Thai T-50s in Kuantan

One of the two T-50s photographed in Taiwan, the other day. Internet.

SHAH ALAM: Thai T-50THs in Kuantan. It appears that Korean Aerospace are working hard to get the T-50 light jet trainer into the RMAF. Last year they took part in LIMA series exhibition in Langkawi. The Black Eagles then conducted a display over Kuala Lumpur, over the skies of KLCC.

Today (Jan. 10, 2018) two T-50TH of the Royal Thai Air Force made a stop-over at Kuantan airport, the last leg of their ferry flight from South Korea to Thailand. The two aircraft had earlier made stop-overs at Clark airbase in the Philippines and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

One of the two RTAF T-50 at Kuantan airbase today. via @KaptRahmat

The jets were expected to arrive at Takhli Air Base in central Thailand on January 11, concluding their 4,137-mile (6,658km) ferry flight. The two T-50TH are from the four Golden Eagles ordered by Thailand in 2015. Last year, the Thai government ordered eight more T-50s reportedly for $258 million.

One of the two T-50s photographed in Taiwan, the other day. Internet.

According to specifications released earlier by KAI, the T-50TH will be fully combat capable, being fitted with fire control radar — expected to be the Elbit EL/M-2032 — MIL-STD-1760 databus and will have provision for the Link 16 data link.

ROKAF Black Eagles with their display at LIMA 17.

Yes, RMAF had indicated its interest in the T-50 for the lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) role currently undertaken by the MB-339CM. It is an open secret that the CMs are no longer optimum platforms for the demanding task of producing fighter pilots for the RMAF.

RMAF MB-339CM M34-20 in a picture taken at the Cope Taufan in 2014 at Butterworth.

There was confusion of the timelines over RMAF plans to get a LIFT replacement when the matter was made public at a conference in Germany, last year. My colleague from Aviation Week reported that the LIFT cum LCA replacement would start around 2025 while Janes on the other hand says it will be around 2022.

Hawk Mk 108 M40-08 doing touch and goes at Labuan airport in November, 2017

RMAF has not made public its stand on the matter but following the announcement of the 2018 budget, the service had stated that the Hawk upgrade, which been planned for sometime now, would start soon. With the upgrades the RMAF Hawk fleet are expected to be in service until 2030.

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.

Personally I have no problem with RMAF finding a replacement for the CM within the next five years. However if they choose the KAI T-50 to replace the CMs, it will mean that RMAF will operate with four fast jets just like its current ORBAT.

Omani Hawks.

It will be cheaper, to say the least, if it sought to consolidate its LIFT program to the Hawk Mk108s by acquiring more examples from Oman which has four similar Hawks. These Hawks will be replaced with newer Hawks. This will increase the twin seat Hawk to nine or ten aircraft allowing for the retirement of the CMs.

* reports from Thailand suggests both aircraft will have to stay longer at Kuantan as they suffered unspecified technical faults while flying through severe weather in South China Sea.

— Malaysian Defence

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24 Comments

  1. There can only be one thing

    – continue with hawk upgrades plus get more used hawks. Our hawk cockpits need upgrading as it is even more older tech than the mb-339cm. Then there is the various technical issues with hawk models before the hawk 127.

    Or

    – cancel the hawk upgrade, sell them off and replace both hawk and mb-339cm with TA/FA-50

    Im for the 2nd option.

  2. the best way is to replace hawk and mb-339cm with Golden Eagles. now we get to replace 2 platform with 1 platform. high cost to obtain(persuade the govt of course) but in long run it is profitable.
    although it seem highly unlikely. hopefully TUDM get what they want.

  3. Any other choice of LIFT other than T-50?

    Reply
    Many others but the T-50 is most favoured one at the moment. And if selected by the USAF will be the most used out there, which will in turn reduce support cost all around

  4. Dont think any budget was allocated for new LIFT in the next 5 years but it made sense to recapitalise the training/conversion assets now. I am with Marhalim on this, 2nd hand hawks may be a less costly option plus no need to introduce additional logistical foot print

  5. EL-M radar? Lol

    The best we could get is an upgraded APG-67 (which is basically just an upgraded APG-66 that is used in hawk)

    Reply
    If we buy them we could always fit it with the Raytheon or Northrop Grumman AESA radar if we want to or the APG 67. KAI cannot put non American radar apart from the Elta one

  6. Remember we have 2 things that we need to recapitalize. MRCA and LCA/LIFT.

    If we delay both, then in 10-15 years time we will be in the same situation needing replacements for both at the same time.

    Now we have the option of getting one 1st and delaying the other. I am in favour of getting LCA/LIFT 1st (which is the cheaper of the 2) and delaying MRCA by getting additional used hornets

    Getting LCA/LIFT in the form of TA/FA-50 would replace our current 2 types with 1, have same engine logistics with our hornets, and a supersonic capability to shoulder the MiGs Kuantan QRA tasks, which will enable us to finally retire the MiGs too. The radar equipped hawks and mb-339s could be sold off, now with private contractors in the west lately buying lots of used fighters for expected large government contracts. Now is the best situation to sell them off (because of the demand from those contractors), if we keep them now, in 15 years time they would only be good as scrap.

    If we go for MRCA 1st and LCA/LIFT later, well 1stly right now we dont have the usd3-4 billion for 1 squadron of MRCAs. 40 LCA/LIFT for 1 LIFT and 2 operational squadron would cost around usd1.3 billion only. 2ndly if we buy typhoons or rafales, we will have to stick with that for quite some time in the future while our neighbours are getting stealth fighters in 5-10 years time. Delaying MRCA will enable us to have the option of stealth fighters FC-31, KF-X, TF-X, F-35. Delaying LCA/LIFT, there will still be the same option in 15 years time TA/FA-50, M-349, Yak-130, L-15B, so no advantage of delaying to get better planes there. 3rdly it will add to the logistical problem of maintaining a rojak fleet of hawks, hornets, mkms and mrcas. If we buy TA/FA-50 for LCA/LIFT now our fleet type will reduce to 3, with only 2 types of engines.

  7. I’m sure TUDM has done the budget projection to pinpoint exactly when to replace its Hawks.

    Reply
    Yes, all the services do but their planning are always hampered when money is not available or when national interest comes into play. As one former air force chief told me a long time ago the best they can do put their wants into a basket and hope for the best

  8. In every RMK, we could assume there will be around 1.5 to 2 billion USD available for new equipment (capex) for each service. From the Navy’s 15 to 5 plan we can see that the navy plans around this, planning their every RMK buy to around usd 2 billion in value.

    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/15-to-5-and-lms/

    So RMK11, for now the items we can assume to be paid for would be
    – part of the A400M payment (600 mil ?)
    – MPA aircraft (600 mil)

    I don’t know if any other big ticket items could be fitted in the RMK11 budget. What do we know that the A400M program severely derailed any prior plans of TUDMs leadership but that is what they need to plan around, not making requests that is over the available budget. If the Legacy Hornet and LCA/LIFT program is a go, I forsee the remaining RMK11 budget would be for the MPA and legacy Hornets, while the LCA/LIFT buy would be announced in RMK11 but paid for and received only in RMK12.

    Any MRCA plans would realistically be paid for in RMK13 and RMK14, and AEW&C (affordable something with ERIEYE ER) hopefully could be included in RMK12 along with with the LCA/LIFT.

  9. So today Hishamuddin visited subang AFB. There he said that from now on there would be no forced buy from the government, only requests coming from the air force itself would be bought. Need to take that with a grain of salt though…

  10. The good news is that over time the T-50/FA-50 will be integrated with more sensors and ordnance. It\’s interesting how in the 1980’s and even later the South Koreans identified us as a major market and we placed some orders but along the way we turned mostly to others to meet our needs. Apart from Mahawangsa, Mystari and the KIFVs; we also bought a lot of ordnance and other stuff from them, including Claymores. In the late 1990\’s the pushed the 105mm armed K-1 but getting U.S. export approval for the FCS was problematic during that period. Last year a delegation from the Defence College [including foreign students] visited South Korea. Amongst the places they went to was the KAI factory/facility.

    … – ”Need to take that with a grain of salt though…”

    The RMAF Chief did point out that one of the factors determining which MPA would be selected is how it benefits the local industry.

    Chua – ”I’m sure TUDM has done the budget projection to pinpoint exactly when to replace its Hawks.”

    On paper yes but hard to do when a firm commitment ora rough estimate as to a time frame is not forthcoming. The 3 armed services register their requirements [that’s their job] based on what they need and hope their requirements get approved by the EPU.

  11. The good news is that over time the T-50/FA-50 will be integrated with more sensors and ordnance. It\’s interesting how in the 1980’s and even later the South Koreans identified us as a major market and we placed some orders but along the way we turned mostly to others to meet our needs. Apart from Mahawangsa, Mystari and the KIFVs; we also bought a lot of ordnance and other stuff from them, including Claymores. In the late 1990\’s the pushed the 105mm armed K-1 but getting U.S. export approval for the FCS was problematic during that period. Last year a delegation from the Defence College [including foreign students] visited South Korea. Amongst the places they went to was the KAI factory/facility.

    … – ”Need to take that with a grain of salt though…”

    The RMAF Chief did point out that one of the factors determining which MPA would be selected is how it benefits the local industry.

    Chua – ”I’m sure TUDM has done the budget projection to pinpoint exactly when to replace its Hawks.”

    On paper yes but hard to do when a firm commitment or a rough estimate as to a time frame is not forthcoming. The 3 armed services register their requirements [that’s their job] based on what they need and hope their requirements get approved by the EPU.
    Take the Nuris for example, the RMAF has been seeking an upgrade to enable to fleet to perform VFR sorties since the 1990’s and the RMN first registered a requirement for SSKs in the 1980’s.

  12. “Apart from Mahawangsa, Mystari and the KIFVs; we also bought a lot of ordnance and other stuff from them, including Claymores. ”

    Azlan, have you seen the claymores or know the brand or name of the manufacturer? I have some idea of the South Korean company that produced them.

  13. “Apart from Mahawangsa, Mystari and the KIFVs; we also bought a lot of ordnance and other stuff from them, including Claymores. ”

    Azlan, have you seen the claymores or know the brand or name of the manufacturer? I have some idea of the South Korean company that produced them.

  14. some pictures of the T-50TH in Kuantan

    https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-4axgx1O9zzA/WllMCQKSYUI/AAAAAAAAQLQ/0eWwnCg_xyE_36-wlnOMQHiMXxdeHt4VwCLcBGAs/s1600/T-50TH%2B401%2Bat%2BKuantan%2BRMAFB%2BMalaysia-3.jpg

    https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xAXkkhRo1wQ/WllNQybKwxI/AAAAAAAAQLc/zKgAKLcocOcSUlTudiOMGIxzyyeYPwn1ACLcBGAs/s1600/T-50TH%2B401%2Bat%2BKuantan%2BRMAFB%2BMalaysia-2.jpg

    Reply
    From the pictures I think they are parked on the passenger terminal. I could be wrong of course, but make sense if they have to stay at Kuantan as the air force base do not have an immigration office. For exercises involving foreign countries, the base would hset up a temporary office for the immigration officers to officiate the travel documents of those who stay off base

  15. @ marhalim

    Yes they parked at the civil airport apron under the rain.

    Reply
    A closer of the pictures showed that some parts of the aircraft are taped up, likely damages from hail stones

  16. @ marhalim

    Those taped up areas are air vents for the M197 gatling gun and its ammo box. So probably just to make sure that area is not flooded by rain.

    Reply
    Check the pictures from Taiwan those areas are not taped up, don’t think they just decided to fix or patch because Kuantan was raining. My guess was that the hailstones did enough to damage to those areas water was seeping into the airframe. It was the reason RTAF is saying delivery has been postponed pending technical checks. I could be wrong of course.

  17. Get Leonardo M345 HET and M346 FA to replace our MB339 CM and Hawk 100/200. Can reduce tudm rojak inventory plus we already get used to flying leonardo products.

  18. @ military_observer

    Your idea is just to substitute a rojak (mb-339 and hawk) with another rojak (m345 and m346). Do also realise that M345 HET is just a basic trainer, something we are using the more efficient PC-7 Mk2 for.

    As for the TUDM LCA requirement “the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) procurement programme is looking for a single-engined, supersonic platform” “As well as being an air defender and ground-attack aircraft, the LCA should also serve as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) platform”

    For now only 1 aircraft fits the bill, the TA/FA-50. The L-15B (the youngest sibling of the 3 Yak-130 based design) is supersonic capable, but with 2 engines.

  19. AM,

    The Hanwha Corporation. The Claymore have been seen at exhibitions. We destroyed all our mines but kept the Claymores. We’ve also sourced parachutes from South Korea.

    To add to the list we’ll also include the 4x4s fitted with the FN HMGs and Spanish RCLs.

  20. Off topic

    Breaking news

    Myanmar is ordering 6 SU-30, probably the SM version similar to our MKM.

    Myanmar is upgrading rapidly its airforce. In recent years ordering additional MiG-29s, 16 JF-17, 12 Yak-130, 20 Grob G120TP, 50 Hongdu K-8.

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