New Helms of the MAF Joint Force Command

Lt Jen Dato’ Sri Hj Affendi bin Buang TUDM has been appointed as the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) Joint Force Commander in place of the command’s outgoing commander Lt Jen Datuk Abu Bakar Md Said TUDM who will be retiring from service.

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A ceremony was held on July 24 at MINDEF for the appointment of the new Joint Force Commander. Prior to his new command, Lt Jen Affendi was a major general in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and holds the position as Exercise and Operation Director General at the Air Operation Command (Markas Operasi Udara - MOU).

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#GazaUnderAttack: More Casualties For IDF Troops

As the war entered its fourth day of the third week, more casualties being inflicted by Palestinian fighters towards the intruding Israeli troops in Gaza. Three more Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers were killed on July 23 when a house that they’ve breached apparently has been booby-trapped by the fighters.

The resulting explosion caused parts of the building collapsed. This brought the numbers of IDF troops’ death to 32 with 150 others injured.

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2 C-130s To Be Donated To PhilAF

The United States would be donating two of its Lockheed C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft to the Philippines Air Force (PhilAF) as part of the former’s contribution towards boosting the latter’s capabilities in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operations.

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The C-130s from all over the world have been very instrumental in providing assistance to the Philippines during the aftermath of the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Hercules aircraft from regional countries such as Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia have been conducting flights to and fro the Philippines to bring in rescue workers, relief volunteers, humanitarian goods as well as conducting MEDEVAC operations to fly out the casualties out of the disaster area for further treatment.

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PhilAF currently has three C-130 in its fleet which is obviously insufficient to cater the nationwide needs and operations. It envisaged to have 9 C-130s in its fleet in order to ensure operations could be done effectively and efficiently.

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Vietnam Unveils Locally Made Jet Powered Target Drone

The Vietnamese’ Military Institute of Science and Technology has come up with a jet-powered target drone known as UAV-02 to be used for aerial gunnery training of the Vietnamese People Air Force (VPAF) new Sukhoi Su-30MK2. To date, the Institute has produced 5 UAV-02 to be allocated for such purposes.

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Vietnam has already had propeller driven target drone known as the M-96. This type too has seen operational duties with the Vietnamese military especially to provide gunnery training for Ground Base Air Defence (GBAD). (here)

Over the past years, Vietnam has come up with various UAV models for the purpose of surveillance as well as for gunnery training. (here)

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The Labuan Set For Decommissioning

The three remaining Balikpapan-class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) auxiliary vessels namely HMAS Brunei, HMAS Labuan and HMAS Tarakan would be ending their service soon with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) after in service for more than 30 years.

HMAS Labuan (L128)

HMAS Labuan (L128)

The decommissioning of these three vessels followed the one that has been exercised by RAN  in 2010 which saw three of their sister ships, HMAS Balikpapan, HMAS Wewak and HMAS Betano being charged off charge.

HMAS Labuan remain the only Australian naval vessel which has been christened in commemoration of the Australian Army amphibious assault on Japanese-held Labuan Island in North Borneo during World War 2. She remains the only sailing ship of any other countries bearing such namesake. A Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) shore base was also christened as KD Sri Labuan.

More on HMAS Labuan here

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Philippines Looking For RHIBs, Chances For Malaysian Industries

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)’s Department of National Defence (DND) is in the market for two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to be acquired for the Philippines Navy.

The Navy plans to operate these RHIBs for maritime interdiction as well as Gas & Oil Platform (GOPLAT) takedown missions.

The craft must be able to cruise at speeds of 45 knots, withstand and still be functional at Sea State 4, and capable of carrying 14 passengers (including four crewmen).

The Philippines’ requirement for RHIB is a chance that Malaysian defence industries should not be missing considering the fact that there are a lot of companies in this countries which are engaged in producing local RHIBs for the usage of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

These companies include Terengganu based MSET and Kay Marine, Johor based DALAC Marine and many more. An Omani owned shipbuilding company which is based in Malaysia known as Professional Power Craft (PPC) International has also making its mark as the producer and supplier of RHIBs for Qatari Emiri Naval Forces and the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO). (here)

The Kilat class RHIB produced by MSET for the MMEA

The Kilat class RHIB produced by MSET for the MMEA

Two Petir class RHIB built by Dalac Marine for the MMEA was donated by Canadian Government

Two Petir class RHIB built by Dalac Marine for the MMEA was donated by Canadian Government

An unspecified company has also producing boat for the Philippines Marine Corp to be used within Sulu waters. (here)

Meanwhile, beside Malaysia, other ASEAN countries which has the capabilities to produce RHIBs is an Indonesian company, North Sea Boats (PT Lundin). The company has been supplying its X2K boats to various defence and security agencies in the region which include the RMP’s VAT69 commando, the Indonesian Navy (Tantara Nasional Indonesia - TNI-AL) as well as others.

North Sea Boats X2K RHIB

North Sea Boats X2K RHIB

North Sea Boats also entered a strategic partnership with Malaysia’s Composite Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) in 2011.

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#JusticeForMH17: Halfway From Home, Victims’ Bodies Arrived at Netherlands

Flags from eleven countries which represent the nationalities of 298 passengers and crews on-board the Malaysian Airlines (MAS) Boeing 777-200ER (r/n: 9M-MRD) of Flight MH17 which was shot down over eastern Ukraine near the Russian border were flying at half mast. A Royal Netherland Air Force ( Koninklijke Luchtmacht - KLu/ RNLAF) airman plays the bugle to the tune of Last Post in remembrance of the lost souls on-board the ill-fated aircraft.

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Among the dignitaries that awaits patiently for the arrival of the two aircraft include His Majesty King Wilhelm Alexander, the King of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Queen Maxima as well as others.

It’s Ramadhan and within the next few days, Muslims around the world would be celebrating the coming of Eidil Fitri. Unfortunately, this year’s festive season might not be celebrated like any of those before.

It was a somber sights with other RNLAF airmen stand at the tarmac awaiting for the honour guards consists of soldiers, sailors, airmen and military policemen of the Royal Netherlands Army (Koninklijke Landmach - KL), RNLAF, Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke Marine - KM) as well as the Royal Military Constabulary (Koninklijke Marechaussee - KMar) who were tasked to brought the coffins of the victims, still without any name nor nationalities, out of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft and the RNLAF Lockheed C-130H-30 Hercules tactical transport aircraft to the massive fleet of hearse which awaits them to bring them to Corporal Van Oudheusden Barracks in Hilversum where the process of identification of the victims will be carried out.

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The presence of Australian and Dutch aircraft over Malaysian affair such as this kinds of reminds us to the ill-fated ABDA Command (American-British-Dutch-Australian) defence arrangement prior to the outbreak of World War 2 in the Pacific. Several of  Military Aviation of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL) and RAAF aircraft were involved in the aerial fight over Malaya and Singapore in their last ditch and hapless effort to stem the advance of the Imperial Japanese forces toward the then jewel of British Empire, the so-called Fortress Singapore.

It has been a long way for the global communities especially the families, relatives and friends of these fallen victims to get to this point where victims of this tragic humanitarian disaster received the well earned respect and dignity after being ill-treated by the heartless pro-Russian rebels.

 

Graphic images of the victims’ bodies being left in the open for days under scorching summer heat and after that being put into body bags and handled with such disrespectful manners into a refrigerated train enraged rational thinking people across the world. For goodness sake, these were people who had nothing to do with the madness of war that rages between the two factions. They were just travelers passing-by to their respective destinations where their loved ones awaits for the arrival which never came.

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Nevertheless, one should credited the tireless effort of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for his risky decision to contact the rebels’ leader, Alexander Borodai, who is also self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and negotiated on three main and pressing issues; the repatriation of the victims’ remains, the handing over of the two black boxes as well as the guarantee of safe passage of international investigating teams to Ground Zero, in order to inspect the aircraft’s wreckage.

It was through Prime Minister Najib’s ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach that brought the victims’ remains as well as the black boxes here in the Netherlands.

Malaysia is a small country compared to other superpowers namely the United States and Russia who had the influence over the region but yet have failed to play their part. Instead of pushing for a quick and safe access to rescuers and investigators, these so-called superpowers were locked in useless blame game and busy gathering proxies in this 15 weeks of war of hegemony.

Yet this small nation has played a big role which none other seemingly interested on doing so.

Global communities takes a long breath of reliefs after the refrigerated train left Hraebovo for Kharkiv where the C-17 and the C-130 awaits at the airport for the subsequent repatriation. It is only here, in Kharkiv that humanity finally finds its way. The victims were given full military honours by the Ukrainian authorities. Airmen of the Ukrainian Air Force, in unison and full of traditions, loaded each and every coffin carefully into the cargo bays of the two aircraft. The sights were of complete contrast to the treatment given to these victims, days ago in the rebel held territory.

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Whether in Ukrainian-held territories or in the Netherlands, the military honours given to these victims were usually given to those fallen soldiers as could be seen during the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan and through the Malaysian perspective, during Ops Daulat. Yet, it is important to stress here that all 298 people on-board the aircraft were never combatants and the war that rages on the ground was never theirs. All have nothing to do with the on-going conflict, yet they fell victim to this madness.

It will still be a long way for most of the victims especially from countries outside of the Netherlands. In anticipation of the repatriation of the bodies of Malaysian victims back to their home country, the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia - JAKIM) has been preparing hearses to transport the victims back to their hometown. A prayer would be held for the victims at the Sultan Abdul Samad mosque near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang for Muslim victims before they are being laid to rest.

For us, we have lost not only our loved ones but also a pool of talented and gifted individuals; scientists, researchers, engineers, activists, businessmen, academia etc who had made differences to the world within their respective field of works. Those who were in-charged of this massacre were nothing compared to the victims’ lifetime accolades and achievements.  Whoever responsible for this unspeakable crime should be brought to justice and face the consequences for their ruthlessness and lack of regard to the rules of war. For whatever reasons or justifications, whether with or without intention, shooting innocent airliner is definitely a crime. No amount of forgiveness would washed the bloodied hands that had robbed the lives of these victims.

Our prayers and thoughts to the victims’ families, relatives and friends who had perished in the incident. Though it may sound a little more cliche, efforts should be taken to ensure that this sad and heartbreaking tragedy would be the last of such.

One wonders whether there would be a review of policies especially among regulators and controllers over civilian airliners flying over conflict areas or whether it is about time that airliners are being equipped with countermeasures to protect them against Ground Base Air Defence (GBAD) system?

Within the span of four months the two tragedies that struck our flag carriers, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), many new improvements and lessons learned by the global general aviation industries to ensure the safety of air travel. The disappearance of  Flight MH370 highlight the need for real-time aircraft monitoring system to indicate any particular aircraft position at any time.

The shooting down of Flight MH17, on the other hand, reminds us that civilian airliners needs to be protected from the dangers that lurks on the ground especially when flying over a hostile, conflict areas. Perhaps, these lessons have already being put into place as could be seen through FAA directive to halt any American flights to Israel following the risks of Palestinian’s rocket attack on the country’s airport.

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#GazaUnderAttack: Gaza Rocket Landed Near Airport, Planes Diverted

Earlier on July 22, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Israel’s main airport, wounding one Israeli and prompting all US and some European and Canadian airlines to cancel flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel, and several heading toward the airport have been intercepted by Iron Dome defence system. Nevertheless the latest rocket attack was the closet to the airport since fighting began two weeks ago.

The rocket heavily damaged a house and lightly injured one Israeli in Yehud, a Tel Aviv suburb near the airport.

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A rocket which hit Tel Aviv

Following the rocket attack, US Federal Aviation Administration told its. airlines that they are prohibited from flying to or from Ben Gurion Airport for up to 24 hours. Shortly after the announcement, Israel’s Transport Minister stated that “Ben-Gurion airport was safe from for take-offs and landings, and that there was no security concern for passenger planes.

Some airlines to cancel their flights included American Airlines, Delta Airlines, US Airways, United Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, EasyJet and British Airways.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommended that all European airlines avoid Tel Aviv “until further notice.”

Among the other Europan airlines to announce flight cancellations were Air France, Lufthansa and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Israel’s flag carrier, El Al followed these announcements by stating under no circumstances are they canceling any flights.

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#GazaUnderAttack: HAMAS Claimed Israeli Sufa

HAMAS on July 23 claims that its fighters has managed to target an Israeli Air and Space Force (IASF) F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter over Deir al-Balah airspace. This has been reported by Aman Palestin, a Malaysian-based NGO which has its office in the Gaza Strip.

The IASF has been known to deploy its F-16I Block 52 Sufa for its operations over Gaza ever since the type enter service in 2003. Around 102 examples being acquired from the United States as part of the Peace Marble IV project. Deliveries of these aircraft have been made beginning from 2003 well into 2009.

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For the record, similar claim has been made by HAMAS during Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012. (here)

Entering its third week, the so-called Operation Protective Edge has resulted the death of 29 Israeli soldiers as well as 123 others wounded. 2 ‘civilians’ were killed as a result of rocket attacks as well as 28 others injured. By comparison, the casualties suffered by the Israelis are far lower than those of the Palestinians with 632 killed (mostly innocent women and children) as well as 3,752 others injured.

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Aman Palestin has again updated in its Facebook page on the death of the so-called Israeli Defence Force (IDF) officer, CAPT Dmitry Avias/ Levitas in Gaza due to Palestinian fighter’s sniper fire. He was one of two IDF officers from the Israeli Armoured Corp killed on July 22. The other being identified as 1LT Natan Cohen.

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Over the last 24 hours, three soldiers were seriously wounded, nine were moderately wounded, and eight sustained light wounds.

7 IDF troops were killed in July 21. These include 4 troops being killed when their Jeeps were hit by the fighters’ anti-tank weapon.

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These does not include Oron Shaul, an IDF soldier from Golani Brigade whose APC was shot by HAMAS fighter during the fierce fight in Shuja’iya, which was captured by the Palestinian fighters. While initially Israel denied that Shaul was captured, his status was changed to Missing in Action (MIA) and presumably killed.

HAMAS spokesman, Mushir al-Misri, followed Israel’s announcement by stating that if Israel wanted to even see a picture of Shaul, it would be extremely costly.

 

The numbers of casualties suffered by the Israelis which far exceed those during the previous two operations in Gaza further highlight the sophistication of HAMAS fighters in terms of training, tactics and weaponry.

It is pertinent to note here that among those 29 IDF soldiers killed in action, two of them were volunteers from the United States. Max Steinberg, a native of California’s San Fernando Valley, was a sniper in the Golani Brigade.  Another members of the Golani Brigade, Nissim Sean Carmeli, of South Padre Island in Texas was the other US citizen killed in combat in Gaza.

American volunteers in the IDF has long being recruited ever since the 1948 Arab-Israel War which saw the creation of the State of Israel. Among well-known Americans serving the IDF were Chalmers Hubert Goodlin, BG David Daniel “Mickey” Marcus, Milton “Milt” Rubenfeld, Lou Lenart, William Gerson, Harold “Pappy” Greene, Glenn King as well as others.

With the exception Mickey Marcus, all of the names mentioned above were American volunteers in the then Israeli Air Force. In all 6 American Machal pilots were killed during the war.

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Details on Ex Cope Taufan 2014 By Dzirhan Mahathir

An article by Dzirhan Mahathir in local English daily newspaper titled ” Joint RMAF-USAF exercise brings Raptors” published on July 22 has elaborately describe the assets, units and trainings conducted during last month’s bi-lateral, joint air exercise between the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and its American counterpart, the United States Air Force (USAF) dubbed Ex Cope Taufan 2014.

The article mentioned about one mission involving a combination of fighter and transport aircraft of the two air forces during the exercise. A flight of 8 USAF F-15 Eagles were tasked to intercept a package of RMAF and USAF aircraft consist of 2 C-130s (RMAF), a C-17, 4 Su-30MKM, 6 F-22 Raptors as well as 2 each of the Mig-29s and F/A-18D Hornets.

En Dzirhan also details the units that was involved in Ex Teak Mint 2014 and Ex Balance Mint 2014 which have been integrated into Ex Cope Taufan 2014 this year. Special Operation Forces (SOFs) units from both countries which have been participating in this year’s Ex Cope Taufan were the RMAF PASKAU, the Malaysian Army GGK commandos as well as their counterpart from Special Operations Command Pacific (SOCPAC) consist of USAF 320th Special Tactics Squadron and the US Army’s 1st Special Forces Group otherwise known as the Green Berets.

Ex Cope Taufan 2014, is by far the best ever Large Force Exercise (LFE) ever conducted locally. It is the best platform for the RMAF pilots, ground crews, command and planning officers to honed their skills as well as obtaining valuable knowledge and experience brought by their American counterpart. The RMAF does not participate in LFEs very much often aside from the 2008 edition of Ex Pitch Black in Australia thus opportunities such as these is something valuable and very much welcomed.

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