Towards a more effective RMAF – what to do with the flying assets

I do not envy those top brasses of the RMAF. There are just too many issues they inherit.

It has been very confusing. I am referring to the abundance of ideas that has crowded the Malaysian Defence aeroSPACE industry or should I say the minds of the thinkers and planners at the Malaysian Pentagon. I am being kind, but not the politicians in the other camp. They call it flip-flop, they call it lack of clarity and direction, they call it abuses of the process and power. Not very kind indeed.

I like ideas.  All leaders like ideas. As a leader one must encourage creativity, the expression of thoughts. Ideas, particularly those unthinkable outside the box stuff, properly analysed, fairly and objectively decided upon are gems waiting to be polished. So this posting is about OBJECTIVES, what I think should be the AIR FORCE clear objectives.

Of prime importance is the unwavering resolvedness that The  Air Force must not be the loser. The Nation MUST gain. The lives of the pilots must not be compromised.We must try to  understand and share the anxieties of young mothers, lovers, letting go of their brave, loved ones at the door for their flying missions.

But the political masters and the  paid  spin doctors have their answers ready. The cocktail of fighters in the inventory they say is  Malaysia  way adopting a multilateral defence strategy. We make friends with all the superpowers. How do we make them happy? we buy their military hardware. It does seem to work, in this time of peace, but the number of aircraft types in the inventory is stretching the abuse of the RMAF too far.

How about this piece of cynicism.  We are just  continuing our old diplomatic ways of paying “tithe” or “UFTI” to the superpowers. It used to be “bunga mas” but now it is Ringgit or USD, and in return we get a few adult toys for our amusement. ouch!!

Objectively, Malaysia needs to reduce the cocktail of fighters to a manageable aircraft types. It is a logistic nightmare. It is a flying nightmare switching from one cockpit to another, although the masochistic flyboys would not admit that. Seven or eight fighter types are just NOT manageable. Let us not fool ourselves.

Objectively, Malaysia needs a new rotary wing fleet. Let us not over politicize this issue at the expense of the lives of the pilots. The NURI or S 61 was a 1959 design. It has been upgraded several times. The environment it was designed for was different from the new demands of climbing mountains, hugging terrains. Get on with the E725 contract.

With the meagre purchase of 12 aircraft, the NURI is still needed. period.

In many NURI accidents Pilot errors have often been cited. Have we ever thought how stressful it could be at the cockpit of an aging aircraft? Let us not overwork them like what the old birds, the NURIS have been subjected to. There are obsolescence, and once the functions are compromised the pilot assume that responsibility which equates to added stress. Once  obsolescence is addressed, availability is the yield and combine that with available technology, the NURI would be safe.

Objectively, we must not discard the NURI for the time being. We must make it safe. We must improve its airworthiness and availability. A very clear  and practical role has to be established for the NURI and the RIGHT enhancement be engineered and carried out. If for whatever reason, a practical move is to downgrade its role to purely non- special missions, so be it . Risk taking with an old set of birds is  irresponsible and is  pure act of indiscipline.

Those are some of the primary objectives which needs uncompromising resolvedness. It is tough in view of the limited budget and conflicting demands, but leaders are supposed to have balls of steel, and able to distinguish between  follies and wisdom.

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