Typhoons Not In Bersama Gold 2021

A RAAF P-8A flying over RMAF Butterworth. Australian Defence Department

SHAH ALAM: Typhoons not in Bersama Gold 2021. Due to Covid 9, RAF Typhoons are not taking part in the latest iteration of the FPDA exercise, Bersama Gold 2021, which was officially launched yesterday.

And it is also unlikely the F-35Bs embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth will also take part in the exercise. RAF had previously announced the deployment of the Typhoons for XBG2021 earlier this year. Apart from the Typhoons, the Red Arrows, the RAF demonstration team also cancelled its unannounced visit to the region due to the pandemic. For an overview of the XBG21 go here.

RAF Typhoons operating out in the open at the Butterworth airbase for Bersama Lima 16. Crown Copyright.

It is unclear whether the UK will be taking part in the FPDA 50th Anniversary flypast planned at RMAF Subang this Oct. 21. Queen Elizabeth and her carrier strike group will be in Singapore this week though it is unknown whether the embarked F-35s will take part in the flypast. I was told that the CSG may well sailed out of this region later this week.

HMS Queen Elizabeth conducted a Passex exercise when she and her escorts sailed together RMN ships through Malacca Strait in July 2021.

From Singapore Ministry of Defence release on the BG2021.

Exercise Bersama Gold 2021 is a Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) tri-service exercise involving assets and personnel from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Traditionally known as Exercise Bersama Lima, this year’s exercise was specially named Exercise Bersama Gold 2021 (XBG21) to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of FPDA. The 50th anniversary date falls on 1 Nov 2021, and the FPDA will mark this milestone year with a series of activities and events.

XBG21 is the first FPDA exercise to be conducted physically as a field training exercise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has incorporated COVID-19 precautions. Held from 4 to 18 Oct, XBG21 will see the participation of 2600 personnel, 10 ships, one submarine, six maritime helicopters, three maritime patrol aircraft, 25 fighter aircraft, two support aircraft, and one command and control aircraft.

XBG21 will comprise contactless maritime and air components and a virtual land workshop. Naval assets will be involved in a contactless exercise held in the southern parts of the South China Sea in international waters, where serials such as anti-air and anti-submarine exercises, gunnery firings and manoeuvring drills will be conducted. Air forces from the FPDA member-nations will exercise with each other in air serials such as air defence exercises, and support the maritime component in anti-submarine exercises.

For the land component, a virtual jungle warfare workshop, which involves cross-sharing of jungle fighting doctrines and discussions on interoperability amongst FPDA member-nations’ land forces, will be conducted.

A RAAF P-8A Poseidon supports sea trials for the NUSHIP Hobart in the Gulf St Vincent off the coast of Adelaide.

Despite the non-appearance of the Typhoons and F-35B, among the other aircraft involved in BG2021 are RAAF Super Hornets, P-8A Poisedon, RSAF F-16s and RMAF F/A-18D Hornets.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Basically Britain is going to pull out from BG2021. Only left the bit part players to carry the show. Gonna be a damp squib.

    Oh well, kinda expected that considering we aren’t going to buy Typhoons nor F-35s any time soon, so no point for Team GB to show up with their toys.

  2. The most important part of XBG21 is showing to china that UK, Australia and New Zealand will be there for Singapore and Malaysia if there is any threat to both.

    Did H2O antics critical towards AUKUS made the UK decide to not involve HMS QE and its F-35B? Which its deployment was indeed so that it could be involved in FPDA exercises, on the significant milestone of the agreements 50th anniversary.

    Is the very stern diplomatic protest letter to china just days before XBG21 a last minute attempt by malaysia to placate UK?

    Anyway H2O appointment looks like a very big liability to malaysia.

  3. Never mind if the UK is not here, Australia will be and at least AUKUS will be represented.

    Just going back to my previous post, if I may:

    Scenario: Is Malaysia prepared to fight or roll over and surrender if a Chinese Marines land on Layang Layang. Do Paskal there have permission to fire?, or just surrender in the face of overwhelming numbers?

  4. No lah, such things would have been decided months ago though the pandemic of course has up-ended a lot of previous planning

  5. Gonggok – ”Anyway H2O appointment looks like a very big liability to malaysia.”

    That is your opinion but it really remains to be seen. What is a ”big liability” is out highly flawed self defeating policy which has got us into the rut we’re in. The Defence Minister is unable to make any unilateral and arbitrary decisions; which are only made by the Cabinet with consultations with various bodies such as the NSC, MINDEF and the Foreign Ministry.

    Gonggok – ”The most important part of XBG21 is showing to china that UK, Australia and New Zealand will be there for Singapore and Malaysia if there is any threat to both.”

    The ”most important” part of the carrier deployment is to show that despite being focused on Europe and not having the resources of the U.S; Britain is still committed to its FPDA obligations. Following the ‘East of Suez” announcement and the drawing down of ANZUK; the FPDA was created to keep Indonesia in check and to foster Malaysian/Singaporean defence cooperation but it is not a binding agreement.

  6. @gonggok
    The most important part of BG2021 is that UK will bail out on us when it suits them and we shouldn’t be too reliant that a big brother is there for us.

  7. Tom Tom – ” at least AUKUS will be represented.”

    Austrlia is there as a sovereign nation which is a FPDA partner. By your reasoning Britain’s participation shows that NATO is represented?

    Tom Tom – ”if a Chinese Marines land on Layang Layang.”

    China does not have to physically seize our reefs. All it has to do is deny us access

    Tom Tom – ”Do Paskal there have permission to fire?”

    Are you next going to ask if live ammo is carried on Layang-Layang? Troops operate under strict ROEs but have permission to return fire under specific conditions …

    Gonggok – ”Did H2O antics critical towards AUKUS made the UK decide to not involve HMS QE and its F-35B?”

    It has zero bearing, as much as Donald Duck has to do with the Czechs buying Spyder.

    Gonggok – ”a last minute attempt by malaysia to placate UK?”

    No it is not. [1] Britain doesn’t have to be ”placated”. [2] We routinely issue diplomatic protests when there s a need to. [3] The British decision is related to Covid and other internal factors/issues; it has nothing to do with us and does not show that Britain is unreliable.

  8. At a time when Britain is displaying the importance it plays in the Asia-Pacific region and when it seeks to reassure its friends/allies, the FPDA forms a vital part of this strategy.

    It’s also worth noting that since 1971, despite whatever bilateral issues there have been amongst FPDA members [our issues with Singapore and Australia, our “Buy Brtish Last” campaign, etc] all have maintained their commitments to it because they fully realise the importance.

  9. There is a USMC F-35B squadron embarked on the HMS QE, and a USN DDG is part of the task group for the duration of the cruise. Even if they don’t play a direct or nominal part in the exercise, they will be participants by virtue of being a joint and integral part of the group. In some situations the distinction of being in our out of the exercise is academic. Even where they play no part at all, they will be on each other’s decks to observe.

  10. AM,

    Yes. Ultimately the Brit decision is not related to anything the Defence Minister may have done and is not an indication of Britain’s realibility as a FPDA partner we can depend on.

  11. It has been reported that the decision to cancel the participation of the Typhoons was because of Covid restrictions in various countries theTyphoons would have had to make stops at to get to South East Asia. It was not due to anything the Malaysian Defence Minister said or a case of Britain showing its displeasure.

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