SHAH ALAM: What’s in store for the Malaysian Armed Forces next year? Based on the 2016 budget I believe it will be a mixed year. Mixed as only the air force and the Army are getting some new kit while the navy is finally getting one of the two long delayed training ships.
There are development projects to be completed or handed-over in the new year but I am not purview to the locations and exact dates.
At MAF, the status quo will remained with changes only expected in mid 2017. Its the same at the ministry level as changes will occur after the GE14 and unlikely before.
As mentioned earlier, in 2016, the air force is taking delivery of at least two A400M transport planes (with the second M54-02 expected any time this week); 5 PC-7 Mark II turbo-trainers (mid year) and four EC120/HC120 helicopters, to be delivered within the year.
Before RMAF day on June 1, it will also have new leaders, both of whom are fighter pilots by training. The impending change in leadership have got the industry excited but with the economic uncertainties still hanging over the nation it is unlikely the MRCA will get the nod soon enough.
Like the air force, the army is also expected to have a leadership reshuffle within the new year though it is less predictable than the former. Much of the new kit expected are the new batches of the Gempita. According to the Hansard, a total of 40 Gempita has been delivered to the army so far.
It is likely that the Gempita delivered so far were limited to the 25mm Bushmaster turret variant. Gempita to be delivered this year are expected to include the 30mm and ATGM variants. As for numbers, it is unlikely to exceed the number already delivered.
The army is also expected to receive the first batch of 20 AV4s ordered this year, though the exact numbers remained unknown. As this vehicles are meant for ESSCOM operations, they are expected to be operated by the units stationed in the area.
Both services are also expected to operate the 4 Blackhawk helicopters to be donated by Brunei in the new year, armed with the mini-guns. The exact time when the joint unit will start operating remained uncertain at this moment, however.
With more Nuris to be delivered this year (four already delivered), PUTD is also expected to stand up a new unit for this medium helicopters.
As for the navy, apart from the sole training ship, it is not expected to receive new capital assets in 2016. Most of the ships in service will receive enhancements but only minor ones unfortunately.
The new year will also be a time for reflections with three types of aircraft going into the history books though the exact dates remained uncertain. As reported before the Alouettes of Pulatibang 1 in Alor Setar is expected to be retired – in stages – with the introduction of the EC120/H120 early next year.
Another type used at Pulatibang 1, the PC-7 Mark 1s will also be retired in stages with the additional Mark IIs coming on line next year. Of course, the biggest fading away will be the Fulcrums.
That’s it for now, as we reflect on the last 12 months and celebrate the New Year, we must also keep an eye on the economy. Any further shocks will affect us all and it will not just be the security sector.
Happy New Year!
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