Saturday, January 3, 2015

Money Well Spent

On Thursday 1 Jan 2015, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles (AUVs) that arrived on the RSS Persistence via Super Puma from Pangkalan Bun could not be unloaded until 7pm due to sea conditions. RSN personnel explained that they have to wait for better weather to start productive work as the AUV has to be launched from the RSS Persistence using a smaller craft.

The 1.8m long 37kg AUV is supposed to hover above the sea bed, with sonar scanners picking up images from each side. But the images are not uploaded immediately, and must be retrieved from the craft's memory card after each deployment to be reviewed manually by trained personnel. Ergo, any items identified may have drifted away by then. Also, the AUV is not a pinger, and pretty useless for detecting signals emitted by a plane's black box. The craft's primary use in the Singapore Navy is to search for mines. Last we heard, AirAsia QZ8501 was not carrying mines.

Meanwhile, harsh weather notwithstanding, the Indonesians, using correct equipment for the task at hand, found two large objects on Friday night measuring about 10 metres by 5 metres. "As I speak we are lowering an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) underwater to get an actual picture of the objects detected on the sea floor. All are at the depth of 30m," rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo proudly announced.

Indonesia is unique among developing countries, and unusual among other Asian countries, in the relatively low priority given to defense spending. In 2009 the military budget totaled US$3.3 billion, about the same military budget and force level as Thailand, a country with less than one-third of Indonesia’s population, and Burma (Myanmar), which has only one-quarter of Indonesia’s population.

Last year Singapore allocated about $12 billion of its budget to national defense. Malaysia's annual defense budget was almost $5 billion in 2013, while Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy, had an annual defense spending of about $7.9 billion.

That's the difference between Indonesia and Singapore.


  1. These Mandarins believe that more expensive means better. Money well spent? Take another case - the F35s that we will buy. Russian TV just aired a programme wherein one of the designers of the F16 rubbished it and predicted that the F35 programme will be quietly scrapped like the F11 programme.

  2. would appreciate links on where you sourced you material.

    The AUV is definitely militarized. Whether all of it's capabilities were used in the course of the search we don't know.

  3. Isn't the black box supposed to send out electronic pings to enable searchers to locate its position? 30 metres deep and they need a seabed scanner? Seems to be an overkill but ambarrassingly not working for the SAF. Maybe they should just send some of our amateur scuba divers down. That may produce better results.

  4. Another vanity project is the need to send Singaporeans to space....

  5. It's easy to waste money when it's not your money, when you don't have to apologize for screwing up, when any losses can be easily recouped by doubling up on leeching off the population.

    Refer to the new National Stadium. Functionality and defects aside, my personal opinion is that it is an ugly ass stadium. This giant eyesore confronts you as you approach the junction between Guillemard Road, Mountbatten Road, and the single-digit Geylang lorongs

  6. This is what will happen if we go to war. While we are fiddling with high tech gadgets, never used before except in exercises, some low tech barbarians are going to overwhelm us. Gawd !

  7. You think the SAF team was sent there to help? They are there to gain experience, as in the case of most disaster reliefs, because they have been sitting on their butts waiting for a war for 50 years. They will probably get in the way of real work. And when they return back, they are praised to the heavens and showered with medals. A feather in the cap of our bird generals and rear admirers. I dunno what will happen in a real shooting war. All one needs to look at is how the Home Team conducted itself in the little Little India riot. Money well spent!

  8. Military expenditure need not be publicly accounted for. It can be totally opaque. Abuse can be terrible especially with such a huge budget.

  9. We are punching above our weight, as a nonagenarian boasted. It appears the Indonesian navy, with a lower defense budget than us, has the equipment that gets the job done! I wonder, in terms of defense, where our punch has landed. Or the weight is more in fat than in muscle, the fat in ministerial salaries, overspending (going for the most expensive), and other abuses. They forgot that lean is mean.

    1. Dunno about punching above our weight.
      But they are certainly earning millions above what they are actually worth.

  10. The Person that holds the Highest Post and paid the Highest Remuneration does not mean he/she is the Most Qualified.

    The Best Equipment may not be the Most Suitable for the Job, especially if handle by inexperienced folks.


  11. "Also, the AUV is not a pinger, and pretty useless for detecting signals emitted by a plane's black box. The craft's primary use in the Singapore Navy is to search for mines. "

    Reminds me of Generals and Government scholars.
    What's a General doing being in charge of SMRT?
    And another General being in charge of NOL.

    So many Generals in Parliament and Temasek linked companies
    And yet none of them can;
    a)Re-capture Mas Selamat within Singapore
    b)protect Bishan MRT depot against vandalism (is it 3 or 4 times now?)
    c)security breaches at Woodlands checkpoint

    Is Singapore a 3rd world country run by tin pot Generals?

  12. Had Spore generals spent millions to buy pingers, trollers' comments will be why spend so much on equipment that is hardly ever going to be used if ever? Why not use the millions to benefits the old folks?

  13. Makes me think if only a fraction of that budget could be spread to social and health services, education, transport to the less well-off to arrest the widening Gini coeffient.
    No, they pride in showmanship. The more expensive the toys or budget, the better.
    After all its the daft Sinkies who continue to put them there are paying.