MRCA Tender Is On? Part II

SHAH ALAM: Amended below is the conclusion of an article by an Israeli analyst on the F35. You can read the whole article HERE

You will noticed that the author had convincingly prove his preference for the F35, above all 4th generation fighters and other contemporary alternatives. His arguments could also be used by any other country looking to re-capitalise its air combat fleet including Malaysia although in our own case some caveats must be put in place first.

I have argued before that we dont have the funds to splash on another MRCA squadron at the moment and its better for us to concentrate on increasing our defence budget first before thinking of another procurement programme, so the argument presented by these analyst is simply things for us to ponder on.

I admit any increase in the Malaysian defence budget must first be accompanied with wholesale reforms in Jalan Padang Tembak if we want to see real changes in the Armed Forces and country.


Equipping the Israel Air Force with the F-35 has strategic importance in terms of deterring the enemy from starting a war and in terms of maintaining Israel’s qualitative advantage in the arena. Effective use of the IAF in a war requires aerial superiority that allows activity for fighter jets on the front and above choice regions deep in enemy territory. Aerial superiority is required to allow the continuous operation of unmanned vehicles at a reasonable rate of attrition. In light of the development of aerial defense systems in Syria and Iran, attaining aerial superiority faces unprecedented challenges. The main features of the F-35 would allow it to operate before aerial superiority is achieved and be the primary tool for attaining it.

The regional arms race requires Israel to equip itself with the next generation of weapon systems in order to provide a response to new weapons entering the arena now and those that will be introduced in the future. An examination of alternatives in the form of surface-to-surface missiles and advanced UAVs demonstrates that despite their expected contribution they cannot serve as complete substitutes to fifth generation fighter jets. This support for the purchase of the F-35, however, should be joined by a discussion about the gamut of the response in the more distant future. It may provide solutions in other directions of force buildup.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. According to Andrew Niemyer, writing at the blog, Information Dissemination (

    “To put the terms in ‘Airdale speak’: Air Superiority means we will win the fight for control of a particular bit of three dimensional airspace and not have losses so bad that we can’t come back tomorrow morning and do it again. Air Supremacy means that the bad guys will not fly under virtually any circumstance, because if they do, they will die. We are the big dog on the block, period. Air superiority is not necessarily a permanent condition, while air supremacy can be thought of as the ultimate goal of any long term air campaign, much as was sought and attained a near-generation ago in the initial air phase of Operation Desert Storm.

    Air superiority can be thought of in three different ways:

    (a) Control of space,
    (b) control of time,
    (c) control of geography, or

    a combination of those three.

    Depending on the commander’s intent and tasking, we can seek to attain air superiority over a region (which is usually done in the course of a campaign, not an individual air strike or limited series of strikes), over a political area, e.g. a nation, again a campaign objective or a specific piece of territory, say a particular area surrounding a specific target.”

    IMHO, understanding what air-superiority means in practical terms is useful understanding the above discussion by Marhalim. The link provided at the blog, Information Dissemination is useful in clearing up the concepts used and I strongly encourage reading the link provided.

  2. Agreed with you sir, but unless we achieve more than 6% average growth in the next 10 years or we completely do away with subsidies which account for around 30%-40% of our operating budget, its is highly unlikely we will have a significant increase in defense spending. We will be lucky if they do a peg to inflation type budget, at least in real terms the defense spending will not be reduced.

    One would have to take into possibility to revamp altogether our defense mechanism in view of the tight budget. When i say revamp i mean cut down interms of numbers but try to improve in terms of quality. But it will be a lot more easier said than done

  3. I like the part about the writer mentioning ‘the regional arms race’ [Middle East]… What regional arms race? Israel already has a clear military superiority over all it’s Arab neighbours as well as Iran, irrespective of the billions spent by oil rich Arab governments, whose main agenda is regime survival. If we read between the lines, the message is when Israel buys arms, it’s for self-defence but when other regional countries buys arms it’s a dangerous development as these can threaten the ‘survival’ of Israel. He also mentions ”the development of aerial defense systems in Syria”…. Despite some improvements, the antiquated Syrian air defence network is long in need of an overhaul as proven when Israeli planes raided a suspected Syrian nuclear facility with ease, 2 years ago.

    We might as well wish for the tooth fairy as there is no incentive for the government to initiate reforms at MINDEF. For a start a new Defence Minister would be nice. I for one am watching with keen interest just how the funding under the 11th Malaysia Plan is supposed to cover the – AV8, MRCA’s, MPSS’s and SGPV’s. I suspect that the Cougar deal, if ever signed, will be funded from leftovers from the 10th Malaysia Plan. It’s funny how about 1 year ago the government made it a priority to get 2-3 MPSS’s yet now there is no news about it and instead the MRCA’s appear to be item No.1 on the shopping list. Another thing thing that puzzles me is the signing of the agreement by NGV Tech with a Korean shipyard for 2 training ships. Has NGV Tech actually received a contract from MINDEF?

  4. dear sir,

    From what i gathered in my free time from what written on the net that it seems only the funding for SGPV is firmed but it will be over RMK11 and RMK12. Total cost estimated about RM8-9 billion over 10 years

    I really wish they cancel the AV8 manufacture in Malaysia program and buy straight of the shelf, well at least it is 50-60% cheaper that way.However the good news (i think la) funding for the whole project is still up in the air

    The cougar well i heard rumours (from my work) that upfront payment already been made and only the offset package is to be finalised within this few months. First chopper is expected by late 2012.

    Rumours only

  5. Kamal, according to an unconfirmed report by a defence writer, the RMAF indentified a long term requirement for 74 Cougars, for which the MOF had agreed to fund an initial 12 under the 10th Malaysia Plan and another 15 under the 11th Malaysia Plan.

    Based on the distinction between ‘air superiority’ and ‘air supremacy’ as mentioned in the article provided by OPSSG, one is tempted to ask is if the Allies ever achieved ‘air supremacy’ over the skies of Germany in 1945, in that they still suffered losses, admittedly low, right to the very end? Similiarly, the USAF and USN achieved ‘air superiority’ over the skies of Vietnam but did they ever achieve ‘air supremacy’ like they did later over Iraq and Kosovo? All the fancy talk and power point presentations aside, 2 things still stand out – the need for training, training and more training and situational awareness.

    BTW, there is very nice pic of the KD TAR at Teluk Sepanggar taken in October during the visit by the USS Jacksonville after her participation in CARAT 2010.

  6. Thank You sir,

    But for 74 units and at price of around USD40-USd45 million a piece and taken the timeline of next 10-15 years, i would rather have a new designed heli for the second phase and just keep with the 12 heli of EC725 for the first phase.

    Well my arguements as follows:-

    1) The first phase of 12 EC725 shall be used mainly by RMAF for CSAR. I was made to believed by past years publication that the troop supply transport capability will be taken over by Squadron 882 of the PUTD. So why do wee need more than 12 CSAR heli? Even the french have only 14

    2) For troop supply transport that is going to be used for another 40 years, we should get a brand new design or go heavy lift chopper. New Design such as NH 90, AW 101 Merlin or S92 silorsky or CH47F can be very expensive and may be out of our budget but there are also the new design that we already used in our inventory such as the AW139. They are planning for AW149 the enlarged military version. Price range between USD21-USD30 million depending on spec and plus we already established a usage for 5 of them, 2 Bomba and 3 MMEA. The AW139 is not that bad, up to 15 passengers can be carried (almost 2 platoon) and i would say price wise ok kut.

    Just my 2 cents

    Marhalim: I would still prefer the Blackhawks, yes they are more expensive than the AW149 or AW139 in the first place, but since the US will be using them for the next 20 years or so, it will be a much cheaper when it comes to maintenance and support. Numbers? Again, if money is available together with the reforms, around 60 will suffice, 30 here and 30 in Sabah and Sarawak.

    The requirements for the medium helicopter like the Cougar and such, is the need to have a machine capable of flying to Sabah and Sarawak in emergencies. A Blackhawk fitted with external tanks and air-to-air to refueling can do it albeit sacrificing cargo capacity.

    A V-22 fits our needs exactly but its too expensive and too damn complicated to fly and maintain.. oh well…

  7. Agreed with Marhalim. Although I personally like the EC725 heli, but it would be better if they select the Black Hawk since we already operating 2 Black Hawk for our VIP fleet. Anyway, what is the status of our Nuri fleet?

    The status of the Nuri fleet remained the same as a year back. When only two are deployed to three flood ravaged states, one knows that all is not well…

  8. Off topic for a while… New sad news…

    A glorified toothless patrol boat for RM1Billion (USD320Million) apiece…

    From the article i can see it is going to be another meko100 design (that is OK, cause we already own the IP for that design)but now with a proper exhaust funnel. But why does it need to cost that much?? (i know the previous ones are at the same cost, but that was because of the whole PSC-ND fisaco)

    The similar Braunschweig K-130 corvette of the german navy, with full armarment cost USD310Mil. The Indonesian SIGMA’s cost just USD222Mil. The turkish MILGEM’s USD250Mil. Not to forget the huge (and to me the best value for money current warship) Danish Navy’s Absalon Multi Purpose Frigates at less than USD300Mil…

    At that price for a single ship RMN can also get 8 of the new Korean Gumdoksuri PKX fast missile corvettes, or 8 LPD similar to the Indonesian Makassar class, or 3 of Spains’s Buques de Acción Marítima (BAM -maritime action ship) OPV… Is RMN/Malaysia getting a good deal out of our nation’s money??

    So if you have RM6Billion, what ships would you buy for RMN?

    If i’m the defence minister for RM6Billion budget I would get:
    – 2 Absalon Frigates
    – 12 Gumdoksuri PKM corvettes (replacing the old FAC’s)
    – 4 Makassar class LPD – 6 BAM OPV

    Thats 24 ships (including frigates, LPD and OPV’s) for the price of 6 toothless SGPV’s… And most of the ships can be built locally (especially the korean designed PKX and LPD; and the spanish BAM).

  9. Instead of buying more new planes, it is better to make better use of what we have. Wwe need to upgrade the hawk 200 to keep up with the times. The F5E’s can still be used.Upgrade it both structurally and the radar so it can fire modern missiles which our hornets can fire. Upgrade the hornets which we have.what with the MIG29?Keep it modern like what the Indians are doing.With these planes kept in tip top conditions there is no need for additional new planes

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