Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Singaporean Air Bridge for Malaysian Broken Bridge

Singapore’s quid pro quo for completing the Malaysian ‘bridge to nowhere’ thus enabling it to finally lead to ‘somewhere’ was predictably an exercise in Singaporean hands reaching deep into our pockets until they squeezed our balls good and proper [sorry, ladies, but it's a painful experience].

They want clearance for their air force planes to fly within our airspace and the right to buy our sand for their reclamation projects.

I don’t blame them for seeing a weakness in our position and exploiting that to the hilt. We, or rather our impetuous politicians keen on mega projects, have voluntarily put ourselves into that.

The demand to be allowed purchase of sand is purely a commercial enterprise which I don’t see anything sinister involved. It’s naturally cheaper for the Singaporeans to buy from us than from the Indons, the latter involving transportation of said sand to the Island by barges.

However the request for airspace clearance invariably invokes Malaysian suspicion of RSAF air reconnaissance missions, basically spying and gathering of intelligence. That may well be the case but in reality the RSAF does not have optimum airspace to ‘play’ around with since it had been restricted from Malaysian airspace.

Airspace alone is not the issue as the RSAF can fly into the area over the South China Sea to train on purely air exercise. But an air force also have ground attack aeroplanes with roles such as tactical low level navigation, simulating penetration of enemy airspace under radar cover, to hit targets (say, like the MRR2?).

Such training exercises should ideally be flown over tricky undulating terrain involving valleys and hills, with visual navigational feature such as bridges, tracks, rivers - basically key ground features. The South China Sea only offers this and that waves, and some smattering of Indonesian islands surrounded by more waves and more waves. Thus Singapore sees Malaysia providing those desired training conditions, which would be far cheaper than placing parts of the RSAF in various locations overseas.

Notwithstanding the problem of 'waves, waves everywhere but not a MRR2 to spot', conducting tactical low level flying over the sea is possible except that sort of navigation would mainly involve tracking by navigation aids, such as global positioning satellites which may not be available in times of war, or inertia navigation systems which need for a start to be functioning in the first place for the navigation to be reasonably spot on.

For the tactical combat pilots, nothing beats the old Mark I ‘Eyeball’ when all electronics and inertial systems failed or aren't available. But those damn waves keep moving around all the time [hmmm, not unlike the MRR2?].

Though the Singaporeans are now unscrupulously taking advantage of our predicament by posing their defence requirements on an unrelated land communication issue, I personally don’t see Singapore, even with their air force, ever getting on top of us (pun not intended).

If the Malaysian Defence Ministry could contact me ;-) I’ll be happy to provide a relatively economical plan for them to suppress any Singaporean wannabe-Israeli-air-force a la 6-Day War. But, really, why would Singapore want to attack Malaysia. Our economies and securities are intertwined [except somehow our neighbours seem to be always doing better than us].

A war between our nations would be disastrous for both sides, with most of us ending up eating ubi kayu (tapioca, a staple food during the Japanese Occupation).

Methinks our politicians have succumbed to the myth of an Israeli-like RSAF, mentally placing us in the position of the losing Arab nations. Most of their jet fighters are overseas anyway, and war don't occur without some buildup of hostilities. We should be able to stop them in their tracks before they can holler 'San Diego'!

Jeez, our pollies need to be more positive minded?

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