The Bunker Group
Permit me to deviate a little bit from the topic, however I fell this still very relevant on determining how 'modern' any military can be build by one country.6. Historically, Singapore's annual defence budget is around 2.6 to 3.6 times that of Vietnam, so there's a huge qualitative difference in equipment. The Vietnamese defense budget in 2011 is about 52,000 billion VND (US$2.6 billion), which is less than a third of Singapore's defence budget of S$12.08 billion (US$9.5 billion). Obviously, the Vietnamese air force does not have the same financial ability to maintain and upgrade their fighter fleet, when compared to the RSAF before even considering the difference in training and doctrine.
1. 'Nothings is free' anymore. Cold war is over, and everything need to be paid by hard cash (or one way to other). No hand out. Even (for example) the plan 'grant' by US to Indonesia of 24 F-16, it's not a'grant' per say. We have to pay those 24 F-16 with the money that's been originally allocated to buy 8 new Block 52 F-16. It's just that the money now being used not to procured new F-16 but to 'mordernised' used F-16. Mindef agree with this offered since it's provide us with 3 times the F-16 numbers with (after MLU) the US promissed the performance that only 'slighly' less than brand new block 52.
Thus the size of ones economy and the amount of money that any country willing and able to set asside for defense is relevant to see how ones Military will progress on 'sustainable' development for at least medium term in the future.
Thus comparing what your military already or can be done during 'cold war' era is different. I bet Vietnam can't get same (relative) price with Russian weapons this days. Just like with anybody else Russia now demand 'commercial' payment to their weapons. That's why Rosoboronexport being created.
2. Size of defense budget also can be missleading. For instances although in 2009, SIPRI put Indonesia defense budget at 2nd place in SEA after Singapore, but since TNI has much more manpower than SDF, then most of the money (close to 2/3) used for paying sallary and improvement on living facilities of the soldiers and their family. Thus left only 1/3 of budget for maintanance existing asset and procurement of new asset.
3. Size of Economy also can be misleading (in term of how much it can spend on Defence). Indonesia by far has GDP that close doubling Thailand as the Second largest Economy in SEA. But, so what..SIPRI say that Indonesian military defense accounted to 1%-1.5% of GDP. In reality after Soeharto's fall the defence budget never excedd 1% of GDP. It's political choice. The amount that we've spend on 'Energy/Fuel' subsidy in 2010 are more than twice the amount that India prepared for getting 124 MRCA. In short, the political and social conditions in each country society will determined the political will on 'defense budget' allotment.
4. Don't forget how your planning the defense spending. If your budget being prepared on 'singgle year' budget, it's going to be much different (with the same amount of budget) on how you can negotiate with defense vendors if your budget can be 'firm' for multiple years budget. One of the weaknesses in Indonesian budget, was the budget plan only for 'singgle year' usage. Thus we have difficulty to bargain with the vendors for long term project (i,e, bargain for lower price due to larger multiple years contract). It's been corrected this year, however it take 5 years debated with parlement to make it happen.
5. How about planning on your shopping list. What Singapore is good at also that they are dicipline on what they're going to procured on medium-long term. Something that the rest of SEA country are not as dicipline yet. I know for Indonesia, the people in Mindef can be 'side-tracked' depends on the offered. Only this last few years that dicipline are more implement, but still not in the dicipline level of Singapore or Australia yet.
6. Is your budget 'leaking' ?? Well it's the common 'sickness' in developing country. Indonesia one of the 'champion' on this . Even with more dicipline this last few years, and more intentions to get G to G deal on large Armed Procurement (to reduced the temptations from middleman), but in reality it's very hard to do. Since the Vendors (whether come from US, Europe, Russia, ROK, China, etc), loved to use this middleman as providing 'temptations' for weapons procurement.
Sorry if bit lengthy, just want to show, that building 'modern' military this days is complex and very expensive business. Many people in Indonesia like to be 'nostalgic' with the conditions of TNI in the first half of the 60's (before 65). At that time we have the most advanced weapons the Russian will give to a SEA nation (even some that Vietnam only get on late 60's already present with TNI in early 60's). However, despite popular demand that the Government must build TNI back to 'relative' strength like the early 60s as most equiped Armed Forces in SEA that's can't be done as fast as popular feeling wants. Afterall so many things has to be considered in building Modern Military right now.