Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Malaysian air force Su-30MKM certified to carry GBU-12 Paveway LGBs


The Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia, TUDM) has used its 59th anniversary - Hari Ulang Tahun ke-59 TUDM - to showcase its success in integrating NATO guided munitions aboard Russian warplanes.

Several frames in the RMAF's 59th anniversary video show a Sukhoi Su-30MKM (NATO reporting name: Flanker) dropping a single GBU-12 Paveway II 500-pound laser-guided bomb (LGB). This marks the first time TUDM has revealed that its Russian-made Su-30MKMs can use the American-made Paveway II.

The capability demo apparently took place on 27 November 2016 at Lapang Sasar Tentera Udara Malaysia (LASARUD) - the TUDM's live-fire range - at Kota Belud in Sabah.

The host aircraft, M52-08 from 11 Skuadron (11 SKN), performed the demo during Eksesais Paradise. The war games are named after the various frames in the air warfare exercise which put to test TUDM's ability to plan and execute Paradrop, Deep strike, Insertion and Extraction using fixed and rotary-wing assets, and special forces.

But it's an intriguing case of now-you-see-it-now-you-don't.

The HUT ke-59 TUDM video, which had been posted on the TUDM's Facebook page, has apparently been sanitised to remove footage showing the Flanker-Paveway combo.


A Malaysian netizen alerted Senang Diri to the story posted by Malaysian Military Power on its Facebook page. The picture above is used with MMP's permission (H/T MMP).

According to Malaysian reports, the LGBs could be guided by elite Pasukan Khas Udara (PASKAU) special forces troops inserted behind enemy lines to scout and designate high-value targets. These include air bases, command facilities, and key weapon platforms such as SAM and rocket artillery batteries.

TUDM's success in certifying NATO ordnance aboard its Su-30MKMs is a potential game-changer because it widens to menu of options available to Malaysian air force mission planners. Apart from the already wide range of Russian air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, TUDM planners can add the Paveway II as another A2G armament option.

This increases the flexibility of the Su-30MKM as a war machine even as it raises the uncertainty for enemy forces, who must now contend with dealing with Flankers who have more ways to hit a target with precision strikes by day or night.

The Su-30MKM is TUDM's most advanced warplane.

The multirole combat aircraft are flown by 11 SKN, based at Gong Kedak Air Base in peninsular Malaysia. For more on Gong Kedak, click here


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Thoughts on the Royal Malaysian Navy. Click here

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Battle for Malaya and Fall of Singapore 75th anniversary: Lieutenant General Arthur Ernest Percival remembered


“There is little doubt that when General Percival went to Malaya he was aware that he was going to a difficult, almost hopeless task. Nevertheless he accepted this task and he discharged it with honour. And when Singapore fell – as it inevitably must – and he went, along with the rest of us into captivity, he showed courage and devotion of a high order in safeguarding the interests of his troops and more than once suffered starvation and solitary confinement  for refusing to comply with orders he thought unreasonable. Those experiences were tests of his character and in recent years those of us who were his friends and associates have had reason to appreciate his sterling worth in his devoted work for the Far Eastern Prisoners of War in whose cause he never spared himself. He sought no honour for himself. In earlier days he won well deserved distinctions, but I know that thousands of us are sad that in his later years no honours came his way.”Right Reverend Leonard Wilson, Bishop of Birmingham and previously Bishop of Singapore at the memorial service for General Percival


You may know about Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival’s role in the Battle for Malaya and Fall of Singapore during the Second World War.
 
But how much do you know about General Percival as a family man and his post-war years?
 
In an email interview, the son of the late General Percival, Brigadier-General (Retired) James Percival, shares what it was like growing up in the Percival family.
 
BG James also recounts how his father spent his post-war years writing his account of the Malayan campaign. General Percival’s memoir was published in 1949 in a book titled The War in Malaya.
  
Family Life
The Percival family life was a typical military one, ie we usually lived wherever he was stationed, except during the war of course when we lived near the family’s roots in the English county of Hertfordshire while he was away. Being very young at the time (five-years-old in 1942) I was not really aware of what was going on other than that my father was away fighting in the war. Indeed I did not really start to know my father properly until after he returned from the war in 1945. Then he became someone whom I much admired as someone who had achieved high rank and had clearly had a very successful military career, notably during the 1st World War during which he was highly decorated. He never talked about the Fall of Singapore, nor was it ever a matter for discussion in the family, although I knew he was writing his book about it. My boyhood goal was to emulate him and he actively encouraged me to join the Army. He also taught and encouraged me to play games and partake in hobbies he had enjoyed throughout his life, eg cricket, golf, tennis and shooting.
 
Post-1945
The family was reunited in the house where we lived in the town of Ware, Hertfordshire, on 10th September 1945. There was much media interest in his return home and I can recall many press reporters trying to get access to him. We soon adjusted to post war life. My father was busy at the War Office initially writing his final despatches and both myself and my sister were kept occupied at our boarding schools. Our mother already had many local interests and responsibilities which she continued with. My father retired from the Army in June 1946 shortly after the completion of the work on his despatches, so his last active appointment was as GOC Malaya. Thereafter he became very active in trying to help those who had fought with him in Malaya/Singapore and particularly those who had been prisoners of war of the Japanese. He became the first President of the Far Eastern Prisoner of War Association (FEPOW) and also played a large part in getting eventual financial reparations paid by the Japanese government. He also had a full time job as President of the Hertfordshire Branch of the British Red Cross Society, a post he held for 16 years.
 
1966
My father died in King Edward VIIth Hospital in London on 31st January 1966 soon after his 78th birthday. He had been ill for some time with heart problems. His wife, Betty, had pre-deceased him in 1953 so he had lived alone for much of the latter part of his life. He is buried in Widford churchyard in Hertfordshire and a memorial service was held for him at the church of St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London on 20th February 1966. 

A large congregation attended this service at which the address was given by the Right Reverend Leonard Wilson, Bishop of Birmingham and previously Bishop of Singapore at the time of the Malaya/Singapore campaign. 

He said:“There is little doubt that when General Percival went to Malaya he was aware that he was going to a difficult, almost hopeless task. Nevertheless he accepted this task and he discharged it with honour. And when Singapore fell – as it inevitably must – and he went, along with the rest of us into captivity, he showed courage and devotion of a high order in safeguarding the interests of his troops and more than once suffered starvation and solitary confinement  for refusing to comply with orders he thought unreasonable. Those experiences were tests of his character and in recent years those of us who were his friends and associates have had reason to appreciate his sterling worth in his devoted work for the Far Eastern Prisoners of War in whose cause he never spared himself. He sought no honour for himself. In earlier days he won well deserved distinctions, but I know that thousands of us are sad that in his later years no honours came his way.”
 
Start of the Occupation: Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival (seated, second from left) confers with his officers at the Ford Factory in Bukit Timah on Sunday, 15 February 1942. The Fall of Singapore was sealed with the signing of the surrender at 6:10pm that evening by General Percival. 

Victors: The United States Army's General Jonathan Wainwright (standing, left) and the British Army's Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival (standing, second from left) - both recently released as POWs - join General MacArthur aboard the United States Navy battleship, USS Missouri, on 2 September 1945, to accept Japan's unconditional surrender. The appearance of the former POWs at the surrender ceremony was highly symbolic as the Allies claimed victory in the Pacific War. General Wainwright had surrendered all American forces in the Philippines to Japanese forces on 6 May 1942 while General Percival surrendered Singapore to Japan on 15 February 1942. Now, the tables had turned.

Did General Percival ever return to Singapore or the Far East? 
No. In fact he never left the UK again during the 21 years between his return from the war in 1945 and his death in 1966.
 
Did he share what went through his mind as he worked on the draft for the War in Malaya?  
No. He was essentially a fairly private person and it would also have been very important to him that the contents and views expressed in his book were entirely his own, and unaffected by others. You may note that there are no acknowledgements in the book.
 
What were the most common war-related questions posed to him?
I cannot really answer that. Very many questions will have been asked of him by a great variety of people about the campaign and the surrender. I do not have records of them, but I could probably guess at some of the most common queries as no doubt you could too.
 
How did he weather the history baggage from the signing of Singapore’s surrender? 
Extremely stoically. Because of the circumstances at the time he did not regret deciding to surrender because he was convinced that by doing so he would save the lives of many Singaporeans and others. You could say therefore that it was a humanitarian act, although of course totally contrary to military ethics.
 
Although he probably thought privately that he was not well treated after the war by Churchill, I think it is significant that he never openly criticised Churchill’s conduct of the war and particularly the lack of resources made available to operations in the Far East, conceding that the campaigns in Europe and the Middle East properly had greater priority.

General Percival's final resting place. 
Source: Percival family.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Contemporary National Education: Security, survival and success of Qatar as a small state


Big neighbour upset by small neighbour.

Big neighbour restricts land, sea and air access to small neighbour. This affects imports of vital supplies like food and raw materials by small neighbour, not to mention the free movement of people and trade.

Small neighbour has United States (US) military on its soil.

Small neighbour has a world-class airline.

Small neighbour is a major petrochemicals hub.

Small neighbour is almost totally reliant on food imports.

Small neighbour has deep pockets to weather any financial crisis, with a sovereign wealth fund managing billions in global investments.

Just to be clear, the "small neighbour" we are talking about is Qatar.

As a metaphor for how small states fare when bigger neighbours choose to flex their might, the State of Qatar represents an interesting parallel for the Republic of Singapore.

On Monday (5 Jun'17), Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined Saudi Arabia in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar. The Saudi-led coalition had claimed that Qatar funds terror groups and is said to be upset with Qatar's friendliness towards Iran.
The terror-related allegations aren't new. But this time, Qatar's neighbours joined forces to slowly cut off access to the outside world from Qatar, a sliver of land on the northern shores of Arabia.

Supermarkets saw their shelves emptied as anxious residents stocked up on supplies. Lack of raw materials for construction has put the brakes on building activities in Qatar.


In a bid to further isolate Qatar, its neighbours blocked Qatari aircraft from entering their airspace, and barred Qatari vessels from using their seaports. Qatar Airways, an emerging rival to Singapore Airlines, had to reroute or cancel numerous flights.
Amid the diplomatic strangulation, where is the United Nations (UN)? Not a squeak was heard in the first days of the spate. Even now, there appears to be no bid by the world body to soothe tensions.

And as Qataris face starvation, the world's media appears more interested in the fate of the FIFA World Cup 2022 and whether facilities for the globe's most prestigious soccer matches can be finished on time.

The plight of the Qataris provides the answer to Singaporeans who have asked why our tiny city-state cannot rely on the "world's policemen" for its security.

Qatar is home to the largest US airbase in the Middle East. So what? This failed to accord the desert state any immunity card against unfriendly neighbours.

Qatar has also learned that it cannot rely on the UN to solve its problems. The UN will not come marching in to help, like cavalry to the rescue.
The episode where Qatar's neighbours have cut ties underlines a little-known hard truth of diplomacy - bilateral ties are never a given and must be reciprocated. A lot of work - much of which takes place away from the public eye -  is carried out by diplomats the world over to ensure that diplomatic relations remain on an even keel.

And while we are led to believe big and small nations speak with an equal voice on the world stage, let us not deceive ourselves when it comes to geographical realities. Small states have far more to lose vis-a-vis big states when air, land or sea space is denied.

For Singapore, the smallest of all ASEAN states, we must work even harder to punch above our weight and ensure our relevance to friends in the region and farther afield. In a world  of options, big states can easily overlook us.

The case of Qatar also demonstrates that a strong military is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a country's stability, growth and prosperity, Qatar, which has one of the densest air defence networks on the Arabian peninsula, probably realises more than ever how vital it is to nurture and sustain social and economic stability, along with national resilience for weathering the ongoing diplomatic spate.

In Singapore, we identify these as elements of the Total Defence movement, which is made up of Military, Civil, Economic, Social and Psychological defence elements. We also have the SGSecure movement that aims to strengthen national resilience against in-country perils.

But does the average Singaporean care enough to play his or her part?

We have also been told, ad nauseam time and again, that we ourselves are responsible for our country's security. This message, if uttered on the streets of Qatar, will probably be embraced readily by not a few advocates there.

The speed with which Qatar's neighbours ganged up acted against it shows why no one should take peace and stability for granted. Truth be told, we cannot and should not live with a siege mentality. But the Qatar episode reminds us that neighbours itching for a flare-up will grab any opportunity to do so. 

In Qatar's case, one school of thought argues that fake news contributed to misleading neighbouring states on Doha's stance towards Iran. 

Qatari leaders have made a plea for dialogue to solve the impasse.

Too late. 

No one cries for small states. 


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Qatar Airways steals a march on SIA in its own backyard. Click here