Zahid Hamidi: Su 30 MKM is the right choice

Thumbs up from the Defense Minister as a seal of approval for the Su 30 MKM

Defense Minister Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the acquisition of Russian made Sukhoi Su 30MKM multi role combat air-crafts was “The right choice”. He said this at a media conference at the end of the visit to TUDM Gong Kedak and Sqdn No.11., were the 18 first-line of defense air superior fighters are based, at the border of Kelantan and Terengganu.

Dr. Zahid attended a briefing by top TUDM brass and was taken for a ‘joy ride’ on the Su 30 MKM to be personally demonstrated of the capabilities and operational readiness of the ATM’s air defense latest and most prized asset. The purpose built air base was completed in 2008, the same time the Su 30 MKMs were delivered in batches from Irkutz in Siberia.

The Su 30 MKM 'cobra' maneuvres, to 'allow' a chase aircraft fly pass and then have the advantage

The Su 30 MKM is unique but highly lethal war machine because it can do maneuvers such as sharp turns at high speed and the famous ‘cobra attack’ which many fighters in the same class and size are unable to do, as it had vector thrusters. The TUDM Su 30 MKMs are particularly unique because it has a blend of East and Western European avionics and weapon systems, first of its kind. It flies more tha  twice the speed of sound and has an operational range (with air refueling) up to off the coast of East Sabah, despite being deployed from TUDM Gong Kedak.

In a special ‘media chat’ at TUDM Subang, Dr. Zahid said “We (MINDEF) have to look at the cost effectiveness. We are looking to upgrade and develop the defense industry (as per PM’s plan), which will be focused on offset programs, transfer of technology (from acquisitions of foreign vendors) and training. We can no longer regards ourselves as end users but playing active role in the defense industry. As for the ‘New Economic Model’ (NEM), I reckon we will plan into the next decade meaning after 2020, we would like to contribute to the economic growth (which previously regarded as end users)” answering to the question on the planning and role of MINDEF in Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s NEM announced on 30 March 2010.

Su 30 MKM: Poetry in motion

“With the defense industry, we will be a profit centre instead of cost centre. We will contribute in terms of not only reducing foreign exchange but the growth of the economy”. According to Dr. Zahid, PM Dato’ Seri Najib would chair the Malaysian Defense Industrial Council (MDIC). As previous Defense Minister for two separate terms, PM Dato’ Seri Najib was instrumental in setting up the MDIC and actively refer and consult the members, which comprised of Science Adviser to the Prime Minister, Chief Secretaries of relevant ministries, service Chiefs, IGP, industry prime movers and players and GLCs, which include Malaysian Industrial Group for High Technology (MIGHT). As per nine years ago, PM Dato’ Seri Najib managed to foster a strong and tight Government-to-Industry collaboration and working relationship, for the betterment of the nation.

On the question of the increasing the service industry as part of NEM’s plan into making the economy double in size by 2020, Dr. Zahid responded “Indeed. We are working with a few prime movers in the defense industry, in clusters namely automotive, ICT, transport, maritime and aerospace”. He also said as part of the human capital development program for ex-servicemen who are regarded as still ‘productive’ and able to contribute to the economy, PERHEBAT will enhance their training programs based their existing skills, experience and exposure. This program is designed for ATM personnel who will be retiring or terms of service ending and part of the program is to work with institutes of higher learning as early as 18 months before they leave and diplomas be awarded.

Defense Minister Dr Zahid giving 'thumbs up' for his first Su 30 MKM experience

Dr. Zahid reiterated the role of the ATM as part of Malaysia’s foreign policy and involvement in international peacekeeping and humanitarian missions will not change, as per the previous 50 years. In 1960, then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra send the Army to Congo as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force and ever since, ATM have been involved in several missions and operations, which include Bosnia, Somalia, Cambodia, Western Sahara, Lebanon and Timor Leste. Dr. Zahid also said that ATM would be involved in training and development of the Afganistan armed and security forces.

He also said that ATM would be actively involved in exercises with foreign armed forces within the region and friendly countries. Example he gave was the recently concluded tri-services exercise with Indonesian counterparts.

Earlier after taking the flight with the most senior Su 30 MKM pilot Lt. Col. Mohd. Nor “Giro” Aris, Dr. Zahid dismissed Oppositions’ wild accusations that the TUDM Gong Kedak and Sqdn No. 11 were not operational, which include the runaway was damaged due to shoddy work. It is obvious, that the counter productive politicians were wrong  with ill intent and misleading. He also announced that MINDEF will propose to the Cabinet soon for an air terminal be built in TUDM Gong Kedak, to facilitate for bigger operations which include transport aircrafts. If approved, the project would be included in the 10th Malaysia Plan.

The visit to TUDM Gong Kedak was hosted by Air Force Chief Jen. Dato’ Seri Rodzali Daud TUDM. Also present in the visit is Chief Secretary to the Minister of Defense Dato’ Seri Abu Bakar Abdullah. The Officers of TUDM Gong Kedak surprised Dr. Zahid with the first year commemoration celebrations as Defense Minister which is today, by presenting a pulut kuning right after lunch at the officers’ mess TUDM Gong Kedak Wisma Perwira.

*Updated Sunday 11 April 2010 0800hrs

Published in: on April 10, 2010 at 18:32  Comments (14)