Holding Pattern

M40-08 on approach to Labuan airport.

SHAH ALAM: Holding Pattern. It appears that every planned procurement programme under RMAF – and likely the other services as well – has been put off for the time being as the new Pakatan Harapan government seeks to stabilize and improved country’s financial position.

RMAF chief Gen Affendi Buang in a press conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the service, pretty much acknowledged that everything under consideration for the service had been placed on hold. This includes MRCA, MPA as well as the upgrades for the Hawks, Hercules and Nuri. The LCA rumoured to be part of a future buy will remained that way.

Nuri M23-29 flying over the Kota Belud air to ground firing range.

For the MPA, funding could be revived within the next few years, Affendi said. The previous government had approved the funding for the MPA in the 2018 budget with a seed allocation of RM10 million.

Apart from the freeze on new contracts, current operations are also under review with adjustments to be made based on funding availability.

Fulcrum M43-03 at its hangar at Kuantan airbase on June 1, 2016.

The fleet of Mig-29 Fulcrums remained under storage with no further development on its future. If the fighter jets are not upgraded, the RMAF will have to consider selling them to third parties.

RMAF Hawk and Sukhoi at Labuan airbase for Ek Paradise 2015.

Contracts that had been signed are continuing like the maintenance and upgrading of RMAF air defense and air traffic control radars signed with Zetro Services Sdn Bhd.

Hercules M30-08 landing at Labuan airport.

Freezing defence procurements were among the things we had expected when the new government said it had to deal with country’s RM1 trillion debt incurred by the previous administration. The cancellation of several infrastructure projects as well as the review of others was a signal for defence and national security sector, which had seen funding slashed whenever the economy goes south.

Two Hawk Mk 208s outside their dispersal shed. These are the two aircraft which took part in the firepower demonstration at Kota Belud air to ground firing range in 2017

So whats next for RMAF then? Based on the statements by the chief, the service has some options to turn to in due course. The first are the Kuwaiti Hornets, available from 2021 onwards as a cover for the MRCA programme. Additional Hawks from Oman (and others if the numbers from Oman are not enough) to cover the LIFT as well as adding more airframes for the 208 fleet.

A Nuri, CN235 and Hornet, among the aircraft that took part in Eks Paradise.

As for the MPA, the best option is to sign off the option to add surveillance equipment to the three CN-235s as with the contract with Indonesian Aerospace. I believed the above as well as upgrades to the Hercules will not cost more than RM1 billion a palatable solution to funding crunch for the within the next three years and subsequent RMK.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1161 Articles
Shah Alam

64 Comments

  1. It happened here and everywhere……when economy situation is hard then defence budget is the first to be cut. Usually the air force is the first among the3 services. Land force is the last.

    The million dollar question is how far it will go?
    Pinoy and indon are two close examples.

    Building it back will not easy.

  2. The near future outlook is bleak, and we could see Malaysia spending less than the Philippines on defence. Spending absolutely minimum now and the next RMK will permanently damage TUDM future operational capability as even restoring normal spending in RMK13 would not able to replace all the current capabilities.

    We cannot afford to have our airspace defence among others
    i) not able to detect unresponsive aircraft and launch QRA over malaysian airspace.
    ii) not being able to find a small boat in malaysian waters from the air within 24 hours.

    The worse case would be having nothing new at all and to modify existing aircrafts and buy used ones.
    – Modify CN-235 to MPA aircrafts.
    – Buy used Omani hawks to beef up the light combat capability. To be used up to 2030-2035. No replacement later.
    – Buy used Kuwaiti Hornets to replace the MiG capability and increase the current squadron strength. Total fleet of around 32 aircraft in 2 squadrons. To be used up to 2030-2035. Probably only replaced by only 8-18 MRCA
    – No AEW&C
    – Used EC225LP civil helicopters as a cheap solution to upgrading the Nuri. Pass all nuris to PUTD.
    – Additional used PC-7 MkII from South Africa (8-12 aircraft).
    – US EDA MQ-1 predator UAVs

    Getting everything used this will see most malaysian fighter aircraft age in 2030 to be around 35 years old, with only the MKM at about 23 years old. TUDM will not find the budget in 2030 to replace 50-60 fighters at the same time.

    That would be the worst case scenario, with surely most of malaysian defence contractors closing shop as all of them would be used buys. And TUDM capability would be down next to the Philippines past 2030 when malaysian neighbors are steadily investing in the defence of their airspace.

    To me, below is still the best plan for TUDM, not too expensive, not too damaging to TUDM post 2030.
    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/rmaf-2020-part-2/

    Reply
    The Army don’t want the Nuri

  3. “Based on the statements by the chief, the service has some options to turn to in due course. The first are the Kuwaiti Hornets, available from 2021 onwards as a cover for the MRCA programme. Additional Hawks from Oman (and others if the numbers from Oman are not enough) to cover the LIFT as well as adding more airframes for the 208 fleet.”

    please let this happen…please let this happen…hope the new govt will approve it and we can ask the country for the aircraft.

    upgrades for the Hawks, Hercules and Nuri is postpone again???is that wise?i thought the Hawks and Hercules need upgrade fast.

    Reply
    They have been talking about upgrading the Hercules/Hawks for the last four years now I don’t know when it will be done

  4. At least base maintenance is continued, but that hardly solves anything. As I have mentioned before, I tremble with what the new administration will bring and this news further reinforces my fears. Perhaps arming our men with keris and tombaks isn’t so farfetched after all.

  5. Suddenly most chatter on the net supports the used hornet plan…

    I still don’t agree on the hawk plan. Yes it is good, but we don’t really know what is the economy like in 2030. Hedging your bet on 2030 we have the money to replace hawk and hornets at the same time is foolish. We might end up not able to replace both, a scenario I don’t want to happen. So i still avocate on buying something new now, and the most affordable is to replace the hawks first, and the more expesive MRCA later.

    BTW no likes for the used EC-225LP plan?

    Another thing is that mahathir is going to Japan next month. Would the used P-3 Orion plan resurface?

    Reply
    Unless the Japanese give us a huge discount on the P1s.

  6. Is the MRCA program cancelled?

    Q&A from RMAF Chief interview:

    “Apakah perkembangan ter­baru TUDM untuk mendapatkan pesawat pejuang pelbagai pe­ranan (MRCA) dan pesawat rondaan maritim (MPA)? Adakah mempunyai senarai pendek terhadap beberapa jenis pesawat?

    Kemungkinan besar TUDM tidak akan membeli MRCA baharu. Pesawat MRCA TUDM sekarang iaitu Su30MKM dan F/A-18D akan digunakan dengan sepenuhnya. Mungkin TUDM akan mengintai untuk mendapat lebih banyak bilangan pesawat F/A-18D dari negara sahabat.”

    Reply
    KIVed

  7. People. Defence n security is important. However, buying medicine n equipment to safe the rakyats life is even more important. Lets get the money to buy medicine n equipment first

    Reply
    I guess most people here realized that other things are important but this is a defence blog, of course the conversation will be slanted to defence matters

  8. The fact of the matter is that the govt just didnt have the money tu buy anything new now. Need to fasten our belt and make the best of the situation. Buying used might be the only logical choice now.

    We can also give time for new platforms like FA-50, F-35 or F18 Block 3 to mature and come into the market. Avionics and arms integration is still an issue with even with the established Rafale and Typhoon.

    As for the MPA, should also study for MALE UAVs platform as a cheaper option. We shall bought more new CN325s for conversion to MPA.

    As for the Nuri, maybe replace it altogether with EC725s? Seluk sampai jadi perkasam. Or maybe hi-lo end mix with Mi-171. The thais used to say one Blackhawk can buy 3 Mi-171. The Chinese copycat helos is also an option.

  9. I think it dont make sense…just because of hutang everything on defence is put on hold….come on politics aside…even the previous govt with hutang that they hide still make progress with the countrys security…so wat the new govt trying to say is there will be lesser than normal budget due to hutang…hmmm….wat about airing football matches….i begin to wonder…

  10. @ Hazwan 1988

    Seluk sampai jadi pekasam? LoL! Peribahasa baru ni!

    @ Lee Yoke Meng

    Our budget for the health ministry has always been bigger than defence. 2018 budget for health is RM27 billion. Compare that to defence ministry budget for 2018 is just RM15.843 billion, from that only RM3.2 billion for CAPEX (ie. buying new stuffs), the rest is OPEX. Right now it is among the lowest in SEA and i really don’t know if we can cut this down any further.

  11. @…
    As I mentioned earlier, the political realities precludes us to consider only used equipment, and even that now seems to be a pipe dream.

    The Hawks might be due for replacement in 2030 (with 2nd hand Gripens or TA50s, I hope), but if we get sufficient Kuwaiti F18s plus some for spareparts, AND if we used them as per currently (read: low mileage), then we probably can stretched them to 2040 or more (cannibalise some if necessary). If the Aussies can donate some of their non-flying F18s as spareparts to us, then all the better this plan might be doable.

    As for helis, I prefer used Sikorskies or Bells. Euro choppers seems to be unreliable as they age. We have had enough of heli related fatalities to mick around with less reliable platforms.

  12. @D.W “akan digunakan dengan sepenuhnya”
    This probably means more regular QRA tasking for the Sus and 18s.

    @joe
    You do have to look at the big picture. I agree that we all here are pretty familiar by now with the ATM’s weaknesses and we all have our fantasy fleets and vision of what we would do with the ATM, but the fact is this:

    Ask experts from the other sectors in this country, agriculture, industry, microelectronics, tourism, shipping, things that build our country’s economy, not to mention other expenditure items like education, medical care, law enforcement, public works, etc. – and you will get a long long list of other things which are critical to the country’s survival besides the military.

    I can tell you for example that at one point the country was literal months, maybe weeks away from not having any functional .gov.my websites at all. All because of corruption sucking dry the official budgets to an unprecedented degree even for Malaysia.

    So much as we moan about not having this or that shiny toy for the military, please remember… these are mainly expenditures for a just-in-case scenario while there are literally people dying and suffering from lack of budget in other departments.

    @…
    Maybe TUDM does pay attention to this site.

  13. Lee – ”However, buying medicine n equipment to safe the rakyats life is even more important. Lets get the money to buy medicine n equipment first”

    You make it sound as if health care has been neglected because of excessive defence spending or that if any of the planned procurement agreed upon by the previous government goes through; that health care will suffer …… Not the case at all.

    Hazwan – ”As for the MPA, should also study for MALE UAVs platform as a cheaper option. ”

    We haven’t yet reached the stage where an unmanned platform can totally do away with the need for a manned platform.

    Hazwan – ”s for the Nuri, maybe replace it altogether with EC725s? ”

    The Nuris are aged but there is no urgency at all to replace them as their frames still have lots of hours left.

    Chua – ”these are mainly expenditures for a just-in-case scenario ”

    No…….. They are not. All are needed as part of the MAF’s long term modernisation efforts. If equipment or skills are allowed to atrophy; at a later date when fund are available it will be harder to reach or obtain the same level of capabilities, skill sets and readiness as before. It’s not as if we have been spending excessively on defence in the past and it’s not as if capabilities – which can be lost overnight – can be rapidly regained at some point in the future.

  14. P.S.

    The ironic thing is that whilst the new government – naturally – would want to spend as minimum as possible for the time being; as time passes and various RMAF aircraft get older; they will become more maintenance intensive – even after upgrades which rarely do away with all the issues related to age – which in turn will require more ringgit being spent; never mind decreased operational/servicibility rates.

  15. I would also advocate patience . We don’t yet know how much we can afford to spend on the armed forces in the long term. We shouldn’t make a commitment now -even an interim or low cost one- that will be with us for years to come when it might not match our budget in those years.

  16. not taking any sides,but i think we should wait and see what action and steps the new government will take within their administrative term.i hope they will fare better thn the previous givernment.

  17. @Azlan
    Great to have you back.

    Yeah, we are aware of the difficulties of capability regeneration. I am talking about peer conflict, the equipment for which is what drives up the cost of a lot of these big ticket items. That is the just-in-case scenario which all these things prepare for.

    Yet there are everyday threats, day to day problems which the country faces, equally critical to the country’s survival or perhaps even more so if you consider that they are more certain to happen than all-out war, which need funding just as urgently.

  18. I share most of your concerns above mates. I fervently want YB Mat Sabu to pay (at least) some attention to our concerns. Defense is always a thing that politicians care least about unless he’s Chancelor Bismarck of the German Empire circa 1870! That is, until shit hits the fan like the Lahad Datu Incident.
    We have not to my limited view been aggressive in military spending recently, so there shouldn’t be any concern defense spendings’s way above health spendings.
    Our generals have to think of actual ways to spend ‘less money’ wisely. It’s not the right time to push for expensive toys but the generals must be bold enough to tell the govt what they can do with what little ATM possess and what ATM cannot do. Period.
    As for the TUDM Mig replacements, we do know there’s no money for now. Let’s move on AND have the govt acknowledge THEY owe the military a Big Thank You for not throwing a ruckus when the kitty’s dry. Get Mat Sabu to see that TUDM is already pincang, and are more than willing (I foresee some hand wrangling) to use 2nd hand assets like ex Kuwaiti FA18s and perhaps, ex Omani Hawks. That’s a lot of pride to swallow that should not go un-noticed. Heck, many who criticise our military do so minus any real understanding of what our soldiers go through on a daily basis.
    I’m critical of our military too, but I am not so dense that I can’t emphatise with the current ATM predicament.

  19. The best takeaway message from then RMAF boss’s recent interview, for me, personally, is that there is “big possibility” that we will finally put the stake through the heart of the zombie MRCA vanity project to buy (or pretend to be able to even afford) the overpriced eurocanards. Let’s put a lid over and bury this zombie 6ft under once and for all, at least for the foreseeable future under this new sensible government. RMAF might be kicking itself for not lobbying hard enough to pressure the corrupt BN regime to just accept those “foreign financing plans a.k.a more hutang” and give them their euro hot rods…
    An interesting point in the interview is that RMAF is apparently only interested in 2nd hand dual seat F-18D? Is that true or just a typos, given that beggar can’t be chooser…

    Reply
    I have been told they are not very choosy as long as they got the planes. As you are probably aware the Kuwaiti Hornets are hot items so there’s already a long line for them. As the other users mostly operate the Cs, the twin stick Ds of the Kuwaitis are to certain degree orphans so they are more likely less suitors for them. I don’t think the government will want to spend money to buy the whole lot so around 6 (I think that’s the number of Kuwaiti Ds) will be the sweet spot for us.

  20. @Marhalim
    “I have been told they are not very choosy as long as they got the planes. As you are probably aware the Kuwaiti Hornets are hot items so there’s already a long line for them. As the other users mostly operate the Cs, the twin stick Ds of the Kuwaitis are to certain degree orphans so they are more likely less suitors for them. I don’t think the government will want to spend money to buy the whole lot so around 6 (I think that’s the number of Kuwaiti Ds) will be the sweet spot for us.”

    What? Only 6? Previously we used to get the ‘half-squadron’ of 8, and now 6? Maybe it’s to make it a ‘full-squadron’ instead. That’s by the way will be the only increase to our fighters after we have stored the 2 Mig 29 half-squadrons and the F5E squadron. That is IF the plan can move ahead.

    Btw, any news on the Aussie hornets? Since some of them have gone through extensive refit before they are retired, I think it’s a viable option also.

    Reply
    I have been told before and I had posted this before, there is no interest in the Aussie Hornets. Of course if they suddenly offered a number for free, I guess beggars cannot be choosers

  21. @ Marhalim

    This is the available twin seat legacy hornets.

    Kuwait
    8 F/A-18D. Now 7 in use and 1 stored.

    Australia
    16 F/A-18. About 10-12 is in 2 OCU, rest in the 3 operational squadron and test unit ARDU. 1 of the operational squadron (3 sqn) is already in process of changing to F-35 and will return to australia by end of 2018. 2 OCU has probably stopped training new legacy hornet pilots and will also transition to F-35 in the near future. So in 2019 there would probably be around 12 available minus any that Canada takes as a part of the 18 hornets they already signed up with australia to buy.

    @ chua

    This is not the time to talk about peer threats. Now even peacetime duties like maritime patrol and air policing cannot be fully covered by TUDM. This deficiency is what we need to quickly address, rather than a threat of another country attacking us.

    Reply
    Oh, it’s eight though the one stored probably need a rebuild after some difficulties. Yes if the Ds are that many its probably we could ask for the whole lot.

  22. “Based on the statements by the chief, the service has some options to turn to in due course. The first are the Kuwaiti Hornets, available from 2021 onwards as a cover for the MRCA programme. Additional Hawks from Oman (and others if the numbers from Oman are not enough) to cover the LIFT as well as adding more airframes for the 208 fleet.”

    Yes, that’s the best option with the current budget. Still, i doubt rmaf will get more than 10 units. This ex kuwaiti will available after 2021, by that time these fighters needed to be upgraded. With only 10 units to be add, RMAF can switch migs pilot to hornets with small amount of money needed. There are still lcs, lms, and gempita on progress which are needed to be funded. Mpa, hercules and mrss are too impotant to be excluded in priority list.

    While others trying to modernize their forces as South China Sea future is still fragile, ATM has no luxury for that.

  23. YB Mat Sabu may get the actual background noises from the former Min. of Defense. See if the Kuwaiti’s Hornet offer are still any good. As for the MPAs,retire the 3 King Airs and convert some of the remaining CN235s into MPAs. If that cannot be done, get Uncle Sam to donate 4-6 Super Caravans to do the MPA work.
    * I believe the Pinoys got their Caravan MPA planes via American assistance.
    Our new govt will be sure to get lots of understanding of ‘the Msian military plight’. After all, I recall DSAI was (or is) quite the American favorite in certain DC circles. Sure dapat some sympathy in Pentagon punya! He may well be the key to broader American military aid.

    Reply
    The problem is Tun M is the PM.

  24. lets wait and see what the next budget will be. with all thing in hiatus and review,the army will try to reason with the new govt about what they want. the next budget will be interesting. pretty sure the general in army will fight to get what they want.

  25. Taib – ”convert some of the remaining CN235s into MPAs”

    Sounds great on paper but the reality is different. If we do as you suggest will we have enough CN-235s to perform the medium/light transport role? Not all 6 are operational at any given time and not all taskings call for a C-130 or a A400M.

    Taib – ”get Uncle Sam to donate 4-6 Super Caravans ”

    Does the type have the needed range and endurance? Will fitting a radar, FLIR and ESM to it be problematic. Will it be a step backwards or forwards with regards to the King Airs we currently have?

    … – ”Now even peacetime duties like maritime patrol and air policing cannot be fully covered by TUDM.”

    Actually it can; just barely and with difficulty : as long as something unexpected doesn’t happen and we are forced to increase the tempo.

    AM – ”I would also advocate patience .”

    Very true indeed. The good news is that the new government has people who had previous experience in government dealing with defence/security issues. The bad or worrying news is that the new government includes individuals who have previously had a anti pathetic stance with regards to defence and a clear lack of understanding. Lets wait and see.

    Many have their personal preferences as to what they would like to see bought or rather what they feel is the right thing to buy for the MAF but at the end of the day the MAF recommends and the politicians decide. Lets also see if the longstanding policy of basing defence purchases on politics/national interests rather than on operational effectiveness/commonality stays in place.

  26. Marhalim, on the MPA, worst case scenario, do you see us going for the Japanese P-3?

    Reply
    Anything could happen now but I think Japan would be better off selling us P1s at a discounted price.

  27. AM – ”We shouldn’t make a commitment now -even an interim or low cost one- that will be with us for years to come when it might not match our budget in those years.”

    And we have ensure that any choices we make now, to achieve short term costs savings, will not result in incurring added costs in the future. People tend to be fixated by costs savings but what’s ”cheap” or ”affordable” now might not be so in the future; especially when buying pre owned. As it is, we have a history of buying stuff only to find out the penalties later.

  28. @Marhalim
    Tun M made it possible for them to win it, so possibly he re-aligned his interests to THEIR agenda now? If our geo-political sphere did shift to THEIR interest, perhaps we can ask THEM for more goodies like retired Tarawa class LHAs (remaining 2 in storage) to fulfill our MRSS needs, retired Abrams, F18s, etc.

    Reply
    Based on what happened so far unlikely. The Tarawas are far too big and expensive for us

  29. The Tarawas might be too expensive for us to buy it, but if they willing to give their new-found ally for free, then….

    Reply
    Its even too expensive to maintain

  30. Just my take on the matter, with the cancellation of projects worth RM100 billion, which has yet to occur, the PH government has opened up finances opportunity to fund other projects that are more needed for the Rakyat. Although not all the RM100 billion savings would be used, even usage of 30% would help a lot of deserving sectors such as Health, education and even defense.

  31. joe “The Tarawas might be too expensive for us to buy it, but if they willing to give their new-found ally for free, then….”

    We’d have to increase the number of seagoing personnel by roughly 50%, and probably our budget too. Would only fit at Lumut and Sepanggar, and even then we might have to dredge Lumut’s outer pier if draft is too deep. We’d have to deploy all our helicopters on it and have half the fleet escort it to make sense.

    Even if you asked for an LSD, at 50 years old and ~400 crew it’s a non starter. It’s never been done and won’t be done.

    But if you say we can’t be arming our men with kerises and our men deserve the budget we’ve been giving all along, then buy the LHA and uphold our Bugis warrior traditions.

  32. joe – ”perhaps we can ask THEM for more goodies like retired Tarawa class LHAs (remaining 2 in storage) to fulfill our MRSS needs, retired Abrams, F18s, etc.”

    As I’m fond of saying : Some pre owned things we should buy, some we shouldn’t….

    Buying such a large, aged and high mileage ship like the Tarawa will result in the hole we’re already in getting deeper…..

  33. There are chatter of an agreement today of RAAF transfering its hornet spares to malaysia.

    Reply
    Yes there was no further details

  34. @AM
    While a lot of prep work have to be done, certainly it isn’t impossible. Who knows, the new administration might spin this as their effort in creating more jobs for those who were made jobless.

    Deploying helis on it as a permanent basis is not necessary. They can be land based as currently and temporarily transferred onto KD Mahathir when required. Unlike the US blue water navy, it can be berthed most the time except for logistic duties, exercises, and the odd rare emergency chances. We can then finally use our useless subs on worthy duties like escorting the LHA flagship and a add couple of frigate escorts.

    By requisitioning the temporary use of our various heli wings for missions, this can also foster closer ties between the TLDM, TUDM, TDM, and even PDRM heli boys and who knows, maybe the start of a functional tri(quad?)-service cooperation.

  35. Azlan “And we have ensure that any choices we make now, to achieve short term costs savings, will not result in incurring added costs in the future. People tend to be fixated by costs savings but what’s ”cheap” or ”affordable” now might not be so in the future; especially when buying pre owned.”

    When it comes to the Hornets, for example, people assume that the Kuwaiti ones are in “good shape” and seem to forget that we or anyone else have not carried out inspections to see if it is indeed the case.

    In the fiscal sense, we shouldn’t be making commitments while we don’t have an indication of future budget levels. If for example we got Hornets or FA-50s because they fit now, we would be shooting our chances of getting a new MRCA if budget for it becomes available.

    I personally feel that even if we do get an MRCA, we will never have more than we have use for. Additional Hornets will be a useful augmentation (provided they are in “good shape”) since we’ll have the type in service for years to come. Yet the government may not see it that way and may deny the MRCA on the grounds we’ve got the Hornets.

    The air force said a few days ago that it has plans for various fleet upgrades. That they have not advanced the cheaper upgrades is probably for this reason.

  36. “Deploying helis on it as a permanent basis is not necessary. They can be land based as currently and temporarily transferred onto KD Mahathir when required. … By requisitioning the temporary use of our various heli wings for missions, this can also foster closer ties between the TLDM, TUDM, TDM, and even PDRM heli boys”

    This would just further balloon the costs. You’d have to regularly deck qualify the army and police pilots and navalise their support personnel and equipment. It’d be the most most rojak helo air wing ever.

    For debate’s sake, it would be better if you took the mothballed Nuris since they’re already marinised. You could have existing crew qualified and borrow them when needed for your part-time ESG.

    Loss of the ship would essentially mean loss of helo capability nation wide.

    “While a lot of prep work have to be done, certainly it isn’t impossible. Who knows, the new administration might spin this as their effort in creating more jobs for those who were made jobless.”

    For debate’s sake, the “prep work” would involve stripping systems that we won’t operate such as the CIWS, torpedo decoys, air search radar and so on- none of which we have specified for our prospective MRSS and which would .

    “Unlike the US blue water navy, it can be berthed most the time except for logistic duties, exercises, and the odd rare emergency chances.”

    You’ll find that our ships are berthed “most of the time.” At combat speeds, a Lekiu’s endurance falls to a handful of days following which UNREP (which we don’t do) or replenishment in port is necessary. Maintenance is a thing, too. Keeping ships at sea longer simply means the ships are in maintenance longer, even for the “US blue water navy.”

  37. a bit off topic

    The 1st F-16 SLEP (structural life extension program) modified aircraft has been completed.

    The F-16s were originally deemed air worthy for up to 8,000 flight hours, but will have their life extended up to 12,000 flight hours as part of the programme (if it is flown 200 fight hours per year, that is an additional 20 years of life. Compare that to the hours TUDM flies the MiG-29N for example, even up to now the average flight hours for each MiG-29N is only about 2,000 flight hours)

    The F-16 SLEP is to take each fighter 9 months of work at a cost of USD2.4 million.

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/first-f-16-to-receive-life-extension-modifications-r-448477/

  38. AM – ”When it comes to the Hornets, for example, people assume that the Kuwaiti ones are in “good shape”

    Given that a lot of the upkeep is via FMS and that these platforms haven’t flown as many hours as USN ones; they are in good shape and low houred. That’s not my concern however as irrespective of being in good shape and low houred these platforms were still delivered in the early 1990’s. Not matter their condition; at the end of the day as aircraft get older they tend to require more maintenance hours and that results in added costs.

    AM – ”In the fiscal sense, we shouldn’t be making commitments while we don’t have an indication of future budget levels.”

    Very true. What we buy now will have a big impact later. No doubt cash is tight and we have to be careful with what we buy but by the same token we can’t rush and get something now just because it’s ”cheap” only to find out later that it doesn’t meet our requirements.

  39. joe – ”They can be land based as currently and temporarily transferred onto KD Mahathir when required.”

    The whole purpose of having an embarked air wing is so that aircraft can supports ops at sea or on land. As such, aircraft have to be embarked and put to sea often to get and maintain the needed skills.

    joe – ”it can be berthed most the time except for logistic duties, exercises, and the odd rare emergency chances.”

    One doesn’t need an aged, high mileage, labour intensive and expensive to support ship for these roles. There is zero advantage in getting Tarawa. For one thing maintaining will take up a huge chunk of the budget and we will never be in need of a platform that large and with so much deck space. If you recall, the RMN publicly said Dokdo was too large for its needs and that a future MPSS would ideally displace less than 18,000 tonnes.

    joe – ”We can then finally use our useless subs on worthy duties like escorting the LHA flagship and a add couple of frigate escorts.”

    Firstly, our subs aren’t ”useless. Just because you’re not aware of the various vital or ”worthy” roles they perform or doubt their utility doesn’t make them useless.

    When it comes to providing all round protection; a surface ship is a better option to act as a dedicated escort. Sure, subs are routinely part of carrier/surface groups but are not tied down as ”escorts” per say but operate a distance away as an early warning screen or to augment the carrier/surface group’s capabilities.

  40. Maybe should consider an aerostat system (like Singapore) for MPA instead. Always in the air 24/7.

    Get a multi-mode AESA radar like the Seaspray 7000e, and it can also double up as an AEW platform.

  41. Off topic

    on june 5 2018, USAF B-52 bombers flew to the spratlys for a training mission. It is flown from diego garcia in the indian ocean to south china sea.

    http://i1.wp.com/inews.gtimg.com/newsapp_match/0/3862115262/0

    As a sovereign country, i would expect these bombers to be escorted by TUDM fighters when in malaysian airspace, as what countries like UK does to foreign military planes in their airspace.

    Reply
    Those aircraft were in our EEZ, our airspace dont go beyond the 12 nautical mile limit. Of course we could shadow them from a distance. Unless we designate the area as our ADIZ, they fly into the area while looking at the ATC feed of course.

  42. “Maybe should consider an aerostat system (like Singapore) for MPA instead. Always in the air 24/7.”

    1- Theirs is for air and not sea surveillance.
    2- It’s obviously no substitute for AEW or MPA, both of which they have.
    3- Immobile and covers limited territory. Works well for them but less for us.
    4- Not 24/7, it has to be lowered in bad weather and for maintenance.

  43. When thinking of getting some value out of the Hawks and MB339s by selling them off, this is the big event that we need to keep track of.

    The USAF massive contractorized Adversary Support Contract. This huge contract for training mainly the stealthy F-35 fleet among others will worth billions and US private contractors have been hastily scouring the world for used fighter jets. Some of the types that has been bought are Skyhawks (from israel and new zealand), F-5Es (from jordan), Hawks (from korea), MB339 (from new zealand), Kfir (from israel), L-159 (from czech), cheetah (from south africa), mirage (from france, spain, south africa) and others.

    These contactors would be the ideal buyer for malaysian hawks and MB339 should we decide to sell them off. More info please read

    http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/21363/usaf-reveals-timelines-and-basing-plans-for-its-huge-adversary-support-contract

  44. @…

    Sometimes I don’t understand why the USAF would train their future fighter pilot to spar with LIFT such as MB339. I mean, if they are in the F35 shouldn’t they be at least expecting to face some higher performance fighter such as the Mig29?

  45. Since we’re so hype on the “free” Hawks and Hornet talk, out of curiosity, how much can we get if we do sell our Hawks, MB339 and even the Mig instead?

    Reply
    Probably a single brand new Super Hornet

  46. @ Hornet lover

    Anyone who pilots a stealth fighter when fights against a normal fighter is like a 2 men going inside a dark building, with one having a night vision goggle. The stealth fighter can kill a normal fighter at its own time, while the normal fighter wont even know the stealth fighter is there.

    So adversary training is to give lots of practice targets for BVR training, and multiple aircrafts in close in dogfight training. Dogfight training is like soldiers practicing hand-to-hand combat. A skill just in case you need it, but that is not the primary way you are going to kill your enemy. Multiple adversarys in close in dogfight even with old fighters are still a handful for stealth fighters, as the radar invisibility is negated. Multiple high end fighters will cost serious money, so this is actually a cost saving move, even when billions spent, billions are actually saved.

    @ ed / marhalim

    “Probably a single brand new Super Hornet”

    Or nearly 2 MKMs.

    But even that small amount is more than enough to fully upgrade all of our hercules and nuris at the same time. Or buy a dozen of second hand EC-225LP helicopters to add to the current cougar fleet. Not to mention the money saved by not upgrading the hawks/mb339s.

  47. Hornet Lover “Sometimes I don’t understand why the USAF would train their future fighter pilot to spar with LIFT such as MB339. ”

    Simply put, fighter pilots have a broad syllabus and contractor “red air” is one part of a broad range of assets.

    Old fighters and trainers can teach the kinetic portion of the fight or provide targets to acquire by radar. Contractors love them because the jets don’t need to have combat systems and are simple to maintain. If a small fleet can be bought from an air force and it comes with enough spares or donor airframes, almost any fighter type will do.

    You also have in-house aggressor squadrons to replicate higher performance threats and fly with the electronic stuff that the contractor jets don’t carry. These can be almost as modern as operational jets. Or they can be the USAF’s own T-38 trainers which fly with ECM pods and train F-22 pilots.

  48. @AM

    That’s precisely my point. The T38 should have a better flight envelope compare to a Macchi and that makes it a more worthy adversary. Of course contractors don’t and shouldn’t need to worry about the BVR part as the electronics is the most tightly guarded secret of any fighter.

    On a separate issue, I see that the ‘official spec’ of a Hornet or Super Hornet has a max air frame limit of ‘only’ 7.5G and that automatically makes it inferior to Fulcrum. Many years ago I talked to an RMAF pilot and said he’s a colleague who forced the Mig to 10G during an exercise… The ground crew did a thorough check after that and found nothing wrong with the air frame. I don’t know how true the story is, but I believe he didn’t exaggerate. Speaking from a pure knife fight perspective, the Fulcrum should beat the Hornet hands down isn’t it? Can someone please enlighten me.

  49. Hornet Lover “Of course contractors don’t and shouldn’t need to worry about the BVR part as the electronics is the most tightly guarded secret of any fighter. ”

    Yes, although Draken will be flying its Cheetah with jamming pods.

  50. Other than India, there are other users that might have indigenous services to upgrade the Migs like Ukraine, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria, Germany might still be capable since they only retired their Migs in 2004.

  51. … “Probably will see more than 50 years of service with RTAF.”

    Yeah that’s what happens when you don’t rule out some of the best vendors in the avionics upgrade business.

  52. @ joe

    The only other country that could overhaul the MiG-29 and add some updated equipments are Ukraine and Belarus. The only notable upgrade of the Fulcrum-A is the MiG-29UPG for India. That upgrade is not as comprehensive as what is available fpr the legacy hornets (AESA, weapons, airframe strengthening etc)

    For malaysian context it is not worthwhile because
    A) we need to choose between the hornet or the fulcrum to streamline the fleet. Hornet wins hands down.
    B) can we go around to find immaculate secondhand fulcrums to add to the fleet? No.
    C) can we just keep both and upgrade both? We dont have the luxury of time and money to do that.

  53. Is there any use for F 5 other than LIFT role? USN used them as Red Force in Topgun but in our regional context this role is moot.

  54. F-5s upgraded correctly (which probably means lots of israeli or italian stuff) can be a very potent light fighter for QRA, air defence and CAS.

    You can use for rudimentary LIFT tasks but it will not be as good as latest aircraft such as TA-50 with embedded simulations, hi def ground simulators and complete learning systems.

    Right now the most advanced F-5s in the world is probably the Thai’s F-5ST super tigris.

    Our F-5s actually still have plenty of flight hours left, but without any major upgrades save for some avionics taken from our PC-7 trainer of all aircrafts. They are grounded for the same reasons as the MiGs, no more money to be allocated for maintenance, overhaul and upgrades so it is retired.

  55. @…
    It would be kinda wasted to leave such low houred jets to rot if we cannot find buyers. Even then, selling the Migs may not sufficiently recapitalised to offset the cost of getting their replacements.

    Considering that the current administration had pretty much frozen whatever defence expenditure for the foreseeable future, perhaps the RMAF can make a deal with them to put off asking for money to buy MRCAs in exchange for some cash to make the Migs serviceable again (provided we can avoid getting parts from Russia). Beggars can’t be choosers and in this circumstances, MAF generals & admirals will have no choice but to ‘menghadap’ Mat Sabu with a begging bowl on hand.

  56. Hornet Lover – ” Speaking from a pure knife fight perspective, the Fulcrum should beat the Hornet hands down isn’t it?

    It depends on the skill of the pilot as well as luck] people tend to overlook luck]. Also, both types have their respective merits and can do certain things better. Air to air combat, whether at WVR or BVR; depends on who has better SA and who shoots first.

    The thing to take note of is that from the early 1990’s [whether in Iraq or Kosovo] most engagements tend to take place at BVR. The key exception being the Ethopia/Eritrea conflict which saw a few WVR engagements; as well as the Peru/Ecuador conflict [in the 1980’s] and numerous engagements fought in the former Soviet Union.

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