FLIT Overseas, Updated

RMAF Hawk MK108 (front) and MK208 (behind). RMAF

SHAH ALAM: FLIT overseas. It appears that a small number RMAF personnel are being trained to become fighter pilots in Ontario, Canada. This is a departure from the normal Fighter Lead In Training (FLIT) programme conducted at Pulatibang 3 at the Kuantan airbase. The training at the International Test Pilots School (ITPS), London, Ontario was reported by the CBC on May 22.

If you’ve seen fighter jets over the city recently, it’s because a London company is training fighter pilots for the Malaysian Air Force and they’re practicing everything from combat to tactical manoeuvring.

And while they’re not taking up any more airspace than they normally do, the lack of commercial flights and recent renovations on a London International Airport runway have made the loud fighter jets more noticeable than ever.

“They’re practicing aircraft-to-aircraft combat, aircraft-to-ground combat, and aerobatics,” said Giorgio Clementi, the owner of ITPS Canada, which he established here in London in 2009.

“Top Gun is a couple of notches above what we do, but eventually these pilots will go back to their home countries and become the top guns for their air forces.

The second part of the business trains fighter pilots. The London company gets contracts from foreign governments and eventually gets them flying on five jet trainers. The model is an Aero L39 Albatros.

“It’s one of the most popular jet trainers in the world,” said Clementi. “We basically take pilots who can fly a propeller airplane train them to be fighter pilots. We give them all the fundamentals that they need.”

An Aero L-39C aircraft at IPTS Canada. Note the Malaysian flag. IPTS Facebook.

I had delayed writing about the post as I had been trying to get more details about the programme but unfortunately it remained sketchy. The number of trainee pilots being trained with ITPS Canada – International Test Pilots School – is likely around four to six. RMAF FLIT programme consisted of two parts – Basic Jet and Advanced Jet training – usually takes in four to six trainee pilots per year.

One of the MB-339CM getting ready for a test flight in 2008 prior to delivery to RMAF.

Those who passed both parts – around 12 months for each course – will be assigned to the four fighter squadrons – namely No. 12 Squadron at Gong Kedak; No 18 and No. 15 squadrons at Butterworth and No. 6 at Labuan for conversion training and operational qualifications. RMAF dont have a squadron for operational conversion training as it has small number of fighter types compared to the other air forces like the UK and US.

RMAF MB-339CM M34-20 in a picture taken at the Cope Taufan in 2014 at Butterworth.

As Malaysian Defence had reported previously the FLIT programme had come under pressure during the last decade as the MB-339CM trainer at Pulatibang 3 did not aged gracefully, resulting in delays in qualifying new pilots for the fighter squadrons.

An MB-339CM and a MIG-29N Fulcrum demonstrates the interception at the NCO demonstration ceremony at Kuantan airbase in May, 2016. This was the last time Malaysian Defence saw a Fulcrum flying.

The training in Canada, I was told, was an extension of an existing contract between local firm, Inisiatif Hati Sdn Bhd and RMAF to conduct pilot training – mostly for experience pilots – with ITPS. AFAIK this was the second time FLIT was conducted overseas, the first was with Pakistan Air Force around 2006, prior to the delivery of the CMs. I was told that colloboration (G-to-G) was stopped after one intake as I was told that the RMAF felt that the pilots who graduated from there did not meet expectations.

Two RMAF Hawks flying over Penang at the recent 25th Silver Jubilee. TUDM

The first batch of RMAF trainees, 10, started training at ITPS in January this year with the second batch later this year. It is likely that the second batch training will be postponed until the travel restrictions imposed by coronavirus pandemic are eased.

-Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

26 Comments

  1. @ marhalim

    The contract for this year seems to be for 18 fighter pilots.

    The 1st batch is for 8 pilots (completed around february-march), the 2nd batch (not yet started) is for 10 pilots.

    The 1st batch was trained on 3x Aero L-39C and a single Aero L-29 jet trainer. IPTS has bought a total of 5 L-39C and 2 L-29 to train the malaysian pilots. Actually IPTS created a new section of the company especially for this, called the International Tactical Training Center.

    http://assets.skiesmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/itps2020260192.jpg

    The details of the jet trainers from OSINT (Open-source intelligence)

    Aero L-39C (tail number below)
    1) N915WE
    2) C-GTOZ – with Garmin G3X touchscreen display cockpit
    3) N88EA
    4) C-GFNO
    5) N??? (white and yellow livery)

    Aero L-29 (tail number below)
    1) C-FLVB
    2) C-FXZI ex-N8164C

    Basically this FLIT training overseas is a confirmation that our MB-339CM is no longer flyable. Actually with regards to the quality of training, this is IMO a step back from even the MB-339CM, as the aermacchi has a dedicated military glass cockpit instrumentation and a dedicated simulator, while the L-39C of ITPS is a hodgepodge of different cockpit modification on each aircraft, slow reaction time of the Ivchenko AI-25TL engine and no dedicated simulator. If we move on to the TA-50, the LIFT training module will be vastly superior to both, with embedded training, carefree fly by wire handling and comprehensive ground training devices.

  2. Can RMAF’s MB339CM equipped with unguided rockets and bombs for light attack like BAE Hawk?

    Reply
    Yes

  3. Possibly a train-the-trainer program, for them to take back and train the Pulatibang guys? “these pilots will go back to their home countries and become the top guns for their air forces”

    Reply
    No lah its basic and advanced jet training, read the whole story from the link. I cannot be copying and pasting from another website.

  4. Its probably cheaper to outsource pur pilot trainning too. The British n everyone else send their pilot for trainning in Canada as its much much cheaper n more egficient rather than doing it in house

  5. The MBB-339As were equipped with 2.75in rockets, 30mm pods and 250kg bombs. No idea if we’ve armed the CMs.

    We had previously awarded this company contracts to train our pilots in fighter tactics. The actual air training was done here but classroom instruction was in Canada – graduates wore a patch on their flight suits.

  6. Where the hell is the money?
    After the Nuris are grounded with no replacement, now it almost certain that.the MB-339C are not flying too.

    No money for maintenance and replacement. What are they doing to RMAF?

    Reply
    Not really, they would have gotten approval from the defence and finance ministries to use the money to operate the CMs to fund the training overseas. Its the same like the Nuri grounding, the funds to operate them will be used to pay for the leasing of new helicopters.

  7. May I ask if the MB-339 CMs are not utilised for the LIFT, what are they currently used for now? I’m worried that the RMAF’s limited funds are still being used on the aircraft when its role are no longer effective

    Reply
    They are not in service AFAIK

  8. Azlan “No idea if we’ve armed the CMs. ”

    Yes, they’ve been exhibited with combined gun and rocket pods.

  9. Lee – “Its probably cheaper to outsource pur pilot trainning too””

    Pros and cons.

    Ultimately we need the ability to be able to conduct such training locally without being dependent on external help. No doubts here.

    The plus side is that having such training conducted abroad ensures our pilots get to train and interact with instructors (foreign) who have more exposure and experience compared to local instructors; virtue of the fact that these instructors were from NATO air arms and likely have a actual operational experience.

  10. Lee – “trainning in Canada as its much much cheaper n more egficient rather than doing it in house””

    “NATO Flying Training In Canada”

    One of the advantages is the large open uncontested airspace found in Canada; unavailable in the UK. It also helps that NATO pilots are trained to a common standard; the same SOPs/procedures.

    Thus it makes sense for their pilots to have a place where they can train; as a supplement to what they have in country.

  11. @Marhalim
    I applaud your decision to give full credit to your sources and not to rip the news wholesale but again the whole news article doesn’t tell anything more than the salient points you put up.

    Unless TUDM have the money to completely rely on outsourced contractors to do training conversion, only a selected few will be going for such costly trainings.

    Normally in private sectors, such trained personnel are expected to in return share their knowledge & train their fellow members who weren’t able to go. I’m not sure if this is the case for our Armed Forces.

    Reply
    Also I mentioned in the story that RMAF also sent out experienced pilots out there to train and the experience gained there will be used to train the juniors when they returned to their squadron. Some are trained as test pilots so they will be ones taking up the planes for post maintenance flight and for check flights to determine the competency of the squadron pilots

  12. ‘AFAIK this was the second time FLIT was conducted overseas, the first was with Pakistan Air Force around 2006, prior to the delivery of the CMs. I was told that collaboration (G-to-G) was stopped after one intake as I was told that the RMAF felt that the pilots who graduated from there did not meet expectations.’

    Man, I hate it when we have such a close military cooperation with a dodgy country like Pakistan just because ‘tolong saudara Islam’.

  13. @ military madness

    However dodgy you think PAF is, many other islamic air forces had plenty of personnel from Pakistan, like Turkey, Jordan, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia. Their personnel are exposed to the latest and the best equipment and tactics around. Why we see that they did well during the last pakistan-india air skirmish, using AWACS, electronic jammers and long range AAM to its best effect.

  14. MilitaryMadness – “Man, I hate it when we have such a close military cooperation with a dodgy country like Pakistan just because ‘tolong saudara Islam’.””

    It’s called realpolitik and mutual interests ………

    If we wanted to restrict ourselves to countries that weren’t “dodgy” we wouldn’t have a lot of countries we could deal with would we?

    Defence relations with Pakistan go back decades. It’s nothing new; nor is it a “one off thing”. We started sending people there for training as far back as the 1960’s (to their Staff College and other places) and dozens of RMAF people have also been sent over the years. We also have been sending people to India over the years.

  15. Off topic – RSAF manned-unmanned tactics. Quotes:

    ” The F-16C/D and F-15SG fighter jets begin with an objective to hit just two targets, but this gets more challenging gradually.

    It culminates in the fighters flying in a four-plane formation to take out six targets simultaneously – ensuring that enemies have no time to escape.

    As the F-16C/Ds are only equipped to lase one target each, the Heron 1 UAV and Commandos on the ground play an important role in this strike mission. “The F-16 drops a self-guided lased bomb and the Heron 1 lases (for) another bomb so that we can drop multiple bombs at one time,” explained pilot Captain (CPT) Nigel Wong. ”

    https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/ops-and-training/2019-Q4/08oct19_news2

    The SAF first revealed cooperative lasing with UAVs in 2015.

    https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/pioneer/article/cover-article-detail/technology/2018-q1/sep17_cs

  16. Actually, we can do without lasing.

    Our F/A-18D hornet can bomb multiple targets simultaneously using JDAM.

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WKBgEx65bKw/XSsi78rjGRI/AAAAAAABCR8/EUyC_DqzccIQtd-H1Vpf-6RouWY3lTmxACLcBGAs/s1600/MAB_1563.jpg

    Lasing and paveways is useful when doing CAS to bomb targets that is found in a dynamic situation. If you want to bomb something that is pre-planned, JDAM is the way to go as you can release multiple bombs at multiple targets simultaneously from 1 jet fighter.

  17. MilitaryMadness,

    If we only wanted to have bilateral military relations with countries which were not “dodgy” then we wouldn’t have a lot to choose from would we?

    It’s about realpolitik and self interests …..

    We’ve been sending people to train in Pakistan since the 1960’s (to their Staff College and other places) – nothing new and not a one off thing. Prior to Bosnia we also sent some of our troops to Pakistan for cold weather teaming. There are some areas in which the Pakistanis do quite well.

  18. Whether it’s a fixed or mobile target or whether it’s time sensitive or not; both types of munitions or capabilities are needed to factor in varying conditions : type of target, terrain, weather, threat level, etc. Both have their respective merits.

  19. Question, since we have 20 of the new aim9x block2, does the older aim9L/M still in service? If we are getting 2 or 3 new squadrons of LCAs shouldn’t we also buy new WVR missiles to replace the older lima and mike sidewinders with probably more aim9x, ASRAAM or Iris-T?

    -Thais already have 182 Iris-T in stock for Gripen, F16 and F5E
    -India selected ASRAAM for their entire fleet including the Flankers

    Reply
    Yes on both questions

  20. using OSINT to connect the dots…

    http://www.airforce.mil.my/berita/berita-dari-pusat-latihan/6335-majlis-penutup-tactical-flying-course-tfc-03-19-dan-weapon-sensor-officer-induction-course-wic-03-19

    The Pulatibang 3 (PLTB 3) Tactical Flying Course (TFC) Siri 3/19 has 8 students.

    Because it is the 3rd series in 2019, we know that in 2019 there was at least 3 TFC courses done.

    And from the picture in ITPS Canada
    http://assets.skiesmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/itps2020260192.jpg
    Yes we can see there are 8 students, So probably these are the TFC course students that has recently graduated.

    As the 1st batch for ITPS canada course started in January, we can deduct that the current TFC course will be conducted with a mix of both PC-7 Mk2 flying in Alor Setar and Jet trainer flying in Canada, as a replacement of the MB-339CM capability.

    Reply
    You know they could always make up the courses numbers to confuse people.

  21. Luqman “Question, since we have 20 of the new aim9x block2, does the older aim9L/M still in service?”

    If we really have just 20 9X then you should know the answer. A recent picture showed that we have Sparrows. Not sure if they are for display or are in service.

    Canada still uses AIM-9L/M on their Hornets. They have only just sought an upgrade package that includes 9X.

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