A modest proposal for South East ASEAN own A2/AD

Before you ask… what is A2/AD …. no it’s not a new robot from Star Wars…. it stands for: Anti-access/Area denial. And it’s a big fancy way of saying… a layered defence organisation capable of restricting other nations (especially their military systems) to enter a specific area. for example your own territorial waters (near the Spratley islands….)

The term “Anti-access” (A2) means the action to hinder other nations’ power projection into a theater, while “Area denial” (AD) means the action to hinder other nations’ operation within a theater.

I wrote before about South-East Asia. Bluntly said these (now) peaceful countries are under threat of one big country… namely China. Which would like to incorporate the South China sea within their own territorial waters. Lately I wrote about the Philippines and how they are trying to beef up their military capabilities after years of neglecting and corruption they are bound to change this. Other countries in the South East Asia region are doing this to. They also have established a cooperation for the region. something like the EU. but not as powerful (economically) yet.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.

Island claimes SouthEast Asia Malacca-2

The defence cooperation is a part of this in the form of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM).

The objectives of the ADMM, as outlined in the Concept Paper for the Establishment of an ADMM endorsed at the Inaugural ADMM in Kuala Lumpur on 9 May 2006, are as follows:


  • To promote regional peace and stability through dialogue and cooperation in defence and security;
    • To give guidance to existing senior defence and military officials dialogue and cooperation in the field of defence and security within ASEAN and between ASEAN and dialogue partners;
    • To promote mutual trust and confidence through greater understanding of defence and security challenges as well as enhancement of transparency and openness; and
    • To contribute to the establishment of an ASEAN Security Community (ASC) as stipulated in the Bali Concord II and to promote the implementation of the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP) on ASC

On diverse blogs and forums you can read the signs that the cooperation between ASEAN nations is bound to increase and improve. In my opinion one of these areas which need to be addressed is the acquisition and (joint) development of military hardware. Adoption of joint operational doctrine and procedures (and training).

IMO only the strength and determination of these “smaller” countries together can deter the Chinese will to occupy this area.

Modest proposal
A modest proposal starts with the question what if I had a say in it? What should i do? Well there are some rumours about Saab at the moment. they are quietly delivering proposals to many countries. With attractive offers.


Interesting news from #Indonesia : Since there is growing interest in South East Asia for what i call the “Thai approach” Im interested what Indonesia will make of this.

Rather than offering only the latest generation of its light, single engine Gripen jet fighter, Swedish defense and security giant Saab throws a complete set of air defense systems.

The offer also includes Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) for maritime surveillance and control; ground-based Command and Control; tactical data link to share data among various platforms; industrial cooperation, including transfer of technology and local production; and extensive job creation, reaching into the thousands.

The Thai approach
Also interesting of course is the offer to Malaysia and Vietnam as well. The Thai approach doesn’t only consist of a very capable fighter (already the C/D standard is internationally very modern and capable.) But also the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) is a very powerful instrument for each country which would like their sovereignty be respected. And at rather low costs as well. I would also like to see the possibility of these countries. Interesting thing to note hear is that all these countries have made their interest clear to buy the (IPTN


Reasoning behind this?
What if Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia,Vietnam and the Philipines, buy the same affordable Air Superiority fighter with outstanding Anti Ship capabilities (RBS15) + the Airborne Early Warning (and let’s say Maritime Patrol Aircraft versions) of each single country into one joint ASEAN network?

C-295 AEW Erieyeyourfile

CN295 in both transport and C-295 ASW / ASuW. If the Saab Erieye could be integrated on this platform it would safe these countries considerable costs – they already use this platform (not all but this would be possible because they need this transport platform to) To have a common fleet of Gripen Fighters but also a common fleet of Supporting aircraft (Transport – Tanker (just to name it) – MPA – AEW&C – EW/Intel) all combined in one basic platform. Besides the CN295 option there are of course other alternatives as well, each should be looked at their merits. If these countries can take the same Fighters and Supporting aircraft they can also integrate easily the very silent data link which make them more effective in a joint ASEAN vs China situation.

There are some downturns to this CN295 option though. Range and payload for example…. (not the same as an Orion or other real ASuW platform I read somewhere 11 hrs at a 200nm patrol range) But as these aircraft will be used mainly for national sovereignty missions (Air and Sea denial) this could be not a real point. the positive side would be that these aircraft are relative cheap to buy and operate. This means countries can spend more on their payloads (over platforms) which means they can acquire sophisticated Long range weapons, Meteor BVRAAM, etc. to deter an aggressive dominating country like China for example.

IMO only the strength and determination of these “smaller” countries together can deter the Chinese will to occupy this area. IMO this could be a very useful sign of jointness and an effective force….  A force which could make China think twice before it would really attack the region. these thought’s arent that strange. A Japanese Research fellow, Mr. Junichi Fukuda of the Institute for International Policy Studies(IIPS), suggests this same idea… and calls it “mini-A2/AD capabilities” .

The “mini-A2/AD capabilities” hinder the power projection of an adversary by using asymmetrical methods. This could thus be viewed as turning the tables on China for its posture towards the U.S. The “mini-A2/AD capabilities” represent even more vital capabilities for Japan than the U.S., given Japan’s particularly vulnerable position in geography. The principal challenges for Japan and the U.S. in the future would appear to be to efficiently allocate defense resources and to build and share strategies and operational concepts for conflict, according to the approach outlined above. For example, the former requires efforts to optimally allocate the defense resources based on the strategic priority, while the latter requires efforts to build and share a common strategy.

This should be a tool in the overall toolbox of Defence organisations together with boots on the ground, ships in (and under) the water. Only the you can protect your countries integrity and sovereignty.

In the end I come back to the Netherlands… and Europe. This same capability network and thus the ” mini-A2/AD capabilities” could be ours too. Making us less dependent on US And I think it can be done within cost, within timeframe and with enough numbers to be effective and…. deterrent!

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