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.

Monday, November 15, 2010

So You Think This Will Work?

A result of the brouhaha about the "patriotisme issue concerning the military recruitment", the Ministry of Defence has been ordered by none other than the Prime Minister himself to work with non-Malay organisations and NGOs to boost Non-Malay participation in the military. And it should "not be continued to be a subject of polemic". Polemic? So you don't debate it and expect to resolve it just by working with the target groups eh? I say good luck for the efforts.

Shoot the messenger so that your popularity remains without identifying what is the problem and finding effective means to resolve the problem is not a good way of managing the matter and is more akin of sweeping the issue under the carpet. Many a good general has lost not only battles but wars when some of their men begin thinking " I did not enlist to get myself killed". So unless you get these recruits, Non-Malays or otherwise, to enlist out of their patriotism and free will, then you risk the prospect of "rats abandoning the ship" when "the shit hits the fan". It used to be easier for these Non-Malays to join the military even though their brethren loyalties lies elsewhere, as they decided to throw in their lot to defend what they believe is their nation. Identify what has changed since then so that the Military again becomes attractive to the Non-Malays. I am sure the 19 percent of the Non-Malays already in the military has found reason enough to enlist. Identify the reasons and expand on it to make it more attractive for other Non-Malays to enlist. Don't tell me that since the nation is at peace, let's make money?

In the meantime, I want to see the person who wants to make an example out of the Defence Minister be patriotic enough to pick up the gauntlet thrown to him to join the Territorial Army, or he is just a good example of a Polemic himself. Don't call another a rat if you yourself is a politikus.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Can Somebody Answer Me This?

Can anybody clarify if Malaysia has purchased General Dynamics Land Systems RG-31 MRAP for their Malbatt serving under UNIFIL colors or are these on loan from the UN. I have never heard of UN loaning any equipment to their peacekeeping forces but participating countries do obtain some UN funds with which they usually buy equipment for the peacekeeping forces. From Unifil servicemen blog postings and Malbatt's own facebook page, it seems clear that Malbatt is using the RG-31 Nyala for their patrols.

These Nyala MRAPs are supposedly supporting the Malaysian APC's detachment in operational areas that may not be suitable for the use of Malaysian Condors. The question is being posed here because the Malaysian Defence Minister was supposedly being quoted again that Malaysia is re-considering to purchase Indonesia Pindad Anoa APC to replace the Radpanzer Condors in Lebanon that has had a death in its operations when a unit had an accident when it overturned. So it is high time the 4x4 Condors are replaced for Unifil operations. However since there is some tensions still between Malaysia and Indonesia, questions are being asked if we need to purchase military assets from potential adversaries that may effect its operations in the future. In addition it is being claimed that the Anoa is based on an old French design and not modular and such a purchase would complicate the Royal Armour Regiments inventory as these planned 30 units will be odd armoured units, as they await the delivery of Malaysian owned indigenous AV8s planned for mass replacement of Malaysian armoured units.

Pindad Anoa

Some are saying that it would be wiser if we purchase additional MRADs with the funds or buy out the supposedly loaned UN units as these may meet actual Malaysian military operational needs that cannot be met by the AV8s, especially for current urban warfare whereby MRAPs would be more suitable than soft skin vehicles that may no longer be safely used due to threats of IEDs. It seems that even the Singapore Armed Forces is beginning to understand this with the introduction of their newly commissioned Navistar Maxxpro MPTV. Coupled with the actual operational requirements in Lebanon that may restrict full APC use, I personally think that buying additional MRADs that Anoa APCs would really make more sense.

Singapore's Maxxpro MPTV

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Afraid Of The Reflection?

As expected, the Parliamentary Statement by the Defence Minister reported yesterday has attracted flak from all parties, even from his coalition partners who called it an irresponsible act.

BN leaders disappointed at 'lack of patriotism' remark

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional leaders Wednesday expressed disappointment at remarks by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that "a lack of patriotism" was the reason for the low number of non-Malays in the armed forces.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the remarks were irresponsible.

"As a minister, he cannot doubt others' patriotism and loyalty. Instead, he should look into the ministry's recruitment system and find the root of the problem," said Liow, who is also the Health Minister.

On Tuesday, Dr Ahmad Hamidi told Parliament that non-Malays made up less than 1% of new recruits in the armed forces for the 2008/2009 session. He blamed this on a lack of patriotism, concern over the strict discipline imposed, lower returns compared with jobs in the private sector, lack of encouragement from families and negative perceptions towards the army.

MIC vice-president Datuk Sr S. Subramaniam said it was incorrect to relate the lack of non-Malays in the armed forces to a lack of patriotism.

"As a leader of the Indian community, I am saddened by the statement made by another community leader," he said.

Dr. Subramaniam, who is also the Human Resources Minister, said the MIC was willing to have discussions with the Defence Ministry and Armed Forces to resolve the problem.

Gerakan vice-president Datuk Mah Siew Keong urged the Defence Ministry to exhaust all plausible means, including soliciting non-governmental organisations and relevant groups to help recruit non-Malays into the military, instead of pinpointing fingers.

He said, in a statement, that Dr Zahid Hamidi's reasoning was "unfair and unwarranted."

"We certainly do not need such myopic views. It is more important to address the problem (if there is one). Publicity on the recruitment exercises will also be more effective," Mah added.

The funny thing is that of the five highlighted reasons above made by the Minister, only the "lack of patriotism" comment is being questioned by these parties. Does this mean that if the other four reasons are accepted as the truth since they are not contested by anybody, then the "lack of patriotism" will also be true if it remains uncontested in the event that we follow through with this fine logic. And if this is true, then would the reflection in the mirror is too ugly to be brought out to light, even by the Minister responsible and in charge so it has to be buried as soon as possible? And the Minister is the one being called with a myopic view.

As a fellow military forumer had commented, the low participation of the non-majority in the defence of the nation has been a feature of our society since Independence, and if it takes such a challenge from the Minister to start an honest debate, then debate it in total and try to resolve all five reasons and challenges, and not only the "patriotism challenge". It is high time the rest takes up the slack especially if you wish to be treated as equals, otherwise it is just another partnership of opportunity. So do something to ensure that everybody gets their fair share, even in the defence of the nation. What say you again?

So Do We Need Another Bunga Mas 5?

The United Nations has been reported as saying that "Piracy off the coast of Somalia is outpacing efforts to combat it and more is needed to attack the problem at its root by creating economic alternatives for young Somalis,.........as pirates employ larger vessels and attack further off the coast to avoid stepped up patrols.....The problems would be worse if not for the very considerable international anti-piracy efforts under way".

Our small nation's own contribution to such anti piracy efforts has been for the past more than 16 months the deployment of converted merchant vessel Bunga Mas 5 crewed by a mix of regular and reserve servicemen. The last deployment lasted for 141 days, a new record, and safely escorted 109 Malaysian flagged vessels in 77 convoys not including other nations vessel tagging along. The importance of this mission has been proven where no Malaysian vessel has been hijacked or threatened since the start of Ops Fajar operations in August 2008.

However in light of the fact that "Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report that pirates have expanded operations well into the Indian Ocean, up to 1,000 nautical miles from Somalia. Some pirates have even begun using a "mother ship" towing two or three skiffs to help launch attacks far off the coast against ever-larger freighters.", would the lone deployment of a converted merchant vessel be sufficient to meet these expanding threats. This is not even considering the hardships of our servicemen serving 7,000 miles from home including fasting and missing out on major festivals, even though this highlights our Navy's foreign operations capabilities as highlighted during the BM5 welcome home ceremony last month.

Adding another converted merchantmen may not be a sustainable option as a real naval vessel would be more effective, but since our navy's assets numbers are still not enough even for home operations, maybe this solution would be the best to meet this increasing demand for protection over a larger theater of operations. May the powers that be start to consider this if they have not done so already.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It Is Defamation From Now On.

Just a friendly reminder. If you say our subs can't dive from now on, be on notice that you are uttering a defamatory remark. Thank you.

Two subs pass all tests

KUALA LUMPUR: The KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Razak submarines have passed their tropical, underwater and maintenance tests, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

He said in a written reply to Datuk Juslie Ajirol (BN–Libaran) that the tests were to ensure all the engineering and weapons systems in the two submarines were in full working order.

Malaysia took delivery of the two submarines in September 2009 and July 2010, respectively. — Bernama

What Say You?

So is this Ministerial Statement justified? So should the defence of our nation not be shared by those who want everything else to be shared as they consider themselves Malaysian by birthright? What say you?

Published: Tuesday November 9, 2010 MYT 1:36:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday November 9, 2010 MYT 1:39:35 PM

Lack of patriotism among reasons for lack of non-Malays in armed forces


KUALA LUMPUR: A lack of patriotism was one of the possible reasons for the small number of non-Malays in the armed forces, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Parliament Tuesday.

He said Chinese and Indians made up less than 1% of the new recruits in 2008/2009, in his reply to Datuk Mohd Jidin Shafee (BN-Setiu) during question time.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the small number of non-Malays could also be due to various other factors, such as concern over the strict discipline imposed, lower returns compared to jobs in the private sector, lack of encouragement from families and negative perceptions towards the army.

"The Government does not impose any quota on the recruitment of army personnel, whereby appointments are made based on qualifications and the applicant's interest in providing service as well as on voluntary basis," he said.

On how to encourage non-Malays to join the army, Dr Ahmad Zahid said activities to promote careers in the army were carried out in public and private higher-learning institutions.

"We have also conducted road tours in chosen schools as well as generated publicity in the print and electronic media, including Chinese and Tamil newspapers," he said.

He added that school cadet movements were also formed to encourage students to join the army.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sir Can You Teach Me?

It mystifies how a tale spin spun often enough can become a gospel truth to some people. The most current spin that makes me angry as it confuses even die hard military enthusiasts is the spin that RM8 billion for the AV8 APC by Deftech is highly overpriced with implied hints of corruption bla bla bla!. This is coming from someone who says on one hand that a leading APC would cost RM10 million each, but then goes on to say that the government would only need RM2.57 million to buy 257 APCs, which makes one unit only costing RM10,000 each, cheaper than a national car. Don't believe me, read it here at your favorite Harakah Daily article from which I will only quote the pertinent portion.

Keputusan kerajaan meneruskan hasrat membeli 257 unit kereta tempur berperisai AV8 (APC) bernilai RM8 bilion wajar dipersoal, kata Ahli Parlimen Sungai Siput, Dr. D. Jayakumar.

Menurut beliau, sebut harga yang ditawarkan oleh DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies Sdn. Bhd. (Deftech) adalah tiga kali ganda lebih mahal dari harga pasaran sebuah APC terbaik di peringkat dunia; iaitu tidak melebihi RM10 juta seunit.

“Dengan hara RM31 juta sebuah sedangkan harga sebuah APC terkemuka di dunia hanya RM10 juta, maka tiga kali gandalah,” ujarnya petang tadi di Dewan Rakyat.

Difahamkan, kerajaan sepatutnya memerlukan RM2.57 juta sahaja untuk membeli 257 APC, bukannya RM8 bilion seperti yang dipersetujui Menteri Pertahanan, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamid bersama Deftech.

I have no idea where these people get their per unit price of an AV8 is at Rm31 million per unit, I can only deduce they just divided the project price of Rm8 billion with 257 units, ie RM31,128,404.70 each. Unfortunately they conveniently forget that the RM8billion price tag includes Development Cost for Deftech to come up with an indigenous APC so much so that if additional units are purchased, then the unit price will be lower as it will be amortised over a larger quantity is also overlooked.

Now let's crunch some numbers and see where things fall okay.

Let's look at Germany's Boxer APC Program as they purchased a similar number of APCs as what Malaysia is proposing to purchase in 2006.

Boxer Program Germany :

Development Cost : $3.1 billion
Unit Cost : $625,000
Qty : 200 => 200 x $625,000 = $125,000,000

Total Cost for 200 units = $3.1 Billion + $125 million.
Total Program cost : $3.225 Billion
Actual Unit cost = $3.225 Billion / 200 units=$16.125 million (Note : At 2006 prices)

AV8 Program Malaysia :

Development cost = $A ?
Unit Cost = $B?
Qty : 257 => 257 x $B? = $C?

Total Cost for 252 units = $B + $C.
Total Program Cost = $2.5 billion
Actual Unit cost = $2.5 billion / 257 units = $9.727 million each.

Now let's again just use the market price of a popular APC that using their yardstick would cost only $1.9 million per unit.

Stryker Program USA:

Development Cost : $8.7 billion GAO 2003 estimate
Unit Cost : $1.9 million
Qty : 2300 => 2300 x $1,900,00 = $4,370,000,000 or $4.370 billion.

Total Cost for 2300 units = $8.7 Billion + $4.37 Billion.
Total Program cost : $13.07 Billion (Let's make it an even $13 Billion eh?)
Actual Unit cost = $13 Billion / 2300 units=$5.652 million (Note : At 2002 prices)

But seriously folks, do you really think that Malaysia can amortise the cost over a large order quantity as the Americans did? A more realistic comparison is the German Boxer program which makes our AV8 more competitive in pricing. Anyway those comparison prices are for a monetary value of 5 years or more ago and not current prices, as then it will actually will be more than calculated.

That is why I still maintain we should proceed with the project at $2.5 billion as this is a viable and competitive price for Malaysia to gain an indigenous manufacturing capability which includes development costs, that surely can be amortised over more units in the future as all the older APCs will have to be replaced, and by then the actual unit cost will surely fall further.

By the way, if you are wondering where I got the figures, these are taken from the article below, which gives a $2.5 billion figure in US Dollar that suspiciously discounted to 10 percent seems to be the figure being stated by their spin but in Malaysian ringgit. But hey I did not spin my numbers eh. It is really around RM8 Billion when you change it from US$2.5 billion.

Malaysia orders 257 APCs from DefTech

Published: April 22, 2010 at 8:08 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, April 22 (UPI) -- The Malaysian army awarded a $2.5 billion contract to Malaysian company DRB-HICOM Defense Technologies for 257 armored personnel carriers.

A letter of intent was signed with DefTech, which will develop the 8x8 wheeled APC vehicles and manufacture 12 variants, the Ministry of Defense said. Variants include a personnel carrier, anti-tank weapon carrier, command-and-control and anti-aircraft weapon vehicles.

The army will take delivery of the prototype APC for testing next year.

The Malaysian-developed APC is being built from the PARS APC produced by FMC-Nurol Defense System of Turkey in co-operation with General Purpose Vehicles, which has headquarters in New Haven, Mich.

The Pars APC was unveiled in 2005, equipped in an 8x8 chassis configuration but is also available in 4x4 to 10x10 setups. The APC is aimed at the Turkish Land Forces Command.

The Pars APC is a modular design and can be fitted with various armament fits, including external and turret mounted armament, and can accommodate one- or two-men turrets.

The DefTech announcement was made on the final day of the Defense Service Asia 2010 exhibition at the Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur.

Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil, DefTech chairman, said delivery will be over six years with the first vehicles commissioned by the army in January 2012.

DefTech will farm out some of the manufacturing to local suppliers in many of Malaysia's regions. Contracts for the work will be sought as soon as possible.

DefTech is also co-operating with Denel of South Africa to build a two-man turret for the APC while Sapura Thales is expected to become the systems integrator.

There was some surprise over the amount that the government is to pay for the APCs given the large number that it has ordered, a defense analyst told The Malay Mail newspaper. Based on the number of vehicles to be procured and the contract price, each vehicle would cost $10 million, a much higher figure than if the government decided to purchase comparable off-the-shelf 8x8 APCs.

One analyst cited a German-built Boxer Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle cost of round around $625,000 each when the German army bought 200 in 2006. The Boxer's development cost exceeded $3.1 billion.

The base price paid by the U.S. Army for its Stryker 8x8 APCs is around $1.9 million each. However, more than 2,300 Strykers were ordered, the analyst said.

Defense analyst Dzirhan Mahadzir said development costs of the British Future Rapid Effects System should be considered before making assumptions about the Malaysian APC contract.

The British FRES program cost nearly $7 billion before it was canceled in 2008. But the project, including procurement and whole-life cost, if given the go-ahead, eventually was to have cost another $12.5 billion.

The U.S. Army didn't spend a huge amount on the development of the Stryker as it was developed from the MOWAG Piranha APC, Mahadzir said.

DefTech, set up in 1996, invested nearly $22 million in a dedicated defense and security manufacturing division in Pekan in Pahang state in 2001. The 25-acre site has a covered work area of 180,000 square feet. It also has a test track with NATO standard obstacles for all armored and soft-skinned vehicles, both wheeled and tracked, of up to 60 tons.