PUTD AW109 in Desert Camouflage

PUTD AW109 being painted in desert camouflage. Air Times picture

SHAH ALAM: Air Times – a website concentrating on national issues with strong defence and national security feelers – has published a picture of a PUTD AgustaWestland AW109 being painted in desert camouflage.

I contacted Air Times to ask permission to reproduce the picture here and it was duly granted. As seen from the picture, the paint job -most probably at an Airod facility – looked almost complete though much work is still needed before the helicopter could undergo testing prior to its return to full flight status.

Industry sources told Malaysian Defence that the desert camouflage was an “operational requirement” from PUTD. They however declined to be specific what kind operational tasking that needed the LOH to be painted in a desert camouflage.

The PUTD AW109 undergoing transformation into a desert bird. Courtesy of Air Times.
The PUTD AW109 undergoing transformation into a desert bird. Courtesy of Air Times.

Since I am on shaky grounds here, I will leave it to your own imagination where the operational tasking will be. For further reading go here. Furthermore, they could turn around paint it back in the Army standard digital camo. However, from the picture above, we can assumed that once the paint job is completed, the AW109 camo will looked very similar to the livery on the two PUTD Nuri, which was unveiled at Lima 2015, earlier this year.

 Tentera Darat new helicopter, Nuri M23-01 resplendent in its digital camo.
Tentera Darat new helicopter, Nuri M23-01 resplendent in its digital camo.

There is no word on however on whether the helicopter will be armed or what kind will be fitted. Hopefully its the forward firing gun and rocket pods.. It is likely also that the desert camo Aw109 is the same helicopter that crashed in Johor in early, 2014.

Perhaps I will get lucky when the desert camouflage helicopter goes on its test flight, and I am able to snap good pictures of it.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. The A-109 which crashed whilst conducting a night training sortie with an ALAT instructor was reported to have been so heavily damaged that it was considered a write off.

  2. For missions in Lebanon it would be painted in all white UN colours, not in desert camouflage.

    When is the government going to tell the rakyat about this??

    I guess we have to wait for Najib to come back from the US before we can get any answers.

  3. TomTom, AFAIK vehicles for UN Mission usually in solid white with a big UN/NU letters painted in black. So we can safely strike out Lebanon. Does Arab military helies in desert brown color?

  4. If indeed the A-109 is going to Yemen a flare launcher and not a gaudy desert scheme would increase its survivability. The crew would also need NVIS 9 NVGs to better enable night ops. Off course a flare launcher or any kind of counter measures will not protect against small arms fire – only tactical flying and luck will. The main danger might not be enemy action but emaffect dust and hot conditions will have on the aircraft. In a couple of months it will turn cold.

    For the Somalia deployment there were initial plans for a single Alo 3 to operate with MALBATT. Operations conducted on Thai soil, which included Selamat Sawadee, saw Nuris operating from forward bases in Thailand. At least 8 Nuris were deployed to Cambodia to assist with the UN organised elections there.

  5. OK, maybe not Lebanon, what about Iraq or Syria? After all, there are Malaysians apparently fighting with IS.

  6. Is that special desert camo or new PUTD camo since it looks like the Nuri’s camo?

    Many seem to be gung-ho about Yemen so OK, I won’t hedge my comments.

    Where in Yemen does Malaysia’s national interests lie? How do the Houthis and Ali Saleh threaten our sovereignty?
    If we go in, we’ll be fighting in the wrong war. The Pakistanis know this. Our generals should follow the very experienced Pakistani generals’ view.

    Yemen is in the midst of civil war with 3 main players: Houthi + Ali Saleh’s forces are a mix of regular and irregular forces. They are battle-hardened and disciplined, although underresourced, with susbstantial support from the population in the north-western corner of the country ie Houthi country.

    The Saudi effort is led by a 30 year-old ‘Menhan’, a lawyer, with no military experience. He’s there because his father said so. All reports say the KSA top brass advise him but defer to his decisions. In effect, the whole effort is led by a guy who, had he joined, would be a senior captain in a proper army.

    The Saudis are inexperienced and they’re conducting the war in similar fashion to the cocked-up effort in Iraq: Air power + naval blockade + ground forces in insufficient numbers. The bombing campaign is brutal but if we look at how ibn Saud’s Wahabis captured the Hijaz and Madinah — they bombed the city and damaged the Prophet’s (pbuh) tomb in the process — we should not expect niceties about the effect on Yemenis. It’s ironic that Shariff Husain’s descendents are now ganging up with ibn Saud’s descendents against Yemen.

    The UAE is finding out the hard way the cost of their land involvement. Their armd bde is getting clobbered. The irregular Haraki are only interested in getting independence of South Yemen and are not interested in moving north into Houthi country.

    The AQAP is taking advantage of the situation in the east. They’ll have to be fought eventually.

    There are repotts of murmurs of dissent among Saudi royals about the conduct of the king and his DM vide Yemen. For all we know the king could be removed in a palace coup.

    Do we still want to be involved?

  7. Miniguns for when we go downtown in Sanaa! It’s just like Bokhara market all over again boys!!!!!

  8. It has nothing to do with sovereign interests, it has to do with dinars, riyals or whatever. How can one possibly discount the effect of a billions of ringgit in donations? Do you really believe that it comes with no strings attached? Of course as a nation we are suffering far more now that our currency has fallen to near record lows and the government can offer nothing in response.
    Dignity was pawned long time ago la.

  9. Yeah woohoo, AW109s in desert digi camo and still, I don’t see the point of getting us into the war. After money is still a play factor in war too…

  10. Ferret,

    The Pakistanis themselves have lots of experience fighting the wrong war given their long history of propping up groups like the Herzb Islami, Haqqani’s group and later the Talibs. They also have experience of sending people to fight “dirty wars” and later disclaiming them (Afghanistan and Kashmir) when things go wrong.

    Yemen has no direct affect on our sovereignty; just like Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Namibia, the Lebanon where we sent peacekeepers to and the half a dozen places we sent observers to including Darfur. It’s all about “national interests”….. and nothing to do with actual safeguarding of our sovereignty.

    Instead of deploying to Iraq to assist in rolling back IS the GCC countries are more interested rolling back Iran in Yemen and providing assistance to groups in Syria the West calls “extremists” to topple Assad Jr. because he’s best chums with Iran and Hezbollah. Like the Blue eyed countries in Iraq and Afghanistan; the GCC countries have realised getting in is much easier that getting out….
    No doubt the next time the Israelis decide to have another go at Hezbollah or lay waste to Gaza; the gallant RSAF and UAEAF will be there…..

  11. “No doubt the next time the Israelis decide to have another go at Hezbollah or lay waste to Gaza; the gallant RSAF and UAEAF will be there…..”

    Oo boy, if there is such a day! I read in The Independent that Iran is minimizing its role in Yemen (though its role isn’t that big in the beginning) and had began to solve the crisis through diplomacy with Egypt as the mediator between Iran and SA. But the recent stampede incident in Makkah may disrupt the process, some Iranian press blamed the incident to a convoy of some Saudi prince which forces the closure of street 206. The Saudi government who at first said that the incident was “God’s will” now blame the pilgrims who they said failed to follow the system put in place. Understandably, the Iranian consider it as an insult considering that more than 40% of the deceased victims were Iranian.

    And I just notice this, this past few weeks I notice a sudden surge of articles regarding ‘the Shia’s treachery’ being shared in facebook, hmm..

  12. Azlan,

    ‘The Pakistanis themselves have lots of experience fighting the wrong war’

    The wrong war according to us. But the examples you gave are actually irrelevant. They’re more to do with Pakistan’s fear of being surrounded by India via Afghanistan. Yemen is a different proposition for them.

    ‘Yemen has no direct affect on our sovereignty; just like Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Namibia, the Lebanon where we sent peacekeepers’

    You’ve not read my comments properly. I was talking about an entirely different thing — direct involvement in a war coalition, one run by inexperienced foreign cdrs, not peacekeeping/peacemaking.

  13. The Saudis and Emirate armies are getting a mauling from the tribesmen and average Yemeni soldiers almost on a daily basis which clearly shows that even when you have the money to buy the best weapon systems but do not have the experience in the pocket or the will to learn from others (American,Afghan,Iraqis or Israeli) then you are kaput..! The uses of ATGWs really is a game changer. But the question is whether our army high brass are aware of the preentscenario! Everyone knows the armour aspects of the Abram……and then compare that to the PT91….no contest with the Kornets and Iranian made Toophans! Honestly.. It’s plain sickening to see wrecks upon wrecks of MRAPs and Abrams littering the desert floor and the failure of the RSLF to utilize the Apaches to the max!
    As for the 109,there must be a really intelligent reason why it was painted that way,otherwise whoever planned it must be a total idiot (That goes for the 2 Nuris too!I prefer if they stick to the OD green which works so well)

  14. Ferref,

    Not out of fear of being “surrounded” but of being obsessed with the notion of having “strategic depth” in Afghanistan and of diverting Indian attention by stirring things up in Kashmir. It’s for the same reason that RAW has ties to Baluch separatists.

    Not the wrong war according to “us” but the wrong war, period. When viewed objectively and when asking how Pakistan benefited, i.e. did it gain any of its objectives or did its adventures actually contribute to Pakistan’s national security and well being? Pakistan depends on Arab largesse as it’s Arab cash that props up the Pakistani economy after the Americans stopped writing blank cheques. For the same reason Pakistan is a faithful Arab ally in the Cold War fought against Iran and has been for decades.

    I read what you wrote “properly”. Malaysian involvement in Yemen has no more to do with protecting our sovereignty or making the country safer; than our involvement in various UN operations – irrespective of the circumstances of our deployment or how we chose to go about getting involved.

  15. Rozaimi,

    In 1973 when Saggers were used with success in the Sinai pundits were saying it was a “game changer” and that MBTs were obsolete. It truth the Israelis deployed in drips and drabs , without adequate infantry support and drew the wrong conclusions from 1967. When they eventually got their act together the Sagger wasn’t an issue in 1973. In fact, studies conducted in the aftermath of the war showed that the bulk of tanks were killed by other tanks, not ATGWs.

    Personally I’m very hesitant when using terms like “game changer” as it’s often very misleading.

  16. Of course it does. Many Malaysians aspire to be Arab. Culturally we have adopted Arabism wholesale.
    Everyone wants to be an Arab, to be a sponsor of some foreigner and collect money for doing nothing.
    What better way to show how Arab we can be than to go and fight for them against heretics?
    We need to do our part in solidarity with our Sunni brothers, to prevent the possibility of Shia-led domination of the region from the Gulf to the Med.
    If we are lucky, we will even get to take on the Zionists!

  17. Rozaimi

    The same inteligent officers decided to paint the pendekar’s with the same large size cartoonish digipat camo. So ur guest is good as mine. And yet some one will still say “they know what they are doing”.

    Regarding the coppers and yemen, cows will fly before we ever enter that arab conflict. No lah. The coppers were painted so they look alike with the newer army digipat camo and all the other army vehicles. Just give them some time to get to their senses. They change that paint scheme in no time. Just wait for the newer trend in army uniform to come outla. Maybe multicame pattern next. Who nows.

  18. Shed,

    If the A-109 was painted that way to look similar to the digital scheme already applied on vehicles and artillery, it would be in green, not brown. As to how effective the digital scheme is, it would really depends on several factors. No camo scheme – as you’re aware -,is effective in every environment.

    Like all of us, I have no idea as to whether the A-109 is indeed going to the Middle East or even if we’re involved there. Perhaps the reason we had (still have?) a training detachment in the UAE is because there were initial plans (as part of our ingratiating ourselves with the sheikhs policy) for involvement in the region. Who knows? From what I’ve gathered, the UAE not only flew out troops there but even paid for their upkeep.

    Marhalim can confirm this but I recall that the Nuris that were handed over to the army were painted brown not because the army asked for it but because AIROD thought a symbolic non standard scheme would be appropriate for the ceremony.

  19. Azlan

    If i was not mistaken the paint scheme on the 109 is the same as the nuris that was handed over by airod. Lets be realistic. What does a bunch of 109s (10 left) have that a whole fleet of F15S, typhoons, mirages and even apaches cant do during the 7 month of conflict? And we still think that the MAF is going to enter that b¥££$#it of a war? With what budget? What personel? What equipment? 2.6 bil is not going to be enough trust me..

  20. Its time to stop dreaming. The arabs dont need our help. We are not important as we like to think.. they got the manpower, the budget and the equipment. What they lack is leadership and tactics. A weakness faced by the arabs since the fall of the ottoman empire (yes they were turks). What do u expect when their military leader is chosen on the basis of family ties instead of military prowess. And yet we still think that they are asking 4 our help when our own leaders are so good at…? What i dont know.

    The coalition lacked one thing, manpower. With Pakistan declining to enter the fray, they need extra personnel needed for an insurgency they are expecting. Egypt with the biggest armed forces in the region cannot afford to send too many personnel due to its own security situation.

  21. Shed,

    You miss the fact that although the Arabs don’t need our help, getting as many countries in is a PR boost. It enables them to say they have a ‘coalition of the willing” (to borrow a U.S.
    cliche)to defeat the Houthis. It is given that the Arabs will foot the bill or compensate countries that contribute to the ’cause”.

    Same reason Egypt and Syria deployed troops to Saudi. Not because they were actually needed to defend against Saddam but for political reasons.

    Yes the scheme of the A-109 is the same on the Nuri. If it was intended to be similar to the digital scheme adopted by the army, it would be in the same colour.

  22. Obama announced that Malaysia and tunisia have join the coalition to fight Isis…. now, what would our role be in this coalition?

    Most probably intelligence work.

  23. The M-ATVs for our fellows are sitting in Abu Dhabi. Already overhauled and equipped with M2 HMGs. It won’t take long to spin them up on the comms kit so all they need to do is drive around the desert for a bit and then they will be ready to go to Marib or Sadaa. If they want small arms, that can also be arranged, since the UAE uses M4s.
    They don’t need Malaysian MBTs.
    They do need Malaysian helo pilots. I would have asked for a full Carson rework on the Nuris before we send them out.
    This is an opportunity!

  24. Marhalim

    The gcc country involved in this conflict have a standing army of more then 200 thousand if was not mistaken. Not including the egyptian. They should have known better then to get involve into a counter insurgency type war when looking back at afganistan and iraq. The lack of judgement is apalling. But what do u expect when their supreme commander is a 30 year old pampered prince.. The numbers to me is there if u are fighting a conventional warfare. They are not facing a numerical or technologicaly advance enemy. No matter how much personel u have it will take years to win a counter insurgency type war. Hey it took us about 41 years to do it (and we end up in a ceasefire).

    Looking back at the conflict the arabs seems to be lacking in everything from leadership to tactics and even fighting spirit. Gone are the days of khalid ibn walid or salehuddin al ayubi armies. Nowadays the arab a good at retreating @ running. Thats why we are seeing top notch mbt being left on the battlefield. The crews seems very eager to save their own ass then fighting the enemy. When things get hot they choose flight rather then fight.


    Yes it will surely be a pr booster. The same as estonia sending their guys to fight in afganistan. The impact is less then significant. And the gov wouldnt be that foolish. I think…. the idea of our boys dying in a foreign land wont look good in the ge14 resume.

    Yes the the choppers had the same paint scheme. But saying its a desert type camo is a bit off.. The army recieved the nuris a few month back long before all this talk of us going into yemen appeared. As far as i know its just to make them look fancy. The more bling the better. Sembur cat pun dpt duit bro. if they realy cares about practicality then they would had gone with the small pixilised camo developed by STRIDE. Its the malaysian way of doing business. Sometimes it defies logic.

  25. “The coalition lacked one thing, manpower. With Pakistan declining to enter the fray, they need extra personnel needed for an insurgency they are expecting. Egypt with the biggest armed forces in the region cannot afford to send too many personnel due to its own security situation.”

    Marhalim, from what i get in the news, the Egyptians were supposed to lead the land assault but they have reportedly bowed out in favor of a diplomatic solution. Indeed, manpower is what’s lacking in the gulf states and also battlefield experience.

    the gulf states need help to sort this thing out. The reason why the call us is because they are running out of allies willing to fight with (read: for) them. The gulf states are very adamant to isolate Iran in the region, and for them time is running out as Iran are in negotiation with US to lift their economic sanction. They know that without the sanction Iran’s influence in the region will eclipse theirs. Even with sanction, Iran is capable of funding its proxies in the region and their effectiveness is unquestionable.

    Yes, this whole desert camo thing might not be a solid indicator that we are going to Yemen, but the situation in the country seems to point out that we will. The mystery Arab donation, the ‘courtesy call’ during the height of hajj season. But I seriously hope that you’re right, because if we indeed follow through, not only will we be sucked into a sectarian quagmire but this will also set a precedent for using our armed force as soldier-for-hire. The next PM might have the same idea.

  26. I just want to add to Rozaimi Rafli’s observations which I totally agree with, especially the ATGW bit. It is a game changer. If we look at the topo map of Marib — try Google Earth, and don’t laugh because NCW Stryker units used it in Afghanistan — there’s only one major highway from Saudi to Marib and hence to Sanaa. The hilly ground surrounding it is eminently suited to anti-tank forces, and guerilla war.


    OK, you’ve read my comments properly. Can you not tell the difference between sending armed forces to fight on one side of a conflict and to keep the peace between belligerents?

    I asked about national interest and sovereignty because they are the raison d’etre for MAF’s being. If one can’t come up with good answers to either of those 2 fundamental questions when contemplating combat deployment of MAF, then one shouldn’t deploy the MAF. Your answer betrays a profound misunderstanding of use of armed forces in projecting national power. Peacekeeping leverages Diplomatic/Political instrument of national power. Combat troops leverages the Military instrument. We send troops (as well as policemen) for peacekeeping missions, yes, but they are actually on a diplomatic/political mission.

    With regard to Pakistan, I agree it’s obsessed with strategic depth. That is why it’s worried about India’s influence in Afghanistan. It can’t maintain sufficient forces on East and West. If Indian influence prevails in Afghanistan, Pakistan will be surrounded. The various groups are its means of preventing that. Pakistan wants an Afghanistan that is dependent on them for security. They can then focus on India in the East. That is what they mean by strategic depth, not the military concept of distance and time from the border to industrial centres, seat of govt, national comd centres, military infrastructure, etc.


    There’s an excellent article written by Richard Falk on Saudi sectarian paranoia that’s driving the conflict in Yemen.

  27. As a reward for toppling the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt’s military rulers benefited from an aid package from Saudi, who also is believed to have largely funded the Rafales and Mistrals. It’ll be safe to say that although Egypt is not contributing troops, it’s involved in other ways.


    Camo schemes are not my thing. I would guess however that the digital scheme is effective in certain environments and less so in others. The same would apply to any other scheme we could have selected. One organisation that doesn’t place much importance on camo, whether on uniforms or tanks, is the IDF.

  28. This self same sectarian paranoia has been fed into Malaysia. Which is why we have Shia scares and witch hunts. If we are going to pretend to be Arabs, we should go all in, no?

    There is no diplomacy but from the barrel of a gun. It is the Arab way.

    Only a moron would try and keep the peace now. Iraq is all in with Team Putin. Best to let it all fight out.

    Face it….AyerItam is a great way to meet our covert commitment.

  29. Ferret,

    You not agreeing with me and me apparently displaying a “profound lack of understanding” can be two very different things…and can be very subjective.

    I get all the stuff about diplomacy and how participation in UN missions is in line with our foreign policy (I may not have your deep level of understanding but I get part of it – I’m not that dim) but when viewed objectively, has participation in Bosnia, Namibia and other places actually led to any benefits. Also, in Bosnia we were to all intents and purposes actively involved and not a strictly neutral party, same goes with our participation in Lebanon (albeit to a different and much lesser degree), despite our claims.

    Afghanistan refuses to recognise the Durand Line and claims part of the border area. Pakistan involvement in Afghanistan has also been to ensure the Afghans don’t pursue this claim. Another reason the Pakistanis want to be overlords in Afghanistan is pure economics – the land corridor starting in Central Asia via Afghanistan to Karachi. In the past there were also plans for an oil pipe line – U.S. companies bided for the contract and a Talib delegation was feted by members of Congress during a visit to the U.S.

    Which is why after ditching Hetmatyer the Pakistanis shifted support to the Talibs. The plan was that not only would the Talibs be subservient “partners” but that they would also bring stability to the country for which Pakistan would have been the prime beneficiary.

  30. “This self same sectarian paranoia has been fed into Malaysia. Which is why we have Shia scares and witch hunts. If we are going to pretend to be Arabs, we should go all in, no?”

    It’s weird that during Mahathir’s reign, Malaysia is one of the countries that maintains the stance that Iran has the right to develop its own nuclear program. And though majority of Muslims back then are well acknowledged about the Sunni-Shia divide, this paranoia is not really apparent. Even during Pak Lah, our relationship with Iran was still warm (I guess?). This is further corroborated by leaked US diplomatic cable, which states their exasperation regarding Malaysia’s support for Iran. But now, what change?

  31. Money……. and the infiltration of Wahhabi ideals in a bid to be more religious for political purposes. The religious card is super powerful for Malaysians of Muslim faith. For the GCC, Sunni ultraism is to deny Iran any support from rest of the Islamic world.
    But everything comes back to money.

  32. When Obama backed off from hitting Syria the Arabs were annoyed and built on their unofficial relations with Israel, to the extent that Saudi apparently was willing to close a blind eye to Israeli planes flying over its territory to hit Iran. Russian involvement in Syria and reports that Iranian troops are being sent to Syria will annoy the Sunni Arabs even more.

  33. There is nothing they can do. The GCC is up to their necks in Yemen (exactly as intended). The Supreme Leader has Obama by the jewels and Putin has already brought Erdogan to heel. Team Putin will launch a rolling offensive intended to cut off Idlib and the interior from the Turkish border and their logistics. Pasdaran, Hezbollah and ‘volunteers’ from the Chechen Republic and possibly the DNR will provide infantry. Russians will provide artillery staffs, special forces and forward controllers. The FSA, left flapping in the wind, will fold and rejoin the SAA. And then the killing will begin in earnest.

  34. I really hope this is not indicative of a large scale Yemen adventure for us. Is it possible that this is only for GGK support? Or to help evacuate civilians?

  35. Anas,

    Nothing has changed. We still have fairly good relations with Iran; it’s not as if we’ve downgraded relations. Our stand is that the Iranians have the right to nuclear power for non military purposes and there are bilateral trade/business ties. Yes, we’ll continue to ingratiate ourselves with the Gulf Sheiks and some Malays will strive to be more Arab than the Arabs but we’ll still maintain good relations with the mullahs in Tehran.

    I never could understand why Iranian companies have regularly exhibited at DSA knowing that no ASEAN country will buy anything from Iran knowing that Uncle Sam will not be too happy. Some years ago, we had to “persuade” the Iranians not market a certain IRBM as it contravened MTCR. The Americans threatened to pull out of DSA if the Iranians continued to market the missile.

  36. There isn’t much of the FSA left to begin with. Many have joined IS or groups like it or have simply “melted away”. A recent report indicted that some 70 percent of a group of “moderates” trained by the U.S. had either deserted or joined IS, along with their weapons.

    To date U.S. policy towards Syria has been a total failure. Yet some U.S. officials can with a straight face say that the Russians are doomed to fail and that Russian actions will benefit IS.

    The same officials who insist that the increasingly non existent and relevant FSA and other “moderates” groups are in a position to outer Assad Jr. Another problem is that some of the “moderates” aren’t really “moderates” but maintain they are to receive U.S/Western aid knowing that the Western countries get seduced with the word “moderate”.

  37. You’re quite right Azlan. A look a bit further back in the past will reveal what’s happening in the ME is in fact unfolding according to Neocon ‘New Middle East’ plan which Condoleeza Rice unveiled in Tel Aviv about a decade ago. Remember the ‘Clean Break’ strategy for securing Israel’s position prepared by US top officials for Netanyahu and Col Ralph Peters’ ‘New Map of the Middle East’?

    Let’s look at the big picture and ask what is the American aim in the ME? If I were Netanyahu, I’d delighted with the current situation — all major potential threats, save Iran, screwed up: Iraq in disarray, Syria being processed, Egypt in the pocket, KSA playing ball — in short, the Arab threat neutralised. An ME in constant turmoil would suit him just fine. The Iran deal is a setback for neocons but don’t worry, they’ll think of something — how about Iran’s Kurds?

    Russia is the fly in the ointment. They should listen to Putin’s UNGA speech. They underestimated Russian willingness to draw the line in Syria. Being pragmatists, it’s less likely to be the Russians’ love of Assad. Perhaps it has to do with being able to maintain a naval presence in the Mediterranean (Tartus). Maybe it’s also about sending a message re Ukraine. And maybe they’re just plain fed-up.

    I believe Russian involvement is part of their desire to become a big player in the world again while at the same time thumbing their nose at the West especially the US. I think they believe they had reached the limit at the moment in Ukraine. There is no more glory there unless they are willing to start WW3 which they have no desire at the moment as the Russian military is just rearming and the fact that the West could not blackmailed into appeasement. In Syria however it’s an opportunity to open a second front against the West and the US with little risk of being strategically out maneuvered unless they attacked Israel of course. Furthermore there is the opportunity to try out the latest Russian combat aircraft in a real world operations again with little risk to itself. Heck the West have been doing that in the Middle East for three decades now.

  38. The Russians are doing everything on the cheap. FAB-250 M54 iron bombs are about the cheapest ordnance they have. You are seeing some decent sheafing from the upgraded nav attack systems. This is very much in keeping with their preference for affordably priced bombs.

  39. Ferret,

    Israel is certainly worried about IS but benefits in that Syria in its current state is in no position to demand back the Golan. Israel often reminds the world that it – illegally – holds on to the Golan for security; what it doesn’t say is that it’s largely for water that it wants the Golan. Another advantage is that with the Gulf Arabs focused on Iran/Syria; they are not interested in pressing Israel for a settlement over the Palestinian issue. With Israel continuing to illegally build settlements [goyims are not allow there] on land illegally occupied under international law, including UN Resolution 241; prospects for a 2 state solution is all but gone as land allocated under Oslo for a future Palestinian state is shrinking day by day.

    Since the end of the Cold War the West has been having its way in the Middle East and Russia is fed up. The invasion of Iraq, regime change in Libya and the arming of so call ”moderates” has made an already unstable region more unstable. Just like how the U.S. has belatedly realised that China is a ‘new kid on the block’ that can’t be ignored; it will realise that Russia can’t be ignored or sidelined any longer. The end game for the West is simple. By removing Assad, they weaken Iran. A weakened and isolate Iran will mean less support for Hezbollah and the Middle East comprising of leaders who are more interested in regime survival and who are dependent on the West for this. An Iran without nukes will mean Israel can hold on to its nuclear monopoly and continue to do as it likes.

    After all, there is a policy of unconditional U.S. support for Israel and even if Iran were to retaliate for an Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities; Israel would be safe as Uncle Sam will get involved. Recall how the Gulf Arabs and Israel were so annoyed when Obama called off the strikes and decided to give diplomacy a chance. The Israeli and Yankee neo con narrative is that Iran wants a bomb to ”threaten” the free world and is full of ”hate”. The mullahs supposedly dream of wiping out tel Aviv and Haifa. In the real world Iran wants the capability to be able to assemble a bomb in case certain countries decide on regime change and after what happened to the late ”Colonel” and Saddam; who can blame the Iranians. The North Koreans will agree as the having nuclear devices means there are no calls for regime change in Pyongyang.

    We are constantly told that Iran is a ”supporter of terrorist groups” – no mention of support given to anti Iranian groups that Iran calls ”terrorists”, Arab support to the Taliban and other ”radical” groups” [the first countries to officially recognise the Taliban were Saudi and Qatar] or that ”terrorist” Hezbollah was the first in Iraq to help roll back IS. The West places all the blame on the current situation on Iraq but neglects to remember [selective amnesia] that the Iraqis [themselves hardly blameless] for years have warned that the war in Syria will reach Iraq and that groups like IS will benefit – nobody listened.

    As far as Syria goes, in the ”gaga land”, ”cloud cuckoo land ” fantasy they live in; the neo cons are convinced or hope that the evil and undemocratic Assad [never mind that none of the West’s Arab allies were elected] will be replaced by ”moderate” groups who won’t call for the destruction of Israel and who will behave and be grateful to the West and the sheikhs. Assad after all is a killer of children and uses barrel bombs on his citizens – the narrative off course does not mention Yemeni civilians killed by GCC bombs or how the West cheered when Assad the elder razed Hama to the ground and wiped out the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Amidst all the talk about ”terror”, ”terrorists who hate our values” and an ”apocalyptic” IS [quoting Obama]; there will be no mention of Western and Arab duplicity and how when it suits them; all countries deal with ”terrorists”. Thanks to Vice News we know that IS fighters are allowed to cross the Golan are treated in Israeli army hospitals. We also know how Israel initially courted the ”terrorists” Hamas as an alternative to the corrupt Fatah and has negotiated with Hezbollah and Hamas for the release of Israeli prisoners. Yet Netanyahu will say with a straight face that ”Israel does not deal with ”terrorists”.

    In short the Middle East is a big mess and is full of hypocrisy and double standards. Small countries like Malaysia should stay out …….. !!

  40. I hope the nav-attack on the MKM is as good as the SU-34. They got some damn good hits using unguided BETAB-500. Iron bombs are ghetto but they still work!

  41. It appears that some of the Russian strikes have been directed on positions held by Chechian fighters. We can expect more claims from certain quarters about civilians killed by Russian ordnance and about how Russia’s actions will embolden IS and groups like it : a case of the Western pot calling the Russian kettle black.


    There is an article out there about Fulcrums operated by European air arms and the problems they face. It seems a major problem facing European Fulcrum operators is not just finding the cash to overhaul the engines but also the gearboxes.

  42. The Russians are bombing all the targets they need to prepare for the Idlib offensive. There is no difference between DAESH, Jahbat, Ahrar or FSA. They all work for Turkey and draw their logistics from there. The offensive will be to cut these logistic routes.
    Assad will accept ‘FSA’ back into the fold as he needs troops. When things get worse, the FSA will be at the bottom of the pecking order for resupply. Being a Sunni under Assad is better than being dead.
    The Russians are being very sparing with their new toys. Most of the bombs dropped are still FAB. They are starting to show their ‘classic’ X-25s and X-29s.

  43. Talking about Syria,

    There are news that even north korea would be joining the Russian coalition…

  44. If Bush Jr. was still in office we’d be hearing meaningless terms like the “Axis of Evil” again. The newest member to this club would off course be Russia.

  45. Fortunately Obama is in power and Supreme Leader has him by the…. whatever is meant to be there. Chechens fighting for Assad as well as against him. Who needs Hollywood?

  46. As for the yemeni conflict, currently there is even some opposition in the royal saudi family about their excursions there.

    Currently there is news that the houthis are striking deep inside saudi territory, even killing a top general of the saudi national guards. We should give thousands of excuses not to enter the yemeni conflict right now, given the current situation.

  47. The western intervention in Syria is flailing because they made this false assumption that once Assad is deposed everything will fall back in its place, but Obama is wary of sending US troops to Syria as it would seems like a political u-turn at home when he had just promised to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Plus unlike Putin, Obama and David can’t be actively involved in Syria without facing a strong backlash from their oppositions back home. To be fair, siding with a genocidal dictator is not a wise move either but I don’t think the West will let this slide and just leave Russia to win this one. So, in the end the aspiration of the Syrian people for a democratic country will have to be sacrificed so that the superpowers could have their share of the delicious pie that is the Middle East.

  48. “assume everything will fall into place”

    “Fall into place” is a relative expectation. Perfection and liberal democracy were not expected. But neither was the rapid rise of a caliphate that threatens Iraq, Egypt and Yemen.

  49. Aye, we don’t know much about Syria pre-IS and it’s easy to believe what’s put out by Western media. But ever since reading Edward Said’s book (‘Covering Islam’), I’ve grown to treat reports about ME coming from English-language media with a certain degree of wariness.

    When we read Western media news about the Syrian govt’s ‘barbaric’ use of barrel bombs, can we think of a reason why a barrel bomb is worse than a 500 kg iron bomb?

    Assad’s regime is oppressive and can be brutal, for sure, but that doesn’t mean he’s a psychopath intent on killing his people for the joy of it. Syria is/was Baathist and secular. Every one had a place regardless of religious denomination or ethnic group. Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic and Circassian are widely spoken there. There are Jewish communities in Damascus and other places. But, like Saddam, Assad will come after you if you oppose him.

    Bashar is reformist, overturning many of his father’s restrictions to the point of having political dialogue. He’s not looted his country unlike many of his ilk. According to UNDP up til 2012 Syria’s HDI is similar to Egypt and Morocco although Syria’s Poverty Index is better (ie less Syrians in poverty) than those two. Life expectancy, a measure of quality of life, is similar to Malaysia’s (75 yrs, theirs vs 74 yrs, ours). Islamic (Sunni) scholarship rivals Al-Azhar. So there is a certain degree of nation building from Assad’s govt.

    Yes, Assad’s actions are criminal, but no more so than the actions of present/past leaders of countries intent on removing him.

  50. Anas,

    The plan called for the “moderates” to defeat both the apocalyptic IS and the evil and undemocratic Assad. Syria’s new rulers, being indebted to the West and Sunni, would then cuts ties with Hezbollah and Iran and would not threaten Israel or demand back the Golan. It goes without going said that although the West want a post Assad Syria to be democratic, it mustn’t be too democratic as a too democratic population might demand a more Islamic government and demand the West stops it’s meddling.

    When Iraq was invaded people were optimistic; saying that lessons had been learnt from Afghanistan and that there was a realisation that Iraq had to be helped until it got a functioning government and stated pumping enough oil to pay it’s own bills – as it turned out nothing had been learnt as there were no realistic plans for a post Saddam Iraq.. After the mess Libya became, people hoped that the West would be more cautious with Syria – wrong again.

    With Syria, in typical American fashion the “moderate” groups were coloured. Blue was for groups that were very “moderate”, green for groups that were borderline and red for groups that couldn’t be relied on. As it turned out, most were not reliable and many wanted to fight Assad but not IS. In the end many “moderates” disappeared and the non moderates became the most powerful.

  51. Team Putin does not care who is a moderate or not. All the rebel groups from FSA to DAESH are Turkish proxies.

  52. “The plan called for the “moderates” to defeat both the apocalyptic IS and the evil and undemocratic Assad. Syria’s new rulers, being indebted to the West and Sunni, would then cuts ties with Hezbollah and Iran and would not threaten Israel or demand back the Golan. It goes without going said that although the West want a post Assad Syria to be democratic, it mustn’t be too democratic as a too democratic population might demand a more Islamic government and demand the West stops it’s meddling.”

    Yeah, I think with current development in Syria, it’s safe to say such plan was scraped now that Russia has entered the field. Common consensus now believes that when talking about the future of Syria, Assad’s regime must be included in the picture. Just look at recent statements made by Ban Ki Moon and Merkel, even the US has softened their stance against Assad. Now the world can see just how hypocritical the West are, and it is all thanks to the King of Crimea. I get the feeling that once all the dust had settled, we’ll have a post-ww2 Germany in the Levant.

  53. The Russians intend to freeze the Turks out totally. Many Sunnis will never return, Turkmen will be encouraged to leave. The land etc. will be appropriated. It will be interesting to see what accommodation will be made for Rojava.

  54. I believe Russia has scored a goal in Syria. It’s 1-0 Putin. The Russians have given the lie to the West’s anti-IS efforts. Unlike the West, Russia got itself invited to the party. Not only that, they’ve changed Western minds about Assad’s place in any peace efforts. Also, they’ve undermined America’s relations with Iraq re anti-IS intelligence centre in Baghdad. Russian SF are on the ground.

    They’ve snuffed any notion of Turkey’s no-fly zone, and with elements of the Black Sea fleet off Syria, could impose a reverse blockade — with Syria’s agreement to boot.

    ” The plan called for the “moderates” to defeat both the apocalyptic IS and the evil and undemocratic Assad.”

    What moderates? They (US/Nato/Saudi/Qatar) can’t seriously expect a baker from Homs to fight as well as the jihadis coming in from Iraq and elsewhere. They knew from the start FSA had jihadis under its umbrella — way back FSA had actually threatened to kill Russians in Syria. They’ve actually supported any insurgent claiming to be willing to fight Assad regardless of ideology.

    Russia means business in Syria and that’s why Saudi and Qatar are scrambling to make amends. Like Marhalim says, Russia wants to counted as a major power and it’s is back at the table. The Minsk agreement is back on track re Ukraine and [gasp!] Nato has actually scolded Ukraine with its Neo-Nazi elements for intransigence.

  55. To be fair, there were bono fide ‘moderates”; the kind the West likes. They initially formed the bulk of the resistance to Assad but then other elements came in and money from the Gulf started pouring it.

    The West has this romantic notion about “moderates” taking on superior odds. Remember Afghanistan? Hetmatyar and Haqqani were considered “moderates”; the kind the West could do business with and they kind that wouldn’t preach jihad once the Soviets left. Part of the reason the Americans were fooled was because they listened to the Pakistanis and gave the Pakistanis carte blanche in deciding who to distribute arms and supplies to.

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