X -Band Satellite by 2015

PETALING JAYA: Apart from a squadron of brand new MRCA, the Armed Forces is hopeful that it will have an X-band communications satellite up and running in 2015.

Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin told a briefing session organised by the Retired Armed Forces Officers Club last week that if launched by 2015, the satellite would be operational in time with the start of the first phase of its Network Centric Operations project.

He admitted that the satellite would be very expensive but the Armed Forces was hopeful that the government will allocate funds for the project. Due to the high cost of the satellite – US made Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) cost some US335 million alone (RM1.06 billion) excluding the launch cost- the programme is expected to be funded via a Private Finance Initiaive. A company or companies will built/order/launch the satellite on behalf of the Armed Forces, and in return the Government pays the companies an annual fee for using its services. This is the same arrangement used by Japan to procure two X-band satellites which cost some US$1.5 billion.

Using the PFI method the government may end up paying around RM100 million or slightly to lease the bandwidth for 15 years instead of forking up to RM2 billion up-front to procure and launch the satellite, which was the reason Japan used the PFI route

Zulkifeli did not say which company/companies will be involved in the project but I am guessing it will be ATSB – which is already involved in other satellite programme such as Tiungsat 1 and Razak Sat. ATSB is also involved in the National Communications Satellite (NCS) project which is envisaged to support both the government and military communication needs. The NCS is more akin to the WGS as it will be equipped various type of transponders. But I guess the NCS is not in the picture at the moment.

Anyhow, I was told previously that the US had invited Malaysia to join the WGS programme. In Asia Pacific, both Australia and New Zealand are already involved in WGS programme as international partners. Perhaps it will be cheaper in the long run if we were to become a WGS partner but I believe we want to make sure that our communications are secured and away from foreign ears and eyes!

– Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
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  1. nimitz says:
    January 31, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Uhmmm this satellite is it automatically falls under the purview of TUDM? (I wonder if TUDM follows USAF in terms of satellite operation stuff)

    Don’t know yet but its most probably TUDM
    FareedLHS says:
    January 31, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Can’t afford optics for the infantry, but can afford a satellite?! Misallocation of limited resources!

    Re: ST Engineering Awarded Naval Ship Contract, apparently some of the ‘neighbors’ can actually manage their national defence effectively. Formidable class frigates, Leopard 2s, Hermes and Heron UAVs, M-346s, Vastergotland class submarines, Apaches, F-15s, Primus SP artillery guns, Terrex ICVs, etc. – All in the past 10 years. I am only making a comparison not suggesting a competition. It’s just odd, to put it mildly, how such a ‘small’ country with minimal resources can outperform such a ‘large’ country with more resources. Money is a dominant factor; but, of course one must then ask: how is it that such a ‘small country with minimal resources has so much wealth, when such a ‘large’ country with more resources apparently does not? Is it the ‘human factor’? Does one country simply have better management?

    BTW, Russia has unveiled several new upgraded weapons for its fighters (Kh-31PD, Kh-31AD, RVV-MD, RVV-SD and RVV-BD). And the Philippines is to buy 12 South Korean FA-50s.

    In the larger scheme of things, a communications satellite does have a place as well as an infantry man optics!
    George says:
    January 31, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Very interesting. MAF chose the most flashy path in enhancing its communication capabilities. Just wondering what other communications related developments MAF had in recent years?

    Not much apart from transitioning from the old radios to Sapura Thales ones and the odd satcom terminals and Harris radios
    Tomahawk says:
    January 31, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    It is notable that SG has not revealed the size and capabilities of the new 8 vessels. It is kept confidential like Project Delta – Formidable frigates. ST Marine is bound by the contract not to reveal anything yet. ST Marine has the capabilities to build LHDs – helicopter carriers and destroyer class vessels.

    I doubt we will see the Starship Enterprise! Anyways my guess it will be a vessel not more than 75 metres long – a FAC or corvette sized fighting ship. Probably armed with a 76mm gun, SSM and ASM. Its the stealth features that will be the main talking point. We will probably see a model at IMDEX in May…
    FareedLHS says:
    February 1, 2013 at 4:39 am

    In the larger scheme of things a nuclear deterrent has a place as well, but no one would make the case to go that route. The same for the satellite. Of course it has a place in national defence, but IMO, not at the cost of not having basic kit for the infantry, missiles for the aircraft, money for operations, etc.
    F.N.H. says:
    February 1, 2013 at 11:41 am

    2015? Seems a stretch.

    SpaceX took nearly a year to make sure it’s launch vehicle did not end up blowing up the aptly-named RazakSAT by insisting SpaceX do a successful test run before the bird went aloft.

    But we ended up with a satellite that could not see where it needed to look.

    And since I’ve heard of the bad project management stories regarding RazakSAT at ATSB, I’m pessimistic.

    Its not yet confirmed ATSB will be involved in the project but likely…
    F.N.H. says:
    February 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    To be fair, satellite communication systems are of utmost utility considering our geography and obligations in the South China Sea.

    But, let’s just hope no one surreptitiously decide to change its original mission to ” R&D ” when the satellite clearly goes bonkers.

    The goal of course is to collate all data from all sensors can be fused into a NORAD style command centre
    lee yoke meng says:
    February 2, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Yes command , control n intelligence is indeed very important in today’s warfare n having a satellite dedicated just for the armed forces can indeed do wonders for at least communications which will endure command n control at least unless the opposition can jam the satellite. The uk had to rely on gluing nodes to relay their communications in the afghan campaign. It shows how important communications is in theatre n also how they take all the trouble just to achieve communications especially in a place of horrible geography.
    Azlan says:
    February 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Threat perceptions……………….

    Apart from sufficient funding, threats perceptions determines how a country manages its defence issues and how it conducts its defence policy. Singapore has the largest defence budget in ASEAN [and it needs to as it absolutely has no strategic depth and is surrounded by larger neighbours] and apart from its threat perceptions, Singapore was able from decades ago – unlike its neighbours – to focus on external security decades ago.

    Until 1989, the raison d’être of the RMAF and the army was in defeating the CPM and NKCP, and supporting national development efforts [I recently met a former Nuri AQM who clocked 3,500 hours and sometimes flew up to 12 hours a day supporting the army on counter insurgency ops!!]. And even today, with the key exception of 10 Para Brigade, the ‘Rocket’ Brigade and the 4th Mechanised Brigade, the army still remains largely organised for low intensity ops – a legacy of the 2nd Emergency. Also playing a major part is that Singapore is a very small country, thus the SAF has much, much smaller operational day to day peacetime responsibilities than the MAF or the TNI. The key challenge for Singapore is that a technologically and in certain key areas, a numerically superior SAF, does not provide all the answers to the future threats that Singapore is likely to face….. And the same goes for us in that the problems we are likely to face are not ones that we can solve by deploying PT-91s or ASTROS.
    lee yoke meng says:
    February 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    In the current threat situation, the bywotd is firepower, flexibility n adymetrical warfare as opposed to regular warfare with a defined frontline. Now the threat can vome from any directions n any part of the regoon within the nation n external to the region. We must remsin capable to deal with a threat of all kinds, anywhere n in hood time. If sn Algeria happens here we must be prepared. That means being well trained. Our experience in irregular warfare acyually stands us in good steed for such threats. We only need the basic weapons to gight duch threats
    Azlan says:
    February 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    In the current threat situation, the by-word is ”jointness”, ”jointness”, and more ”jointness” – the ability of all 3 services to operate in tandem without any overlapping of assets/resources/responsibilities, and with minimal friction and inter-service fighting…..

    And with the current threat situation, what we need are Cougars, MPA’s and UAVs, more than anything else,…..

    What threat? There is no insurgency….
    koxinga says:
    February 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm


    “Aguilar also says the Brazilian manufacturer is in talks with Saab on an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Embraer 190 large regional jet. The Swedish company supplies the Erieye radar used on Embraer’s EMB-145 AEW&C”

    Interesting option and will provide considerable on station capability. But then again, its all about the budget ain it?

    Yes its all about the money. Someone has to pay for integrating the radar on the plane

  2. I’m just wondering, is it the planning is a go or it just ended like that due to high cost?

    It ended with no funding, its likely they leased the bandwidth from Binariang

  3. The requirement was fulfilled by attaching a dedicated military X-band transceiver module on MEASAT-3B. This was launched at the end of 2014. So the dedicated X-band capability was available since around the end of 2015.

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