Butterworth, Kinrara and More

F-22 Raptors from Hawaii National Guard's 19th and 199th Fighter Squadrons are positioned on the flight line at P.U. Butterworth, Malaysia, June 8, 2014. Cope Taufan is designed to improve U.S. and Malaysian combined readiness and inter-operability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson)

SHAH ALAM: Butterworth, Kinrara and more. As RMAF celebrates its 59th anniversary today (June 1, 2017), Malaysian Defence can confirm that the plan to redevelop the Butterworth airbase has been cancelled.
In February 2014 it was announced that a public listed developer, TSR Capital was negotiating with the government to the develop the airbase through a land swap.

The company will redevelop the land with several GLCs and a replacement air base will be build. They even identified the site for the new air base.

“Highway to the danger zone”. Three Royal Australian Air Force 77 Squadron F/A-18A Hornets taxi towards the take off area at Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth during Exercise Bersama Lima 16. CA

Since the matter was made public, the proposal came under fire from both sides of the political divide in Penang and within the last two years, it seemed that the matter had died a natural death. However, when I last checked with those in the know at the Defense Ministry at LIMA 17, I was informed the proposal was still active.
Royal Malaysian Air Force F/A -18 D Hornets,18th Squadron takes off during exercise Cope Taufan 2016, at Butterworth Air Base, Malaysia, July 20, 2016. U.S. Air Force

However, in a written reply to questions submitted for the RMAF’s anniversary, the air force stated:

The existing LOI for the redevelopment of Butterworth airbase has been terminated on April 13, 2017, by the Defence Ministry. Presently there is no new proposal to redevelop the Butterworth air base.

The next project in the pipeline is the relocation of Kem Kinrara with TCB Ventures Sdn Bhd. The contract is still under negotiation between the Government and TCB Ventures Sdn Bhd and is expected to be signed in the near future

A Google Map of the Kinrara Camp with its surrounding. From http://tohairforce1981.blogspot.my

The redevelopment of Kem Kinrara and other camps located in main urban areas are inevitable due to the rapid urbanisation. Kem Kinrara, for example, is now the least developed the part in what is now known as Bandar Kinrara.In the past, the camp was the focal point of Puchong town, considered a rural hamlet of Petaling Jaya. The redevelopment of the camp will be a welcome relief for the residents (and big money to the developer) though it must be said that the facility had been there since the 1950s.
MIG-29N M43-03 at the Snake’s pit (QRA hangar) at Kuantan AB in 2014.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Fulcrum for Sukhoi parts barter trade is not expected to be carried out. The air force wants to continue to fly the Fulcrums.

RMAF has reviewed the way forward of MIG-29N operation and has decided that this platform will continue to be operationalized until the procurement of the new MRCA is realised. Therefore, the discussion on selling MIg-29N to Indian Air Force will not be continued for the time being

RMAF EC-725 M55-05 at low level during the demonstration at Labuan airbase for the media day.

At the RMAF Media Day at Labuan airbase on May 25, 2017, RMAF chief Jen Affendi Buang was also asked about the Fulcrums and he answered that the Fulcrums will be back in service. He did not mentioned numbers apart from saying that “we will make sure that we have sufficient airframes to conduct the priority missions and not compromise our sovereignty.”
A four ship of MiG-29 aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Air Force(RMAF) aerobatic display team the “Smokey Bandits” perform during the 2012 Singapore Airshow on Feb. 15, 2012. The RMAF feature the worlds only female MiG-29 pilot, Maj. Patricia Yap Syau Yin.

It is likely that as in the last 10 years or so, 10 Fulcrum airframe will be made flyable with at least five aircraft available for flying on a daily basis. This is similar to decision to reactivate the F-5 fleet in around 2009 and 2010. RMAF finally retired the F-5s, without fanfare in 2014. From the reply

The F-5/RF have been retired in 2014.

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

And as for the Hornets to be acquired from Kuwait under the deal brokered by the Saudis? In the written reply

Its still on study between the two governments. No firm decision on it yet

I was informed that the offer will not be accepted as we need to pay for the airframes and likely the upgrades. This may changed if somehow we could wrangle them for free like the deal for the Japanese P-3C Orions.

Kawasaki P-3C Orion

As I had assumed the RMAF was finally consulted on the offer made to RMN. Affendi, at the Media Day press conference, said that an RMAF technical team will be sent to Japan to evaluate the airframes to be donated.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. If have to pay but if those related has no gains from the process, of course they don’t want, unlike buying new airplanes. But be careful, you don’t want to wear the orange t-shirt.

    When personal interest is no1 priority and national security 2nd, you would see the push for “new” things like the “smurf” blue camouflage and the like, and resistance to items that cannot give any profit to self or contractors.

    Btw it would be nice if you could publish the full written reply from tudm.

    I only asked four questions, all covered in the post!

  2. Are we just extend the MiG life without perform any upgrade like cockpit, radar, engine?

    I dun think Kuwait will give the Hornet as FOC since they perform number of upgrade for this including newly purchase Sniper target pod.

    Most likely upgrades to the engines to extend their lives. All Hornets undergo periodic upgrades just like ours.

  3. The decision to keep the migs is a good one imo. Even if the MRCA programme goes smoothly, it would still take up to 6,7 years between contract signing and full operational capability

  4. @ Michael

    The migs can just be given a general overhaul without upgrading. As it is that is also the case for our hawks, just continuous maintenance contracts given out.

    Those kuwaiti sniper pods, althogh now to be used for the legacy hornets, could be retained and used on its future super hornets too.

  5. It would appear that aside from obvious financial challenges, the new RMAF Chief is also not as gung-ho as his predecessor was in condemning the MiG to scrapyard. The new leadership seem more in-touch with the country financial reality and may be willing (or forced?) to explore other more economical options to address the MRCA issues? However RMAF leadership often gave out mixed responses, with juniors often contradicting the superiors. Perhaps a designated spokesperson to present a official response is needed to prevent confusion.

    Actually he is more gung ho than the previous one. He was a fighter jock and is married to a sultan’s daughter.

  6. Unlike his predecessors, it seems that there won’t be any brand new big ticket items to be bought under his watch, and the frustation can be seen clearly in many of his replies, trying as hard as he could to push off used equipments that could deny him new toys. While his counterpart in the navy is getting one after one brand new toys.

  7. The RMAF has no choice but to continue flying the Fulcrums until a replacement arrives. If it retires the Fulcrums now; it simply cannot meet it current training and operational commitments with just 18 MKMs and 8 Hornets; the numbers simply won’t allow for it. Apart from overhauling the RD-33s the Fulcrums will also require some minor stuff to be replaced if they’re going to fly for a few more years.

  8. Just like the idea of Ex-Brunei Blackhawks, ex-Kuwaiti Hornets and ex-Jap Orions; the offer was made on a government to government basis and politicians made statements before even consulting the RMAF; the service that actually has to operate and maintain whatever the government decades to procure/accept. Hardly surprising as its become a common occurrence with politics and national interest coming first and stuff like long term suitability and commonality becoming secondary. The armed services decline something but the politicians force it down their throat. At a later date, when extra funds are requested to support something that never was originally wanted; the bean counters will complain.

    The eventual result is the taxpayer having to fork out more ringgit on something that wasn’t recommended by the operator in the very first place on account of certain aspects of the gear not being suitable for our specific needs and the operators straddled with something not suitable for their needs : the Fulcrums, MKMs, Laksamanas, Jernas, etc.

  9. ………. – ”as he could to push off used equipments that could deny him new toys. While his counterpart in the navy is getting one after one brand new toys.”

    Direct comparisons can’t be made as the circumstances facing the RMN are not similar to those facing the RMAF. There is also the not insignificant factor of the government previously deciding to place priority on the RMN given that the bulk of threats we currently face are from the maritime domain [as said by Najib recently] and from non state actors. Also his counterpart in the navy is indeed getting ” brand new toys” indeed but some of those ”brand new toys” will not replace the capabilities lost on the Laksamanas and FACs. As such the RMN will not get the desired capability.

  10. “Actually he is more gung ho than the previous one. He was a fighter jock and is married to a sultan’s daughter.”

    Is that a compliment or should we be worried… lol

  11. @ azlan

    The desired “capability” is always a nice life after retirement, and no used equipment could get you that. So among his peers, he is the one who seems to be losing out the most.

    Days where you sacrifice yourself for the country is long gone.

  12. ……,

    Not sure what you referring to; I’d rather stick to things I know.

    It is unfair to suggest that the RMN’s leadership has a better way of going about getting what it needs compared to the RMAF as there are varying factors involved. Not only has the government decided that we should place emphasis on the maritime domain but BNS also needed a new contract to stay in business. It can’t survive solely doing refits and maintenance; hence priority in the LCS deal.

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