Thursday, February 20, 2014

Singapore Budget 2014 101

The Singapore Budget 2014 Speech is due to be delivered from 15:30 Hotel (07:30 UTC) tomorrow (Friday 21 February 2014).

Access the Singapore Government (Singov) Budget 2014 website here.

The proposed budget allocation which is specific to the Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) will be an overall, big picture number without any specifics.

The Singov financial year begins on 1 April.

Budget Debate
The Budget 2014 debate is expected to take place from mid-March onwards under a series of ministry-specific sessions grouped under Heads, or groupings for Singov ministries, that collectively form a Committee of Supply (COS).

The MINDEF budget is traditionally discussed under Head J of the Committee of Supply (COS). This is the platform for the deep dive into major items budgeted for FY 2014/15.

The Order Papers issued by the Singapore Parliament will usually outline every oral and written question tabled by parliamentarians. It should also have a rough time estimate of when Head J of the COS will be raised. In recent years, the Speaker of Parliament has maintained a firm hand on time-keeping so the timetables in the Order Papers are reliable.

Look out for speeches for all political office holders from AFPN 1* on Level 5 at Block 303 Gombak Drive. They are:
Minister for Defence  (DM), Dr Ng Eng Hen**
Second Minister for Defence (2M), Mr Chan Chun Sing
Minister of State (Defence) (MOSD), Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman

In particular, DM's speech is expected to recap the geo-strategic situation that affects Singapore's security posture, elaborate on MINDEF/SAF's focus for the year, outline major projects as well as big-ticket defence acquisitions. Defence relations with key partners usually feature in DM's speech while issues on National Service (NS) and Commitment to Defence (C2D) are typically helmed by 2M and MOS(D).

The exciting bit starts weeks after Head J is passed.

That's when the annual MINDEF and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Work Plan season gets underway.

Repeat after me: We love the MINDEF/SAF Work Plan season. Yup.  :-)

* Yes, we collect AFPN numbers too.
** Note to Jakarta Post: The Singapore DM's family name is Ng and not Hen. Your erroneous reports in the recent past may have inspired some of your politicians to spout poultry-related analogies like the one about beating a shrieking chicken/hen with a stick.


David Boey said...

Anonymous said...

Lehman Brothers was also a publicly audited and look what happens when.

At this stage who really knows about the state of defence spending anyway. - February 20, 2014 at 10:04 PM

The above from the post dated 18 Feb 2014.

Dear Anon,
Lehman is Lehman. If you suspect ST Engineering, the umbrella company for defence companies (specifically ST Kinetics, the rifle maker mentioned in the analogy posted in the comments to the 18 Feb'14 post) is less than proper in its handling of fiduciary matters, I invite you to buy ST Engg shares - and I say this with no sarcasm intended or suggested.

You can then attend their AGM and pepper dear CEO Tan Pheng Hock with all the questions you want and clear all nagging suspicions that you may have in your X files.

If even the USA, the bastion of democracy, can be saddled with compliance issues, what then would be the model answer?

Healthy scepticism is one thing.

But at some point in time we have to live our life without constantly fretting that the sky is falling or you will end up driving yourself round the bend with undue worry seeing shadows behind every corner - whichever political climate you're in.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

Not sure if going to AGM is going to help.

ST don't even publish who they export to so the CEO is hardly going to tell. He can easily claim state secrets anyway -- fiduciary.

You original argument is that you can trust ST because they are audited. Well being audited is one thing but having the full picture is another. Chances are you are not going to get from a Defence Company. The company can be strict in the fiduciary stand but still not disclose everything.

Nothing surprising about that nor sinister. Nothing x files about that either. Just a fact of life.

Anonymous said...

Bodoh banget loe.

Emangnya siapa juga si Ah Hen
Musti dipanggil Mr Ng.

Emang gue pikirin? Lagian itu kaga nyambung Jeq ama berita Budget Defence loe!

Kaya gini jadi koresponden Strait Times, ngga heran beritanya provokasi doank!

nih gue kasih komentar aslinya

"Bahkan kalau perlu kita buat lagi Kapal Perang yang lebih besar dan lebih canggih lagi dan kita namakan KRI Usman-Harun II! Biarkan saja Singapura jempling-jempling kaya pitik ditutu ngalu

Anonymous said...

Any speculation on what the big ticket items will be?
Iron Dome (or have they been paid for?)
Will the proposed upcoming F-16C/D AESA upgrade be held back by CAPES funding cut (to US, Taiwan's F-16 fleets) affect us (see link below)?

Anonymous said...

Wah David, Ho Say ah, you have followers in Indonesia!


Sss said...

Anon @ February 21, 2014 at 6:42 AM

There seems to be quite a few options if CAPES is defunded, as Lockheed, BAE and even Boeing have upgrade packages.

Or, as this article seems to imply, the RSAF may have a non-American option, perhaps with ST Aero as prime contractor...

DIYmasterbaiter said...

I ask you, are all MINDEF funded programs that effective and are there appropriate checks and balance to assess them?



Quoted Rationale behind self development of this platform is the size issue and weight requirements in surrounding environment.

Having failed to appropriately develop a light tank version to replace the AMX13, we opted for the heavier (and significantly larger) Leopard 2(sg) as partner to the smaller (less protected) Bionix system.

Worth bearing in mind that ground pressure on the much larger MBT is significantly less than the Bionix.

Could we not have collaborated with an overseas partner or bought off the shelf for a cheaper system here?

As an example, the Poles have made interesting strides in medium tank development which could be developed around into a family of larger better protected vehicles with likely better economies of scale thanks to a potential double market (not to mention EU access)

Was the local vendor in ST the right way to go and should we not have had more foresight into coming developments let alone a better assessment of the change in environment (increase in open spaces/urban operating environment) in likely battle grounds?

If size (of Leopard 2) is not an issue, why develop Primus when M109 is fairly similar in weight?

Similarly, is SAR21 a stable development with the advent of yet another ST Kinetic design recently? Is the weapon system that much better to warrant our own development particularly as it has not enjoyed significant market penetration from export thus far?

In ship building, is the new 8 ship littoral build awarded to ST the most competitive for capability? If models are anything to go by, they look like updates of an older design with increase strength and a (unstable looking ) helo deck. It also smacks of a knee jerk reaction to follow suit with American thinking and to put on a LCS lite (without much of the techno innovation)

Is the cost of the new development justifiable? Or are we better simply updating the current fleet of coastal patrol 55m boats?

Or could programs like Visby which already exist (and with significant better capability to our current boats) be used as a basis for development, be more economical and proven in approach?

Questions need be asked if we are really as efficient in procurement as we think. Much of these cost are hidden and not entirely transparent.

Anonymous said...

I agree with above post.

is not that we do not by and large follow good practises in terms of buying but that sometimes our hands kenah tied and have to buy 'local' for sake of keeping military industry complex going.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure the leopards are supposed to replace the amx-13s? And why did you claim the light tank project failed when such a project was never declared from the beginning? Saf announces platforms only when it is deemed necessary. If there is a gag order, you wont hear about it ;) The LMV has all the tech it requires to perform its roles. Lookwise, only few ships are like it. Lookwise, it is meant not to be alarming lookwise. Wait for the final form.

David Boey said...

Dear DIYMasterbaiter,
Valid points raised. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

The Bionix project started 20+ years ago. At the time, MINDEF/SAF did look at foreign infantry fighting vehicle platforms before going local with the testbed XV-1.

This was not a sure win for our defence engineers. XV-1 was a testbed, meaning that if it failed to make the grade it would have ended in the STK boneyard (and there are examples of projects that didn't make it).

In my view, the development of a homegrown capability is vitally important as it provides a measure of self-reliance in defence engineering. Note the difference between self-reliance and self-sustainability. The latter could turn out to be a costly pursuit as some countries have found out. Example: India with its Arjun MBT.

The BX project took into account what our defence industrial base could realistically deliver and what we could not. For instance, the engine and transmission were bought from foreign vendors.

SAF demand for the BX1 and improved BX2, plus variants, justified local production of the platform as the numbers provided economies of scale.

You mention Poland and the wider market. If not for XV-1 and her stable mates, we would not have developed the know-how which led to the ATTC (i.e. Bronco). Isn't the British Army now one of the Bronco's strongest advocates, having seen it perform in Afghanistan as the Warthog?

Same story with the SAR-21.

Malaysia established local production of the Austrian Steyr AUG for home market demand about half that of the SAF's.

Some may diss the SAR-21. But the improved figures for NS battalion marksmen scores say it all. From an operational readiness standpoint, the time saved from adopting pre-zeroed rifles is noteworthy. True, we could get the same effect with the Steyr AUG - but at the expense of a loss of local know-how.

Firearms are hit and miss affairs. Our Ultimax series has sold well. Not so the SAR-80 which appeared on the market at the same time as the U-100.

In my view, local know-how in firearms design and manufacture is worth supporting.

re: Primus 155mm SSPH. The vanilla M109 uses a larger chassis which does not suit the CONOPS for hide-shoot-and-scoot tactics adopted for the Project C SPGs. Again, we turned to local defence know-how but did not do so blindly. In this instance, the chassis and running gear were sourced from an overseas vendor - the same one that makes the M109 but ours is Paladin lite.

Not all arty guns came from STK. The 105mm LG1s are one example, sourced from France under Project F. When you look at the entire SAF procurement landscape, try taking a step back to see the picture in its entirety. It is fascinating.

You are right about the downside of secrecy. We could have challenged the M777 lightweight howitzer had foreign armies known we were working on the Pegasus under Project R. By the time we unveiled our design, the M777 was already way ahead in rival markets, which meant market penetration was difficult. But this is hindsight talking and it is a tricky balance between showing off one's commercial capabilities and securing opsec for the SAF.

re: Leo2SG. I try to answer this without breaching opsec.

The drawdown in European armies resulted in a fire sale of MBTs at bargain prices unimaginable in the early 1990s.

Our AMX-13s upgraded to SM1 standard under Project A were to be succeeded by an AFV under Project B (not the BX).

Then came the fire sale. And the Leo2s eventually emerged.

Defence-aware Singaporeans may realise the Leo2s complement other platforms, namely Project T and Project H. If this was a closed-door forum with all Singaporean participants, I would debunk your point about lack of foresight and you would likely walk away reassured, if not impressed.

Someday, I would love to give that talk. But right now, am happy to let the point go.

Best regards,


Seb said...

I know David personally and I must say his knowledge and analytical skills are amongst the best in the realm of defence information. His ability to organise a pool of data and draw proper correlations or infer the lack of. And interpreting these trends in terms that are meaningful to others. It's a joy to read his articles though I might have a different perspective on certain subjects. Keep it up DB!

P/S: I am a firm advocate of beefing up a credible defence for SG. It's like buying insurance when you don't need one. By the time you need it, it's too late!

Anonymous said...

The LEO2 MBT is needed to complement certain objectives vis a vis our opponent's MBT if it ever comes to that, aided by tank busters attack helicopters and future UAVs CAS platform. Also add a layer of tactical options and increase the calculus of potential opponents.

The AFV BX2 with the BushMaster 30mm gun is quite a major improvement in fire, penetrating, range power over the 50cal on the venerable M113. But I still think there is a gap that exist between the 30mm and the 120mm... The SAF should be looking into a 105 or a 120mm unmanned turret system somewhere in the weight range of around 40 to 48 ton. The future armoured engagement should be a short, intense, quick and high tempo affair where the maneuver infantry combat team be it straight leg or AI would need fast high calibre gun support to provide the shock effect moving closely with other light assets.

Seb said...

Dear Anon @ 9:11AM,

The Swedish CV90105-TML or CV90120-T should be a good fit then, yes? SG to integrate its own BMS & fire-control should they not procure lock stock & barrel.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue regarding the Leo 2 if I understand it correctly is related to the size of the Bionix.

As an IFV, the Bionix claims to be design around the ergonomic necessity of having to handle certain tight terrain and bridges.

But if the BX is to work alongside the Leo 2 and vice versa, this requirement goes out the window.

In which case the size of the Bionix is too small.

Too small certainly to effectively mount a 120mm gun without significant issue with regards recoil.

Not sure exactly when Bionix came into service and likely the program was already in advance stage but I'm pretty sure we had a good idea that the Germans were going to release a good amount of war fighting material with the draw down of the cold war (peace dividend) from the mid 90s.

In any case, if the MBT was regarded as a potential replacement for the AMX13, then the size of the BX should not have been so restrictive to affect a tank version.

This would also relate to M109 and the need to design the Primus.

Fair point with regard SAR21 and local know how.

But not sure if I would agree that AFV development has benefited from sufficient foresight.

I don't think the Leo2's capability and synchronicity with other platforms is in question rather the Bionix and its design parameters.

There are plenty of IFVs on market (CV90 for example, if you'd like to mention a country we have copied and improved a design from in the ATTC)

CV90 already had a 120mm gunned up medium tank program. In this case,a collaboration with Sweden on a mature system already in service would have more than likely reduced unit cost.

Anonymous said...

Why are we all discounting another ifv chassis built and designed by st? Afterall, the bionix will replaced downstream. Also, tgere shldnt be an issue with fixing a 105mm gun on the bionix. Not sure about 120mm. But if you have a better chassis.... ;)

Anonymous said... is all a matter of timing. Revealing a locally built tank might be too worrying to neighbours. Saf does not want to be seen as being too far ahead or dominating. But the curtains may be lifted sooner then expected with regional tensions increasing. Thunder runs need hundreds of work horses.

Anonymous said...

The Germans have an unmanned 30mm gun turret with the driver, gunner and commander in the chassis, the engineers designed superb crew protection in the hull section. Me think this technological feat is not beyond ST Kinetics...we already have existing unmanned turret system in actual operation...

Anonymous said...

As for the auto loader, anyone remember the Vickers Mk5? It is a light tank with an auto loader carousel that holds 19 to 22 of 105mm rounds. Can buy the auto loading assembly off the shelf? Granted, the UT-AGS (unmanned turret - armoured gun system)is not going to play tank warfare the likes of Leo2 but rather an integral part of the AI platoon!

Going to propose that each AI platoon = BXII x03 + UT-AGS x01 !

The idea is to embed the AGS direct into the BX2/AI under the direct command of the platoon commander. I.e. The AGS won't have commissioned officer operating and commanding it! A bit hard politically ...

assuming this is a go ahead, the combat team can still have a platoon of Leo2 to fight tank war fare. I this this will increase the current fire power of the armor combat team without significantly increasing the manpower requirement.

imagine if the Leo2 is unavailable (which is almost a certainty as the fight progresses), the BX2 will be going out on a limp... But with the 105mm AGS, the AI grants still have a potent fast and quite powerful weapon to give em punch and shock!

Anonymous said...

I think the issue with the light/medium platform would depend on how Leopard2SG will be deployed.

If Leopard 2 are deployed in more open terrain sectors, then there may still be a need for a smaller vehicle to manouver through close terrain (thinking of the myriad plantations in territories to the North of us)

In that case, is BX the right platform? Maybe new medium platform is the way to go as it will handle a 120 gun better and offer a better kinetic kill.

MGS system currently employed on US army Strykers seems the logical choice to incorporate. It is a lighter turret to the AGS.

I think the issue with regard Bionix is why consider bridge weight and smaller dimensions an issue when we have obviously come round to the fact that we will be supporting the Leopard 2 platform.

If we have to fight with a lighter platform because of weight and dimension issues, then certainly we are short on the ground as far as a medium support tank is concern.

Wonder if we can develop a 2 man crew system. Forgo the gunner, just driver and commander/gunner (much like a helicopter.

That said, I suppose combat fatigue could be an issue.

JualMura said...

Hmm sounds like issue here is why go down solo road of developing your own systems when collaboration with similar minded countries who need expanded markets to keep unit costs of their own project low is available?

Case in hand for BX/tank is I suppose the Polish Anders/Oprom series and the Swedish CV90.

Both are sizeably larger than BX and have 120 guns.

So why did Singapore go for BX and the more limited size?

The other issue is Leo 2. We obviously have to now consider the heavier platform in our thinking when operating.

But are there scenarios where the Leo 2 will not be so easily deployable as mentioned above about plantation areas etc?

Then in that case we need a lighter platform. Light tank still part of the thinking though?

Anonymous said...

Can also buy more Apache Leh.

Anonymous said...

On a different topic

Anonymous said...

This point about "the time saved from adopting (factory) pre-zeroed rifles."

Zeroing is a process performed once by the firer until the zero is disturbed. With the SAR-21, this process is performed at the factory, which saves time only once, and like all other rifles, will have to be done again in the event the rifle loses its zero.