Super Hornets Feet Dry…(May, 2011)

SHAH ALAM: If you are in Butterworth or Kuantan you may see Super Hornets landing and taking off from the two air bases there from today until May 13.

No, we have not yet procured the Super Bug. Its the RAAF in action as part of the Ex Bersama Shield 2011. Who says you need to wait for Lima 2011 to see the Super Hornet in action? From the Australian Defence Force website.

ADF assets exercise around Malaysia

Australian Air Force multi-role F/A-18F Super Hornets will soar through the sky over Malaysia while Navy guided-missile frigates and a Collins class submarine will patrol the South China Sea in a major military exercise commencing today.

Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD 2011 (BS11) will see six F/A-18 Super Hornets from No. 1 Squadron, the ANZAC class frigates HMA Ships Ballarat and Parramatta, and the Collins class submarine, HMAS Dechaineux, join other warships and combat aircraft from Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The Commander of the Australian Contingent, Wing Commander Kenneth Robinson, said the exercise will be conducted by member countries of the Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) in various locations on the Malaysian Peninsula and in the South China Sea between 2 and 13 May.

“The exercise aims to enhance the interoperability of the combined air, ground and naval forces of the FPDA countries to enhance regional security, including the defence of Singapore and Malaysia,” Wing Commander Robinson said.

“The FPDA continues to be an integral part of the regional security architecture, which helps develop greater interoperability among the armed forces of member nations.”

The exercise marks a significant milestone for the Air Force’s new F/A-18F Super Hornets, with this their first overseas deployment since arriving in 2010. The Super Hornet permits Australia to maintain a formidable air combat capability during the transition to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter over the next decade.

“BS11 will provide the F/A-18 Super Hornets with the opportunity to train with Royal Malaysian Air Force MiG-29s and Republic of Singapore F-16s,” Wing Commander Robinson said.

“The exercise’s maritime component involving the ANZAC class frigates, HMA Ships Ballarat and Parramatta, and the Collins class submarine, HMAS Dechaineux, will enhance high-end war-fighting skills in a highly complex maritime environment.”

BERSAMA SHIELD, marking its 40th anniversary this year, provides the ADF with the opportunity to develop relationships with important security partners while reinforcing Australia’s long-term commitment to regional stability.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2186 Articles
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  1. Another sound reason why we should get the Super Hornet – for interoperability and cross training – because one of closest defence partners operates it. From the 1960’s Australia overtook Britain in having the most established defence ties with us. It is also the country we train the most with and has a permanent military presence in Butterworth.

    But if interoperability and cross training are the main reason for SH, one could argue for the case of the F16s with three other ASEAN countries operating the basically the same plane.
    Such a gesture would go along way in reducing mistrust among our countries.
    We could also pool our resources ala F16 users of NATO.
    There is also the case of the UAE Vipers, described by many as the most advanced F16 around. Its development costs have been paid for and we could also persuade the UAE to waive us from paying the royalty for the development which could have made the aircraft cheaper.

  2. Agreed, interoperability with existing units and our allies is important. SH is just better suited to our need compared to the Rafales and Eurofighter Typhoon. It can be easily integrated to our existing logistic and training programme. SH is combat proven and can used all the missile stocks that we have in store for the Hornets, Hawks and F5s. Although i would love to see the AESAs, JDAMs, AMRAAMs and the AIM-9Xs come along with the purchase, cost might be an issue. We can always purchase it later but i don’t think those meddling southern neighbour of us to keep quite about it…

    The Foreign Military Sales will also shut the opposition for any foul play in its purchase. Mayb this time they will go for “We had no war, why buy new fighter jets? Want it engines get stolen again, ka?”. I can only see the SH deal coming through after the General Election that is expected this year…

    The funding for the MRCA programme is supposed to come at the second period of RMK10, ie 2013-2015

  3. Since the USD 1 = RM 2.96, it’s better to seal the deal during the coming LIMA, it’s a golden opportunity to sign any future procurement during the LIMA 2011 or Najib want to wait until USD 1 = RM1? #lol

  4. firstly i dont see any urgency to buy new MRCA in the new future. if this programme is really serious then sooner official contract deal will be around 2013. as marhalim said, to date we dont have any money to buy it. i believe the gossip about MRCA programme right now is only to fill in tarmac this year LIMA. hopefully all ‘contender’ will show up in langkawi and make it a bit happening.

    *i m more towards LCS deal during this LIMA coz boustead have no more job to do right now after completing last unit of NGPV

  5. Tend to agree with Scorpio, LCS deal and maybe additional heli deal should get more priority

  6. There is also another aspect that people tend to overlook. Malaysia has already issued at least 2 RFP’s in recent years for MRCA’s only to later cancel the programme. If we were to do so again we might find that aircraft manufacturers might not be so keen to respond the next time around.

    They are looking into it whether or not we are really serious in looking for other planes apart from the Super Hornet. Otherwise they wont be bothered.

  7. The latest announcement is that the Indonesian Air Force has accepted the offer by the US to provide them with 24 units of F-16 A &B but indonesia must upgrade them to block 50 standard and pay for the upgrade themselves. With these aircraft suddenly the Indonesians have more war fighting planes than we do and we would come in 3rd after Singapore and Indonesia.

    The Dutch would be retiring many of their Cougars. Good time to pick them up cheap instead of getting new ones for the RMAF. Actually in a war its not just how good your planes are but also how many as no matter how good your planes are they will and still will get shot down.
    Thus numbers also figure in for staying power.

    Mass has always been one of the main pillars of military strategy. As the Cougars, since we have paid for them, partially, there is no need to back out from the deal. As for the ex-Dutch Cougars they could be procured only if we get them at least for less than RM300 million. We need to spend another RM300 million for SLEP (unless it has been done recently) and new equipment for the sake of commonality with the new helos for a total figure of around RM600 million. Any higher, it will not be cost effective in the long term.

  8. Ym Lee, in sheer numbers, Vietnam. The TNI-AU also has an airspace that is much bigger than ours to cover.

  9. At this point, TNI only have 10 f16 A/B, 10 Su27/30 with another 6 coming and about 30 Hawk 209. The TA 50 about 16 will be coming by 2013 and about 16 Super Tucano by 2012

    Mind you the Su27/30 came reportedly with only a dud bomb, not even missiles. Its good they add in the 24 F16, they need it. Even with that, it wont change much the status quo between them and us, it is actually a welcome development in my opinion.

    In November, last year, the Indon defence minister says they wanted 180 Sukhoi within a ten year time frame. Sounds familiar….

  10. Coming back to the RMN procurement, I read that the Gowind class was rejected by Hungary for being too expensive. Can we actually afford it?

    Its Bulgarialah brother, and based on the original order signed in 2007, each cost around RM900 million…..

  11. Hungary has no coast. It does have some river boats in the Danube Flotilla.

  12. ..for a technically close ally of the U.S ,we don’t seem to be getting any offers of 2nd hand hardware from them..odd

    Probably they did but it is never announced, moreover US assistance is not just limited to 2nd hardware, brand new ones mostly small arms are also available. Moreover you need to ask first only then they can offer something of interest to us. The US retired many stuff annually so it is up to us to ask them first.

    Most of the time, we use our relationship for training purposes like courses in the US, most of which are also not reported.

  13. …ahaha maybe we should learn to ask..2nd hand it may be but when brought up to later spec n in good numbers, It’ll still pose an imbalance to any region. A couple of Blackhawks or Hercs wouldn’t hurt I guess..

  14. yes the US provides us a lot of training programs.For our navy they send their SEAL teams to train our PASKAL and they offer courses in their naval war college. But the air force and the army is quite quiet.
    Actually apart from the super duper Hornet, the latest super or hyper Viper is also very advanced. May be a cheaper option after all and if its modern enough and supplied with the latest weaponry, may still be a viable option.

  15. Ym Lee,

    Cope Taufan involves an annual exercise between the USAF and RMAF, held since 1988. U.S. Army also sends its Majors to Haigate. PASKAU and USAF have an Ex called Teak Mint.

    This year will be the first time we participate in Cobra Gold, with non-combat units though.

  16. YM Lee, i don’t think our generals prefer the Viper since it is used by the Sing, Indo, and Thai already. We prefer to have something different for easy identification of friend or foe…..

    Talking about 2nd hand, if the Singaporean can live with it(Leopard tanks, Vastergotland Subs) why we can’t? We should also try to put the already bought Agosta into service as a training subs. Mayb the stigma from the Skyhawk scandals still fresh in our mind….

    If we got over it, surplus K1 tanks from South Korea or T72s from Eastern Europe, anyone? With an upgrade package of coz. Variants of T72 upgrades in the Eastern Europe is just mind boggling and they are dirt cheap too…..

  17. Singapore take a second hand and upgrade it to a new level. Their leopard 2 A4 was transformed to almost the A6 standards while the sweedish subs were given AIPS. Not cheap either but we wont really know the cost as it may not fall under military spending but R&D.

    Why go for surplus K1 or T72 eventhough it is cheap when the more capable leopard 2 surplus are a plenty…but the weight issue la, leopard 2 weigh 55 to 60 tonne, our requirement should be less than 50. But then again why go for the tanks first when we should get our priority straight, more survelinace and transport assets first.

  18. I have always been campaigning to buy second hand and spend money upgrading them. Its cheaper and it can also give some expertise too if some work is done locally.See nhow Singapore does it?. Sadly second hand surveilance equipment is not so easy to come by and when it comes up in the market sells like hot cakes-witness the Netherland Orions were snatched up by Germany and latin American countries.The Netherland F-16 which were recently upgraded were also snatched up by the Latins too.
    An AIP brand new module is only RM100 million. Imagine is the RM500 million commission is not paid for the subs it can buy us 5 modules excluding cost to add in the module.
    The only cheap way to get cheap surplus is to wait fro the uk to retire its two/4 units of R2’s and when the smaller intelligence planes are retired from their afghan duties. The british has no balls to retain this capability and rather goes away for another two years without such assets.

  19. The PT-91 has a different engine, gear transmission, gun, ERA and FCS than the T-72. Buying the T-72 would mean that the army will have to operate 2 types of MBTs. Hyundai modified a K-1A1 with an AC and trialed it here. According to rumours that were circulating then, the problem was gaining a export license for the numerous Made In U.S. items on the K-1A1.

    People tend to overlook the fact that the Super Hornet shares some part commonality with our D’s, plus the same ground support tooling. There is also the question of training the pilots, WSOs and ground personnel. Eveytime a new aircraft enters service, even in small numbers, the RMAF has to stocks hundreds of parts from big items to circuit breaker and even screws. The same goes for vehicles and ships. To operate the Quessant, even as a training boat, doesn’t make sense as she’s almost 40 years old and we don’t have enough trained sub personnel.

  20. Marhalim, you mentioned some years ago you saw a pristine AR70 at the RMR museum in PD. Are they open to visitors and is it located in a base or outside?

    Yes. The RMR museum in PD is located opposite Regency Tanjung Tuan, tucked behind a Medan Selera. Its technically outside the base. Its a small bungalow, probably an officer quarters before. Yes they are open to the public, the last time I went there.

  21. Mana ada surplus K1? The Sokors still have reserve M48A5s.

    The T72 has one basic issue, that is the unprotected ammo clipped to the turret sides. Unless you are willing to download to just the autoloader (22 rounds, that’s just secondaries waiting to happen. The autoloader detonation is almost invariably a tertiary detonation as it has a thin but not useless steel cover AND is located under the turret floor. The reloads go and the carousel follows.

    I really don’t understand why we did not get the AV4, the Proton Saga of the MRAPs. I thought it was very well priced and ideal for hauling our lads around in UN missions. If we did not gild the lily, we could easily afford to have enough to lift a battalion in every infantry bde.

    Get lots of personal radios, garmin GPS and other proven gear and be done with it. We really do not need to have the huge bloated staffs that come with all the C4I crud. Arrrgg….pet hate….staff bloat, FOBbits and other assorted desk jockeys in operational units. Grrrrrr…….

  22. It seems to be a very comon misconception that buying 2nd hand, just because it’s ”cheaper”, is always the ideal solution. It really depends on what you’re buying, how old it is, the availibity of spares in the long run and how much usage it has udergone by it’s previous owners. Ym Lee, there is no way in hell Britain will sell us the R1, plus we don’t have the infrastructure that goes along with it.

    What MR T described about the autoloader and the storage of rounds also applies to the PT-91M….

  23. The South Korea operated 1511 K1 tanks and are about to replace some 400 of them with the K2 tanks which currently full-scale production is ongoing. They are most probably opt for more later on when the price go down a bit when mass production activity and demand stabilized. Some of the K1s will be put in reserve and we should opt to procure some of them. K1 weight 51-54 tonnes compared to K2 55++ tonnes…

    True, the T72 have some issues with the design and the autoloader but heck we bought the PT91M which is also another T72 upgrades version. So it won’t hurt to have some more of the T72 designs for the sake of commonality with what we have.

    AV4 is a good vehicle and i was also wondering why it wasn’t bought for the army. Sure it is not as good as the Humvees but some support to the local industry will be good for all. We can always introduced some upgrades variants later on once there are demands for it. We can’t expect the industry to get it right the first time around.

    There isn’t much commonality between garden variety T72s and our PT91M. Ours is a highly specialised variant of the Polish version of the T72. Its already apple and oranges. The only thing the same is the 125mm shell.
    Since the K1s will be placed in reserve, as you put it with the K2 coming on line, it is unlikely that they will be available in the export market soon.
    Perhaps the South Koreans will start offering their stocks of M60s first.

  24. scorpio,

    Actually KD Kelantan can technically be described as a corvette. There is no fine line between what constitutes a frigate and a corvette and what makes destroyer. Different navies at different periods have used different yardsticks to classify their vessels, not just displacement. The Kasturi class has been described at various times as a – light frigate, frigate and corvette – all of which are technically true.

    Marhalim, you’re very right, the only thing the T-72 has in common with the PT-91M is the design, suspension and gun calibre. It has as much in common with the T-72, as 12 Squadrons F-5Es have with the RSAF F-5Ts, absolutely nothing apart from the design.

  25. I always wonder why we always go for highly specialised variants, like the case with the Su-30MKM and the PT91M. It just make it a hell lot more expensive compare to the original version (Su-30MK and PT-91) and we also faced some problems integrating the sub systems due to this style of purchasing. Is it really necessary to tailor the assets to the extent of doubling it prices(in the PT91M case, we pay a staggering 390 million USD for 48 tanks with spares and training. Thats around 8 million USD per tanks as compared to the M1 Abrams 6.1 million USD. Is it even better to the original version or the Abrams itself?

    I just hope that they won’t try to buy the SH on a specialised version with French avionics, radio and display like the Sukhoi but i doubt the American would like that. But we wouldn’t know about the Cougars.

    The MKM need to be ala carte as the RMAF specifications call for MRCA. The 30MK is pretty much a dog fighter only. Ours became a sub-variant further due to the removal of Israeli equipment which is essentially an MKI. Like the Sukhoi, the end user of the PT91 wanted a Western tank, but faced with the decision from the powers that be that it will get a Polish version of the T72 or none at all, it also went the ala carte route.

    The Super Bug will be pretty much the same as flown by the US Navy minus some of the top-of-the line black boxes. We need the source codes to integrate the French avionics. I dont think we will be able to integrate non-US weapons let alone avionics. As for the Cougars it will be pretty much the same as flown by the French apart from the specialised black boxes and radios which need to be compatible with our own

  26. azlan,

    then malaysia dont have any frigate in their inventory coz lekiu is also a corvette, same class with kelantan…..


    A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. What we want is more ships not acronyms or designations….

  27. scorpio, as I mentioned it really depends on how you want to apply the yardstick to designate your vessels. Technically the Lekiu is a frigate, it is also slightly heavier than the Kedah class.

    Hazwan, there is no need for any modifications on the SH as it meets our requirements. It has got a glass cockpit and compatible IFF and radios. The cheaper way would have been just to buy a current of the Su-30, like the TNI-AU, and just add western radios, IFF, a GPS, TACAN, etc [like what was done with the Fulcrums].

    If we hadn’t spent all the that cash on the PT-91M is wouldn’t have a hunter/killer capability and would have a first hit capability on par with standard export T-72’s. the army wanted a tank that was lighter than western tanks but wanted the same capability.
    To answer your question, the PT-91 is much better than the standard PT-91 or even most T-72 variants but it has a baseline armour level that is much thinner than the M1A1 or M1A2 Abrams.

    Then again, if we had gone for the Leopard 2, there would have been no need for any integration at all….

  28. The problem with any armor procurements for Malaysia is the very few options on the table, if the TDM is limited to MBTs <50t. The only new-build options <50t on the market are all derivatives of old Eastern bloc tanks (T-72s and T-80s).

    My question is why is Malaysia limited to MBTs <50t, when Singapore is not? Surely, they would not buy armor (Leopard 2s)that they would not be able to use in any potential conflict in SE Asia? It is obvious that heavy armor is not of much use in jungle and swamp terrain, but mass armored battles in the forests of Johor are highly unlikely!

    More likely is the deployment of heavy armor in an urban environment. Is Malaysia's road system and infrastructure able to handle the weight? Does it matter? In battle do you really care if your tanks are ripping up the roads and cracking the bridges? At this point, Malaysia should keep the PT-91M in service for the foreseeable future, but look toward inducting a common armored platform (such as the CV90 or ASCOD 2) that can serve as the base for a light tank (120mm RUAG), self-propelled artillery (DONAR or AGM on CV90), and other variants. In the long-term Malaysia can look at replacing the PT-91M with an advanced MBT (Why not work with Turkey on the Altay?).

    The requirement was for tanks below 50 tonnes as that was the limit for bridges. I dont think they were looking at bridges in urban areas but those in the outlaying area.
    The Altay is the K2 under license. Its better for us to work together (if it was the case) to work with the South Koreans directly. The extra money for the AV8 should be channeled into R&D to develop a local indigenous armour but I guess thats asking too much from DRB-Hicom….

  29. I really hope for the SH deal to go through after the elections however the Gripen are offered with the Erieye AWACS system just like the Thais. We need those ‘eyes in the sky’ more than the Gripen itself. I can’t see the SH offer is coupled together with the E3C Sentry as it will mark up the price and considerably push it off the table in this time of economic climate…

    Azlan, then again Leopard 2 is used by our beloved southern neighbors so the army can’t have one. Does anybody know if our PT91Ms is equipped with the 125mm smoothbore gun-launch AT-11 Sniper ATGMs? or are the Pendekar’s 2A46MS and SAGEM FCS even capable for it?

  30. Hazwan, no, it can’t fire missiles. Then again, apart from taking long range shots [which you can do with 125 ammo anyway] or at slow moving, or hovering helicopters, gun launched missiles are not really that useful. That’s the reason why gun launched missiles haven’t really caught on.

    Fareed LHS, As Singapore’s force modernisation is largely aimed at us,and they have a forward defence strategy, I’m pretty certain that if the Leo 2 could not operate in our terrain, they would not have bought it.


    A Ukraine company offers a guided shell, SACLOS, that can be fired from a modernised T72s. I have no idea whether they have offered this to Malaysia

  31. Australian Super Hornets?? are you kidding man? That’s only F/A18A.

    Are you saying I got it wrong? See the latest post…

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