First Macchi MB339A at RMAF Museum

SHAH ALAM (Aug 9, 2010): The first of the last remaining batch of the Aermacchi MB-339As was put on display at the RMAF Museum at the Sg Besi Airbase last week. The plane serial number M34-12 is pictured here courtesy of NST journalist Sager Ahmad, who has a long history working with the museum.
Sager reported that the aircraft was transported to the museum on a low-loader with the wing taken out. The appearance of the M34-12 I believed marked the retirement of the As following the delivery of the 8 MB339CM last year. However there is no official confirmation from the RMAF just yet. But since the engines of the As had been taken out to be refurbished before they were fitted on the CMs, the argument is purely academic of course.

Only in Malaysia, so claimed DHEagle to me. He said such thing has never happen anywhere else. No other airforce he claimed would put an old engine into a new plane! How did this thing happened one may asked?

Well the short answer, based on conversations I had with DHEagle and confirmed by other sources, the RMAF had been planning to replace the As since 2000. But due to long negotiations plus an added requirement from the Ministry of Transport – extra landing rights to Malaysia Airlines for Rome – the deal was finally struck in 2006. However, by that time the allocation to purchase the new CMs had been fixed at around RM600 million. That means RMAF can only purchase 4 new CMs with new engines and eight, if they used the old engines from the As. We all know what happened next.

I was told that RMAF did not pursue the option of refurbishing the As into the CM version as it was expensive as buying new airframes. I am told that the As were retired prematurely as the airframes and engines had still half of their service lives when the deal to purchase the CMs was finalised, which was a pity of course…

The LOI for the 8 CMs was signed at DSA2006 while the contract was signed a few months later. The deal to refurbished the engines of the As (Viper Mk623.43) for the CMs was signed at Lima 2007. All of us (reporters) , including myself, missed out on that small print as we were always looking for bigger, newer things at such functions. Oh well, at least the museum got a new toy for display….

– Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2184 Articles
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  1. Only in Malaysia…… Probably only in Malaysia do landing rights for the national carrier comes first before the airforce.
    Janes reported some years ago that the Scorpene deal hinged on MAS getting more landing rights to Paris.

    Marhalim, are the funding allocations for the new fighters to be provided in the next Malaysia Plan or after?

    Marhalim: Most probably its the next one but that hasnt stopped everyone from marketing their planes apart from …..

  2. I would be very surprised if it’s anything other than the S.Hornet or the Gripen. Still, I dont see how on earth Malaysia is going to be able to afford the Hornet.

    Marhalim: The European is thinking of providing a super deal so we will choose the Eurofighter. Oman was offered 24 Eurofighters for some USD2.1 billion although they also asked the US permission to purchase F16s for some USD3.1 billion. The Gripen is reportedly the cheapest (USD50-USD80 billion per piece). I will write about this next week still gathering more info on the issue…

  3. As most of the EU nation that signed for the Eurofighter are thinking of cancelling Tranche 3 and may reduced their current operating number of existing typhoon, cant we opt what Hungary did with Gripen, i.e lease the existing surplus from sweedish airforce? In this case, we lease the surplus Tranche 2 from UK or even germany

    Marhalim: Yes they are thinking that way for us to lease Tranche 2 from UK and Germany, thats the thinking but then they must be prepared for other stuff, offsets, landing rights etc…….

  4. Marhalim, maybe we should start with the basics and worry about securing funding for more MBB-339s or Hawks 100s to train our pliots before having visions about fighters.
    Memalukan! – reading about the MBB-339s and the engines. Its not that we don’t have the cash, its just our bloody politicians waste what cash we do have…

    Marhalim: Back to basics? Thats what I have been trying to say so far but then come the argument about light and heavy fighters! And also the need for a local defence industry….we have too much of everything but not enough of anything…
    Indeed every time I drive down to Putrajaya I wonder if the money had been put to better use elsewhere and I am not saying that it should been for defence…………

  5. “… they must be prepared for other stuff, offsets, landing rights etc…….”

    Ha, that means kickback for certain people, right?

    Marhalim: For me its offsets, landing rights etc….if you want to think otherwise it is up to you…

  6. Whatever gets selected, be it Gripens, Typhoons, Super Hornets, lets hope it’s a decent number with at least 18 minimum instead of say 8… Whilst quality provides an edge, numbers still count.

    Marhalim, prior to the ASTROS being selected, do you recall SME tying up with a Bosnian company to offer the Orkan MLRS to the army? I recall reading this somewhere around the late 90’s.

    Marhalim: Azlan I though you want us to get back to basics? For me it will be better for the air force to get more Flankers (I know about the air force reluctance) but its the best bet yet to stream line our defence procurement towards a real world situation.
    Sorry I do not recall the project.

  7. Well, let’s forget about all those shining fighter. Instead of buying more fighters at the moment, I would suggest that we start from the most basic things with procuring AEW&C platform.
    The platform could be the Embraer R-99, Saab 340 or the Boeing 737-AEW&C designation.

    Without AEW&C, the RMAF fighter aircraft like the Hornet, Fulcrum and the Flanker will be easily defeated by our enemy. We need this as our eye in the sky.

    But, as for the next fighter procurement plan, I still believe that the Gripen and the Super Hornet would be the best contender for the next MRCA procurement. But personally, I would prefer the govt to procure the Super Hornet since we already operated the Hornet and the Boeing IDS is keen to sell those super hornet to us.

    The Typhoon is no way can be in our inventory since it is the world’s second most expensive fighter after the Raptor.

    Lastly, I am highlighting here that we must give the highest priority on the AEW&C project rather than other project for the air force except for the Cougar deal.

    Marhalim: As part of real world procurement deal, I would not even buy any AEW at the moment nor the Cougars. For the rotary fleet I will buy second hand Blackhawks….

  8. AWACS is so 90s. Leap ahead, not follow. Reapers and Reapers and more Reapers.

    Marhalim: I dont think they will sell the Reapers, Predators maybe….

  9. An,

    If you sold a piece of land you will get a kick-back, if you just an intermediary and you just promote or helping to sales Palm Oil you will get a kick-back. YOU CAN’T RUNAWAY FROM RECEIVING A KICKBACK. I believed receiving kick-back is normal in International Trade, if Malaysia doesn’t what to deal kick-back just do FMS (Foreign Military Sales). Perhaps you should know under which tier Malaysia fall.

  10. Syameer,

    If Thailand purchased AEW&C I understand, because they have more than 50 F16 and a new Gripen. If Singapore purchased AEW&C I understand, because they have numbers of F5E – More than 48, F16 – More than 72 and 24 new shining F15SG.
    What we have now in our inventory 8 Hornet’s and 10 MiG’s and our Su30MkM NOT operation yet. Do you see here, we need more planes before we introduce AEW&C. Let say 48 fighter planes are sufficient to introduce AEW&C.

  11. Syameer,please explain as I’m curious why ”we must give the highest priority on the AEW&C”??
    Your comment that ”Without AEW&C, the RMAF fighter aircraft like the Hornet, Fulcrum and the Flanker will be easily defeated by our enemy.” is a bit too simplistic. This is not too say that our fighters won’t benefit from the additional SA provided by AEW aircraft.

    It’s a bit silly to get AEW at present when there are so few fighters in the RMAF – 10 [?] Fulcrums, 8 Hornets, 14 [?] Hawks 200s and 18 Flankers and no common data link.
    At the moment our inability to monitor our borders and sea lanes due to a lack of assets is our biggest problem, not the threat of intruding enemy fighters. We need to address our immediate priorities. And yes!!!! We need UAVs, something with a decent endurance and data link.

  12. Can some one tell me what would be the advantage of AEWACS over ground based radars of even sea vessels based air surveilance radar for country with limited resources (or one might say scoundered resources) like malaysia?

    I always had the impression that AEWACS would be advantagious for invading party with carrier based and far away from home or for the usage of area far from operating GBAR and due to geographical nature making only air surveilance the only option?

    I tend to agree with Marhalim on the jet fighter issue, commonality can streamline cost of maintenance. On the heli though i beg to differ. A rebuild sh70 blackhawk can be as expensive of some new albeit lower spec new built such as AW139 or lower still w3 sokol. I personally would not take direct second hand from uncle SAM on heli or fighters because i believe due to their war commitments over this past 20 years, work fatigue will be a serious issue. Just my RM1 worth

    Marhalim: Indeed a rebuilt Blackhawk maybe as expensive as an AW139 but I am looking towards the future, the cost of maintenance. There will be thousands of Blackhawks until at least 2050, so the cost of maintaining them will be cheaper unlike the Cougars and AW139s. Furthermore, the Hawks are metal aircraft so our boys could do the repair in the field, a composite helo will need to be sent to a specialised repair shop.

    One of the biggest issues about our procurement is the lack of provisions or planning to ensure the proper funding during its lifespan.
    Hence the early retirement of the As as they had no money to upgrade the fleet…
    Its a wonder how we operated all this years with an increasing number of assets but with a much reduced operational budget. The current solution is simply to reduce the operational capabilities to the extent that some assets take years to be fully operationalised to their full specifications and by the time they become fully operational some components are already time expired….

  13. Aha! brother, since the body had been put on display at the RMAF museum, then are you not going to ask the RMAF, when will the engines to be on the display at the museum.
    Why buy second hand Blackhawks? press on with the EC 725 as very soon the RMAF museum will have plenty of toys to be displayed…hehehe
    Heard the RMAF has agreed on the ACMI simulator…surely you got better story brother!!! Gua caya lah RMAF pilot will be ever ready to go to war!!!

    Marhalim: Hahha…..

  14. e…. You’re going to have a very, very long wait to see a Cougar in the RMAF Museum as the first Nuri’s were delivered in 1968 and are still not in any museum.

    kamal, the higher you are the further you can see. With AEW aircraft you can see further afield than with ground base radars. A number of AEW radars also provide some degree of ground detection. I not sure however if the Eriye provides a ground detection capability.

  15. Dear Azlan and Al Kilroy, Well I am not an expert in this field as I’m more into the navy then the air force but my point here is obvious, without the AEW&C platform, our fighter aircraft is like a blind man in the sky.

    No matter how many fighters do we have, and currently at a considerable numbers of 18 IOTE Flankers, 10 Fulcrum, 8 Hornets, 14 Hawks, and 15 upgraded F-5s, which total up 65, I do think that AEW&C platform is necessary to act as the eye in the sky for the air force.

    Marhalim: I believe there are around 10 F-5E/RF-5Es in service, and they are mostly to support the two Tigereyes and for training purposes, so we actually have less than 50 fighters on tap at the moment, it is interesting to note most people I met also agree that we need a good ground surveillance systems rather than an airspace system.

  16. I rather agree with you on this matter halim, we need more and better ground surveillance systems to cover the whole nation and its border beyond the eez rather than having the aewc crafts. In addition to the ground surveillance systems, of course will be the core of the nation’s air defence… lots of new 4.5-5th gen MRCAs… beside the normal ground based air defence systems which pathetically, we are still a lacky…

  17. Syameer, it is indeed very ”obvious” that that AEW aircraft provide many advantages.
    But to state that ”without the AEW&C platform, our fighter is like a blind man in the sly” is too simplistic and innacurate…..

    There are just too many toys in the shopping list and the budget is only so big, so its best we spend on what we need to face current threats and those threats are not enemy fighters in our airspace.

  18. At a minimum price of USD200 million a piece for the Erieye…pretty darn expensive. Maybe if the economy is well on track of 7% a year growth in 2012…may be can

  19. Yes and the RMAF has a requirement for 4! Quite rightly as 4 is needed to ensure that at least one is ready to take to the air at all times. The Eriye is cheaper than its competitors but it does not provide 360 coverage and fitted on a turboprop it can’t fly as high as a jet mounted radar for maximum coverage. Given the lack of dosh it would make more sense to get a couple more ground radars from Alenia Marconi or Thales Raytheon.

  20. Marhalim, please clear the air on something. Did Pindad get an order from us for its VAB copy for UN duty?

    Marhalim: No official signing yet. As for rumours it has been repeated to death…

  21. Cost of acquisition is only one aspect. Cost of operation is another. Also with AEWC you really do have to wonder about the number of a/c, crew and log to have adequate coverage and persistence. Ultimately, you are scratching another one of those 2% itches with likes 70% of the budget.
    It is no wonder that the service is in a deleterious state.

  22. what is the issue with 7 of our fisherman held up by ina fishery dept and 3 of their dept officers held up by our police marine at middle rock?
    should we start rearming ourselves for a potential conflict with them?

    Marhalim: This is a civil matter, bro, leave it to the civilians….

  23. What i heard is that TUDM still has a requirement of 4 more MB229CM. The New Zealand MB339’s is still not sold (the buyer still cannot get the money needed), and the Kiwi Govt needs to offload them by the end of this year. So why not malaysian govt offer them something for the planes? palm oil for MB339’s maybe?

    As for more fighters, it is quite silly for malaysia to buy a smaller fighter then SU-30MKM but costing more than the flanker! For me, the only new planes short term is additional 6 SU-30MKM to replace the MiG’s. For the medium fighter requirement just get 4-6more 2nd hand F/A-18B or D to topup the 18SQN, and offer the omani’s to buy their Hawk200’s to reactivate the 9SQN. New fighters can come after 2020.

  24. Yes Su30MkM cost more. With part and equipment coming from Russian, French, South Africa and Indian for sure will bring the cost up. Moreover, our Su30MkM still NOT operation yet due to integrations issue and they have to write flight manual. Since Russian doesn’t have this model on operational. If you compare with India MKI cost was less due to HAL. They already have indigenous aviation industries.As
    Vietnam & PRC – SU30MKK difference class only Russian avionics.
    I believed Lim Kiat Siang as post in his blog before.
    Your suggestion to purchase second Hornet is a good idea, the issue is from where? No Hornet operation countries would like to sale their Hornet, even US Marine will retired their Hornet after 2020. The only source you have is US Navy, as for Navy Hornet as good as JUNK because carrier stress operation.

    Marhalim: The Canadians and Finnish have some aircraft to spare. I dont think they (ours) will be bothered with second hand Hornets though…..

  25. al kilroy- ”I believed Lim Kiat Siang as post in his blog before.”

    Senior Lim and his cohorts are just as bad as BN politicans when it comes to defence matters. Judging from media statements released by the DAP, for the Nuri replacement, they would rather have gone for the Mil-17 based solely on its cheaper price tag. Never mind the operational costs, need for integration with western avionics and availibility/costs of spares in the future.

    The first batch of IAF Flankers were also delayed due to integration issues and had cost overuns, it was not smooth sailing all the way. Another factor is the number of aircraft the IAF bought as opposed to just 18 for the RMAF…. Any lower cost was not due to HAL…
    The blame lies in the political leadership of this country that went for a variant of the
    Su-30 that didn’t even exist.

  26. Marhalim,

    True! Canada has announce to replace Hornet “In July 2010 the Canadian government announced plans to replace the remaining CF-18 fleet with 65 F-35 Lightning IIs”, with deliveries scheduled to start in 2016. Another 6 years we needs to wait. Finally, I don’t think Danish operate F/A 18 Hornet.

    Marhalim: I meant Finnish…..

  27. Personally I don’t think anyone in the government and the armed forces will have interest in purchasing 2nd hand things especially regarding thing like fighter jet since they have already have experienced about the problematic 40 refurbished A-4 PTM fighter jet bought from the US under the PERISTA program which saw service for 10 years with the air force.

    My suggestion, the Super Hornet is the contender to replace the MiGs and the current Hornets in service and the Gripen would be a good contender if we purchase it in a larger number (say 36).

    Although the RMAF have confirmed that no additional MKMs will be procured although the Russian have offered 6 MKMs for the buy-back of the current MiGs fleet , but I believe, the most economic option is to procure the MKMs because as a small air force which are model on dealing with low to mid-intensity threat, we can only operate 2 or 3 type of fighter aircraft not many type like we are doing now.

    Marhalim: The Skyhawk deal was ……………from the start. If we need to buy from the US we must buy through FMS so Uncle SAM will guarantee how the aircraft is modified and upgraded and will ensure that the Made In USA logo stands for something. By buying commercially, we take own risk which what had happened in the Skyhawk.

  28. Marhalim

    Ha ha..I tried to tell you about this some years ago.

    The problem is the Viper engine is now no longer in production.

    Marhalim: Short term gain, long term loss….what else is new….

  29. Yes Su30MkM cost more. With part and equipment coming from Russian, French, South Africa and Indian for sure will bring the cost up.

    yup this is true..However like Su30MKI also got parts from French & Israel summore

    Moreover, our Su30MkM still NOT operation yet due to integrations issue and they have to write flight manual. Since Russian doesn’t have this model on operational. If you compare with India MKI cost was less due to HAL. They already have indigenous aviation industries.

    HAL is JV with Israel Elbit to complete MKI integration….BTW already 2 units of MKI already crashed..wonder why

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