BANGKOK: LIFT, MRCA and more. Far from the rain and humidity of Southeast Asia, RMAF long term plan has finally been articulated.
At a Berlin conference on Tuesday, a two-star RMAF officer offered a glimpse into its current situation and the service’s view of the future.
Here are some of the talking points and not at ad verbatim.
In the immediate term, it needs to get at least ten more F/A-18 Hornet airframes though it remained to be seen whether they will get them at anytime soon.
The general said that they were mostly looking at the Kuwaiti Hornets as this was the most closest in term of specifications to its own Hornets. Ten single seaters will do nicely
High-hour Hornets though available, are not desirable.
Another short term measure being look at is for the surveillance equipment onboard the three Beechcraft B200T be reinstalled on the CN-235s for them to serve as MPAs (As funding has not been announced we will have to see whether this will be done. ED)
Looking to the future, as the MRCA program has been shelved beyond 2020, the RMAF was looking at newer alternatives to the current offerings. He says they are looking beyond the 4.5 generation fighters.
As for the Hawks and MB-339s, the service is looking to replace them in a 15 year time period (likely the same time as the MRCA is selected ED). This should be in the TA/FA-50 class with two squadrons as the minimum.
On Monday, speaking to Malaysian journalists at the Defense and Security Exhibition here in Bangkok, RMAF chief Jen Affendi Buang says as the MPA program was just approved in the recent budget he cannot a give timeline for the purchase.
He says they have to work around the budget allocated which was RM2.6 billion. A technical group was being set up to determine the specifications of the MPA.
He likened the process of the MPA program at the moment as at “the merisik khabar” or the query stage before marriage. “We know the end stage but this is just the beginning”.
Asked whether it was reasonable to expect that the first MPA will be in service beyond 2020, Affendi says it was probable but it will be determined by when the allocation will be given.
He says an evaluation team was in Japan currently to inspect the P-3Cs offered to Malaysia.
Affendi says they have to decide whether it was worthwhile to put into service four 30-year old airframes even for a short time.
By coincidence, it must be noted that a JSMDF P-3C had undergone repairs at the Subang airbase recently. It flew in last week with another P-3C for an overnight stay.The other P-3C took off on schedule to Japan the next day but the other went un-servicable just prior to take off. The aircraft finally left for Japan earlier this week.
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