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Monday, January 30, 2012

REMF


When the TNI heard of the delivery of the French submarines to Bolehland, they decided to follow suit and placed a US$1.07 billion order with South Korea for 3 units of the U209 kimchi subs. With ours costing about US$1 billion apiece as compared to our neighbor’s 3 units, the TLDM is reassured that ours is better than theirs. It is just that someone forgot to remind them that our Floating French Fries couldn’t submerge and pose literally as a sitting duck on the surface.
By Hakim Joe
What’s with the military people anyway? Didn’t they attend school like the rest of us?
First it was Bolehland with its helicopters and submarines. Helicopters that cost it weight in gold and submarines that can’t submerge underwater. Then there was the modified top heavy Main Battle Tanks (MBT) that can’t shoot on the go (it has to actually stop before
firing a shell) and the “fast response” light tanks that won’t fit into its appointed flight carriers (unless they release some air from the tyres).
Now our south Muslim neighbor has caught the same bug. Indonesia plans to purchase 100 units of Leopard 2A6 MBTs from its past colonial masters for a princely sum of US$600 million. So far so good except that these tanks weigh 62 tons apiece and Indonesia does not have sufficient tar roads and iron bridges to accommodate them unless the Indonesian army plans to parade them in Jakarta only (once it clears the perpetual traffic jams), use them as a stagnant artillery piece or just bulldoze it right through structures and buildings. Given that the Indonesian Army really needs to replace their museum-ready PT-76 tanks, a light tank weighing less than 35 tons would have fared better (faster and more mobile) than a 62 ton monster.
When the US of A offered the Indonesian Air Force 24 units of their decommissioned F-16C/ D Block 32 fighters free plus 10 MLU (Mid-Life Upgrade) kits for the existing F-16A/B Block 15+ in the Indonesian Air Force, the Indonesian parliamentary defense commission initially rejected the grant as they deemed the cost to retrofit it too costly and it would be better to purchase 6 units of brand new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters for the same price of US$400 million.
Luckily common sense prevailed (after an outcry from the civilian sector) and the same parliamentary defense commission finally decided that having 24 units of refurbished planes plus improving their existing 10 units of F-16A/B fighters is in fact better than having only 6 brand new planes (of the same type albeit with better avionics).
Any kindergarten child could have reasoned that having 34 units of planes in the air during a confrontation is way better than just having 6 units. BTW, each MLU kit adds an average 25 more years’ operational life to the aircraft (even though the maintenance bill goes up as old age catches up).
The TNI (Tentera Negara Indonesia) has since upgraded this offer by requesting Lockheed Martin retrofit the 24 units of F-16 Fighting Falcons with Block 50/52 MLU kits instead of the Block 30/32 kits for an additional US$200 million bringing the total to US$600 million. A few months back, Washington announced the US$750 million deal that now includes an additional 28 Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-200/200E engines as spares.
Similarly, when the TNI heard of the delivery of the French submarines to Bolehland, they decided to follow suit and placed a US$1.07 billion order with South Korea for 3 units of the U209 kimchi subs. With ours costing about US$1 billion apiece as compared to our neighbor’s 3 units, the TLDM is reassured that ours is better than theirs. It is just that someone forgot to remind them that our Floating French Fries couldn’t submerge and pose literally as a sitting duck on the surface. When a seaman is trained to spot the thin and tiny
periscope of a submarine in the dark of night, the entire vessel floating on the surface of the ocean is not too hard to spot from even a couple of miles away.
Then there is the Singaporean purchase of 96 units of Leopard 2A6 MBTs. With only 272 square miles of real estate (albeit expanding bit by bit and having ruler straight coastlines), where exactly are they going to park the tanks? Inside shopping centers on Orchard Road? In any modern war, a comprehensive air raid precedes actual troop landing. With 96 of these mammoths attempting to hide from aerial view, any reasonable bomber could easily hit them blind folded, well, with an eye patch on one eye anyway. Singapore’s widest point is 88 km in length, a mere 2.4 minutes flight for an F-18 Hornet on afterburners. (A SR-71 Blackbird could traverse this distance in 83 seconds flat.)
Even the Thais are not lagging behind in military spendings (the 2012 budget may exceed US$6 billion). Being kiasu (a more Singaporean trait), their navy is already requesting to purchase 3 to 4 units of submarines at US$604 million per unit. Why is it that ours cost so much more, even taking into account the massive commission going into Ombak Laut’s coffers? Oops, I forgot… ours could not submerge (optional extra). Stop laughing; do you know how difficult is it to manufacture a watertight submarine that cannot submerge
underwater?
The Thais are also purchasing quite a few helicopters and Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) for “internal use”. The latest delivery was for 100 units of South African made REVA III 4X4 APCs and on order is for 32 units of Israeli-made IAI-Searcher unmanned seeker drones.
Southeast Asia may be a tiny region but the military expenditure is by no means small. Malaysia allocated US$7 billion under the 9MP, Philippines spent a mere US$2.3 billion while Thailand spent US$5.1 billion in 2011. Indonesia however tried topping it with a US$7.5 billion budget allocation for 2012 and Singapore, being kiasu, went one better with a US$12.08 billion allocation for 2011/2012 (one of the highest in the world but nothing compared to USA which has a US$687 billion military budget for 2010).
BTW, REMF means Rear Echelon Mother F……

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