Fulcrums Will Go On?

Mig-29N M43-03 flies together with a USAF F-22 Raptor at Cope Taufan 2014. 03 is one of the most pictured Fulcrum instantly reconigsable for its colourful fins simbolising the 17th Squadron,

SHAH ALAM: 17th Squadron – the Bats – which flies the Mig-29N Fulcrums is among the four RMAF squadrons to be awarded colours on February 29th. The announcement of the squadron colours ceremony was made through RMAF official Twitter account this afternoon.

Apart from the 17th Squadron, the others to be awarded are the 16th Sqdn; 18th Sqdn and the 20th Sqdn (Hercules C-130H). The 16th flies the Beechcraft B200T MPA, 18th the F/A-18D Hornets and the 20th the Hercules.

Announcement of the colours ceremony. TUDM
Announcement of the colours ceremony. TUDM

The colours will be conferred by the Sultan of Pahang, the Colonel-in -Chief of the RMAF at the Subang airbase.

The Bat of the 17th Squadron is proudly displayed on Mig-43-03.
The Bat of the 17th Squadron is proudly displayed on Mig-43-03.

The colours award to the 17th Sqdn is interesting, as of now, the RMAF have not officially made its stand on the future of the Fulcrums. And the colours award does not necessarily mean that Fulcrums will fly beyond 2016. They could decide to retire the fleet in 2017 and have the colours as part of the Fulcrum exhibition in RMAF new museum! AFAIK, the 19th Squadron which was the senior Fulcrum was never awarded the colours.

RMAF Beechcraft B200T of the 16th Squadron.
RMAF Beechcraft B200T of the 16th Squadron.

What I wrote in the post Selamat Jalan Fulcrum remained valid as most of the local support network developed since the introduction of the aircraft in 1995 have been shut down, apart from ATSC Sdn Bhd. The colours ceremony may well be the last hurrah of the Fulcrums.

Hercules M30-12, one of the planes of the 20th Squadron.
Hercules M30-12, one of the planes of the 20th Squadron.

Interestingly RMAF own webpage do not list out the 17th as one of the active flying squadrons. It lists the 19th Squadron. The 16th Squadron is also not listed by the way.

Hornet M45-08 from the 18th Squadron getting ready to take off for  firing trials of the FZ rockets last year. FZ picture.
Hornet M45-08 from the 18th Squadron getting ready to take off for firing trials of the FZ rockets last year. FZ picture.

=Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

Share
About Marhalim Abas 1626 Articles
Shah Alam

25 Comments

  1. The tudm webpage is a disgrace to the service, poorly maintained and with no standard format for each squadrons page.

    Shutting down most of the parasitic middlemen for the fulcrums could probably be the best thing that has happened. Having atsc restart overhauling the migs could extend their useful lifes probably past up to the early 2020’s

  2. It is also a clear sign that tudm’s mrca programme is unattainable and out of sync with the fiscal realities of the country.

    It is time for tudm to face reality, lower their expectations and get a lower spec fighter for now to replace the Migs and f-5e’s. Probably in 6-10 years time, when the hawk will need to be replaced, then you plan for a high end mrca. For now, something like the fa-50 golden eagle should be adequate and affordable enough for tudm to aquire in significant numbers.

  3. Second hand hornets are still the most viable and reasonable intermediary option. There are either 1) many low hour frames in the middle east worth getting (at a higher cost) or 2) many high hour frames from USN stock (at a lower cost) which could fill the temporary gap. Either way its a jet the RMAF is currently using. It will be supported by a maintenance infrastructure that has already been set up and running for years. It ensures interoperability with existing RMAF assets and given our national defense posture has switched to allying with the US it makes more sense to use common gear.

    RMAF’s FA-18 service record is a testament to its reliability. MIG-29 and F/18 bought at the same time yet the F-18s are still going strong.

    Also with the US government making decisions, the middle man / gomen inflating operating costs will be much reduced.

  4. 3 ways to go about it.
    1)refurbish the migs n modernise it. Make it capable by updating to smt standard
    2). Get second hand f18’s. Kuwait f 18’s would be hard to come by. Look at alternatives n hiw fibland is approaching this subject matte
    3). Get gripen. As for f50, might as well just get f 16 new. Price not much difference

    Reply
    The word is that the Fuclrum will soldier as long as it is feasible, no upgrades.

  5. Mig29 is in service for 29 countries. And most recently India has upgraded their Mig29 to the latest config. I don’t understand why only Malaysia having such a high maintenance issue. If the machine itself required high cost I believe all the current users will not able to afford it because majority of the Mig29 users are 3rd countries.

  6. The fact that the Fulcrum are not “going strong” is because from the onset the Soviets never expected their fighters to last as long as the West side theirs; hence the shorter life of almost everything on the Fulcrum – compared to the Hornet – from the engines, to the nozzles, to the radar, right down to the landing gear.

    If we want to continue to operate the Fulcrums; we not only have to overhaul or buy new engines but we have to operate them using a different philosophy : not the way we operate our Hornets and Hawks.

    Problems with the “middleman” were encountered initially and we’re mostly resolved – the main hurdle, that of depot level maintenance is done by ATSC. A major problem is that the Fulcrum was never intended to fly as many hours as the Hornet before major components had to be replaced or overhauled.

    As far as the RMAF is concerned; the Fulcrums should be retired. Buying a cheaper alternative to a current gen MRCA will only lead to the bean counters delaying – yet again – a MRCA purchase. We may disagree with decisions taken by the RMAF but contrary to what some might think; the RMAF has a very good idea as to what it needs and as to why it hasn’t made certain decisions that on paper look logical and sound.

  7. When money is tight why not go for lower end fighter jets…fa 50 is a no go…ada jewish content in the radar system…super tuscano n armachhi should be ok…tudm could buy plenty of them…no doubt SG is using armachhi as their trainer..but to think of it like some academic says malaysia would not be fighting with mighty SG so why not?kta dah miskin jgn nak lagak mcm org kaya pulak…

    Reply
    Super Tucano are also fitted with Israeli avionics

  8. pembelian KAI FA-50 FIGHTING EAGLE adalah lebih masuk akal pada waktu ini. dengan tambahan seperti spec untuk program T-X USN dan peningkatan enjin daripada F404 ke F414, external fuel tank dan penukaran daripada radar ELTA ke radar buatan eropah sudah memadai untuk mengisi runag kosong yang ditinggalkan oleh fulcrum. dengan keadaan ekonomi dunia yang tidak menentu, kejatuhan harga minyak, perang di asia tengah, ketidaktentuan politik negara selepas PRU 14, pengadaan program T-X USN dan konflik LCS, pesanan fighting eagle harus dibuat secepat mungkin. lebih baik ada daripada tiada langsung bagi memastikan ruang udara negara terjaga rapi.

  9. A major problem is that we assumed or hoped that the Russians would be like Western companies when it came to fulfilling contractual obligations. The spares issue was at its worst during the mid to late 1990’s and that was a period when the Russian industry was in disarray.

    Take this scenario: there is a requirement for a small number of vital spares. A fax is sent but there is no answer. Next calls are placed but the person who answer speaks no English. The next step is to contact the Military Attache at the Russian embassy and the arms export agency rep. They solve the issue but it takes time.

  10. Using Russian equipment, you need to stockpile fast moving service parts. Unlike western parts which is only replaced “on condition”, many Russian parts have specific lifespan. If you have say, a stock of 1 years worth of fast moving service parts, then your operation will have no problems. It is only problematic when you expect western quick service from Russian companies. Takkan dah bertahun2 deal with the Russians you don’t have any lessons learnt?

    Kalau mau kira Jewish content, the hornets JHMCS pon ada Jewish content. I believe for the fa-50, they have already studied for the integration of Italian radars as a substitute to the current elta based radar.

    To be frank, if we buy the typhoon or rafale in small numbers, say 8 aircrafts for usd 2billion, would it really be a prudent way to spend the money?

    Reply
    RMAF had anticipated this problems way back then and created what is known as the Direct Purchasing Agents (DPAs) who were supposed to stock these items.

  11. Minta tolong India? India itself – despite decades of experience dealing with Ivan – still has issues; which is a large part why HAL is license products critical parts.

  12. Is mig-35 out of the picture in our mrca program? It looks like quite an incredible airplane. And we do have experience handling the migs plus we don’t have to retrain our mig-29 pilots and support crews.

    Or is our air force is looking at a proven platform?

    Just me and my sekupang.

    Reply
    AFAIK they never ask the Russians for RFI for the MRCA programme. The Russians gave it to them anyways. But the test flights conducted only involved the Rafale, Typhoon, Gripen and Super Hornets. They conducted a second test flights on the Typhoon and Rafale.

  13. Just curious. What is the training doctrine of our air force? Do we use operational conversion unit?

    For example for our sukhoi pilots do they come straight after training in either bae hawk or the Italian trainer?

    Reply
    AFAIK there is no OCU squadron, it will be done at the squadron level once a nugget is posted. In an interview during Ex Angkasa, the Sukhoi driver says he was trained on the Hawks.

  14. That’s news to me. I have read several comments on this site that said the Hawks are not used as trainers.

    I’m glad the air force is doing the logical thing where we lack enough dedicated trainers.

  15. Probably he meant that he came from the hawk squadron before posted to the MKM squadron, or he is an older graduate during pre Mb-339cm days

    Most if not all of the rookie fighter pilots would have their first posting at one of the hawk squadrons. After accumulating flight hours experience there, then they will be promoted to the hornet, mig or the sukhoi squadrons. Currently all LIFT training is done by 3ftc kuantan on the mb-339cm but before that LIFT training was also done by 15 skuadron hawk 108’s

  16. The recent news that stated China put a HQ9 (S300 equivalent) missiles on one of the Island in Spratly is quite worrying. If a ESHORAD like the FM90 still ok but HQ9 with 200km range???

    I dont think that is a defensive weapon by any means..whats next, J11 jets after this?

  17. Since we are one of the member of TPPA, is there any discount on military procument among the members? Especially if we buy from US?

    Reply
    No, unless we buy EDA.

  18. …,
    “Unlike western parts which is only replaced on condition”
    western parts are not on condition. It depends on the OEM’s own initiative to reinvest in testing and improvement in maintenance schedule. Anyways, operator can define its own maintenance, if they have that capability and willingness.

    “a stock of 1 years worth of fast moving service parts”
    1. They usually do not have the budget to do that. Don’t ask, that’s how they do budgeting.
    2. They cannot even run a bonded store properly let alone organizing a stock monitor.

    “western quick service”
    Only US companies do “quick service”, if you mean before 2000.

    “you don’t have any lessons learnt”
    They don’t. You cannot believe how clueless the logistic personnel can be. Anyways, accountable managers are usually brought out of “front line” unit that has no idea and no interest in floor operation.

    Azlan,
    “If we want to continue to operate the Fulcrums; we not only have to overhaul or buy new engines…”
    The Fulcrums are that shape today because it is being starved to death. SMT package offered in the late 90s is basically a comprehensive offer that operator can configure the final package. This includes a host of life limit definitions. It will not turn the a/c into “western standard” but it improves the economics.
    If the AF made up their mind in the late 90s that they will no longer invest in the type they should have publish white paper. But the fact is MRCA remains a wet dream for the last 20 years and letting in service asset to rot on the ground to make a point or for whatever reason is a crime.

    “A fax is sent but there is no answer.”
    As if any European company does better in the 90s.

    “Next calls are placed but the person who answer speaks no English. The next step is to contact the Military Attache at the Russian embassy and the arms export agency rep.”
    Fax followed by call is what everyone does in that era. Invested billions and yet cannot get someone to speak Russian goes on the describe what fail means. Russian embassy and Malaysian Moscow Malaysian attache should had been in the loop immediately.

  19. H – ”The Fulcrums are that shape today because it is being starved to death.”

    No doubt – the government decided to do no more than was necessary to keep them flying for a certain period. The RMAF for its own reasons is not interested in an upgrade.

    H – ”SMT package offered in the late 90s is basically a comprehensive offer that operator can configure the final package. This includes a host of life limit definitions. It will not turn the a/c into “western standard” but it improves the economics.”

    SMT upgrade was intended to give the Fulcrum a ”better” multi-role capability and overcome some of the other limitations we had with our Fulcrums. No, it was never intended to ”turn the a/c into “western standard” as all the key components still had a lower MBTF and TBO than Western equivalents.

    H – ”Fax followed by call is what everyone does in that era.”

    Yes BUT the whole point is nobody answered the fax. Such was the state of the Russian industry in the 1990’s. Some parts were made by small companies thousands of km from Moscow.

    H – ”Russian embassy and Malaysian Moscow Malaysian attache should had been in the loop immediately.”

    For every order – at least in the initial stages – Rosvooruzhenie and the Russian embassy were always informed as it was their job to step in in case of problems.

    H – ”yet cannot get someone to speak Russian goes on the describe what fail means.”

    A batch of RMAF people – prior to leaving for Russia – received a language course at the Russian embassy but in the incident I mentioned; the order was made by a local company which had no Russian speakers; just as it would probably have had no French speakers had an order been made to Aerospatiale in the 1990’s.
    My reference to the incident is to illustrate the problems we had in the 1990’s and the state the Russian industry was in.

    H – ”As if any European company does better in the 90s.”

    Actually, I know of quite a few instances when Western companies did ”better” – at least the major companies, who anyhow, had/have reps here.

    ”a stock of 1 years worth of fast moving service parts””

    It depends on the type of spares. There are some minor but vital spares for which enough is stocked for more than a year. The problem is larger, more expensive spares. In the case of the Hawks, we signed in 2007 for various spares that were enough for more than a year.

  20. In my opinion ATSC got that right. Upgrade the crap out of it and extend their service to 5-7 more good years. 10 Migs 29 stay and get another 10 MRCA like rafale or superbugs. Or..another 10 Sukhoi Su-35. Should fit in the tight budget yes?

  21. X-ray,

    Like …. that tight budget would fit it. TUDM says it doesn’t want anymore Russian aircraft and Su-35 is already out of the equation.

  22. X-ray, I believe the term you are looking for is “life extension.”

    And even so that is not cheap on a Fulcrum where parts reach the end of their lives earlier- there are simply more that have to be replaced.

    Upgrading, as in developing new capabilities is not cost effective for such a small number of airframes (we have to pay for development) and for a short 5-7 years more.

  23. ”10 Migs 29 stay and get another 10 MRCA like rafale or superbugs. ”

    Add yet another type to what we already operate? Doesn’t makes sense from a logistical/support perspective. If we add a new type, we have to retire something.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*