Kuwaiti Hornets

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SHAH ALAM: Kuwaiti Hornets? There is a possibility that the excess fighter aircraft offered by Saudi Arabia are actually surplus Kuwaiti F/A-18 C/D Hornets. Former Combat AirForces editor Alan Warnes, who came for LIMA 17, tweeted today that “the RMAF has been offered surplus F/A-18C/D by Kuwait”.

The KAF’s multirole F/A-18C/Ds would be a good fit as the RMAF flies eight F/A-18Ds. The new RMAF Chief wants to reduce no of diff types too

Hornet tweet.

Warnes did not state where he got the information on the Kuwaiti Hornets. This is interesting as in answers to my questions for LIMA 17, specifically on the Kuwaiti Hornets, the reply from RMAF chief Jen Affendi Buang was:

RMAF already identified shortlisted new aircraft for its MRCA program. Currently, there is no plan in acquiring used aircraft to be used in country

A screenshot of the Q&A

It was, for this reason, I did not pursue the issue further during LIMA 17. Only to be sucker punched like this. So what gives? I am not sure but it will be a very interesting a couple of weeks doesn’t it?

And as for the surplus helicopters offered by the Saudis, it is likely to be Blackhawks based on conversations with several industry sources. But it is still early days, I was told.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2146 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. @ marhalim


    Probably the offer is to the ministry of defence directly due to the state to state deal.

    Or its just telling the ministry that it is not interested. I did not ask whether they got an offer

  2. “the RMAF has been offered surplus F/A-18C/D by Kuwait”

    That is certainly better option than Asianwarrior Cyclones (Typhoon) and Ducks (Rafale) that are expensive to purchase and maintain.

    *Fingers cross*

  3. Are you sure Kuwait AF Hornet has lower hours of airframes? Our Hornet is “newer” compare to them. And i’m pretty sure its not surplus cause Kuwait AF will replace Hornet with Super Hornet on 1:1 basis. Unless they offer us for free then we just being use by them to acquire more money for they Super Hornet program. I hope MINDEF and AF know what they doing.

    They were low hour before the Yemen thing

  4. Dont think there is any more unutilised allocation till 2020 for any mrca albeit used or brand new. All future tax allication has been earmarked for mrt phase 2,east coast railway, lcs,lms and pan borneo highway just to name a few. Might as well wait till then and get brand new fighter circa 2025 that would last another 40 years

  5. Apparently india is looking to take the migs off our hands

    replacing mig-29n with F-18c (both are single seater) sounds good to me. hell we can even turn 18 skuadron into full squadron

    The issue is that can we bring the kuwaiti f-18 into rmaf f-18 standard

  6. Just buy the 2 seaters F18D. After 20 yrs surely its just 10% of cost value. MRCA can wait 10 more years. Time to retire Mig29 and F5 for good. But if this too wr cant afford then forget MRCA..just buy AT802. A squad of 10 would cover sabah nicely

  7. if let say.. we do get those hornets from Kuwait.Do we still need to upgrade them to the same standard as RMAF hornet?. Its will be lovely if we could get at least 16 of them as intern of course.

    Not much upgrade

  8. Bah, just make a decision…one way or another.

    No wonder everyone thinks Malaysia lembek.

    Same like the Lahad Datu incursion…

  9. Get it! Beggars can’t be choosers. Take whatever quantity they can offer…while it provide stopgap while waiting for still undecided MRCA ( might be available after 2025) also can gurantee realible maintenance support unlike Mig or Sukhoi

  10. Grab it. Grab as many as we can. Even if dont use all,store up the spare unit n rotate the flying to extend the flight hours of the entire fleet of aircraft . In this way lifespan can be increased

  11. No wonder everyone thinks Malaysia lembek.
    Same like the Lahad Datu incursion…

    I disagreed.
    The people are not lembek!
    Kalau Orang atasan, mungkin lain ceritalah!

    … have a point since day 1. If we need something for QRA, the single engine Korean FA50 or if they want something more Angmo, Gripen.

    But I like the Saudi offer of the Kuwaiti Hornet if it F.O.C.

  12. Yes it will be an interesting next couple of weeks or months.

    Amidst the euphoria some have about the possibility that we might get ex-Kuwaiti Hornets, the fact remains that despite being low houred the air frames are still 25 years old and after a deal is reached it will take another 2-3 years – at minimum- for all to be delivered. No matter how low houred or well maintained; a 25 year airframe have its share of issues and concerns. The advantage of course is we already have a pool of trained manpower and a shiny new simulator.

  13. Meh – ” I hope MINDEF and AF know what they doing.”

    If the government decides that such a deal is in line with national interests; the RMAF will have no choice but to accept used air frames. The RMAF is wary of used air frames as it knows that buying used has its shares of penalties, including the fact that 25 year old air frames tend to break down more and require extra checks and more hours of post flight maintenance but it won’t be the RMAF which makes the final decision.

    People support the buying of used low houred air frames on the grounds that it’s ”cheap” without considering what will be the long term operating and maintenance costs of supporting a 25 year old fleet.

  14. Will this hornet deal affect rmaf new mrca plan?

    I hope not. We have about 30 airframes to cover entire malaysia. I hope we can get at least 18 rafale and like the other guy said, making 18 sqdrn into fu squadron

    If we get F/-18C as replacement for MiG-29N, I’d be happy too

    So the future fighter that we have are
    -18 Su-30MKM (11 sqdrn)
    -18~24 Rafale/Typhoon
    -18 F/A-18D (18 sqdrn)
    -18 F/A-18C (19 sqdrn)

    So optimistically we would have 72 to 80 front line fighter aircraft (not including hawks/aermacchis as well as whatever goodies we would get for either Rafale or Typhoon. The french offered M-346 foc while the brits countered with hawk LIFT)

  15. The advantage of Legacy Hornets? Consider this :

    Well it will of course be a lot less expensive than the projected usd4 billion price tag of the MRCA. Not to mention the high long term operating costs of those MRCAs.

    The kuwaiti fleet is being upgraded and maintained up til the day it will be retired. They just signed a multi million dollar upgrade package last year.

    Of the 40 Legacy hornets that Kuwait has, only about 2 has crashed. So 38 airframes is a lot of aircraft. How many MRCA’s we could realistically afford?

    Free spare parts : 70+ legacy hornets retired by australia, with a lot of new parts retrofitted (new radars, engines, avionics) that we could reclaim from the retired aircrafts.

    US will be using, fully supporting and upgrading the Legacy Hornets up till 2030. AESA radar package is arleady developed for the Legacy Hornet. It is up to us if we want to have it or not (funds permitting)

    More number of airframes could mean that flying hours meant for 1 fighter could now be spread to 2 aircraft, reducing the annual maintenance needed of high flying houred aircrafts.

  16. Maybe skip the Typhoon/Rafale MRCA altogether. Get the Kuwaiti Hornets in good numbers like Lee says…

    And when the Su30 and FA-18 need to be replaced, then go directly to fifth generation.

    By that time, the F-35 will be cheaper and there will be copies/variant (although not as good) like the KAI or TAI or even the…. HAL version (or maybe not!!).

  17. @ Alex

    The air force won’t have the money to operate that much high end fighters!

    @ Tomtom

    Yes I agree with you, the real MRCA buy should be in 2030 timeframe, when it is time to replace the Su-30MKM/F/A-18 with a real 5th gen stealthy platform. For now additional MKM/Hornets and a replacement for the low end fighter/LIFT should be the priority, not a new MRCA type.

  18. Go the Turkey way (Not the bird….Atartuk’s land lah) which bought acres of Starfighters and F5 Freedom Fighters when their economy was in a shamble back in the 70s and 80s.Once the economy improve the Turks went on an F16 buying spree plus upgrading their Phantoms with Israeli help.Well,face the facts….we can’t even buy new cheapos,so might as well get the used/legacy Hornets.It can shoot,can’t it!

  19. We had miss out trade in all MiG for 6 Mkm deal. This will be better stop gap solution for coming 20years or maybe 40years compare upgrade the MiG. Military procurement always a political agenda due to most of Malaysian think is not a necessary assets. Whether current government or pakatan will have the same things. Just hope we not end up like Argentina Air force. We can’t get the best but at less get the we already familiar n can fulfill our duty

  20. – Despite all the advantages to be had in getting ex-Kuwaiti Hornets; the key fact remains that they’re at least 25 years old and assuming we want them, it’ll take another 2-3 years for them to arrive. What is means is that we’ll be operating air frames that are nearly 30 years old. People tend to focus on the advantages, conveniently putting aside the disadvantages. We’re not talking about used cars here. Old air frames tend to break down more and be more maintenance intensive; that equates with more cash needed to keep them running.

    – We simply can’t wait until the 2030 time frame without getting new air frames; that’s wishful thinking. At any one time, ‘x’ number of aircraft will be undergoing squadron or depot level maintenance. With 2 always on QRA and another 2 on standby, plus others needed for training and other roles; how can the RMAF maintain the needed numbers with just 18 MKMs and 8 Hornets? Quantity has a certain quality to itself.

    – We shouldn’t put too much in this offer because that’s what it is; merely an offer. It may not have been revealed publicly but we have received various offers for stuff over the years; direct from the source or from a 3rd party. Most of the times we’ve declined due to finances but also concerns relating to long term operating costs due to the age of the equipment.

  21. @ azlan

    Yes i agree with you we cannot wait for 2030 to get new airframes… But in the meantime the secondhand Kuwaiti Hornets should be adequate for the “quantity” requirement, no need for brand new MRCA. If those Kuwaiti hornets are nearly 30 years old, remember the Malaysian Hornets too are of similar age.

  22. ……. – ”If those Kuwaiti hornets are nearly 30 years old, remember the Malaysian Hornets too are of similar age.”


    Just because we have been operating our Hornets for 20 years doesn’t mean we should also get even older Hornets. The older things get, the more they breakdown and the more maintenance intensive they become [I can’t emphasis this enough]: no point in getting something just because it’s cheap but having to fork out an arm and leg supporting 30 year old air frames. Whatever cost saving obtained by buying pre-used will be spent supporting 30 year old aircraft.

    Also, we keep hearing about how ”low houred” Kuwaiti Hornets are but just how ”low houred”? They may be ”low houred” compared to U.S equivalents but they’re still close to 30 year old. Despite being low houred the fuselage, wings and other components are still close to 30 years old and no amount of upgrades or refurbishment can overcome this.

  23. Aircraft age is counted by its flying hours, not years. Most of its components are frequently changed during overhaul, so most only have their airframes as its original item. Just look at the Nuri. Frequent overhauls makes it look like new, albeit a new old school item. Regular modernisation and upgrades (which the nuri didn’t get) would make it up to date. The kuwaiti hornets, like Malaysia’s has been upgraded with JHMCS helmet systems, upgrades to the engine to the -402 standards, software upgrades, cockpit upgrades. Only thing it is different is that it uses an older radar version (we use the later version, similar to non AESA super hornets). But that can be solved by buying australian retired hornets for spares (like USMC does, buying all British Harriers for spare parts), which the older australian hornets has been retrofitted with the later spec radars.

    The only negative thing about this is… the middlemen mafia will lose out as most of upgrades are through FMS, and goverment to goverment deals on retired planes for spare parts.

  24. ………. – ”Aircraft age is counted by its flying hours, not years. Most of its components are frequently changed during overhaul, so most only have their airframes as its original item.

    Yes and how many hours gave they accumulated? Everyone says ”low houred” but just how ”low houred”? Also, it’s not just the air frame and wings but internal stuff. Despite some upgrades a lot of the internal systems will still be 30 years old; not all – for obvious reasons – will have been replaced. Furthermore, there is a limit as to how much we would be willing spend on them [should we get them] to perform any further upgrades.

    ……. – ”The only negative thing about this is… the middlemen mafia will lose out as most of upgrades are through FMS”

    The ”only” negative thing in your mind but the reality is different.

    Spin it all you want but the key fact remains that operating 30 year old air frames leads its own set of problems and despite whatever upgrades/improvements; stuff on 30 year old air frames tend to break down more and be more maintenance intensive. Thus, what will be the long term operating/maintenance costs of these 30 year old air frames, not only for the first few years in RMAF service but as they get older? What looks great or logical on paper can be slightly different in reality.

  25. P.S.

    Aircraft age is counted not just by hours but also by age. You can have low houred platforms that still have issues due to age.

  26. I believe those who support getting ex-Kuwaitis F-18s (me included) believe that’s the only deal on the table to put planes in RMAF’s inventory. The new MRCA hasn’t been funded for 10 years (that’s 2 Malaysian plans) and won’t be funded for another 5 if not 10 years (depending on how the economy goes). There is a low cost acquisition option on the table now, within a narrow window of opportunity. We are probably better off measuring total cost (acquisition plus maintenance) over the planes expected life which could probably come out lower than an outright acquisition today even if the $ amount spent on maintenance is inefficient.

  27. Kel,

    As it stands there is zero interest on the part of the RMAF to get pre owned. If the deal indeed goes through – I doubt it – it will be another case of the government – for national interests and not so much for costs savings – forcing the armed services to get something not wanted. We have to factor in the total maintenance and running costs of anything we buy for its projected service life. Buying pre owned air frames will no doubt be cheaper than buying new but buying pre owned – especially air frames that are 30 years old – will lead to another set of problems and can in the long run turn out not to be ”cheap”.

  28. USN and US Marin Corps another solution…they still have plenty of stored/reserves legacy hornets….Would these possible legacy hornets worth a deal?

    Those are high houred Hornets, no one wants them.

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