Thursday, August 25, 2011

Part II: Why Burma's Upgrading Airfields in Eastern Burma ...

Some news on the hidden Burmese military expansion plans have surfaced recently.  On August 4, 2011, the Moscow News reported that Russia has won a contract with Burmese regime to build a 50 kilometer (30 mile) long metro (underground rail) line deep underneath Naypyitaw, the new capital city.  It again indicates how Sr. Gen Than Shwe has been superbly paranoia about his military’s defeat.  (By the way, according to the military insiders, Mr. Than Shwe is still wearing his uniform.)  Just looking at the layout of his military establishments on the ground in the new capital as seen on the Google satellite images, his military establishments are all in a sitting duck (target) should there be an aerial offense by his enemies.  Probably in his mind, the only way to save his army is to put them in underground tunnels.  One of his secret project has been exposed to the world that he has built a large-size underground bunker for his military command center in his neighborhood. (See below)

 The “metro” must have made sense to the general the way Russia has used their metros for bomb shelters (bunkers) during the World War II.  For him, the metro could be a safe underground passage connecting the new airport, the places of his loyal elites, and the underground military bunker which is located approximately 6 miles away.  This underground facility is the same facility that the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) has been referring to as an underground facility Project 216 in its “Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions” investigative documentary.  Last week, DVB reported that the leaked document to DVB on Project 216 included a drawing which indicated a planned (underground) metro line next to the bunker. (See below)

Obviously, Mr. Than Shwe has penciled in the metro line development since the beginning.  The geological investigation and surveying have been underway by the Russians as the Voice of Russia reported.  Now, the world is witnessing again the Burmese dictator’s shameless and senseless expenses for the metro military project while the welfare of entire population has been ignored.  Burma’s combined education and health sectors have been allocated for less than three percent of national budget.

There were rumors about Burma Navy to build an air-craft carrier to rival against Thai’s HTMS Chakri Naruebet.  Since Burma knows nothing about the know-how, this appears nothing beyond the Burmese military’s propaganda.  However, Sr. Gen Than Shwe and his military have always considered that the Andaman Sea at the southern Burma is always venerable militarily in the event of invasion by the US and its allies.  For him, it makes sense to host his newly purchased jets on an aircraft carrier.  

The Irrawaddy reported in December 2009 that Burma has signed EUR 400 million ($571 million) deal with Russia for 20 MiG-29D jet fighters, and another deal for Mi-24 attack helicopters at EUR 450 million.  In last April, 2011,  The Power of Fraternity (The POF) reported that 12 new MiG-29D fighters arrived at Tadar-U airport, and would be temporarily kept in Shante (Meiktila) air force base.  Again, information on the formation of a new air force base at Ann in Arakan (Rakhine) state was leaked to The POF from the Burma Air force command’s first quarterly meeting in January 2011.  

According to a Burmese air force pilot’s “a historical account of Burma Military (Air)” that was posted in January 2011 in The POF, the Burmese military met a hard reality once that five of their most modernized (at that time) AT-33 jets couldn’t fly over a low mountain of Pegu Yoma (ranges) and crashed during a military operation in 1975.  Thus, the military purchased China’s F-5 fighters.  But, in an incident at Thai-Burma border in 2000-2001, Burma realized that their F-5 jets couldn’t combat against Thai’s F-16 and F5E jets; and its planes dared not to fly up to Tachelaik, a border checkpoint town.  Since then, rival against Thailand has been the primary trigger to expand Burma’s air force.  Burma spent chunks of its national budget for MiG-29D from Russia in 2001.  

Paranoia about possible aerial invasion of western allies has led himself to the Burmese dictator, Sr. Gen Than Shwe to expand the country’s air power in desperation that he bought substandard, and wastes from Russia and Chinese junkyards.  Burmese military considers itself obligated to China for recognizing its power during their 1988 coup de tat.  Gen.  Than Shwe believed that China, at that time, saved them from a possible invasion of the United States’ forces under the name of evacuating their embassy staff.  Knowing Burma’s desperation, China provided no interest loans to Burma to be able to purchase Chinese jet fighters and other arsenals which now turned out to be wastes from their junkyards; and helped itself with special favors for Burmese natural resources such as gems, minerals, natural gas, and teaks. In the same token, China took advantage of great favors from Burmese military with Heingyi Island and Coco Island of Burma for Chinese naval bases; with contracts to build a railroad from China’s Yunan Province to the sea port at Kyaukpyu in Arakan State, and with a deal to convert Kyaukpyu into an international seaport including an airport.  Geopolitically, China now has opportunities to gain influence over the Indian Ocean.  Many Burmese military personnel know well what Burma has gained from China were fleets of F-7 and A-5 Chinese jets most of which were either grounded or sub-par in their functionalities for combat. 

But at least, flyable aircrafts have been used to terrorize the people, especial in the ethic provisional homelands.  Air strikes against anti-government (resistance) forces have been common used since the late Gen. NeWin took over power in 1961.  The July 18, 2011 issue of The POF reported the air strikes took place using A-5 interceptors (jets) and MI-2 helicopters from Namsang air base during the ground battles between Burmese military and Shan State Army (SSA) at Wankaipha SSA headquarters in Shan State.  Burmese military has employed over 400,000 servicemen, approximately 10% of which are child-soldiers and invalids. 
Still, Burmese military forces hold upper hand by numbers, four or five times higher than the total number of resistance fighters throughout the entire country against the military.  “On top of that, the military has all the arsenals from locally manufactured bullets and weapons at various Defense Industry factories throughout the country, and imported armored vehicles, tanks, artilleries, helicopters to jet fighters,” according to a former Burmese military attaché at Washington, D.C., Major Aung Lynn Htut.  The Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) reported in 2010 that 237 Burmese battalions have been stationed in eastern Burma.  
The following shows the locations of Burmese air force bases and airfields in eastern Burma.  (Airfields in alphabetic order)