Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sub-Launched Version Of BrahMos Missile Tested

By Jay Menon
Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

NEW DELHI — India performed its first test firing of the submarine-launched variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on March 20.

The missile took off vertically from a submerged platform off the coast of Visakhapatnam in southern India, followed a predetermined trajectory and achieved its full range of 290 km (180 mi.), according to program officials.

“Following a pre-defined trajectory, the missile emerged from underwater [and] took a turn toward the designated target, meeting all mission objectives. All the telemetry and tracking stations, including Indian naval ships positioned throughout the flight path, confirmed the pinpoint accuracy of the mission,” a BrahMos official says.

This test marks the first time any supersonic cruise missile has been launched vertically from a submerged platform.

India plans to invest more than 550 billion rupees ($10 billion) on six new subs for its navy under a project named P75 (I). A. Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and managing director of BrahMos Aerospace, says the “BrahMos missile is fully ready for [integration with] P75 (I) of [the] Indian navy in [the] vertical launch configuration, which will make the platform one of the most powerful weapon platforms in the world.”

A joint project by India and Russia, the BrahMos missile can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg. (660 lb.) It has a top speed of Mach 2.8, about three times faster than the subsonic U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile.

The BrahMos can be launched from submarines, ships and aircraft. Ship- and ground-launched versions of the missile have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian army and navy.

“The naval variant of the missile has already proved its mettle in both vertical and inclined launch configurations from moving warships,” the official says. “The missile has been successfully inducted in a number of frontline Indian navy warships and will be deployed in other future surface ships. They are capable of both maritime strike and land attack.”

The BrahMos test comes close on the heels of India’s secretive K-15 subsurface-launched missile test in January.

Weird, futuristic “Project Zero” All-Electric Tilt Rotor unmanned aircraft released

An interesting blog post from The Aviationist.

The revolutionary AgustaWestland “Project Zero” all-electric tilt rotor technology demonstrator, designed, built and tested in twelve months, was officially unveiled on Mar. 4, 2013, just prior to the Heli-Expo 2013 in Las Vegas, USA.

AW1038 - Project Zero_1

The result of close collaborations with Finmeccanica companies – Selex ES, Ansaldo Breda, and Ansaldo Energia – and partner companies from Italy, UK, U.S. and Japan, the aircraft embeds some unuque features: aesthetically pleasing styling and aerodynamically unique tiltrotor configuration; carbon graphite exterior surfaces; High-Integrity Flight Control Computer and Actuator Control Unit; custom produced electric motor inverter and motor control algorithm; axial flux permanent magnet electric motors.
Furthermore, the aircraft uses no hydraulics: the retractable landing gear, nacelle tilting mechanism, and elevons are controlled by high bandwidth electromechanical actuators (EMA).
AW1038 - Project Zero_3

Image credit: AgustaWestland

Friday, March 22, 2013

ALAS: the Missile Cometh

Read more at:

The usefulness of over the horizon light precision strike weapons is becoming clear to navies, recently became clear to land forces, and was always clear to air forces. Serbia’s Yugoimport has been working on an “Advanced Light Attack System” missile that builds on their rocket and turbojet expertise, but they needed a financial backer to develop their low-cost solution. In 2013, an agreement with the UAE’s EAI secured that backing, in exchange for joint development.
The missile is an interesting product definition case, which seems to aim at a low-cost, non-western niche in the naval and helicopter markets. At sea, it could be a strong step forward to address an emerging requirement for all navies.

ALAS: Positioning Without Regrets

ALAS is a 55 kg, turbojet powered, camera-guided missile that uses inertial guidance along a pre-programmed flight path around or over obstructing terrain, with a link back to an operator for target identification, selection, and guidance. The camera can be either TV or infrared, but must be pre-loaded in advance. Guidance is expected to use fiber optic cable, with an option for an encrypted radio link. Carrying platforms are expected to be land vehicles, ships, and sometimes naval helicopters.
Power is provided by a rocket booster motor and EDePro’s TMM-040 “Mongoose” turbojet, pushing the missile to a sub-sonic top speed of around 340-400 mph/ 640-740 kmh. Range is expected to be around 25 km/ 13.5 miles, with a possible boost to 60 km/ 32.4 miles.
Note the tradeoffs here. Simple turbojet engine for middling speed, range likewise middling and about the same as RAFAEL’s rocket-powered Spike NLOS. Command guidance is less accurate and more subject to interference, and may rely on a physical link. Guidance optics for day or night, but not both. Fast jets not mentioned as an option in EDePro’s January 2013 specifications document. Every one of these choices creates a cheaper weapon, in exchange for performance trade-offs and simplicity of manufacturing.
Which leads one to ask: so what?
The 2006 war in Lebanon saw 1960s-era AT-2/3 wire-guided missiles used as precision artillery by Iran’s Hezbollah legions, and similar employment of Spike and other weapons by Israeli soldiers. With the possible exception of day/night guidance, none of these tradeoffs is a problem in that situation.
A ship firing ALAS against small swarming targets would have operator overload issues and would pine for imaging infrared guidance options; but a boat or ship that wanted to use the missile against a target on land, or a single target at sea, could do so.
A helicopter that wanted a light anti-ship missile would be unable to use launch and leave tactics, but it could certainly stay outside the firing range of the very short range missiles mounted on boats smaller than corvettes. On land, the extended reach keeps the helicopter outside the range of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, and most guns.
In many situations, and in many threat environments around the world, this combination would be less-than-ideal – but good enough. More to the point, it has the potential to be very affordable. That’s good for customers with small budgets, and also good for customers who want to mount ALAS on a number of different platforms. If it can be coupled with a good, compact launch system, ALAS has potential in the global naval market, as well as on land.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

First Nirbhay Cruise Missile Test Fails

Watch the NDTV news item on Nirbhay in video. C
A test flight of India’s Nirbhay cruise missile failed today. “The missile blasted off from a mobile launcher positioned in the launch pad — 3 of the ITR missile test range at Chandipur, Odisha. at about 11:54 a.m.” DRDO announcement said. However, after a successful lift-off, about 17 minutes into the flight the missile had deviated from the planned flight path and the mission was terminated. Nevertheless, DRDO claims the missile “successfully” met the basic mission objectives and performed some of the manouveres satisfactorily before being terminated midway.
Under the planned test, Nirbhay (Fearless) will be required to complete a flight of 1,000 km, representing the weapon’s operational range. Originally, the test was scheduled for late 2012 but was delayed. Once development is completed Nirbhay will become part of India’s nuclear triad and an important complement in the country’s nuclear retaliatory capability, establishing viable ‘second strike’ through submarine-launched K-15 ballistic missiles and Nirbhay cruise missiles. A conventional armed variant will also improve the naval strike capability beyond the range of the current BrahMos.
The Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a DRDO facility in Bangalore, has designed Nirbhay as a derivative of the Lakshya unmanned target drone. It is designed for deployment from land, air and sea. As a cruise missile, Nirbhay can fly autonomously or under remote control. The weapon is launched from road mobile launcher, using a booster for acceleration. After the booster separates, the turbo-jet engine kicks in, powering the missile for the cruises phase. Nirbhay will fly at an altitude of 500 – 1000 metres at a speed of 0.67 Mach. It is equipped with autopilot maintaining constant altitude from the ground, thus enabling the missile to avoid detection by flying ‘under the radar’. ADE is also referring to the missile as a ‘loitering weapon’, as it can fly around te target until instructed to attack. However, it has not been disclosed whether the missile is equipped with sensors to obtain images to provide the intelligence for such attack. Other attributes mentioned in the past were multiple warheads, although it is not clear if each weapon will have multiple attack capability or the family of weapons will offer a choice (for example, conventional, anti-ship or nuclear.)India plans to field two versions of Nirbhay – the nuclear armed cruise missile, to be carried by up to 20 specially modified Su-30MKI fighters. The booster-equipped naval version will deploy with the three Arihant class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). Carry a warhead weighing 250 kg this variant will be capable of striking targets at a range of 1,200 km, utilizing a hybrid Ring Laser Gyro/Global Positioning Navigation (RLG/GPS). Cruising at a speed of 0.7 Mach and using terrain following navigation the missile is designed to maintain a 10 meters height above water or 30 meters above land.
A conventionally armed variant carrying a warhead of 450kg, will have a range of 750km. It will deploy with Jaguar strike fighters and Rafale MMRCA and used for land and naval surface attack applications. Using the same hybrid RLG/GPS navigation the missile will offer combined attack accuracy of about 20 meter CEP, which could be further improved using radar-based terminal-guidance. Most of the avionics used for the Nirbhay program are derivatives of avionic modules developed for the BrahMos missile.
Pakistan has already developed two versions of cruise missiles – the Raad and Babur, that has a range of 700 km. Pakistan developed its cruise missiles after recovering two US Tomahawk cruise missiles lost over its territory in the 1998.

ACE, the Engine for Army's FVL?

Posted by Graham Warwick
Read more article at:

As it works to get its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) advanced rotorcraft program off the ground, beginning by flying two Joint Multi Role (JMR) air-vehicle demonstrators in 2017, the US Army is turning its attention to what could power replacements for its Black Hawks and Apaches from the mid-2030s onwards.

Sikorsky/Boeing's JMR/FVL concept

To that end, the Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) is soliciting proposalsfor conceptual design and analysis of a future Advanced Concept Engine (ACE). This will look more broadly than the FVL Medium requirement to replace the UH-60 and AH-64 and study engines in the 40shp to10,000shp range to power platforms ranging from small unmanned aircraft to large cargo rotorcraft.

The Alternative Engine Conceptual Design and Analysis effort is looking for "adaptive and/or alternate engine/power system concepts" offering "significantly improved" specific fuel consumption (sfc) and power-to-weight ratio. AATD is putting emphasis on technologies that "flatten the sfc curve" across the power range, minimize installation losses, and are optimized for "non-conventional, higher speed rotorcraft".

The Army is already planning to develop a new 3,000shp turboshaft to be available late this decade to re-engine the UH-60M and AH-64E, now powered by the 2,000shp T700-701D. The Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) would be a follow-on to AATD's Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine demonstrators, run by Honeywell/Pratt & Whitney (HPW3000) and General Electric (GE3000).

But the ITEP engine will not be ready in time to power the JMR 230kt-cruise rotorcraft demonstrators in 2017, and likely not big engine to power the FVL Medium utility rotorcraft planned to replace the Black Hawk beginning around 2035. So it looks like the ACE program is intended to result in a powerplant for FVL Medium, which is planned to enter development in the early 2020s.

The ACE demonstrator program is scheduled to begin in FY2017. Bidders must provide a technology roadmap showing how they would get to TRL 4 (component demos) by then, on internal and funded R&D, and how they would get to TRL 6 (ready for development) by the end of the system-level demonstration program. But the program starts small, with only $1.2 million budgeted for multiple18-month concept design and analysis studies.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

China’s Newest Stealth Fighter May Head to Sea, State Media Says

The J-31 during testing. <em>Photo: via</em>
The J-31 during testing. Photo: via

China’s latest stealth fighter prototype could be deployed aboard the Chinese navy’s first aircraft carrier, eventually allowing Beijing to deploy radar-evading warplanes all over the world — although it’ll have to overcome some serious constraints.
The twin-engine J-31, which made its public debut in blurry photographs snapped at the Shenyang Aircraft Company airfield in northeastern China in late October, “may become China’s next generation carrier-borne fighter jet,” according to the government-owned Global Times newspaper. “News” from China’s state media, including Global Times, essentially can be read as official announcements.
But Sun Cong, the J-31′s chief designer, implied that the new stealth jet will need to be enhanced to become carrier-compatible, according to Global Times. In other words, the J-31 won’t be headed to sea any time soon, however much Chinese state media signals the rising power’s interest in taking its stealth jet out to the open water.
In any event, the prospect of a maritime future for the J-31 places China in rarefied company. Of the dozen or so countries that possess flattops, only a handful are developing carrier-based stealthwarplanes; and none have deployed them yet. The U.S. Navy is working on the F-35C ship-compatible version of the Joint Strike Fighter; the U.K. and Italy are also acquiring F-35s for their carriers — in their cases, the vertical-landing B-model of the next-generation jet that the U.S. Marines will use.
With a years-long head start, the Western countries are likely to field their carrier-launched stealth fighters well before the Chinese could. Beijing is only beginning to develop its naval aviation capability, a century after the U.S. formed its own seagoing air force.
There has long been speculation about the J-31′s naval destiny. Observers noted during its debut that the first J-31 prototype has the extra-tough twin nose wheels that are typical of carrier-based planes, which tend to land hard on their comparatively small floating airstrips.
But judging from high-resolution photos of the J-31 prototype, the new plane apparently lacks other key features of naval fighters, including a tailhook (for snagging the arresting wire on the carrier deck) and folding wings (for compact storage below deck). It’s these additions and others that Cong was likely referring to when he said the carrier-based J-31 would have to be an improved model.
There’s little need for hastiness on Beijing’s part. China’s sole carrier, the ex-Soviet Liaoning, began sea trials in the summer of 2011 and landed her first planes in November. State media claims Liaoningwill sail on her first long-range voyage sometime this year, with the goal of entering frontline servicewithin two years. (China’s ongoing construction of naval tanker ships, meant to refuel the carrier on long deployments, seems to corroborate this timeline.)
Beijing is also planning its first homebuilt carrier, with construction reportedly beginning this year.
Liaoning already possesses the components of a basic air wing, including non-stealthy J-15 fighters and several types of helicopter. There is some evidence Beijing is also developing a carrier-launched radar plane similar to the U.S. E-2. But Liaoning lacks the steam catapults that are standard on large American flattops — and this limits the ship’s ability to launch large, heavy planes in the class of the E-2.
The absence of catapults could also have some bearing on any future, maritime version of the J-31. Since they must launch off the ship’s deck strictly under their own power, China’s carrier planes are constrained in the amount of fuel and weapons they can carry. For all its potential stealthiness, a naval J-31 could sneak into a battle zone with only a handful of missiles and very little fuel for maneuvering — though to be fair, the U.S. F-35 also has a fairly small weapons loadout while in stealth mode.
If the J-31 goes to sea, it could allow Beijing to deploy high-tech air power almost anywhere in the world within reasonable flying range of the coast. But not any time soon. And not without plenty of limitations.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Moe update on Z-10 ORIGIN

Russian Roots Revealed In China's Z-10

By Guy Norris, Anthony Osborne
Source: AWIN First

Sergei Mikheyev, general designer of the Kamov Design Bureau, has revealed that the Russian helicopter company secretly designed the baseline version of the Z-10 attack helicopter for China in the mid-1990s.

The two-seat helicopter made its public debut at the 2012 Zhuhai air show in China, having undergone extensive testing by the People’s Liberation Army for several years. While an outward resemblance to the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta was widely discussed, no connection was ever made to Kamov until Mikheyev’s announcement at the Heli-Expo convention here on March 6.

Commenting during a briefing on the Kamov product line, Mikheyev says the decision to reveal the Russian company’s role in the design of the Z-10 followed its unveiling by China at the air show late last year.

Kamov worked on the preliminary design at China’s request in 1995. “Due to understandable reasons this was kept secret, but we made the design and it was accepted by China,” Mikheyev says. The baseline design, which was known internally as Project 941, “was accepted for development,” he adds.

Until now, it was generally believed that the aircraft had been designed in China and that the only real foreign input was in the powerplant.

The Z-10’s development has been highly controversial. Five aircraft were powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C engines fitted with full authority digital engine controls developed by Hamilton Sundstrand. Following investigations by federal agencies, United Technologies Corp., the parent company of the two firms, was fined $75 million for violating the Arms Export Control Act and making false statements in connection with the illegal export to China of U.S.-origin military software in June 2012.

According to evidence heard in the trial, China has sourced the engines under the pretense of producing a civil medium transport. PW&C provided up to 10 engines for the aircraft. Since then, it has been suggested that Z-10 manufacturer Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation has had to use a lower-rated indigenously-built engine in the helicopter, forcing it to undertake a significant weight-saving program until a new, more powerful engine becomes available.

Kamov is better known for its co-axial designs such as the Ka-32 transport helicopter and also the Ka-50/52 attack helicopters. The company is producing the Ka-62 utility helicopter.

“So I wish success to the helicopter,” Mikheyev adds.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chinese attack helicopter's secret Russian roots

Article from:

Sergei Mikheyev, General Designer of the Kamov Design Bureau, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Hero of the Russian Federation dropped the proverbial bombshell at Heli-Expo here in Las Vegas this afternoon.

Saving the best to last in a briefing to update a series of Kamov programs, Mikheyev told an astonished crowd that China’s Z-10/WZ-10 attack helicopter was actually designed in great secrecy under contract for China by Kamov. Dubbed Project 941, the concept was initially designed in 1995 and developed by China into the WZ-10/Z-10.

The two-seat helicopter made its public debut at the 2012 Zhuhai airshow – and while the helicopter had been heard of before then – its appearance at the show came as a surprise. At the time observers noted an outward resemblance to the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta, but no connection was ever made to Kamov until today.

More details will follow in Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fighting and Fallout in Sabah


Violence has escalated on Sabah, where the Sultan of Sulu and his troops remain firm in their demands.

When about 200 supporters of the Sultan of Sulu packed M16s into boats and made the one-hour crossing from Sulu in the southern Philippines to Lahad Datu in Malaysian Borneo’s eastern Sabah on February 9, no-one took much notice.
Initial international media reports a few days later were vague about who the group was. Even in their native Philippines, many had no idea what Jamalul Kiram III, who claims to be the heir to the Islamic sultanate of Sulu, was prepared to fight for. But they certainly do now.
Even before Malaysia attacked the group with fighter jets on Tuesday,the crisis had escalated and spread rapidly. Last Friday, 12 Filipinos and two Malaysian counter-terrorism police were killed in a shootout, while six more police and 11 Filipinos, including two imams, were reportedly killed 190 miles (300 km) south in Semporna. Meanwhile, the sultan’s son and the group’s leader Raja Muda Kiram have dispersed with surviving members of the group. Political fallout in both the Philippines and Malaysia has grown by the day.
The standoff has not only tested Philippine-Malaysia ties, it has also had implications for the imminent elections in both countries as well as the fragile Philippines peace process.
Dating back to the late 19th century when the British ruled Malaya, the sultan’s claim to parts of the eastern half of Sabah (formerly known as North Borneo) has resurrected one of the biggest sovereignty disputes by land area in the region. Successive Malaysian and Philippine administrations have found it much simpler to sweep the issue under the carpet than resolve it once and for all.
It’s a status quo that Abraham Idjirani, secretary-general and spokesperson for the sultanate, says Manila has tried to preserve in the name of safeguarding ties with Kuala Lumpur as the dispute has come to a boil.
“The only request from both sides is to surrender – this appears to be the policy of both governments,” he told The Diplomat on Sunday after the violence spread to Semporna.
In trying to rein in the sultan, Philippine President Benigno Aquino has changed his stance almost daily. At first, he tried to entice the sultan’s men back. Then, Aquino said his administration would seek to prosecute the sultan and his followers. After violence erupted last Friday he said all would be forgotten, if only the group would return.
As the election campaign kicks off ahead of Senate and mayoral polls in mid-May, Aquino and his ruling Liberal Party are coming under growing criticism by the press, public and an opposition keen to score political points.
An opinion article in the Philippines Star called Aquino “clueless” on Sunday, while the Opposition National Alliance – opponents for the Senate race – complained of “arrogance” in dealings with the sultan during a press briefing the same day.
Following Tuesday’s assault, headlines in the Philippine press will likely reflect the severity of the situation that many view as a battle between Filipinos and Malaysians, with Aquino doing little to help his countrymen.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s approach to handling the situation has been viewed as heavy-handed outside the country but too lax at home.
When the sultan’s followers first landed, the Malaysian government ordered police to surround the group, with initial orders to keep the army withdrawn to avoid escalating the situation. They also imposed a food blockade aimed at flushing out the insurgents.
Speaking during an election campaign visit to Sabah on February 14, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak emphasized the need for a peaceful solution which he backed with a gentle warning.
“In terms of strength, we have the upper hand in combat power to arrest them, but the government opts for negotiation to break the stalemate so that they leave peacefully to southern Philippines,” Malaysian state news agency Bernama quoted Najib as saying. Najib’s comments in this instance were the only time Malaysia’s leader spoke publically about the crisis before the death toll started to climb on Friday.
On Tuesday, as warplanes attacked the Sultan’s supporters, only 30 of whom were reported to be armed, Najib attempted to justify the assault in democratic terms.
“The government has to take the appropriate action to protect national pride and sovereignty as our people have demanded,” he said in a statement issued through state news agency Bernama.
Najib’s handling of the crisis is seen domestically as a critical test of his leadership – especially in Sabah – ahead of a tightly fought general election due by the end of June.
On Sunday, the prime minister retaliated after the main opposition accused the ruling United Malays National Organization of staging the shootout as part of a pre-election set-piece designed to rally Malaysians around the administration. This claim has been fuelled by overt propagandizing. Immediately after Friday’s shootout, the government claimed it had captured 10 insurgents and that the standoff was over after the sultan’s supporters had fled back to the Philippines, an account which proved to be entirely false.
Although a recent survey by the Merdeka Institute in Kuala Lumpur found 70 percent support among ethnic Malays for the ruling United Malays National Organization, Jerry Kamijan, deputy chief editor of the New Sabah Times, said that the longer the crisis drags on, the more people will criticize the government’s handling of it.
“There is a lot of concern on the ground,” he said. “It is as if we have been held to ransom by the intruders.”
While Kamijan dismisses the sultan’s move as an attempt to extract money, supporters say the strengths of the sultan’s claims are historic and reportedly significant. The Malaysian Embassy in Manila pays 5,300 ringgits (US$1,715) to the sultanate every year, the terms of the British colonial-era deal. There is also the question of the large Filipino population in Sabah, particularly in the disputed area.
No one knows just how many Filipinos live in Sabah – many are illegal – but in calling for a lasting solution, Philippine senators on Saturday put the figure at more than 800,000, out of a total population of 3.2 million. This suggests that around a quarter of the population of Sabah are Filipinos, who mostly live in the disputed eastern side of the state.
“A just and peaceful resolution of the sovereign claim of the Sulu Sultanate … will remove a thorny issue that has caused much uncertainty in the relationship between Malaysia and the Philippines,” Amina Rasul, president of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, said in a statement.
Ties between the two countries are almost certain to be strained further before they can begin to heal, as the Philippine government has talked openly in recent days about the prospect of filing a case with the International Court of Justice.
On the ground in Sabah, relations between nationals of both countries have already started to deteriorate rapidly. Idjirani says the violence in Semporno took place after Malaysian security forces went to the area to search for key figures from the Sulu Sultanate. After Malaysian forces reportedly killed two imams who have lived in the area for decades – but who are originally from the islands of Sulu and Tawi Tawi within the sultanate – gunmen then retaliated and killed five Malaysians, he said.
“There are organized, patriotic efforts by people in this area,” Idjirani adds.
Amid rising tensions, news reports this week say that some Malaysian bosses are firing their Filipino workers – many from areas within the sultanate – amid a crackdown on Filipinos in Sabah.
The original group reportedly scattered after Tuesday’s assault and Malaysian security forces in the area have doubled. Yet, there is little sign the security situation will improve soon.
Meanwhile, on Tawi Tawi and Sulu and in the west of Mindanao, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – a former rebel group which signed a ceasefire deal in 1996 but which retains limited arms – is reportedly on alert and is standing by to support the sultan. MNLF leaders, however, have denied direct involvement in the ongoing standoff.
Both MNLF and the sultan’s inner circle have indicated that they feel increasingly marginalized by the Philippines ongoing peace process, which has directly involved just a handful of the 13 Muslim groups that occupy large swathes of the southern island of Mindanao.
A few days after the Aquino administration signed an October peace framework with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another insurgent group in Mindanao, MNLF attempted to call on supporters in the city of Davao to rise up, an effort which ultimately failed.
Since then, MILF has taken the lead in fleshing out a peace deal with Manila that is expected to result in a newly calibrated autonomous region in Mindanao called Bangsamoro.
With Malaysia acting as mediator – the latest chapter of the deal was signed in Kuala Lumpur last week – critics in the Philippines are increasingly adamant that Malaysia is far from objective in resolving this complex political problem. Malaysian soldiers on the ground monitoring a ceasefire in Mindanao were advised on Saturday to limit their movements amid fears of retaliation by supporters of the sultan.
Earl Parreno, a political analyst and member of the board of trustees of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, a Manila-based think-tank, says the sultan’s recent gambit makes sense if he is to seize the initiative within the evolving power dynamics of the southern Philippines.
“It’s the perfect time for the sultan to address it now, before the peace process goes into more detail,” Parreno told The Diplomat.
But will the Sultan’s gambit work? Efforts to reclaim the eastern half of Sabah look increasingly like a guerilla operation and a messy, protracted dispute looks likely.
Kiram has remained defiant since the day his supporters made the trip across the sea. He said: “We are prepared to defend our lives and aspirations.”
Steve Finch is a freelance journalist based in Bangkok. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, TIME, The Independent, Toronto Star and Bangkok Post among others.
Editor's Note: We have updated the text to reflect new information.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

2013 Lahad Datu standoff

Source: Wikipedia

The 2013 Lahad Datu standoff arose after a group of approximately 100–400 individuals, some of them armed, arrived by boat in Lahad DatuSabahMalaysia fromSimunul island, Tawi-Tawi of southern Philippines on 11 February 2013.[1][3] The group, calling themselves the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo,[1] was sent by Jamalul Kiram III, one of the claimants to the throne of theSultanate of Sulu. Kiram stated that their objective is to assert their unresolved territorial claim to eastern Sabah (the former North Borneo).[2]
Malaysian security forces have surrounded the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu where the group had gathered, while negotiations for the peaceful resolution of the standoff are ongoing.[7]


National territorial dispute

In a long-standing dispute, the Philippines has asserted territorial claims in the Malaysian state of Sabah. The basis of this claim is that the dominion of the Sultanate of Sulu has historically spanned from the Sulu Archipelago into parts of northernBorneo. Malaysia has made annual payments to the descendents of the Sultan of Sulu in keeping with an agreement signed by the North Borneo Company, but it otherwise rejects any Philippine territorial claim to land in Sabah.[8]

[edit]Sulu succession dispute

Another factor behind the standoff is the unresolved status of the Sultanate of Sulu. The Filipino group in Lahad Datu claims to represent Jamalul Kiram III as the Sultan of Sulu. However, his status as the Sultan of Sulu is disputed by other legitimate pretenders.

[edit]Initiation of the standoff

Heirs to the Sultanate of Sulu felt excluded by the terms of the framework of a peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as announced on 7 October 2012 by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. In response, Jamalul Kiram III, claiming to be the legitimate heir to the throne of Sulu, decreed on 11 November 2012 that a civilian and military contingent should assert his territorial rights in North Borneo. He appointed his brother and Raja Mudah ("heir apparent" or "crown prince"), Agbimuddin Kiram, to lead the group.[1][9]
Months later on 11 February 2013, Agbimuddin Kiram and at least 100 followers arrived in the village of Tanduo, located near Tungku in Lahad Datu District, Sabah from neighboring Simunul island, Tawi-Tawi of southern Philippines.[10] Around eighty people fled from 15 homes in Tanduo.[11]

[edit]Development of standoff

Malaysian police have blockaded roads leading from Lahad Datu through palm oil plantations to the remote village of Tanduo, where the armed group is encircled. Malaysian police patrol boats were also patrolling nearby waters. Filipino security agencies have also blocked off entry from southern Philippines.[7]
The Philippines has also deployed six naval ships to the seas of Sulu and Tawi Tawi to help stabilize the situation.[12] An additional Philippine naval ship was sent to Malaysian waters off Lahad Datu to provide humanitarian assistance.[13]
On 26 February, President Aquino appealed to Kiram to recall his followers and to hold dialogue with the government to address his family's concerns.[14] In a press conference held at Malacañang Palace, Aquino said that the longer Kiram’s followers stay in Sabah, the more they endanger not just their own lives, but also those of the thousands of Filipinos living and working there. Addressing Kiram, he said, "It must be clear to you that this small group of people will not succeed in addressing your grievances, and that there is no way that force can achieve your aims."[15]
Aquino also reminded him that as a Filipino citizen, he is bound by the Constitution of the Philippines and its laws. The President said he has ordered an investigation into possible violations of laws by Kiram, his followers and collaborators citing the Constitution's provision onrenouncing war as an instrument of national policy and Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes those who "provoke or give occasion for a war...or expose Filipino citizens to reprisals on their persons or property."[15] He said a dialogue to address the country's territorial dispute to eastern Sabah could be arranged after those involved in the standoff come home immediately. Aquino also declined to confirm reports of other parties being allegedly behind the standoff in order to sabotage the Bangsamoro peace process.[14][16]
Kiram remained defiant, despite a warning of arrest, saying his men would not go back home “until an arrangement has been done by our officials and the President, and if that will be arranged accordingly with a written agreement signed by the parties concerned.” He shared that in his last conversation with Agbimuddin over the phone, his brother told him that their followers were firm in their decision to stay in Sabah even though they have little access to food as a result of the food blockade ordered by the Malaysian government.[17]
The 74-year-old sultan said he was ready to be jailed if the Philippine government filed a case against him and members of his clan, citing his old age. He said he cannot understand what his violation against the Constitution is, saying he has always respected it and that "coming home to their homeland" is not a crime. Kiram also asked Malaysia to "sit down in a square table and to diplomatically settle the issue on the claim" stressing the need to "come up with a win-win solution." He reiterated that he and his men “will not initiate the violence… But are prepared to defend our lives and aspirations” and that the Sabah issue “can be peacefully settled without threat, but in a diplomatic way.”[17]
Sitti Jacel, the daughter of Kiram, said his father's followers were not in Lahad Datu in order to wage war but to reside peacefully on what they call their ancestral territory. She added that they would not leave unless they are given a "concrete solution." She also expressed disappointment at the apparent lack of support from the Philippine government, adding that Manila needs to balance diplomatic relations and the interests of its constituents.[18]
Malaysian Deputy Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar advised the public not to be worried, and assured that the standoff will be resolved as soon as possible. He added that the incident is being handled as a national security issue. He also declined to comment on whether there are ongoing negotiations with the group of Kiram.[19]

[edit]March 1 skirmish

At around 10:15 a.m. on 1 March, three days after Malaysia's extended deadline for the group to leave Lahad Datu, a confrontation occurred between the sultanate's forces and the Malaysian police, with shots exchanged. According to Abraham Idjirani, Kiram's spokesperson, 10 members of their army were killed with four more injured as a result of the skirmish.[20] There were also two casualties from the Malaysian police. The owner of the house where Agbimuddin Kiram and his men had stayed was also killed in the shooting incident.[6][21]
Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein claimed that Kiram's men opened fire and denied that their security forces retaliated.[22]Initial reports from the Malaysian embassy in the Philippines stated that there were no fatalities in the shooting.[5] Ambassador Mohammad Zamri bin Mohammad Kassim told Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario that the "standoff was over" and that 10 "royal army" members had surrendered to Malaysian authorities after the assault. He added that the group of Kiram at Lahad Datu escaped and ran towards the sea. A pursuit for them has ensued.[21]
Idjirani reacted that Malaysian officials wanted "to cover up the truth" when they claimed that no one was hurt in the incident. He also appealed to the Malaysian government to stop the attack, saying Kiram's men were armed only with bolos and knives and only a few had guns.[20] He claimed that snipers from the Malaysian police were targeting their group. He added that the sultanate is now looking at the possibility of elevating the matter to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.[5] He also said that their men had moved to another location to continue their fight and urged Malaysia to hold talks.[6]
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak later confirmed that there were casualties from the shootout.[23] He said he had now given Malaysian security forces a mandate to take "any action" against the group.[6]


  •  Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario sought the assurance of Malaysian authorities that the rights of Filipinos who were “permanent residents in Sabah and who may be among the group” would be respected. He also urged the Filipinos to “return to their homes and families.”[24] It was also clarified that the Filipino group's actions were not sanctioned by the Philippine government.[25]
  •  United States – US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. said that Manila and Kuala Lumpur have the ability “to work this out in a peaceful manner, according to international norms." He also added that if the two governments would sit down and talk, the standoff could be resolved without bloodshed.[26] The United States welcomed the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2012.[27]
  • Other Sulu Sultanate pretenders:
    • Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram decried the actions of his relatives and what he claims are "false pretenders to the throne" in a press release[28] and on a Malaysiakini TV interview.[29]
    • Fuad Kiram expressed his disapproval of the actions of his first cousin, Jamalul Kiram III. He said he wants the retaking of Sabah done “by peaceful means and by peaceful coexistence with others.”[30] He also offered his prayers for the safety of the people who are in Lahad Datu.[31]
    • Abdul Rajak Aliuddin, opposes the claims of Jamalul Kiram III and his supporters, stating that his own family "is the rightful owner of the throne." He claims to be the sixth Sultan of North Borneo.[32]

[edit]See also


  1. a b c d e "Heirs of Sultan of Sulu pursue Sabah claim on their own"Philippine Daily Inquirer. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  2. a b Frialde, Mike (23 February 2013). "Sultanate of Sulu wants Sabah returned to Phl"The Philippine Star. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  3. a b Mullen, Jethro (15 February 2013). "Filipino group on Borneo claims to represent sultanate, Malaysia says"CNN. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  4. ^ Laude, Jaime and Pareño, Roel (20 February 2013). "Malaysia urged: Don’t harm men of sultan"The Phillipine Star. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  5. a b c "Spokesman claims 10 Kiram men killed in Sabah"ABS-CBN News. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  6. a b c d "Malaysia standoff with armed Filipinos ends in violence"Yahoo! NewsReuters. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  7. a b "PH calls for peaceful solution to Borneo standoff".Philippine Daily Inquirer. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  8. ^ David, Randy. "The Sabah Standoff"Malaysia Today. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Malaysian security forces moving in on village"The Star Online. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  10. ^ Mullen, Jethro (19 February 2013). "Filipinos' standoff in Borneo linked to peace deal with Muslim rebels"CNN. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  11. ^ "Only Malaysians receive aid, says Lahad Datu district office".The Star. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  12. ^ Vanar, Muguntan (22 February 2013). "Lahad Datu Standoff: Philippines naval ships in Tawi-Tawi waters to help stabilise situation"The Star. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  13. ^ Calica, Aurea (26 February 2013). "Phl wants diplomatic solution to Sabah standoff"The Philippine Star. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  14. a b Chiu, Patricia Denise (26 February 2013). "Aquino to Sulu sultan: Order your followers to leave Sabah and go home"GMA News. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  15. a b "Statement of President Aquino on Sabah, February 26, 2013"Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  16. ^ Cheng, Willard (26 February 2013). "PNoy to Kiram: Bring your followers home"ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  17. a b Avendaño, Christine O.; Ramos, Marlon; Ubac, Michael Lim; Quismundo, Tarra (27 February 2013). "Sulu sultan defies Aquino"Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  18. ^ Lapeña, Carmela (26 February 2013). "Sulu sultan remains defiant, says followers in Sabah won't go home"GMA News. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  19. ^ "Encroachment Incident In Lahad Datu Will Be Immediately Resolved"Bernama. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  20. a b Carcamo, Dennis (1 March 2013). "Sulu sultan spokesman: 10 men killed in Sabah"The Philippine Star. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  21. a b Santos, Matikas (1 March 2013). "Sabah standoff over—Malaysian envoy"Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Kiram men opened fire at our forces: Malaysian official"ABS-CBN NewsAgence France-Presse. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  23. ^ Anis, Mazwin Nik; Khoo, Simon; Vanar, Muguntan (1 March 2013)."Lahad Datu: PM confirms two commandos killed; regrets bloodshed"The Star Online. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  24. ^ "DFA statement on the Filipinos in Lahad Datu, Sabah, February 15, 2013". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  25. ^ "Malaysia stand-off with Philippine group"BBC News Online. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  26. ^ Alipala, Julie and Rosauro, Ryan (23 February 2013). "US stays clear of Sabah row"Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  27. ^ "US Hails Peace Deal"Manila Bulletin. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  28. ^ "Statement from Ampun Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, 35th Sultan of Sulu". PRLog. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  29. ^ Naidu, Sumisha (21 February 2013). Multiple Sultans of Sulu making claims for Sabah (video). Malaysiakini. Event occurs at 1:15. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  30. ^ Nawal, Allan Afdal (26 February 2013). "2 more claim to be real sultan of Sulu"Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  31. ^ Jannaral, Julmunir I. (23 February 2013). "Govt-recognized Sultan of Sulu, Fuad Kiram, asks for sobriety, prayers for peace on standoff"The Manila Times. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  32. ^ "Businessman: I am the Sultan of North Borneo"The Star Online. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2013.