Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Indonesia considers options to replace decommissioned fighter jet

Indonesia is considering to procure warplanes to replace its F-5 Tiger multirole fighter jets that are about to be decommissioned due to their very long service periods, an official said here Tuesday.

"There have been many options we have been considering whether they would be Russian, American, European," said Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro in his office here.

The minister said fighter jets put under considerations were those with higher capability than the F-5 Tiger planes that have already been 30 years in service with Indonesian air forces.

"I expect that the replacement fighter jets have the capability to carry long-haul missiles," the minister said on the sidelines of a meeting attended by top brasses of the country's military.

Indonesia bought 12 F-5 Tiger multirole fighter jets from Northrop, the United States, in early 1980s.

Purnomo expected a swift decision in opting for the most eligible fighter jet so that procurement on those replacement planes can be conducted during the second strategic plans (Renstra) program period from 2015 to 2020.

Indonesian Air Forces Commander Marshall Ida Bagus Putu Dunia said in the event that the air forces is expecting to operate 16 fighter jets, or one squadron, of the replacement planes.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Military Commander General Moeldoko said that the military has considered fighter jets consisted of Russian-made Sukhoi 35, American-made F-15 and F-16 and another fighter jet from Sweden. -Philippines News Agency

Philippines military to expand counter-terrorism unit

The Philippine government is to triple the size of a special forces military unit that operates against Islamist militants responsible for deadly bombings and kidnappings of Westerners, officials said on Tuesday.

The Light Reaction Battalion is to be built up to regiment size, Philippine Army chief Lieutenant-General Noel Coballes said, an increase from about 500 soldiers to as many as 1,500.

"We have seen how effective they are, so we are strengthening the unit in terms of anti-terrorism. From a battalion we'll increase it to a regiment," he said.

The unit is fighting the Abu Sayyaf, a group of several hundred Islamist militants who are behind the country's deadliest attacks as well as kidnappings of Western targets.

Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the battalion had taken substantial casualties during a three-week battle against gunmen in the southern port of Zamboanga in September last year.

The gunmen are followers of former rebel leader Nur Misuari, who went into hiding as hundreds of his men infiltrated Zamboanga to oppose a proposed peace treaty between the Philippine government and a rival Muslim guerrilla faction.

The fighting left more than 240 people dead and displaced about 116,000 people as entire districts of the city of nearly a million people went up in flames.

"As you have seen, we lost a number of our men in the Zamboanga incident, which led to a shortage that needed to be addressed," Gazmin said.

Neither official gave a timetable, but armed forces spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala said the unit would be bulked up within the year.

"Based on what happened in Zamboanga, our military leadership saw a need to increase the strength of the Light Reaction Battalion to be able to address contingencies anywhere in the country," Zagala told AFP.

The United States has trained and equipped the battalion since 2002, to help its Asian ally fight the Islamist militants in the south of the mainly Catholic nation.-Channel News Asia

Monday, January 06, 2014

Myanmar makes full preparation to host ASEAN meetings

Myanmar is making full preparation to host various meetings during its one-year term as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

These meetings in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan  totaled more than 300,  including summits, ministerial meetings and senior officials meetings, according to official sources.

Plans have been drawn to host the first regional summit attended by more than 15,000 representatives from home and abroad.

The country has also prepared accommodation, security, transportation and information for the regional meetings.

The State Guest House will offer 1,848 rooms with a capacity of some 3,000 guests,  and 77 hotels in Nay Pyi Taw can offer 4,000 rooms.

To show its readiness, Myanmar opened the Myanmar International Convention Center (MICC), the venue for the regional summits and other meetings, in the new capital on Saturday.

As ASEAN chair, Myanmar will take a leading role in implementing priorities of the ASEAN roadmap as part of it efforts to establish the ASEAN Community.

It will also have to lay down the ASEAN Vision for beyond 2015.

According to schedule, Myanmar will first host the 62nd ASEAN Coordination Committee on Investment in Nay Pyi Taw next weekend.

Dozens of investment officers from ASEAN member nations and host Myanmar will discuss at the two-day meeting on Jan. 10-11 matters related to amending the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Treaty, amendment of unpermitted accounts included in the treaty and ongoing work programs in implementing the treaty.

The committee is tasked with promoting investment in the region, smoothing and relaxing rules and regulation and encouraging further flow of investment from regional countries.

The committee is also a leading supervisory body for the implementation of investment commitment and cooperation among ASEAN and dialogue partner countries.

The committee meeting will be followed by the first Myanmar- host ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) Retreat on Jan. 15-18 in Bagan, Mandalay region.

Taking over from Brunei, Myanmar started to assume the chairmanship of the bloc on Jan. 1, 2014.

ASEAN adopted its Vision-2020 in 1997 and is striving for establishing ASEAN Community in 2015. ASEAN is playing a leading role not only for regional integration but also for East Asia Summit, ASEAN+3 Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting.

Myanmar became an ASEAN member in 1997.

ASEAN comprises  Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. - The Philippine Star