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Malaysia To Place Long Range Radar in Spratly Island

"The Long Range Radar on Layang-Layang Island will help us monitor any movements occurring outside our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," said Defense Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan in the Parliament today.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) – Malaysia Defense Ministry  will install a Long Range Radar (LRR) on Layang-Layang Island, located within the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, which is claimed by many countries in the region including China.

This was announced by Defense Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan.

“The Long Range Radar on Layang-Layang Island will help us monitor any activities that occur outside our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),” he said in the Parliament today.

The acquisition of the Long Range Radar for placement on Layang-Layang Island has been approved by the National Security Council, he added.

The placement of a Long Range Radar on Layang-Layang Island will assist in the monitoring and surveillance tasks carried out by the Long Range Radar in Labuan at the moment, he stated.

Layang-Layang
Stesen LIMA in Pulau Layang-Layang

 

Layang-Layang Island in the South China Sea is located approximately 162 nautical miles northwest of Kota Kinabalu, clearly asserting Malaysia’s ownership in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982).

The Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM) also stations its personnel at LIMA Station on Layang-Layang Island.

As we know, the Spratly Islands, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas resources, are a contentious area with several regional countries like China, Vietnam, and the Philippines claiming ownership of the entire archipelago or parts of it.

For example, China has established military bases on some of the coral reefs in the Spratly Islands, deploying military aircraft, radar and communication facilities, and warships.

Last year, Defense Security Asia published an article based on a paper by Japanese military researcher Lt. Col. Aita Moriki from the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Center for Air and Space Power Strategic Studies (CASPSS).

In his paper, Lt. Col. Aita suggested that Malaysia’s Layang-Layang Island in the Spratly Islands could potentially be a target for China, as it conducted airborne exercises involving 16 transport aircraft near Malaysia’s Maritime Zone (ZMM) on May 31, 2021.

Su-30MKM
A low-flying Malaysia’s Su-30MKM in Pulau Layang-Layang.

 

In this airborne exercise involving 16 IL-76 and Y-20 transport aircraft belonging to China, the Japanese military officer claimed that Beijing was likely targeting the capture of airstrips on Layang-Layang Island (Malaysia), Taiping Island occupied by Taiwan, Pag-asa Island (Philippines), and the Spratly Islands (Vietnam).

Lt. Col. Aita, a researcher at CASPSS and a former commander of the 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, JASDF, stated in his paper titled “The True Meaning of the Chinese Air Force’s Flying Transport Aircraft Near Malaysia: Airborne Units in Power Projection” that China was planning an airborne operation involving the parachuting of troops onto these four islands in the South China Sea that were not under their control.

China’s military transport aircraft were believed to have flown in the vicinity of these islands on May 31, 2021, to familiarize themselves with the surrounding terrain.

 “For this purpose, it is likely that the crews of China’s military transport aircraft practiced flight profiles in a formation separated by 60 nautical miles, familiarizing themselves with the surrounding topography,” he wrote.

“This is a mission by the formation of Chinese military aircraft,” Lt. Col. Aita stated in his paper.

TUDM

The flight of 16 Chinese aircraft towards ZMM could be described as a “China Blitzkrieg” with the aim of capturing airstrips on these islands that China did not yet control in the South China Sea, including Layang-Layang Island.

He noted that this “China Blitzkrieg” could occur during peacetime to make it difficult for other parties to anticipate China’s actions.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) issued a statement on June 1, 2021, a day after the incident, stating that it had detected “suspicious flights” by 16 aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) entering the ZMM airspace, Kota Kinabalu Flight Information Region (FIR), and approaching national airspace on May 31, 2021.

These PLAAF aircraft flights were detected by the TUDM Air Defense Radar from the Air Defense Center (CRC 2) in Sarawak at 11:53 AM. — DSA

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