Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Rant(ver. 2): talking without thinking

Every now and then the author encountered few questions regarding Malaysian military, especially the acquisition programme. These questions ranged from some very bright one (such as why did Malaysia bought A-4 Skyhawk) to something like “bila mau beli F-22?”

One thing for sure, and that is WE DIDN’T BUY MILITARY EQUIPMENTS FOR THE SAKE OF IT, meaning that we didn’t buy something just because we can.  There are many circumstances that should be considered. Though there are many reasons that dictate the “to buy or not to buy”, the author has selected few main reasons which should answer many questions regarding our military spending.

Indeed the main reason of military spending. In Malaysia’s case, the fund generally comes from Five Years’ Plan, where the equipment has been evaluated, tested and confirmed as essential to either replace obsolete equipment, to complement the current equipment, and/or to boost the current capability of the Armed Forces.

More often than not, whenever the economy slows down, the first place to cut the spending is the Armed Forces’ checkbook. These is one of the reason why some of the obsolete equipment has not being replaced (such as the S61A4 Nuri helicopter), or being replaced in a slower pace than expected (them APCs).

Another obvious reason which affecting our acquisition programme. Usually western-bloc weapon system is more expensive than eastern-bloc weapon, due to labor cost, the overall sophistication and the quality, although in recent years system that originates from eastern-bloc (such as Russia and former USSR countries, and China) has significantly improved in term of quality.

It should be noted that non-traditional weapon suppliers (Such as Pakistan, South Korea and South Africa) would sell their weapon system at cheaper price, as well as some attractive offers(extensive Tot, offset deal, barter deal, etc) to attract more customer (which usually tend to buy from traditional weapon supplier).

We buy what we need, and we first buy what we needed the most. Usually weapon system which has significant strategic value (such as MBTs, naval vessels, and combat aircrafts), will be on top of the priority, as well as weapon system that would severely affect our military deployment/logistics/buildup (in case of MPSS programme).

Often in many armed forces throughout the world, the infantry is being put on the bottom of the list. Thankfully MAF doesn’t neglecting the infantry’s need and we saw significant infantry modernization programme since mid 90’s, which not only focused on new equipment, but also the entire infantry structure (the BIS structure, by cutting the manpower while boosting the firepower).

Many people only see the cost of particular equipment on the price tag (even that wouldn’t be written in stone, since the price depends on the number bought, level of sophistication, and if we are in good terms with the supplier). When the acquisition is made, Mindef need to make sure the current infrastructure/personnel support are capable to maintain that particular equipment. These maintenance ranges from the spare parts, armaments, real time cost to operate the system(such as cost per flying hour in combat aircraft and helicopters) and not to mention the personnel capable to man the equipment. Malaysia’s logistic problem is quite unique, since we are one of the first countries to operate state-of-the-art equipments from both blocs (Eastern and Western), in particular, the fighter aircraft procurement. And more amazingly, we are capable to make them work seamlessly within our doctrine.

Another important thing is that to train a particular personnel (pilots, MBT drivers and commanders, COs, etc) are not cheap, and often they were sent overseas to train. One particular example of  acquisition blunder is Myanmar, where the pilots and ground personnel has no experience in maintaining MiG-29, and only a handful (of the already small batch of MiG-29 acquired) are in flying condition.

The weapon acquired should be fit nicely on our military doctrine (deterrence, non-territorial, defensive oriented). Why on earth should we buy a long range bomber in the first place? The same can be said to low level attack aircraft (A-10, Su-25), aircraft carrier or LCAC?

Acquiring these kind of weapon would not just be costly, but also going to change the geopolitics stability in the region (in which will be discussed later)

6-Overall impact on MAF
In what particular way the acquisition will have impact on MAF structures/deployment/strategy? For example, what would a more expensive T-90 give us compared to PT-91M (which is cheaper and has Leopard 2A6 upgrade kit on it)? Again we could buy a cheaper system but also has similar impact on our capability.

Now ask oneself: What would a more expensive Eurofighter Typhoon give us compared to Su-30MKM?

Some military supplier has stated the “guideline” on the application of the weapon system. Britain, for example, has stated that the weapon of its origin SHOULD NOT be used in a civil war (Indonesia breaks the agreement, twice, during East Timor conflict and recently, Acheh. Now almost all of their British-made weapon are being stored or retired due to lack of spare parts). While the US already put so many strings in the deal (no offset deal, source code to be provided in the foreseeable future, armament should only be shipped if the country really needs them, the copyright rule to prevent reverse-engineering, ‘monkey model’ equipment for non-allies, the system should not be placed in a location in which will harm it’s close allies, etc).
This is pretty much made the F/A-18F deal between Malaysia and the US to be put on hold until some of the string being withdrawn.

Sun Tzu, one of the best military strategists once said, “Military action is always driven by political motivation”, and the same can be said to military procurement.  The acquisition are always being used as political leverage to either flexing military might, gaining support from supplying countries, or even to gain some kind of legitimacy on disputed issues(such as EEZ areas or island).

Not to mention that buying a weapon system from the wrong country would spark a political outcry within and outside the country (some terrorist group would go for our head if we go for Israel, some country would go for our head if we go for Iran).In the old days of 60s all the way to late 80s, buying a Soviet-bloc weapon is a no-no since we are a very pro-western those days (the author recalled the proposed Mi-8 as Nuri’s replacement which sparked controversy which led to the plan being scrapped).Nowadays the same pressure is felt should we buy military system from Iran or North Korea.

Any major military acquisition worth billions of Euros will raise some issues from neighboring countries, and these would change the regional geopolitics around. One wrong move (such as hasty acquisition, or the quantity of system being acquired) would send the wrong message to other countries and would disrupt the harmony in region, and even trigger the arms race (something that should be avoided).

Now before asking the question about what MAF SHOULD buy, do give a thought about all the points above.

JF-17 Thunder:Malaysian Prospect

After being asked by numerous people (especially pakistani military enthusiasts) about the the possibility of JF-17 being inducted in Royal Malaysian Air Force (the “why JF-17 not being bought by Malaysia”, “Malaysia and Pakistan are brothers and should help each other”, “JF-17 is the Islamic fighter jet”,etc), the author decided to give a lengthy explanation about it. Yes there are several rumors in the news about the possibility of inducting JF-17 in Malaysian service (then again Bale is rumored to join Manchester United too. And so did Fernando Torres), however few circumstances need to be considered.

JF-17 Thunder

Type: Lightweight multirole aircraft
Length: 14m
Wingspan: 9.5m
Height: 4.8m
Weight: 6411kg (empty) 12700kg (max payload)
Powerplant: 1xKlimov RD-93(the same engine that powered newer version of MiG-29, and MiG-35)
Max speed: Mach 1.8


Pakistan involved in the development of JF-17 after the F-16 deal with US is being suspended (due to their nuclear ambition) and are desperate for new fighter to replace bulk of their ageing Chinese-made F-6,F-7, and French Mirage III in service. Coincidently, the Chinese already had its new aircraft project running and decided to join in to develop a lightweight fighter that would replace the entire 2nd generation fighter in both countries’ service.
The joint work began in 1995 and reaching final stage in mid 2000s. Pakistan is expected to acquire 150~250 units in the future. Several studies has already being made to incorporate a mix chinese-western avionics and weapon system into the JF-17 to make it a more capable aircraft and more attractive for export (such as French-made radar, British-made communication system and Chinese-made targeting pod).
JF-17, together with their F-16(and newer F-16 C/D acquired recently, after the sanction being lifted off) and FC-20(Export variant of J-10),is expected to be the backbone of Pakistan Air Force. This would give them a fighting chance against their numerically (and technologically) superior foe, the Indian Air Force (which has Su-30MKI, Mirage 2000, MiG-29SMT and the future MMRCA programme)

JF-17 in Malaysian service?

It’s unlikely that JF-17 being chosen to meet RMAF requirement for new generation fighter aircraft (with reasons pretty much being explained in previous post about JAS-39 Gripen). However, there are several qualities which would attract the top brass/Mindef interest towards the aircraft and its potential.

-Low cost. For around USD 15 mil a pop (depending on which variant, the level of sophistication, and the number bought), a country of our financial capability can easily acquire it by the dozens (24~36 units).While the maneuverability is somewhat a mystery question, the requirement of the aircraft(as a low cost F-16 complement in PAF) and the general design(big delta wing and LERX, somewhat similar in F/A-18,and fly by wire capability), the aircraft has nothing that suggest that it has inherent weakness that will compromise the maneuverability.
 - JF-17 is more than capable to be an ADF (air defence fighter) aircraft. Currently the tasks of air defence are taken by F-5E and MiG-29N in our inventory. Being a 4 generation aircraft, JF-17 is much more advanced than F-5E and MiG-29N (both aircraft only saw SLEP upgrade instead of full modernization programme) and as multirole combat aircraft, it can do much more mission than air defence(such as anti ship, area bombing, air-to-ground mission, SEAD, etc)
-JF-17 can also be used in a ‘less than important’ mission such as point and/or area defence, air patrol, interception, CAS, etc. This can release some pressure from our front line fighter aircraft, in a way that they can focus on more important mission given (such as key target bombing, gaining air supremacy, deep penetration strike, etc)
-JF-17 can be equipped with both Chinese/Russian and western-bloc weapon (if the source code is provided) through 7 of its hard points.
-It is being integrated with Erieye AEW aircraft in Pakistani service, and that would be a huge bonus to RMAF (which has planned to acquire several AEW system, with Erieye is the most possible option)
-Being a non-traditional weapon supplier, Pakistan would offer much more to see the deal (if being done) to go through. Barter-trade, extensive ToT, credit payment, offset deal, even unlimited armament deal without any sanction whatsoever, all of these would be used us to gain leverage from them and demand the best deal for our buck.

Thus JF-17 would be a good replacement for existing Hawk Mk 208, F-5E (even MiG-29N, which was almost being retired in early 2010). A Hi-Lo mix of Su-30MKM, F/A-18D (and possibly F/A-18F) and JF-17 would give a significant boost towards RMAF capability.

ATGMs in Malaysian Army

ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) is a type of anti armor weapon that has sensor/guidance-system to guide its flight towards target. Despite being primarily used as heavy anti-tank weapon (hence the name), ATGM is also versatile enough to be used in variety of missions (as bunker buster, anti-personnel weapon, illumination, it can even being used to fight small/medium water craft e.g. patrol boat, pirate boat, even small corvette)
ATGM generally has better range (of up to 2 miles instead of just 500 yards, usually less) and better penetrating power compared to other anti-armor weapon. And being a guided missile, ATGM has higher success at hitting target and possibly destroying them.
Currently Malaysian Army has 2 type of ATGM, the Baktar Shikan(Pakistan) and Metis-M(Russia). Both are wire-guided, SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Close Lock-On System) missile, bought as part of Malaysian Army modernization programme in early 2000

Baktar Shikan

Baktar Shikan is a Pakistani-made ATGM, which is derived from Chinese HJ-8 ATGM missile (which in turn, is derived largely from American-made TOW system). It is an optically-tracked, wire-guided, direct firing, 2nd generation anti-tank missile with the range of more than 3km and has the penetration capability of up to 850mm RHA.
The Chinese version of this system has been successfully used by the Bosnian during Bosnian-Serb conflict, and some reported that the system has also saw action in 2006 Israel-Lebanon war. The system has seen upgrade in term of guidance system as well as penetration power. Currently Baktar Shikan is in service to Pakistan Army, Bangladesh Army, Sri Lanka Army,while several other countries operated the original Chinese HJ-8 version)
The system is very versatile, and can be launched from tactical vehicles (from Toyota technical truck to AIFV) to helicopters (from Chinese-made Z-9 to Amercian-made AH-1). Baktar Shikan in Malaysian Army usually being installed in a Land-Rover, G-wagon as well as the ACV-300


9K115-2 Metis-M (NATO codename: AT-13 Saxtorn-2) is a lightweight ATGM system (which is also a wire guided missile) used as a man-portable platoon anti-tank missile (weighing at half of the Pakistani Baktar Shikan). Deemed the most advanced system in its class, the missile has high resistance to soft-kill countermeasures and it also has high penetration power, as well as good range. The system has saw success in destroying several Israeli-made Merkava MBTs, one of the most heavily protected MBT in the world, during Israel occupation in Lebanon in 2006

Other system?

Malaysian Army has wide range of anti-armor system, from the basic (yet battle proven) RPG-7V, C-80 LAW, Carl Gustav M2 RCL, M106 RCL (RCL=recoilless rifle) to the AT4/AT4CS and obviously, the ATGMs mentioned earlier.
However there is one class of anti-tank weapon that is absent in Malaysian Army arsenal; the 3rd generation, Fire-and Forget ATGM

This 3rd generation system has several advantages over SACLOS weapon:

-These are shoulder launched weapon. and Metis-M(and Baktar Shikan,up to a certain degree) is a portable weapons but it requires the operator to lie down on their belly. Thus it takes precious time to aim fire and run out of enemy retaliation (while these shoulder-launched ATGMs can be fired from standing position).
-Fire and Forget capability means that the operator doesn’t have to guide the missile and can move to other location at the time the missile leave the tube, which also to prevents countermeasures from the enemy.
-IR-seeking missile is a passive way of targeting the enemy(that is by detecting the IR signature of the tank, usually the engine and the exhaust), instead of flashing IR laser that would trigger the MBT counter ATGM capability(thus the thick diesel smoke) and will leave the operator exposed to enemy retaliation.
-the nature of SACLOS ATGM (which is either wire-guided, or laser-guided) means it can only be fired at the line of sight, thus requires no obstacle between the system and the target .SACLOS ATGM also has relatively flat trajectory; hence it would give away the operator’s location. 3rd generation ATGM (especially Javelin) can be fired even when the target is behind obstacles(trees, houses, hill, etc.) since the IR-seeking sensors will guide the missile on its own towards the target. Such capability is called NLOS (Non line of sight) capability.
-NLOS capability have also give birth to one very effective way of destroying the target (usually MBTs); the top-attack capability. Contemporary tanks have their armor at the thickest in the front and sides, while top of turret has the least. Top-attack capability ensures that the tank could be destroyed (total kill) with just one missile.
-These system can also engage low flying aircraft (helos, CAS aircraft, transport aircraft, etc). And the heavy warhead (used to target heavy armor) can easily blows them aircrafts to pieces.

Currently there are 4 countries that have successfully developed their version of 3rd generation ATGM, the Javelin(USA) the J-Javelin(Japan), spike(Israel) and K-ATGM( South Korea).European countries are also developing their own version; Pars-3(Germany) and Turkey, both are still in development.
 Considering few other factors though (the Javelin is fucking expensive, the Japs would never sell their  weapon to anyone, and Malaysia doesn’t have any diplomatic relationship whatsoever with Israel, thus rules out the possibility of spike),the author have choose K-ATGM(which the author will explain in the future) as the most plausible option for Malaysian Army, since South Korea has previous military sale success in Malaysia(the K200A1 KIFV, and recently, the MPSS projects has been given to South Korean firm).K-ATGM has 2 version, the platoon anti tank weapon and heavier system to be installed in their new AIFV(which is still under development).
Given the Malaysian Army acquiring such system, it would definitely boost our anti-armor capability to another level (given our wide array of anti armor weapon system to begin with) and thus would give significant edge to Malaysian Armed Force’s dissimilar warfare capability.

South Korea's K-ATGM

Friday, 19 February 2010


Sukhoi PAK-FA on first public flight

(This article is about the aircraft that has just being introduced by public and thus many of the details are still unknown/classified and much of the article is written based provided information/speculation by defense analysts and are only relevant to a limited time frame)

Sukhoi PAK-FA (Perspektivny aviatsionny kompleks frontovoy aviatsii, literally "Future Frontline Aircraft System) is a new multirole fighter aircraft developed by Sukhoi Corporation for Russian Air Force, with first public flight was held on January 29,2010. A fifth generation aircraft, it is designed as a direct response to the US fifth-generation fighter,the F-22 Raptor. PAK-FA is expected to replace bulk of older variant of MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker in the future. The aircraft is expected to have supercruise capabilities, extreme maneuverability, and above all, stealth technology.

PAK-FA program originated in the late 1980 when the then Soviet Union is searching for new aircraft design to replace their older fighter aircraft, although it is only started in 2002 when Sukhoi Corporation is chosen to design and developed a new fifth-generation multirole fighter for Russian Air Force. Work began to develop the design,avionic suit and sensors for the aircraft. Currently the program reached final development stage and is expected to enter serial production stage in near future.

Being dubbed as Russian Raptor-ski (since the aircraft is designed to counter F-22 dominance), some military analysts deemed such assumption is quite inaccurate, since PAK-FA is designed with different doctrine and requirement in mind. For them (and the author himself), PAK-FA, in general, has closer role to the Flanker family than the Raptor, that is a multirole fighter, but with stealth technology as an added advantage (rather than an all-aspect stealth air supremacy fighter).Though it has some superficial resemblances to Northrop YF-23(another American fifth generation fighter prototype, before being beaten by YF-22), it is in fact quite a nonsense, since Sukhoi doesn’t have any access to the prototype. The design is quite conventional, at least for a fifth-generation fighter, reflecting the mindset of Russian designer when designing an aircraft, which is by doing it safe(by using something that works and refine it, rather than creating a totally new concept).The project cost, quoted at USD 10 billion, is significantly lower than the F-22 project, mainly because some features(TVC-capable engine, AESA radar, new weapon) is already being developed in parallel, and some of the technology being used by its front line fighter(such as MiG-35,Su-35 and chiefly the money-making Su-30), and the technology basis (Su-47 and MiG-1.44) is already exist before the project is even being started. Early PAK-FA version will use existing equipment, and more advanced equipment can be retrofitted later. It has more hard points than the Raptor(which is located both internally and externally) and can carry both existing and future Russian weapon system, including the future “AWACS killer" R-37 AA missile.

The most conventional figure of price per aircraft is around USD 50 million each (though maintenance/support/weapon/spare-part will add more in the price tag), around the same price tag of most front-line 4.5 generation fighter, making it the cheapest fifth generation fighter around (with F-22 costing more than USD 200 million each and F-35, with many setback skyrocketed the cost), would attract customers. And more importantly, it doesn’t have export ban, unlike F-22. Other than India (which will produce their own variant of PAK-FA,the FGFA or “Future Generation Fighter Aircraft”),prospect customer includes all countries that have operated Su-30 including Malaysia, Indonesia, Algeria, and some Middle-Eastern countries, provided Israel doesn’t protest such acquisition.

Malaysian Prospect

It is unlikely for Malaysia to acquire PAK-FA in the near future. A fifth generation aircraft is a significant leap to any countries operating them, thus requires extensive upgrade in term of infrastructure, training and even the doctrine employed.

However, speaking about further time frame,(around 2020 and beyond), it is become more possible to see PAK-FA in RMAF inventory. F/A-18D will eventually be replaced and it is unlikely that Malaysia will go for another 4.5 generation fighter, which is deemed as obsolete then,especially when Singapore will induct it’s own fifth generation multirole fighter, F-35 JSF (Singapore is among partners in the program).Our doctrine, the so called “silver bullet” requires us to have the most advanced weapon system to compensate the relatively small(around 18-24 units) acquisition made. But it is also noted that other countries will also going to produce their fifth-generation fighter, especially China and their J-XX program. Russia may also produce their own version of F-35, a lightweight fifth-generation attack aircraft, which will be made by Mikoyan Corporation.

edit:the article is dedicated to a friend who is not in his best shape after some incident.The author wishes him speedy recovery.

Malaysian Indigenous MBT?

PT-91M Pendekar

Malaysia has inducted its first Main Battle Tank (MBT), the Polish-made PT-91M Pendekar into service few years ago as part of significant expansion and modernization program. Though equipped with the most sophisticated equipment available (such as French optronic, communication system and FCS, new generation ERA blocks,German tank tracks, better engine, not to mention steering wheel instead of throttle stick), many people (including some MAF personnel and military pundits) criticize the procurement to be unwise, to say the least. Their opinion is based on misjudged performance of PT-91 predecessor, the Soviet-made T-72, in both Gulf War and Chechnya conflict, where it performed terribly to both users; Iraq and Russia. Singapore, in response, has acquired second-hand German-made Leopard 2A4 and people began to make direct comparison between PT-91M and Leopard 2A4.

However, as misinformed as the Malaysian are, ironically, they are right.PT-91M,like other T-72 variant, did inherited its weaknesses; cramped interior, the location of the ammo dump(thus the “cook-off” problem), the autoloader(the author, for one, doesn’t quite fond to autoloader actually, although it is safe to assume that modern autoloader has incorporated some upgrade to solve the problem of its predecessor) and relatively weak base armour (thus the reason why ERA blocks being slapped heavily on the hull and turret).The author is sure that Mindef and the top brass know about it, and PT-91M is used as medium of familiarization to develop Malaysia’s own set of tank doctrine before buying a more advanced tanks.

But as the title said, can we build our MBT specially designed for our own doctrine and need?

Making a Tank

A MBT, in essence, is just a tractor with big gun and steel armour. No big deal whatsoever, right?

^That’s kinda an oversimplification (a sarcastic one), but although building Malaysian own MBT is a tall order (considering our level of defense industry and expertise), it is not an impossible task. Building a tank doesn’t necessarily making it from scratch and several heavy-industries companies (like Deftech, Proton, etc) can establish a joint cooperation, under initiative from the Government, in building our own MBT.

For starter, we need to have a set of tank doctrine we would employed before designing our future MBT, which is based on our geography, demography, geo-politic, neighboring countries’ military doctrine, etc. Israel for example, put heavy priority on its soldier survivability and the doctrine is mirrored in the design of their front line MBT, the Merkava. It has heavy armour, extremely steep armour angle, and even the engine is placed in front of the tank (contemporary tanks usually has engine in the rear), thus increasing the chances of tank crew survivability, at a price of its speed and mobility. IDF is mainly a defensive force so mobility is not quite a priority. American Abrams had emphasis on cross-country capabilities (which is useful in European front during Cold War era), thus having a speed in excess of 40 miles/hour (around 65 km/h).In a more recent development, Japan has develop a new generation of MBT weighing less than 40 tonnes, in order to comply with their public road regulation. Failing to acknowledge the doctrine and the project may become a failure. Indian Arjun, for example, face many setbacks that makes the Indian Army not to acquire more of them and instead opting for another newly designed MBT based on T-72.

After the doctrine has been developed now we can continue to the actual part of building a MBT. In author’s opinion, it is better to acquire old MBT tech (either from reverse-engineering or ToT from other countries) and develop, modify and upgrade it according to our need.
Think this is a bad idea?

-Israel upgraded M4 Sherman, the M50 Super Sherman, participate in numerous conflict with neighboring Arabs countries and their Soviet-made MBTs and was in active duty from early 50s to 1980s.
-South African Olifant (Afrikaans for “elephant”), which is one of the most advanced MBT in African region, is actually derived from late World War II to Cold War-era Centurion Tank. It has more armour, bigger gun, new engine, suspension system, FCS, etc.
-Turkish M60T “Sabra” (derived from US-made M60A3 Patton) is considered to be at par with Israeli Merkava Mk 4
-Every tank in China’s PLA inventory can trace their genetics from Type-59, which is derived from Soviet T-54/55 (they have modified the chassis over time, which includes elongated hull, added another pair of wheel, redesigned hull and turret, newer engine, etc)
-Iranian “Zulfiqar” MBT incorporated features from earlier US-made M48, M60 and Soviet T-72, adding a few modern twists in the process, such as M1-style turret and hull design.
-UK Challenger 2 MBT is based on Chieftain MBT design, which in turn, is based in earlier Centurion tank design.

IDF Super Sherman

SADF Olifant

Perhaps the most difficult part is to develop the armour. The cheapest way is to use steel alloy and put ERA blocks on top of it. But if the ERA is breached the base armour will provide insufficient protection to the crew, especially against modern anti-tank weapon. One answer is to develop our own ceramic composite armour but doing that will take years of R&D and tons of resource and no country will share their own secret of making composite armour to us. So we are left alone in this part

Like the author mentioned earlier, making a MBT doesn’t necessarily means building one from scratch, since there are some equipment that is beyond our current expertise, such as the main gun or FCS system. We can either just buy the equipment from foreign supplier or by acquiring manufacturing rights and produce it locally.

One thing that needs to be considered is the overall program cost (from R&D to manufacturing part) and the logistic. Using existing equipment can save money since the R&D part is skipped and one can have a proven system. A cheap, competent MBT might even attract exports. The equipment should also be standardized to reduce logistic problem, such as using the same gun that fire the same round,(the 2A46 125mm gun is used by PT-91M),interchangeable spare-parts, up to the padded track and bolt and nut. It might not seem much but in the battlefield we need everything we can get and that can also includes cannibalization of captured or different system. Thus standardization is crucial in time of need.

If the cost proves too much we can also opt for cheaper (but no less potent) alternatives, and that is by developing a light tanks (such as Argentinean TAM tanks, French AMX-10 or CV90120).

Considering our military level right now developing a new MBT may seem unlikely, but there’s no need to rush for that, as we still new in MBT deployment tactics. Good things don’t come overnight and the author prefers the development to take gradual advance till it is mature enough to be produced.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

marine corps:overview

(got no other ideas to write so here goes ...)

In military,marine corps is a military branch similar to ground force,usually connected to the navy.Historically it is assigned in a warship to fight piracy,mutiny and to fight in littoral area,as part of military campaign.Marine corps uses many of army tactics,but they have amphibious capability as an added advantage.Currently many country assigned their marine force as Rapid Deployment Force(RDF),which means they will be sent first to combat to secure the location/objective before other larger element of the military(usually the army) arrives.

Spain is the first country to have their own marine corps.Today,many major countries have their own marine corps,with size comes anywhere from a battalion(600 to 900 personnel) to several corps large.United States Marine Corps,USMC,is the biggest marine corps exists today,with over two hundred thousand personnel,complete with it's own mechanized/armor support,artillery support,amphibious ships and even fighter wing(which is composed of F/A-18C/D)Though smaller than it triservice counterpart(US army,US navy,US air force) and nominally under US navy(USN),it is practically a separate branch and it significantly eclipsing many of other countries' armed force in term of size and firepower.

Though marine corps has similar attributes to the ground force,it also has it's own uniqueness itself.It has amphibious capabilities,provided by LVTs and amphibious armoured vehicle,it's own set of doctrine(depending on the country itself).They also sometimes used different personal equipment set from their army counterparts.due to increased corrosion in salt water,the lightweight nature of rapid deployment itself,etc)

Marine corps usually paved way for a larger force to gain strategic advantage and ultimately accomplished their goal,like securing beaches from the enemy,gain control of key installation,etc.Such action can be seen in Pasific theatre in World War II(marine win battles,army wins the war).It regularly co-ordinates with other elements of the military to accomplish their objective.such as relying on the navy to provide amphibious capability and to soften the enemy's defensive line,air force to provide transport and cover from enemy aerial attack,and the army to give significant boost in ground firepower.

Royal Malaysian Marine Corps:possibilities?

With future acquisition of new MPSS(either LPD or the more fancy LHD),questions arise if Malaysia should,and would have its own marine corps.Some Asean countries also has marine corps in their armed forces and some people suggesting that Malaysia should also walk the same path.

Will we ever heard the word "SEMPER SETIA" being cried out loud? In author's opinion,perhaps not.The reason is simple;the necessities is just isn't there.

To further explain the statement:
-The nature of marine corps as an expeditionary force(or as intervention force) contradict with our defence policy,which is deterrence(which means our armed force is built to be defencive,rather than offencive)
-MAF size is quite modest.with just over one hundred thousand regular personnel in all branch of the armed force.New infrastructures for training and deployment need to be build to accommodate this newly formed marines.Marines don't grow on trees,and for starter the army would have to transfer it's meagre resource and personnel to establish the foundation of the marine corps.
-New system,which we have little to no experience to, need to be bought;amphibious artillery ,LVTs,amphibious armoured vehicles,perhaps even a hovercraft.
-The geographic of Malaysia renders the establishment of marine corps as a unnecessary.Malaysia is composed of 2 large chunk of land (the Peninsular States in the west,and Sabah/Sarawak in the east).Thus it is easier to build a base and move the fighting force on land,rather by the sea.
-Indonesia and the Philippines are archipelago countries,with many of its isles scattered in their realm.The only way to quickly(and efficiently) maneuver the fighting force in large number,complete with logistics is by amphibious method,thus justified the establishment of their marine corps.
-Malaysia also has Rapid Deployment Force of it's own:10th Brigade(para)
-Malaysia is a relatively peaceful country with no major armed conflict for over 2 decades(after them commie terrorist bastard surrendered in 1989).In contrast,Indonesia,Thailand and the Philippines are still dealing with insurgency to this day(Philippines with it's NPA and MNLF movement,Thailand with it's southern separatist and possible conflict with it's neighbours up north,and Indonesia is plagued with separatist movement up until recently,when peace agreement had been accomplished).

Though that does not means there is no rooms for marine corps in MAF;should they walk this path.The author only states his opinion and should be taken with a pinch of salt,whatever that supposed to mean.Who knows maybe we'll be hearing people shouting "SEMPER SETIA" in the future,should the necessities arise.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

SEA countries' air force acquisiton:comparison

South East Asian(SEA) countries recently are on shopping spree,buying a wide range of military equipments,either to replace obsolete existing equipment,or to bolster their capabilites(mostly the latter).Among those who had the attention the most are the air force,with countries are fielding new equipments to match their neighbors' capabilities.Some see this as an arm race,while others view it as a healthy development towards a collectively more secure region(the author prefers the latter).To give some insight,let's have an overall view of the air force capability,currently and in the near future.


RMAF Su-30MKM Flanker

Malaysia already acquired 18 Russian state-of-the-art Su-30MKM multirole fighter with all aircraft already being delivered.This aircraft,which is derived from Indian Su-30MKI(without Israeli equipment,such as Litening targeting pod) is considered as one of the best fighter in the world(with exception to Boeing F-22A and Eurofighter Typhoon).Mikoyan MiG-29N is scheduled to be retired in 2010,due to high maintainance cost,thus RMAF is planning on acquiring its replacement.Rosoboronexport,a Russian military firm,supposedly is negotiating for a trade-in deal between all those Fulcrum for another batch of 6 Su-30MKM,although no further decision has been made.Other than that ,Malaysia has also long searching for another 18 multirole aircraft,to be a stablemate to the Flanker(similar to Fulcrum-Hornet acquisition more than a decade ago).Boeing F/A-18F is said to be a strong contender,although Mindef is also reviewing other aircrafts,such as Dassault Rafale,Eurofigher Typhoon and Saab JAS -39 Gripen.

AEW system,which Malaysia has long for,might be acquired in the near future.Saab Erieye is thought to be the most possible candidate,with question right now is the suitable platform to install such system.New replacement of transport helicopters are also being said to be acquired in the near future(with old helos has served for about four decades).Eurocopter EC-725 is almost being acquired,although some political bullshyt  problems forced such acquisition to be temporarily on hold,.Malaysia also has bought a number of Airbus A400M,which will bolster RMAF tactical transport capability.Attack helicopter is also on the list,although pressing budget and plenty of other acquisition make them to be on low priority list.


RSAF F-15SG Strike Eagle

Considered as the most advanced air force in the region,RSAF(as in "Republic of Singapore Air Force") are still looking for hardware to improve their capability.Currently they are in the process of receiving their advanced F-15SG (which is derived from F-15E,the most potent aircraft in the world with legendary record).A total of 24 is acquired with more as an option.These Eagles,alongside bulk of their F-16C/D Fighting Falcon,poses a strategic might and awe to any neighboring countries.Singapore are also involved in F-35 JSF projects,which means they will field JSF in the future and thus become the first nation in SEA to field a 5th generation aircraft.

RSAF will also acquire Phalcon AEW system(which is installed on Gulfstream aircraft) and thus greatly enhancing their AEW&C capability(even before the acquisition they already have E-2C Hawkeye AEW system).RSAF has acquired S-70 helicopters for anti ship/submarine task and become the newest member to their helicopter fleet(which includes CH-47 Chinook,AH-64D Apache and Super Puma,among others).F-5 fighter,although isn't as fancy as the one mentioned earlier,should also be included,since they already upgrade and modernize it into a BVR-capable fighter.


RTAF JAS-39 Gripen and Saab 340 AEW aircraft

Thailand also doesn't want to lag behind in modernizing its air force.Recently they already acquired six Swedish state-of-the-art JAS-39 multirole fighter aircraft.Saab 340 AEW aircraft are also being bought along with the Gripen. Another batch of 6 Gripen and one more Saab 340(with Erieye AEW system) is planned in the next decade and RTAF planned to have at least eight JAS-39C,4 JAS-39D(two-seater) and 2 Saab 340 AEW aircraft in near future).

Structural upgrade is already being commenced to bulk of RTAF F-16 fleet(which consisted of Block 15 OCU/ADF version),although full MLU upgrade,which effectively brings old F-16 to Block 50 capability,is still not being done,due to budget restraint(RTAF is focusing on buying new figher currently) and since they are studying on several MLU options.Other stuff that has being bought are ATR-72 transport aircraft and S-92 helos,although both are being used for VIP transport.


TNI-AU Su-30MK2 Flanker

With arms embargo being imposed by the US about a decade ago,plus 1997 financial crisis,really blew Indonesian Air Force(TNI-AU) hard,with many of their fighter were unable to fly(due to lack of spare parts).Even with the economy being gradually recovered,natural disaster(2004 tsunami) in Acheh forced the government to allocate more fund on recovering and reconstructing the region(and thus military budget is being slashed).

Currently TNI-AU have a mix aircraft of eastern and western origin.Among recent procurement are Su-30MK2 Flanker from Russia.TNI-AU has bought Flanker of different configuration(Su-27SK,Su-30MK2) and planned to acquire more to have at least one full squadron(12 to 18 aircraft).They are also planning on acquiring new F-16C/D,as well as modernizing their existing F-16A/B.They have also ordered a number of Embraer Super Tucano to replace their grounded OV-10F Bronco.TNI are also looking forward to upgrade their existing tactical transport fleet,which currently in poor condition.Previous embargo has made TNI-AU to go the same route as Malaysia,that is by diversifying equipment sources.


VPAF Su-30MK2V Flanker

After the reunification of Vietnam,Vietnam People Air Force(VPAF) has inherited a large war booty(I mean military equipment) from both side.However,these equipment already showed their age as time goes by and currently are considered as obsolete.While they still operate some of these old equipment,Vietnam also began to modernize its air force.With political stability,comes economic prosperity(Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economy in Asia) and thus began to spend money to bolster its military as well,especially the air force.

Vietnam already bought bulk of Russian Flanker,with the first one being operational since 1998.It is estimated that VPAF has at least 36 Flankers(Su-27SK and Su-30MK2V variants) with more being bought.They have also refurbished their UH-1H fleet(from ARVN, Armed Forces South Vietnam) with at least 17 in flyable condition.VPAF also seeking to acquire more C-130H/J as their old Hercules are already in bad shape.Few can be said about VPAF since it is hard to find information about them.

The rest of SEA countries
Other ASEAN countries are also looking forward to improve their air force capability,although lack of funds,or necessity hampered the plan.Cambodia,being completely out-classed and out-equipped by its Siamese neighbor,allegedly has allocated some money to buy Chinese JF-17 multirole fighter to match Thailand F-16(and future Gripen) fighter fleet,though no further decision has been made.Myanmar already had a relatively modern MiG-29,possibly to deal with neighboring Bangladesh,which in turn,also bought the same aircraft.Brunei,a small,rich,prosperous countries,is also looking forward to acquire a squadron of fighter aircraft to complement their mostly helicopter fleet.Among possible choice are British BAE Hawk,South Korean KAI T-50,American Lockheed F-16 and Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen.Though no orders have been placed,military pundits said that Brunei needs at least 6 to 8 aircraft to protect its interest.The Philippines,as mentioned previously,has long needs replacement for their retired F-5.However budget restraint and their current threat has put the plan on hold for uncertain future.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Armed Forces of the Philippines:review

As a sabahan,I am really interested with Filipino military,because of their claim to my beloved Fatherland,and because my mother is from the Philippines(she frequently told me about military raid in Zamboanga by Tora-Tora aircraft,which,after some research,is actually American T-28 Trojan turboprop trainer/COIN aircraft)


Armed Forces of the Philippines(Tagalog:Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas), ARF in short, is responsible to defend and maintain the sovereignty of Republic of the Philippines.It has 3 main branch,Army,Navy and Air Force,and also has other elements such as Marines,Coast Guard and Village Corps.

ARF has long played a significant,if not highly controversial,role in the country.With numerous attempted coup and bad human-right record,rooted deeply since Ferdinand Marcos era(although recently there are efforts to clean their image into a fully professional,neutral defence force).

Considered as the weakest armed forces between founding ASEAN countries,they are currently engaging in numerous conflicts and skirmishes with communist(New People Army) and secessionist(Moro National Liberation Front,Moro Islamic Liberation Front) insurgent forces



Philippines Army(PA) has a rich traditions dated back to 16th century.But it's modern history only began when General Douglas MacArthur,under request of Filipino president Manuel L. Quezon, began to formally laid the foundation of modern Filipino army,These soldier have fought bravely against Japanese invasion until their defeat in 1945.

Still largely a counter-insurgency force.They have fought rebels from both sides(communist and secessionist). for decades.This would make them a battle-hardened soldier with many years of experience in COIN operation.

Currently their main strategic assets are limited to light armoured vehicles(composed of APC/IFV,and scorpion light tank) and field artillery,which is vital to provide protection and fire support to front line personnel against rebel forces.Budget restraint(and some other issues that will be discussed later) forced them to utilize old equipment dated as far back as WWII era,such as M3 Grease gun and M1 Carbine.


Philippines Navy(PN) is responsible to protect maritime territory and interest of the Philippines.Even from significant assistance from the US,PN is struggled to fulfill their task with old vessel and inadequate naval aviaton support(their ship of the line,the BKP Rajah Humabon,is actually a WWII escort destroyer.Without any modern electronic system/weaponry being retrofitted).

Their Marine Corps,however,are decently armed,mainly because frequent conflicts with rebel needed them to be adequately armed.They are one of the better armed amphibious force in this region.(with good landing craft and support ship)

Air Force


Philippines Air Force(PAF) has suffered a significant reduce in capability,especially when their only true fighter,the F-5A Freedom Fighter,has been retired,which leaves them with no aerial superiority compared to their neighbor.(although it is not a priority right now,since their current main task is to provide ground attack/CAS to ground forces,and trasportation).

Currently their main assets are mainly composed of Aermacchi S-211 trainer/light attack aircraft,OV-10 ground attack aircraft.and Huey helos,lots of them Huey in service.

There have been the intention to acquire a replacement to those retired F-5,with either F-16MLU,upgraded second-hand F-5E,or a LIFT trainer(most possibly korean T-50),although no decision has been made.The plan is to acquire at least a squadron(12-18 aircraft) to protect the sky of the Philippines.

Other than tri-service branch,they also have other elements in ARF,such as the coast guard and village militias.

Current and beyond

With an exception to small arms and helicopter,ARF have been operating a large chunck of obsolete weapon system for years(from M3 Grease gun to BAR automatic gun to old USN,and then JMSDF destroyer).Current ARF capabilities have been hampered by severe budget cuts,particularly post-1997 economic crisis(which has severely hit Asia.Note that some of Asian countries have never recover from the crisis).However there are also a more appalling reason than that;widespread corruption,ineffective bureaucracy and (supposedly) communist element in Philippines politics.

There are effort to modernize their armed forces,through HORIZON programme.Under this programme,a step-by-step modernization is initiated,replacing old equipment with a better one(maybe not new,but definitely fare better that previous weapon they are replacing).However,with the pace of these upgrade,not to mention the setback mentioned earlier,a fully modernized,conventional,network centric armed force would not be realized for a decade to come.They are still a counter-insurgency force and until they are able to defeat their adversary,they would,and should remain as so.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Rant(ver. 1):Ignorance within malaysian

Everytime I spend time in local forums/blogs I can't help but noticed some bloody ignorance by our own citizen,that is ignorance about our military.Everytime I see people undermining,if not insulting our own military capabilites,like they know anything better.Whenever there's discussion regarding future military acquisition these people will cry "wasting people money LAH", "no need LAH", "we have no enemy LAH", "rasuah LAH", and other endless whine.But ironically when they were asked about their reasoning for giving such statement, they will give reference either from comic books,video game,hollywood movies,or worse, the "I know LAH".

What the hell wrong with malaysians?Does 2 decades of peace and prosperity already taken it's toll?Don't they know there are already subversive movement trying to infiltrate our country(JI,LTTE,heck maybe even some south american separatist group trying to turn Malaysia as transit to fuel their movement),not to mention our claim on Spratly and some unfinished ZEE area claim.And then there's inactive claim of Sabah from the philippines(Thank God their military isn't at the same level as us to exercise their claim significantly.Their internal conflict is a bless in disguise to us).

http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/1219/berita20harian2020mig29.jpg <--crappy article is crappy.To whoever who write this crap,if you read this,wikipedia is there in the internet for a reason.USE IT.

Already today I read some crappy article about unnecessary replacement of MiG-29.While the replacement can be delayed(by upgrading it to SMT variant it can stay relevant until beyond 2020),but it is written in a style well beyond any level of relevant journalism available(The author of the article even get it wrong on ID-ing the aircraft,plus many more errors which waste my time to even bother about it).

Why doesn't Malaysian have some patriotism like the Korean,Pakistani,heck even Indonesian?(Patriotism,not nationalism.both are different).Do they really happy to see our armed forces lags behind our neighbor.Don't forget that our neighbors will looking forward to see us weaken before exercising their claim to our soil.I don't care what race a malaysian are.All are responsible to defend this country by any mean,directly or indirectly. Even with our status as the "Tiger of Islamic world" today,we already caused some concern from some countries which feel uneasy to our stance,especially about Palestine and Iraq.They will find any means to weaken us and make us their as their mere puppet.What would a Malaysian do then? I recalled words from my teacher about Malaysian today,If they know the hardship of yesteryear they will learn to appreciate their life better today.

P/S:and don't give me the "all money go to kroni LAH" either.Is that reason alone enough to suspend our military modernization? How would one defending the country effectively with obsolete weapon?Think about it.

 Our brethren at arms.They bust their butts to defend ours.So show some respect to these selfless personnel.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Other stuff that need to be bought

These weapon system have been mentioned by Mindef for procurement since 4,5 years ago.But since then,nothing concrete about the procurement programme have ever surfaced,other than rumors and possibilities mentioned by top brass within MAF.Some of the system already being tested before,however until now no significant decision has been made.

Among those weapon system are:

1-self propelled howitzer(SPH)

SPH system offered much flexible role than towed howitzer of similar caliber.It's maneuverability means it is less vulnerable to enemy counter-battery fire.It can also bombard one particular area and move to another location to do similar task,faster.

among system that has been tested by Malaysian Army include:

K9 Thunder

Samsung Techwin K9 Thunder 155mm/52caliber SPH can be considered as one of the best SPH in the world.Currently it has only 2 true counterparts(another tracked SPH with 52 caliber gun) which is:PzH-2000(Germany) and (quite)recently, PLZ05(China).K9 can shoot a target up to 60km away with RAP ammunition,and recently they already developed a new ammunition that can shoot a target up to 100km away.Turkish Army already acquired manufacturing rights from Samsung Techwin and developed SPH based on K9 system with some modification.



Caeser is a lightweight SPH made by French GIAT for French Army.Being lightweight,it can be transported by C-130,A400(both which is operated or will be operated by RMAF).Also of 52caliber,which means it can also shoot RAP ammunition up to 60km away.Currently,Thailand already operated it,along side M109 SPH,in their arsenal.

2-mid-range surface to air missile system

GAPU("Gerup Artilleri Pertahanan Udara",or "Air Defence Artillery Group" in english) has operated a wide mix of weapon system ranging from bofors AA gun to Rapier SHORADS(SHOrt Range Air Defence System).However one similarities about these weapons is that it is only used for short range air defence task(less than 10km away).Anything more than that and they need to depend on their air force counterpart for assistance.Problem is RMAF right now doesn't have much aircraft to spare(currently 18 Su-30MKM+8F/A-18D,MiG-29 will be retired.and then there's the ocean to patrol and stuff like that).Over-reliance to RMAF will strain their fighter wing.

These are the system that have been reviewed previously:



Designed as replacement of SA-6 'KUB',Buk-M1 are capable to detect and engage multiple targets simultaneously from up to 50km,depending on the missile.Optical target seeking system means that it can also being launched without using radar to avoid anti-radiation attack(from missiles such as American HARM or british ALARM) and has better resistance to ECM.The missile itself has undergo changes as well,with current missile has effective range of up to 66% than previous one.Currently it serve with various nation including India and Syria.Current version,Buk-M1-2 (NATO code name SA-17) is available for export.


KS-1 is developed to replace aging Chinese-copy of SA-2 in service in the 80s.It is the first Chinese SAM that used phased-array radar.Little is known about this missile except that it has general resemblance to MIM-23 HAWK.China has offered the system to Malaysia along with ToT.

3-attack helicopter

Attack helicopter proved useful in many conflict,from conventional war(such as in Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom) to fighting insurgency(such as in Pakistan recently).It can be used for anti-tank role,reconnaissance,close air support and fighting guerrilla.Unlike a fighter aircraft(or ground attack aircraft),attack helos can spend time loitering at one particular are for a significantly longer time,and unlike medium size transport helicopter,it is more agile and smaller size means that it is harder to be detected/locked on.

Malaysia was almost have its own attack helos in the nineties( Denel AH-2 Rooivalk from South Africa) until financial crisis forced Mindef to hold,and ultimately canceled the deal.Denel already close Rooivalk production so Malaysia have to find another options.Based on the price and the availability,the author (me) has shortlisted only 2 helos that would be a possible options for Malaysia.


AH-1Z,also known as "Zulu(Z) Cobra",a continuation of the legendary Cobra series,is currently being used by USMC(US marine corps).Among upgrades compared to its predecessor includes four-blade, bearing-less, composite main rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system.Its main armament is 3-barreled 20mm gatling gun and can be equipped with 2.75 inch rocket and can carry AIM-9 air-to-air missile and up to 16 AGM-114 hellfire missile(just like AH-64D belongs to Singapore).No export have been made for this variant yet,and Bell already offered this helos to Malaysia.

Eurocopter Tiger

Eurocopter Tiger started its development as an advanced attack helicopter to fulfill French and Germany requirement in the eighties.It has several variants,from multipurpose combat helicopter to fire-support variant,depending on requirement.It is armed with 30mm cannon and can carry a combination of rockets,machine gun pod,and also Hellfire missile.Current operator include France,Germany,Spain,Pakistan and Australia.Like Bell,Eurocopter also offered this helo for Malaysia.


All systems mentioned above have been reviewed by MAF for future acquisition.However due to decrease in funding,more pressing replacement(like new MPSS,APC and transport helicopter) and fvcking idiots(read:opposition party) in the parliament, these will not be materialized in near future.God Willing,we'll be able to acquire this after more urgent replacement is done and we'll be able to concentrate on bolstering our capabilities again(towards 3rd phase of modernization)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Iskander :Russian New Generation Tactical Ballistic Missile

Designed as a new replacement of the famous Scud Missile,Iskander short range Tactical Ballistic Missile offers significant improvement compared to Scud,particularly in term of greater accuracy and reduced radar signature(to overcome counter-measure,such as interceptor missile).Russia began testing the system in 1996 and mass production began in 2005.

Iskander could be used to destroy military installation (airbase,barracks), enemy artillery battery,air defence and missile defence assets,which is shown in Russia-Georgia military conflict in august 2008.Typically armed with conventional warhead,it can be configured differently from anti personnel,delivering cluster bombs,to bunker buster,even some source reported that it can be armed with nuclear warhead to become a tactical nuclear missile.Recently,to counter NATO missile shield plan,Russia would have deployed such missile to Kaliningrad,which forced the United States to cancel the plan.

Export version,SS-26 Iskander-E(E=export),has a reduced range of about 280km with a warhead weighted about 400kg(to complement MTCR agreement that prohibits export of tactical missile with payloads of 500kg and 300km range).Rosoboronexport,Russia's military middle-man,has said that among countries that shown interest in acquiring the system is MALAYSIA,India,UAE and Syria,and also trying to promote Iskander-E to other countries as well.

Iskander-E in Malaysian service:possibilities?
Malaysia right now is in aggressive pace to modernize its already decent military capabilities.The acquisition of PT-91M MBT(Poland),ASTROSS II MLRS(Brazil),Scorpene SSK(France) and Su-30MKM(Russia) already spark shock and awe to neighboring countries,which also began spending as well(except the Philippines.They still lag behind and their armed force is largely counter-insurgency oriented).But the real question is,Will Malaysia ever bought one?

Perhaps the safest answer is NO,not for the time being at least.There is another more urgent equipment to be replaced,particularly S-61A4 transport helicopter,the late Inderapura(ex USS-Newport) class LST,new armoured APC,to name few.Even after all these have been replaced,Malaysia also need a new type of weapon to fill the gap,especially self-propelled artillery and attack helicopters(which will be reviewed later).And current economy situation calls for budget cuts and at this point what is important is to maintain current capability until funds is available(and then there is stupid opposition parties with their stupid rhetoric.phuk em.hard DX)

Other than that, the nature of the missile(as a theatre-level tactical ballistic missile) might cause tension between neighboring countries.While it is a great deterrent weapon,it also might cause other countries to develop/acquire similar capabilities as well and arm race standoff is the last thing ASEAN countries need(not just it will scare investor and thus dampen economy,it will also make the friendly,mutual relationship that have been made decades,or even centuries ago,to become tense,or even being cut off entirely).

What important first is to completely modernize our armed force to be a network-based integrated tri-service of the 21st century,like Republic Of Korea Armed Force and  Japan Self Defence Force.After that,sky is the limit for us.

JAS-39 Gripen:Malaysian Prospect

Recently many people(from average layman to military pundits,local military magazines,even people from Mindef) has been talking about major military acquisition from Sweden,which include state of the art Erieye AEW system and Swedish pride in the sky,JAS-39 Gripen. While Erieye is almost(God Willing) to be bought by Malaysia(issues right now is the aircraft.C-235 would the best option,since RMAF already operated it and thus will ease logistics)
Gripen,however,would be quite a different story.

JAS-39 GRIPEN:overview

Gripen started as a replacement of entire bulk of Swedish aircraft(Draken and Viggen) which would be obsolete in the 21st century,After evaluated few aircraft available in the market,Swedish Air Force decided to develop a new Fighter aircraft which would completely fulfill its requirement,which is low maintainance cost(even lower than the then new US lightweight fighter programme,the F-16 Falcon),and the ability to operate in dispersed area(unique to Swedish defence doctrine.It proposed that the aircraft would be able to land at anywhere with tarmac on top of it,refuel and rearm, and fly again,with just 5 crews and supply)

Upon entering service,already few countries impressed with its capabilities and started buying some(Up to a point where Swedish Air Force is "forced" to give them JAS-39 that is supposed to be in Swedish Air Force fleet for export).Current Operator include:Sweden,Czech,Hungary,South Africa,UK(as test aircraft) and recently,Royal Thai Air Force(to replace aging F-5s and to counter its neighbors' state of the art aircraft in induction,which is Flanker in Malaysian/Indonesian/Vietnam service and Singapore with their F-15SG).Export prospect is looking good for Gripen,with many countries already began to find replacement for their aging F-5,MiG-21,old french Mirage and even early batch of F-16.However it faced serious challenge(and even back stab and dirty play,especially from the American) from other aircraft models,such as American F-16 C/D block 50/52/52+,F/A-18E/F, Mulltinational Eurofighter Typhoon,French Dassault Rafale and Russian MiG-35 and latest Flanker series(Su-30MKM/I variant,Su-30MK2 variant and Su-35.Long live cheap,great russian aircraft  : D).

Malaysian Prospect
With early retirement of MiG-29N/NUB(which is quite a shame,since that aircraft could be upgraded to MiG-29SMT and continue to be in service beyond 2020) and the proposal of another batch of 18 new MRCA,Malaysia is also considered as a place to make money for aircraft companies.Russia already propose to trade in all MiG-29s for another 6 Su-30MKM(a good thing rather than letting it to collect dust somewhere in the storage facility),but question now is about the other 18 aircraft contract.Russia,again,offered Su-30MKM,as well as Su-35 and MiG-35 to malaysia,while Boeing(USA) offered us F/A-18F.Malaysia is also consider Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale(which is quite a surprise,although a welcomed one).SAAB,realizing the potential,has put Malaysia among its prospect as customer country.

But,while the author(that is "me") doesn't entirely ruled out Gripen as the option for the MRCA contract,it is also unlikely for Malaysia to buy Gripen as well,for few reasons:

1-It is a single engined aircraft.Recent Malaysian military trend tend to opt for 2-engined aircraft because it provided more thrust at lower attitude,since Malaysia is separated by South China Sea
2-Shorter range compared to 2-engined aircraft without in-flight refueling,2-engined aircraft usually has longer range and thus have wider maritime-patrolling range.
3-It carries less payload compared to 2-engined aircraft and 2 aircraft might need to be sent to bombards key target installations  instead of one large 2-engined aircraft.
4-Thailand also operates Gripen(6 aircraft with another six as an option).One of the reason why Singapore ruled out Su-30 and F/A-18F is because Malaysia operates Su-30MKM and are really interested with F/A-18F.

However,Gripen also have some qualities that need to be considered by RMAF as well:

1-Low maintainance cost and less ground operating crew(only five people,usually conscript in Swedish Air Force)
2-The ability to carry sophisticated armaments,including IRIS-T and ASRAAM short range AAM,new AMRAAM version and Meteor BVR AAM,and ALARM anti-radiation missile(plus other NATO-complement missiles and bombs)
3-Low RCS.While it isn't a true stealth aircraft,its nature as a small fighter plus its design means that it has less radar cross section than other non-stealth aircraft
4-AESA radar for later Gripen generation.
5-non traditional manufacturer might offers significant ToT and other assistance that is not available in traditional aircraft manufacturer(especially the American and their "policy" of using their weapon/system)

The author believe that our Malaysian top brass already made a significant research on aircraft we might acquire in the future,based on requirement,budget and other factor(ToT,restriction policy,threat,etc),thus any aircraft that would be procured is deemed as the best aircraft we can buy.

Monday, 26 October 2009

M-4 procurement:overview

It seems that MAF acquisition of M4 is deemed as a bad choice by general malaysian people(of course;if the decision is made by BN government,it IS a bad decision.What the heck with the mentality anyway).Recently,a report which said that M4 failure cost serviceman life in A-stan.It wouldn't be a surprise people will bring this issue and questioned MAF M4 procurement without even doing some kind of research to support their claim.

from the article

"My weapon was overheating," McKaig said, according to Cubbison's report. "I had shot about 12 magazines by this point already and it had only been about a half hour or so into the fight. I couldn't charge my weapon and put another round in because it was too hot, so I got mad and threw my weapon down."
The soldiers also had trouble with their M249 machine guns, a larger weapon than the M4 that can shoot up to 750 rounds per minute.
Cpl. Jason Bogar fired approximately 600 rounds from his M-249 before the weapon overheated and jammed the weapon.
Bogar was killed during the firefight, but no one saw how he died, according to the report.
    It should be noted that the main factor that contributed to the malfunction is human factor.Apparently the person who handles the weapon become too excited and pulled the trigger too long.which resulted in overheating and,obviously,weapon jam.
Long story short,the main keyword here is sustained rate of fire.

Other than that,one need to consider about operating theatre too.Currently the American are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan,which is known to be hot and dusty.Among other critics are tendency to pick up dust and become too hot.Malaysia aren't as hot,dusty and dry like those countries(Thank God for that),thus M4 should serve us well with less hassle,just like it's predecessor,M16A1.Plus Malaysian terrain offers little opportunity for long range engagement as well(we fight either in the jungle,plantation,or urban area.In Afghanistan,US/NATO frequently engaged Talibans in large,arid, open area,thus they always retaliate beyond their rifle effective range.

Advantages of M4 

M4 is an extremely modular and flexible rifle around(A plus side of US MIL-STD system).Everything can be configured and re-configured according to the requirement(from installing optical sight and foregrip to changing the entire upper receiver to have a completely different rifle) without significantly doing some gunsmithing.It will also ease the logistic,up to some degree(because instead of giving a different weapon for different purpose,M4 can be configured to fill the need,thus become a jack of all trade of such).Overall M4 is a battle proven weapon and instead of opting a unproven weapon,why just not stick with whatever that works and slowly doing R&D for our own rifle system that perfectly(or almost perfectly) fit our requirement.

Mi-171:perhaps the best nuri replacement

As we know,Nuri(or S-61A4.I prefer actual designation because more people will understand) have been around in RMAF since....forever and new replacement has been surfaced since 5,6 years ago at least.Problem is, with all state-of-the-art equipments bought(Su-30MKM,Scorpene SSK,PT-91M,etc),MAF already used their budget and have to wait until additional fund(which means RMK-10,or beyond) is available.A replacement is urgently needed as the old chopper is started to wear apart(aging airframe,over-utilized,even other countries already in the process of phasing them out)

But,while these "other countries" are considering for EH-101 and NH-90 as their main workhorse,Malaysia simply couldn't walk that path(actually we can,but we'll be gasping for money).A requirement of up to 48 helos will be bought and procuring such helos will cut more than limbs.There is other cheaper option that can do similar work almost as good and that is Mi-171.


Mi-171,which is derived from Mi-8,has become a workhorse to many countries worldwide.Cheap,simple,reliable airframe and capable of carrying comparable loads as S-61,Mi-171 is perfectly suited to RMAF need for general transport helicopter.Mi-171 can also be equipped with advanced avionics(FLIR,NVG-capability,GPS,system,radar,glass cockpit) at price way under EH-101.What we need as nuri replacement is a helicopter with new airframe,capable of carrying loads as S-61,with decent pricetag(Mi-171 about USD10 million a piece,EH-101 is about 4 times that price) and can be used(or abused,I might say : D) for up to 25-30 years.It is used as general transport helicopter anyway(for tasks such as sending supply/equipment,carrying troops,emergency relief and medium threat handling) and are more than capable for such works.For CSAR or hot-and-high operation or other dangerous operation,that job can be given to EH-725,which will be acquired in the future.

....And just to give a general idea of how would Mi-171 compared to S-61

Sunday, 25 October 2009

New MPSS for RMN?

Well I choose this topic as my first topic to be reviewed because RMN old LST already being written off due to fire onboard(RIP KD Inderapura).Nobody is going to weep to it(no casualties, government already decided to buy new one anyway,and it only gonna accelerate such acquisition,etc),not to mention that KD Inderapura is an old ship and deserve to be retired.And people are hyped about such procurement : D

Anyway,back to the topic,about future MPSS acquisition,among contender to the list include(pic shamelessly taken from internet thus I don't claim them myself):-

1-Dokdo Class LHD(South Korea)


2-Mistral class LHD(France)


3-Type071 LPD(China,as in PR China)


although budget constraint may force RMN to consider a cheaper alternative,such as Makassar-class LPD(Indonesia)


It is tempting to opt for the cheapest option,but consider this;the ship is expected to be in service in at least 30 years without any hassle.Makassar class LPD,reportedly,is derived from civilian (a ferry) design.Type 071 is supposed to be cheaper than the other two option,but when buying Chinese equipment,we can learn from Thailand in this regard(their frigate that have been bought apparently has pretty much malfunction and needed extensive re-work).thus more money is wasted.

I personally prefer Dokdo than other option.It is cheaper than Mistral,yet can carry more helos/troops/equipment than type 071 and Makassar class.Acquiring Dokdo class LHD can also significantly expand RMN capabilites as well.However with current defence budget cut it might as well as good if we bought Makassar class as well(Makassar-class LPD pricetag is about RM70 million a piece.Dokdo Class LHD,on the other hand,cost about 1 billion Ringgit.Although smaller in size,we can acquire 5 or 6 of Makassar class LPD instead of one Dokdo LHD,which equally bolster RMN amphibious capabilities as well)

And,regardless of the type of vessel we'll buy,acquisition of such ship might paved way to the establishment of Malaysian marine corps.