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South East Asia: Major Requirements in the Air-Sea Domain By Poornima Subramaniam (with data from Forecast International).


asia14 Sep 15. Some key highlights of the major markets (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam) are provided in this analysis.

drove its modernisation efforts into the air-sea domain. Based on ongoing news reports and recent procurement announcements, it is clear that the knock-on effect is

Southeast Asia: Major requirements in the air-sea domain

Analysts from Hawk Information Overview that the Southeast Asian countries are prioritising their own respective will be presenting Southeast

Asian military capabilities at DSEI, London, on 17 September 2015. The presentation will be made in the “Global Partnerships Theatre” and will include an overview of how territorial claims in the South China Sea, and China’s force projection, is driving modernisation in Southeast Asian countries.

Thanks to a decade of double-digit growth, China has significantly built up its military capabilities with an emphasis on power projection. This has naturally engendered worries among China’s regional neighbours with unsettled disputes in the East and South China Sea.  PLA’s force projection efforts


Five major Southeast Asian countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam — are increasingly committing a large portion of their defence budget for the modernisation of their respective Naval and Air Force.

Indonesia: In September, the Indonesian government announced that it would reduce its defence spending in 2016 (further details in the budget section of this newsletter). However, within the allocated budget, it is clear that the country is prioritising funding to procure fighter jets, submarines, and modern radar systems.  Indonesia currently has a significant weakness in combat aircraft capability. On September 3, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that it had ordered 16 Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multirole combat aircraft from Russia. In addition, the government is likely to commit to improving radar systems and detection capabilities of the Navy and Air Force.

Malaysia: The Malaysian armed forces have been undergoing a prolonged modernisation process since the 1970s. Malaysia’s fiscal realities have tended to limit the Armed Forces’ ability to achieve its modernisation goals. Some key programmes are currently dragging on the Malaysia, including the multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) programme which calls for the replacement of its MiG-29Ns with 18 new fighters. The Navy has a requirement to modernise ageing vessels including the Lekiuclass frigates and Kasturi-class corvettes. In 2013, MPI detailed the Navy’s requirement for new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters.

Philippines: Philippines has recently started to significantly bolster its military capabilities. It initially fulfilled some requirements through by acquiring second-hand hardware from the US (such as the ex-Hamilton-class frigates). However, recent tenders for major procurement suggest that the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) is looking to acquire new systems and reduce its reliance on secondhand equipment. A proof of this shift is the acquisition of new FA-50 light combat aircraft manufactured by South Korea.

According to Forecast International, “a slew of AFP acquisition projects remain on tap; including two Navy frigates (price tag estimated at PHP18bn, or $397m), three air surveillance radars (PHP2.68bn: $59m), six close air support aircraft (PHP4.97bn: $110m), a multipurpose attack craft (PHP864m: $19m), and two long-range patrol aircraft (PHP5.98bn: $132m), plus various other items.” Singapore: According to the SIPRI Arms Transfer database, Singapore was among the world’s 10-largest defence importers from 2010-2014. The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has made consistent efforts to modernise the military whilst also developing the local defence industrial base. Unlike the other neighbouring countries, Singapore’s current modernisation is not driven solely by need but to maintain technological superiority. Two major procurement intentions of Singapore are the Air Force’s interest in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), and the Navy’s requirement for air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines.

Vietnam: The procurement process and needs assessment in Vietnam is rather opaque and the country has previously tended to source its hardware solely from Russia. However, several news reports since late 2014 have highlighted that Vietnam is looking for new sources for military equipment. Of particular interest, is thawing defence relations with the US; Vietnam has even publicly announced its intention in acquiring Boeing P-8 maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

(Source: MPI – Hawk Information)

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