The first forward operating base at sea, converted from a decommissioned oil platform, will be in place along Sabah’s east coast by early next month.
According to Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, it will be the first such base aimed at giving security forces a decisive advantage in protecting the coastline there.
“Besides oil platforms, we also have vessels that we have identified as mobile forward bases,” he told reporters after delivering a talk on Malaysia’s Defence and Security Policies at the Armed Forces Defence College here yesterday.
Hishammuddin said work was ongoing in Johor to turn the vessels into mobile forward bases to be positioned in Sabah.
The bases are part of the Sea Basing concept, which involves the placement of naval vessels and personnel as well as a small naval base offshore to intercept unknown ships or intruders far from the country’s coastlines.
“This is a new approach and if it is a success, we can not only add more mobile forward bases but also share our experiences with neighbouring countries who are facing the same threats,” said Hishammuddin.
He said the forward bases would also accommodate unmanned aerial vehicles, armed helicopters and patrol boats.
On the proposal to decommission the Royal Malaysia Air Force’s MiG 29N fighter aircraft, Hishammuddin said the replacement chosen would be subject to three conditions.
“It depends on our ability to fund the assets. Whatever assets we acquire also depends on the threats we face and how we can convince the people that the assets are needed by the armed forces,” he said.
Hishammuddin added that the decision to purchase replacements would be announced under the 11th Malaysia Plan.
The RMAF has 16 Russian-made MiG 29N jet fighters, which are used for air interdiction operations.
Bernama reported that French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation had offered its Rafale aircraft, while British multinational BAE Systems had offered the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing its F/A-18E Super Hornet to replace the MiG aircraft. (The Star)