The BN Government Will Continue To Look After The Welfare And Readiness Of The Malaysian Armed Forces

“The government shall continue to look after the welfare of the Malaysian Armed Forces,” said Minister of Defence, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He said this in a meet with Royal Malaysian Navy personnel, civilian staff of the Ministry of Defence in Sabah, as well as Armed Forces veterans at the Kota Kinabalu Naval Base here.

Announcing the agenda to build more quarters for the naval personnel, Hishammuddin said that they (the naval personnel) cannot be sent for operations if they worry about the safety and security of their families.

Prior to this, the state government of Sabah offered a piece of land to be developed into 1,700 houses by the Ministry of Defence.  However, the location at Kampung Layang-Layang is not suitable as it is 30 kilometres away from the base.

“I shall announce the housing agenda within the next week or two,” he said.

The event was also attended by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, Datuk Seri Panglima Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Chief of Defence Forces, General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor.

Earlier, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin launched a Petronas kiosk inside the base as part of the welfare initiatives.  Prior to this, personnel working in the base had to travel 20 kilometres to the nearest petrol station.

When asked about a group of Armed Forces veterans who attack the government’s initiatives to help both serving and former members of the Malaysian Armed Forces, Hishammuddin said that this is just a small group of people whose agenda is to serve the seasonal politicking of others.

“This government will not be disheartened by this group.  We have provided a lot more under this government and shall continue to strive for the best for the members of the Armed Forces and its veterans,” he commented.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin also handed over keys of family quarters to 20 crew member of the patrol vessel KD Selangor.  16-year old Kasih Nuraisyah Ramaddy Ricky, the daughter of Corporal Ramaddy Ricky Ahmad, who scored 7As in her Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 exam was among thirteen children of Armed Forces personnel who received academic excellence awards from the Minister.

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Hishammuddin congratulates Corporal Ramaddy Ricky Ahmad after presenting an award to the latter’s 16-year old daughter, Kasih Nuraisyah, for scoring 7As in her Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 exam last year

BN Is Serious About The Security Of Sabah

A ‘Force Demonstration’ conducted by the three services of the Malaysian Armed Forces was held at Kem Paradise near Kita Belud today. 400 personnel were involved in the demonstration of firepower that also saw the involvement of two Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighters, two Sukhoi Su-30MKM multirole combat aircraft, four BAe Hawk light multirole fighters and helicopters from all three services.

In his speech, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein assures the people of Sabah that the Barisan Nasional government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will continue to preserve the peace and security that is being enjoyed by the people of Sabah.

“The government will not compromise the security of Sabah. Today’s programme that involves all three branches of the Malaysian Armed Forces proves that we are sincere and serious about it,” he said.

Hishammuddin also urged the people of Sabah to not fall for the irresponsible sentiments of hatred that are being played by the Opposition.

“Their appearance is seasonal in nature and is filled with their agenda. They do not offer solutions like we do, especially in the security aspect of the people of Sabah,” he added.

The force demonstration was also attended by Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak; Secretary-General of the Ministry of Defence, Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Abd Rahim; Chief of Defence Forces, General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor; Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, General Tan Sri Affendi Buang and Chief of Army, General Tan Sri Zulkiple Kassim.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said that the Malaysian Armed Forces shall continue to cooperate and conduct trilateral cooperation with Indonesia and Philippines to face the threat of terrorism.

“For now, we have joint air and sea patrols with our neighbours while joint land patrols will be conducted soon,” he said.

The demonstration today also saw a field hospital being set up where the people of Kota Belud were given free medical and dental treatment.

Tiga Orang Wira Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia Yang Terkorban Dinaikkan Pangkat Secara “Posthumous”

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Satu Majlis Penganugerahan pangkat Leftenan Kolonel Hakiki secara Posthumous (pasca kematian) telah diadakan di Markas Tentera Udara, Kementerian Pertahanan. Anugerah kenaikan pangkat itu telah disempurnakan oleh YBhg Panglima Tentera Udara, Jeneral Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Hj Affendi bin Buang TUDM.

Antara penerima pangkat ini adalah Mendiang Lt Kol Kayamboo a/l Chellam yang terkorban ketika sedang beroperasi menerbangkan pesawat angkut Beechcraft King Air 200T di Pangkalan Udara Butterworth pada 21 Disember 2016, Allahyarham Lt Kol Yazmi bin Dato’ Mohamed Yusof TUDM dan Allahyarham Lt Kol Hasri bin Zahari TUDM yang terkorban bersama semasa menerbangkan pesawat Hawk 108 di Chukai, Terengganu pada 15 Jun 2017. Ketiga-tiga mangsa juruterbang ini menerima satu kenaikan pangkat asal mereka.

Penganugerahan pangkat tersebut telah disampaikan kepada Puan Usha a/p Suppiah (Isteri Mendiang Lt Kol Kayamboo TUDM), Puan Shofara Izwa binti Hilmi (Isteri Allahyarham Lt Kol Yazmi TUDM) dan Puan Asysyuhadak binti Ahmad (Isteri Allahyarham Lt Kol Hasri TUDM).

Majlis pagi tadi telah berlangsung secara bersederhana. Seluruh jemputan di majlis tersebut kelihatan sugul kerana masih lagi bersedih dengan pemergian juruterbang-juruterbang terlibat. Namun kelihatan bersemangat semula apabila mendengar obituari mangsa juruterbang tersebut yang nyata cemerlang di dalam pencapaian kerjaya, keberanian dan pengorbanan yang telah dilakukan sepanjang perkhidmatannya di dalam TUDM.

Selain merupakan satu tanda penghargaan kepada mereka di atas jasa dan bakti mereka terhadap perkhidmatan TUDM khasnya dan Negara amnya, penganugerahan ini juga membolehkan para balu wira-wira tersebut menerima pencen yang lebih tinggi dari pangkat asal terakhir.  Inilah di antara cara TUDM dapat membantu keluarga mereka yang telah banyak berjasa.

Turut hadir di majlis ini adalah Timbalan Panglima Tentera Udara, YBhg Lt Jen Dato’ Sri Ackbal bin Hj Abdul Samad TUDM; Panglima Pendidikan dan Latihan Udara, YBhg Lt Jen Dato’ Kamarulzaman bin Mohd Othman TUDM; Asisten Ketua Staf Tadbir, YBhg Brig Jen Ahmad bin Abd Rahman TUDM, serta ahli keluarga Mendiang dan Allahyarham.

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Kelihatan Puan Shofara Izwa binti Hilmi (balu kepada Allahyarham Lt Kol Yazmi TUDM) menitiskan air mata, manakala Puan Usha a/p Suppiah (Balu Mendiang Lt Kol Kayamboo TUDM) dan Puan Asysyuhadak binti Ahmad (balu kepada Allahyarham Lt Kol Hasri TUDM) merenung Epaulette pangkat Leftenan Kolonel TUDM milik suami mereka

Isu Pangkalan Udara Strategik

ISU PANGKALAN UDARA STRATEGIK

Nampaknya sedang tular di media sosial video Majlis Paluan Berundur ATM dari Kem TUDM Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur sehingga ada pihak yang membangkitkan isu bahawa kem tersebut telah dijual kepada China. Sesungguhnya, ia dakwaan yang tidak berasas sama sekali. Baca penjelasan berikut untuk mengetahui fakta sebenar.

1. Pemindahan TUDM Kuala Lumpur ke Pangkalan Udara Sendayan dibuat berdasarkan faktor rasionalisasi daripada aspek operasi dan keselamatan, dan juga TUDM Kuala Lumpur sudah terlalu lama dan usang, dibangun sejak tahun 1940-an.

2. Operasi penerbangan di TUDM Kuala Lumpur tidak berapa selamat disebabkan kepesatan pembangunan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur, dengan adanya bangunan tinggi dan kepadatan penduduk.

3. Kawasan TUDM Kuala Lumpur amat terdedah dengan ancaman luar disebabkan lokasi berhampiran lebuhraya dan kawasan perumahan. Dengan ancaman yang ada sekarang ini, ia boleh dilancarkan daripada kawasan-kawasan tersebut.

4. Pendedahan TUDM Kuala Lumpur kepada umum turut menyukarkan pihak TUDM untuk memberi perlindungan mantap sebagai kawasan operasi ketenteraan kerana terdedah kepada aktiviti pengintipan.

5. PU Sendayan & 31 Rejimen Artileri Kem Tun Ibrahim, Kajang adalah antara tapak-tapak relokasi TUDM Kuala Lumpur. Penempatan di beberapa pangkalan udara yang ada adalah mengikut misi dan kesesuaian seperti yang dibuat di PU KL sebelum ini.

6. Ini adalah kali pertama sebuah Pangkalan Udara (Sendayan) dibina untuk keselesaan para pegawai dan anggota TUDM di mana mereka akan mendapat kawasan kerja, kediaman dan infrastruktur yang baru untuk memberi sokongan atas misi-misi latihan TUDM. Selain itu, dengan adanya PU Sendayan ini, TUDM akan dapat menempatkan pusat latihan TUDM di mana buat masa ini latihan-latihan tersebut berpecah dan ada yang dibuat di Subang, Alor Star serta di Kinrara.

7. PU Sendayan ini apabila siap dibina dapat menyatukan TUDM yang akan meletakkan semua ini di bawah satu bumbung bagi tujuan uniformiti dan latihan manakala perintah dan kawalan akan menjadi lebih berkesan.

ISU KEHILANGAN ASPEK SEJARAH PU KUALA LUMPUR

1. Sejarah TUDM Kuala Lumpur akan dikekalkan selepas dipindahkan ke PU Sendayan kerana ia merupakan landasan antarabangsa yang pertama digunakan semasa zaman kemerdekaan. TUDM akan memelihara artifak-artifak sejarah TUDM Kuala Lumpur ini di muzium TUDM. Ini akan dilakukan bagi memastikan sejarah TUDM tidak akan terlupus.

ISU PROJEK BANDAR MALAYSIA DIKUASAI SYARIKAT CHINA

1. Dakwaan kononnya projek Bandar Malaysia di bekas TUDM Kuala Lumpur di ibu negara dikuasai oleh syarikat China kini bukan lagi isu. Sebaliknya tapak strategik seluas 198 hektar itu dikuasai 100% Kementerian Kewangan, berikutan terbatal perjanjian jualan saham (SSA) Bandar Malaysia dengan pihak pemegang saham projek tersebut sebelumnya.

2. TRX City, dengan mengambil kira kepentingan nilai tanah Bandar Malaysia, akan mengekalkan pemilikan penuh terhadap kawasan itu demi memastikan rakyat Malaysia meraih manfaat hasil pembangunannya.

3. Adalah fitnah berniat jahat dengan mengatakan kem TUDM KL diserah kepada Cina dari China.

RUMUSAN

1. Adalah tidak benar kerajaan mengenepikan sejarah penting negara dengan menyerahkan Pangkalan Udara Kuala Lumpur kepada pihak pemaju untuk dibangunkan. Banyak sejarah dan artifak TUDM akan dipelihara untuk pengetahuan generasi akan datang.

2. PU Kuala Lumpur telah hilang nilai strategiknya dan tidak sesuai lagi untuk menempatkan unit-unit tentera. Kedudukannya juga menjadikan pengintipan dan serangan oleh musuh menjadi begitu mudah.

3. Angkatan Tentera Malaysia memperolehi kemudahan-kemudahan yang jauh lebih baik dan bersesuaian setelah perpindahan ini berlaku.

4. Malaysia bukan satu-satunya negara yang menutup pangkalan-pangkalan tentera. United Kingdom telah dan bakal menutup sebanyak 56 pangkalan-pangkalan tentera termasuk Woolwich Barracks dan Fort George yang berusia hampir 300 tahun dan kaya dengan unsur-unsur sejarah. Berbeza dengan Malaysia, penutupan pangkalan-pangkalan tentera di UK tidak melibatkan sebarang penggantian.

Oleh itu janganlah kita mempolitikkan pertahanan negara dan hargai Angkatan Tentera Malaysia serta hak mereka untuk bertugas dan tinggal di pangkalan-pangkalan yang jauh lebih moden dan selesa sesuai dengan tugas mereka yang berat untuk menjaga kemananan, kesejahteraan dan kedaulatan negara.

The Non-Malay Heroes of Malaysia

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I am appalled that there still are those who deny the roles played by the non-Malays in defending this country, especially during the two Emergencies; that dark 33 years of fighting communism.  The history books emphasised more on the 12-year First Emergency because of its relation to the independence of Malaya, thus many forget that not too long-ago bombs were going off in the middle of Kuala Lumpur while ordinary policemen were getting slayed.

The First Emergency broke out in June 1948 with the murder of three British estate managers in Sungai Siput.  Fuelled by the progressive successes the Communist Party of China was having against the Kuomintang, the acts of banditry increased exponentially.  Based on a priori the British found it best to both resettle the Chinese in camps while between 20,000 to 50,000 be sent back to China.  The plan moved at a snail’s pace due to the objections by many, and with the total withdrawal of the Kuomintang to Formosa, the repatriation of the Chinese came to a halt in September 1949 when the Communist Party of China closed off all ports and beaches.  Only 6,000 Chinese from Malaya were sent back (Anthony Short, 1975 pp 178-201).  The rest were settled in new villages to curb them from supplying the Communist Party of Malaya with food and other essentials.

When Ismail Mina Ahmad, the chairman of the Ummah umbrella group for Muslim organisations, claimed that only the Malays fought against invaders and communists in this country, it shows the level of ignorance on his part (Syed Jaymal Zahiid – In fiery speech cleric tells forum only Malays fought invaders communists, Malay Mail Online, 13 January 2018).  His claim is far from the truth.

At the peak of the First Emergency, the British had to not only bring in members of the Palestine Police Force who were experienced in counter-insurgency warfare, but also recruited a large number of Chinese residents of Malaya.  Tan Sri Dr Too Chee Chew, more famously known as CC Too, headed the Psychological Warfare section.  We had the likes of Tan Sri Jimmy Koo Chong Kong, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Ling, Datuk Leong Chee Woh to name a few who spent most of their lives fighting the communists.

CC Too, Koo Chong Kong and Yuen Yuet Ling were among the ranks of the Malayan People Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) during the Second World War who chose to go against their former comrades and became targets of the Communist Party of Malaya. Jimmy Khoo Chong Kong, who was also a former member of the Sarawak Communist Party before surrendering to the authorities and joining the Royal Malaysian Police, paid with his life on 13 November 1975 in Ipoh, Perak, as did his driver Constable (awarded Sergeant posthumously) Yeong Peng Cheong who died with his gun blazing.  Without hesitation, even with the knowledge that he was also on the hit list, Tan Sri Yuen Yuet Ling replaced Tan Sri Koo as the Perak Chief Police Officer.

When a Royal Malaysian Air Force Sikorsky S-61A Nuri helicopter was shot down in Gubir, Kedah on 27 April 1976, three Malaysian Chinese personnel were also among the 11 killed. They were Captain Choo Yeok Boo TUDM, Lieutenant Chung Ming Teck TUDM and Sergeant (Air) Leong Yee Heng.  They were on a resupply mission from the Butterworth Air Base when they were shot down.

Captain Frank Chong Keng Lay TUDM (retired as Lieutenant-Colonel) flew his Nuri into a hot landing zone to rescue several infantrymen.  His two commando escorts were killed as his Nuri took 22 heavy machinegun shots.  The next day he flew into the same landing zone to repeat the task.  Keng Lay was my Chief of Staff at the RMAF Air Training Command where I was a Staff Officer and later its Adjutant.

Inspectors Kamalanathan and Robert Cheah were inside a coffee shop meeting with informers when a terrorist threw a grenade into the shop.  The explosion maimed Kamalanathan and for the rest of his life he walked with an obvious limp with a grenade shrapnel still embedded in his leg.

There were many other non-Malay police officers in particular those who served in the Special Branch who died as unsung heroes as they were not recruited nor trained with other policemen.  They were the deep infiltrators, members of the community, who went on leading a double life that even their own family did not know they were all policemen.  Their pay did not come from Bluff Road (Bukit Aman) directly. DSP Jeganathan was a Jabatan Talikom employee tasked with setting up the police’s VHF network and spent years jungle-bashing, building towers on mountain and hilltops with the communist terrorists hot on his heels so that the police could have a nationwide communications network.

There were those who were just roadside sweepers working for the municipal and town councils, collecting information.  One had his cover blown when he was discovered in a different town by a neighbour asking him loudly what was he doing there sweeping the streets.

Another was on his death bed, ridden with cancer, when he sought the help of a Malaysian daily to contact my father to tell the latter of his condition.  His real name was quoted by the daily to my father, which my father could not recall.  My father asked the contact in the daily to ask him his Special Branch name. When the reply came, my father left his golf game and rushed to the hospital and after more than 50 years of being married, the wife and family finally knew the man-of-their-house was a hero fighting the communists, not just some small-time trader.

Let us not forget Chief Inspector Chin Chin Kooi.  He was a Special Branch officer probing communist activities in Serdang, Kedah.  At 9pm on 12 July 1973, six communist terrorists stormed into his home and let loose a volley of bullets.  Mortally wounded, Chin returned fire until his last breath.

Across the South China Sea, Police Field Force Superintendent Joni Mustapha was a champion Sarawak hurdler from 1958 to 1959.  Joni was watching a movie with his son in Sibu when a policeman relayed a message to him that his men were being pinned down by communist terrorists upriver Sungai Setabau.  He asked the policeman to stay with his son in the cinema and left to rescue his men.

Constable Nuing Saling, an Iban policeman, was on a two-week leave to be with his wife Imbok Jimbon who was six months pregnant with their third child.  Upon hearing that Joni was leaving for the jungle, hurriedly joined the team.  Both Joni and Nuing had made a pact that they would help each other. They left by boat to get to the location.  Upon arrival, they engaged the communist terrorists.  Joni was felled by machinegun fire but remained conscious to direct the firefight until he died.  Another constable friend, Abang Masri was already dead.  Seeing his commander and friend die, Nuing unsheathed his machete and charged at the terrorists’ position firing at them, only to be mown down.  He had been hit in the face by a bullet.  Nuing refused to give up.  He continued his charge and was hit several times more but kept on charging, killing and wounding many.  He died inside the location of the communist terrorists.

Kanang ak Langkau is perhaps the most known warrior from Sarawak who shed blood and tears fighting against the communist terrorists.  He was wounded several times but not once let his wounds stop him from fighting.

These are stories that we should all remember.  Stories of our non-Malay brethren heroes who risked and gave their lives so that we can all enjoy the peace and prosperity that God has bestowed upon us.  Many more have gone unsung, but they shall not be forgotten.  Especially not by selfishly ignoring the sacrifices that have been made by them.

The RMN 15 to 5 Programme Is On Track

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The Royal Malaysian Navy has recently laid the keel for the third Littoral Combat Ship (to be named Shariff Masahor after the Sarawak warrior who fought against the White Rajahs) at the Boustead Naval Shipyard in Lumut.  This will be the third of six LCS planned by the RMN as part of its ’15 to 5′ transformation programme.

Dogged by having as many as 15 classes of ships with an average life of 15 years, the current RMN fleet is supplied by seven different nations, causing logistical and financial nightmares for the operators. As a result, the RMN cannot have the kind of force projection that it envisages.

The transformation programme allows the RMN to reduce its current classes to just 5 classes of ships namely the LCS, the Littoral Mission Ships (LMS), the Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS), submarines, and the patrol vessels (PV).

The LCS, with its ability to perform complete multi-mission 3-D operations, will be the obvious class to spearhead the Royal Malaysian Navy.  The six vessels, based on the Gowind 2500 corvette design, will fulfill the operational requirements in both the blue and littoral waters of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

All six vessels are and will be built at the Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS), which is a bit unorthodox given the need for a good project risk management as not to repeat the disaster caused by a previous builder.  The GMD of Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC), Vice-Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor TLDM (Retired) said that the project team from both BNS and Naval Group have taken the necessary measures to prevent such failure to occur in this project.

Commonality between classes is also key to the success of the 15-to-5 programme.  Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman bin Hj Ahmad Badaruddin TLDM said that all the classes will have major items that are common to ensure the availability of vessels.  Most importantly, these items are being supplied by 104 local vendors and that in turn has created thousands of jobs and endless learning opportunities for locals.

“The Navy is determined to show that not only does it give opportunities to local companies, but also help build the local defence capabilities to reduce reliance on foreign companies,” said Ahmad Kamarulzaman.

The Navy hopes to have up to 12 LCS, 18 LMS, four submarines, 18 PVs and three MRSS to fulfill its doctrine requirements.  It is believed that the PVs will consist totally of the Kedah-class NGPV while two more Scorpene submarines will be acquired depending on the funding from the government.  It makes a whole lot of sense to have the Kedah-class expanded as Malaysia is already in possession of the builder’s plans, while the acquisition of two more Scorpenes would be a lot cheaper as the infrastructure as well as logistics support are already in place.

In observation however, if all these vessels are already in service, there is only so many number of vessels that the Navy’s bases can handle at any given point of time.  I believe that the PVs will all be deployed to the Second, Third and (soon) Fourth Naval Regions, with major assets such as the LCS and LMS divided between the First and Second Naval regions.

How The Royal Malaysian Air Force Fits In

Commonality is another goal the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) hopes to achieve.  Recently, RMAF Chief General Tan Sri Dato Seri Affandi bin Hj Buang TUDM celebrated his first year as the service’s Chief.  Although dogged with several incidents of crashes, it has not diminished his team’s aim to elevate the RMAF’s ability as a force to be reckoned with.  Only the cut in defence budget has curtailed some of its plans for expansion.  The withdrawal of the MiG-29Ns from the frontline has stretched its frontline capabilities too thin.

Although the reintroduction of the MiG-29Ns back into service was thought of as an interim measure before getting its direly-needed MRCAs, this was not agreed by the government as it does not want to see its pilots flying aircraft that may endanger themselves.  This would also mean that the RMAF’s current LIFT, the Hawk 208s which are in their 23rd year of service, will soon have to go.

The 15-to-5 programme of the RMN would not mean much without sufficient air cover for the Navy to keep the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) open, especially between states in the Peninsular Malaysia with Sabah and Sarawak.  The RMAF is already in the process of looking for a suitable replacement for the Beechcraft Super King Air B200T MPAs.  If commonality is a key to this, then we would either see the Air Force acquiring either more CN-235s, or opt for a stretched version which is the CN-295.  However, given the different powerplant of the CN-295, a MPA version of the CN-235 sounds most viable.

Combat Air Patrols, or sufficient and adequate air cover is also critical to the success of the RMN’s 15-to-5 programme.  However, current number of aircraft available to perform the task is limited as only the Boeing F/A-18D Hornet and Sukhoi Su-30MKM would have the ability to get into the theatre in the shortest time compared to the BAe Systems Hawk 108s and 208s.  Furthermore, the Su-30MKMs would have to undergo their 10-year maintenance and that would affect the number of availability.

As it is, the supersonic Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50/FA-50 LIFT cum light fighters are the most suitable for this role, as well as to take over the LIFT role from the BAe Systems Hawk 208s.  I have written on the KAI T-50 in a recent article and still believe that other than its cost (said to be a third of a full-fledged fighter aircraft) the commonality that the KAI T-50 have with a type of aircraft that the RMAF is already operating is the Boeing F/A-18D Hornet as they use the same powerplant. Should the RMAF plan to acquire more of the Hornets, the T-50 would be the best option for the RMAF to consider acquiring as they can play the dual role of LIFT and advanced supersonic fighter far better than the Hawks ever could.  The RMAF would be able to provide more capable birds in the air in a shorter amount of time while waiting for a much larger budget to actually acquire new MRCAs.  The T-50s are combat-proven and have performed well in recent bombing missions against the ISIL-Maute group in Marawi.

Having the T-50s in Kuantan as LIFT/Advanced Fighters and as a advanced fighter detachment in, perhaps, Bintulu, would enhance the RMAF’s operational capability not just as a strike force, but also to provide air support for the Navy’s surface missions.  The Chief of RMAF is well-known as a fighter and operations man, and is therefore the perfect person to make a case to fulfill the RMAF’s doctrine with the correct equipment needed by his frontliners.

Summary

The Royal Malaysian Navy is spot on when it decided to go with its 15-to-5 transformation programme that would see more lean-and-mean vessel types be introduced into the service.  However, having a good surface capability without capable air support from the Royal Malaysian Air Force would limit its capabilities to keep hostiles away.  Both services would need strong support from the government to ensure that force projection to deter opportunistic hostile forces can be achieved by both services.

Faux Pas Today

Online “news” portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) today published a story on the level of preparedness of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) if faced with a situation such as Marawi, and got an expert opinion to strengthen its story.

While FMT was talking about clearly refers to the recent statement made by the Chief of RMAF, General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF, stating that the RMAF will be including urban warfare in its doctrine. This was a reply to a question by a journalist during the recently-concluded Exercise PARADISE 4/2017 in Kota Belud, Sabah.

FMT sought the expert opinion of a Dr Zachary Abuza, a political scientist at the National War College in Washington DC, who focuses on security and political issues in the region.

Dr Abuza instantly criticised the RMAF for not being prepared for urban warfare.

“RMAF’s training is based on preparing to face traditional threats. It’s birth was when fighting the MCP (Malayan Communist Party) in the jungles. It has never had to adjust its training.

“To me, this is understandable but reckless,” he said to FMT.

Abuza felt urban warfare preparedness and capability were still important.

“It’s not that the RMAF has to worry about an invasion, but what if a detachment of RMAF peacekeepers finds itself unexpectedly bogged down during an urban assault?” he was quoted by FMT to have asked.

It is clear to sharp readers that Dr Abuza referred to the RMAF as Royal Malaysian Armed Forces instead of the Air Force. Why would the RMAF have a detachment of peacekeepers anyway?

Therefore, it is forgivable that Dr Abuza had made such a criticism towards the RMAF as the Malaysian Army, which had numerous peacekeeping experiences under its belt. Although the RMAF and the Royal Malaysian Navy participate in peacekeeping missions, the main combat duties is shouldered by the Army.

And FMT being FMT, went to town and published the piece, hammering the Royal Malaysian AIR FORCE for not being ready for urban warfare.

The RMAF’s role in urban warfare is merely a support one, with the Army playing the main role on the ground. All the RMAF needs to do is to insert its Ground Laser Targeting Designator team into the combat zone and paint targets that are to be bombed by its fighters.

Other roles include dropping bombs or perform rocket strikes on targets marked by elements of the Malaysian Army, including interdiction strikes to cut off enemy supply and reinforcement lines, provision of air mobility in support of the Army Air Wing, or perform combat search-and-rescue of downed airmen.

The RMAF and the Malaysian Army have held countless joint exercises to enhance interoperability and coordination and it will take very little tweaking for the two organisations to operate in the urban environment.

Did FMT clarify its story before publishing? I doubt. Else we won’t see the faux pas today.