SeaDemon Says

Posts Tagged ‘Royal Malaysian Air Force

One of the things introduced by the Najib Razak administration is for Ministers to go down to the ground and meet with the frontliners, learn about the problems that they face as well as consider the proposals from them on how things can be done better.  The days of “I’m a Minister therefore I know better” or “You are new therefore you know nothing” are over.

Sun Tzu quoted in Chapter 10 of the ‘Art of War‘:

Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.

Taking queue from both his boss and Sun Tzu, Minister of Defence Dato’ Sri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein rushed off to Kuantan after the conclusion of the recent National Security Council meeting to rendezvous with the Royal Malaysian Navy frigate KD Lekiu which was conducting a patrol in the South China Sea.  Despite the very limited time that he has, he made it a point to meet the frontliners to see how they are getting on while keeping the nation safe and secure during the fasting month.

Hishammuddin looking at the KD Lekiu before landing (taken from the Minister’s Twitter)

Hishamuddin, who was accompanied by the Chief of the Armed Forces  General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor, and the Chief of Navy Admiral Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin RMN, landed on board the KD Lekiu at 5.30pm and was met by the Commanding Officer of the KD Lekiu, Captain Mohd Fadzli Kamal Mohd Mohaldin RMN who then gave the Minister a short safety briefing.

Hishammuddin saying goodbye to the crew of the EC725

When the Ec725 helicopter took off and flew by the starboard side of the KD Lekiu, Hishammuddin said, “That helicopter crew is excellent, and for it to be able to land on this ship shows great cooperation between the Air Force and the Navy.  That is how the services, the Army included, depend on each other for support.”

True enough. It was the first time that the KD Lekiu had accepted the EC725 on its flight deck.

On board the Minister spent his time talking to the officers and men, asking them how do they find spending Ramadhan and Aidil Fitri away from home.  There are times that the KD Lekiu, like many other man-o-wars in the navy, have to spend up to three months at sea away from home, regardless of the festive seasons.

This scene is repeated throughout the Minister’s visit – officers and crew asking for a photo op with the Minister and the latter is always obliging

Through the Royal Malaysian Navy’s “Rakan Maritim” (RAKAM) program where the maritime community especially the commercial fishermen work hand-in-hand with the Navy to provide information especially on crime at sea,  the fishing community has been providing such support especially through the “Initiatif Bertanya Khabar” (IBK) conducted by the individual naval vessels that are on patrol.  A fishing trawler that was hailed came alongside.

The Minister is seen helping a trawler crew come on board

Encik Ramli bin Isa and Fauzi bin Omar had been out at sea for four days with another crew member.  The moment they realised that it was the Minister himself whom had helped them up, their face lit up.  The Minister, General Raja Mohamed Affandi and Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman asked them how they were and if they find that the waters are safe from foreign elements.

I later asked the two fishermen of the Navy’s initiative.  They are very happy with it and find it reassuring that the Navy has been actively making its presence felt.  On meeting the Minister, they were very surprised that a Minister would want to even ask how they are.

I know he must be really busy but for him to make time to ask me how I am is like having a dream come true,” said Encik Ramli.

Hishammuddin later gave some food to the fishermen for them to break fast with.

Hishammuddin later had a talk with some of the crew which was also attended by the Commanding Officer and the Chief of Navy.  There, the Minister related to the men the government’s plans for the Navy, and how the Ministry is working hard to facilitate the Navy’s 15-to-5 transformation program.

DS Hishammuddin and TS Ahmad Kamarulzaman spend a few moments with the men of the KD Lekiu

Tan Sri Kamarulzaman is happy with the progress of the 15-to-5 transformation program where the Royal Malaysian Navy will limit its fleet types to just five instead of the current fifteen.  The program will see the RMN operating only Littoral Mission Ships, Littoral Combat Ships, New Generaion Patrol Vessels, Multirole Support Ships, and Submarines.

RMN’s 15-to-5 transformation program (courtesy of Senang Diri)

As we waited for maghrib prayers, Dato’ Sri Hishammuddin said to me, “I’m amazed by these navy people.  They stay months at sea guarding our waters.

I guess we’ll just have to make the public understand about what they do out here,” I replied.

The Minister frowned and replied with a sigh, “That is another matter. It is so difficult to get the public to understand wht these people do here, the hardship they have to go through. Imagine if these people are not here to do their duty. Mosul, Aleppo can happen here.”

It is so damned hard to get the support of the people, especially from the non-Malays, let alone to get them to join.  But when something happens, they would be the first to condemn, especially so in the case of the fatal crash that killed two of our RMAF pilots.

The usual comments made especially by the non-Malays about the Malaysian Armed Forces

How the realisation that without the Malaysian Armed Forces this country would be in ruins escapes them puzzles me.  It is because of these men and women that they are able to wake up in the morning and make money, and then go home to sleep peacefully.

Perhaps it is time for the National Service to be what it is – a two-year active duty upon attaining the age of 18, followed by a 10-year stint as reservists.  That would probably make them have a better understanding of the Armed Forces and love the country as something more than just a place to make money in.

In the meantime, the men of the KD Lekiu will continue to be vigilant so we can all wake up shamelessly in total ignorance of their existence.

It is a sad day for the nation. We lost two Ops Daulat heroes, Major Mohd Hasri Zahari RMAF, and Major Yazmi Mohamed Yusof RMAF.  The nation mourns for them.  What happened to them 21 minutes into their flight, 60 kilometers North Northeast from the Kuantan Air Base will not be known until the Board that has been set up to investigate this incident comes out with its final report.

Details are sketchy.  The pair took off at 11.09am and communications was lost at 11.30am.  They were said to be performing a Functional Check Flight, which requires a rather complex form of flight manouvers depending on the function that needs to be tested.  For example, an aircraft that has recently had an engine change will need a specific profile for that Functional Check Flight.

If it was a Functional Check Flight, the crew would have had a checklist that they needed to follow.  They would record their findings according to each of the item, in sequential order, given in the checklist for them to perform before signing off upon completion of the Functional Check Flight.

Something must have happened in the midst of the flight that only the Board would be able to deduce after gathering all the facts.

Officers and men (and women) of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, like in the other services, are paid to die if necessary.  When they step into the aircraft, no matter how well they are maintained, there is that nagging little part in their mind that knows that there is a chance that they might not come back alive.  Just as we drive to work every day.  When we leave home, how sure are we that we will get to see our family again?  But the pilots knew what was expected of them when they applied to join His Majesty’s Armed Forces.  We, as Malaysians, know that these two would die for anything as long as others may live. My only grouse is, every time something like this happens, instant “experts” flood the Internet with baseless accusations and theories.

THEORY NO.1 – LIKE MH370 THE RMAF RADAR PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING AGAIN, THAT IS WHY THE AIRCRAFT IS STILL MISSING

For those who still think that radar covers everything that is above the surface of the Earth, please have someone swing a baseball bat at your head – repeatedly.  Radar only covers some 15 percent of the surface of the Earth.  The Air Defence people did not sleep that night when the MH370 went missing.  They saw where it went until the aircraft went out of radar coverage.  You can read more about it here. The details of the flight may have changed a bit as we have learnt much more about what happened at night, but the RMAF was spot on with its procedures.

In the case of the missing BAe Hawk 108 aircraft, you must first know how radar works.  The radar transmits a radio beam which bounces off a flying object, and the beam that is bounced back is received by the radar’s receiver.  This is then translated as an image on the radar screen for the operator to see.

I explained a bit more early this month on how the RMAF Air Defence radar works.  Please read about it here.

The Hawk went down.  Which means it no longer reflected any beam for the radar receiver to receive.  How can there be any image showing on the screen?  So based on the last seen position, a search-and-rescue team was dispatched by helicopter to the last known location of the missing Hawk.  They found the bodies of the pilot but not the aircraft.  This I shall answer in…

THEORY NO.2 – THE HAWK IS MISSING BECAUSE THE RMAF DOES NOT KNOW WHERE IT IS

This is the obvious, actually.  If the RMAF know where the aircraft is, this theory of your would be academic.  But no.  If you expect to find a wreckage that is almost intact, think again.

In 1996, ValuJet Flight 592 fell out of the sky after taking off from Miami and disappeared in the Everglades.  The DC-9 aircraft with 110 on board was shredded into pieces by the impact.  It took months before they could retrieve as many pieces of the wreckage that could be found.

In 1993, an RMAF PC-7 crashed into a paddy field in Perlis.  The PC-7 is a much slower aircraft compared to the Hawk.  When I arrived at the scene, it too was shredded into pieces.  Nothing that resembled an aircraft could be seen.  We found the engine a couple of days later buried 12 meters deep in the soft paddy field.

The ground where the Hawk is said to have gone missing is a secondary jungle that is swampy in nature.  The wreckage could be in there somewhere. All we need to find is the impact point.  This may also be related to Theory No.4.  But that is for later.

THEORY NO.3 – THE HAWK IS AN OLD JUNK

How old is old for an aircraft?

I shall not compare military aircraft to civilian airliners.  I shall not even compare the Hawk to the C-130H that we have been operating since 1976.  They conduct different missions and face different kind of airframe stresses.  However, be mindful that the Royal New Zealand Air Force operates C-130s that are more than 50 years old.  Older than I am, in fact.

I will then compare the Hawk to another aircraft that probably faces even greater airframe stresses – the F-16A.  The United States Air Force retired its F-16s that entered service in 1979 only five years ago.  Therefore they were in service for 33 years!  The Hawk has been in service in the RMAF for 22 years now.  The USAF has over 5,000 aircraft and the average age of 25 years!  The Republic of Singapore Air Force only retired its A-4SU after 31 years in service.  In fact, our F-5Es entered service in 1975 and was only retired in 2015 the same year the RSAF retired its F-5Ss after 36 years!  Was it old?  Ask a Tiger-driver how superb the F-5 was as it was retired.  Only the avionics could be considered old.

THEORY NO.4 – WHY DIDN’T THEIR CHUTES OPEN? DON’T THEY HAVE EJECTION SEATS?

The bodies were found 20 meters from each other.  An eyewitness said that she saw both men with their chute deployed.  I don’t know how credible this eyewitness is.  I hope that she is not as credible as the makcik who said she saw the MH370 somewhere in the North Andaman Sea from 40,000 feet.

Truth be told, I am sure that the top brass are as equally perplexed as I am.  That is why they have convened a Board to investigate this.

Could they have ejected?  Perhaps.  I can only think of them being too low and were in a full dive when they did so.  Back i the 1980s, an Aermacchi MB-339A that was performing aerobatics went into a dive.  The air crew ejected but they were too low and the orientation of the aircraft was not one in which they could have ejected safely.  At least one of the air crew wen through the wall of a house.

Being in full dive would also explain the missing aircraft as it could be in shreds with a large portion of it down in the swampy ground.  I can only speculate here and I hate to speculate.

So, let us just let the RMAF conduct their investigation and we get on with our daily lives, can we?  And in the meantime, let us offer our heroes some prayers, and pray that the family they have left behind be given the strength to face the dark days ahead until light comes shining back into their life.

And stop hiding behind user names and keyboards while hitting out at the RMAF over this incident.  Cowards will die many times while the brave die but once.

Maafkan saya sekiranya artikel saya kali ini agak berbunga.  Ini adalah kerana kita berada di dalam bulan Jun, dan ada tiga peristiwa yang pernah dan telah berlaku dalam bulan Jun.

Peristiwa yang pertama ialah peperangan di Kepulauan Falklands 35 tahun yang lalu dalam bulan Jun yang telah memperlihatkan pertempuran-pertempuran sengit di antara Angkatan Tentera Argentina dengan Angkatan Tentera British.

Peristiwa kedua ialah pertemuan saya dengan seorang bekas anggota lain-lain pangkat Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia yang kini bertugas di salah sebuah stesen televisyen utama di Malaysia.  Saya teringatkan kata-kata beliau semasa kami sama-sama belayar di atas salah sebuah kapal milik Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia, iaitu, “Ramai sekarang lebih gemar berpakaian seperti tentera, berlagak seperti tentera, tetapi lalui latihan tentera untuk sehari pun tidak pernah.”

Peristiwa ketiga ialah peristiwa pelupusan sebuah pesawat Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuri yang telah menjadi buah mulut ramai sehingga ada yang sanggup merosakkan imej Angkatan Tentera Malaysia dan Kementerian Pertahanan.

Percaya atau tidak, ketiga-tiga peristiwa yang saya sebutkan di atas ada hubungkaitnya.  Kita mulakan dengan cerita hangat, iaitu, pelupusan sebuah pesawat Nuri yang MUNGKIN telah banyak berjasa.  Saya menggunakan dan menggariskan perkataan MUNGKIN itu kerana tidak ada sesiapapun yang boleh, dengan fakta, membuktikan bahawa pesawat tersebut setaraf dengan pesawat TUDM yang pertama, “Lang Rajawali (FM-1001)” ataupun kapal friget pertama yang dibina khusus untuk TLDM iaitu KD Rahmat.

Ada yang berinteraksi dengan saya melalui laman Facebook menyatakan bahawa pesawat Nuri tersebut pernah memainkan peranan membawa keluar para anggota tentera yang tercedera semasa tragedi Gubir pada tahun 1976.  MUNGKIN. Tetapi tidak mungkin ianya satu-satu helikopter yang telah membuat tugas tersebut pada ketika itu.  Bagaimana pula dengan trak tiga tan atau ambulan yang membawa anggota-anggota tersebut dari pesawat Nuri tersebut ke hospital?  Ada yang nak dipamerkan di muzium juga?

Namun, ada pihak yang tidak berpuas hati dan terus menjadikan isu ini tular di media sosial hingga terpaksa pihak Kementerian Pertahanan masuk campur.

Kenyataan Kementerian Pertahanan berhubung isu pelupusan sebuah pesawat Nuri

Mari kita lihat sebentar proses pelupusan harta kerajaan.

OBJEKTIF PELUPUSAN

Pelupusan sesuatu aset kerajaan adalah untuk memastikan kerajaan tidak menyimpan aset yang tidak diperlukan lagi atau yang tidak boleh digunakan lagi.  Ini adalah untuk menjimatkan ruang simpanan aset tersebut dan bleh menjanakan sedikit kewangan untuk kerajaan.

Dalam isu ini, ada yang mempertikaikan harga pelupusan pesawat tersebut yang dikatakan jauh lebih murah dari harga pasaran.  Untuk pengetahuan umum, kerajaan bukanlah sebuah badan untuk membuat keuntungan seperti badan swasta.  Sebab itu pelupusan pesawat Nuri tersebut tidak mengikut harga pasaran.  Begitu juga dengan tanah kerajaan. Penilaian tanah kerajaan tidak sama dengan penilaian tanah milik individu ataupun swasta.

Sebab itu juga faedah pinjaman perumahan bagi kakitangan kerajaan adalah pada kadar empat peratus.  Adakah anda bersetuju sekiranya kerajaan memberi pinjaman kepada kakitangannya mengikut Base Lending Rate yang dikenakan oleh sektor perbankan?

Maka, jangan samakan proses pelupusan kerajaan dengan proses pelupusan swasta.

JUSTIFIKASI PELUPUSAN

Ada beberapa kategori yang diberikan kepada aset-aset yang hendak dilupuskan.  Saya masih ingat satu ketika dahulu semasa Lembaga Audit Pelupusan datang ke pangkalan di mana saya bertugas, di antara barangan yang hendak dilupuskan adalah sejumlah rucksack (backpack) yang usang.  Bukannya rosak sangat pun, tetapi telah dikategorikan sebagai usang.  Beg-beg ini dipotong atau dikoyakkan di hadapan para juruaudit yang hadir.  Memang sayang. Tetapi ianya telah usang.

Dalam isu pelupusan pesawat Nuri di atas, pesawat tersebut telah membuat pendaratan cemas di Pulau Perak pada penghujung tahun 2014 mengakibatkan kerosakan teruk kepada rangka pesawat tersebutyang tidak ekonomi untuk dibaiki.  Saya yakin, setelah dibawa pulang ke pangkalan asal pesawat tersebut, ianya telah “digantung” dan dijadikan “pokok Krismas” di mana komponen-komponen yang boleh digunapakai sebagai alatganti lain-lain pesawat Nuri diambil dari pesawat tersebut.  Sebab itulah buruk betul rupa pesawat tersebut.

Setelah habis komponen-komponen penting diambil dari rangka pesawat tersebut, satu tender dikeluarkan untuk melupuskan rangka pesawat tersebut.

Satu permohonan dibuat oleh pihak Unit Pengurusan Aset Kementerian Pertahanan, kepada Perbendaharaan Malaysia untuk melupuskan pesawat tersebut yang mana disertakan juga laporan kemalangan pesawat tersebut serta gambar-gambar.  Kemudian satu Lembaga Pemeriksa Pelupusan akan ditubuhkan yang mana keanggotaannya juga melibatkan sekurang-kurangnya dua orang ahli yang tiada sangkut paut dengan aset yang hendak dilupuskan.  Setelah semua proses dokumentasi selesai, barulah tender pelupusan dikeluarkan.

KENAPA TIDAK DIBERIKAN KEPADA MUZIUM?

Aset yang dilupuskan boleh diberikan kepada mana-mana pihak yang membuat permohonan.  Tetapi ianya mesti memenuhi dua syarat:

  1. Ianya masih boleh digunakan lagi dalam bentuk dan fungsi asal tetapi tidak diperlukan lagi oleh agensi Kerajaan; atau
  2. Ianya tidak ekonomi diperbaiki tetapi boleh diguna sebagai bahan latihan dan pameran.  Sebagai contoh: KD Rahmat yang masih dalam keadaan sempurna.

Persoalannya, adakah pesawat Nuri tersebut masih sempurna rupanya dan boleh dibuat bahan pameran?  Anda lihat sendiri rupanya.

BAGAIMANA KISAH PESAWAT NURI INI BERHUBUNG KAIT DENGAN DUA LAGI KISAH DI ATAS?

HMS Broadsword (kiri) dan HMS Hermes (kanan) – gambar Wikipedia

Gambar di atas menunjukkan dua buah bekas kapal diraja Britain iaitu sebuah friget bernama HMS Broadsword dan kapal pengangkut pesawat HMS Hermes.  Kedua-dua buah kapal tersebut telah ternyata banyak berjasa kepada pihak British semasa Peperangan Falklands pada bulan April hingga Jun 1982.  Kapal-kapal tersebut adalah di antara sebab tentera Argentina mengalami kekalahan dan terpaksa menyerahkan Kepulauan Falklands balik kepada British.

Seelok-eloknya kapal-kapal tersebut dijadikan bahan pameran di muzium, atau di Sungai Thames di mana kapal era Perang Dunia Kedua HMS Belfast berada.  Namun apakah nasib kedua-dua buah kapal tersebut?

HMS Broadsword telah dilucut tauliah dan dijual kepada Tentera Laut Brazil pada tahun 1995.  HMS Hermes pula dilucut tauliah pada tahun 1984 dan kemudiannya dijual kepada Tentera Laut India pada tahun 1986.  Malah, tidak ada satu pun di antara lebih 200 kapal yang menyertai armada Britain untuk menawan kembali Kepulauan Falklands dijadikan bahan pameran di muzium.  Sebuah lagi kapal pemusnah yang berjasa, HMS Glasgow, telah dilucut tauliah pada tahun 2005, dan kemudian dilupuskan pada tahun 2009.

Malah, TLDM juga mempunya sebuah kapal yang menjadi kapal pertama dibina untuk TLDM iaitu KD Mutiara (jangan dikelirukan dengan KD Mutiara yang masih berkhidmat sekarang).  Kapal KD Mutiara tersebut pernah membawa delegasi Malaya berunding dengan Borneo Utara, Brunei dan Sarawak mengenai penubuhan Persekutuan Malaysia.  Delegasi Malaya ketika itu termasuk Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Haji Abdul Razak, dan Tun Ghazali Shafie.  Ianya juga merupakan kapal TLDM pertama yang diberi gelaran “Kapal DiRaja.”

Itu memang aset yang amat bersejarah, malah memainkan peranan besar dalam penubuhan Malaysia.  Kenapa tidak disimpan dan dijadikan bahan pameran muzium?

Kapal KD Mutiara ditauliahkan ke dalam perkhidmatan Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaya pada tahun 1961

Teringat kembali kata-kata petugas stesen televisyen yang merupakan bekas anggota TUDM, “Ramai sekarang lebih gemar berpakaian seperti tentera, berlagak seperti tentera, tetapi lalui latihan tentera untuk sehari pun tidak pernah.”

Begitulah hakikatnya sekarang. Yang tidak pernah mengalami dunia ketenteraan yang begitu galak berkata-kata mengenai hal-ehwal ketenteraan sehingga mengajak rakyat berasa tidak puas hati dengan Angkatan Tentera Malaysia sedangkan tidak memahami proses pelupusan aset.  Pesawat Nuri masih banyak yang berkhidmat dalam perkhidmatan Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia dan Tentera Darat Malaysia.  Tunggu sahajalah satu hari nanti apabila kesemuanya tidak lagi berkhidmat untuk ATM. Banyak nanti bahan pameran. Cuma dikhuatirkan muzium yang tidak mencukupi

Tentera kuat berpegang kepada tradisi. Tentera juga tidak lupa kepada sejarah. Tetapi tentera tidak bersifat sentimental dan berhati tisu.  Itu sifat tentera papan kekunci sahaja.

An RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM multirole combat aircraft performs a tight turn on a hot afternoon

Many are awed by the performances put by the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s stars at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace 2017 exhibition – the Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker and the Boeing F/A-18D Hornet.

Many can imagine the manoeuvres these mighty aircrafts could do in combat, but not many know who or what makes them tick.

They are the Air Defence Controllers, the guardians of Malaysian airspace.

An air defence radar basks in the sunset

Majority of Malaysians are not aware of their existence until the MH370 disappeared.  Suddenly, this silent service came under an intense spotlight, especially when shone by those who do not have an iota of idea of how airspace and air defence in Malaysia work.

When Malaya gained independence in 1957, the airspace of the nation was only monitored by two long-range radars located at Western Hill in Pulau Pinang and Bukit Gombak in Singapore through the Anglo-Malayan Defence Arrangement which ended in the late 1960s.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) set up three air defence centres (ADCs) namely the No.1  ADC at the Butterworth airbase, No.2 ADC at Bukit Jugra, and No.3 ADC at the Kuantan airbase.  These three ADCs shouldered the responsibility of monitoring our airspace.

The late Tun Haji Abdul Razak visiting the No.1 ADC accompanied by the Chief of RMAF, Air Vice Marshall Dato’Sulaiman bin Sujak (later Tan Sri)

The RMAF has since expanded its air defence by creating five squadrons to also cover Sabah and Sarawak, and one Ground-Based Air Defence Squadron.

So how is it that it is the Air Defence Controllers who make the fighters tick?

There are two types of radar in use by the RMAF, Primary and Secondary.  While the radar rotates 360-degrees, radio waves are transmitted and will bounce off targets as an echo and is received by the radar system’s receiver unit.

The Primary radar is the one that transmits the energy waves that bounces off targets while the Secondary radar interrogates the signal from the target’s transponder.  This is then processed and the data is fed into the Command and Control system which is displayed on a screen and the target is then tracked by a Surveillance Officer who tracks and labels the target.

An Identification Officer then conducts identification procedures by correlating both radar and track data with information received from other agencies such as the Department of Civil Aviation.  If the target does not correspond with a non-hostile or non-civilian target, then the unidentified target will be reported to the Officer-in-Charge.

An RMAF radar Command and Reporting Centre (CRC)

The Officer-in-Charge then conducts a threat assessment and evaluation of the unidentified target.  Simultaeneously, the recognised air situation data is also displayed in the National Air Defence Centre to enable the Higher Authority to monitor the situation and assist effective decision making.

A visual identification of the unidentified target may be needed, or if the target poses a threat, the Officer-in-Charge then scrambles fighters to intercept the target.  If threat exists, the RMAF’s surface-to-air defence systems would be put on the highest alert to anticipate a hostile act by the said target.

A fighter is scrambled to intercept the target

The pilot intercepting the target will then make a visual identification of the target and report back to the Fighter Controller.  Instructions and orders from the Higher Authority are also relayed back to the intercepting pilot who will then execute either a Force Down procedure or chase the target out of our airspace while comunicating with the target either through the radio or signals.

Only if the instructions are not obeyed will the pilot escalate the rules of engagement.  If the instructions are obeyed and a force down is required, the intercepting pilot will escort the target to the nearest airfield or airport where the target will be investigated.

The elaborate and complex systems that the RMAF Air Defence Centres employ are among the best, and therefore need the continuous support and understanding of not only the higher management of the RMAF, but also of the Government to ensure that hardware, software and its operators remain dynamic, well-maintained and trained.

And although they are mostly trained locally by the RMAF, some do get their training elsewhere in the world. For example the RMAF has had officers do their Basic Air Defence Operator Course in Australia.  Some get trained as Air Weapons Controller in the United States of America. Some attend their Master Controller Course in England, Advanced Defence Weapons Controller in Bangladesh to name a few.

RMAF Air Defence Officers attending their Basic Air Defence Operators Course in Australia during the earlier days of the RMAF

And when you spend your time with your family, friends, or sleep at night, and while the interceptor pilots are on standby inside their crew room, remember this – you only get to go about living a happy life and going about with your personal business because of these glamourless silent sentinels who watch our airspace round the clock.

  • In: Defence
  • Comments Off on Defence: RMAF – Zooming At 59

General Dato’ Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF, Chief of Air Force speaking to reporters at the ‘Media with RMAF Day’ recently. To his right is Lieutenant-General Dato’ Sri Haji Abdul Mutalib bin Dato’ Haji Ab Wahab RMAF, Commander of RMAF Operations Command

We shall prioritise our needs and ensure that the sovereignty of this beloved nation is NOT compromised in any way despite the budget constraints.

The above was said by the Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), General Dato’ Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF when asked to comment about the effects of the budget constraints on RMAF operations.

True to this year’s 59th anniversary theme which is ‘Kuasa Udara Tonggak Kedaulatan Negara’ (Air Power Pillar of National Sovereignty) the RMAF’s assets will always be ready in any situation and time to deal with any eventuality.

The absence of any stop-gap measure since the RMAF took the MiG-29Ns offline, coupled with the lack of funds for the acquisition of new MRCAs have been worrying.  Although the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has gotten its boost in assets with the purchase of six Littoral Mission Ships, the lessons of Force Z that ended some 47 nautical miles northeast of Tioman island must never be forgotten.

Force Z comprised of the brand-new battleship HMS Prince of Wales, the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, and destroyers HMS ElectraHMS ExpressHMS Tenedos and HMAS Vampire. On 10 December 1941, Force Z was decimated by Japanese aircraft from Saigon with only the destroyers making it back to Singapore.

Lack of air cover and underestimation of the Japanese force were key reasons to its decimation.

The RMAF has been wanting for a new MRCA and the two strongest contenders are the Dassault Rafale and the Saab Gripen.  There is a need to maintain the number of airframes to meet the doctrine.  However, it does not seem as if the RMAF would be getting any in the near future.

This has prompted the RMAF leadership under General Affendi to bring the MiG-29N back online.  “We will make sure that we have sufficient airframes to conduct the priority missions and not compromise our sovereignty,” added General Affendi.

A senior RMAF MiG-29N jock confided that it is very necessary to have the MiG-29N back online no matter the short-term cost of operating them.

We’ll see probably six to ten of them flying missions soon,” he said.

Maybe you’ll see the return of the Smokey Bandits at the next LIMA!” quipped another, referring to the RMAF’s MiG-29N aerobatic team that used to wow the crowd at previous Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibitions.

The MiG-29Ns will come back online to ensure that the sovereignty is not compromised

Most of the fighter squadrons are based in the Peninsular with only the No.6 Squadron based in Labuan operating the Hawks 208s.  The Hawks have been succesful in intercepting foreign military aircraft in the eastern South China Sea.

There has not been that many incursions by the Chinese.  It’s the countries that are observing the Chinese that have made the most incursions,” confided another senior officer. “The Hawks are doing a good job at intercepting and directing them out of our airspace.”

Even so, the Hawks are limited in terms of endurance, firepower and range to perform such task.  The squadron not only has to cover the development in the Spratlys but also the east of Sabah.

You mean for ESSCOM?” I asked another senior officer.

Not just there. To watch over the Ambalat area too,” he replied. “We could do with at least two G550 AEW equivalent to cover our waters and borders.”

Therefore, it makes real sense to have the MiG-29Ns back online, perhaps based in Labuan, while some Hawk 208s could go on rotational deployment at Sandakan for interdiction missions.

The RMAF is also seeking to develop its capabilities especially in maritime patrol and the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” General Affendi explained. “We need to look for other longer-endurance aircraft and systems that is better than the Beechcraft that we have.”

The RMAF fleet of the Beechcraft 200T MPA have been reduced to just three aircraft after a crash on the 21 December 2016 killed the aircraft commander while two other aircrew survived with injuries.  The Beechcrafts have been in service for almost two decades.

Asked if the recent offer by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces (JMSDF) of its almost three-decades old P-3C Orions, General Affendi said that a team will be sent to evaluate the aircraft offered.

It is not just about operating the aircraft but also the cost of upgrading if needed and maintenance as they are not new aircraft,” he replied. “We do need better MPA capabilities which is why we will scrutinise the JMSDF MPAs and compare them to purchasing and operating newer systems.”

The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces has offered Malaysia its decommissioned P-3C Orion MPAs (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

General Affendi thanked the government for its support and understands the constraints faced by the government as a result of a sluggish global economy.  Nevertheless, he said that the RMAF would work within its means to ensure that all systems needed to monitor and intercept incursions as well as to carry out other missions such as Humanitarian And Disaster Relief (HADR) required from time to time.

The Airbus A400M is a good buy. We can carry more load than the C-130Hs ever could and go places the (Boeing) C-17 (Globemaster III) cannot,” said General Affendi of the RMAF’s latest acquisitions. “Imagine how many stops the C-130H needed before getting to the Middle East. The A400M can fly straight to Dubai from here.”

The RMAF says its current strength of four A400M is sufficient to carry out foreseen missions

The RMAF had brought 80 media practitioners from all over the country to witness the capabilities of the force.  Performing Close Air Support displays were F/A-18D Hornets and Hawk 208s while a EC-725 Caracal helo inserted a PASKAU GFAC team to perform GLTD mission for the above aircraft before being extracted via SPIE-Rig method.

No matter the situation, the RMAF will fulfill its motto “Sentiasa Di Angkasaraya” and with a good leadership under the Chief, General Dato Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF, the RMAF will continue to be rejuvenated at 59.

Selamat menyambut Hari Ulangtahun Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia ke-59.

An F/A-18D Hornet makes an aggressive turn


An Eurocopter EC-725 Caracal positions itself to extract the PASKAU GFAC team


Three Hawk 208s orbit the airfield prior to landing


A PASKAU GFAC team is extracted using the SPIE-Rig method

“Good iron doesn’t make nails, good men don’t make soldiers.”

That is the old Chinese adage which is still probably true especially for the Malaysian Chinese today.  It is the same adage that the late Lee Kuan Yew lamented about in one of his memoirs. The participation of the Chinese community in the Malaysian Armed Forces is still poor despite numerous recruitment drives done to get them to join.

In 2010, out of an approximate 100,000 men and women of the Malaysian Armed Forces, only 0.2 percent of Chinese joined the Malaysian Army, 0.3 percent joined the Royal Malaysian Navy, while 0.4 percent joined the Royal Malaysian Air Force. For the Indians, the numbers are 0.7 percent, 1.1 percent and 1.7 percent for the respective branch of the Malaysian Armed Forces.

It may be on the extreme end to say that the Chinese probably feel that it is far more important to make money than to play a role in defending the country, but the notion that I get is that they probably feel you cannot prosper working for the government.

It could also be due to the unwillingness of the youth nowadays to undergo hard training no matter how good the pay is. But that does not answer why the number of Malays are more in the Malaysian Armed Forces.

As a result, the Malaysian Armed Forces is overwhelmingly Malay.  Hence, in any leadership line up you would see more Malays becoming senior and star officers compared to the non-Malays.

This lopsided scene is then misinterpreted as the non-Malays do not stand a chance to rise and make the ranks – a perception that is played by those irresponsible to instill an anti-establishment feeling among the non-Malays.

Let us take the RMAF, for example, where the organisation has four non-Malay star officers (Brigadier-Generals and above) out of a total of 47.  That represents 8.5 percent of the total number of star officers compared to the 2.1 percent of total non-Malay participation in the RMAF, which is looking at increasing the number of non-Malays to a minimum of 20 percent of the total strength.

It is also important to note that among the operational officers, two non-Malay lady officers stand out the most.  They are Major Patricia Yapp Shau Yin RMAF and Major Teoh Siow Ling RMAF.

Major Patricia Yapp Shau Yin RMAF attributes her success to discipline, hardwork and determination, not race nor gender.

Major Patricia Yapp who hails from Sandakan, Sabah is an examplary Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) who is the world’s first female pilot to fly the Russian-made Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29N.

When asked if there is discrimination in the RMAF towards women or the non-Malays, she said the men and women all do the same field training, physical training and flying training. Women don’t get special treatment and are all evaluated by the same standard and are given the same opportunities. The key is to never give up trying after each failure because it has taken her a lot to be where she is now. It is all about discipline, courage, teamwork and commitment.

She is saddened though that during one of the recruitment drives in her home state of Sabah, she waited for half a day for Sabahans to turn up but none did during the second half of the day.

Major Teoh Siow Ling RMAF flies the Lockheed C130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft

Major Teoh Siow Ling RMAF also attributes her success to discipline, determination and hardwork.  The Melaka-girl is aware that some non-Malays say that she would fare better elsewhere, for example, in the Republic of Singapore Armed Forces.

It is not true that there is discrimination against the non-Malays in the RMAF,” she said. “There are those who are my seniors who are Malays who still hold the rank of Captain. Race has nothing to do with it.

It is only because the number of non-Malays are small that you do not get to see a huge number go up,” she added. “If you don’t work hard, you will not go up and it doesn’t matter what race you are. If you do not shine, no one will see you and you will remain where you are.

The RMAF has had many pilots flying the fixed and rotary winged aircraft in its inventory since its establishment.  Not once has the RMAF barred any non-Malay to be involved in handling any sensitive equipment or information.  The Army has, if my memory serves me right, produced 29 non-Malay star officers, the RMN 22 while the RMAF 19.

Compare this to our Southern neighbour.  The Malays have only been accepted into the Armour Formation two years ago.  In fact, the Singapore Armed Forces used to have or still has a discriminatory policy towards the Malays, not allowing them to hold sensitive key positions thus depriving them of promising careers in the SAF.

Such discrimination does not exist in the Malaysian Armed Forces, which have produced 70 non-Malay Generals and Admirals.  All is especially fair in the RMAF.

Therefore, there is no reason for the non-Malays to shy away from joining the Malaysian Armed Forces.  There is also no reason for the people of Sabah and Sarawak to feel as if they would not be able to compete against those from the Peninsular.  After all, Major Patricia is from Sabah.

And the current Chief of the RMAF is from Kuching, Sarawak.

  • In: Defence
  • Comments Off on Defence: Malaysian Army’s Firepower Training 2017

AV8 Gempita firing at targets assigned

The Malaysian Army conducted its 2017 edition of the Firepower Training at the Syed Sirajuddin Camp in Gemas with the aim to give exposure to 120 local and 45 foreign participants of the Malaysian Command and Staff Course on the Army’s manouverability and firepower, as well as the importance of ground and air-to-ground fire support planning.

The PT91M Pendekar Main Battle Tank firing its 125mm gun

A total of 1,690 personnel from the Army and the Royal Malaysian Air Force were involved in making this training a success.  Assets involved include:

  • 6 X 105mm PH L5 Pack Howitzer;
  • 18 X 155mm G5 Mk III self-propelled Howitzer;
  • 4 X ASTROS II multiple launch rocket system;
  • 6 X PT-91M Pendekar Main Battle Tanks;
  • 7 X ACV300 Adnan;
  • 4 X AV8 Gempita;
  • 2 X Agusta A109 LOH;
  • 2 X Sikorsky S61A4 Nuri helicopters;
  • 2 X F/A18D Hornets; and,
  • 2 X BAe Hawk 208s.

In his speech, Major-General Dato’ Hasagaya Abdullah, General-Officer Commanding 3rd Malaysian Combined Arms Division welcomed guests and course participants to the firepower training.  He added that commanders who consider employment of weapon systems should look at the doctrine and tactical concepts to ensure sufficient strength and correct calibre of systems are employed.

Major General Dato’ Hasagaya Abdullah, GOC 3rd Combined Arms Division

Among guests who attended the firepower training were the Chief of Defence Forces Yang Mulia General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi bin Raja Mohamed Noor, the Chief of Army General Dato’ Sri Zulkiple bin Hj Kassim, Deputy Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Dato’ Seri Panglima Ahmad Hasbullah bin Hj Mohd Nawawi, and Deputy Chief of Australian Army Major-General Richard Maxwell “Rick” Burr.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force was represented by Commander of 1st Air Region, Major General Dato’ Mohd Faudzi bin Ahmad RMAF.

Major General Rick Burr, Deputy Australian Army Chief greets Malaysian generals

Major-General Burr was accompanied by Defence Adviser at the Australian High Commission in Malaysia Group Captain Wendy Horder RAAF.

Later, General Dato’ Sri Zulkiple said that he was very satisfied with the training conducted and results of the training will be scrutinised to address any shortcomings.  He added that despite budget constraints, he is thankful that the Government has provided sufficient funds for the upkeep and operating of available assets as well as for human capital development.

Two Sikorsky S-61A4 Nuris and a Agusta A109 LOH from the Malaysian Army Aviation, fly in formation above the Syed Sirajuddin Camp


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