SHAH ALAM: THE RMN is looking at acquiring UAVs to boost maritime domain awareness as budget woes limits it hull numbers, its newly appointed Chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Badaruddin said today. He however, did not specify numbers or the type of UAVs to be acquired nor the timeline for the procurement.
During the recent 2016 budget announcement, it was stated that the government wants to acquire UAVs for the Armed Forces to boost its ISR capabilities.
Admiral Kamarulzaman said the UAVs will allow the RMN to patrol larger areas compared to its current capability due to the lack of ships. “if something of interest is detected, we can then send our ship to the area,” he told reporters after conferring ranks to four RMN personnel. Two businessmen was awarded the honorary Commander rank in the naval reserves.
Admiral Kamarulzaman also said the navy was also looking into ways “to do more with less”. Among others, in the near future, training for navy personnel will be conducted using simulators, whenever possible, further reducing operational costs.
And also to reduce cost, the navy, according to the Admiral Kamarulzaman will also be centralising its procurement activities at the navy headquarters at the Defence Ministry. He said apart from reducing cost, it will also reduced the chance of corruption and leakages.
Although he did not say it, the re-location of the procurement activities was likely due to the the corruption scandal at the Lumut naval base recently. A number of senior RMN personnel, including a Captain, had been charged in court for various counts corruption and money laundering for contracts mostly related and approved at the Lumut base.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Kamarulzaman confirmed that both RMN’s uncompleted training ships, Teguh Samudera and Gagah Samudera, were now at the Grade One Marine Shipyard in Lumut. He said work on the ships are expected to be conducted once the contracts were finalised.
Ahmad Kamarulzaman statement on the UAVs is the first confirmation that the programme is officially on-going. However due to time constraints, not much details could be ascertained for the programme and other RMN’s priorities in RMK11.
However, it is likely that the UAVs being looked into could be the ones that could be easily integrated on RMN’s ships like the Insitu Scaneagle (already operated in ESSCOM AOR) and even the Scheibel Camcopter which an MOU between Petronas and the Armed Forces signed during LIMA 15.
It is unlikely we will be going for something much more capable and expensive at the same time, like the General Atomics Predator XP (above).
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