60th Anniversary RMAF-RAAF Relations

A RMAF Hornet and C-17 comes together in this picture at Butterworth airbase on June 29, 2018.

BUTTERWORTH: 60th Anniversary RMAF-RAAF Relations. RMAF and RAAF jointly held a parade at the Butterworth airbase here today to mark the 60th anniversary of the latter’s operation in Malaysia.

Personnel from both RMAF (146) and RAAF (21) took part in the parade which were inspected by Gen Affendi Buang and Air Marshal Leo Davies, the respective chiefs of both air forces.

Gen. Affendi (blue beret) and AM Leo Davies (partially hidden, cap) inspecting the parade contingent.

Affendi was a former CO of the airbase in the early 2000s while Davies, an F-111 pilot was also stationed at Butterworth in the 1980s.

RAAF and RMAF personnel marching together during the parade. Bahasa Malaysia was used to command the parade.

Scores of serving and former RMAF and RAAF personnel who operated at Butterworth in the past also attended the event.

A photo of the parade together with the commanders of both air force with the aircraft on static. Pool

Three RMAF aircraft – a F/A-18D Hornet, a Nuri and an EC725 and a single C-17 Globemaster from RAAF were on static display. Two Hawk 208s from 15 Sqdn and an AP-3C from RAAF 92 which periodically operates from Butterworth as part of Operation Gateway conducted a flypast with another Nuri flying over the parade ground carrying the 60th anniversary flag.

Its time to buzz the tower. A RMAF Hawk 208 peel over the airbase after the flypast.

Under Operation Gateway, RAAF conducts maritime surveillance patrols in the north Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

A RAAF AP-3C Orion landing at Butterworth after conducting the flypast.

The airbase is also the headquarters of the the integrated air defense system of the Five Powers Defense Arrangement (FPDA), which groups Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Malaysia and Singapore for defending the latter two

Two RMAF Hawk 208s 04 and 06 getting ready to take off for the flypast.

Although RAAF had operated in Malaysia prior to independence it was in 1958 that the Butterworth airbase came under its operational control. RMAF also became the junior service in the same year. As RMAF was in its infancy, RAAF operated three squadrons out of Butterworth, two fighters (Sabres) and one bomber (Canberra).

A RMAF Hornet and C-17 comes together in this picture

It continue to operate fighters out of Butterworth even though it ceded the operational control of the airbase to RMAF in 1970. Permanent RAAF presence at Butterworth ended in 1988, though under Operation Gateway and its involvement with FPDA and IADS, a number of RAAF and Australian Defence Force continue to be stationed at the airbase until now.

RMAF Nuri carrying the 60th anniversary flag as a drone operated by RMAF PR flies much closet to the photographer than the helicopter itself.

RAAF is continuing to invest in RMAF Butterworth. Its Defence Minister Marise Payne early this week announced funding of $15.3 million to upgrade its facilities there. With the AP-3C being retired and to be replaced by the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patroller this year, the facilities used by the RAAF at the airbase will be uggraded and refurbished.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2191 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Do you suppose the Aussies might donate us their soon-to-be retired P3Cs?

    They may if we ask them about it. AFAIK we have not

  2. Marhalim, the amount to be spent on the upgrade is actually AUD 22 or 23 million, according to the DOD.

    My figure is in US dollars

  3. @Maharlim
    Interesting… should we? Would getting them be a problem, or are they super high mileage that its not economically sound to get them?

    Are anyone else eyeing them? If we can get donated the Aussie stocks and Japan stocks plus spare parts from US boneyard, we might get a very respectable fleet of still capable MPAs for cheaps. Certainly they’re more capable than the CN295/235 proposal, and a hot-transfer from them (Aussie & Japan) will mean minimal refurbishment & re-adjustment cost.

    Plus Japan & Aussie seemed very VERY keen to work with Tun.

    That’s a lot of work for airframes that might not last for 10 years. Personally I am against it

  4. Maybe Butterworth upgrades not only for Poisedon but also Triton.

    Perhaps but those will only be delivered within a few years

  5. Off topic but the BAE type 26 has been selected to replace the Anzac frigates…….but this new Hunter class frigates are going to be bigger that the Hobart class air warfare destroyers!! 8000 vs 7000 tonnes.

  6. The hunter class would be a great news for FPDA, as royal navy frigates would have support and commonality of the aussie and uk frigates for operations in the far east.

    The P-3 have extensive modernisation plans that include totally new wings. But it is an old platform and has quite a high operational cost. I don’t think in the near future we can afford an MPA with advanced capabilities such as ASW. Something basic but can keep track of all the foreign coast guard ships and capable of finding and tracking any big or small boats in malaysians EEZ in a few hours is a must.

    Remember the orkim harmony hijack? It was an aussie P-3 from butterworth that found it. Or the missing RHIB from KD Perdana that was missing for 54 hours before being detected by TUDM beechcrafts? The new MPAs should perform better than both of those incidents.

  7. @Maharlim
    Ok, I understand now. Its not lack spares that will affect the P3s but airframe aging.

    Of topic, Bahrain are looking to replace their AH-1 HueyCobras. Might be a good option to supplement the MD530Gs if we can get them donated to us.

  8. On the hunter class


    Looks like the australians pushed for the most expensive but arguably the most capable ASW platform from the list of contenders.

    They are going for 9 new hunter class frigates, to replace 8 ANZAC class frigates. The 1st Hunter class frigate would probably be comissioned around the end of 2020s, so by that time there should be at least 6 GOWINDs already in TLDM service (all 6 GOWINDs of the 1st batch should be in service before 2025).

    To put into perspective australia bought 3 hobart class air warfare destroyers and 9 hunter class ASW frigates (which as of now looks bigger than the air warfare destroyers) to replace 6 Adelaide class frigates and 8 ANZAC class frigates. Reduced numbers does not necessarily mean reduced capability. Something we can think about for future TLDM plans too.

  9. @ alpha zulu

    Yes the announcement would be due shortly and the default choice would be the F-35.

    So everyone in malaysia should forget about Typhoons and Rafales and start saving for F-35 too or any equivalent platforms. In the meantime additional legacy hornets should be adequate.

  10. @…
    Donation vs buying them. If Bahrain can give them for free, that is….

    As for doing more with less, manpower isn’t the problem we faced. It it is capability envelope. We should focus to “do more, with more”.
    Those like Aussies, SG, Japan, have 1st world problems when dealing with dangerous jobs; less and less of their people are willing to do it. But in contrast, their stronger economy and higher local involvement allowed them to get higher tech stuff (as compared to us), which enables them to reduce manpower without reduction in capabilities. Take the F 35s, can it do more for less of the MRCA numbers we project? Sure it can, 8 of them can probably do the job of 12 Rafales and beat them at it, but the cost of this platform is out of our reach. A KFX or JC31 platform will be less capable than F35 but still within our purchasing power.

    What we need is to expand our Armed Forces capabilities, reach, and close the tech gap with other nations. Only once we reached that plateau, can we think to “do more, with less”.

  11. @ joe

    Do you understand how US Excess Defence Articles system work? It is almost free as it is and why do you think bahrain wants to give them to us for free?

    Do more with more? Our manpower are slaves is it? To do “more” you need more money even if to pay for more manpower. And more money is something we dont have much to spare right now. We need to develop our basic attack helicopter doctrine before getting more complicated attack helicopters. Btw the cost of F-35 is probably less than what Rafale and Typhoons are selling for these days (look at what the belgians are offered, usd6.53 billion for 34 F-35, spares and support for 10 years).

  12. @…
    Yes, in theory EDA is almost free. But the catch is, we need to pay for refurbishment in US (either for reactivation or to remove classified equipment that we not allowed to have). If we can get the Bahraini Cobras for free (being an oil rich country, certainly its small change for them), just like if we can get those Kuwaiti F18s for free.

    And when I said do more with more, we have to face reality that our manpower is still cheaper compared to the cost gap that a top-of-the-high-tech-line will save in manpower. We are still 3rd world country and manpower isn’t chronically lacking that we need to save on it with more expensive techs.

    Take for analogy sake, a fleet of 12 FC31s might be needed to perform what takes 8 F35s. We will need the extra 4 pilots, but that 12 FC31s with 4 extra pilots & crew will probably be cheaper than 8 F35s.

    I hope this help you understand that I’m not suggesting our men are slaves or expendable but cost realities precludes that we have to aim for cheaper, less capable options to close the performance gap as compared to richer 1st world countries.

  13. As for the attack helos, yes the timing isn’t right and yes, we don’t have the doctrine yet and furthermore TDM haven’t explore the full capabilities of incoming MD530G, but if these Cobras are up for donation and we missed the chance to get a capability leap with these, then there may not be a next time or it will surely cost us. Its just a suggestion, anyways.

  14. Am not actually keen on dedicated attack helis. Are we actually facing attacks along our longest land borders with Indonesia? If it’s a No, it’s a luxury that can wait. Sorry PUTD

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