India Wants Our Fulcrums

A four ship of MiG-29 aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Air Force(RMAF) aerobatic display team the "Smokey Bandits" perform during the 2012 Singapore Airshow on Feb. 15, 2012. The RMAF feature the worlds only female MiG-29 pilot, Maj. Patricia Yap Syau Yin.

SHAH ALAM: India has offered to buy RMAF Mig-29 Fulcrums in exchange to supply Malaysia with spares for the Sukhoi Su-30MKM fleet.

Prime Minister DS Najib Razak said the offer was part of the defence cooperation agreement signed with India during his state visit. India according to him, will return the Fulcrums to service, most likely with the Indian Air Force.

IAF MIG-29UPG. Note the distinctive dorsal spine where extra fuel is stored. RAC-MIG.

From Bernama:

“India has stated its keenness to buy the MiG-29 aircraft from Malaysia and upgrade them for use by its air force.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said the proposal was among the aspects of military cooperation agreed to by Malaysia and India.

In this matter, he said the Defence Ministry and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) would look at the form of cooperation, including handling the Sukhoi aircraft and spare parts.

“There is a possibility too that they will buy our MiG 29 aircraft for refit. We reciprocate by accepting spare parts for our Sukhoi aircraft programme,” he told a media conference at the end of a six-day visit to India which started on March 30 in Chennai.

No 17 Skuadron Fulcrums – M40-10- and M40-16 – taking part in the rehearsal on Feb 25, 2016.

India is perhaps the only country that we could sell the Fulcrums without any difficulty. I was told that the Russian had an agreement with Malaysia that allow it to bar the resale of its arms – Fulcrums, Flankers or others. This is much like our agreement with the US over the resale of arms bought from them.

The agreement with Russia ruled out the transfer of the Fulcrum to almost every other country, apart from India of course. Russia will not want to get India angry over a minor detail like our deal. The Russian actually wants us to exchange the Fulcrums with new planes of course, but that is not going to happen anytime soon. And they also know this.

*edited to add the last two paragraphs.

— Malaysian Defence

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

About Marhalim Abas 2207 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. so if we accept that, will we order all spare part for su30 from india or just certain part??having 2 supplier instead of that okay?

    I believed only certain parts. As long as India got the license to manufacture the parts, I do not think the Russians will be unhappy unlike we buy them from China.

  2. Our prayers have been answered!

    Yes! Now we can rid off the Fulcrums to the IAF.

    So what’s next?

    If its up to me the Sukhois…

  3. @Marhalim – You want RMAF to rid itself off the Sukhois too?


    Then we’d only have the Hawks & Hornets left.

    If we get the MRCA and if it is not Super Hornets, we have to let go either the Hornets or Sukhois as well. Read my earlier post on RMAF 2020.

  4. Additional infos to add to the discussion:

    1) condition of malaysian fulcrums

    ” ” RAC MiG continues working with local companies involved in MiG-29N maintenance and support. As such, ATSC has gained access to the RMAF airframes and produced a fleet report. It describes the surviving hardware as remaining in good condition, making lifetime extensions and upgrade options viable. Few airframes have exceeded 2,000 flight hours, and their maker has offered a lifetime extension to 6,000 hours and 40 calendar years ” ”

    2) what i was hoping for:

    ” “Why not we offer to India the low houred MiG-29N plus some palm oil in exchange of 6 used Su-30MKI that could be converted into a MKM version.

    India could use some MiG-29 as attrition replacements, and could easily replace those MKI given to malaysia by new build MKI from HAL (which has additional MKI orders to keep the indian production line open up till 2020). ” “

  5. What da..
    That either a lot of spares-parts!..or is our Migs really isn’t worth nothin.
    I hope it not another LMS episode in the making..

  6. At least we can see that there is an established air force that sees value in used aircrafts. If india is comfortable with it, why can’t malaysia?

  7. Thanks Marhalim. The RMAF 2020 is a good read.

    Now, Kuwait currently has 39 Hornets out of 40.

    32 C model (one seater) & 8 D model (two seaters).

    Ours is D model (two seaters).

    Do we get to choose which model? C or D or nasi campur?

    and the # the Kuwaitis are donating to us ala Russia with Serbia.

    Nice of Ruski to donate 6 Mig Fulcrums to Serbia (Serbia just had to pay for upgrades etc).

    Can we do the same?

    To get 8 Kuwait D models to complement our 8 D models so becomes 16 max (a full squadron) & 18 Kuwait C models for our Fulcrum pilots.

    What say you Marhalim, Azlan and Mr. 3 dots (…)

  8. @ melayu ketinggalan

    I don’t think they are “donating” those hornets. But if we have to buy them the price should be reasonable too.

    Kuwait has done this before. In 1997 they sold their 23 a-4ku skyhawks (among the last to be built in 1979, low houred and maintained dilligently) for usd70 million to the brazilian navy.

    What we could do is buy all of the available kuwaiti hornets, those D models going to 18 skn, and the single seaters to 17skn. As the hornets are marinised and does not mind placed near the sea, probably the single seaters could be located in labuan instead of the hawks. Extra hornets could be used as rotations for those that needed servicing, as attrition spares (future) or urgent spares source (aka christmas tree)

  9. Question: Why are we having problems with Fulcrum when other countries are not?

  10. No way. Few years ago, I remember that the Russian blaming us for the Fulcrum quality issue because we buy spare part from India and not from the original supplier. Please don’t make the same mistake. If TUDM want to get rid of Fulcrum than it should sell it very cheap and buy the original spare part from Russia.

  11. Melayu Ketinggalan,

    My opinion on the matter has been made clear. There are legitimate reasons why the RMAF is extremely wary in getting pre-used.

    ………. – ” If india is comfortable with it, why can’t malaysia?”

    Apples and orange comparison. India has different requirements, a deeper pocket and more resources in terms of support infrastructure. What’s good or works for someone else doesn’t automatically mean it’s the same for us and vice versa.


    HAL has long been planning to export critical spares for the MKI/MKM; spares that were originally intended for use by the IAF to ease the backlog in deliveries from Russia. The plan was for such spares to be placed in a warehouse; ready for immediate delivery upon payment. The unknown question is whether HAL will be allowed by Rosoboronexport to export any spares or whether the spares will cost more on account of HAL having to pay Rosoboronexport for the right to export spares. .

  12. @ azlan

    Actually i would really like to know more about what is your version of the airforce in 2020 if we buy the typhoon or rafale. What should be done with the mb339 and hawks, and on the LIFT requirements, which as you previously say still unfulfilled. After billions on those mrca, what kind of platform do you think we could afford for a new MPA or new capabilities in AEW

  13. Singapore Straits Times today reported that Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative provided ship tracking data that show Chinese Coast Guard vesselS were reported to be maintaining a constant presence around reefs claims by Malaysia, with 3 Chinese ships at Luconia shoal.

    Anyone here in the know if our MMEA or other agency is aware of this fact?? And for how long already have their ships being there?

    My best guess is that they are aware, why do you do you think they suddenly accepted offers for free ships and allocate money to build new ones. It is not just because they listened to the admirals. What’s is the purpose of them telling the world about the presence in the first place? Surely if they did inevitably someone will ask what they are going to do about it. Unlike me, they cannot say show me the money!

  14. Have you read recently besides India wanting our Fulcrums, the US Marine Corps are looking to purchase F-5s from around the world?

    Maybe it’s good timing to resell all our old F-5s back to them.

    With the new funds from sales of Migs and Tigers then we can buy the Kuwaiti Hornets.

    Everybody goes home happy.

    @Azlan – I respect your POV on your wishlist. I’ll stick to RMAF going for the 2nd hand Hornets from Kuwait. It’s better than nothing I suppose since all our respective jiran2 also have been busy.

    @triple dot(…) I like your POV on the Hornets sq placement. Time to bomb out the hell of those Sulu and Moro rebels ala IDF.

    @Marhalim – you have been quiet on all these. Thoughts?

    RMAF 2020

  15. @ melayu ketinggalan

    The problem is that the USMC need just 12 more F-5’s, and it could get them from Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore (already modified with better radars) and others before even have to look at Malaysian F-5’s. But if they want to buy them from us, sell it to them!

  16. Steelshot390,

    It’s not new news. The ship was in the area for almost 2 years. In 2015 the ”Diplomat” posted a satellite image of the Chinese ship anchored in the area and nearby was a Kedah class.

    I don’t have a ”vision” per say as to how I’d like to see the future ORBATs of the respective services. Not only finances and politics but threat perception plays a part. A question is whether in light of the current geopolitical situation; whether procurement should be threat or capability based.

    There is a requirement for a new generation LIFT but the RMAF’s position [at least as far back as a few years ago] was to first get a MRCA and then focus on a dedicated LIFT [which the MBB-339 is not]. Unless the fighter fleet is rapidly expanded [higher chance of Malta winning the Word Cup] the present training fleet can meet the demand. It’s a matter of priorities.

    Just because i don’t personally agree with what the RMAF does; doesn’t mean I’ll accuse it of lacking vision or being inflexible. People/organisations do things for a reason and it’s unfair to say that the RMAF should come up with an equivalent of the RMN’s 5/15 plan because the RMAF already has it’s own plan [despite how certain people might refute] and the circumstances driving what the RMN does differs in many aspects to what the RMAF faces. Not to matter the fact that different services do things differently.

    After the MRCAs priority is for an AEW; the idea being that once MRCAs are in service, there will be a much stronger case to make with Treasury to gain funding approval. Funding is of course and always will be an issue but we’re talking about in a few years here [when circumstances could be different] and I won’t quote a figures taken off the net as there are various factors that will determine the actual cost when the time comes. The plus side is that we’re already – long overdue – enabling the hornets and MKMs to ”talk” to each other and – hopefully – to talk to other assets as well.

    A vital point often overlooked but vital nonetheless is that the RMAF does not want to be in a position where it lags too far behind technologically compared to our neighbours – a situation we faced when we continued to rely on non upgraded F-5Es at a time when others had taken the F-16A/B route. No doubt, a mere 18 new MRCAs won’t change anything much strategically but it still enables the RMAF to at least keep pace with current technology. Sure, in the next decade or so there will be newer generation platforms but we haven’t reached that period yet and – just as importantly – newer generation platforms [what people refer to as ”stealth” as if its a panacea] won’t automatically render all current generation platforms obsolete overnight.

    My position on the Hawks has always been that we should continue flying them as long as we can as not all situations require a MKM or a Hornet – more importantly the air frames and engines still have lots of life left. Retiring them prematurely – as some have previously suggested – to achieve short term costs saving, makes no sense as it leaves a capability gap and it’s not as if we have front line types in abundance. On whether we in the future need a Hawk replacement [a high/low end mix] is debatable; it has its merits and disadvantages. A perfect candidate to replace the Hawks when the time comes is the F-50 [not saying this to ingratiate myself with you] but because I really think so.

  17. melayu ketinggalan – ”Maybe it’s good timing to resell all our old F-5s back to them.”

    Like the case with the Fulcrums; the market for pre owned F-5s is not what it use to be. In the event we do find a buyer – military or otherwise – we won’t get much for them. At least not as much as we would have had we sold them years ago.

    melayu ketinggalan -” It’s better than nothing I suppose since all our respective jiran2 also have been busy.”

    Who says it will be ”nothing”? In the event economic or other issues forces us to scale down the MRCA requirement; logic and practicality dictates that the ideal solution would be to go down the Gripen route. Makes more sense in the longer term.

    melayu ketinggalan – ”Time to bomb out the hell of those Sulu and Moro rebels ala IDF.”

    ”Sulu” and ”Moro” are actually the same thing. Although the term ”Sulu” is mostly used by outsiders to describe Muslims in the Sulu archipelago by and large the locals don’t refer to themselves as ‘Sulus”. With regards to ”bombing” them not only do bombs not provide a easy, long term solution but finding them would also be an issue.

  18. Can’t vouch for its accuracy but from what I’ve been told by a foreign writer; it was Russia that proposed to India on getting the RMAF’s MiG-29s. Apparently the hope is that Russia will acquire the MiGs on behalf of India, upgrade them and deliver them. The Russians it seems are hoping that cash gained from the deal will be used by Malaysia to fund 6 follow on MKMs while India is hopping on a barter arrangement involving MKM spares.

    That’s interesting if it’s true as it would indicate to Russia that the RMAF sees no future with the Fulcrum

  19. @ azlan

    Thank you for further expressing your views.

    All of us wants the best for the defence of our beloved country. I understand the airforce has their own plans, but unlike the navy or the army; there is no clear indications of what is the main direction of the airforce other than the unrelenting push for new MRCAs.

    IMO the procurement should be a balance of capability, operational needs (instead of operational wants), and threats. What it should not be is a procurement based on individual platforms, and should be also based on what capability current platforms already capable and upgrades to current platforms to increase its capability.

    To increase the overall capability of the current platforms, if we consider pareto theory, the smallest addition that could give the biggest effect IMO would be the implementation of national airborne datalink capability that would link all the different platforms under 1 system. Sharing information, situational awareness and C2 would greatly enable tudm fighters to see where the friends or foes either in the air, on the sea or even on land. This should be the current no 1 priority, rather than the MRCAs.

    To fully utilise the power of the national datalink capability, the capability to gather real time information should be the next priority. This would be enabled by the addition of airborne early warning (AEW) and maritime patrol (MPA) aircrafts to complement current ground based radars. Platform cost varies highly due to different capabilities but the trick is to choose what capability that is needed and what capability that can be fulfillled by other means. AEW should be just that, and a basic platform with latest Erieye ER radar should be enough. No need for complex and expensive Globaleye systems that combines so many capabilities that could be covered by MPA platforms. Going to MPAs, there should be enough numbers (around 8) to cover the south china sea and andaman approaches to the melacca straits. It should have maritime surveillance with some overland ISR ability. ASW capability are desireble but if costs are paramount, could be left out.

    Next in the priority list should be to increase the numbers of the fighter fleet, to offset the retirement of the MiG-29 fleet. Rather than adding another different type to the already diverse fleet, what could be done right now is to add the numbers of the current types. So where can we add? Now as we are offered the kuwaiti hornets, that IMO is the best current solution that we have. Capabilities would be increased by the national datalink, upgrades to include an/apg-79x AESA radars (similar to super hornets, plug n play capability already developed. Only 60minutes to change to AESA modules), new weapons capability such as SDB (for low colleteral CAS), or long range taurus kepd 350 cruise missiles (already integrated with spanish hornets). Getting the numbers, capability and affordability at the same time.

    Last in the priority list is to adress the “low” end and training fleet that has been reduced by crashes. From what was 28 hawks and 12 mb-339s now remains only 19 hawks and 7 mb-339s. As the hawks are the oldest fighter now in the fleet, with the drastically reduced numbers, i think it is time for the airforce to again have 40 low end/LIFT aircraft with the latest advancements in simulated training systems. As it is, i think that the ta/fa-50 golden eagle gives the best capability for the requirement, with added engine commonality with the hornets to simplify maintenance tasks.

    But that is just me. IMO all of this could be done within the same budget of getting a new MRCA. Which would give a big increase in overall capability of the air force rather than just buying 18 new MRCAs.

  20. ……. – ”there is no clear indications of what is the main direction of the airforce other than the unrelenting push for new MRCAs.”

    You only have to look at all the statements made over the years, talk to RMAF people and look at the wish lift we’ve had for a long time, to realise that the RMAF does have a long term plan. Just because it has not put as much effort as the RMN into publicly making its plans known doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a plan apart from MRCAs. The key difference is that the RMAF feels that priority at present should be placed on acquiring MRCAs. There are of course still other requirements that have long been registered with MINDEF and the ministry of Finance. It’s a matter of deciding on which area to address first.

    …….. – ”the capability to gather real time information should be the next priority.”’

    Is is actually a priority and has been for a long time; which is why the RMAF has been pressing hard for an AEW for more than a decade [the requirement actualll first arose in 1984] and is now in the process of enabling the Hornets and MKMs to ”talk”.

    ……… – ” i think it is time for the airforce to again have 40 low end/LIFT aircraft with the latest advancements in simulated training systems. ”

    The Hawks may be ”old” but they still have lots of life life. Given that the Hawks will be operational for at least a decade more, how shallow our pockets are, the need to reduce the logical footprint and the limited support infrastructure we have, plus the actual threat environment; there is no need to add yet another type into service. Not saying we shouldn’t; merely that it isn’t a priority now.

    …….. – ” Now as we are offered the kuwaiti hornets, that IMO is the best current solution that we have”

    Plus and minus. In the longer term a more logical and prudent move would to get Gripen [in the event that we can’t afford a 2 engine MRCA for many more years to come]. With Gripen we are getting something new and something that will have a longer service life and will be cheaper and less maintenance intensive in the long term rather than 30 year old Hornets which will have an increasing amount of issues to address as they get older.

  21. @ azlan

    Of course everything has its plus and minuses.

    The AEW and MPA is a priority, but as it is lower than the MRCA buy. If the MRCA buy is a go, i have a feeling that it would be pushed back for 10 more years if not more. It would cost at least usd800 million to get the AEW and MPA capability (usd600 for 4 AEW and usd200 milion for 8 MPA platforms)

    As for the hawks, “old but still has a lot of life left” can also be applied to the MiG-29’s. If we still has the numbers (in early 90s around 40 hawks + MB339, now only 26) and could add to the numbers (was thinking of Omani Hawk 200’s if that is available at all), I think it could still be a viable idea. But we have lost 9 hawks to crashes and permanent grounding due to overstress. Selling the hawks off (along with the MB-339) while they still have some value while replacing them with more capable aircraft would reduce the variety of fighter platforms from 5 to just 3.

    I was once a proponent of the Gripen too, until i realised that the Gripen C/D performance is lower than the legacy hornet, and has a small performance difference to the FA-50 Golden Eagle (while costing nearly double of the FA-50). The E/F on the other hand, has minor platform advantage except items that could be retrofitted to any 4th gen fighters like the legacy hornet for example, while costing as much as the Super Hornets.

    As for the MiG-29 sale to India, whatever the outcome I am hoping that Malaysia will get a good deal out of it, either with MKM spares, or preferably, additional 4-6 MKM airframes…

    I think it is clear on both of our views on the MRCA, lets talk about other things, like the best specification for the AEW platform, or the best MPA platform for malaysia.

  22. @…

    This is my opinion. Bout the mrca, do gripen is not that much of a difference from fa-50? Do the items in gripen can be retrofitted to 4th gen fighter like legacy hornet? Not saying im an expert but just hear me out.

    The gripen (lets say E/F version) have way better radar, complete EW system (jammer, lws, rws, maws, active decoy) n irst. These are the hardwares.

    In performance, (not 100% sure) better ferry range, climb rate, service ceiling, turn rate n max speed.

    Both legacy and SH only have rwr and active decoy, no plans on adding other sensors and the new fuel tank/irst for SH dont look will be that much effective. I like the gripen but really im a fan of superhornet.

    Going on to your question on aew and mpa platform. I think for aew, saab globaleye minus the surface surveillance radar will be the best candidate. For the mpa, im keen on a commercial plane platform like atr-72 or bombardier q400.

    Just my 2 cent.

  23. @ nihd

    If you compare gripen e/f to a fa-50 of course the e/f tops it, as is the price, 35 million or the fa-50 vs 150 million for the gripen e/f.

    Current legacy hornets upgrade availability
    – Saab ESTL pods could be carried. It is in essence a podded maws that is installed on the gripen and on the MKM. No need to modify all aircraft, just buy some units to be only carried on operational sorties.
    – radar the aesa an/apg-79x ready to be installed on any legacy hornets (standard on super hornets)
    – Internal self protection jammer alq-214(V)5
    – irst, cannot be placed on the nose due to the gatling gun is in the nose…

    Performance… remember the gripen have only 1 engine that the hornet has 2 , and both uses f404 (gripen c/d, legacy hornets) and f414 (gripen e/f, super hornets) derived engines. If both are quoted to carry the same loads or same range, clearly the gripen can only do 1 at a time (so max range with light loads or max load with short range) when the hornet can do both simultaneously.

  24. It seems like india is also looking at getting used Sea King helicopters from Canada…

    The Indian Navy officials would be discussing this with Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan during his visit to India this month.

  25. …….. – ”Of course everything has its plus and minuses.”

    Indeed but at times, statements made indicate that this is sometimes forgotten, i.e. many advantages in getting pre used Hornets but there are also penalties.

    ……… – ”As for the hawks, “old but still has a lot of life left” can also be applied to the MiG-29’s”

    No …….There is a profound difference.

    In the long run the Hawks are cheaper to run and has an easier and less troublesome support chain.

    …….. – ”Selling the hawks off (along with the MB-339) ”

    Assuming there are countries who want them. In the past you questioned if we could sell off the ships retired under the 5/15. I pointed out that even if we gave them for free; nobody would want such old, high maintenance and high mileage hulls. With the Hawks, sure there could be a buyer bur then again maybe not. Whatever ones view the fact remains that the Hawks will continue flying until they have no hours left or can’t be supported anymore. Just like how the army will put off retiring its Model 56s until it really has to; the RMAF has no intent on selling the Hawks prematurely.

    ………. – ”I was once a proponent of the Gripen too”

    ……….. – ”has a small performance difference to the FA-50 Golden Eagle (while costing nearly double of the FA-50)”

    Maybe but the fact remains that the Gripen was once a strong contender and its a MRCA. Look at the bigger picture instead of direct comparisons based on specs/performance. The RMAF if forced too would be willing to consider the Gripen but not the F50 which being a light attack/trainer makes no claims to be an MRCA. Whatever the merits the F50 has it is not and never was designed to be used as a MRCA and has not even been integrated with a whole range of ordnance and sensors needed if a user intended using it as a front line type. I’m not a proponent of anything; as long as it meets the RMAF’s operational requirements.

    …….. – ” the best MPA platform for malaysia.”

    There is no and never was a ”best”. A CN-235 will have certain advantages/merits over a CN-295 and a ATR will have its own advantages/merits. Ultimately it depends on what the RMAF feels comes closest to meeting its requirements and what the government [based on political and finance] decided. Just like how I’m not really bothered whether the MRCA is Rafale or Typhoon [admittedly I’d prefer Super Hornets]; for me whether a future MPA is a CN-235 or a ATR is unimportant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.