SHAH ALAM: And then there was eight. Some eight months after Defence Minister Mat Sabu told the nation that only four RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker can fly, eight of them are preparing for LIMA 19, later this month.
The Flankers flew in in a formation over Butterworth air base according to a social media post by TUDM. The post stated that the Flankers were ready for LIMA 19.
A flock of Flankers soaring Butterworth Hot Airspace” Su-30MKM ready for @LimaExhibition
Several days after the statement by Mat Sabu, RMAF chief Gen. Affendi Buang clarified that six of the Flankers were capable of flight operations.
Affendi said the air force began exploring other options, including the possibility of working ‘in-country’ through smart partnerships with local maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) organisations and aerospace industry players.
“An Su-30MKM was used as a testbed to validate the programme. We found that we could do it at a fraction of the original cost. It also reduced our dependence on the Russian OEM.”
Affendi was confident that this option would enable the air force to follow through with its maintenance programme, within the budget allocated by the government.
“We are fine-tuning our requirements for the programme, but I have to say that we are severely constrained by our very tight annual operational budget.
It is likely that the other two Flankers flying could be ones that had undergone testing as part of the RMAF plan to conduct the life extension programme in country. I was told that two Flankers will be on static/flight displays during LIMA and eight others will fly in formation during the opening ceremony and likely at the public days.
RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM M52-18 during its display at LIMA 17
I guess we will find out later this month, hopefully.
#updated with new information on the number of Flankers at Lima
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