SHAH A:Poseidon, Lightnings and Apaches too. A Defence Ministry official has called on Malaysia to buy similar platforms as operated by the other members of the Five Power Defence Agreement (FPDA) which include the UK, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Though the official – Ahmad Syah Ejaz Ismail – a special officer with the Deputy Defence Minister – writing in the New Straits Times did not name the platforms operated by the other FPDA members.
These countries, among others, however do operate or going to operate the Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPA, Lockheed Martin F-35s Lightning II stealth fighter and Boeing Apache attack helicopters, so it is fair to say these are the platforms, Ahmad Syah was referring to.
RAAF P-8A flying over RMAF Butterworth. Australian Defense Department
Although there were glaring mistakes in the column – he stating that Malaysia being an archipelagic nation and FPDA to be involved in UN peacekeeping operations – the others things he wrote is quite revealing coming from a defence ministry official.
For example, he wrote:
As such, our combat readiness has deteriorated and is low compared with other FPDA members. This posed cooperation challenges when it comes to planning and carrying out military manoeuvres and exercises, and has resulted in Malaysia just becoming a mere observer in FPDA air and sea manoeuvres, even in our own territory.
He further states:
Having a different platform for our strategic assets puts the armed forces at a disadvantage in interoperability and commonality of operations, with our defence partners that further impacted the long-term strategic plan of capacity building for our armed forces. We have fallen so much behind in having the right air defence assets when we start buying the eastern-built aircraft in the 1990s.
Fortunately, with Australia heading the Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System in Butterworth, the Malaysian poor aerial defence is plugged by an additional squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)-F/A-18F and PC3 Orion that were stationed in Butterworth through Op Gateway.
RSAF F-16D+ fighter at Kuantan airbase as part of the exchanges during Bersama Lima 16. RSAF photo.
Even though the FPDA could not and should not dictate how we decide our defence procurement programme, by being active in the FPDA’s related exercises, Malaysian armed forces and the Defence Ministry will always be guided by the true north of proven military needs and stop procuring different type of assets outside the FPDA ambit.
I don’t think serving and retired military officers will take kindly to the notion that the Malaysian Armed Forces had been relegated to observer status on many Bersama Lima exercises within the last decade or so despite the challenges they faced with the equipment.
We will have to see whether MAF will respond to the allegations highlighted by the column. For further details of the column please go here.
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