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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Scorpene - Again and Again and Again - Like a Broken Record Player

Persistency is good. But when you're persistent on things that had been proven wrong, that makes you an idiot.

And that is what I'm calling opposition party supporters who keep on highlighting the mantra that our submarines can't dive.

RMN Scorpene submarines

Since the inception of our submarine units using French - Spanish consortium of DCNS - Navantia, the opposition keeps on harping that the purchase was useless and waste of money, especially because the submarines do not dive and it is second hand.

And this issue came up again because our Minister of Defence, DS Hishammuddin Hussein had announced that we will be offering the Saudis expertise in setting up their own submarine warfare unit.

Unfortunately, his statement on this issue were twisted and derided by our Opposition party supporters despite the many times proven otherwise.

When presented of the fact that the submarine at the Submarine Museum in Tanjung Klebang, Melaka is a different submarine, they still do not believe that our submarines can dive and is combat capable as they believe these facts presented to them are from a Government which they believe is capable to create lies to stay in power. 

Worst still, they seem capable to find a cousin of a friend of a neighbour who works in the Navy which say the boats can't dive.

So, how about foreign sources? Would they believe that? Therefore, allow me to present another set of facts which I had used as corroborating evidence that our submarines are highly capable subsurface combat wing.

Indonesian Navy Procured 11 AS565 MBe ASW Helicopters in 2014
In 2014, I recalled reading TNI - AL (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut) had decided to procure 11 units of AS565 ASW helicopters to expand their anti-submarine warfare capabilities. ASW is short for anti-submarine warfare.

Regionally, Indonesia's neighbours with submarine forces are Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, China and Australia.

Vietnamese Navy just took delivery of their Kilo class submarines, numbering 6 units. But they do not look at Vietnam as a threat as they do not have overlapping claims over Spratlys islands.

Taiwanese Zwaardvis class submarines are very old, at least 50 years and are no longer credible threat due to outdated designs and probably known underwater signatures. (Note: the rumours that our submarines are second hand are likely to have roots with 2 ex-Dutch Navy Zwaardvis submarines parked at Lumut for a few years before being scrapped).

While Singapore does have a submarine fleet, Singapore's submarine fleet are rather old and had they been a threat, would have resulted a purchase or at least a planned purchase for the last 20 years.
RAN Collin Class submarine

Australian Navy has Collins class submarines but they had been plagued by multiple operational issues. The fleet was very badly affected by operational issues that it was derided the worst submarine fleet in the world. Additionally, Indonesia does not see Australia as a main threat to Indonesia as Australian Navy has a wide dispersal due to having to protect a large continent.

People's Liberation Army - Navy on the other hand is a threat to Indonesia's Natuna Islands. Increased conflict with People's Liberation Army - Navy submarines would have possibly led to the expansion of the unit too. However back in 2014, China has yet to press down on their claims on the 9-dash line.
Our Malaysian Navy on the other hand pose a serious threat to Indonesia. We have multiple overlapping claims, from stretches in Straits of Melaka all the way to Ambalat in eastern Sabah. The most serious of these flash point is Ambalat, which is located very near to our submarine base.

Indonesians deemed Ambalat as part of their territory, and that had led to several naval confrontations which were cooled off by cooler heads in Wisma Putra and Jakarta. In one incident, it was claimed that an Indonesian Navy vessel and a RMN vessel were damaged when aggressive manoeuvres resulted in both vessels accidentally ramming into each other. This has since been denied by our Navy. 

Indonesian Navy is Interested to Procure Scorpene Submarines
On top of the ASW helicopters, Indonesian Navy had also announced their interest to procure an unknown number of either Scorpene submarines or Kilo class submarines.

Note that the submarine is also in service for Chilean Navy and Indian Navy.

While this is yet to be concrete, this means the Indonesian Navy must be sufficiently impressed with our Scorpene submarines to deem them as a threat and/or to procure the same vessels for their own use.

Repeated Joint Exercise with US, Australian and French Navies
Despite having only 2 submarines, RMN is frequently visited by foreign navies to conduct naval combat simulation exercises. While the result of these exercises are largely secret, suffice to say RMN submarine fleet had performed beyond expectations which resulted in multiple visits.

Lim Guan Eng's Submarine Ride Experience 
But the most important evidence that our submarines are highly capable came from this spectacles wearing man.

Hats off to him for willing to take a ride on our submarine back in 2011. But pity, his supporters must not have realised that he had dived 30m into the deep blue sea back then. Because the issue never stops until today.

Think About It
And if our navy does not have a capable submarine warfare unit, do you think we would dare to offer to Saudi to train with us? Considering if it backfire, it would affect our Muslims brethren's access to Haj? Not especially when Pakistani Navy, also from a Muslim nation has been operating submarines longer than us.

And maybe, just maybe, stop read from political blogs and look for publications like Janes, Asian Defence Journal, The Diplomats and many others.

That being said, I rest my case.

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