like other AEW platforms) but as an integral part of the ground based AD network; by linking all the sensors and as a relay platform.

  84. @AM
    Wrong you are, mate. Use google. It won’t make your reply look silly.

    Of course SG economy very much depends on others, why else would they record a 13% GDP drop? But that tells you they are still on a moderate scale compared even to MY or PH. Remember that even during the height of world locking down, they are still running inbound & outbound goods traffic. And still despite this trade imbalance, USA aren’t putting SG on their crosshairs unlike their other traditional trade partners.

  85. joe “Wrong you are, mate. Use google. It won’t make your reply look silly…. SG economy very much depends on others, why else would they record a 13% GDP drop? But that tells you they are still on a moderate scale compared even to MY or PH.”

    You’re misquoting figures for your benefit. Singapore’s economy fell 41% quarter on quarter. The same drop is 12.6% on a year-on-year basis. This is the important part. The reference quarter is Q2 2019. Long before Covid, the trade war was enough to bite -3.3% from their GDP QoQ in that quarter. We grew 4.9% over the same period. 2019 overall. We also posted far stronger growth for the year (4.3 vs 0.7%.) Only by ignoring the fact that Singapore sank way earlier, can you say that our GDP has sank more than theirs.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/14/singapores-q2-advanced-gdp-estimates-economy-contracts-12point6percent-year-over-year.html

    I gather that math is not your strong suite. Chua has been trying to tell you that Malaysia’s and Singapore’s GDP are comparable when denominated in USD, and hence we would spend the similar amounts if we allocated similar percentages to defence, but you were still harping on the effects of currency allowing them to spend “5X” what we spend.

    joe “And still despite this trade imbalance, USA aren’t putting SG on their crosshairs unlike their other traditional trade partners.”

    Take your own advice and do your research.

    What do you mean by “despite?” USA has no reason to be unhappy with Singapore because Singapore runs a negative trade balance with them. A very big one at that. Singapore’s overall trade balance is positive because they run positive balances with other countries. But in your haste to make your usual sensationalist claims, you didn’t bother to look it up before concluding.

    https://wits.worldbank.org/CountryProfile/en/Country/SGP/Year/2017/TradeFlow/EXPIMP/Partner/by-country

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