Malaysian Incite today came up with another piece of hogwash (what’s new) on a supposed defence deal between Malaysia and China.
“Up to 12 units of the AR3 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) will be offered to Malaysia in a purchase programme with a loan period of 50 years,” wrote Malaysian Incite quoting an unnamed source (very credible this) believed by many local defence observers and writers to be a person with the surname of ‘Lam.’
50 YEARS? This is just to rile up the stupid Opposition supporters who cannot distinguish the difference between the rain-unfriendly ASTRO DTU and the Army’s ASTROS II. In just 30 years the ASTROS system has undergone so many upgrades and a new system called the ASTROS 2020 is already in development phase. Do you mean Malaysia will be stuck with an obsolete system for half the system’s life and still has to pay for it?
Firstly, the Malaysian Army already has six batteries of the ASTROS II MLRS acquired in two batches in 2002 and 2007. The ASTROS II are battle-proven and was first deployed during the Gulf War by the Saudi Arabian forces. The obvious differences between the ASTROS II and the AR3 system that “China is offering” are the range of the rockets and the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) as opposed to the conventionally-targetted MLRS that the Malaysian Army employs.
Secondly, the timing of Malaysian Incite’s article on the MLRS coincides with Singapore’s National Day – and with Malaysian Incite being as bad as Malaysiakini (or is attempting to dethrone Malaysiakini as the bad boy portal), the best thing to do mid-week (which coincidetally happens to be Singapore’s National Day) is to create a sour point in the Malaysia-Singapore relations.
Thirdly, the MLRS is a offensive operations weapons system. No one buys an MLRS unless someone next door has it first. In Malaysia’s case, Thailand became the first MLRS operator on this end of Asia. So, we bought the ASTROS II. Two years after we acquired the second batch, Singapore bought the US M-142 HIMARS. Therefore, Singapore has no fear to add if Malaysia is given access to China’s AR3 as. if fired from Woodlands, the HIMARS would be able to hit Bangi and Kajang compared to the AR3 hitting Woodlands only if fired from Ayer Keroh.
Fourthly, a new MLRS is not something the Malaysian Army wants right now. It has other worries to address. It is adequately prepared to defend against land aggression and protect its infrastructure and fire units with its air defence systems if needed. As with Singapore, the asymmetrical threat is now the paramount concern, and instead of being concerned about fighting each other, Malaysia and Singapore are working closely (even with other countries) to combat asymmetrical threats.
Fifthly (yes, there is fifthly. It is just superfluous but more formal than fifth), being at the receiving end of a MLRS salvo is like being in a rain of steel and high explosives, saturation fire is the concept. You don’t need it to be super-duper accurate because when the rockets hit the ground, there is nowhere safe that you can hide. And what is this about the AR3 having a radar because airspace control issue has been a sore point between Malaysia and Singapore? The AR3 is not designed to do air defence. It is a land-offensive system! It shoots targets on the surface, not in the air!
Finally, read Malaysian Incite only if you believe that China has the ability to remotely-control the AR3 that Malaysia “will be getting” to fire rockets at Singapore if Malaysia refuses to do so. The Malaysian Incite is definitely THE portal for empty-skulled sorry-excuse-for-human-beings.
If I were the Malaysian Army, and in a decade I want to replace my ASTROS II, I would probably get the ASTROS 2020 with the tactical missiles with a 300 kilometre range, if I really want such a system. Else, I will look for a system with commonalities for easy operator transition.
And to add, Najib Razak does not go around making enemies with neighbours. We have had a lot of enemy-making for 22 years once upon a time.