Back in 2007 (the year when the lost of the RMAF jet engines were detected), the Malaysian army acquired a passive defence sensor from the Czech Republic at a cost that is unknown to the tax payers, supposedly on grounds that the purchase is deemed highly classified’ which in reality is the contrary. The commercial name for the equipment is VERA-E, and reports has it that a similar equipment is also manufactured in Ukraine under the commercial name of KOLCHUGA, developed by a consortium that took eight years (1993-2000) of research and development...........details of the equipment is readily available in Wikipedia.
Apparently, the decision to acquire VERA-E was decided by a few 'top notch' military officers (predominantly army) without it having to go through the usual technical evaluation, considering that the operational nature of equipment will impact upon other Electronic Support Measures (ESM) systems that are in service with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and the Royal Malaysia Navy (RMN). An all paid visit by some military officers to the Czech Republic was all that was necessary.
Reports have it that initially, the RMAF were coerce to accept the equipment, but the RMAF for reasons of its own, refused to have anything to do with the equipment. Since the decision to acquire have been made, army is now saddled with the responsibility to operate and maintain it; rightly or wrongly.
Wikipedia describes VERA-E briefly as follows:
'VERA-E a passive radiolocator is an electronic support measures (ESM) system the uses measurements of time difference of arrival (TDOA) of pulses at three or four sites to accurately detect and track airborne emitters'.
'The System is generally line-of-sight limited, with a nominal range of 450 km, the normal radio horizon'. (KOLCHUGA has a detection range in excess of 450 km)
'Up to 200 targets can be automatically tracked simultaneously, with an output rate adjustable from 1 to 5 seconds'.
While I cannot dispute the need for army to be equipped with ESMs in this modern day battlefield; the question that needs to be asked is whether VERA-E with a 450 km detecting range is tactically and operationally prudent to meet the battlefield ESM needs of the army. Isn't the deployment of VERA-E is best served by the RMAF whose role is to maintain surveillance of the airspace well beyond the horizon? And why does army require an ESM system which has a detection range that far exceeds the optimum range of its largest guns and missiles? Or is the army now thinking of acquiring rockets and missiles exceeding the range of 450 km? I am no battlefield strategist, but I feel VERA-E acquisition far exceeds the requirement of army.
Now, the million dollar questions that one needs to ask are as follows. First, on what basis was the acquisition made? Was it based on a professional or a business imperative? If it was the latter, then it is not too far fetch to presume that there were solicited kickbacks to sponsors of the acquisition.
Second, who actually toyed with the idea of acquiring the VERA-E from the Czech Republic and why?
Third, was the decision to acquire within the planned acquisition programme, or was it a 'spontaneous' purchase devised by someone with financial expectations?
Fourth, why was it so necessary that the acquisition be made through direct negotiation, rather than by the open tender system?
Fifth, who was the agent or middleman that was linked to the contract?
Six, since ESM deployed in the battlefield has impact on other likely ESM operated by the other sister services, was there any consultation made with the two sister services?
Lastly, is army thinking of fighting alone without the support of its two sister services; hence a 450 km passive defence sensor? Have army dumped the Joint Warfare doctrine and if so, why does the Armed Forces need the Joint Force HQ?
Lets us hope that in this particular acquisition, the name Sydney Franklin does not come into play at all, or another tailoring company being offered the contract in a platter.
Honestly, I am sick and tired of hearing contracts being awarded through some dubious process, because some 'top-notch military officers' decided so, without any professional consideration, thought and planning and worse still, without taking into account the expectant operational inter-play of the other two services. For a capital purchase of such significance to the entire the Armed Forces, it cannot be decided by 'a selected few', and worse still by just one man.
This deal certainly has the trimmings of corruption and abuse, and it must be thoroughly investigated to bring to justice all those who were a party to this outrageous unsavory act. The nation must never allow the greed of a few to compromise national defence and security.
Will Mindef be ready to open up a preliminary investigation into this acquisition?
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION