1 Maret 2010
Malaysian Army wants purchase of attack helicopter expanding the 11 AW-109 as light observation helicopters (photo : Finmeccanica)
Army Eyes Attack Copter
KUALA LUMPUR: While the emphasis is on expanding its light-observation helicopters (LOH), the army wants to boost its mobility and firepower with the eventual purchase of attack helicopters.
Army chief Gen Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin said the Defence Ministry was all for buying more LOH to supplement the 11 AgustaWestland 109 helicopters and 10 Aerospatiale SA316 Alouette III helicopters serving with the 881st air corps squadron.
"This is the priority in view of satisfying the Nuri (Sikorsky S-61) replacement programme in the next three years so that we have a sufficient fleet of combat search and rescue helicopters.
"But, in the long run, we are looking at procuring attack helicopters for the purpose of tank-hunting and to destroy enemy radars, bunkers and troop formations," he said at the ministry's office in Jalan Padang Tembak, in conjunction with the 77th anniversary of Army Day today.
Ismail said attack helicopters were costly and an expensive platform to operate, given the long period to train personnel and equip the squadrons.
"Ideally, we are looking at between six and 12 attack helicopters to form a reasonably effective squadron.
"But that will depend largely on the budget allocation." The same reasoning, he added, applied to the army's ambition of supplementing its arsenal and equipment.
The army's artillery includes 36 Artillery Saturation Rocket System (Astros II) multiple launch rocket systems and 28 G5 MkIII towed artillery guns from South Africa.
Air defence is provided by a mix of Swiss Oerlikon twin 35mm and Swedish Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft guns and missile systems such as the Jernas and Starburst from Britain, Anza from Pakistan, FN-6 from China and Igla from Russia.
The army, Ismail said, was poised to establish a second Astros regiment by next year and eventually increase the strength to a third by the 11th Malaysia Plan.
Astros is developed and manufactured by Avibras Aerospacial SA of Sao Paulo, Brazil. In August 2007, Malaysia placed an order for a second batch of 18 Astros II systems. The first batch of 18 systems was delivered in 2002.
Starburst is a man-portable, surface-to-air missile produced by Shorts Missile Systems of Belfast, Northern Ireland (now known as Thales Air Defence Limited).Ismail said by the end of the year, the army's main-battle tank squadrons would be fully operational with the delivery of PT-91 Pendekar and support vehicles. The army procured 48 PT-91 from Poland in 2007.
"We are also seeking 20 units of 6x6 heavy vehicles as replacement for the ageing Radpanzer Condor armoured personnel carriers, especially to facilitate United Nations' peacekeeping duties."
Apart from the 460 Radpanzer Condor APCs, the army operates 26 FV101 Scorpion 90 tracked armoured reconnaissance vehicles; 184 Sibma 90 armoured fighting support vehicles; 211 Adnan armoured infantry fighting vehicles; 111 K-200 Korean infantry fighting vehicles; 25 Stormer APCs; and 80 BV206 armoured tracked vehicles.
To enhance security of its armouries, Ismail said there were plans to install biometric fingerprint scanners to monitor the access and movement of firearms and other arsenal.
"If a soldier fails to return his firearm after duty within the stipulated period, an alarm will buzz. These are ways to minimise unauthorised use of ammunition and weapons."
On another note, Ismail said the army regularly reviewed the terms and conditions of service, remuneration, career development and basic amenities to improve the quality of life of soldiers of all ranks.
"There are 31 ongoing projects to renovate and upgrade dilapidated camps, barracks and offices. Thirty new camps -- including four that have been completed -- will meet the demand."
The four camps already built are the Mahkota Camp in Kluang, Johor; Pulada Camp in Ulu Tiram, Johor; Wardieburn Camp in Kuala Lumpur; and Kubota Camp in Tawau, Sabah.
On education, the army has to date sponsored 6,365 servicemen for further studies in line with competency-based training assessment and to make them marketable.
"Under the 'from the cradle to the grave' concept, a soldier's welfare and job satisfaction is looked into so that he is inspired to self-develop and synergise with the expectations and aspirations of the army.
"This will, in turn, help mould a credible and professional force," Ismail said.