Thursday, November 28, 2013

Don't Be Wasteful.

Jane's recently reported that Malaysia may end their OPS Fajar in the Gulf of Aden, where the Royal Malaysian Navy has been providing anti-piracy naval escort service using the Auxiliary Ships BM5 and BM6 in one of their longest long range overseas deployment. 

20 November 2013
Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said on 19 November that a decision will be made by the end of 2013 on whether to continue Operation 'Fajar', the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN's) anti-piracy escort mission in the Gulf of Aden for ships belonging to the Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC).

"It has been decided that within the next two months ... that the government, RMN, and MISC will assess the mission and decide upon the mission's future," he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

RMN Chief Admiral Aziz Jaafar told IHS Jane's that an alternative being considered was for MISC to station private security teams on its ships, a course of action being considered because MISC ships faced the threat of pirate attacks beyond the range that they are under escort.

The MISC security teams would comprise ex-RMN navy commandos "so we have no reservations about the security teams' capabilities as they were formerly our men," Adm Aziz said.

Should the option to field private security contractors be undertaken, the RMN auxiliary ships carrying out the mission on a rotational basis, Bunga Mas 5 and Bunga Mas 6, both of which are loaned by MISC, would be de-flagged and revert back to their merchant status under MISC.

Operation 'Fajar' began on 30 August 2008 when an RMN task group carrying a tri-service commando force with helicopters was dispatched to rescue the crew of two MISC tankers hijacked by Somali pirates (although the force did not go into action as the hostages were freed after a ransom was paid).

A series of RMN warships then carried out the escort mission until it was taken over by the Bunga Mas 5 in June 2009. The vessel was supplemented by a second auxiliary, the Bunga Mas 6, in August 2011.

It is fine for me if the operation is to end as I have always personally felt that this is more a commercial matter that calls out for a commercial solution when it is more viable, and to hire private contractors to provide the security now seems appropriate since the piracy threat seems to have quieten down nowadays.

However the plan to decommission the two auxiliary ships and return it to MISC is to me quite wasteful for several reasons. The first is that the ships are already upgraded to naval standards, and subject to its actual condition can provide an interim patrolling capability that the Navy sorely needs in our own waters since they have demonstrated their capabilites in this capacity far from home.

Secondly the ships are originally logistics ships, and they can also contribute to the logistical capabilities of the RMN that is also currently far more seriously needed. With aviation facilities, these ships are unique as they can also provide rotary support as and when needed. The strengthened hull and hold should also be able to transport the MAF heavy equipment easily and on immediate call when required.

As amply demonstrated in their exercises shown previously to the public, these ships can also provide training facilities for the special missions that involves commercial or merchant ships without requiring the Navy to request support from shipowners or to lease commercially.

Finally it is time for MISC and Petronas to show their gratitude to the RMN for providing service to them for half a decade. As reported these ships if returned will be reverted to merchant status but the MISC no longer has any cargo liner service and will naturally be sold off as they will not serve any commercial purpose to MISC. As such these ships should be freely turned over to the RMN for their use instead to safeguard our national waters as a CSR exercise. Wouldn't this serve a better good for a greater cause, especially since the national security of our country are facing difficulties due to lack of resources. Don't you think this should be the case?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ESSZONE Security Teething Problems Being Sorted.

Well as usual in our country, it takes an incident to happen to put a boot in the behind of those responsible for their tasks. I am a bit surprised if the Rapid Response Team was not in the original plans for the ESSCOM administration since they are a multi agency formation. At least thing are finally being taken care of as stated in this two articles.

Article One. : Rapid response team set up in Esszone 

Article Two :  Sabah to act against illegal lodgings, workers and ‘White Rajahs’

I only hope that this is not another Malaysian Malady, hangat-hangat tahi ayam if you know what I mean. The world scrutiny is on Sabah yet again, and we should not give them the pleasure of watching us screwing up again.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Any Security Threat Is A Threat, PERIOD!

It has been disheartening to watch people on the administration and government trying to downplay the murder and kidnapping case of the Taiwanese couple in Semporna as a not so big security threat. This is supposedly because it is not considered as a military threat because they were allegedly made not by militants or terrorists but common criminals. This is despite the IGP later saying they might be linked to the Abu Sayyaf section. And yes ESSCOM is a big area to secure, but here even with a General Operations Force (GOF) base set up under ESSCOM only about 800 metres away, yet these sort of incidents can still happen, so someone's big behind needs to be given a kick.

Police personnel patrolling the water villas at the resort after the abduction and shooting incident.

What these Little Napoleons just do not seem to realise is that such incidents is a clear and present threat to the nation's security, as it may deprive the nation of earning funds that can be used to purchase the assets needed to protect our sovereignity. In this particular case, this has manifested itself in the Taiwanese Government issuing a travel advisory to Sabah. With Visit Malaysia Year 2014 just a month and bit away, what do you think this will do to the tourist arrivals forecast and the income from tourist spending? No security, no moneylah! Get that through your thick heads will  you!!!!

 Security personnel keep watch at the resort on Pom Pom island in Semporna. Starpix by Normimie Diun

Semporna kidnap: Taiwan issues travel alert on eastern Sabah

TAIPEI: Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued an "orange" travel alert for the eastern coast of Sabah after a Taiwanese man was shot dead and his wife abducted on a resort island there.

The ministry urged the public to avoid travelling to the area unless necessary, the Focus Taiwan website reported.

Under the ministry's four-colour-coded travel advisory system, the "orange" alert is the second highest level.

The 57-year-old Hsu Li-min was shot dead Friday by gunmen while the whereabouts of 58-year-old Chang An-wei was still unclear after she was abducted. The motive for the shooting and abduction was unclear.

Officials of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia arrived in Sabah Friday evening to help with the investigations.
For the chronology of the official statements, please refer  here.

Edited 1711/13 : It seems that the resort owner has more powers than the Security Forces. What Gives

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why The Secrecy?

Boustead has announced that it has awarded the torpedo lauching system contract for the SGPV/LCS program as stated in this official announcement. However it has broken the norm from its previous systems awards announcement by keeping the details classified.

I believe this will start a round of speculation as to the reasons why as such torpedo systems are not that many available in the market and their capabilities are known. If this announcement is meant to show that the Navy will not use the existing Lightweigh Torpedo A244S from Whitehead Alenia that are launched from the already in service B-515 system, then it is an upgrade to our ASW capabilities. My personal opinion is that the LCS may be equipped with the Black Shark heavyweight torpedo to maintain commonality as these are already on board our submarines. To me this could be a reason why it is classified as the RMN would be the first navy to select it for their surface ships as far as I know, even though it is the frontrunner for the Indian submarine and destroyer competition.

On the other hand if this program would continue with a lightweight torpedo system flavoured by DCNS using the B-515 system, I guess the Eurotorp MU-90/IMPACT advanced LWT may enter service. This is a mature system already in service with five navies' surface warships but then it begs the question why it needs to be classified. Well I guess that is enough  punditry for now until full disclosure is made by the RMN or the Malaysian Government.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Another Navy Big Ticket ITem Delayed ?

Although the mainstream newspapers basically carried Bernama's reporting on the proposed acquisition of Anti Submarine Helicopters by the Royal Malaysian Navy below, it is a bit surprising to read in Mr. Marhalim's  Abas blog that the program has actually been deferred to the 11th Malaysian Plan starting in 2016 rather than made under the current plan.  This was not mentioned in the Bernama's article at all but if Mr. Marhalim was at the press conference, I guess that was extra information that the others had omitted in their reporting or editing.

Navy Plans To Acquire Anti-submarine Helicopters

LUMUT, Nov 7 (Bernama) -- The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has proposed for the government to acquire anti-submarine helicopters to increase the force's capabilities.

Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said this is to ensure the force remains relevant with the current modernisation.

"At least six anti-submarine aircraft are needed to form a squadron.

"The Kota Kinabalu RMN Base in Teluk Sepanggar, Sabah will house the squadron where two of the country's submarines are also stationed," he told reporters after officiating the Perak RMN Air Unit's 25th Silver Jubilee at the RMN Base, here Thursday.

The Kota Kinabalu RMN Base currently has two French Scorpene submarines, the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Razak.

In another development, Abdul Aziz said the RMN Air Unit plans to establish its own training centre which will conduct training modules on flight operations.

He said plans for the training centre was still in talks and is expected to be realised in three years, also to be situated at the RMN Base here.

"The training centre will carry out modules for aircraft transition training for pilots and air tactical officers, helicopter guard course, flight deck officer course as well as other courses and training," he said.

Abdul Aziz said the training centre will produce an air unit and fleet crew which is ready to meet the needs of the RMN and country.

At the ceremony, Abdul Aziz was awarded an honorary wing as a mark of respect and recognition for his contributions in the development and achievement of the RMN Air Unit.

I guess this means that previously made proposals to acquire other big ticket items would also be deferred, i.e., the systems and weapons upgrade to the Kedah class and the FAC-M replacement program. Speaking on the FAC-M replacement program, I just noticed from an article that the program may have actually amalgamated like the SGPV/FFG/LCS program into an FGS/LCS type vessel that was initially separated from what I heard previously under the 10MP proposal from the RMN. If this is true, I sincerely doubt the FAC-M replacement program will materialise early since the other arms of the MAF has also taken a hit in their big ticket item acquisition programs. But who knows with the flurry of acquisition programs to be made under The Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOMM) requirement, this FAC-M replacement program may yet sneak in as it would meet the patrol vessel prerequisites easily.

He also stated thal the RMN was looking to replace its fast attack craft (FAC) fleet with new ships. Although the government has not yet approved funding for this, the RMN has proposed either a modified version of the localty built Gagah Samudera-class training shipdesign or a new 50-75 m design to be sourced from a foreign manufacturer. The replacement ship would not be an FAC type, but rather one capable of long-distance endurance and patrolling of Malaysia's waters, with firepower equal or greater to the FACs it would replace. ==> source

Another Artist's Rendition OF An Upgraded Gagah Samudera Class Vessel
Credit to Dewafrost @ Mymil

Monday, November 4, 2013

Read It And Weep - Again

For those who may have thought that in conjunction with the Prime Ministers visit to the United Kingdom an announcement would have been made with regards to the replacement of the MIG-29N program, I am afraid that you have to wait a little bit longer.

Malaysia PM says fighter jet decision may take longer 

Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:42pm EDT
Oct 31 (Reuters) - Malaysia's decision over which fighter jet it will choose to replace its ageing fleet of 18 Russian-made MIG-29s might be delayed as the country focuses on cutting its budget deficit, Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

"It might take a little longer because we need to consolidate our fiscal position first and this is what people want and this is what the market wants," Najib told Reuters on Thursday on the sidelines of a conference in London.

"My priority would be to secure the macro position of the government to make sure our deficit is cut and at the same time we will spend on defence to the level we can afford to do, all depends on how strong we feel financially."

Malaysia shortlisted five combat aircraft in March, principally the Eurofighter Typhoon - made by European consortium BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica - France's Dassault Aviation Rafale, Boeing's F/A 18E/F Super Hornet and Russia's Sukhoi Su-30 and Sweden's SAAB JAS-39 Gripen. Industry sources said at the time that the purchase could run into billions of dollars.

The government has however come under pressure to tackle its high budget deficit and growing debt pile. In July, ratings agency Fitch cut its outlook on Malaysia's sovereign debt to negative.
Countries such as Malaysia have become top targets for U.S. and European defence manufacturers who want to increase their share of exports to make up for falling defence spending in their home markets.