And Then There Was Eight

Eight Flankers over Butterworth.

SHAH ALAM: And then there was eight. Some eight months after Defence Minister Mat Sabu told the nation that only four RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker can fly, eight of them are preparing for LIMA 19, later this month.

The Flankers flew in in a formation over Butterworth air base according to a social media post by TUDM. The post stated that the Flankers were ready for LIMA 19.

Eight Flankers over Butterworth.

A flock of Flankers soaring Butterworth Hot Airspace” Su-30MKM ready for @LimaExhibition

Four Flankers over Butterworth. TUDM

Several days after the statement by Mat Sabu, RMAF chief Gen. Affendi Buang clarified that six of the Flankers were capable of flight operations.

Mat Sabu with the XO of 11th Sqdn Lt Col Jasmi Wahab who flew him on Lucky 14 on July 7. Later that month he reveal only four Flankers were flight capable

Affendi said the air force began exploring other options, including the possibility of working ‘in-country’ through smart partnerships with local maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) organisations and aerospace industry players.

“An Su-30MKM was used as a testbed to validate the programme. We found that we could do it at a fraction of the original cost. It also reduced our dependence on the Russian OEM.”

Affendi was confident that this option would enable the air force to follow through with its maintenance programme, within the budget allocated by the government.

“We are fine-tuning our requirements for the programme, but I have to say that we are severely constrained by our very tight annual operational budget.

RMAF M52-18 taking off for LIMA 17

It is likely that the other two Flankers flying could be ones that had undergone testing as part of the RMAF plan to conduct the life extension programme in country. I was told that two Flankers will be on static/flight displays during LIMA and eight others will fly in formation during the opening ceremony and likely at the public days.

RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM M52-18 during its display at LIMA 17

I guess we will find out later this month, hopefully.

#updated with new information on the number of Flankers at Lima

— Malaysian Defence

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23 Comments

  1. Its good that the Menhan highlighted problems that the Suks are facing in which only 4 are flying months ago, at least the Russian have released the parts for the suks. Then we have 6 flying and now its going for 8 .. not bad.

  2. 8 out of 16 or 50%..not great but better than few months ago of around 37%. My personal opinion a 75% fly worthy is good considering our budget predicament.

    Just out of curiosity, our Migs used AAM not from Russia but from Ukraine (The R73 and R27A). The Ukrainean companies could relife them (as not part of US sanction) and even maybe upgrade the R27 to an active seeker version at a fraction of the cost?

    If it is possible then I hope similar upgrades can be done on the MIGs by Ukraine or Poland

    Reply
    Ukraine are trying to sell us the missiles but I guess Russia is playing hardball to prevent it

  3. If based on the article, India spent RS110 crore per aircraft for the overhaul, thats about USD15 million per aircraft..so will be about USD270 million around RM1.1 billion at current exchange rate. So it needed 3 overhauls during the 25 years life, so actual purchase cost of SU30 is around USD95 million, almost similar to the Super Hornet should we have chosen them in 2002, except the super hornet does not need 3 time overhoul as its MTBO i thing around 4,000 hr and you pay the USD95 mil up front.

  4. @ kamal

    If it costs the same, but you can pay it not totally upfront, but bit by bit as you use them, which one would you prefer?

    BTW hornets does not have a hard MTBO, but lots of its components is rated “on condition”. It just means that if it is worn out, it would be replaced, but it does not mean it is maintenance free.

    Reply
    It also means that if in a pinch one can borrow a part from a carrier strike group operating near your waters without waiting for months to get the part

  5. “We are fine-tuning our requirements for the programme, but I have to say that we are severely constrained by our very tight annual operational budget.”

    The key is here. Is the MKM way expensive than western jet when performing overhaul? or it just simply because we are small in budget and Russia no give much discount on it?

    Dr. M request Mr. Putin help on this. no more news?

  6. Be what it may, I am just glad that TUDM and its maintenance units had the guts to see thru the maintenance program on its own terms. Forced on them, YES, but if it did work out successfully, well, that’s all good. I personally don’t care for Russian stuff except the AK47 and T34 :-), but feel if TUDM can undertake a major maintenance program in a pinch, we are way ahead of the Indonesian who operate with a bigger budget. BTW, there was some heehaw down in Jakarta that the Russians have teamed up with ‘them’ to do SU27/30 servicing in-country. Well, TNI-AU has the money to spend on ‘Russian expertise’. We don’t. Good luck to them!

  7. …,
    You understanding of OC is completely false. The Hornets has “Hard MTBO”.

    Taib,
    The TUDM maintenance unit do not have much influence of the outcome.

    The whole MKM saga is either poor planning or money disappeared. Don’t blame the Russians.

  8. That is a good news.
    8 out of 18 sounds bad but still there is improvement. I wonder if there is ‘canibalization’ to keep 8 units still flying.

    @Taib
    TNI AU Su27/30 is a russian standard so it will be easier to maintain. There is a lesson should be learned, gold plated items is costly in short and long term. If not carefully planned it will give a headache too.

    Reply
    The TNI ones are standard export version, not standard Russian version

  9. If the hornets have hard MTBO, then it is not as kamal assumed then. Looks like MKM will have lower lifetime costs than the SH.

  10. If the hornets have hard MTBO, then it is not as kamal assumed then. Looks like MKM will have lower lifetime costs than the SH.

  11. Please take note Bro M, I never blamed the Russkies for the ‘MKM saga’. I meant to say the current tight budget forced TUDM, by chance, to make strindent decisions that actually paid off.

  12. @Marhalim
    The 2 extra planes could likely be the last 2 delivered crafts, hence not yet reach their overhaul cycle maybe? Or perhaps flying with good parts cannibalised from the other 8 grounded planes. Money is one thing, and then there’s politics (the unresolved MH17 issue with Russia, US sanctions).We are dropping the Kim Jong Nam issue and looks likely we might also drop the MH17 issue by normalising relations with Russia. Neither do our glorious comeback leader ever cared about US sanctions so I can foresee the politics issues of this matter will be quietly resolved without the public knowledge.

  13. Off topic

    For US Navy 2020 budget, they have allocated USD39.7 million to buy 22 F-5E/F from switzerland, increasing their fleet to 66.

  14. @ kamal

    It is when you add up all the purchase and lifetime overhaul cost of MKM to just can cover the initial purchase cost of SH.

  15. This comment is not related to this thread. MINDEF has announce that the 4 LMS would all be built in China n not on a 2×2 construction method n lowering the price of the package

    Reply
    Got link to the story?

  16. “For US Navy 2020 budget, they have allocated USD39.7 million to buy 22 F-5E/F from switzerland, increasing their fleet to 66.”

    Demand for private sector providers is booming as well. Good to know that readiness for peer conflicts is being taken seriously.

    They can also consider the retired Singapore F-5S/T.

  17. @ am

    Or even the F404 powered singaporean super skyhawks… still wondered why nobody has approached singapore for the skyhawks and tigers.

    Singapore is no stranger to selling its fighters to civilians. Most of its Strikemasters and S.211 jets was sold to private civilian owners.

  18. “Or even the F404 powered singaporean super skyhawks… still wondered why nobody has approached singapore for the skyhawks and tigers. ”

    There are tiers of aggressor aircraft- bare bones F-5s operated by contractors to teach basic evolutions, contractor A-4s, upgraded F-5s operated in-house, contractor Cheetahs and Mirage F1s to provide training involving EW, and in house F-18s and F-16s as the top tier.

    To save cost, the aircraft and systems are selected/upgraded just enough for the purpose. There is little need for an aircraft loaded with upgraded air to surface systems like the A-4SU. The F-5S/T on the other hand was air to air optimised.

    Still, the USN has their own training-focused upgrade path for the F-5, for which a bare bones airframe might be better.

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