Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The NGPV Is FInished, The SGPV Is Started

For a project that has gone through a tumultuous time to complete over a decade, the NGPV saga that had finally ended yesterday with the commissioning of KD Selangor by the Chief Of Navy, did not merit wide coverage in the news including Bernama below.

Six Patrol Vessels For Navy

LUMUT, Dec 28 (Bernama) -- The government has issued a letter of intent to Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd for the building of six second generation petrol vessels under a programme starting in 2012, Chief of Navy Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said Tuesday.

The additional vessels will ease the asset restraint that the Royal Malaysian Navy have had to endure since surrendering 17 of its ships to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, he said when launching KD Selangor, the sixth RMN petrol vessel, at the base here.

KD Selangor is the last ship ordered under a programme which started in 1999. The other vessels are KD Kedah and KD Pahang, based in Kota Kinabalu, and KD Perak and KD Terengganu, in Kuantan.

KD Selangor will be based in Lumut alongside KD Kelantan.


She will be based together with KD Kelantan in Lumut while her sisters KD Terengganu and KD Perak are in Kuantan and Kd Kedah and KD Pahang are based in Kota Kinabalu respectively. The CNO commented that despite all what has happened, the Kedah-class construction has been worthwhile as they have provided a high level of readiness and carried out their duties with excellence.

The CNO has also announced that with the LOI issued to Boustead Naval Shipyard, the second generation patrol vessel project(SGPV) should commence in 2012. I do wish though that they are consistent with the name of the project as it seems it can easily alternate between LCS and SGPV depending on the wind, pun intended. Nonetheless there is still no news on whether the Kedah class will be upgraded even though the press releases has emphasized the class' ability to do so under the fitted for but not with concept. Well we may yet need to wait when if ever the upgrading will occur with bated breath for a while longer.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Perils Of Defence Blogging

The past few days the military vein of the internet was abuzz about which order that Samsung reportedly received a one billion five warship order from an unidentified southeast asian country.
Daewoo Shipbuilding Stock Gains on $1 Billion Asian Contract for Warships

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., the world’s second-biggest shipyard, rose to the highest in more than two years in Seoul trading after announcing it received an order worth $1 billion.

The South Korean yard received an order to build five warships for a Southeast Asian country, it said today in a statement, without naming the buyer.

The contract follows the $1.1 billion order Daewoo Shipbuilding announced earlier this month for a drill ship and semi-submersible rig as a global economic recovery fuels demand for vessels.

The shipbuilder climbed 3.5 percent to 33,800 won, the highest close since Aug. 29, 2008. The benchmark Kospi stock index gained 0.4 percent to 2,017.48 at the 3 p.m. close of trading in the city. (Source: Bloomberg)

Another version of the story did not even mention the type of the warship but still did not identify the nation making the order.

Daewoo Shipbuilding wins $900 mln deal

Tue, Dec 14 2010

SEOUL, Dec 15 (Reuters) - South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering , the world's second-largest shipbuilder, said on Wednesday it had won a $900 million deal to jointly build 3 ships with an unnamed Southeast Asian partner.

Daewoo said in a statement it plans to deliver the ships from 2013. (Reporting by Danbee Moon; Editing by David Chance

Thus the net chatter was for a while wondering which country was making the order, and some from Taiwan to the Phillipines even believing the order was for their navy. The funny thing was that being Malaysian I suspected this has something to do with the contract signing between NGV Tech and DSME for 2 patrol cum training ships, but the details was quite different than what was reported by our own news bureau. But to be responsible you really cannot comment unless you are really sure that the news at least is verifiable by a reputable source.

So here it is, something from the trade news source that reported the news more accurately, with a picture even.
2010-12-15 Reading Times:31 times

DSME president Mr Nam (right) and CEO of a local shipyard in Southeast Asian nation are signing the naval vessel joint construction contract

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering has met its order target for this year by signing a naval ship contract worth up to $1bn.

On December 14th, DSME's president Nam Sang-tae was in a Southeast Asian nation to officially sign a contract with a local shipyard to jointly build naval vessels and transfer related technology.

The Korean shipyard will design and build the hulls of the vessels. Arming and outfitting work on the ships will be conducted in the local shipyard in the Southeast Asian country through technology transfer.

They are scheduled for delivery from the local yard since 2013.

Mr Nam said, "This contract is a complex business model in cooperation with local shipyard to boost exports of naval vessels."

DSME is also planning to secure similar contracts with other Southeast Asian countries, Brazil and Russia.

The Korean shipbuilder aimed to achieve new orders of $10bn this year and it has now secured $10.9bn worth of new ship contracts so far this year. Source:Asiasis

Well then we can at least confirm that the unidentified country is actually Malaysia but the most important factor is that the contract is potentially "worth up to $1 billion" , meaning not actually one billion dollars yet with our own insight on the story. Another problem is that the other news sources got the wrong number of units to be built. So therein lies the perils of defence blogging. You really have to verify your source of information unless you too want to contribute to the misinformation on the information superhighway.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Navy's Procurement Chugging Along Just Fine

It is good news that NGV Tech have confirmed their receipt of the Royal Malaysian Navy order for two training ship cum patrol ship, that will have design assistance from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

December 14, 2010 16:36 PM

NGV Tech To Build Training Vessels For Malaysian Navy

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- Shipbuilder NGV Tech Sdn Bhd is collaborating with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd (DSME) to construct two 75.9-metre training-cum-patrol vessels for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).

"In the period of 24 months, we will collaborate to design, build and deliver the naval vessels," NGV Tech Executive Chairman Datuk Zulkifli Shariff told reporters after the contract signing ceremony here today.

"DSME will do the retail design; the vessel blocks will be transported to Malaysia and we will start joining it together at our 24-hectare shipyard in Sijangkang," he added.

NGV Tech builds about 40 ships annually, generating about RM500 million in revenue.

Zulkifli said the company had previously built and delivered naval vessels for foreign countries but the new units were bigger and more elaborate and sophisticated in design and capabilities.

"This will be our maiden project with the RMN. And with our local manpower and experience to be derived from DSME, we are confident that we will produce superb marine vessels for them," he said.

He also revealed that both vessels would be worth about RM150 million to RM180 million each depending on the negotiation outcomes.

Meanwhile, NGV Tech has also offered DSME to design the Multi Role Support Ship (MRSS) which the RMN has a need as well.

"We will start the retail design as per the requirements of the RMN and once orders have been confirmed, we can start building immediately," he said.

Currently, the company is in talks with other potential MRSS buyers, namely Nigeria and Egypt.

"By doing the design first, we can save about 20 months as designing this kind of vessels is time consuming, especially when MRSS is a large vessel which is 157 metres in length," he said.

He added, the MRSS could cost potential buyers about RM1.2 billion to RM1.3 billion each.

Present at the ceremony today were former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed and DSME President and Chief Executive Officer Nam Sang-Tae.

Nam said the deal with NGV Tech was the first of its kind for DSME.

"I think this is a good starting point for us although we do not see any significant impact in the near term," he said, expecting more collaborations with NGV Tech in future.


Within a twenty four months period, the navy will have two additional 76 metre platforms to enhance their patrolling capabilities that has been decimated by the transfer of patrol crafts to the MMEA.

The other good news is that NGV Tech has also gone ahead with the retail design of their proposed MRSS, so if the Navy finally gets approval to order the ships, it is expected to shave 20 months from the lead time as the building can be started immediately. The below design is supposedly by Daewoo. Can we expect something in a similar vein for Malaysia? But what interest me more is the fact that Daewoo built the Submarine Rescue Ship for the Korean Navy. Maybe we can also parlay their participation to either build a similar ship or get cooperation for submarine rescue in the unlikely event an accident happens.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let's Read His Thoughts -Part 1-

As Dzirhan has mentioned before, he will no longer comment on the excerpts as he managed to get hold of the book itself. So let's read his thoughts on the first chapter shall we.

My Thought's on Chapter 1 of Dr. Kua's book-pt1

by Dzirhan Mahadzir - Defence Journalist on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 19:32

Ok folks, apologies for the slowness but work left me pretty busy, for those unaware, there's a good write-up on Dr. Kua's book launch yesterday, in which more nonsense spouted by Dr. Kua, someone should point out to Dr. Kua that no UMNO member could die fighting Japanese in WWII since UMNO was only formed in 1946, link below

Wasn't surprised Dr. McCoy was present there, but nice to note only 30 people including media/NGO/PKR reps attending which shows how much interest there is in it ;), Notice Malaysiakini now carrying commentary from the book etc, all I guesss to make up for lack of interest, didn't see any coverage in mainstream media. Intersting enough for all the interest in defence issues etc and citing of my articles in the matter in a book and in Parliament by Pakatan MPs and NGO, nobody seems to see fit to speak to me and ask, same for media be it mainstream or online on defence issues, guess people who work in the business not credible in contrast to people who know little save for what they read ;). Anyway enough on that as that will be a note for another day.

Now I have no problem with defence spending being scrutinized or criticised, but my problem is when the matter becomes politicised, distorted and used by people to fulfill their own agendas or when people doing such don't know what they are talking about or when they deliberately used racial issues which is the entire problem with Dr. Kua's book.

The first flaw in the book is the manner of citations used, there's an inconsistancy in Dr. Kua's approach, he gives name credits to articles by writers like my old boss Bob Karniol, who recruited me into Janes and a few others but the numerous times he cites articles in Janes and Defence Review Asia (mostly mine) and the mainstream media articles in NST, Star and others, he can't see fit to name the authors and title of the articles. Now the reason for this is important as knowing who wrote the article, so we can judge the accuracy and quality as not all writers are the same, and the context of the quotation based on the article title. The other problem is just on a personal basis as Dr Kua quotes my JDW focus on the Malaysian Armed Forces several times but it doesn't rate a mention in the selected articles list in the bibliography, wherelse articles he quotes once or twice does which again falls foul of normal conventions in such, like I said I get no credit ;).

The other flaw in the book is that in all honest sense, the supposedly well researched book has no original information, as pointed by both Marhalim and Azra, all the book does is quote materials published publicly, even then Dr. Kua doesn't bother finding out additional information or digging out new information. The so called expose is a lie as nothing contained in the book hasn't been talked about. Furthermore if it really is to be an expose, why did Dr. Kua not find people willing to talk, even anonymously about the alledged wrongdoings etc. If the publishers and writer had been honest enough to state that the book simply was based on open sources and a compilation, I'ed have been less critical but as it is..

I'm not going to bother with analyzing the foreword as it's a waste of time,not to mention the disgusting insincere dedication and go to Chapter 1, first off Dr Kua states that defence spending is passed through Parliament without too much debate, conveniently forgetting that he was once an MP, so whose fault is that if MPs, especially DAP, PKR and PAS don't do their job during the budget debate?? Now as to the issue of tying in withdrawal of subsidies and defence spending, the problem is if we don't spend money on defence, the problem is that we could lose billions down the line due to loss of sovereignity or inability to defend ourselves and Dr. Kua fails to take into account much of the spending is making up for the years where defence spending was postponed. It's ironic that Dr Kua criticised the mainstream media for defence reporting but then cites them extensively in his book, a very hypocritical approach. On pg 2 he cites an article in NST as example of coverage of defence exhibitions but it deons't mention if the article was purely a fluff feature or serious news, btw at least mainstream media covers the defence exhibition, don't recall online media save for KL Security Review covering at all.

On page 2 Dr Kua cites an article by Kym Bergmann on DRA about the Su-30 engine, as I work for DRA and Kym is my editor, it's a actually in my opinion a mix-up or editing mistake on the two stolen F-5E engines and a story about the Sukhoi engines being damaged, there's no Sukhoi engines missing, of course this illustrates the problem of simply relying on articles written, honest mistakes do occur in defence articles written overseas and also locally, even I screw up sometimes but thing is, if you want to cite something which has not been written anyway else, verifying the matter independently is important

As I've already talked about his comments on what RM1 billion can buy, I don't need to add on it but I think I need to ask why is it that when a Malay makes a comment as to what is seen as racist or race baiting, everyone gets up in arms, one the other hand when a non-Malay like Dr. Kua does so in his implication that no Indian and Chinese schools are being built due to defence spending, no one makes noise about it. I'm not a fan of Perkasa or Ultra-Malay nationalists but I think everyone should be held to equal standards.

Interestingly on Pg 5, Bob Karniol's article is cited as saying (the bad grammar clued me in as something being wrong-see end thoughts):

"Looking at the actors in East Asia security compex, defence expenditures of China, S. Kora and Japan, each of their respective airacft procurement budgets would dwalf that of all of SE Asia combine. Look at South Asia Security Complex, against some big numbers for India. What is the impact of Malaysi's 1 squadron purchase in comparison to India's current order of Su-30s (or for that matter China's building plan for the J-10)? Given the disparity in defence budgets, ASEAN countries cannot be said to engae in an arms race agaainst regional powers like India or China, it would not be a race." (5)

Footnote 5 states Robert Karniol "Arms resurgence in Southeast Asia" Straits Times, 15 March 2010. Now look at the online copy of the article at link below where this para does not exist at all, so was this part edited out in the ANN online version of it or it never existed at all and was made up?

More to come later....

and this was the addendum..

by Dzirhan Mahadzir - Defence Journalist on Sunday, 12 December 2010 at 19:36

I'm just repeating my last para in my previous note to bring up this issue:

Interestingly on Pg 5, Bob Karniol's article is cited as saying (the bad grammar clued me in as something being wrong-see end thoughts):

"Looking at the actors in East Asia security complex, defence expenditures of China, S. Korea and Japan, each of their respective aircraft procurement budgets would dwalf that of all of SE Asia combine. Look at South Asia Security Complex, against some big numbers for India. What is the impact of Malaysi's 1 squadron purchase in comparison to India's current order of Su-30s (or for that matter China's building plan for the J-10)? Given the disparity in defence budgets, ASEAN countries cannot be said to engae in an arms race agaainst regional powers like India or China, it would not be a race." (5)

Footnote 5 states Robert Karniol "Arms resurgence in Southeast Asia" Straits Times, 15 March 2010. Now look at the online copy of the article at link below where this para does not exist at all, so was this part edited out in the ANN online version of it or it never existed at all and was made up?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Leaks In Our Official Comms-Wikileaks?

You guys can have your field day debating for or against the Wikileak report on a certain accused person, but what concerns me is the supposed "intercepted communications" that allowed an assessment to be made on the technical interception as alleged in this source article from the Sydney Morning Herald itself, as pointed out by a forumer in my military forum.
The document states the Singaporeans told ONA they made this assessment on the basis of ''technical intelligence'', which is likely to relate to intercepted communications.
I am interested to know which communication vehicle(s) that is so leaky that some other nation can make a good judgement call based I believe on a fair amount of data, as even their Senior Minister himself could commit to making a statement on this, somebody who is known not to tolerate nonsense.
'The Australians said that Singapore's intelligences services and [Singaporean elder statesman] Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA in their exchanges that opposition leader Anwar 'did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted'.''
So can somebody identify where the leaks are coming from instead of concentrating on the sensationalism, as this really involves national security as we do not know how much more critical intelligence has been leaked to the others.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So Can We Imagine

The forumers in my military forum was discussing how the RMN could realise a fixed wing component for their air service. It was proposed that a maritime patrol squadron and/or a maritime strike squadron should be established and whether an aircraft carrier should even be included in the equation. This is supposed the relieve the air force so that they can concentrate on air superiority as their main business. The arguments now basically agree that the most required is the MPA squadron as it can also be used as an anti-surface and anti-submarine platform, while an aircraft carrier is totally unnecessary as we have enough land mass to perform as a stone carrier. Meanwhile the maritime strike squadron is thought of as a nice too have, but unnecessary based on current conditions. Well the matter is still being argued, so if you want to participate in the discussions, join the forum.

WhatI want to write on is to imagine that approval was given for the navy to have their maritime strike squadron so that they can prioritise on fleet protection based on their needs in the event the air force is busy elsewhere. As such let's consider how this can be done. What I propose is to emulate how the navy's rotary air wing was established, whereby they bought the HAS Mk1 Wasp before graduating to the modern helicopters. And what fixed wing maritime strike aircraft would fill this role I wondered before remembering that Malaysia unfortunately has about 44 A-4 cocoons bundled away in the Arizona desert. Remember that money would be tight and this have to be started in the smallest scale as possible. The ones mothballed locally I expect to be in a very bad condition already, if they have not become gate guards or engineering projects in our local universities. The ones in reserve locally if still being kept in the condition in the photo below would definitely be a no no, but if we can refurbish eight units to fighting condition from the Arizona boneyard would still leave plenty for spare parts. Mind you that these units should be for maritime strikes only, or hit and run missions with no combat flying if possible, so the airframe should still be able to handle the stress.

Having said that, the Skyhawks should be fully armed for its specialised role, and I was made to understand that the AGM-65 F/J model fits the bill for an anti-surface mission that can be launched from 28 kilometres away. Therefore these naval skyhawks would not need to fly in close and fast like the Argies during the Falklands War, and can be a worthwhile deterrent to any approaching enemy fleet. Now where shall the deterrent be based then? I would say an East Malaysian air base should be selected, as West Malaysia can be handled by the Air Force Hornets in Penang. Can Labuan Island be our stone carrier in this case, as the areas it can cover would be a potential hotspot that currently has no such organic support. And with a squadron of only eight Skyhawks to be based, not much resources would need be expanded to permanently station the aircraft while breathing life again to KD Labuan.

In case you are wondering why only eight Skyhawks should be made operational, well you have to consider that there will be also be only eight Hornets available to be transferred to the navy from the airforce, while the LIFT aircraft squaderon would be equipped with the Air Force's Hawk 208. I would expect that the Navy would take this procurement option of taking hand me down aircrafts to make the operation economical unless they can get a big bump in the available defence budget so that they can acquire new platforms. In fact I would say that the only way such a maritime strike squadron is to be operated by the navy is to make it a small scale operation, with a focused mission. Maybe only then would what I imagine may even have the smallest hint of becoming a reality, and at least as important to me also is to see our Skyhawks flying off into the sunset, and not be laid bare in the desert still. In the meantime, excuse me if I am dreaming rather than imagining.

Friday, December 3, 2010

We Too Can Argue In Cyberspace

With all due respect to Dzirhan, I repost here his thoughts on that book la. Keep the information flowing!

My Thoughts on excerpts in Dr Kua's book Pt.1

by Dzirhan Mahadzir - Defence Journalist on Thursday, 02 December 2010 at 22:27

Ok tks to Mudzaffar Alfian Bin Mustafa who posted the link to the excerpt on Dr. Kua’s book,

I’m going to give my thoughts on it and highlight certain points in italics, the intro is purely hyperbole and by the way if they wanted serious endorsements for the book, I’m surprised nobody ask the defence journalists in the country to review/comment/endorse J, guess we are not credible enough, ha-ha, anyway this para made me laugh:

The ‘Arms for Aid Scandal’ contains revelations in the British press on the RM5 billion arms deal in 1994 and is published here for the first time,

Umm how can something published in the British press already be published for the first time now, either I’m missing something or somebody got carried away with the hype. Anyway on to the excerpt


What RM1b Can Buy

Most of us do not realize the proportion of the country’s wealth being spent on arms, the commissions being paid for arms and in many cases, questionable purchases of such arms. Compare that with the gross shortage of schools and hospitals, public transport and other social services that so many Malaysians face and the obscenity of it all can be clearly seen.

For example, RM1 billion worth of arms is equivalent to building at least 100 hospitals or 1000 new schools or 10,000 new houses. Do you know that since Independence in 1957 – after more than 50 years - there has not been a single new Chinese or Tamil primary school built? In fact we had more Chinese and Tamil primary schools then (1,350 and 880 respectively) compared to the present (1285 and 550 schools respectively). And the population at Independence was only half what it is today!

But in one weekend alone in April 2010, the BN Government could justify spending RM10 billion on arms at the Kuala Lumpur Defence Fair. With that money, we could have built 1000 hospitals or 10,000 schools or 100,000 houses! The Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-15) has allocated RM23 billion for defence and security.

Ok interesting that it mentions a portion of country’s wealth spent on arms but doesn’t throw in the fact, course that could be in the book, anyway we only spent around 2% of GDP on defence annually, as it is there’s a failure to mention that not all of the RM23 billion is actually spent on the armed forces, it says defence and security which includes the Police, MMEA, Home Affairs etc, at end of the day defence will probably only account somewhere around RM15 billion or so. Now we get into silly calculations that we if don’t buy arms we can build schools, houses, hospital etc, are we absolutely certain that such will occur, besides at end of day, there’s no saying the government won’t waste the money elsewhere. The other problem is that the money spent on defence is an insurance policy against the umpteen billions we could lose if we lose sovereignty over country or our natural resources, something all the idiots never take into account. Yes we can spend so much building everything for the people by not buying weapons but kinda pointless if they all get bombed etc because we don’t have any weapons to arm ourselves with. :)

As for the Chinese/Tamil primary schools, can we please show directly a link between defence spending and such not being built, there are so many reasons that this could have happened, and btw what happened to Malaysian Malaysia or whatever the pro-Pakatan groups like to say, are not ethnic based schools divisive? Sometimes some people speak with forked tongue if you ask me. :)

As for 10 billion at DSA, true but it’s not every weekend :) (and actually it was from Mon-Thurs so it’s in course of less than a week actually) but end of the day it looks like a large amount but keep in mind that 7-8 billion of that is the AV8 program which is going to be spread over several years and many of the contracts similarly will be spread over several years, the other problem is that military equipment is always expensive, no escaping that especially when we have to import and our exchange rate isn’t good.

Up to now, there has been a lack of public outcry over the size of the defence budget in Malaysia.

Erm, maybe because unlike some people, the public understands why we spend on defence, besides they love seeing shiny new fighter jets and tanks bearing the Malaysian flag on display :)

Thus, what is the purpose of this entire splurge on arms by the BN Government? Does it make sense in the light of the regional status quo and the state of our economic development?

In short yes :)

The arms race among the Southeast Asian countries seems the most pointless after all the talk at conferences on ASEAN integration. Even so, each country’s attempt to be ahead in the race is self-defeating. For example, does Malaysia’s acquisition of 18 Su-30MKM planes change the balance of power in the immediate region? This is doubtful since Thailand operates 57 F-16A/Bs & has 6 Gripens on order while Singapore has even more jet fighters including F-16C/Ds, F5s and F-15SGs on order.

So you are saying then we need to get more fighter jets to match our neighbours? Actually, we buy only to sufficiently defend our sovereignty not match our neighbours and what we can afford. I find it laughable to say an arms race is occurring, if it was, everytime our neighbors buy something, we would instantly buy something, so far not the case.

The Non-Aligned Movement was founded upon the principles of peace, neutrality and impartiality to the Superpowers. A genuine non-aligned policy can therefore go a long way toward ridding us of the need to procure expensive arms.

Rubbish, we get no respect if we do not have a serious military force. This is the kind of idiocy propagated by people who live in a cloud cuckoo land.

Many are not aware of the rapid growth of Malaysia’s domestic military-industrial complex. The top brass of the military guard their power and privilege and this is nourished by easy access to the defence budget and the simple justification of “national security”.

Honestly, most of the time the military officers complain that they can’t get anything approved without the civilians and treasury, there’s no such thing as the top brass simply having unfettered access to money. This statement is disgusting as it seems to say that our senior military officers simply take money from the defence budget and spend it anyway they want.

An offshoot of the arms purchases is the race to develop domestic defence equipment industries in each of the S.E. Asian countries. In 1993, aerospace became a new strategic sub-sector of Malaysia’s manufacturing sector. This sector is both capital intensive and involves high technology

We’re developing it because it reduces our reliance on foreign suppliers, creates job locally and reduce costs.

With the burgeoning of a domestic military economy, we see class interest developing between the ruling elite and the top brass of the military. As it happens, there is now an extensive military automotive complex in the Prime Minister, Najib’s electoral constituency of Pekan with its layers of contractors, sub-contractors, servicemen and other gainfully employed.

Well Deftech is entitled to put its factory wherever it wants and employ whoever they want, that’s business and no law against it, besides there are plenty of defence companies with facilities located elsewhere than Pekan

We also find many retired generals and other officers of the armed forces in the directorships of many if not most of these local aerospace companies. This brings into focus questionable practices in the Malaysian civil and military services when we see top military and civil servants retiring into directorships of utility and arms companies.

True but caveat that this happens all over the world, and obviously people with expertise and connections are employed in management positions by companies wanting to make use of them, if we go on that arguments, people like Dr Kua can come under scrutiny since in the end they end up going to high positions in NGOs so question might be whether their activities relate to being actually concerned on issues or getting jobs/funding. In the end on the retired civil servants/ mil officers, parliament can pass a law restricting immediate employment upon retirement and having a cool-off period of several years but nobody seems to have thought of that.

Most military contracts come with purchase agreements involving local spin-offs.

Very bad thing as it provides employment for people in the country (sacarsm), think the issue should be pointing out whether these contracts were done in the interests of giving people/companies business when the equipment purchase was unnecessary or unsuitable. Of course with people like Dr. Kua, this is a problem when the defacto argument is that all military purchases unnecessary.

The significance of this domestic military-industrial complex to the composition of the ruling class, class relations, a right-wing tendency, patronage, employment and the outcome of elections cannot be underestimated.

Cripes, think someone better lay off the leftist talk, seriously retired military and the military overall have little effect on the political situation and if the military people vote BN, well that’s because BN leaders don’t disparage or insult our military publicly, this isn’t to say BN are doing well by the military, the fact that no one from the government turned up to send off our Afghan contingent was disgraceful in my opinion, I know because I was there at the event, but on the other hand while the BN leadership can sometimes be indifferent or not supporting of our military, at least they don’t slander or insult them so it’s not surprising that service personnel active or retired, tend to vote for them and at the end of the day, aren’t people allowed to choose who they vote, problem with left wing people who talk democracy is that if you don’t vote them, then that’s wrong. Personally I’m of the opinion that in an election, you have to accept who people vote in, so if the people elected Spongebob Squarepants or Barney the Dinosaur, I don’t have to like it but it is democracy and you have to accept that, by the way I’m also in favor of the PM job being a national vote rather than the majority party but then my problem with that is the fact that none of the current political party leaders would get my vote J.

OK End of Pt.1, Pt. 2 later as tomorrow I have an early morning assignement.

I will also repost the other parts once it is posted, but I really hope to see these thoughts reach the widest audience possible.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why You Need To Launch In London One?

And what shall we call the author and the book?

I just found out about this book that claims to " unearths the vested interests, corruption, wastage and negligence in arms procurement and alerts us to the growth of the domestic military-industrial complex. Malaysians are called upon to seriously consider the question of war and peace; the justifications for arms procurements; procedures of accountability and the choice of alternative socially useful production." will have a London book launch.

In the same manner, it advocates an alternative defence policy that positions itself " to purely defensive rather than offensive purposes. Such a defensive policy is eminently preferable. In the event of aggression by an outside force, having decentralised, dispersed people’s militia forces in small units armed with precision-guided, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles would be the way to wage a protracted people’s war against the aggressor. As has been proven by people’s wars in history, eg. the Vietnam war, such a defensive strategy will render useless all the tactical weapons of the aggressor, including nuclear warheads. Most importantly, such weapons of self-defence will be many times cheaper than the offensive high tech jet fighters, tanks, submarines and other vessels in the arms race we cannot hope to win anyway."

Very laughable defeatist position from somebody who advocates we surrender our country's independence without a fight and then engage in an asymmetrical warfare with the hope that we regain our independence some time in the future, conveniently forgetting the last time we did that in 1511 we only regained our independence in 1957. Why do you think our southern neighbour invests so much into their defence in "a poisoned shrimp" posture and we in "a bloody nose" stance so as to at least let our potential adversary think twice before they really consider invading our shores!. Yes we may be defeated but hopefully we have inflicted the most amount of damage to our enemy that their supply trains will not be able to re-provision their force's needs quickly, and that will be the time our people's war will strike back to inflict more damage that hopefully dis-entrench their forces.

But never ever shall we entertain any thoughts of giving the enemy a walk-over to merrily wade ashore, and I call anybody who dares to think so a traitor! Never will we purposely become "gorillas" while the fat rats desert the ship. Allegations and spin does not a research make, more so when a not so well disguised politically motivated book commits the act. Come to think of it, it becomes more transparent why this book needs a launch in the west. An invitation mayhaps?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Still Need For Anti-Piracy Efforts

No need to elaborate on the latest hijacking by Somalian pirates of a Malaysian flagged merchant ship the MV Albedo. With all due respect to the crew and vessel owner, we as a nation can breathe a sigh of relief that none of our countrymen was amongst those captured. It will not become a serious national event that puts pressure on the Malaysian Government to actively pursue a peaceful resolution, but rather allow an under the radar resolution to the matter as what happened with the Malaysian Tugboat Masindra 7 affair that was released after eight months in captivity.

The questions for me are these. Was the BM5 back on patrol station when the incident happened? Was the fact that that the ship was hijacked while it was carrying containers and bound for Kenya from Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, reportedly 900 nautical miles away from the Somalian border makes her operations impractical to join the Malaysian convoys transiting the area. The expansion of Somalian piracy theater of operations was a fact that I mentioned in my previous posting, and the question of the need to have another escort vessel in station while the other goes home should now become central. This does not include the quandary whether a single escort vessel is actually sufficient to meet Malaysian vessels escort needs in the expanded threat area.

Such operational realities now needs to be answered, and whether the responsibility should remain only with MISC and the Navy or should also now be shared by all Malaysian shipping operators operating in the threat area. Even if the BM5 is still at home port while the incident transpired, it would be unreasonable to put any blame either on the Navy, MISC or the Malaysian Government. Their best efforts will never be good enough to protect all the Malaysian ships in the area, even more so with such limited resources. Those who complain should sign up and go for the 100 plus days tour themselves, or just shut their mouths up!

What Can We Read Into This?

Boeing F/A 18 E/F : Credit Boeing

Since there is no English version of this statement, I append herewith an extract in Malay of the Defence Minister's comment on the Super Hornet's proposed purchase.
Sementara itu, katanya, kerajaan masih belum memuktamadkan pembelian dua model pesawat tempur pelbagai guna (MRCA), FA-18 E Super Hornet dan FA-18 F Super Hornet bertujuan menggantikan pesawat lama, MIF-29 N yang akan ditamatkan operasinya secara berperingkat menjelang 2015. “Walaupun pembelian pesawat baru itu bersifat strategik, namun kajian terperinci perlu dilakukan, termasuk mengambil kira implikasinya terhadap belanjawan kerajaan kerana ia membabitkan perbelanjaan tinggi,” katanya. - Berita Harian

I read into this that the consideration now is to have the Super Hornet F/A-18 E to replace our MIG-29Ns and the F version will replace/complement the existing F/A-18 Ds. This would mean other contenders like the Gripen has now fallen on the wayside. If my interpretation proves correct, this would actually be good for the Air Force as it minimises our MRCA types while still adhering to dual-sourcing concept. Let's just wait and see, shall we. In the meantime, what do you think?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Register Of RMN Active List Ships - Subsea Combattants

In 1965 the British withdrew from Malaysia their hydrographic assets and platforms and then transferred the responsibilities to chart the nation's hydrographic territory to the Malaysian Navy. The Hydrographic Department of the RMN was later formally established in 1969. The Royal Navy transferred a converted Ton class coastal minesweeper HMS Myrmidon that was commissioned in 1968 as the KD Perantau to become the navy's first survey vessel. This vessel provided the RMN the ability to execute hydrographic activities without any foreign navy's intervention. As KD Perantau alone was not able to meet the demand for hydropgrahic duties, a converted tug KTD Penyu was also pressed for hydrographic duties later on. The later acquisition of modern hydrography vessels enabled the RMN to commence gathering of bathymetric data that not only supplied nautical charts for surface ships but ultimately allows the vessels to be involved in the training , search and rescue missions and assisting in weapons training, anti-submarine warfare and submarine operations. This is especially useful since the Malaysian Navy after a 30 year wait has now received two modern attack diesel submarines to complete their 3 dimensional naval warfare capability. The submarines are not only a very good deterrent but is a very good force multiplier for a small navy like the RMN to act as a credible defence force for the nation. With the hydrograhic force working in concert with the submarine arm, the sub-surface will not be a stranger or an obstacle to achieving success.

Mutiara Class AGS

A225 (Ex-152) 1976/1977

Displacement: 1905 tons standard, 1949 tons full load
Dimensions: 71.15m x 13.52m x 4.75 m
Guns: Fitted for 2 x 20mm. Oerlikon Mk24
Electronics: 2 Racal 1226/1229 Navigation Radar, I Beam, Multi-beam Echo Sounder Atlas Hydrosweep MD 2/30 kHz, Deep Sea Echo Sounder Atlas Deso 25, Sound Velocity Probe 10 Inch, Motion Sensor DMS 3-05, Expandable Bathymetry Thermograph (XBT), 2 X Side Scan Sonar Klein 3000
Propulsion: 2 X Deutz SBA 12M 528 diesels totalling 2000 bhp, 1 controllable pitch propeller
Speed: 16 knots, range 8334Km at 16 knots
Crew : 155
Aircraft: platform aft.

KD MUTIARA was built locally in Penang by Hong Leong Lurssen Dockyard. She was originally commissioned to the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Fleet on 18th December 1977 with the pennant number A 152, but was renumbered after taking on grey livery and is the squadron leader to the 36th Hydrographic Squadron. Her endurance renders her sustainability at sea for a maximum period of 3 months. She is fitted with the latest state of the art Hydrographic and Oceanographic surveying system and is complemented with 4 surveying boats and 2 working boats. She has an impeccable record of successful hydrographic surveys and has contributed to the production of more than 50 nautical charts and completed her upgrade in 2004.

Class AGS

A151 (Ex-153) 1995/1998

Displacement: 1505 tons standard, 2160 tons full load
Dimensions: 67.8m x 13.3m x 4m
Electronics: Integrated Navigation and Command System (NACOS), X band and S band, ATLAS I Band, Digital Survey and Mapping System 'HYDROMAP', Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS), SYstem LEgere pour mesure le DIStance (SYLEDIS) - Electronic Position Fixing System, 1 multi-beam medium / shallow echo-sounder, 2 dual frequency Single beam Echo Sounder, Hull Mounted Acoustic Current Profiller (ADCP) , Sound Velocity Probe , Sub-Bottom Profiler, Expandable Bathymetry Thermograph (XBT), 2 X Side Scan Sonar Kl
ein 3000
Propulsion: 2 X Two Deutz MWM SB8 M628 diesels for 4760 bhp, 2 shafts Berg controllable pitch propellers, 1 Schotel 3 ton bow thruster.
Speed: 16 knots, range 11, 112 Km at 10 knots
Crew : 96

KD PERANTAU was ordered from Germany’s Krogerweft but was built locally in Penang by Hong Leong Lurssen Dockyard. She replaced the former KD PERANTAU which was decommissioned in 1990. KD PERANTAU was built with a combination of local expertise in shipbuilding and design and the main hydrographic and navigation system are based from German's technology.
The ship was designed and equipped specifically for hydrographic surveying operation and conducting meteorological and oceanographic observations mainly in the tropics. he ship also carries two survey launch mainly deployed for surveying in shallow water equipped with shallow water multi-beam echo-sounders and short range UHF differential GPS.

Hidrografi Class HSL

Hidrografi 1 2005
Hidrografi 2 2009

Displacement: 8.5 tons standard
Dimensions: 16m x 4.45m x 1.5 m
Electronics: Navigation Radar, Echo Sounder, Side Scan Sonar
Propulsion: 2 X CUMMINS 6CTA8.3M(SW) diesels, 2 shafts x 1 fixed propeller
Speed: 19 knots, range 834Km
Crew : 14

In addition to the survey launches on board the hydrographic ships, the Royal Malaysian Navy has also commissioned two locally built hydrographic survey launches that operates independently to complement the ships' operations. Based in East Malaysia, these craft will be used for hydrographic survey and data collection.

Perdana Class SSK

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman 2003/2009
KD Tun Razak 2004/2010

Displacement: 1577 tons surfaced, 1711 tons submerged
Dimensions: 66.4 m x 6.2 m x 5.4 m
Weapons : 6 x 533mm torpedo tubes . 18 x Anti Ship Missiles/Torpedoes combination
Anti-Ship Missile: SM39 Block II missiles, Range : 50 Km
ASW: 533 mm WASS Balckshark wire-guided torpedoes. Range : 50 Km
Electronics: SUBTICS combat control system, I-Band navigation radar, Thales DR3000 ESM, TSM 2233 Mk II Hull Mounted Sonar, active/passive search and attack.
Propulsion: 2 x SEMT Pielstick PA4 200 SM D-12 DS Diesels, Exide Hagen propulsion batteries, 1 Jeumont Industrie Motor, 1 shaft.
Speed: 20.5 knots dived, 12 knots submerged ; range 667 Km at 4 knots submerged, 11 112 Km at 8 knots surfaced
Crew : 32

After a thirty year wait where the idea to induct a submarine force into the navy was first broached in the 1970s and the first submariners started training in 1985 but came back not to a submarine but a submarine planning duties, our first two submarines was finally declared fit for duties after passing their tropical, underwater and maintenance tests in november 2010. The Scorpene type submarines were cooperatively built in France and Spain and is based on a nuclear attack submarine design that ensures a very quiet platform in operations. Currently the most modern submarine in the region, these submarines are both armed with both anti-ship missiles and torpedoes that can be launched from their six 533mm torpedo tubes with a weapons capacity of 18 torpedoes and/or missiles. These are the Whitehead Black Shark wire-guided torpedoes from Italy and sub-launched SM39 Exocet anti ship missiles from MBDA and although it has been reported that the submarines can launch 30 mines alternatively, the type and whether the mines has been purchased is unknown. In addition, these submarine has not been equipped with AIPS (Air-Independent Propulsion System) which allows a greater submerged endurance and reduced vulnerability but this can be inserted at a later stage. The induction of these submarines now completes the naval capabilities of the navy in all the operational theatres it operates in.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Worth A Pretty Penny

While checking up on a few facts on MRAP vehicles, I came across a couple of interesting facts on Singapore's purchase of their Navistar Maxxpro Dash MPTVs. It seems only 15 units was purchased in 2009 but at a total price of USD30,067,798.08 based on this US Department of Defence report, including spares.

"NAVISTAR IL M67854-09-C-1091 13,349,400.33 Singapore MAXXPRO DASH
NAVISTAR IL M67854-09-C-1091 16,673,397.75 Singapore Spares and Support"

That makes a per unit cost of about USD2 million per MPTV, but you will not find any objection from the Singaporeans methinks. However for a similar Malaysian purchase, I would think the following dialogue would be put forward in our august chambers by some brightspark;

" I want to ask why was these lorries bought by our Army at a price of US 2 million dollars each, cannot buy some lori from (insert preffered country) at very cheap price ka? Who we want to go to war with with these super expensive lori, can dive one ma? We only need to carry soldiers, no need expensive-expensive one."

Well enough with the jokes, but the point is that looking at the Singaporean purchase it really strengthens my argument that we should be thinking of producing our own MRAPs, as they cost quite a pretty penny. The time will come when we will need these sort of vehicles in order to enhance protection of our servicemen against direct fire anti tank munitions and IEDs. Even as a niche unit in a BIS regiment as I expect that our armoured and mechanised regiments would be suffficiently protected, the volume should be sufficient enough for these sort of vehicles to be seriously considered for production. We cannot depend on soft-skin vehicles to forever provide logistics support without any protective role whatever. Our servicemen deserves all the investment required to protect them in order for them to carry out their duties in defending our country.

(Edited : For a good primer on MRAPs, please read the MRAP Vehicle article in the November 2010 issue of Asian Military Review)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Blast From The Past

A recent posting of a SR.N5 Hovercraft photograph deployed at Tawau during the Confrontation inspired me to dig a little into the operational details of the Hovercraft by the British in Malaya. In fact, the author of the article from which the photo was taken even hinted that it was possible the USN's own use of hovercrafts that has now evolved into the giant LCAC's started from the American's evaluation of the hovercraft operations in tropical Malaysia as not long after that they used the SR.N6 version in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam Conflict.

In Malaya my finding was that two units of the SR,N5, 002/XT492 and 003/XT493 were deployed mainly in Tawau as part of the British Joint-Service Hovercraft Unit (Far East). These hovercrafts were used mainly in the logistics role as part of an evaluation exercise and these old PDF pages tells the story under the title "Supply Run To Kalabakan". With never seen before photos in my lifetime at least, I hope you enjoy the article as much as I do.

A. Page 1.

B. Page 2.

C. Page 3.

D. Page 4.

E. Page 5

F. Page 6 and END.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Slowly Drawing Out The Knives?

I thought it was only me, but it seems people are noticing comments ala "who are we going to war with" bubbling up again into the public conciousness. Need the people be taught again that defence spending is like buying insurance, that buying insurance when the calamity is about to occur is practically useless, and definitely very expensive if anybody even offers it. Remember that ;

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
Winston Churchill

I present to you two comments that was recently published. Make your own conclusions.

"How many Super Hornets then? As Kamal had pointed out probably not more than 10.

And why are we talking about buying new planes when we cannot even properly fund the current fleet? My guess is as good as yours…."

–Malaysian Defence

"Last year, Singapore spent over US$1bil to upgrade its fighter aircraft. Can there be any doubt that Malaysia and others will soon want to upgrade as well?

It will not matter too much that we are still struggling to integrate all the advanced defence technology that we purchased the last time around or that these expensive warplanes have a tendency to end up in our padi fields.

Of course it would help if we had someone like Ahmadinejad in our region to help justify a new round of defence spending.

Perhaps a case could be made against those “imperious Chinese” who seem intent on turning the South China Sea into their own private lake. Or those “sneaky Singaporeans” who have been stealing our water for years and are now about to make off with the last bit of real estate we own on the island. Or even those “prickly Indonesians” who have taken to spitting on our flag and calling us names.

All these make good excuses.

No worries of a real war though because the US will, as always, have final operational control over all the weapons we buy. After all, these weapons are intended to advance American interests rather than our own.

It’s going to take every ounce of our national will to say no to more needless defence spending, especially when so much will be quietly promised to so few to just say yes."

> Datuk Dennis Ignatius is a 36-year veteran of the Malaysian foreign service. He served in London, Beijing and Washington and was ambassador to Chile and Argentina. He retired as High Commissioner to Canada in July 2008.

Why No Need To Worry

A good analysis of what's happening in the Korean Peninsular, so to me there is no need to worry yet. But keep an eye on the commodity prices! Good excuse for profiteers to make their quick buck!

Tensions on the Korean peninsula: What you need to know

By Zachary Roth

Tensions are near the boiling point on the Korean peninsula after North Korea shelled a South Korea Island, killing two South Korean soldiers. What's behind this latest spike in hostilities between the longtime adversaries, and just how concerned should we be -- especially since we have 25,000 military personnel stationed in South Korea? Here's what you need to know.

What happened, exactly?

Early Tuesday, North Korea fired artillery shells at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, which sits off the disputed maritime border between the two countries. The attack killed two South Korean marines and wounded 18 soldiers and civilians. It prompted an exchange of fire between the two sides, involving around 175 artillery shells and lasting about an hour.

The North accused South Korea of having started the exchange by firing shells inside North Korean territory during a set of South Korean military exercises that the North called "war maneuvers." The South denies that charge, saying that its soldiers were merely conducting military drills and that no shots fell in North Korean territory.

The North Korean attack was the first on a civilian area of South Korea since the Korean War.

[Photos: North Korea fires on island of Yeonpyeong]

Why did this happen now?

Tensions have been running high since March, when a South Korean naval vessel in the same area was sunk, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blamed a North Korean torpedo attack, though the North has denied involvement. Then earlier this month, the South Korean navy fired warning shots at a North Korean fishing boat after the craft strayed across the border. The North Korean boat retreated.

Some analysts have linked Tuesday's action by the North to the impoverished nation's need for food. The Obama administration has refused to remove sanctions against the North, imposed in response to its nuclear program. "They see that they can't pressure Washington, so they've taken South Korea hostage again," Choi Jin-wook, a senior researcher with the South Korean Institute for National Unification, told the New York Times. "They're in a desperate situation, and they want food immediately, not next year."

Does this have anything to do with North Korea's leadership situation?

Kim Jong Il, the North's ailing and reclusive leader, is believed to be gradually shifting power over to his son, Kim Jung Un, who in September was promoted to the rank of four-star general.

Some analysts believe the transition has made North Korea eager to demonstrate its military power. Kim Jong Il famously employed an aggressive "military first" approach to politics, and spoke of turning the North Korean army into a "pillar of the revolution." The regime may now want to show the world that the same military-first policies will prevail under his successor. "The son's power base is derived from the military, and the power of [the] military is greater than ever," Cheong Seong-Chang, a fellow at the Seoul-based Sejong Institute, told Time magazine.

How has the world reacted?

The United States, Britain and Japan have condemned the North Korean attack, with America calling on the North to "halt its belligerent action." China said it was "concerned," while Russia has urged restraint and a peaceful solution to the crisis.

What's the U.S. role in all this?

The United States wants North Korea to resume the six-party talks on the country's nuclear program. The talks, which also include Russia, China, Japan in addition to America and the two Koreas, were launched in 2003, after North Korea opted out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The talks' aim is to arrive at a peaceful diplomatic agreement to contain the North's nuclear capacity -- but the talks have been in limbo since 2008, and earlier this week, an American scientist revealed that he had been shown a sophisticated North Korean nuclear enrichment facility, throwing the resumption of the talks into further doubt.

[More details: U.S., China disagree on more nuke talks with N. Korea]

Today's incident adds another obstacle, experts say.

The revelation of the uranium facility and Tuesday's attack on South Korea may both be expressions of the North's concern that the Obama administration and its allies are unlikely to offer concessions such as the easing of sanctions. "I think they realize they can't expect anything from Washington or Seoul for several months, so I think they made the provocation," Choi Jin-wook, senior researcher at the Korea Institute of National Unification, told CNN.

How scared should we be?

South Korea has placed its military on "crisis status," and Prime Minister Lee Myung-bak has reportedly ordered strikes on North Korea's missile base if the North makes any "indication of further provocation." It appears unlikely, though not impossible, that further military action will result.

[Photos: N. Korean leader Kim Jong Il and more]

South Korea does not have an active nuclear weapons program. North Korea is believed already to have eight to 12 nuclear bombs. But nuclear issues aside, any military conflict between the countries could badly destabilize the region, especially if the North Korean Government were to collapse -- an outcome that some South Koreans fear could lead to a Chinese takeover.

Monday, November 22, 2010

AV4 MRAP Rethink?

A comment in my previous posting made me do a quick research on the unloved Deftech AV4 that todate has been unsuccessfully marketed even to the local security apparatuses. The question was why the AV4 is not being considered to be delivered to our servicemen in Lebanon instead of foreign makes like the Pindad Anoa, and I commented back that the requirement was for a 6x6 vehicle and maybe the AV4 should be marketed as a MRAP vehicle instead to supplement the Nyala RG-31 MRAPs already in use, if they are actually owned by the United Nations. And during the quick research on the AV4, the posting of the JDW article on the Sabiex Iguana by military forumer spiderweb6969 made me realise that the AV4 can be more properly marketed after some redesign as a MRAP vehicle.

The reasoning can be made as such based on the fact that the rebranded Iguana or RG-34 will have a mine protected variant or MRAP, so I see no reason why the AV4 could also not be re-designed as a MRAP vehicle as even Jane's considers it probably a larger development of the Iguana FV4. In such a case, the Malaysian Armed Forces should seriously consider it to equip a MRAP company at least as what the Singaporeans has done with the Maxxpro MPTV, in order to face the latest military environments. Our Unifil mission has already proven there is a niche to be filled here by using the RG-34's BAE family member RG-31, and an uparmoured AV4 should fit the bill.

It is enough that the AV4 had already lost out to equip the police peacekeeping force in an armoured role in East Timor to South Korea's relatively unknown Shinjeong S5 AWV for the stated reason that it could not meet United Nation's delivery requirements. Acceptedly that the AV4 was still considered a prototype then and thus supposedly cannot meet the delivery deadline. In addition the Army Chief gave the reason that no vehicle was offered for evaluation as why the Army has not considered the AV4. If Deftech has not thought of this as part of their marketing efforts, it is high time they start the redevelopment and remarketing efforts to make the AV4 into a MRAP unit. It would be such a waste to own the intellectual property rights to the design and only be defeated by not having a product that would meet a potential customer's requirement. Deftech already have the AV8 order almost in the bag, and it would be wise to reinvest some of the earnings to make the AV4 more marketable by tweaking the design, and being a MRAP might just be the ticket to winning an order. Deftech's aim should be to become as credible as regional heavyweights like Doosan and PT Pindad, and not lose out to lightweights.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Should There Be A Controversy?

Curious as to why the AV-8 LOI cost of RM8 Billion has become a flogging point for some commentators, I did a little digging just to get a simple understanding of what this whole project is about. Well based on the announcements made at the time of signing, the whole project is about "Deftech is to build 12 variants from the base vehicle, including personnel carrier, anti-tank weapon carrier, command and control and anti-aircraft weapon vehicles", based on this newspaper report.

Photo from KLSR

Adding further details from a defence magazine article and this photo from a defence e-magazine, we can conclude that the 12 variants of the modified version of FNSS PARS 8x8 would be as follows :

A. Battle Trucks

1. Armoured Fire Support Vehicle with a customised Denel LCT30 two-man turret fitted with a 30 mm cannon.

2. Infantry Fighting Vehicle with a presumed FNSS Sharpshooter one-man turret fitted with a 25 mm cannon, similar to those mounted on FNSS supplied ADNAN tracked IFV.

3. Armoured Personnel Carrier with a 7.62-mm machine gun in an overhead remote-control station.

B. Weapons Platform

4. ATGW Carrier with a two man turret fitted supposedly with a DENEL INGWE missile system.

5. Mortar Carrier with 120mm mortar, most probably the TDA 2R2M that is already mounted on the Adnan IFV.

C. Battlefield Management Platform

6. Command Vehicle

7. Signals Vehicle

8. Surveillance Vehicle, believed to be a type of Fire Support Team Vehicle.

9. Armoured Engineer Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle (Remember the truck monitoring the nuclear blast in the movie Independence Day)

D. Field Support Platform

10. Engineering or Fitter Vehicle.

11. Recovery Vehicle or Kembalik in Malay.

12. Ambulance.

Mind you that Deftech CEO Abdul Harith Abdullah, in a separate Press conference, said the cost of the contract includes the manufacturing and other costs associated with the production of a new combat vehicle. And this reportedly will include the cost for Thales who will act as the electronic integrator, using its OICS vehicle electronics architecture and will provide mission system integration on specific AV-8 variants, while the communication fit for the AV-8 will be supplied by Sapura Thales Electronic.

And why all this electronics talk is important to be considered in evaluating the cost? Well if you couple the fact that AV-8 would be fully loaded electronically and that there is a specific Battlefield Management platform class consisting of four variants, then you would realise that these AV-8's are networked as in Network Centric Warfare ready, not just dumb battle taxis.

And the fact that the Defence Minister has clearly stated that said the value of the LOI was the ceiling price fixed by the government for the project. He said the actual unit price of the vehicle, designated AV8, could only be determined when the government signs the contract and also admitted that the unit price would be cheaper if the ministry decided to procure more AV8s after 10 years. And this is highly probable since 257 units barely replace the 500 odd Sibmas and Condor units still in the Army inventory, notwithstanding actual requirements.

And if the LOI also includes maintenance and support that includes the purchase of mechanical and electronic spare parts multiplied for each vehicle over a period of time, then it begins to look more and more a bargain to me. Especially since the project is designated as a national project to transform the local defence industry from "mere agents to developing a sustainable industry capable of developing and manufacturing world-class arms”, what is there to question about the project other than for petty or mischevous reasons.

Finally the only question I have still is, where is the anti-aircraft weapon platform mentioned in the Malay Mail articles, as that surely is one platform that the Army sorely needs.