First Aermacchi MB-339CM for Malaysian Air Force takes to the air

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KUALA LUMPUR: The press release from Aermacchi is self explanatory. Looks like we are getting another batch of trainers next year. It appears that we decided to pay for a new avionics suite for these planes like the rest of the planes, ships and tanks we purchased over years. No wonder the manufacturers love us…

“First Aermacchi MB-339CM for Malaysian Air Force takes to the air

The first MB-339CM advanced trainer for the Malaysian Air Force made a successful first flight on 25 November from the Alenia Aermacchi facilities at Venegono airport.

The flight, carried out by Alenia Aermacchi Chief Test Pilot Quirino Bucci with Chief Flight Test Engineer Carlo Monti, lasted about one hour and entailed the functional check of all on-board systems and particularly of the new avionics.

The first flight marks an important MB-339CM program goal. In January 2009 the Malaysian pilot training activities which are slated to begin at Alenia Aermacchi will proceed and the delivery of the first two aircraft is scheduled for the first quarter of 2009.

The six remaining aircraft will all be delivered by the end of the next year, thus fulfilling the contract for the supply of eight MB-339CM advanced trainers signed in late 2006 by Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica company, with the Malaysian Ministry of Defence.

In addition to the aircraft, the deal covers the provision of spare parts, ground equipment and related services.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force has been operating the MB-339A for over 20 years. Its selection of the MB-339CM confirms its confidence in the Alenia Aermacchi ability to once again provide it with a trainer with state of the art quality standards and levels of effectiveness.

“The MB-339CM is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics with a human-machine interface that includes a
HUD (Head-Up Display) and three MFD (Multi Functional Displays) in both the front and rear cockpits, as well as software to simulate complex operational scenarios.

The aircraft features an air-refuelling probe, which makes it even more representative of most modern fighters, and enhanced training and operational capabilities. This version adds further training and operational capabilities, integrating new functions in its avionics system.

These include embedded simulation, digital maps, compatibility with night vision goggles, new radio and IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) systems, a new integrated AACMI (Autonomous Air Combat
Manoeuvring Instrumentation) pod as well as modern safety equipment such as the Crash Data Recorder
and Emergency Locator Transmitter”

Malaysian Defence

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8 Comments

  1. Will Malaysia still buy the 16 RNZAF MB339CB’s as it is still for sale as the US company that wanted to buy them has lost intetrest. Lately the kiwi gov’t is offering them for around USD120Mil lump sum. Whether that include the simulator is unknown.

    Marhalim: Last I heard on this was that Mindef was no longer interested in the Kiwi deal. Initially they were really interested then came the new Machi deal during DSA 2006. There was some rumours that the Kiwi Govt was not so keen in selling us those birds, for reasons unknown, so of course, we went elsewhere. It would make sense that we purchased the second-hand Machis instead of new ones.

    Now that we are getting the new birds, it doesnt make any sense to buy them anymore.

    Personally, I am against the purchase of more trainers for the air force especially advanced jet trainers. We have enough trouble getting the current fleet of AC flying and now the air force have to support a totally new type. Its my view, we should sent out our pilots overseas, perhaps South Africa or India for advanced jet training, to reduce cost with the savings piled back into purchasing front line combat aircraft. Only ab-initio and basic flight training should be conducted locally.

  2. so wat…….? are u guys at malaysian defense happy with the purchase? i mean do u guys think its a decent training aircraft? or u think tht its another waste of money for our military?

  3. The reason why we buy the MB-339CM, and not a 346, is obviously cost. Its much cheaper.

    Plus this a/c is not a totally new type. The CMs will be replacing the AMs. The AM will be retired. The main difference between the CM and the AM is the digital avionics in the CM, which are needed to train pilots for advanced fighters like the Hornets and the Su-30s. The 8 new aircraft are just barely enough for our training needs.

    I don’t agree with Malaysian Defense that advanced training should be done offshore. The ability to train our pilots locally is a capability that we should maintain and develop further.

    Anyway, do you have any evidence to say that it is cheaper to train combat pilots overseas?

    Marhalim: I dont have the costings but it will be cheaper than maintaining four types of AJTs, the AMs, CMs and the Hawks 108/208s. We will only be paying for hours and lodgings only not the aircraft and its associated costs, so from that point of view it will be cheaper.

    From what I heard the AMs wont be retired soon as the fleet are currently used as trainers for the Fulcrum fleets. As long as they maintained the Fulcrums, the AMs, will be around for this purpose.

  4. What I’m curious about is why the RMAF didn’t go for more Hawk 100s. Afer all, the Hawk 100 is a LIFT trainer. Apart from cost issues it could be because the Hawk 100s have suffered a high attrition rate-the highest of any fixed wing aircraft in RMAF history.

  5. Marhalim,

    Im sure foreign fighter schools are not charities.

    The cost of the aircraft will be spread out over the years of usage. Can be up to 30 yrs. At the same time we can still use the aircraft for secondary roles.

    I am pretty certain that the AMs will be retired, once the CM becomes operational. Check your sources.

    Marhalim: Yes, there are not cheap also but we could work out deals with other nations like South Africa or India. One of the main reason for buying the Hawks were for the secondary roles but in the end due to the high number of crashes, they had to go back to the original role that was LIFT. They HAD wanted to retire the AMs when the Hawks came but then after realising that the trainees who had trained on the AMs were better suited for the Fulcrum they decided to maintain the fleet. I have not checked recently on whether or not they will retired the AMs once the CMs are active or not but since the Fulcrum are expected to fly until 2010 (thats how long the Govt had signed the maintenance contract with ATSC) I am assuming that the AMs will be flown until that time. Unless of course they decided to stop having new pilots to join the Fulcrum fleet then they can retire once the CMs goes on line, of which by the middle of next year.

  6. Is the Autonomous Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (AACMI) pod and system you mention in your blog one and the same as that that the RMAF recently acquired from Finnemecanica/DRS through Aerotree Defence and Services Sdn. Bhd?

    Marhalim: I believe the ACMI pods on the new Machis came together with the planes although probably backward compatible with the ones from DRS Technologies as Finmeccanica has acquired DRS Tech

  7. Good point & possibly good news for our firm as we specialize in the interface hardware and software permitting comm between pod, aircraft & ground station. I’ll have to ring up one of my marketing colleagues to contact Aerotree and RMAF.

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