Thursday, September 03, 2015

National air defence - if we don’t play-play

My letter to Malaysiakini on our fighter aircraft needs for a truly national defence coverage, with same title:


National air defence - if we don’t play-play

I refer to your article 'France optimistic M'sia will buy Rafle warplanes' which no doubt would have sent Dr Kua Kia Soong’s blood pressure soaring to the stratosphere.

In another of your articles, ‘From Scorpene Scandal to Mistral Mystery’, Dr Kua once again gave us his views on defence spending. Yes, there is some truth in his views but much as I respect and in fact like Dr Kua, I don’t believe his expertise is in defense studies.

More than two years ago Malaysiakini published my letter ‘Politicisation of police-military ops in Lahad Datu’, in which I commented on Dr Kua’s comments during the launch of Malaysian civil society’s 20-point demands for the 13th general election at the Kuala Lumpur (Selangor) Chinese Assembly Hall, Dr Kua had questioned the strategy used by the armed forces in Lahad Datu.

While I respected some of his points raised at the Malaysian civil society forum as being reasonable, I viewed (still do) his queries on the use of Scorpene as highly politicised, and his suggestion on the type of military strike aircraft in the Lahad Datu crisis, where his stated preference was for Apache attack heli-gunship instead of F/A-18 Hornets, at best as plain silly.

As I stated then, Dr Kua should stick to his scholarly and political work, which we admire very much, but to leave military operations and defence issues to the professionals.

As an example of his gross error in his recent article ‘From Scorpene Scandal to Mistral Mystery’ he blundered humongously when asserting that “In a sweeping review last year, Britain cut its defence budget by scrapping its only aircraft carrier. Their cooperation with France may eventually lead to the creation of identical ships, equipment and similar training in order to cut down maintenance costs. Thus, if a country such as Britain can do without any aircraft carrier, ...”

In fact, the converse is true where Britain has just built two very modern aircraft carriers known as the Queen Elizabeth class naval vessels, namely, HMS Queen Elizabeth (named in 2014 and expected to be operational 2017) and HMS Prince of Wales (expected to be operational in 2020). Each aircraft carrier will carry 40 to 50 aircraft comprising a mix of the latest 5th generation F-35 Lightning fighter-bombers and various helicopters from the heavy lift Chinook to the multi-role land-sea Lynx Wildcat.

The planned budget for both vessels is £6.2 billion or RM40 billion, but we may expect this figure to inflate with time and inevitable construction problems by at least (speculating) 25 percent if not more.

Dr Kua’s inaccurate reporting does NOT mean I support the Royal Malaysian Navy buying the Mistral class vessel, but as mentioned, Dr Kua should be more careful with his facts.

He has also been unbelievably naïve in his take on potential threats to Malaysia, diminishing that to a few hundred brigands from a neighbouring country, and that the armed forces needn’t prepare well ahead, when the usual ought to be by at least 15 if not 25 years based on political, economic and defence intelligence.

Will we go to an arms supermarket?

I hope he’s not suggesting that when we face an enemy of greater threat than a few hundred brigands and pirates, our Defence Minister will go to an arms supermarket to order a dozen or so fighter aircraft, frigates, artillery pieces and armoured vehicles, etc for immediate delivery, and to hell with pilot and technical support training, doctrinal development in the employment of the vehicles, tactics and such military ops matters.

No, I’m not going to explain to him again on how defence planning is done as I have already done so in a previous letter to Malaysiakini (directed at him) in 2013. I find some aspects of his recent article a wee grating especially when he harped once again on the Scorpene submarines as unsuitable for dealing with the foreign infiltration and banditry in Lahad Datu.

It seems he has either not learned since what a submarine is used for or he has deliberately ignored what many including yours truly had informed on the employment or use of a submarine. I urge him to read my earlier letter to Malaysiakini.

Anyway, the aim of my letter today is not so much about Dr Kua’s mindset on defence spending (and notwithstanding my criticism of him, I accept he has made some good points though in a naïve manner, as we would expect from a peace activist - smile!).

My letter is more about the French defence minister’s confident statement that Malaysia prefers the Rafale and is likely to order 16 of the aircraft. To be fair, our dear Hishammuddin Hussein hasn't yet made any commitment on such a purchase though he has dismissed the rumoured purchase of the Mistral class heli (not aircraft) carrier or amphibious assault vessel.

But I would urge our defence minister and the air chief to consider this: that while the purchase of the Dassault Rafale fighter-bomber aircraft is not the issue, the numbers suggested as likely to be purchased is. That’s right, sixteen (16) is NOT good enough. But because the Rafale, as Dr Kua has highlighted is frightfully expensive (unless you are an Gulf Arab nation or Singapore - wicked grin!), obviously purchasing more than the 16 mentioned will be out of the question.

Let me take you back to an earlier letter of mine to Malaysia titled ‘RMAF and Zhang Ziyi on MH370’ where our poor air force was excoriated left, right and centre for not intercepting the runaway MAS B777.

Then I wrote at length about the air force’s daily state of readiness and the paltry number of interceptor aircraft we have, and I also posed a question: Surely, we aren't suggesting that air defence is ONLY about peninsula Malaysia, or worse, just its north-western part centered around the Butterworth air base?

In other words, what if another MAS airline (and may the heavenly thunder strike my naughty mouth for scenario-rizing this) taking off from Kota Kinabalu airport for Hong Kong were to turn right and head east towards the south of Mindanao, into the Pacific Ocean?

Would we expect a poor Rafale or whatever aircraft is or will be based at RMAF Butterworth to zoom across the South China Sea to intercept that naughty wayward aircraft which will by then be over the Mariana Trench, the deepest sea in the world?

There is no free lunch

You want the air force to intercept this and that, so brother, sisters, uncles and aunties, just remember that there is no free lunch. As I wrote, we should consider a ‘national’ (not just Peninsula Malaysia) air defence system, otherwise buying those expensive 16 Rafales will be nothing more than Malaysian Defence fooling around with its ‘boys toys’ or keeping up with the Jones.

We should be locating aircraft fighter units at Butterworth, Gong Kedak, Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Johor Baru (or a new fighter base at the current heli base at Kluang), but far far more importantly, at Kuching, Miri or Labuan (latter has limited room for development), Kota Kinabalu airport or (a new base at) Kudat, and Sandakan.

That’s nine fighter bases to cover the entire nation, not just peninsula Malaysia. We can play around with the numbers but I reckon anything less than eight will be not a national system. Let’s not treat Sabah and Sarawak as second class states with no air defence, please.

With a squadron comprising a modest number of fighter-aircraft, say 12 (and that’s really very modest), at each location, we’re looking at about a total requirement of 110 aircraft.

What does our wee little neighbour have in terms of only fighter aircraft?

Just a mere 24 F-15SG Strike Eagles, 74 F-16 C/D Fighting Falcons, 41 F-5S/T Tiger II, making up a total of 139 aircraft, and I read that Singapore will be purchasing more of the F-15SG Strike Eagles, an aircraft that costs as much as the Rafale with a basic price of US100 million or RM422 million.

With armaments such as missiles, etc, training, engineering support and whatnot, we’re looking at a billion ringgit each though some of the cost will be either a one-off or only further required to replenish used ammunition such as missiles and bombs.

Incidentally, just for Dr Kua’s information, his preferred heli-gunship that he believed should have been used at Lahad Datu without even realizing the RMAF or Malaysian Army didn't/doesn’t have any, namely the Boeing AH-64D Apache which by the way Singapore has 20 of them, cost US65 million each in 2010 - and that’s the basic unit cost, at 0.65 (or 65 percent) of the cost of a Rafale. Dr Kua can work out the likely cost of the total package for a fleet of Apache gunship involving armaments, spares, pilot and technical training, etc.

Additionally, an air defence system, apart from ground radars and interceptor aircraft requires other supporting air vehicles.

Let me name what our Singapore neighbour has (if only to make our mouth water and turn our eyes green with envy - grin!): four Grumman E2-C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW & C), four Gulfstream G550 AEW & C, four Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker (to refuel the interceptor fighters without requiring the short endurance jets to return to base for refueling), five KC-130B/H also for air-to-air refueling of fighters, and has on order six Airbus 330 MTT for the same purpose.

Our air force should not purchase the Rafale aircraft UNLESS we have the money to buy 100 of them, and also to purchase AEW aircraft and more refueling tankers. Sixteen (16) Rafales will only be fooling ourselves about their meaningful usefulness within the national air defence context.

Thus we should of course look for cheaper options, perhaps even used aircraft like the Dassault Mirage 2000-5 MK II from France, Qatar, UAE and Greece as these countries are changing to Rafales or other equivalents - here’s our chance to grab them for cheap.

The Mirage 2000-5 MK II may be just a wee dated but with upgrading and weapon enhancements by the company Dassault, it can be a credible weapon platform for the RMAF, and it costs only a fifth or quarter of the Rafale, meaning we could get 80 re-conditioned but upgraded Mirage 2000-5 MK II for the same amount of money we may be thinking of spending on a mere 16 Rafales.

The operative word is QUANTITY because we have a very large country, from Kangar to Tawau (ever heard of this town?), and we need around one hundred fighter aircraft. The 80 Mirage 2000-5 MK II will be a good start.

Just food for thought, on Oct 8, 1996, a Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000-5 shot down a Turkish Air Force F-16D, the type Singapore has [grin].


  1. I heard that Motherfucker chao cibai kaytee's uncles were with military......hahahahaha under Tun Razak's domain.....and hence such attitude towards Najib......Extremely bizzarre......

    Perhaps, Tok Cik can give a much better military assessment as he was from military.

    I bet with one cock hair that Tok Cik should bite you

    1. go play with your plastic aeroplane your adoptive father the late Mr Foot gave you, wakakaka

    2. "The operative word is QUANTITY because we have a very large country, from Kangar to Tawau"
      can we therefore claim that china n india is very huge, they need at least 10 aircraft carrier? n y they have only 1 or 2? i think having a good diplomatic policy is equally important if one rely on donation to survive.

    3. did I say Malaysia needs an aircraft carrier? to stop talking cock as you usually do, re-read my post

    4. Ohh........chao cibai kaytee......Answer me these questions

      1) How big is Australia?
      2) How many jet fighters australia possess?

      Like I say.......Let's see what Thaya got to say about you......akan datang

    5. The RAAF has 71 F18A/B and 24 F18F and (on order, with a few already delivered) 18 EA18G and 70 F35, that's a total of 183 fighter-bombers.

      The Australian continent only has threats mainly from the north, allowing the RAAF to virtually ignore its east, west and southern flanks or minimise its stationing of fighters there

    6. oh BTW, will you be also bringing your uncles, aunties and long lost cousins next to attack me? wakakaka

    7. ok fine, but what I see is still a bragging writes to demonstrate u r more boastful n may not be more knowledgeable than kua, n I specifically paste a faulty reasoning statement fr yr article n see how u could retort a logic borrow from u, it seem beside divert, the way u avoid a direct question is to ask people to reread. my suggestion is that y not u continue with yr pro najib shit, at least it provide some entertainment feature to the local blogosphere.

    8. how in the world does one "retort" to (or answer) your self-admitted "faulty reasoning statement"?

      in the first place if you had read my post, you would have noted my article did/does NOT support Malaysia purchasing the French Mistral class heli carrier so why talk about that class of vessel?

      Secondly, I gather from your questions you didn't even know the purpose of a nation having an aircraft carrier, but which is not important because my article does NOT advocate such a purchase and thus I see no reason to debate with you, UNLESS you can provide arguments to the contrary or even to support my views (which of course I don't expect you to, wakakaka)

      really, I don't want to waste time arguing with you because I see your purpose has not been about intelligent, civil and meaningful discussions (as is in a comment by kampong lad below) but rather to kacau or attack me, evidenced by your self-admittance that "I see is still a bragging writes to demonstrate u r more boastful n may not be more knowledgeable than kua", wakakaka.

      That's fine, you're entitled to your opinions and I respect that, but I don't see any value in discussing with you further on the subject as you have already decided that I know less than Dr Kua on military matters, and that I've been (in your eyes) only bragging

  2. Okay la.......I will be seeking for tok cik and Commander Thaya over at din merican's blog......second opinion ma.....hahahaha.....I wonder what they think of you......hahahaha

    They are all from the military unlike you.

    Akan datang

    1. wakakaka, someone told me you are most well behaved at Din's. BTW do you also clean your teeth and comb your hair before making a comment there, what a chou cibai coward, hypocrite lah wakakaka again

    2. me thinks looes got split personality... his head needs rebooting.. wakakaka

    3. but nonetheless a most unmitigated cowardly hypocrite

    4. looes, I hard a lot of bad things about you - when in school you used to rob the girls of their sweets and sandwiches, bullying those sweethearts until they cried. I'm going to teach you, a damn bloody chou cibai coward and bloody liar a lesson. Until you write your comments in the way you have done at your grandfather Din's blog, I won't publish them. So fuck off and until you learn to be civilised and not have a double standard, don't bother posting comments here. Now, go and cry to your grandfather Din, wakakaka

  3. kt, if you want to rembat malaysia (by air of course), where are your first targets, malaya or sabah or sarawak? soekarno's commandoes landed in labis, johore.

  4. Our air force fighter force has since time immemorial been peninsula centred or based, at either Kuantan and Butterworth, and today also at Gong Kedak which is not balanced disposition at all and additionally leaves our eastern parts of our nation open kangkang to air threats or air and sea infiltrations. An air defence system must be national in scope, and where threats are minimal, smaller or minimal sized air defence units may then be considered.

    In pre and even after Merdeka days for quite some while, the British military positioned Javelin fighter aircraft (then their top fighter aircraft) at both Kuching and Labuan, evidence of their defence assessments of threats to Malaysia. The eastern part of Malaysia is particularly important and highly vulnerable from a military assessment, particularly today. Indeed we must ask where is our greatest potential threat currently?

    The banditry threats from across our eastern borders require instead air and naval assets in terms of surveillance platforms (including and especially drones with cameras, electronic and various other surveillance devices) and counter-insurgency (COIN) attack and maritime surveillance aircraft and drones. Other greater/conventional threats require air defence platforms such as a complete system comprising radar, fighter aircraft, modern munitions such as missiles, AEW aircraft, air-to-air refueling platforms etc.

    Both Sarawak and especially Sabah are highly vulnerable.

    1. 'where threats are minimal, smaller or minimal sized air defence units may then be considered'.

      agreed. the above belongs to the 'must have' category which i mentioned in one of your articles earlier. let the navy boys handle the helicopters.

    2. why sort of heli do you have in mind when assigning them to the navy? Surely not all types?

      For example, in anti tank, land ops support or COIN ops the army should be the principal party; in maritime or anti sub ops the navy; in combat SAR it'll be the air force,

    3. orait then, you already defined the disciplines i.e. land, sea & air. i suppose the existing ones are not 'fit' to be in the airforce family. that's all i want to say.

    4. matey I'm not sure what you have in mind when you said "the existing ones are not 'fit' to be in the airforce family"

      historically, all air elements were controlled by the air force, thus even when heli roles are devolved to more involved parties (eg. anti tank to army, anti sub to navy), the air force has less heli roles but not completely zero

      following a disastrous heli crash in a ship borne ops some years ago by the Australian SAS, one finding stemming from the post accident investigation has been that the air force has a far better air safety culture and thus safety management in air ops, principally because of its greater or total involvement in air ops, and should therefore monitor and guide the army air wing on this aspect.

      the joke among air force people is that the army (especially its senior officers) tends to treat and thus operate heli or fixed assets like 3-tonners (army trucks) and lacks somewhat the safety management and culture in handling air ops, including appreciating that air assets are extremely expensive resources and should in the general case be tasked at the highest centralized ops level

      thus it’s not correct to say what you've said (if I had read you correctly), that the air force is not the appropriate body to run heli ops, but yes, it needn’t be involved in each and every aspects of heli air ops, one example being anti sub ops which sensibly should be devolved to the navy

      but with land ops there could be role overlap between air force and army involvement

    5. 1. 'the joke among air force people......' hahaha, seriously lah.
      2. football and soccer are also played on a field but rules & disciplines are different. so, heli pilot & fighter-pilot tak sama.
      3. anyway, you helped me to answer your 'ingin tahu' about what i was trying to say. kalau mau pun, beli yang lain. cheers!

  5. I want to show everyone who comes here what sort of person that looes74 is.

    After I recently told him off for posting obscene comments here (and in that I accept some blame for tolerating his vulgarities for years and been wakakaka participating in a slinging match with him in these naughty terms believing he was eccentric, until I found out he could behave decently at Din Merican's blog but not here where he would be most vulgarly feral and vicious. What a hypocrite) and deleted a number of his comments when he continued in his vulgar ways,

    He went over to Din's blog and sadly and in an unashamed manner posted the following lies yesterday (extracted from Din's blog):

    looes74 September 4, 2015 at 5:13 pm
    Tony Eu,
    One wonder why Najib may be interested in Mistral helicopter carrier?

    Tok Cik,
    That clown, ktemoc says there is no lunch for military purchase wor? And hence agreeing to every Hisap’s whim and fancy…..Go bite him

    See his lies right from his first sentence "One wonder why Najib may be interested in Mistral helicopter carrier?" when Def Min Hisam has already dismissed that alleged purchase, to further lies/distortions as follows:

    "ktemoc says there is no lunch for military purchase wor? And hence agreeing to every Hisap’s whim and fancy…..:"

    Readers, please check my article above (letter to MKINI) for any evidence of those.

    and to his usual instigating shit-stirring to Mr "Tok Cik" to "Go bite him".

    looes74 is basically a COWARD and a shirt stirring provocateur who doesn't have the guts to fight his own battle but would only egg others on with BLATANT LIES to do his dirty wishful battles

    He's really pathetic, far far worse than the old monsterball who was only angry and aggressive.