SHAH ALAM: Grass is Green. The air force conducted a firepower demonstration as part of the Eks Paradise 2017 at the Kota Belud air-to ground firing range in Sabah, yesterday, The range located near the town of Kota Belud is probably one of the most picturesque range in the country located in the foothills of the Crocker Range.
Anyhow this year’s Eks Paradise (Paradrop Deepstrike Insertion Extraction) saw the return of the Hawk Mk 108 / Mk 208 trainer/light fighters into full operational service following the fatal crash in June.
The Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers from the 11 Squadron were also involved as well as the F/A-18D Hornets from the 18 Squadron. Four Flankers and four Hornets together with two Hawks were involved in the firepower demonstration. The air-to-air refueling demonstration was scrubbed following the belly landing of a Hercules on Nov. 18 however.
A Nuri armed with a 50 BMG and GMPG together with an EC725 which helo-dropped a Paskal team to laser designate the targets for the fighter jets also showed off their skills as part of the firepower demonstration.
The Hawks fired their FZ rockets, the Flankers dropped their OFAB 50kg and 250kg bombs while the Hornets dropped GBU 10, GBU 12 and GBU 16 LGBs while two of the latter also did a gun run with 20mm cannons.
Unfortunately due to the distance between the viewing gallery and the targets itself, I did not get the money shot apart from one of the Flankers dropping its load of OFAB bombs on the target area (though I admit it could be my fault).
As RMAF also demonstrated its newly acquired Ground Target Emitter (GTE) simulator at the firing range, two Hornets flew low over the viewing gallery giving photographers a much better photographic opportunities.
A Flanker equipped with the Knirti ECM pods also “played” out the GTE which simulated the radar signals of ground based air defence systems though it flew away from the viewing gallery.
However, a visit to the Labuan airbase where the aircraft were based for the exercise gave a close-up photographic images of them. Unfortunately, as their flying assignment for the day had been completed these aircraft remained on the ground though some of their stores remained on them.
Fortunately, for me and another reporter, a single Mk 108 took off for a touch and go around the airport during the media visit.
Our craving for more aircraft was satisfied as a Hercules later took off and landed at the airport while our ride from Kuala Lumpur, A400M M54-04 (which flew the media entourage from Kuala Lumpur to Sabah for the firepower demonstration) also landed at the Labuan airport.
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