Saturday, March 2, 2019

Heavy dose of defence news from Malaysia (Satria Perkasa), Singapore (Defence Budget, F35 announcement) on same day

Show of force: Malaysian Chief of Army General Ahmad Hasbullah Mohd Nawawi reviews troops who be involved in Eksesais Satria Perkasa at the Tentera Darat ke-86 anniversary parade yesterday. Photo: Berita Tentera Darat

The armed forces of neighbours Malaysia and Singapore made it a heavy news day yesterday (1 March 2019) with the federation officially launching its largest land warfare exercise, codenamed Satria Perkasa (Mighty Knight), while the island republic passed a record $15.5 billion (US$11.4 billion) defence budget.

The coincidence is serendipitous as Hari Tentera Darat (Army Day) falls on 1 March and the Committee of Supply debate for Singapore's national budget for respective ministries (called Heads) unfolds in a fixed format whose scheduling is hard to predict as it depends on the time taken by parliamentarians to discuss preceding Heads.

The Malaysian Army treated netizens with a massive album containing more than a hundred images - one of the largest photo albums for a single event this year - on its Berita Tentera Darat (Army News) Facebook page that show celebrations to mark the army's 86th anniversary. The picture selection was so wide and preparations like watermarks so time consuming that the images were uploaded around 6am the morning after.

Eksesais Satria Perkasa is a major capability demonstration by Malaysian land forces that involves simultaneous army operations on Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia from today till 11 March 2019.

It is a complex division-level exercise in command and control in two theatres that puts to test Markas Angkatan Darat's (Army HQ) ability to marshal, deploy and execute army operational orders for more than four thousand troops via Pemerintahan Medan Barat Tentera Darat (Army Field Command West) which covers the peninsula, and Pemerintahan Medan Barat Tentera Timur (Army Field Command East) which is bestowed with responsibility for army operations in Sabah and Sarawak.

Realistic: Eks Satria Perkasa is a two-sided land warfare exercise. Note the use of enemy simulators (blue uniforms) at the launch of the war game at Kem Sampadi in Lundu, Sarawak on 1 March 2019.

Troops from 2 Divisyen are now involved in the peninsula phase of the two-sided war game while 1 Divisyen is leading the Sarawak phase of the exercise around the areas of Lundu, Bau, Puncak Borneo, Tebedu, Mongkos and Engkabang.

Meanwhile in Singapore, fellow Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) member had a raft of defence updates of its own.

Chief amongst these is the revelation that Singapore will buy four Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters for trials with options for another eight F-35s. Interestingly, the model of the F-35 that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is keen to buy was not revealed. The acquisition of four test platforms is interesting as this makes the RSAF's test batch the largest among F-35 customers and is twice the number of test aircraft that Australia and the Netherlands bought two trial planes respectively for their air force.

Source: Singapore Ministry of Defence

Singapore's defence spending is expected to hit $15.5 billion (US$11.4 billion) for the current financial year, which begins on 1 April. This amount is up from $14.8 billion (US$10.9 billion) the previous FY, while Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs spending is expected to hold steady at $6.7 billion (US$4.9 billion) and $0.5 billion (US$0.4 billion), respectively. The Defence and Home Affairs portfolios collectively account for some 30 per cent of Singapore's total budget for the coming FY.

Source: Singapore Ministry of Defence

During the parliamentary debate for the Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen shared infographics that outlined efforts to build a next generation Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

Source: Singapore Ministry of Defence

Of interest are the shadow drawings for the Singapore Army's next generation self-propelled artillery gun and improved all-terrain tracked carrier, which are expected to be designed and made by local weapons maker, Singapore Technologies Engineering. The new SP gun is likely to be a wheeled design with a 155mm and automatic projectile and charge loader mounted aft of an all-terrain chassis. The new tracked carrier is thought to be the Bronco 3 variant, which is an enlarged marque of the combat proven Warthog Bronco 2 design (the baseline Bronco used by the SAF is the Bronco 1).

On the naval front, the Republic of Singapore Navy has a shadow diagram of its own that has fuelled intense speculation. The shape, form and number of the so-called Joint Multi Mission Ships that are slated to replaced four 141-metre Endurance-class tank landing ships has yet to revealed and rumours abound of a light helicopter type design.

The RSN's ThyssenKrupp Type 218SG Invincible-class submarines are slated to go into service around 2025 while The navy's six 62m Victory-class Missile Corvettes (MCV) are due to be replaced by a Multi-Role Combat Vessel (MRCV) by 2030.

Several mission critical elements like improved landing craft capable of ferrying MBT-sized payloads and anti-missile defences are noticeable by their absence from the infographic, which is possibly constrained in granularity by its topline view of SAF assets.

Singapore's defence minister pledged to keep defence spending at around three to four per cent of the national budget, even with neighbouring countries increasing their arms expenditure.

Dr Ng said: "If we continue our steady investments into defence and our NSmen maintain their commitment and resolve to defend Singapore, then our future will be secure for another generation. We can look forward to celebrate SG75 with the assurance that we have strong defences.”

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Locust said...

The MRCV is huge! Perhaps, South East Asia's 1st destroyer.

weasel1962 said...

MRCV looks like a variant of the sovereign class frigate designed by ST.
NGAFV with a samson mk II turret.
SRAMs mk II on a belrex platform w M395 PGMM rounds.
New helo deliveries to start next year.
Spike LR2 rumours. SDB / TPS-53 oonfirmed.
4 A330 MRTT delivered...
F-35s that can guide GMLRS-ER akan datang...

Dun play play.

Shawn C said...

Yea I wanted to post something on that and got a bit long-winded.

Essentially for UCAV/USV/UUWV operations it will definitely have to be bigger than the Formidables. I was expecting a 4,500ton French FTI or a Korean KDX-IIA derivative but to be able to accomodate the USVs and UCAVs (as well as at least one helo) the MRCV could be closer to a 6,500ton Type 26 Global Combat Ship in size and role, especially as it's meant for "security of SLOC" and "High-end warfare".

In fact the design MINDEF showcased ( has little resemblance to ST Marine's own 'Sovereign 110' frigate design, looks more like an enlarged Formidable design with the sloping bridge superstructure found on the upcoming Korean KDDX destroyer. The four 'boxes' aft of the main gun also hint at a 64-VSL load out.

The large integrated sensor mast should house a multi-planar AESA radar array, not the single revolving version of the Formidable's Herakles.

As MINDEF has said that the first ship will be in service by 2025, and we expect a larger displacement than the Formidable, it's more than likely that the ship design is nearly finalised and will go into production this year to make the 2025 delivery.

Shawn C said...

Oh I forgot to add. The VTOL UAS in the animation looks like a hybrid Textron Aerosonde, which has just added SAR radar to its capabilities

weasel1962 said...

Sovereign class frigate:

The modular mast appears to be replaced by a radar that is outwardly similar to sea fire 500, which is an update to Herakles.

That suggests Aster will continue to be the mainstay naval air defence choice, possibly an official naval aster 30.

D-Boy said...

Other noticeable absences are the replacements for the Fokker 50 MPAs and the C-130s. These definitely will have to be replaced by 2030...

Or are they also granular in the compared to the other assets featured?

shawncentric said...

Weasel1962 - Sovereign looks like a scale-up of the Fearless PVs and has a prominent Y-shaped exhaust system that is not present in the MRCV profile.

@D-Boy This was also spotted by Mike Yeo on his twitter feed - essentially the KC-130Bs are approaching 60 years of age and the Fokkers are about 25 years age. For the MPA role the Fokkers could be replaced by "Next-Gen UAV".

Locust said...

I think RSN wasnt coy in sharing how big the MRCV is. Last years line drawing indicated a size of about >140m if you use the Venus 16 USV as a yardstick. And the MRCV will carry at least 2 inside. 2 multi role ships come to mind. One is the Damen crossover and another is the German MKS180 class heavy frigates.Both ships displace more than 5800 tons each.

Yes definitely Aster 30 as it was validated and been launched from the Formidable.

weasel1962 said...

Just highlighting that the mindef infographic for 2030 and beyond still shows the F-50 and C-130...KC-130 less issue with the A330 MRTTs inducted.

shawncentric said...

I would suggest taking the MINDEF infographics as a guide and not gospel.

For the RSAF C-130, they were all modernised from 2007-2014 with "the modernisation expected to extend the service life by another 20 years." ( This would mean that their replacements could be due after 2030.

Nevertheless, the military transport market is quite soft at the moment due to an abundance of A400s. There's also a chance that the RSAF has earmarked second-hand C-130Js that will be coming onto the market as countries switch to the A400. The RAF is a prime example, with ten C-130Js scheduled for retirement in 2019 (after 20 years service) and another 14 in 2030.

weasel1962 said...

Agreed on how the infographic should be read. However, if it was in mind, could easily renamed the F-50 as "future MPA".

The previous RSAF chief (Mervyn Tan) mentioned in flightglobal interview:
"The Fokker-50 MPA remains relevant to the defence of Singapore and we will continue to operate the aircraft for as long as it is operationally and economically feasible. We will explore further upgrades or procure new systems when necessary to ensure we remain capable of meeting Singapore’s security needs."

imho, nearshore needs boosted by 24/7 Aerostat + UAVs. The F-50UTA cannibalised = MPA life longer. Next gen UAV (reflected) like Heron TP ($40m?) / Triton ($160-300m = expensive!) cover farshore needs. RAAF can demo Triton’s effectiveness in 2023. UAV MPA is cost effective because existing UAV infrastructure, trained pilots etc, mean plug and play, no extra infrastructure costs. Larger UAV from future LHD will also boost farshore needs…many options.

Peacetime C-130s used mainly for disaster relief. MRTT takes on other transport workload. Operationally, C-130 “hirain” concept means replacement should carry Himars = rule out smaller transports e.g. C-27. Agree best C-130 replacement currently is C-130 (Japan / Brazil / Airbus & AMARC are options).

Locust said...

I think it simply means a decision for replacements has yet 2 be made even though they have been looking at options for replacements.

If you at the shaded equipmemt in grey, youd know their replacements from STs stable of equipment for sale.

The odd ball is the next gen uav...hmm we just bought the herons and hermes. Probably ucav. Any idea what has happened to the Lalee or local HALE uav project..our version of global hawk? The trump admin is more open to purchase of high end tech.

Unknown said...

@Weasel 1962

The 4 x Fokker 50UTA cannot be cannibalised to provide spares for the 5 x Fokker 50 MPAs, over time there is little commodity between sub-systems and also there is an ops requirement for them *Ahem*

Locust said...

I think the simple matter of fact reason as to why the c130 and fokker 50 mpas are shown is because the decision to purchase or acquire new platforms have not been made. This does not mean SAF has not looked at options for replacements.

Interestingly, there are available platforms either developed by ST or external vendors which somewhat match the greyed out silhouette. For instance super heron and harpy uavs/ucavs.

Locust said...

The Police Coast Guard is also getting new ships - ordered 12 new patrol vessels in Dec 18 with options for5 more. The deal is worth up to $400 million. The winning vendor is STE Marine. Fearless class patrol boats? Any thoughts?

bar code said...

MRCV - a Sa'ar 6 derivative but fit for higher sea state ? Approx 2500T?

Manpower constrain is a perennial concern with RSN. Integrated bridge (enlarged) :lessons,improvement n feedback from LMV? Streamlined training,logistics n maintenance?

Rotation AESA (eg. Thales NS200) vs fixed 4-face AESA? Pros n cons. $$$. Maintenance. Need- in this region? Robustness? The former is robust vis a vis the later susceptible to misalignment from fishing militia ramping?

Will be a surprise (pleasant one) if RSN can get manpower =>70 to man each MRCV.

Manpower is the issue?