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Monday, April 3, 2017

MRCA Deal - Between Existential Threat and National Debt

Looks like someone had just canceled his one-way ticket out of Malaysia.

Isn't it ironic during the whole diplomatic crisis with North Korea, someone choose to keep quiet? For all these years he had been claiming that Malaysia doesn't need advanced defence system, here is a nation that quite rightly has the capability not only to attack us, but also even put the mighty US on a wary note.

The last time Kua wrote anything on defence as I recalled was somewhere 2 years ago where he claimed it would be better for Malaysia to procure advanced UCAV instead of MRCA, a technology which has yet to mature properly as UCAV communication system has yet to be fully encrypted.

And not too long before that, he wrote about our Navy lost 2 ships to "pirates" in one sentence and mentioned about loss due to fire the next. He can't seems to make up his mind. My rebuttal can be found here (English),

here (BM),

 and here (Mandarin as translated by a comrade).

His Latest Rant
As usual, his ranting does not have substance.

If he's talking about national debt, our defence budget currently is at about 1.5% of GDP, which is split between the armed forces and police. Note that this is far cry from 2.4% spent in 1988.

Our neighbour Singapore spends about 3.2% of their GDP on defence. That is why you get to see that their military is in tip top condition as it is even way above the recommended 2.0% to ensure they maintain the defensive edge.

Yet Singapore is a much smaller nation which technically shouldn't need much. But do you see their people complaining?

RMAF Needs
As mentioned in prior articles, RMAF needs at least 6 combat squadrons to properly defend Malaysia. 3 in Peninsular Malaysia and another 3 on Sabah and Sarawak.

Each squadron should have at least 18 units, both for maintenance down time and attrition, either due to crash or combat. That brings a total of 108 combat jets are required.

Current Strength
Today, we only have 8 FA18AD Hornets, 18 SU30MKM, between 20 mixture of BAe Hawk108 and Hawk208. Scratch the MiGs out. They do fly, but not much can be squeezed out of them. The Hornets technically can still operate until 2025. That's another 8 years. Which means the next replacement schedule should be in another 4 years.

RMAF Hornet - credit to Iwan Shafiee

Operationalizing Procurement
It takes about 4 years to identify, purchase, upgrade, train and operationalise new jets. It is not like any pilot can jump into a new jet and already be familiar with it.

Effect of Block Obsolescence  
That means, if we don't purchase now, by 2021, we will need to procure between 26 to 36 aircrafts at one go. That's the effect of block obsolescence. And for this MRCA programme, we have been identifying and identifying and identifying since at least 2009.

And if we do not procure any new planes by 2025, we will only have 18 units of SU30MKM to defend our airspace. And that number is only sufficient to defend KL airspace.

By 2027, our SU30MKM would have flown for at least 20 years. Further upgrades might see them fly to at least 2037, and if the government still dilly dally by then, we will no longer have any air cover by 2037. 

Multi-Layered Air Defence
Had Malaysia have a multi-layered air defence consisting of long range Surface to Air Missiles (like S400), to mid-range air defence all the way down to VSHORAD, I would not have been that worried. Our air space will still have reasonable air protection even with there's no jet fighters available to intercept incoming enemy forces. But we only have VSHORAD, or Very Short Range Air Defence.

S400 missile system - source BBC

Alternatives from Kua
On the same note, we do not see Kua offer alternatives to the purchase of Rafale. As I pointed out, we have a need to fill that gap.

True, welfare of the Rakyat is important. But what welfare is there left to be if there's no more Rakyat left, or even nation for the welfare to be given to?

I'd like to point out too that his contention, and comparison which is F35 Raptor does not exist. He had managed to confuse himself between F22 Raptor and F35 Lightning II.

F22 Raptor - source: Wikipedia 

F35 Lightning II - source:

I don't mind if Kua is a layman without much background in defence. But he has been portraying himself as a bona-fide defence activist since he published his book titled "Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia".

Existential Threat
Like it or not, defence expenditure leads to existential question. Without defence expenditure, would we see Malaysia in 20 years?

For some people, that is a moot question. As they would be leaving on the first signs of trouble.

But for many of us, this is our only home. Our only country. A country which independence was hard fought for by generations of fighters, leaders and negotiators. And we don't want their efforts to go waste. We owe it to our founding fathers. 

So, if another similar crisis to happen in the next 20 years, our troops will have no air cover, or our pilots would be dropping like flies.

Troops who are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters to someone else. And many of these are my comrades.

If you can live with that guilt, be my guest. Your choice, existential threat and national debt.

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