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ROYAL MALAYSIAN AIR FORCE
Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi stated on
23 February that the government has decided to keep the 14 MiG-29s
operational for the next five years. Last year, the minister had announced
that the MiGs would undergo a phased withdrawal with the final six aircraft
being decommissioned at the end of 2010 – designed to save an annual
operating cost of USD76.3 million. He said that the decision to retain
the MiGs was based on the fact that the country’s economic slowdown
prevented any replacement capability through the purchase of new multi-
role combat aircraft. He stated that local company, Aerospace Technology
System Corporation (which is currently responsible for maintaining and
supporting the RMAF’s MiG-29s) has been asked to refurbish the aircraft
through equipment upgrades at the lowest possible cost. RMAF Chief
General Datuk Seri Rodzali Daud has been quoted as saying only ten MiG-
29s would be kept in service as others have already been decommissioned.
The Defence Minister’s statement that funding prevented the purchase of
new MRCA indicates that Malaysia expects that it will only be able to buy
new fighters around 2014-2015.
naval construction orders. The RMN is keen also on a second order as the
next batch of ships will be designed to be larger and more heavily armed
than the first and will somewhat offset the cancellation of the batch two
frigates. However, the political and economic situation in Malaysia might
hinder such an order, but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak did
state at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition
held in 2009, that the Batch II NGPV along with the Cougar helicopter and
the army’s 8x8 AFV replacement were the three most important defence
programs that the government needed to carry. He added that the fact
Boustead had over 2,000 subcontractors dependent on it was further reason
for the government to continue the NGPV programme with a Batch II order.
Plans for the purchase of a multi-purpose support ship (which was put on
hold in 2008) have been revived with the loss of the KD Sri Inderapura to a fire in
October 2009. The loss of the ship has led to a significant gap in the RMN’s sea
transportation and logistic support capability, and the Malaysian government is
expected to announce its decision on the selection of a design this year.
RMN Chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar told the Malaysian media
on 11 February that a defect in the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman’s high
pressure air blowing system was detected on 17 January, which caused the
postponement of the submarine’s tropical waters trial. This followed the
finding of an earlier defect in the forward sea water cooling system on 17
December. The defects found led manufacturer DCNS to extend its warranty
on the submarine, which was due to expire on 25 January, by an extra five
months. The problems have now been fixed with the submarine successfully
completing diving operations on 18 February, with all remaining trials now
scheduled to be completed in May. After these, the RMN will class the KD
Tunku Abdul Rahman as achieving initial operational capability, and in
the same month a live firing of an SM39 Exocet anti-ship missile will be
carried out from the submarine. The purchase of the two Scorpene Class
submarines from DCNS and Navantia in 2002 remains controversial, due to
the circumstances in which the contract was brokered through an adviser to
current Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and some other murky issues.
Another issue that has come up over the submarines is an impasse over
the integrated service support (ISS) contract which will be provided by
Boustead DCNS Naval Corp (BDNC), a joint venture between Boustead
Heavy Industries Corp’s Defence Technologies and DCNS of France.
Currently BDNC personnel are already at the Sepanggar Naval base,
where the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman is based, carrying out maintenance
work on the submarine under the DCNS warranty contract. However, the
ISS contract has yet to be signed due to a disagreement on the final costs.
Although initially a cost of MYR600 million (USD175.4million) had been
agreed upon for the multi-year contract, BDNC was reported to have revised
the figure to a higher figure whilst the government in turn has asked it to
lower the amount – with neither side budging from their position.
Teething problems in regard to the RMN’s
Scorpene submarine KD Tunku Abdul Rahman
were revealed in February this year.
In a surprising turnaround, Malaysia has decided
to retain its MiG-29 fleet instead of phasing it out
by the end of the year.
KD Sri Inderapura - Seen here before her loss to a fire in October 2009, the RMN is
seeking a replacement for her.
KD Tunku Abdul Rahman - A controversial purchase, the submarine’s teething
problems have added fuel to critics of the purchase
RMN Auxiliary Bunga Mas Lima - The converted container ship now carries out the
RMN’s escort missions in the Gulf of Aden
DRA MARCH KAT V2.indd 41
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