LIFT, MRCA and More

Eurofighter Typhoon. Eurofighter.

BANGKOK: LIFT, MRCA and more. Far from the rain and humidity of Southeast Asia, RMAF long term plan has finally been articulated.

At a Berlin conference on Tuesday, a two-star RMAF officer offered a glimpse into its current situation and the service’s view of the future.

Here are some of the talking points and not at ad verbatim.

In the immediate term, it needs to get at least ten more F/A-18 Hornet airframes though it remained to be seen whether they will get them at anytime soon.

M45-02 on finals on Sept. 29, 2017

The general said that they were mostly looking at the Kuwaiti Hornets as this was the most closest in term of specifications to its own Hornets. Ten single seaters will do nicely
High-hour Hornets though available, are not desirable.

Two Kuwait AF F/A-18C seen here with a couple of F-16s. Internet.

Another short term measure being look at is for the surveillance equipment onboard the three Beechcraft B200T be reinstalled on the CN-235s for them to serve as MPAs (As funding has not been announced we will have to see whether this will be done. ED)
RMAF Hawk Mk108 firing FZ rockets at the Army’s Live Firing Exercise 2017. Destini is the supplier of the FZ rockets and its ancillary equipment.

Looking to the future, as the MRCA program has been shelved beyond 2020, the RMAF was looking at newer alternatives to the current offerings. He says they are looking beyond the 4.5 generation fighters.
RMAF MB-339CM M34-20 in a picture taken at the Cope Taufan in 2014 at Butterworth.

As for the Hawks and MB-339s, the service is looking to replace them in a 15 year time period (likely the same time as the MRCA is selected ED). This should be in the TA/FA-50 class with two squadrons as the minimum.

ROKAF Black Eagles with their display.

On Monday, speaking to Malaysian journalists at the Defense and Security Exhibition here in Bangkok, RMAF chief Jen Affendi Buang says as the MPA program was just approved in the recent budget he cannot a give timeline for the purchase.
The front end of the Leonardo ATR 72MP of the Italian Air Force displayed at LIMA 17. Note the various antennas and sensors.

He says they have to work around the budget allocated which was RM2.6 billion. A technical group was being set up to determine the specifications of the MPA.
CN235 MPA of TNI-AL displayed at LIMA 2015.

He likened the process of the MPA program at the moment as at “the merisik khabar” or the query stage before marriage. “We know the end stage but this is just the beginning”.

RMAF CN235 M44-05 taxis past one of the new hangars built at Subang specifically for the A400M.

Asked whether it was reasonable to expect that the first MPA will be in service beyond 2020, Affendi says it was probable but it will be determined by when the allocation will be given.
He says an evaluation team was in Japan currently to inspect the P-3Cs offered to Malaysia.
Japan P-3C

Affendi says they have to decide whether it was worthwhile to put into service four 30-year old airframes even for a short time.
RMAF Beechcraft B200T MPA, M41-02

By coincidence, it must be noted that a JSMDF P-3C had undergone repairs at the Subang airbase recently. It flew in last week with another P-3C for an overnight stay.The other P-3C took off on schedule to Japan the next day but the other went un-servicable just prior to take off. The aircraft finally left for Japan earlier this week.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1163 Articles
Shah Alam

86 Comments

  1. Quick comments

    – at last a logical, achievable target that is in tune with the governments budget.

    – yes, please go for the kuwaiti hornets. Get all 36 (28 C, 8 D) to top up 18skn hornets and for the MiG-29 replacement. 16 C and 16(8+8)D model, with remaining 12 as reserve/spares.

    – MPA. If want to go for cn235, go all out on that platform. Don’t go piecemeal now 3x cn235 mpa, later add on a new platform. If now 3x cn235 with canibalised amascos from b200t, later add on more cn235 mpa conversions too.

    – you cannot do 2 major projects at the same time. There could not be a MRCA and hawk/mb339 replacement at once. There would not be enough money for both. Do the lower cost hawk/mb339 replacement 1st in RMK12 (2021-2025), later the MRCA in RMK12 and RMK13. Im looking at usd 1.2-1.5 bilion for 36-40 aircraft hawk/mb339 replacement in RMK12, usd 3 billion for 5th gen MRCA in RMK13 (usd 1.5 billion) and RMK14 (usd1.5 bilion)

    – lets continue to give constructive, well thought out comments, so that we can improve the defence of our country.

  2. Thanks to the two-star officer in faraway Berlin, we now have a somewhat clearer picture on where TUDM is heading to for the next few years.It’s a surprise however to know that the airforce intends to use the B200 search radars to be reinstall on the CN235s earmarked for MP duty.So,is that a temporary solution /stopgap before the purchase of genuine MPs or what?On the purchase of the MRCA I guess it won’t happen in my lifetime and the intention of purchasing 10 Kuwaiti F/A18 to top up the present fleet is somewhat questionable as I don’t think the Kuwaitis hv that many F/A18D but the C version,yes they hv those figures.

    Reply
    I should make the post clearer, they want the Cs

  3. Comments on the MPA

    – RM2.6 billion equal to usd590 million. That is a lot of budget for just 4 MPA, but not enough for high end systems like the P-8 Poseidon.

    – Germany is doing a major upgrade to its 8 P-3 Orion with new mission suites for just usd200 million. That can get the planes to fly up till 2035.

    – You could probably get 10 C-295 MPA for that price.

    – What does the air force want? A basic MPA with low operating costs or a full blown ASW and weapons capable bird?

    Reply
    That’s why they set up the technical group to determine what they want. Its too early in the game to even guess what they want. What ever it is, I believe it will be platform driven as most of the decision makers are or trained as pilots so they will look it what the platform they will be comfortable with.

  4. I agreed. Getting as many as we can is good but we also need to refurbished them like the M109. An upgrade will go a long way to increase the years left on the Kuwaiti frames and mitigate risk of the “Skyhawk syndrome”. We also need to consider the fact that most of the Kuwaiti Hornets are the single seater of which we had no experience with. Nothing that bit of training can’t fixed though.

    Personally, I think the MRCA is a greater requirement than LIFT albeit more expensive though. Would also be good to consider cheaper Asia models like the FA-50 (South Korea) or L-15 (China).

    Wonder if any deal for Kuwaiti Hornets will included spare parts and armaments also? Any chance the Saudi or Kuwaiti will help us fund part of it?

    Reply
    FA-50 is basically the same as the TA-50

  5. Is Beechcraft B200T time to retire? or it can be service for another 10 years time? Convert existing 3 CN-235 to MPA is right move if you ask me…

    If we accept Japan donation, we have four 30-year old airframes? that sound good…we in total have 10 airframes if Beechcraft B200T not retire.

    Reply
    Not sure yet what will happen to the King Airs just yet

  6. Why Don’t RMAF Look at The Finnish F/A-18 as it has more Airframe than Kuwait.

    Reply
    The Finns have not settled on their new fighters and those high hour as well

  7. >500 million USD for 4 MPA, vow. Can even buy a few AWACs too!! The Malaysian government must be optimistic about the economy. By the way, oil prices are on a 2 year high, so maybe things will get better for M’sia.

    Heh, glad to see my tax money going to the Malaysian urban warfare training centre:-).

  8. mr … “– You could probably get 10 C-295 MPA for that price.”

    if only RMAF goes that route. other mission suite/uprade can be done afterward.

    it is good now we know what is RMAF want and plan. hopefully the Kuwait hornet and MPA can be acquire soon.

  9. Good job Mr Marhalim, sniffing out that guy!

    The desire to get 5th-gen aircraft though seems a bit ambitious. We bought the Sukhois practically at the height of Msia’s economic growth and Russia’s slump. While I agree buying Typhoon or Rafale in the 2025-2035 time period is uncomfortably close to those types’ OSD, I’m not sure that there are 5th-gen fighters other than F-35 which are ready by then… and while I like the F-35, it is probably out of the question due to various political sensivities.

    Also will the Sukhois be due for retirement by then? Seems we could well be recapitalising almost the entire frontline fighter fleet in that time period. Scary thought.

  10. @ chua

    By that timeframe the typhoon and rafale is at their end of production, rather than end of service.

    There is a few 5th gen fighters in development, the FC-31, KFX, TFX, ATD-X. Of those, the FC-31 is arguably the closest to ready for production. By that time, china probably would be the biggest investor in malaysia, would be a major power in south east asia, and it would not be a bad thing if we are in very good books with china and fly the FC-31.

    The sukhois would be 20 years old by then, probably ripe for a major MLU. With our standard low flying hours, probably good for another 20 years of service.

  11. If tudm want to buy kuwaiti hornet is there any airframe available?just read the news that canadian defence minister said that there is no kuwaiti hornet available yet…for now

    Reply
    It will only be available in 2021, RMAF knew this.

  12. to replace the hawk plane, I prefer the jf-17 thunder from choosing ta-50 because the operating range for the jf-17 plane is further away from the ta-50

  13. … – ”biggest investor in malaysia, would be a major power in south east asia, and it would not be a bad thing if we are in very good books with china and fly the FC-31.”

    I was under the impression that China was already the largest FDI here and was already a ”a major power in south east asia” :]

    Yes, who knows what will happen in a few years. Over time due to geo politics our preference for Western types could shift but then again, even in the near future we’ll still have a close relationship [due to geo politics and hedging] with the West; namely Uncle Sam. My gut feeling tells me that we’ll buy more stuff in the coming years but not fighters. A major problem the Chinese have is in the area of engines, they’re unable to produce their own [despite trying to reverse engineer Russian ones] for their fighters. Our experience with the Fulcrums and Flankers has also coloured our attitudes and mindset with regards to buying non Western types.

    Chua – ” The desire to get 5th-gen aircraft though seems a bit ambitious.”

    The issue with 5th gen types is that all are still under development and even in a few years might not reach full maturity; even after they enter service in their home countries. Whilst we indeed in the coming years have to start looking a low observable 5th gen type [not merely because of their ”stealthy” characteristics but so we don’t lag to far behind] it’s a bit early days at present. Also, on their own – some overlook this – 5th gen types – even if low observable”/stealthy” offer no major advantages over older non observable/”stealthy’ if not operated as part of a networked system.

  14. Marhalim,

    1. Maybe You Right but We can Take a Look after 2021. For The MPA, RM 2.6B Only Can Buy Airbus C-295MP and Leonardo ATR-72MP, 4 MPA Like C-295 Might Be Enough for us but Let’s see How the Things Could do.

    2. For The MRCA, The Super Hornet can be End Their Production By 2022 In St.Louis. Rafale Won’t Suitable Cause We have More AIM-9/120 And Limited AAM. The Typhoon Has a High Cost And Primary For Air To Air Combat. To Go With Altenetive MRCA, We Should Take More Legacy Hornets or Something Affordable Price.

    3. As For 5th Generation Aircraft, TFX is Great For Us But Look at The Capability by 2024 as Their Introduction starting in 2023.

    4. AWACS ?, My God. I Personelly Prefer The Airbus A330 Upgrade to be AWACS but It’s Gonna Cost More that Smaller Aircraft. Embrear E-99 is Perfect for us.

    5. Replacement For Hawks and MB-339 ?, I guese We can Take a Look the T/A-50 or Textron Airland Scorpion

  15. Really doubt the RMAF has any interest in ASW configured MPAs; just significantly drives the cost up. ASW configured MPAs are nice to have and are needed but at present is something we should forego. I would think the priority is to get MPAs to perform surveillance, SAR, etc for which stuff like a radar, FLIR and the ability to drop rescue kits [pretty basic] are needed. In the longer term a data link would be nice.

    Given that tri service issues are still an issue [not only here] there also must be a clear understanding with the RMN as to how the MPAs will be employed and the command structure. The cash will come from the RMAF’s budget but the majority of sorties will be RMN ”centric” – the best case scenario will be to have a mix RMAF/RMN crew but there will be bureaucratic issues to be sorted.

    If we absolutely have no choice then ex Jap P-3s will do but my main concern is operating such age/used air frames and how labour intensive such platforms will be. Yes we could subject the P-3s to a full upgrade but this is unlikely. Then there’s the question of how long U.S. approval will take for the Japs to transfer the P-3s which have various U.S. systems aboard.

    Hazwan – ”We also need to consider the fact that most of the Kuwaiti Hornets are the single seater of which we had no experience with”

    More importantly the Cs have commonality with our Ds and the ground support equipment is common too. As you mentioned with the training aspect; getting a D pilot to transition to a C is the last of our problems.

    Hazwan – ”Personally, I think the MRCA is a greater requirement than LIFT albeit more expensive though.”

    Maybe but we also have to ask if the MBB-339CMs [which are not a dedicated LIFT] can really meet our needs in the coming years. If indeed we get MRCAs over the next few years but LIFTs still remain unfunded; will the fact that we don’t have a new generation dedicated LIFT determine the ability of the pilots to get the best out of whatever MRCA they’re flying? It’s a tough call to make.

    One can also ask – assuming the MRCAs are funded – should LIFTs come next or AEWs? Given that we’re ”wiring” the MKMs and Hornets with a data link and that air warfare today is largely based on systems capabilities and not solely on the platform; we’ll never be able to get the full capabilities the MRCA has to offer unless they’re ”wired” to each other and to an AEW.

    Given that there are plans to replace the Hawks; the question I’ve been wondering for long has been answered : we do still have future plans to operate a high/low end mix. Makes sense given that not all sorties will call for a Hornet [cheaper to use a Hawk or a FA-50] but the downside is the logistics aspect of operating a high/low end mix.

    Reply
    Personally if RMAF still want to be in the LIFT business, I think we should just buy 8 TA-50s or Hawk Mk 165 right now to replace the CMs. That said it is likely that either aircraft chosen we will only get by 2020. This is based on the delivery schedule of the eight extra TA-50s for Thailand ordered in July this year and the delivery of the Saudi Hawks. Three years is a long time to continue the CMs

  16. I feel the RMAF should get out of the training business altogether as a cost-saving measure, making a LIFT replacement a moot point. Let’s face it. Money is tight. Just outsource ab initio and primary training to the many flight schools littered all over the country. Just make sure it’s open tender, rather than direct nego. For more fighter-centric stuff, look to buy timeshare in joint programs, such as the NFTC in Canada. On the MPA, the cheapest route to ASW-capable ones are the JMSDF P3s. Just do a limited upgrade like what Germany has done and they could serve us for a good 15-20 years. Let’s not be overly ambitious when there is no money in the kitty

  17. I agreed. ASW configured MPAs are just too expensive. We shall prioritize the surveillance and SAR capabilities first for the MPAs. Especially when we are lacking the MPAs aircraft themselves right now. First thing first.

    I also think that the Jap 30 year old P-3 Orions is a bit too old and has seen too many flight hours. Given that we had to invest in upgrades, maintenance and training, might not be worth it even if FOC. Refitting our CN-235 as MPAs is a great idea. RMAF shall also considered getting new PTDI CN-235 MPAs. Commonality in maintenance and training will go a long way to get things going smoothly and save operating cost. Also cheaper than other EU and US MPAs albeit more limited capabilities or ranges.

    In another point, a high/low end mix of fighter jets might be inevitable for us in the first place. We simply can’t afford all high end jets. Even the Chinese and Russian is taking this route.

    FA-50 is good but getting newer build Hawks to replenish and increase the numbers sound good also. Commonality and standardization is key to drive down cost and experienced ground crews/pilots will make it easier to induct new jets. Albeit RMAF din’t mind being “masih berada di takuk yg lama”. Are there really any other more suitable LIFT choices out there that will be available in 15 years?

  18. China’s factor is a bit overplayed here.

    Taiwan is depending on china for like 1/3 of its international trade and yet they are fiercely independent when it comes to their freedom and military matters

  19. Strikemaster – ”I feel the RMAF should get out of the training business altogether as a cost-saving measure”

    What happens if we do this and find that outsourced training is not producing the type of pilots we need to do the kinds of things we do in with our specific operational requirements? For a while our basic rotary training was outsourced. Fine, maybe we can outsource basic training but refresher training and advanced jet training will still see the need for LIFTs.

    Strikemaster – ”Just do a limited upgrade like what Germany has done and they could serve us for a good 15-20 years. Let’s not be overly ambitious”

    Germany has a bit of experience operating the P-3 and has more resources compared to us. On paper it looks great : get pre-owned P-3s and operate them until we can buy new. In reality there are pitfalls in operating such aged platforms ….. Given this, I really doubt if the RMAF will want to go down this route; nothing to do with being ” overly ambitious” but practicality and cost. New MPAs will be cheaper and less maintenance intensive to fly and support in the long run.

    Hazwan – ”ASW configured MPAs are just too expensive”

    It’s not only the costs of torps, MAD, sonobuoys and associated gear but the need to train people to operate it and the cash needed to maintain the capability. Ideally whatever we buy should have internal space in the event we decide to add stuff later. The good news is that our MPAs don’t have to venture given our geography.

    Hazwan – ”Refitting our CN-235 as MPAs.”

    But then we won’t have enough light transports. Quite often the CNs are useful and more practical to use than a C-130; not to mention a A400M.

    Hazwan – ”Even the Chinese and Russian is taking this route.”

    The Russians don’t have a low/high end multi-role fighter mix per say – they’re standardising and their multi role fighter will consist of Flankers, Fulcrums and PAK FAs for the foreseeable future.
    They have ground attack aircraft which are not useful to perform anything else either than ground attack and probably recce.

  20. Finally the dust has settled on the stillbirth MRCA, at least for the foreseeable future. Just love it when the bubbles of unrealistic fantasy met the prickly, stone-cold financial reality… Really glad the government is thinking and planning from its wallet instead of taking those “financial packages” offered by warmongers to buy their wares and saddling Malaysians with more foreign debt. Going to see lots of disappointed CEOs, especially those desperately anticipating orders to keep their production line alive… The participation rates at the next LIMA show will be interesting to say the least…

  21. …,
    Typhoons and Rafales are expected to serve until 2040. If we buy either type in 2025-2035, and expect to use them for 30 years, that is half or more of their lifespan spent quite some time after the main users have ceased. What will that mean in terms of logistics, obsolescence and overall cost?

    Azlan,
    Yup. Hopefully by then some better alternative has come up. Somehow I don’t fancy the FC-31s.

  22. if follow about mrca mpa..
    i suggest CN295 or C295 because i heard it have most advance MPA like turkey depend on low cost and low fuel comsumption..i prefer big plane for fix all critikal system..

    then get 10 kuwait hornet low hour..

    then we can go for SU 57 for 1 squadron and 1 squadron for advance super hornet

    hornet and ASH for 2 sq this important because they proof in quality and low maintanance..

  23. Chua – ”What will that mean in terms of logistics, obsolescence and overall cost?”

    Even if we buy either in 2025 both will still be operated for a long time by various countries for whom both will be their main fighter.
    Product support will not be an issue. On paper Typhoon will be a better bet as its operated by more countries than Rafale. What’s the alternative? There’s nothing to say that if we put off buying Rafale and Typhoon that a 5th gen type will be mature enough for us to buy at that period.

  24. Just want to rant…

    Up till the Berlin news, the airforce leaders live like they are in a dream land. Even in LIMA 2017, their no1 priority is still super duper expensive MRCAs, denials of even looking at used hornets or any low cost fighters. No logical approach like the navy is doing, planning to the physical reality of the economy now.

    The berlin news looks like a last minute scramble to present some sort of a plan to an international audience. Out of the blue there is a logical plan of getting LCAs but at a unlogical time frame of 2021/22. Imo if you want it in 2021/22 you should be talking about the LCA 3 years ago like what i have been pushing all this while! No where does this LCA thingy been talked by the airforce leaders before, and there are even denials of anything like a LCA is even looked at by the air force. Suddenly used hornets in the plan and MRCA is also only to be looked at post 2025.

    Why does only now after the 2018 budget is out that the airforce woke up from its MRCA wet dream and face the reality? And the ad hoc plan surely sounds exactly like what i have always pushed for here.

    Reply
    Where did you get the impression that the LCA will be sourced in the 2021/22 time frame? The Hawks is being upgraded so it can continue in service until 2030, not my words but according to a Hawk driver in a Mindef video. The aircraft that need replacement right now is the MB339CM for LIFT though deliveries will only be around 2020/21, whatever they signed the TA-50 or Hawk Mk 165.
    As to why the plans come out now, you must asked the Maj Gen. This plan like the RMN one do exist though RMAF has not see fit to release it. Other reporters and myself have written emails to get such plans every time RMAF ask for it but as always most of the answers were redacted by the higher ups before it is sent back to us.
    The Maj Jeneral is high ranking enough not to have his papers redacted. However, I am pretty sure if he had shown it to his bosses it will be redacted

  25. @ marhalim

    ” Where did you get the impression that the LCA will be sourced in the 2021/22 time frame? ”

    Not sourced, but to be fielded in 2021/22. This is the excerpt of the news:

    The official noted that Malaysia’s traditional approach of acquiring large twin-seat and twin-engined aircraft because of its large maritime areas is now just too expensive given the downturn in the economy caused by the drop in the international oil price. “We cannot now do this because of our economic situation and so must now find something that is cheaper to buy and operate.” As well as being an air defender and ground-attack aircraft, the LCA should also serve as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) platform and should be ready for fielding in about 2021/22.

    Reply
    Must be from Janes, if you read further it says RMAF operates C295s. If we were to field the LCA in 2021/2022 we must order now or next year. I don’t think we are going to do that. The Thai order for eight TA-50s are expected by 2020 or 2021. By the way even if you don’t want to believe me, do you really think RMAF will want an LCA over their “precious” MRCA?

  26. based on 2018 budget we are still expected to post a budget deficit of 0.6% in 2020, previously the target by 2020 is a balanced budget. Although the debt to GDP now is 51% give and take, total debt has increased by almost 100 billion since 2010 to around 660 billion and expected to grow by at least RM25 billion a year moving forward.

    I suspect due to this, MRCA was being pushed to 2025 with the hope we may actually achieve a balanced budget by then. Or if the requirement for an MRCA being very important, we can only hope oil go back to 80 per barrel or increase GST by another 1% to cover the cost.

    Reply
    Its the oil prices

  27. Of course every news coming out this few weeks (be it the MPA, LCA, used hornets) can be said as “wrong” as it is not in line with anything previously officially said by a tudm leader. But i really hope that this is really a sign of more logical thinking from the airforce leadership.

  28. Off Topic Marhalim,

    I read the Star that 4 List of MPA That Include of P-8 Poseidon ?. And Also The Kawasaki Was Offer Their P-1 MPA To RMAF. Is That True ?.

    Reply
    Yes it’s all the truth nothing but the truth

  29. … – ”the airforce leaders live like they are in a dream land. Even in LIMA 2017, their no1 priority is still super duper expensive MRCAs, denials of even looking at used hornets or any low cost fighters. No logical approach like the navy is doing, planning to the physical reality of the economy now.”

    My turn to rant :]

    Their priority is MRCAs because they have a legitimate reason to want a new generation MRCA; the last was ordered in 2002. It is the RMAF’s duty to keep lobbying for what it needs and the government’s duty to provide an indication of when or provide a yes or no. Furthermore it’s not as if the RMAF won’t budge; it had previously said that if funding for the MRCA wasn’t forthcoming; it would have to consider a leasing option.

    Comparing the RMAF to the RMN doesn’t provide an accurate picture as the circumstances are different. Look at the bigger picture. For one, the government has long decided to focus on the maritime domain; hence the attention given to the RMN and the easier time the RMN has in getting what it wants. Also, from a political perspective, building ships here has more benefits to the local industry in the form of jobs created, TOTs and offsets; stuff we won’t get on a same level when we buy MRCAs.

    The RMN can settle for a ”lower spec” LMS because it already has ”higher spec” LCS and got its SSKs. The RMAF has legitimate reasons why it doesn’t want ”used hornets or any low cost fighters” – ”used” fighters have benefits but also drawbacks; ”low cost fighters” can’t meet the RMAF’s requirements which call for a full fledged MRCA – this is a fact irrespective of one’s personal preferences……

  30. Greetings from Finland! I have been reading this blog for some time now, and I decided to comment on a few things.

    About Hornet:

    The Finnish Air Force will only start to retire Hornets after 2025 and the last ones are slated for retirement in 2030. At that point the planes have reached the end of their structural life so expensive retrofits would be required to continue their use. That option is not realistic a possibility for you Malaysians.

    Now, I would also be wary of the Kuwaiti Hornets. Kuwait will get the first Typhoons in 2019, and it will probably take a few years before they reach IOC with the new aircraft and start to retire the Hornets. The planes will have roughly 30 years of service behind them at that point. I am doubtful they have much service life left.

    Surely it would be possible to extend the service lives of those Hornets. Unfortunately, it would be prohibitively expensive considering that the maintenance of the Hornet becomes a nightmare after 2030 or so. When there are no other users left, it is very expensive to maintain a relatively small fleet of a complex jet fighter.

    So my advice to you: forget the Kuwaiti Hornets unless you can really get aircraft that are good enough to fly as is. If they need upgrades, please save your money and buy something else instead.

    About trainers:

    Here in Finland new pilots get their initial flight training in Grob G 115. Then they go train in Hawk (Mk 50/51/66, which are almost identical), and after that they transfer to Hornet. Our Hawks are old and perhaps underpowered but they have worked very well for us. (The Hawks are slated to serve into the 2030s with the FAF. )

    If you need proof for our success, the accident rate with FAF Hornets is very good: 62 out of the 64 Hornets we bought in the 1990s are still flying. (The Swiss have already lost 4 even though they only bought 34 Hornets…)

    Now, I am not experienced with the MB-339CM but I would expect them to be good enough for training your pilots. They do have a modern glass cockpit after all, even if the flight characteristics are a bit outdated. You also have a handful of two-seater Hawks (Mk 108) which could probably be used for the same purpose.

  31. Random Finnish Guy – ”forget the Kuwaiti Hornets unless you can really get aircraft that are good enough to fly as is.

    I couldn’t agree more. On paper the low houred Hornets are a sound buy; they have lots of life left and spares are still readily available but this doesn’t change the fact that they’re 25 years old [will be older when actually sold] and that with such aged platforms – even low houred ones in good condition – problems will occur due to age and other factors. Ultimately, the ex Kuwait Hornets on paper are a sound buy but there are penalties; it’s not risk free.

    Random Finnish Guy – ”If they need upgrades, please save your money and buy something else instead.”

    If indeed the ex Kuwait Hornets are bought, the bare minimum will be spent on them : that’s the reality. Neither the government or the RMAF will want to spend more that whats absolutely needed on aircraft – that old – to keep them operational for a few years.

    Another point to consider – which some overlook – is that the whole point of modernisation is also to ensure that one gets something better than what one already has. Getting pre owned Hornets or a ”low cost” lightweight fighter will be great in adding to numbers but will not offer any key advantages – whether in actual capability or technologically – compared to the existing Hornets and MKMs. In fact, as they get older the pre owned Hornets might get more expensive to maintain compared to the Hornets and MKMs!

  32. @ random finnish guy

    A) On hornets
    – the kuwaiti hornets would just be a stopgap measure to consolidate medium fighter types from 2 to just 1. This is also serves a similar purpose to what canada wants, a stopgap fighter to be used for 10-15 years before a replacement to be bought post 2025, with deliveries surely around 2030 timeframe. So the extra hornets would prop up the fighter fleet from 2020-2030 timeframe.
    – unlike finland, malaysia’s fighter fleet is greatly reduced with attrition of the hawks (our hot and humid weather wreck havoc on the planes) and the retirement of the MiG-29s. If we have enough fighters now (like finland), we won’t be in this situation of looking for extra hornets.
    – kuwaiti hawks are sparingly used as their country is very small. They have 40 airframes shared with 2 squadrons. The kuwaiti squadrons usually only use 12 aircraft at a time, with the rest rototated between storage and operational use. Only 2 airframes have been lost. And they use a big group of expat enginners costing hundreds of milion dollars annualy to maintain them. They are continously upgraded to almost similar standards to malaysian hornets. Diffrerences is kuwaitis have a more advanced targeting pod, while malaysia has a more advanced radar.
    – kuwait has bought both typhoons and super hornets. Their legacy hornets should be available in 2020-2021 timeframe. If malaysia buy anything new now, that is also probably the earliest timeframe we could get them.
    – Finland is a rich country. You have allocated euro 7-10 billion for your HX Program, ie the hornet replacement. Malaysia is lucky to have a quarter of your HX budget. Right now up till 2020 there is simply no budget for a brand new high end fighters.

    B) on hawks
    – malaysia uses them for light fighter missions. Finnish hawks although wired for sidewinders mainly used only for training.
    – finland has more than 40 hawks plus 18 low houred ex swiss examples. From there you currently only use the 18 swiss hawks plus 6 original finnish hawks. And of the 24 now not all are used for operationally at the same time. Malaysian hawks is similar in age to swiss ones, and was used continously since the 90s, unlike the pampered swiss hawks that has quite a few decades in storage. Out of malaysian original 28 hawks, we are left with only 18, with only 5 twin seaters. They have been tasked heavily as they are have a low operational cost.
    – we hang all sorts of weapons on our hawk wings. This has affected the structural life of the airplane. Finnish hawks usually fly clean.

    BTW if the used hornet is a no no to you, what do you suggest malaysia to do now? We need some additional fighter now. We have zero allocated budget for a MRCA program, as we have just approved half a billion dollars for MPA aircraft. We still need to pay for our new A400M transporter. The navy has new frigates and the army new IFV to be paid for. Our annual yearly budget for new equipment for the whole of our military is just usd 0.7-0.8 billion. So do you know of any brand new jet fighters we can have for free?? Please suggest me an alternative plan.

  33. @ azlan

    ” Another point to consider – which some overlook – is that the whole point of modernisation is also to ensure that one gets something better than what one already has. ”

    Probably the navy didn’t get that memo for their LMS programme.

    BTW how does this does not translate into something better??

    MiG-29 replaced with Kuwaiti hornets

    Hawk 108/208 replaced with LCA single engine supersonic fighter (probably the FA-50)

    So is the extra Kuwaiti hornets + FA-50 combination worse than the current MiG-29 and Hawk fleet?

  34. Very2 off topic…

    UAE buys 2 gowind corvettes with option for 2 more (what a rojak fleet of ships UAE navy is shaping up to be)

    Bangladesh completes 2 locally built durjoy class ships (the base design for TLDM LMS)
    https://scontent-kut2-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/fr/cp0/e15/q65/15936870_1246002338818631_1410387113068398432_o.jpg?oh=1ee122db65538d3618a91b4ddff420da&oe=5AA657E4

    Indonesian navy’s new sail training ship KRI Bima Suci arrives home (this sailing ship is as big as our new gowind frigate!)
    https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1YrmHodsXbc/WgOJAoCnAeI/AAAAAAAASCM/KJAFDLa-jtMmgidEf8vy6yiT8Y43BeXfgCLcBGAs/s1600/WhatsApp%2BImage%2B2017-11-08%2Bat%2B%2B%2B2.35.10%2BPM.jpeg

  35. … – ”Probably the navy didn’t get that memo for their LMS”

    The harsh reality is that given the state of the Laksamanas and the age of the FACs; the RMN is of the position that a ”fitted for” but ”not with” platform is better than nothing. The Laksamanas are in a bad state and the FACs are showing their age … As such the RMN has a desperate need of hulls to perform day to day peacetime operational duties. It’s already getting it ”high end” toys; the LCS and it can live with ”low end” LMS for the time being.

    Even though the initial batch of LMS won’t enter service will missiles we should not overlook that they’ll be a big improvement over the aged FACs : better performing sensors; better range, endurance and sea keeping and by virtue of being less maintenance intensive; will be cheaper to run.

    We have gone through all this before. The circumstances facing the RMAF differ greatly from the RMAF; not only in the requirements, urgency etc, but also the politics involved. It’s not that the RMAF has no ”logical” plan or is in ”fantasy” but the fact that the government’s priority is in the maritime domain and other factors.

    … – ”MiG-29 replaced with Kuwaiti hornets”

    Both are roughly of the same generation. Granted, the Kuwaiti Hornets have a better performing radar, fly by wire, etc but on paper the Fulcrums can be upgraded to UPG standard – if there was intent; which in our cause there isn’t. BTW, the Fulcrums are younger than the ex-Kuwaiti Hornets.

    When I said something ”better” I was quite clear; something ”better” than the present Fulcrums, Hornets and Flankers, i.e.
    a Typhoon, Gripen or Rafale; all a generation ahead of our Hornets and Flankers.

    … – ”So is the extra Kuwaiti hornets + FA-50 combination worse than the current MiG-29 and Hawk fleet?”

    I prefer to deal with present realities rather than ”what if” scenarios. At present there is no concrete plan to replace the Hawks [what we have are feasibility studies’plans that can change in the future]. If there was a present requirement to replace the Hawks the FA-50 would be ideal but there isn’t a requirement at present and there won’t be one for quite a few years. In the unlikely event we get the ex-Kuwaiti Hornets; they’ll fly alongside the Hawks. By the time we get a replacement for the Hawks, the ex-Kuwaiti Hornets [if we get them] will probably have retired.

    Also, compared to the Hawks, the FA-50 is still not integrated with all the sensors needed in the event a particular user [not us of course] intends on having a radar on its FA-50s. What radar has actually been integrated to the FA-50? Even the KAI website doesn’t mention what radar is offered with the FA-50; I suspect because none has yet to be integrated.

    Reply
    A radar has been integrated on the TA50/FA50 an Israeli one

  36. The LCA should be bought in sufficient number (at least a full squadron of 18 aircraft) to replace both the Migs and 208s while the LIFT could be in 2 minimum squadron size of 12 aircraft each

    MRCA should be an independent programme in its own right and not as a replacement for anything

    Reply
    We don’t need so many LIFT eight is enough

  37. Never understood why can’t we get used F-16 instead??? a lot of countries for sure are willing to sell or at least lease 3 to 4 squadrons F-16 to us… block 40 and above with MLU should be fine.

    Instead we’re stuck with the Fulcrums which thank God are retired and the Flankers which are duds.

    Sigh.

    Reply
    Since we never operate the Vipers it will take some time before it could be operational. Actually some one tried offering them in 2015 but it did not go anywhere

  38. First time heard our Flankers being addressed as ‘duds’. Senang betul nak condemn – please furnish and share here the proof that these Flankers are ‘duds’ as you say mate. Jangan baling batu, lepas tu sembunyi tangan.

  39. 1 of my lenghty posts are still missing…

    Btw melayu ketinggalan,

    Give me good reasons why you think the flankers are “duds”. If the MKM is a dud, russian air force and navy won’t adopt it as their own SM version. It probably has the longest unrefuelled range of any fighter ever (which gives it a capability reach and strike any ship anywhere in south china sea from its base in gong kedak), and a very long range PESA radar (which, other than the AESA radar of singaporean eagles, this is the most advanced in the region).

    The F-16 IMO right now has the best planned future upgrade path and tested available lifecycle of any 4th generation fighter. USAF is going to SLEP (service life extension program) to 841 aircraft and extend the service life to 13,856 hours. They plan to use the F-16 till 2048.

    But we have Hornets and MiG-29s… Unless there is a big shake up where we retire both and replace them with F-16s, it is a long shot. While we can probably have full operational capability of additional hornets in 1-2 years of receiving them, an all new platform like F-16 will take longer for all the pilots, technicians, engineers to fully master the new airplane.

  40. Alex – ”MRCA should be an independent programme in its own right and not as a replacement for anything”

    How can it be an independent programme when it’s part of ongoing efforts to modernise the RMAF by replacing an older gen platform and ensuring the RMAF is not left too technologically behind.

    Melayu Ketinggalan – ”and the Flankers which are duds”

    That’s news to me.

  41. … – ”If the MKM is a dud, russian air force and navy won’t adopt it as their own SM version”

    I don’t think our Flankers are duds but to be fair; even if the Russians has issues with their Flankers they still would have adopted upgraded versions for want of anything better :]

    … – ”has the longest unrefuelled range of any fighter ever (which gives it a capability reach and strike any ship anywhere in south china sea from its base in gong kedak),”

    With the Cobham refueling pod Flankers from Labuan can fly circuitous routes to conceal their flight path or to avoid certain routes.

    Marhalim – ”A radar has been integrated on the TA50/FA50 an Israeli one”

    Indeed because it was initially targeted at certain users who didn’t have issues buying Israeli. The KAI website lists a number of missiles/ordnance that ”can” be fitted but whether certification and integration has actually been performed is unknown. It’s not uncommon for official marketing literature to include stuff that ”can” be fitted; what’s not mention is whether integration has actually been done. Interestingly the KAI website makes no mention of a targeting pod. In the late 1990’s British Aerospace tried to flog ALARM to Hawk users but integration would only have been done if a particular customer specified ALARM.

  42. Right now 2 radars have been integrated with the T-50

    – Lockheed AN/APG-67

    – LG NEX1 (elta) EL/M-2032
    http://www.sejati-tech.com/images/T50%20radar.jpg

    Lockheed martin has the APG-79 AESA radar in the works for the T-50
    http://i.imgur.com/Z5Ux5Jm.jpg

    As for targeting pods. Litening and sniper.
    http://bemil.chosun.com/nbrd/data/10040/upfile/201009/20100925140812_2.jpg

    http://bemil.chosun.com/nbrd/files/BEMIL105/upload/2005/10/A-50%20%B9%AB%C0%E5%20%284%29_1.jpg

    BTW the hornets JHMCS HMD is also israeli in origin (elbit systems), would this be an issue as the radar is made by LG in korea?

    Reply
    JHMCS is sourced from Boeing. As whether it will the radar an issue or not to me its likely. Note the TA-50s of TNI AU are fitted with the radar though by all official account its not, go figure why

  43. The JHMCS is bought from boeing, which bought them from rockwell-collins elbit joint venture that assembled the HMD in america from components manufactured by elbit. The JHMCS is originally designed by elbit.

    So similar to the JHMCS case, the radar is also technically from LG (yes the same company that makes your tv), not elta.

    BTW the indonesian T-50i is not fitted with radar as bought (of course they try to deny this as much as possible to confuse potential opponents). The airframe is to FA-50 spec but no radar is fitted and only a few fitted with internal gatling cannon. So far only the indonesian golden eagles are exported without radar, as the others are supplied with radar (philippines, iraq, thailand). That is also why the cost for indonesian order is just usd400 million for 16 aircrafts. There is a talk of them adding radar to their t-50i, but as most of the defence procurements in south east asia is opaque, we can only confirm when those radars are finally installed in the aircrafts.

  44. Oh yes indonesia has bought quite a few israeli defence hardwares, but they always deny it is from israel. Their new UAVs for example was said to be from philippines!

    Btw we have also bought some, one of it is the armored floor kit for the hercules after they were shot at in bosnia. We bought them through an australian company.

  45. To Alex73, … and Azlan,

    Yes I know that our Flankers are high maintenance and spare parts aren’t easy to come by. So that’s why they’re duds.

    I post on stating the truth about it. I am embarrassed that our neighbouring countries are doing well by upgrading their current and legacy jet fighters….. look at SG, Indo and Thai… all have upgraded their F-16s or in the case of SG will be updating their 60 over F-16 to the Viper configuration.

    We’re stuck with just 18 Flankers.. which is a dedicated air superiority fighter. Not a multi-role fighter.. Our Migs are dead so let’s not go there… don’t start on the Hawks.

    8 Legacy Hornets only. Laughable. Smallest non-US inventory of Hornets.

    Even countries like Vietnam and Myanmar have numerical advantages over TUDM regarding their Migs (Myanmar) and Flankers (Vietnam) in their respective inventory.

    Marhalim – Not too late to start on the Viper program. There is a reason why 28 countries are still operating the F-16s till now.

    Malaysia don’t need fancy Typhoons or Rafales. We need quantity advantages to defend the Spratly Islands (Malaysian territory) and for QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) and F-16 fits the bill very well.

    Please feel free to debate with me. I take no offence as I am concerned with the well being of TUDM.

  46. @ melayu ketinggalan

    Jangan ketinggalan jauh sangat bro. Cuba belajar sikit tentang MKM tu, baru cerita pasal “dud” or not.

    https://docuri.com/download/take-off_59c1df37f581710b28695687_pdf

    If we want to start on the viper program now, it can be done. But if we go for more hornets, it can be fully operational quicker as we already have people that is familiar with the hornets, it would cost cheaper as we already have the supporting infrastructure for the hornets. You need to do everything from 0, same as getting a brand new aircraft if we go for F-16s. Then there is the “rojak” effect, so many different types of fighters in the fleet. Can you just throw away the 8 hornet that you have just upgraded?

  47. To …

    Thanks for the info but 18 to defend both the Peninsular and Borneo M’sia?

    Then why didn’t TUDM purchase more MKM if it is as good as you think?

    We are jauh ketinggalan in terms of our jet fighter inventory.

    Talking about rojak effect is a poor excuse for cost maintenance and efficiency.

    I approve on getting more used Hornets. That’s for sure.

    What’s wrong in learning and sending the techs and pilots to learn about flying and maintaining the Falcons?

    Malaysia made a big mistake with doing rojak purchases since Day 1.

    And that’s a fact. Malaysia memang jauh ketinggalan.

    F-16 is the way forward as a multi role fighter. 4500 built and used in 28 countries.

    We never should have bought Migs and Flankers and the Scorpene subs.

    Never.

    MPA’s and AWACS as sub killers. Yes.

    Little Birds are also going to be duds soon. Should have gotten the new Bell Vipers and the Bell Venoms to replace the coffin killer Nuris.

  48. @ melayu ketinggalan

    – anything russian is a no until the MH17 issue is resolved, no matter how good MKM is.

    – nothing wrong in learning and sending the techs and pilots to learn about flying and maintaining the Falcons. The problem is TIME. You need time to learn. For the whole organisation to be fully proficient in a new aircraft will probably take like 5 years from 0. With hornets, we already have people with deep knowledge of the aircraft, so those additional hornets can be fully operational faster.

    – your F-16 idea is not solving the rojak mistake you explained. It is only going to make it worse.

    – little birds duds too? Yes we can buy more expensive toys. So is it okay for you to pay extra income tax and gst to pay for it all?

    – realistic planning and sembang kosong is 2 different things…

  49. To …,

    You seem very offended with my suggestions and facts.

    Time isn’t a factor here. How long has TUDM been postponing the need to get MRCA to retire the Fulcrums?

    Now you agree regarding the Russian fiasco with the MH 17. Ironic.

    You are the one that’s ‘sembang kosong’. I write constructive criticism.

    Other countries can take the “time” to discuss G2G, then sign the LOI then send its pilots and techs to the host country for training. Of course it will take up to a year but I’d rather our Fulcrums pilots and techs by now already in the US or Turkey or Greece and get the necessary induction and training to fly and work on the F-16s rather than being idle at the Kuantan AFB doing God know’s what with the grounded Fulcrums.

    Recently Romania did it when the country bought 12 F-16s (9 Portuguese & 3 USAF) at a cost of USD 700++ to replace its ageing Mig-21’s.

    Then Malaysia should sell off its Fulcrums and Flankers to India and be done with Russia in regards to its military aviation purchases.

    Many countries are doing just fine with operating single engined or even 1 type of fighters.

    The fact is Malaysia is not a military aggressive nation so the F-16 FITS THE BILL to defend the country’s airspace and for intercept as well as for QRA.

    The Flankers are aggressive A2A superiority fighter and what a waste to see it only flying during Merdeka instead of I don’t know intercept China’s jet fighters around the Spratlys as how Japan is doing in terms of scrambling its F-2’s and FJ-15’s around the Sea of Japan due to China’s air incursion due to the dispute with the islands there.

    The idea is not about buying expensive toys. The idea with TUDM and our military as a whole is to buy well with limited resources. Look at Lahad Datu.

    So many years the public knew of the rampant pirate activities coming from the Sulu Islands yet we did nothing. Heck, when the insurgents encroached our shores we still did nothing for the first few days.

    After all is said and done barulah Malaysia started to deploy a permanent Hawk squadron in Labuan as well as having GGK, PASKAL and PASKAU dedicated teams based in Sabah.

  50. @Ketinggalan,

    You underestimate the time, cost and effort required to integrate (yet another) new fighter model into the fleet, and the support costs. Even if we bought F-16s we would not necessarily have the budget to operate more than at most 3 squadrons. Think about expenses and upkeep, not just capital costs.

    Its doubtful what use an F-16 would be. It is a very dated aircraft and would only be useful as a bomb truck. If anti-insurgency work is the intent, the FA-50s and Hawks will do. As you pointed out, many countries in the world and in this region operate the F-16. It would be really stupid to select it as the fast-jet of choice for the next 20-30 years. Buy for the future, not the present.

    Surprisingly for someone who criticises policy so harshly, you fail to think about political ramifications yourself: with regards to Russia, basically our hands are tied due to MH017. As for China, right now Chinese money is keeping local industry afloat. What good would it serve to internationally embarrass China by intercepting them? At best it would be a mere farce, wayang kulit only; at worst it would anger the country’s de facto sponsors.

    Using F-16s would be even sillier. It would be just like Iran boasting that its single outdated warship is chasing the US Navy away.

  51. @ melayu ketinggalan

    You are lucky as my answer to you was censored by marhalim. Does not mean i agree with lies you put against me

  52. “Using F-16s would be even sillier. It would be just like Iran boasting that its single outdated warship is chasing the US Navy away.”

    Not exactly. An updated F-16 is a worthy opponent for any fighter out there. Potentially including low observables (which are meant to work in concert with non stealth aircraft in the first place) because stealth is not absolute.

  53. “As for China, right now Chinese money is keeping local industry afloat. What good would it serve to internationally embarrass China by intercepting them? At best it would be a mere farce, wayang kulit only; at worst it would anger the country’s de facto sponsors.”

    In the first place, are there Chinese fighters regularly flying over the SCS or from the new island bases? My understanding is they have deployed there before but are not based there.

    Intercepting Chinese fighters over the SCS would obviously anger China and will probably lead to them escalating the confrontation in a number of ways. Such as harassing fishermen or deploying ECM against our ships as in Indonesia’s case, with the idea being they can play the game better than we can because they have greater resources.

    That said, China reducing trade with us would be painful but sustainable. But we have not reached a point where any cutbacks on trade that China is willing to consider would cause a recession.

  54. Actually, @ketinggalan has a point.
    Whether replace the mig with F16 or other fighter beside hornet and mkm will consume time, training, etc except F16 will be cheaper if through EDA program.

    The F16 will fly until 2048 but not for the hornet. 2035 will the time for 5th gen fighter will globally purchased as it will be more matured and available in the market. By upgrading to F16V standard this fighter still has detterence effect. Even SAF will upgrade their F16 block 52 to the F16 V standard for stop gap.

    So, rafale, typhoon, or gripen is good at short term but not for long term.

  55. @ Romeo

    Adding a totally new used fighter type has its cons.

    Pro – yes can use to 2048.

    Con – Indonesia and Romania both spent usd700 million for used F-16s.

    What is the difference? Indonesia got 24 F-16 while Romania got only 12. Why? Because Indonesia is already a F-16 operator while Romania is not. Indonesia can reuse many existing support equipment for the additional F-16s. Time for the fighters to be fully operational is also vastly different. See the difference between an existing user and a new one?

    We need a quick solution to replace the MiG-29s. Adding F-16s won’t be a quick or a cheap stopgap solution. Getting the Hornets from Kuwait, would not be as expensive as getting F-16s as they do not need to be taken out of storage in the desert (nevada), repair, upgrade, before use. The Hornets are constantly upgraded as it is still in use by Kuwait. That is the difference getting F-16 and Hornets. Not to mention the fleet will still be rojak, as we will be the only crazy country to be using both F-16 and F/A-18, in addition to SU-30MKMs.

  56. @….
    I agree, hornet is the best and quick solution for TUDM. But maybe it would not be as cheap as you think. The Kuwaiti will use their hornat untill they received all typhoon and fully operational. The hornets will be at the end of their workhour, a major upgrade will be needed just as the indonesia/romania did.
    2nd best solution is adding the MKM or upgrade the mig, but unfortunatelly these options are removed.

    So, TUDM options is quite limited. With only a few countries are hornet operators make things worse. Buying a brand new breed 4+ gen fighters also have pros and cons as 5th gen fighter is on the way.

    I think this was what @ketinggalan was trying to say and come up an idea to look at f16 as another cheaper alternative.

  57. To …

    Best option for Malaysia is to re-sell the Hornets and Tigers back to the US. Re-sell the Flankers and Migs to India.

    Stick to 1 dedicated multi-role fighter. # 50 for both Peninsular and Borneo.

    Upgrade Hawks as dedicated LIFT.

    Easy.

    Why dispute?

  58. @ melayu ketinggalan

    This is a discussion. Anyone is free to dispute, btw why can you dispute me while i can’t??

    As a hobby, I have gone through multiple solutions, with cost and timelines for TUDM in my spare time. More used MiGs, new Gripens, used gripens, more used hawks, getting F-16s, used typhoons, more MKMs, new typhoons, new rafales etc etc but what i come out at the end (additional used hornets, FA-50) is IMO probably the most logical, and achievable.

    Feel free to put out alternatives with your facts and reasoning, but like your opinion on the F-16 (which as i said before is a great platform on its own), i have already run all the calculations for that. And that is why i can easily put out all pros and cons of the f-16s, and after comparing with getting additional hornets, it is just not a better option in malaysia’s case.

    Btw im ignoring you from now on

  59. @AM

    “An updated F-16 is a worthy opponent for any fighter out there. Potentially including low observables (which are meant to work in concert with non stealth aircraft in the first place) because stealth is not absolute.”

    Context: I would not like to put it out there over the SCS against the PLAN, and I’m thinking of the future when people around us are phasing out -16s and here we are investing in them. Weird.

    Working together with conventional aircraft is 1 use of low-observable aircraft, but F-22s and F-35s are also capable of operating on their own, and would I think massacre legacy jets… there are good reasons why for all the (metaphorical) flak thrown at stealth fighters by critics, everyone is racing for stealth tech nonetheless.

    “Intercepting Chinese fighters over the SCS would obviously anger China and will probably lead to them escalating the confrontation in a number of ways.”

    SOMEbody suggested TUDM do this. SOMEbody also suggested F-16s.

    “But we have not reached a point where any cutbacks on trade that China is willing to consider would cause a recession.”

    My friends in construction tell me the industry is mainly held up by GLC projects linked to Chinese money. We got an object lesson of how it would be like if China pulled out with IWCity: shares fell from 3.20 to 1.30 in the span of 1 month. Imagine that happening with every single China-related project in Msia, and the 2nd-order effets on the local economy. I’m sure you guys remember better than I do what it was like in 97 right? (I was quite young then.)

    @Romeo

    “The F16 will fly until 2048 but not for the hornet.”

    US will phase out F-16s in 2025, F-18 C/D Hornets in 2030s. I don’t know about other countries.

  60. Regardless, the F-16 is a very useful aircraft and will be used widely for decades to come. I don’t know where you heard that “US will phase out F-16s in 2025” but it’s not correct. The USAF is investing in a very big recapitalisation and upgrade. Even if it does not stay our primary fighter, we and others will find it useful in other roles.

    My point is not that we need stealth aircraft or a very high performance fighter. It’s also not that we will use F-16s to do a stealth fighter’s job. Or that our fighters have no duties other than intercepting Chinese aircraft. Or that the F-16 should be our top end or only fighter.

    “F-22s and F-35s are also capable of operating on their own, and would I think massacre legacy jets… there are good reasons why for all the (metaphorical) flak thrown at stealth fighters by critics, everyone is racing for stealth tech nonetheless.”

    Everyone is also developing tactics to operate their non stealth fighters alongside their stealth ones, as the USAF and others are doing. No one can afford a force made up largely of stealth fighters. There are practical reasons, which include the internal payload of stealth fighters being limited (they are no longer stealthy when they carry externally) and the need for some aircraft to activate their radars which would negate their stealth capabilities.

  61. I believe what we lack critically is quantity
    . I dont know how many fighters do we really need but definitely not the 52 we are having now. Some even say we need at least 72.

    To achieve 72 airframes using western jets would cost us easily usd7.2 billion to usd 10 billion except maybe the Gripen. Cheaper alternatives are using the chinese and russian jets but that is very unlikely at this juncture.
    then another alternatives would to use 2nd hand either hornets, viper or even gripen A or C

  62. This is more like it. Thoughtful discussions.

    @ kamal

    Right now the numbers is actually 61 (including still undecided what to do with them the 10 MiG-29, minus that, just 51) and that is the whole jet fleet including trainers. But that is minus crashed and partially retired (MiGs) fighters.

    Not long time ago the target was to have 6 squadrons of jet fighters. No idea if this still remains the target. If each squadron is supplied with 12 airframes, yes your number of 72 jet fighters would be valid.

    To achieve 72? When? Now? 10 years from now? There must be a timeframe.

    How would you plan for your airforce from now till 2035? Development budget is spread every 5 year block which is the Rancangan Malaysia’s (RMK). For 4 Rancangan Malaysia’s (2016-2035) from past records the total budget for the air force can be assumed to be around usd 6-8 billion (usd 1.3-2 billion per RMK). That is including for MPAs, Helicopters, Transports, Ground radars etc etc.

    From there we could assume the SU-30MKMs to still be available. So those to be replaced would be the
    – 25 low end/LIFT (18 Hawk, 7 mb339)
    – 18 mid (hornet and migs)

    In my calculations i use
    – 40 low end (as there was originally 28 hawks and 12 mb339s)
    – 24-30 mid (as there was originally 8 hornets and 18 migs)
    – 18 remaining SU-30MKM
    Fighters spread to 1 LIFT (3FTC), 2 Low end skuadron, 2 mid skuadron, 1 flanker skuadron (11SKN), So yes in total 6 fighter squadrons.
    My target budget
    – usd 1.3 billion for 40 FA/TA-50 (2020- )
    – usd 300-500 million for 24-36 used hornets (2020-2035)
    – usd 3 billion** for 30 FC-31 (2030- )
    Total usd 4.6-4.8 bilion spread in 4 RMK (20 years). More details in my previous posts in malaysian defence. So i think we can acheive a good fleet with half of your assumed costs (but yes, it would require non western fighters).

    ** FC-31 cost from official chinese sources during paris air show 2017 is to be around usd 70 million each.

  63. The f16v is consider 4.5 gen becuz of aesa and new electronik and beter then current rafale anf typhoon esp if it come wit conformal fuel tank.

  64. At this moment in time ots no point talking of mrca etc. We canntalk until the cow comes home but we dont have the dough to pay for anything. Only maybe in another 10 years time can we dare to dream of mrca new or used. If we can manage to squeeze out some funds somehow, either used hornets n the F16 are good practical choices. The Gripen is another. There is no need to dream about f35. It just wont happen.
    F16 is still a highly capable fighter. Refurbish it nicely, put in new or updated electronic warfare system n AESA radar n it would be extremely useful.
    Let us get something that we can realistically afford.

  65. @ lee yoke meng

    That is the point of the discussion. What can we afford, with the budget and timeline that we have.

  66. …,

    If you aimed for fc-31 for in 2030, why dont we get j-17 for light fighter roles/interceptor for commonality in early 2020s. The Pakistanis is planning to include aesa radars and more hard-point in their block 3 by 2019. They use open source code and deliberately designed the jet for both western and eastern config.Its cheaper too.

  67. @ khairul

    JF -17 is a good aircraft on its own (quite a fan of this aircraft, and the gripen c/d too). Fitted with a similar engine with the MiG-29. Affordable costs of less than usd 20 million each. But we are retiring the MiG-29, and the FC-31 could be using a totally chinese engine so there is not much of a commonality angle there.

    Also just not sure if the JF-17 would be a useful LIFT platform with all the support training systems available like the FA/TA-50. So if we buy the JF-17 we would need to buy a different platform for LIFT too. More suitable platform would be the hongdu L-15, but there is no commonality angle with that aircraft, and it depends on ukraine for its engine.

  68. @AM
    “I don’t know where you heard that “US will phase out F-16s in 2025” but it’s not correct. The USAF is investing in a very big recapitalisation and upgrade”

    You’re right, my F-16 info is outdated. Seems USAF will upgrade 300 of the newest F-16s (Blks 40-52) to the F-16V standard for service till 2048.

    “It’s also not that we will use F-16s to do a stealth fighter’s job. Or that our fighters have no duties other than intercepting Chinese aircraft. Or that the F-16 should be our top end or only fighter.”

    My rebuttal is against those who think it is a good replacement as our front-line MRCA. I myself favour the same hi-lo mix we have been using; twin-engine multi-role fighter and dual-purpose jet trainer/anti-insurgent bomber. We cannot afford a 3-tier fleet like Singapore nor would it be a good idea to adopt F-16s as our front-line MRCA.

    @Tomahawk
    “The f16v is consider 4.5 gen becuz of aesa and new electronik and beter then current rafale anf typhoon esp if it come wit conformal fuel tank.”

    F-16V has a nice radar, but I wouldn’t consider it the match of Rafale and Typhoon which can even beat F-15Cs in WVR dogfights. Canards and an extra engine do make a big difference apparently.

    @…
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems we can work out the TUDM’s strategy they were/are going for:

    -2 squadrons of 18 front-line fighters each (Sukhois, Migs), total 36 (Note 1)
    -2 squadrons of 18 light fighter/jet trainers each (Hawks, Aermacchis), total 36 (Note 2)

    Note 1: the 8 Hornets were to cover for the Migs at night, I speculate that if the Migs had all-weather capability the Hornets would not have been needed in the “ideal” setup.
    Note 2: Aermacchis mainly serve as attrition replacements for the Hawks. Not sure why we didn’t have an all-Hawk fleet… cost?

    This should be noted for the purpose of discussing alternatives. The currently proposed future of the TUDM fast-jet fleet seems to validate this:

    -2 squadrons of 18 front-line fighters each (Sukhois, Hornets), total 36
    -2 squadrons of 18 light fighter/jet trainers each (T/FA-50), total 36

    Which is adequate for QRA and self-defence. This differs slightly from your estimate of 80 to 90 jets. To adjust your proposal slightly, we could buy less Hornets as it is not necessary to have 3 squadrons of front-line fighters… maybe more attrition frames due to the age of the Hornets, but that’s it.

    While in the future I would like to see us operate 3 or even 4 squadrons of MRCAs and leave the TA-50s for full-time training, I don’t think this would be economically feasible.

    Despite all the downsides we’ve covered I would prefer Typhoons, Advanced Super Hornets or even F-35s over FC-31s. Purely personal preference.

  69. @ chua

    Yes 4 squadrons of 18 aircraft each is feasible, but IMO that would be something like a minimum capability that we should have. That would also mean there is no separate LIFT entity (now 3FTC) and return to the old from of squadron based mixed training/operational entity.

    Your idea could be tweaked a bit to become
    1 su-30mkm sqn 18acft
    1 mrca sqn 18acft (10 additional used hornets for now)
    2 lca sqn 36acft
    1 lca LIFT sqn 12acft

    The costs would be
    usd 200 million for 10 used hornets
    usd 1.4 billion for 36 FA-50
    usd 400 milion for 12 TA-50
    total of around usd 2 billion. Not including costs for 5th gen MRCA to finally replace the hornets

    Reply
    If they could get the used Hornets it is doubtful that they will get the LCA. It is more likely they keep the Hawks. A new LIFT squadron with eight aircraft is more likely. Yes I know we will be operating four type of jets but hey we are doing that already with another one ready to be resurrected at anytime.

  70. @ marhalim

    Well the additional hornets could be had in RMK11 (2016-2020) along with the MPA, while the LCA to be funded in RMK12 (2021-2025). Right now we know that both additional hornets and LCAs is in the airforce’s leadership sight.

  71. @ Chua

    Note 1: the 8 Hornets were to cover for the Migs at night, I speculate that if the Migs had all-weather capability the Hornets would not have been needed in the “ideal” setup.
    My comment: all of the hornets and MiGs have all weather capability. But only the Hornet was “multi role”, while the MiGs are specialised air superiority fighters with only rudimentary ground attack capability. So the hornets are mainly tasked for maritme strike and ground attack, while the MiGs shoulder the QRA missions.

    Note 2: Aermacchis mainly serve as attrition replacements for the Hawks. Not sure why we didn’t have an all-Hawk fleet… cost?
    My comment: yes cost was one of the main reasons, but it was not replacements for the hawks. It was replacements of the older MB-339AM models. The new CM if not mistaken only cost around usd 7-8 million each, due to a lot of parts, especially the engine, cannibalized from the old AM airframes. Ideally at that time the AM should be replaced with more hawks to commonise the fleet, or those new zealand MB-339CB bought as a quick replacements (i like the 2nd option at that time, as it will increase the MB339 quantity, as the hawks are very expensive, and it seems that there is no new MB339 to be built anymore, but those TUDM CM indeed built with used components was the last of the breed)

    Reply
    There was a plenty of talk on why the CM was bought much of it never make any sense. Even if there was a Royal commission to investigate the issue I don’t think we will get the answer.
    Whatever was the reason it really screwed up RMAF big time. Even if new Hawks were more expensive it would have been a much better deal around

  72. Best way forward for TUDM is to sell off its Hornets and Tigers back to US, sell off Fulcrums and Flankers to India and get 50+ second hand F-16 MLU upgraded to V specs.

    That’s the way forward. A single dedicated multi-role fighter.

  73. Marhalim,

    During that time there was the option of

    – 16 used mb-339cb from new zealand
    – 16 used Hawk 67 from south korea

    Ironically all the above were later bought by private companies for contract with us military.

    I was really surprised at the time about the CM contract as i thought the line was long closed.

  74. @…
    “all of the hornets and MiGs have all weather capability. But only the Hornet was “multi role”, while the MiGs are specialised air superiority fighters with only rudimentary ground attack capability.”

    Thanks for the correction. All sorts of theories have been suggested for the Hornet buy, it is hard to figure out which is which.

    To clarify/correct my previous post, the Hawk/Aermacchi fleet looks like this (numbers as delivered, not surviving airframes):

    LCA fleet: 18 Hawk-208s
    Trainer fleet: 10 Hawk-108, 8 MB-339CM

    split up between 1 operational squadron (208s), 1 training squadron (108s) and No. 3 FTC. Surviving numbers are 13, 5 and 7 respectively if I’m not mistaken.

    So there isn’t any need to buy more FA-50s. The rumoured TUDM plan is quite logical. We will end up with:

    Combat jet fleet – 18 Sukhois, 18 Hornets, 13 Hawk-208s
    Trainer jet fleet – 7 MB-339CM, 8 TA-50, 5 Hawk-108s

    The Hawk fleet should last another decade. As numbers dwindle they can be gradually replaced by TA/FA-50s. Instead of another LCA squadron, run the Hawks till they fall apart, and prepare to stand up another MRCA squadron. So that in the future it would be:

    Combat jet fleet – 18 Sukhois, 18 Hornets, 18 new MRCA
    Trainer jet fleet – 7 MB-339CM, 18 TA-50

    plus whatever Hawks are still surviving. I would like a force of only high-end aircraft and trainers (72 and 36 respectively), but if that is not possible, then post-Hawks we can buy FA-50s:

    Fast jet fleet – 18 Sukhois, 18 Hornets, 18 new MRCA
    LCA fleet – 18 FA-50
    Trainer jet fleet – 7 MB-339CM, 28 TA-50

    @Marhalim
    Been having difficulty getting past spam filter, I hope you are not getting flooded with the rejected posts.

  75. Excerpts from an AFM article. Granted the F-35 is in a different league compared to the MRCA contenders but the point is that it’s not the platform anymore that makes the key difference but how “connected” it is – yet some still focus on the platform as if it was still the 1960’s. Some also seem fixated with “stealth” (the correct term to use is “low observable”) as if it’s the answer to everything. Whether it’s F-22, Typhoon or even an upgraded 30 year old Fulcrum, the key is “connectivity”.

    “Those who view the F-35’s greatest attribute as being stealth could be forgiven, but its real game changing capability is its ability to assimilate, sense, process and disseminate vast swathes of information”.

    Lee,

    If it’s pointless to discuss the MRCA because no cash has been allocated, then we must as well not discuss 80 percent of what’s being disscused here. The MRCA buy is years away, not imminent as some would portray. In a few years there might not only be the cash but also a better political climate to award a contract. It is not as if a contract is being awarded next month or next year but before or by 2020.

  76. @ chua

    Selling off hawks and mb339s won’t be a problem. In a few years the us military is going to give out a large contract of contractor supported agressor training. Private companies have been scooping up used fighters in anticipation of the contract. This year big quantities of used fighters have been bought by contractors from france, spain, jordan etc. Hawks and mb-339s are currently used so they are a familiar platform to them.

    http://www.omhphotos.com/p535804464/h37FBEB85

    https://cdn.jetphotos.com/400/6/53797_1443144870.jpg

  77. Chua – ”have been suggested for the Hornet buy, it is hard to figure out which is which.”

    Simple, politics. We were offered and offset deal and under diplomatic pressure we had to do something to please the Yanks. There was even a last minute attempt to interest us in F-16s.

    Chua – ”So there isn’t any need to buy more FA-50s.”

    Indeed. There is no need as the intent is to operate the Hawks for at least a decade more.

    … – ” Aermacchis mainly serve as attrition replacements for the Hawks”

    The MB-339s were intended to be a lead in trainer, a role we don’t use the 200s for.

    Melayu Ketinggalan – ”F-16 fits the bill very well.”

    A lot of things ”fit the bill’ : used Hornets, Gripens, etc. The point is that there is ZERO intention to get F-16s.

    Melay Ketinggalan – ”he fact is Malaysia is not a military aggressive nation so the F-16 FITS THE BILL”

    ”The Flankers are aggressive A2A superiority fighter and what a waste to see it only flying during Merdeka instead”

    The Flankers DON’T only fly during Merdeka. If you actually have proof that they only fly during Merdeka then PLEASE share it with us.

    Melayu Ketinggalan – ”The fact is Malaysia is not a military aggressive nation”

    Then by your logic we should retire the 155mms, PT-91, ASTROS and redesignate the MAF into the ”Malaysian Defence Forces” so we son’t be too ”aggressive”. Do you even know what message you’re trying to get across when you use the word ”aggressive”?\

    – ”Little Birds are also going to be duds soon. Should have gotten the new Bell Vipers and the Bell Venoms to replace the coffin killer Nuris.”

    Since you can foresee the future, I need to know what number’s coming out 1st for Magnum this Wednesday.

    Rather than being ”duds” as you wrongly called it, the Little Bird is the ideal asset for the types of threats faced in ESSCOM. BTW, if you bother to do some basic, objective research, you’ll realise that calling the Nuri ”iron coffins” is silly and downright false.

  78. @Azlan – “Rather than being ”duds” as you wrongly called it, the Little Bird is the ideal asset for the types of threats faced in ESSCOM.”

    Well, to be fair, we’ve never operated attack helos before so we need to start small. Those Little Bird choppers are the ideal choice for us to gain some experience before buying actual attack helos in the future. :V

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