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Malaysia and Indonesia Tackle Cross-Border Crimes With Drone Tech

Drones and other types of technologies that serve similar purposes of securing and observing the borders have been opted by Malaysia and Indonesia.

This effort to strengthen the surveillance over both countries’ borders has proven to be necessary as the vast border(land) in Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan is more than 1,000 km.

Malaysia’s Home Affairs Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin stated that a memorandum of understanding on border crossing agreement and border trade agreement between the two countries will be signed next year.

Malaysia is committed to eradicating illegal immigrant issues and would provide any type of cooperation with Indonesia for the future safety of the borders of both countries. Such issues that needed attention are smuggling, drug trafficking, human trafficking and other cross-border crimes.

With a view of preserving the security of the borders, Malaysia is taking a step forward with the application of surveillance technology that will help monitor the massive range between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Similar efforts are being done in other ASEAN countries, like the Philippines, that opted for the use of drones as its tool for maritime surveillance.

The Philippines is acquiring eight (8) ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) worth US$ 9,633,665 from an aircraft maker’s subsidiary, under the United States Foreign Military Sales program.

Other countries in the region that also ordered the same type of UAV are Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Malaysian Defence Ministry confirmed that 12 surveillance drones funded by the United States are a part of the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) programme. These drones are expected to be received by the Royal Malaysian Navy through few phases from 2019 to 2020.

The US-funded MSI programme aims to increase the Maritime Domain Awareness in South-East Asia, includes Malaysia. Besides assisting the Malaysian Armed Forces with necessary intelligence, enhanced maritime surveillance also benefits other enforcement agencies in Malaysia.

The surveillance drones known as the ScanEagle funded through the initiative is an unarmed drone manufactured by Boeing’s Institute which also used by the US Navy and Marine Corps.

The ScanEagle is a well-known tactical UAV and used principally for maritime surveillance, with most of the procuring states intending to use it to patrol their vast maritime waters.

ScanEagle Characteristics Include:

  1. being launched through a catapult and being recovered using a skyhook
  2. having more than 24 hours of flight endurance
  3. a maximum speed of 148 kilometres per hour
  4. carrying a maximum of 4.3 kg of fuel

This model can perform a plethora of missions. These are:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Surveillance and reconnaissance
  3. Special services operations
  4. Escort operations
  5. Sea-lane and convoy protection
  6. Protection of high-value and secure installations
  7. High-speed wireless voice, video and data communications relay

Aside from boosting its maritime domain awareness, particularly in the South China Sea, buying the UAVs will further boost the military’s capability in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations and counter-terrorism capabilities.

An exciting development will be the new drones. Much has been said about driverless vehicles and its application to automated drones. In Malaysia, automated drones may be used in postal and courier services within the next five years, following in the footsteps of countries like Switzerland who have been using them since 2017.

Overseas, automated drones have already been tested in a multitude of routine or dangerous tasks such as:

  • Security
  • Power Plant Maintenance
  • Warehouse management, and
  • Firefighting

However, it may be Malaysia’s local agriculture industry that will see the earliest use of these flying robots, as companies push to provide autonomous drone support, starting with oil palm plantations.


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