Just Wanna Have Fun

Hawk M40-04 from 15 Skn at the Firepower Exercise in Gemas on May 22, 2017. Note the rockets pods on the outboard pylons. Malaysian Defence.

SHAH ALAM: Just Wanna Have Fun. As I am leaving for a day trip to Labuan airbase for an RMAF Media Day, I might as well post pictures of the fighters involved in the Firepower Exercise 2017 last Monday.

At Labuan, I will be able to take more pictures of RMAF assets though the interview with the service chief will be embargoed until June 1.

Hornet M45-06 served as the lead ship and decoy for the strike package at the Firepower Exercise 2017.

To recap, five RMAF aircraft were involved in the Firepower Exercise, three Hornets and two Hawks.

M45-06 dropping flares as she “prepares” the target.

As this was an Army exercise, I decided not to use too many pictures of the air force contribution lest I got complaints over it.

M45-01 flying the over the range with the four live Mk 82 bombs on her wings. She looked different from her appearance in LIMA 17.

Its not like the air force had upstaged the Army, like it did previously, though it was not their fault. Actually, the air force show was over in less than five minutes as they only had two bombing run on the range. Most of the pictures here are from the flypast (prior to the bombing run) and the show finale which closed the indirect fire support portion of the exercise.

Hawk M40-04 turning after flying over the viewing gallery. Note the two FZ rocket launchers on the outer pylons on both wings.

Two of the Hornets dropped six Mk 82 general purpose bombs on the range while the Hawks fired FZ rockets. The BAE Systems Mk108 Hawks were fitted with two FZ rocket launchers each.

RMAF BAE Systems Hawk Mk 208 M40-08 skimming the tree tops for the exercise finale.

The third Hornet did not drop any bombs as it was supposed to be lead aircraft guiding the other planes on to the targets by communicating with the ground forward air controllers.

M45-06 flying over the range as she covered the strike package.

It also served as the decoy for the “anti-aircraft” gunners on the ground. From the pictures, I could identify two of the Hornets – M45-06 and M45-01 – while the Hawks are M40-08 and M40-04. I missed the third Hornet as I was “target fixated” on 06 and 01, unfortunately.

M45-08 half-way through a roll after her tree-top skimming.

I also failed to get the pictures of the Hornets dropping their ordnance as I was expecting them to dive as in previous years. This time around the Hornets climb up to 6,000 to 8,000 metres before dropping their their bombs, the toss or loft bombing methods. The Hawks fired their rockets in a single salvo after a shallow dive.

RMAF Hawk 208 firing FZ rockets at the exercise. First public showing of the FZ rockets which were signed for in 2012.

From the pictures, one could also surmise the fighter boys were enjoying themselves in the exercise. Why wouldn’t they? They are flying and using live munitions. Live could not get any better.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2226 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. i notice it have a new IFF near the nose which look similar with Su-30mkm

    That was added to the Hornets as part of the 25X capability upgrade, see my earlier posts.

  2. From the picture of m45-01, 2 of the mk-82 bombs is actually on the centre line station. So probably it was actually carrying 6 mk-82 bombs

    Btw did you see if the hornets are carrying the new atflir pods (usually on the sparrow/amraam missile station near the air intakes)

    I relooked my pictures, indeed the two Hornets were carrying six bombs each. I could also make out a pod in one of the pictures but it was too hazy to determine the type, most likely the new ATFLIR as the old ones have been retired already.

  3. In the future we can expect to see extra antennas on the Hornets and MKMs; this will indicate that both have been fitted with data links.

  4. Q: Can the Hawks use JDAM? Will they be able to fire Paveways after the upgrades too?

    Likely they will be able to do so after the upgrade. They are already cleared for Paveways but need ground lasing or from the Hornets. From what I have been told the upgrades will also allow them to carry laser designating pods though there is no funding for them at the moment.

  5. Has the air force any indication of the 2017 open house date?

    I have not heard of any plans this year, most likely it will be held next year, the 60th anniversary of the air force.

  6. It’s not a question of ”outdated”. The question is whether the Hawk still has a role to play and if the air frames still have many hours of life left : yes …… As Marhalim has reported, the Hawks will be upgraded. A limited upgrade unfortunately; just enough to replace obsolescent stuff but better than nothing.

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