All Over The Place

Mig-29s over Subang as part of the flypast training on Dec. 19, 2016.

LANGKAWI: All Over the Place. The budget crunch is forcing the RMAF to relook its plans and there is a possibility it may have to extend the life of its Mig-29 Fulcrum fleet.

RMAF chief Jen Affendi Buang told reporters yesterday that every possibility were being looked at as the Fulcrum replacement program was not moving for the time being.

Upgrading the Fulcrum was a possibility, he said without giving any timelines when a decision will be made.

Mig-29N M43-13. Credit Sergey Kuznecov

Speaking earlier, Defence Minister DS Hishammuddin Hussein refused to say outright that either the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale have been down selected for the MRCA program.

He also said no contract signing for the MRCA was expected during the official state visit of French President Francois Hollande visit next week.

Pressed further, Hishammuddin asked back which is better Typhoon or Rafale or schools?

I replied F35, please.

*edited to add new lines from PC.

– Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1162 Articles
Shah Alam

53 Comments

  1. It is about time that the air force to wake up from its mrca wet dream and face the reality, that the goverment cannot afford the toys it wanted.

    The air force still has potent high end fighters in the shape of Su-30MKM and the night strike hornets, which could still be among the most advanced in the south east asia in the foreseeable future. What it needs is an affordable fighter that is capable to do what the mig-29 and f-5e is doing in the air force: QRA and air defence.

    It is time to seriously look at the KAI FA-50 and TA-50 to replace the capability of not just the mig-29 and f-5e; but for the hawks and training functions of the MB-339CM also. This is a real chance for the air force to reduce the number of fighter platforms to just 3 and the engine family to just 2 (the KAI FA-50 golden eagle uses similar engines to the hornets)

  2. If they want to upgrade Mig-29 for extension then they better to have a right contractor to replace it spare part. Reason they decomissioned Mig-29 because it lacks of spare part which mean old spare parts doesn’t produce much anymore.

  3. As expected. Recycling reason from the gov, but what to do. For RMAF, they should stop dreaming and face reality just like … Said. Gov don’t have money to spend for our ATM but they can spend multi billion for mega project that we as rakyat didn’t know what are the benefits for us and our next generation. But some *idiot* politicians keep saying that is for rakyat benefits.

  4. Why would the air force settle for rubbish plane when they can get a better one

    sometimes its better to have people who actually know their stuff to decide than some smartass knowitall to argue about anything he didn’t know his salt worth

  5. Unless RMAF can propose a feasible study plan what to improve on like the Navy 15 to 5 plan. Adding another brand new aircraft into the inventory will further strain the budgets

    Though i would rather have the RMAF improve current asset capability.. Looking at awacs is one possibility and maybe getting more MKM and F18.

    BTW in LIMA 2017,any talk on awacs for malaysia

  6. I guess the RMAF asset is good enough for the task at hand. No need to spend billions now. We already completed some modernization work with new choppers, airfields, A400, anti aircraft missiles, radar systems plus all the conversion of Nuri. The tax level is currently high for the rakyat. Might as well wait till oil price is above 80 USD per barrel then maybe we can have a good chance of reasonably good platform. Small, reliable and modern airforce is what we should aim for.

  7. Hello Marhalim.Your answer for F-35 may be an expensive answer.Even Singapore which participated in the development is finding it hard to crunch the F-35.It is in economic slowdown.

    Typhoon is good as a fuel guzzer .In the place where I live there are a few Hummers that people no longer drive but sitting in the used car showrooms. Good for showing off more a less a 4 WD.That is all. Tunjuk-tunjuk eje!.

    I agree with what … says:
    March 25, 2017 at 11:11 am
    It is about time that the RMAF to wake up from its MRCA wet dream and face the reality, that the government cannot afford the toys it wanted.
    This is a real chance for the air force to reduce the number of fighter platforms to just 3 and the engine family to just 2 (the KAI FA-50 golden eagle uses similar engines to the Hornets).

    SU-30 MKM are very good and similar to the F-15 but expensive in fuel, maintenance, and flying.

    SELAMAT jalan, Fulcrum?
    May be not. Based on the economic conditions, and the crude oil prices, the planes will still fly.We know the planes will be used just like the F5E Tiger II with a smaller numbers.It will be grounded if it dropped out of the sky like the A4 Skyhawks.

    Reply
    I was trying not to insult anyone

  8. It has all to do with actual operational requirements and nothing to do with ”wet dreams”. On paper its fine to say that that the RMAF should settle for a lower cost, lightweight fighter but the hard reality is that getting anything other than a full fledged MRCA would mean that the RMAF will not have something that fully fulfills its requirements – period/full stop. As I’ve stated previously it is the RMAF’s job to make a case for it’s requirements and it’s the government’s duty of care to provide funding. Just because the RMAF continues to make a case for MRCAs doesn’t mean it’s inflexible or has no Plan B. As it stands the government has agreed in principle to MRCAs; the question of when depends on funding but the government has not indicated that funding will not be available in the near future.

    Looking at things from a wider perspective the RMAF is extremely aware that settling for something other than a full fledged MRCA could mean an even longer wait for MRCAs; even at a later time when funding is available as the pen pushers at the Finance Ministry are always looking for excuses not to justify funding. Also, one should not read too much into what the RMAF said about maybe having no alternative but to upgrade the Fulcrums. Its also not as if upgrading the Fulcrums is risk free; granted compromises will have to be met but the fact remains that upgrading the Fulcrums also has its share of penalties. Read between the lines it could be a subtle message as to how vital it is to fulfill the requirement and that time is not n our side.

    No the MKMs and Hornets are not ”the most advanced in the south east asia in the foreseeable future” – that time has come and past. There are other fighters with better performing sensors/electronics and who – more importantly – benefit from the fact that they’re networked; in contrast to the RMAF which is still largely a platform centric air arm.

  9. Rippie,

    Incorrect. The reason most of the Fulcrum fleet is in storage is not because spare parts are not available from OEMs [they are]. Spare parts for the RD-33s and other components are still being produced. It’s a matter of whether we want or need to keep the Fulcrums flying.

  10. There is no indication that Typhoon is a ”fuel guzzler” or is more of a ”fuel guzzler” than Rafale. In fact, apart from some unsubstantiated mention here and there we really have no idea what the operating costs of Typhoon and Rafale are. What we do know without a doubt is that current gen MRCAs tend to be more expensive to run and maintain [not so much because of fuel] compared to older fighters but this is to be expected.

    Instead of narrowing down operating costs of an aircraft per hour [based on fuel or how many hours of maintenance is required] or compared to other designs what we should really be doing is looking at how much it will cost to run and maintain a certain type over its projected period in service and how it compares to others in terms of operational rates/serviceability.

  11. Why can’t the RMAF settle for Super Hornets instead? Cheaper than both Euro Fighters.

    Reply
    The pilots I met at LIMA all prefer Super Hornets

  12. Marhalim title “All over the place” hit the Jackpot!!! It is!

    In me also reading between the lines of what was said by RMAF chief, what about the announcement by our Minister Hishammuddin of Malaysia considering buying excess Saudi aeroplanes and helicopters?

    Another false flag as what was also said about the Brunei Heli & US M109 and many other stuff.

    Impossible to tell what is what nowadays..

    I know it still early days but I hope it not “Fox 2….”

  13. Hilmi,

    Politics and national interests.

    If the RMAF had its way, we’d have F-18C/Ds and Super Hornets now instead of Fulcrums and MKMs. Water under the bridge I suppose. The politicians decide and the RMAF and the tax payers bear the price. Of course I’m not advocating that the armed services get a blank cheque to get whatever they want, when they want.

    The RMAF had previously stated that if they don’t get funding for MRCAs they might have to accept a lease agreement and this is not the first time they’ve said that the Fulcrums might have to soldier on if funding for MRCAs is not made available. The way I see it, it’s a subtle message or reminder to the powers that be that funding has to be made available in the near future. It’s not as if the RMAF is saying that funding must be made next week or in 6 months; the impression some seem to have.

  14. Tak boleh beli banyak, beli lah 3 biji dulu SH. Lepas setahun dua tambah lagi 3 biji. Sekurang-kurangnya ada juga penambahan dari x ada langsung.

    Vietnam pun buat mcm tu apa?

  15. Dont contradict one self..when at a point buying military hardware some says we are not going to have wars with our neighbours…the scs issue at hand is nothing to be worried about..we must have a principle in life…either buy for deterence factor or dont buy at all because its ok.flip-flop thinking is no good if u happen to be a decision maker.as for myself its a good n honest decision for the top brass to admit that its not time to think about MRCA jets…just make do wat ever assets that currently they have until they expired..then start afresh with totally new buy with personnel n logistic being well addressed.

  16. I am just an armchair enthusiast and with my limited understanding I thought it make sense to go for US made fighters. If it is good enough for the most potent military force the world has even seen, then surely it will be good enough for our modest force.

    They have gone to more wars in the world than any other country and that means all of their weapons have been battle tested, the performance of all their assets have gone beyond theoretical possibilities and that the tactical fighter doctrine would have been greatly honed. Their military industrial complex is about the best there is, bar none.

    I read of our frequent air combat training exercises with US forces and I cannot recall an event that our forces does either with the French, the British or the Swedish. I read also of Singapore AF being invited and participated in Red Flag in the US to train in “real” combat exercises, something which we should get into in the future.

    It is absolutely pointless to have state of the art machines and all it does is run around in a holding pattern.

    The age difference between our Fulcrums and our Hornets are about 2-3 years apart and while the Hornets are getting an upgrade it looks like the end of the road for our Fulcrums. After that costly lesson, to think that we went ahead and bought ourselves Sukhois is just puzzling to say the least, despite its claim of superiority over others.

    Most countries that goes to war or in a state of readiness to get into a war opts for US made fighter jets. Israelis, Saudis, Turkey, Qatar … it just make perfect sense. I know some will say that those countries were arm twisted by the US, which may or may not be true, but not many country in the world can go on to fight without military backing, tacit or overt and in our case I doubt that our PM would start calling for help from Moscow and more likely it will be Washington.

    Despite the Brits or the French advertising the might of their flashy jets, none would dare to even take on Gaddafi’s Libya without US to back them up with air assets, eyes and ears in the sky ….

    Let’s not kid ourselves, who else do we even remotely have a shooting battle with ? Singapore.. not a chance, we need them just like they need us and it is pointless to battle that city state. Indonesia, which we have border dispute with …that just might be .. a skirmish over the Ambalat perhaps and if that happens, only do the US is able to pressure the Indonesians to back off before it escalates into something terrible.

    China ? We’ll roll back and just put a diplomatic protest over any encroachment of our EEZs. Something we didn’t even do during the storming of James Shoal by the Chinese Navy. The only time we’d fight if the PLAN decide to do what the Japanese did in WW2.

    My point …. it benefits us in every way to buy from the US, not so much from the British, French and God forbid, the Swedes.

  17. No money hence act like one. However what and who exactly is out threat? I am afraid. We are now paying for economic mismanagement. Hence if you want new and numbers buy the cheaper alternatives like the KAI F50 ot second hand F18s. If you are really scrapping the barrel sell all the minimally available airframes like mig 29 and f5 and upgrade the hawks to get another 15 years of service. I didnt mention the top end Eurifighter or Rafale because its just too expensive and a pipedream

  18. SMH these guys. The way I see it, we treat f18 as bombers. the mig and f5 were interceptor . So I guess when it comes to it, the replacement should be a heavy or medium interceptor that can do bvr or dog fight if needed with strong radars , ecm and can emergency sortie without fuss across south china sea. I dont think f18 is cut for half of this role.

  19. I have previously typed a long commment but i suppose it is lost.

    Things that we should ask is-

    What is the requirements that can only be fulfilled by the shortlisted MRCA candidates that makes it a must buy for TUDM? Is the requirements so unique and special that they can only be performed by those MRCAs and cannot be performed and fulfilled by the current Su-30MKM and F/A-18D as it is or after some upgrades and/or modernisations done? If they could give a logical answer to this, then it is okay to proceed with the expensive MRCA buy.

  20. Uncle Marhalim,

    I am an avid fan of your articles these past few years.

    I do would like to ask based on the previous years stories down the road.

    a) The proposed exchange of all the Fulcrums for 6 new Su-30 MKM still a valid option?

    so at least can have 18 + 6 = 24 SU-30s.. divided into 2 new squadrons.

    b) The proposed swap of the 8 Hornets for new Super Hornets? And if so how many will we buy?

    Thanks for this.

    Reply
    Both of the swap deal has floundered AFAIK. And btw, I am not that old, LOL

  21. Red Sot – ”Dont contradict one self..when at a point buying military hardware some says we are not going to have wars with our neighbours…the scs issue at hand is nothing to be worried about.”

    Priority now is for the MAF to be able to deal with non state threats but the MAF still has to have some capability to deal with external threats; irrespective of whether the likelihood of those threats becoming real are slim. There is no contradiction here and is a major problem faced not just by the MAF but others as well : how to devote equal attention to more than one area without the risk of having one’s capability atrophied in another area.

    Redsot – ”we must have a principle in life…either buy for deterence factor or dont buy at all”

    I can’t comment about ” principle in life” but the MAF does not have the luxury of focusing on specific threats. Unfortunately it has to deal with present threats whilst also having some ability to deal with other, unexpected threats.

    RedSot – ”just make do wat ever assets that currently they have until they expired..”

    Fine on paper but in reality the armed services don’t operate in this manner. Waiting until something has retired or is inoperable before getting a replacement not only leads to a capability gap but also affects training.

    Faisal – ” I read also of Singapore AF being invited and participated in Red Flag”

    A previous planned participation in Red Flag had to be cancelled. Whether for budgetary issues or for other reasons. The small number of fighters we have also plays a part in determining whether we can commit any to foreign exercises; especially those held far away.

    Faizal – ” it benefits us in every way to buy from the US”

    There is no doubt at all that there are benefits from buying Uncle Sam since we train with the Americans more regularly than we do with any other country [except Australia] and that Uncle Sam is the dominant power in the region; the issue in buying American has to do with politics. In the past we found it more in line with our national interests to buy European and Russian.

    Shahrudin – ” Hence if you want new and numbers buy the cheaper alternatives like the KAI F50”

    Fine in theory but the hard reality is that the anything other than a full fledged MRCA will not provide the desired/needed capability. It’s all about operational requirements and the RMAF’s requirements call for a full fledged MRCA – unlike the impression some give it’s not about the RMAF being inflexible, unrealistic or having ”wet dreams”.

    The reality is that there’s no requirement for a ”Light Combat Aircraft” which is what KAI designates the F50. Buying a ”Light Combat Aircraft” is great but it does not fulfill the specified requirements. A similar analogy would be to buy a ”light tank” armed with a 105mm gun as a cheaper alternative to a 120/125mm armed MBT. Cheaper indeed than a MBT but it can do some BUT not all that a full fledged MBT can.

    In the event we have to scale back our requirement and settle for a lightweight single engine platform; it makes far, far more sense to go for Gripen which has already been integrated with all the needed sensors and ordnance and was – unlike the F50 – designed from Day One to be a front line multi-role platform.

    As for whether or not upgraded MKMs and Hornets are adequate for whatever threat there is; that’s not the point. The point is that with just 18 MKMs and 8 Hornets the RMAF will face a great challenge ensuring enough airframes are operational at anytime to meet operational and training commitments.

  22. About the “light tank” anology… Yes buying the light tank can not do everything that a full fledged MBT, but the main issue here is the force already has the full fledged MBT in its fleet! so why add another type of MBT?

    The air force already has the Su-30MKM and F/A-18 Hornets as its main fighter aircraft, so why now add another high end type?

    Having enough airframes does not mean everything needs to be of high end aircraft. The bulk can be a cheaper to operate and lower performance aircraft, while the fewer high end tip of the spear could be a high performance fighter. Our big volume fighter aircraft, the BAE Hawk has been decimated by attrition from 28 to just 19 airframes. Add the retirement of the F-5E and now the Mig-29, it is time to find the replacement of these aircrafts first rather than a high end fighter. Now with the Hornet offer from Kuwait, this is the chance to really consolidate the desperate fighter fleet. Now we have the chance to consolidate to just 3 types:
    – Su-30MKM
    – F/A-18C/D Hornets
    – FA-50 / TA-50 Golden Eagles

  23. Thank you for your prompt reply.

    Would like to ask your POV. Is it ideal TUDM sell off its entire F-5 fleet to Lebanon for example & the entire Mig’s fleet to a war torn African country.

    With the funds from the sales instead channel its use to just get attack helos? Find it more suitable to get it to counter the terrorism from Mindanao as opposed to get a maritime fighter jet.

    Reply
    Lebanon cannot afford to buy fighter jets and we cannot sell the Fulcrums to anyone except to Russia itself.

  24. ……,

    Should the RMAF be forced to settle for a cheaper alternative the answer is Gripen. Unlike F50 Gripen was intended from Day One be a multi role platform and has already been integrated with a whole range of sensors and ordnance. The F50 hasn’t – full stop/period.

    On the light tank analogy; the whole point of it is that despite costs savings; the light tank can’t do what a MBT can and the user has a requirement for an MBT. Buying a light tank still leaves an unfulfilled requirement.

    On numbers, let me rephrase it. The RMAF needs adequate numbers of ”multi-role aircraft” for both peacetime and wartime roles. The F50 [great fighter it is – I have nothing against it] simply can’t perform all the roles a multi-role can. Even KAI makes no such claim. If we had a requirement for a ”light attack aircraft” the F50 would be ideal but at present we simply don’t have such a requirement.

  25. Melayu Ketinggalan – ”With the funds from the sales instead channel its use to just get attack helos? Find it more suitable to get it to counter the terrorism from Mindanao as opposed to get a maritime fighter jet”

    The answer to the problems facing ESSCOM is not related to firepower. Buying attack helos will not solve the problem. Wish it was that easy but it’s not.

  26. @ azlan

    As i have been asking over and over again… What is the definition of the “unfulfilled requirement”???

    Are those “unfulfilled requirement” cannot ever be done by the MKM, Hornets or with additional Hornets from Kuwait? And can only be fulfilled by the Typhoon or Rafale?

    For example the “requirement” for SGPV LCS is an increased capability in ASW warfare, which in the gowinds are fulfilled by the 6 ship buy and the CAPTAS 3 towed sonars. The “requirement” for the LMS is to replace the laksamana, FAC(M), FAC(G) and MCMV’s capability…

    So what is actually the MRCA “requirements”? If just for a MiG-29 Replacement, those Kuwaiti Hornets are way more capable than the MiG-29’s…

  27. ………. — ”As i have been asking over and over again…So what is actually the MRCA “requirements”?”

    We’ve been down this route before……

    To answer your question; the RMAF has an outstanding requirement for a ”current generation MRCA” – this is a fact no matter what your personal preference or opinion is. Thus, as long as the RMAF doesn’t get MRCAs the definition of what an ”“unfulfilled requirement” is will be plainly obvious. From comments made over the years by the RMAF; its clear that the RMAF doesn’t want to be in a position of getting something that doesn’t meet its requirements or something it doesn’t want. If forced to wait much longer for new MRCAs; the RMAF would rather fly the Fulcrums a bit longer or look at a leasing arrangement. It’s not as if the RMAF doesn’t ”think ahead”, has no ”PLAN B” or ”has wet dreams”.

    …….. – ”So what is actually the MRCA “requirements”

    To keep it short the requirement is for a current generation MRCA offering the latest technologies and also having superior capabilities compared to older platforms such as the MKM and Hornet; for which legacy Hornets or the K50 [a light attack aircraft] don’t qualify. If the RMAF feels that ex Kuwaiti Hornets can fulfill its requirements then we’ll know pretty soon.

  28. @ Azlan

    A good set of requirements is not a list of what someone does not want…

    What kind of “superior capabilities” that those shortlisted MRCA has that cannot be done by the MKM or Hornet? If you say something like “stealth”, then it is acceptable (which the MRCA candidates does not have), but things like datalink, AESA radars, EW equipments can be retrofitted to the MKM and Hornet plus additional quantities of those planes for far less cost of the MRCA’s.

    To be fair, what is the main needs of using fighters for securing the airspace of Malaysia?

    – Securing the malaysian airspace from any intruders. In peacetime what is the requirements? Comprehensive air policing of the airspace, with QRA alerts 24/7.

    – Securing malaysian maritime corridors. Providing air cover for the Navy.

    – Close air support of the army in malaysian territory.

    – Deep strike of enemy territory. A good to have but not a primary task due to our diplomatic policies.

    Can it be done by the MKM or Hornets? Yes. Can it be supplemented by more numerous lower operating cost fighters, while commonizing the various different platforms? Yes. Does it really can only be done by MRCA’s? What does everyone here think?

    Also if we get those MRCA’s (if the money is there for 18 aircrafts), will something like MH370 flying back over the country without any radio response be intercepted in timely manner? Or it would be mainly on the ground due to the high operating costs (which is higher than the already high MKM)?

  29. About the tudm MiGs. Asessment from RAC MiG / ATSC.

    ” ” RAC MiG continues working with local companies involved in MiG-29N maintenance and support. As such, ATSC has gained access to the RMAF airframes and produced a fleet report. It describes the surviving hardware as remaining in good condition, making lifetime extensions and upgrade options viable. Few airframes have exceeded 2,000 flight hours, and their maker has offered a lifetime extension to 6,000 hours and 40 calendar years ” ”

    Only a few airframes have past 2,000 flight hours, with the MiG-29 standard limit of 4,000 flight hours, those MiG-29 still have lots of valuable life left, even without upgrades (but of course with normal overhauls). So if we don’t want to upgrade them, please consider to sell them to those who still can use the MiGs.

  30. From the TUDM chief himself.

    ” ” At LIMA2017, RMAF chief Gen. Affendi bin Buang said that although the MiGs are still operational, their age causes “a gap in capability.” Advancements in technologies, especially sensor fusion and weaponry, force RMAF to consider options available for future MiG-29 operations. The basic aircraft is sturdy and robust, he said, “but there are certain systems in the MiG-29 that we wish to replace or upgrade in order to enhance the aircraft’s operational capacity.”

    “At the moment we are still awaiting a government decision whether to continue the operation of the MiG-29 or to stop it,” Affendi continued. He has been briefed by his counterparts from India and Myanmar on what they have done to their MiGs. “In my view, the additional capability that [RAC MiG] is putting into these aircraft during their update is quite impressive. This make me feel confident that these aging but still maintainable aircraft have some life in the future.” ” “

  31. Just a thought:

    Why not we offer to India the low houred MiG-29N plus some palm oil in exchange of 6 used Su-30MKI that could be converted into a MKM version.

    India could use some MiG-29 as attrition replacements, and could easily replace those MKI given to malaysia by new build MKI from HAL (which has additional MKI orders to keep the indian production line open up till 2020).

  32. ………… – ”A good set of requirements is not a list of what someone does not want…”

    A set of requirements is based on what a particular user desires based on his unique requirements; based on various factors including the need to have something with superior performance compared to what is already operated, the need to not be left too far behind technologically [even if the order is for a mere 18 platforms], the need to have a minimal deterrent value, etc, etc.

    ………….. – ”What kind of “superior capabilities” that those shortlisted MRCA has that cannot be done by the MKM or Hornet?”

    Capabilities in performance, EW, sensors, etc, etc. To be granted and taken given that the MRCAs; being more than a generation ahead of the MKM and Hornet will have certain design, performance and other aspects superior to aircraft first designed in the 1970’s …….

    …….. – ” If you say something like “stealth”, then it is acceptable”

    I prefer the term ”low observable”. No, that’s really a priority for me. I haven’t jumped on the ”stealth”/”low observable” bandwagon.

    …………… – ”Or it would be mainly on the ground due to the high operating costs (which is higher than the already high MKM)?”

    I’ll leave the speculation to you.

    The MRCAs have newer, more fuel efficient engines. Having radars, engines and other components with a lower TBO and MTBF also means that in the long run they will be cheaper and more efficient
    to run than the MKMs.

    ………. – ”AESA radars, EW equipments can be retrofitted to the MKM and Hornet plus additional quantities of those planes for far less cost of the MRCA’s.”

    Adding on newer stuff on older air frames does not automatically transform those air frames into a current gen one – if only it were that simple. Also, as the MKMs and Hornets get older there is also a limit of how much cash the RMAF would want to spend on them [similar to the Laksamanas where the RMN only wanted to spend the bare minimum] on account of their age.

  33. If those airframes are highly used with very few remaining hours left like the USN Hornets, I would’nt spend a penny for them.

    Those “gen” thingy, all the MRCA candidates are lumped together with the Hornets and MKM as the 4th Gen Fighters (3rd gen are those Phantoms, Skyhawks; 5th gen the F-22, F-35, J-20, PAK-FA)

  34. Not only hours but age is important. Metal over time weakens and becomes brittle; especially with years of high Gs. A few years ago a
    F-15C broke up in mid air. investigations revealed that it was metal fatigue and not high hours that led to this – I’m not off course saying this applies to Kuwait’s Hornets. Similarly, during there last years in service RNZAF A-4s had restrictions on the Gs they could pull; due to concerns of stress on the wings.

    I have no doubt that Kuwait’s Hornets still have lot of life left on their frames and are low houred compared to U.S. ones; my concerns are related to other matters caused by age; both internally and externally and how maintenance intensive such aged air frames and systems will be. As I mentioned previously, the RMAF is very wary of getting used air frames; not only due to the A-4s.

  35. @ azlan

    In engineering terms, fatigue is caused only by stresses and loading applied to the metal, and that happens for an aircraft only when it is in flight. Metal over time weakens (fatigued) because of use, and usage in aircraft terms is measured by the flight hours. Metal fatigue would not happen while the aircraft is idle, no matter how long it is. Your usage of the term “with years of high g” suggests an old aircaft with high flight hours, not an aircaft with low hours.

    That f-15 incident you quoted is not caused by fatigue due to high houred or old aircaft, but due to the part defect (machined not to original design, thinner than specified)

    ” ” Fatigue cracks started by manufacturing defects in a fuselage longeron caused the in-flight break-up of a Boeing F-15C Eagle on 2 November 2007, the US Air Force accident investigation has concluded.

    Longeron cracks have been found in another nine F-15Cs, and manufacturing defects that could potentially cause fatigue cracking have been detected in a further 182 F-15A-Ds. All of these aircraft remain grounded.

    Examination of the wreckage of the crashed F-15 revealed the right upper longeron, a critical load-carrying component in the forward fuselage, failed because of a fatigue crack that formed where the metal was thinner than specified in the blueprint. ” ”

    So actually your point about fatigue dismisses your statement that age is also important, as the age does not matter in fatigue calculations. Flying hours is.

    Fatigue calculations is also why a helicopter airframe is different that a fighter jet. A helicopter usually has “unlimited” flight hour limit, because the main item that limits its life, like the rotor blades, transmissions, engines can be indefinately exchnged with new item. For a fighter aircaft, it is difficult and expensive to change the wings, so the whole aircaft is limited to what the structures fatigue limits are.

  36. …….. – ”That f-15 incident you quoted is not caused by fatigue due to high houred or old aircaft,

    Well, that’s what I read years ago; that age was one reason for the incident which led to the temporary grounding of the fleet – which was close to 35 years old at the time of the incident.

    ……. – ”So actually your point about fatigue dismisses your statement that age is also important,”

    Sorry to but not really ……….. It does not ”dismiss” my statement that age is unimportant.

    If age was so unimportant – as you claim – there would be a much bigger market for used air frames which are low houred. It is not without reason that many users are extremely wary of buying pre-owned; even if low houred.

    The numbers of hours flown plays a big part but so does age. Age has a large affect on the internal parts of the aircraft; not all of which are replaced during upgrades; either for the costs involved or practicality. It is common knowledge that age – in addition -to flying hours can lead to older air craft being maintenance intensive and by virtue of that, being more expensive to run compared to newer air frames. I won’t go into engineering with you as it’s not my background but I’m aware of aircraft [non rotary] which are low houred but still have experienced metal fatigue. Then again, if you want to insist that age is not important but only flying hours, who am I insist otherwise.

  37. @ azlan

    ” there would be a much bigger market for used air frames which are low houred. ”

    Yes there would be. But in reality there is actually very2 few low houred but used airframes available out there. That is why those kuwaiti hornets are unique. And it is a platform that we already familiar with. Other hornets, like the australians, has 6000 hours on them (original airframe limit, kuwaiti hornets probably has less than half of that), and need to have structural updates for them to be available to fly for additional 2000 hours (13 years if 150 hours per year). Those kuwaiti (and malaysian) hornets actually can fly up till 2030 without even reaching the 6000 hour mark.

    If it is a low houred mirage 2000 for example (there are a few low houred airframes around but none is currently available for sale) i would be hesitant to propose as it would add another different platform to the fleet.

    As for fatigue, it happens to all aircraft components. That is why there is component hour limits and time between overhauls. In part to replace those items with fatigue limits before it fails. Some aircraft designed in the 60’s when complete aircraft fatigue calculations are rare, some fatigue limits are unknown until the airframe actually surpasses certain flying hour limits. For the hornet, the highest flying hour aircraft has surpassed 8,500hours, so right now it is safe to know that all enginering solutions to mitigate any fatigue issues in the hornet is as per designed. And for airframes not going to pass 6,000 flying hours (which kuwaiti and malaysian hornets should be), most of this engineering solutions are not needed to be implemented.

  38. ………..,

    Actually there are quite a few low houred air frames of various types stored at AMARG. Again, there is a reason why users are very wary of getting pre used air frames, even if they’re low houred.
    Buying ”cheap” is one thing BUT there’s always the big concern of how maintenance intensive a particular low houred but still ”aged” air frame will be especially for air arms like the RMAF which does not have deep pockets and which already has a huge logistical footprint and limited resources.

    Yes I’m extremely aware that fatigue effects all components [even low houred ones] and that checks on the air frame, wings, etc are required after ‘x’ number of hours but despite all the checks; the unexpected can and does happen. Without elaborating further we [as well as others] have experienced fatigue issues on aircraft that had reached not even 1/3 of the stipulated hours specified by the OEM.

    Despite all the advantages to be had in getting low houred Kuwaiti air frames the key fact remains that they are still 30 years old. There are legitimate reasons why the RMAF [which has declined similar offers in the past] and many others are extremely wary of buying pre used; irrespective of the hours accumulated. What looks good on paper may not turn out so well in reality.

  39. @ azlan

    Low houred (as per those kuwaiti or malaysian hornets) fighter airframes at AMARG Arizona?? I am willing to pay your flight tickets to davis-monthan to show me those airframes!

    Even the latest indonesian F-16C block52ID are build from ex air national guard airframes that has at least 5000 flight hours before being retired to AMARG. The refurbishment and upgrade process includes those airframes getting all new wings.

    http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/182204/usaf-delivers-refurbished-f_16s-to-indonesia.html

    So please, try to differentiate between those rarely seen low houred used types, and those typical high houred used fighters that is usually offered. Afaik i have seen only another offer like this (ie low houred airframes offered to malaysia), which was those new zealand 15x aermacchi mb-339cb.

  40. Fatigue issues of low houred aircraft. It could happen even to new aircrafts. If you fly them beyond the designed flight limits (or we in aviation say “envelope”) of course there would be structural fatigue failures. That is what happened to some of the bae hawk in malaysian service (pulled some Gs over the design limits), and why nowdays we seldom see sidewinders attached on the wingtip stations.

    But aircrafts with fully digital fly by wire (which the hornet is) the aircraft itself wont let the pilot go outside of the envelope, so structurally the aircraft computers only let the aircraft be flown inside of the structural limits of the airframe. Another reason to have those low houred kuwaiti hornets.

  41. …… – ”I am willing to pay your flight tickets to davis-monthan to show me those airframes!”’

    Thankfully for you, you won’t have to spend your cash as I was referring to low houred aircraft in general [whether transports, fighters or MPAs]; not fighters specifically.

    …… – ”So please, try to differentiate between those rarely seen low houred used types, and those typical high houred used fighters that is usually offered.”

    I’m extremely touched but there’s absolutely no need at all to plead with me.

    On the contrary it’s you who should try to ”differentiate”. I never said or implied that ” low houred used types, and those typical high houred used fighters” were one and the same ….

    …… – ”Fatigue issues of low houred aircraft. It could happen even to new aircrafts.”

    Which if you’ve noticed; I made mention of in my previous posts : that fatigue can still be found on low houred aircraft.

    ……. – ”Another reason to have those low houred kuwaiti hornets.”

    Well, continue to insist that acquiring 30 years old air frames won’t cause us any issues. Given that you tend to only place emphasis on the merits [merits which I acknowledge] and continue to seek justification to support your stance but conveniently overlook the disadvantages in acquiring 30 year old air frames; who am I to continue saying otherwise?

  42. @Azlan – Thank you for replying.

    What do you say about the recent news Sukhoi proposing the Su-30 SME version for us?

    Say re-sell the Fulcrums back to them and get these new babies?

  43. @ azlan

    I have ALWAYS differentiated between the low houred hornets and other high houred used fighters when posting here. I have differentiated those high houred hornets like those australian air force, or american legacy hornets that have mostly flown past their 6000 flying hours initial design life. If i lumped them all together I would sound exactly like you, worrying about fatigue issues, center barrel replacement (cbr), outer wings replacement, tail fin reinforcements etc etc that is needed for hornets flown past the 6,000 hour, to enable them to reach 8,000-10,000 flight hours. I am not worrying as malaysian and kuwaiti hornets on average has less then half of the original 6000 flying hour limit flown. So it is very far from the time all of your worries would happen (probably around 2030)

    If you want to be very worried about low houred old aircrafts, please be worried about the Nuri’s (1960s) and the original 6 Hercules (1970s) first. And if you want to be worried about new aircaft fatigue, be worried about the gearbox bevel gear fatigue related failures of ec725 helicopters.

    Fatigue IS normal. As an engineer you consider that into your design. You either over design the part so that the fatigue load won’t effect the component (but it would be heavy and big), or you could let it happen (cracks and all) but plan to change them before it fails (that is why components have TBO and TBR). There is no such thing as no fatigue and suddenly have fatigue as time goes. The only possible 0 fatigue is an aircraft that has 0 flying hours whatsoever. (BTW please google fatigue to learn more about it)

    @ melayu ketinggalan

    They have not explicitly proposed the su-30sme to malaysia, just saying that the model is available for sale during the LIMA 2017.

    As long as the MH17 issue is not resolved (ie those who shot down the aircraft is bought to justice), I don’t think buying weapons directly from russia would be something thinkable by the malaysian government. See my idea to get around this in my previous comments.

    Reply
    CBR is done on almost all legacy Hornets I am told

  44. @ marhalim

    CBR on american legacy hornets maybe, because most of them has passed the 6000 hours initial design limit. Currently the highest houred legacy hornet has more than 8,500 hours and still flying.

    For example, on australian fleet, only 10 aircraft was put through the CBR (center barrel replacement) program, done in canada. After going through the calculations (by ARADU), it was found that the fatigue calculations was highly conservative that meant CBR replacement was actually not needed for the fleet to reach their planned retirement as the f-35 is inducted (around 2018-2022, by which the flight hours calculated as around 6000 hours per airframe at the point of retirement)

    Reply
    GRough one of the Hornet display pilots had a 3000 hour on Hornet patch on his flight suit, he is a Lt Kol.

  45. @ marhalim

    As a senior hornet flyer, he must be someone who is also doing operational conversion trainings for new pilots to the hornet. A twin stick hornet flown by 2 pilots even for 1 hour, is considered as 1 hour for each pilot. So flight hours of the fleet cannot be counted from total hours of all pilots, as probably some flights, especially training ones are flown by 2 pilots. Not to mention time in the hornet full mission simulators are also counted towards the actual flying hours in a “hornet”.

    Btw how many malaysian hornet pilots have passed the 3000 hours mark actually? If he flew 150hours per year that means he has flown the hornet since the aircraft first arrived in malaysia, and probably one of the 1st batch of malaysians trained on the hornet, and that could be in hornets of the usmc too.

    Reply
    Senior pilots also becomes WSO for nugget pilots

  46. …………. – ” If i lumped them all together I would sound exactly like you, ”

    Well you should be gratified you’re not me then …..

    …………. – ”I have ALWAYS differentiated between the low houred hornets and other high houred used fighters when posting here”

    And I HAVE always emphasised the distinction between a high houred airframe and a low houred one that may have fatigue issues BOTH fighters and other types. I have clearly stated a just because a particular air frame is low houred; having fatigue or stress issues is not unheard of.

    Also, I did not imply that fatigue appears out of nowhere or can appear suddenly. What I did say is that fatigue can appear despite regular checks.

    ………… – ”(BTW please google fatigue to learn more about it)”

    I don’t rely on Google as my main source of info. I actually ask those who have actual experience doing what we discuss here.

    ………. – ”If you want to be very worried about low houred old aircrafts, please be worried about the Nuri’s (1960s) and the original 6 Hercules (1970s) first”

    The key difference is that we already have the Charlies, Nuris and Cougars : profound difference between actually buying/acquiring 30 year old airframes. We can’t avoid whatever issues we have [to be expected given how long we’ve had them] with the Charlies and Nuris but we can avoid having more issues in being discerning with what we buy or get in the future.

    Like I have repeatedly said : the RMAF has legitimate reasons why it is wary of getting pre owned and why despite being offered pre owned low houred aircraft in the past; it has declined such offers. You keep harping on the advantages of getting 30 year old air frames but overlook the disadvantages. If you want to keep on insisting there are no issues involved and want to continue giving facts to buttress your argument; nobody’s stopping you. I have also repeatedly stated that what looks good on practical on paper doesn’t always turn out to be the same in reality and I stand by what I say.

    melayu ketinggalan,

    We have no choice but to continue buying spares and restocks for ordnance [like we did at LIMA] but not anything major from Russia.

    Why would the Russians want our Fulcrums when the market for used Fulcrums is drying up [compared to previously] and there are other lower houred and unmodified Fulcrums lying around; as well as Fulcrums [like ours] that were nearly 90 percent completed but were never delivered.

  47. @Azlan

    then I’m confused with your earlier comment in the other thread.

    You said that we can’t re-sell the Fulcrums to other countries except back to Russia.

    Then now you said Russia won’t want to buy back the Fulcrums?

    Explain please in detail. I took note in re the MH 70 story still unresolved since Russia never clarified who fired the BUK missile. Fair point to me for us not to buy new jets from them because of this.

    On another note, the idea of us purchasing 2nd hand Hornets from Kuwait sounds like a good “interim” plan for now since we can’t afford anything till 2o3o lol.

    Your thoughts please.

  48. @ azlan

    ” ” I don’t rely on Google as my main source of info. I actually ask those who have actual experience doing what we discuss here. ” ”

    Well good for you. BTW I deal with fatigue issues as part of what i do to earn my living…

    ” “there are other lower houred and unmodified Fulcrums lying around; as well as Fulcrums [like ours] that were nearly 90 percent completed but were never delivered. ” ”

    Yes there are other lower houred unmodified fulcrums around, from the back of my head, Romania, Hungary, Kyrgystan to name a few. But those airframes are not maintained as good as the malaysian fulcrums and most are left in the open for many years now under rain and snow. Those 90 percent completed but never delivered has all gone by early 2000’s, all together about 50+ airframes, 18 to Malaysia, rest to Bangladesh and Myanmar. All SMT versions like for yemen for example, are new builds.

    As I said, I am a proponent for the Kuwaiti hornets because what it is, a low houred fleet and clear upgrade path research already paid for (like AESA radars and what not). If I am a proponent of anything used, I would have pushed hard for Australian hornets (with high airframe hours), AMARC F-16s (no commonality plus high airfame hours) or even Germany and Italian Tranche 1 Typhoons ( expensive with no viable future upgrade paths).

    I would totally agree for a brand new MRCA (instead of a used one, or a new lower performance one), if in our current reality :
    1) we have lots of money to spend
    2) our most advanced fighters are the 8x 20+ years old Hornet and 10x MiG-29 (and no, we don’t have 18 of those highly maneuverable with advanced jamming capability SU-30MKM)
    3) In 5-8 years time there is no new 5th Gen fighters with low observability and advanced avionics and sensors that is much more capable and cheaper than the shortlisted MRCA’s (like the F-35, KF-X, TF-X, PAK-FA, J-31 etc etc)

  49. ……… – ” BTW I deal with fatigue issues as part of what i do to earn my living…”

    You have already made some reference or mention of your work on a few occasions.

    As for me; I make no claims to have an engineering background or to have any ”inside” info but a lot of what I write here is based on talks/discussions with those in the know; either in the industry or in uniform.

    ……… – ”As I said, I am a proponent for the Kuwaiti hornets because what it is”

    And as I said : I readily acknowledge that getting pre used Kuwaiti Hornet has various advantages. The key issue is that there are still penalties in getting 30 year old frames; even if they are low houred and don’t have fatigue issues.

    ………. – ”that is much more capable and cheaper than the shortlisted MRCA’s (like the F-35, KF-X, TF-X, PAK-FA, J-31 etc etc)”

    Maybe but I would reserve judgment until all the fighters you mentioned are in widespread service. Some in your list aren’t even in serial production yet. As to ”capable” it would really depend on the level of networking they have when operating as part of a wider integrated network, not on the individual platform. As you’re fully aware the days of viewing things from a platform centric lens are over.

    ……… – ”1) we have lots of money to spend”

    The fact is that we’ll never have ”lots of money to spend” on defence, even if the economy makes a massive recovery in the near future. Nonetheless sooner or later we’ll still have no choice but to fork out the large amount of money needed to get the MRCAs.
    As of now the government has agreed in principle to get MRCAs; what it hasn’t committed to yet is the time frame. It’s not as if the deal will happen next month or even next year.

    Melayu Ketinggalan – ”You said that we can’t re-sell the Fulcrums to other countries except back to Russia.”

    ”Then now you said Russia won’t want to buy back the Fulcrums?”

    This is what I said : ”Why would the Russians want our Fulcrums when the market for used Fulcrums is drying up ”…….

    Unlike in the past, the market for pre owned Fulcrums has almost dried up. Sure, if the price is right there might be takers but not as many as there would have been years ago. In the past the Russians had more interest as there was a greater chance of securing a buyer for our Fulcrums – as of 2017 the situation has changed somewhat. Also, our Fulcrums – if sold – have high mileage engines. With such engines we won’t get a vary good price for what are basically just air frames with 25 off year old radar and other systems.

    Another point to consider – not vital if the new owner intends on a major upgrade – is that our Fulcrums are slightly different [certain modifications unique to us] and are fitted with various U.S. made avionics that will have to be taken off before the aircraft are sold. BTW, India first expressed possible interest in our Fulcrums years ago; nothing new.

    Melayu Ketinggala – ”a good “interim” plan for now since we can’t afford anything till 2o3o”

    Till 2030? Then obviously you’re privy to info not available to the rest of us here.

    It is indeed a ”good “interim” plan”, no doubt there but since the RMAF is against or not keen on buying pre owned then obviously this ”good interim” plan” is not so ”good” for our specific needs/requirements.

  50. ” ” The US Navy plans to expand its requirement for opposing force flight training to include fourth-generation fighters, and the company that currently provides that service is preparing to scour the globe for fighters for sale to meet this need.

    Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC), a Textron company, already flies about 5,000 hours a year for the U.S. Navy – using a combination of older F-21 Kfir, MK-58 Hawker Hunter and L-39 Albatros jets – to help train pilots and ship crews ahead of deployments. The Navy now wants as much as 5,000 hours a year of fourth-generation red force capability alone, and the Air Force may buy an additional 37,000 hours a year, leaving ATAC to start figuring out where in the world to buy about 140 used fourth-generation fighters to meet this demand.

    He explained that ATAC would be looking for “Country X” that is in the process of upgrading its fighter fleet and may be willing to sell some of its fourth-generation planes as they are replaced by newer airframes. ” ”

    This is the chance, for tudm to offer the hawks and mb-339cm to any of those companies, ATAC, Draken, Discovery Air Defence etc etc and replace them with 1 type of newer fighters.

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