Mitten (Yak-130) Coming to Lima 19

Yakovlev Yak-130. Wikipedia

SHAH ALAM: Mitten Coming to Lima 19. It appears that another contender for RMAF’s LCA programme, the Yakovlev Yak-130 two-seat advanced jet trainer/light attack aircraft, is scheduled to take part in LIMA 19.

A single Yak-130 Mitten is expected to join the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Tejas LCA at LIMA 19, two of which will be on display, one a single seater and there other a twin seat trainer. The two types are among a slew of aircraft which had received RFIs from RMAF in January. The others are the Sino-Pakistani JF-17, the Leonardo M346FA, the Korean Aerospace KAI FA-50 and even possibly the Avic L-15 combat trainer.

Yakovlev Yak-130. Wikipedia

What is interesting three of the contenders – the Yak-120, M346FA and L-15 – were all jointly developed by Yakovlev design bureau with other manufacturers namely Leonardo and AVIC of China. From the outside,the twin engine jets, looked very similar though under the skin they are all very different.The Mitten is built at Irkutsk aviation plant where RMAF’s own Sukhoi SU-30MKM were manufactured.

Leonardo M346FA. Leonardo

Anyhow, it is confirmed that the M346FA is not coming to LIMA 19 and it is likely that JF-17 and L-15 are also not coming.
AVIC L-15 Falcon. Wikipedia

As for whether or not the LCA is going to be funded in the next procurement cycle, your guess is as good as mine. It is likely that only once the Defence white paper is published we will know for sure where the program stands in the order of importance.
A close up of RMAF Hawk Mk 208 M40-32

However with the RMAF seeking to upgrade its Hawk fleet so it can serve for another 10 years, one would be wise not to wager any money on the LCA going forward soon.
Two RMAF Hawks flying over Penang at the recent 25th Silver Jubilee. TUDM

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2227 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. On the hawks.

    It CAN be used for 10 more years and CAN be upgraded. But in the context of TUDM, along with its other procurement needs, SHOULD it be upgraded and used for 10 more years?

    If you do that, circa 2030 it will be a very2 difficult time for TUDM, with both LCA/LIFT AND MRCA (hornet replacement) to be concurrently replaced. Do we have the money to replace them at the same time?

  2. Can we even still buy Russian equipments in view of the sanction put in by US for Ukraine war, Syrian War and Meddling with US Presidential election on Russia?

    We can but the sanctions can be applied by the US then.

  3. its always boils down to money. Can we afford USD400 million for 12 LIFT jets? That is just purchasing cost, not full life cycle cost yet.

    Upgrading of a 25 year old air frames may not be the best options in the long run but if it cost only 30%-40% of buying new ones, it may be the only viable short term option at the expense of long term requirement.

    Maybe we should not retire the f18 by 2030. If the Kfir and Phantom still be used even after more than 40 years (albeit upgraded) and cost only 20% of brand new fighters, that is an option we should consider, though an increase in airframes either from Kuwait, Australia or Finland should also be considered. It may not give us cutting edge technology but atleast we have something in the sky to do basic supersonic air patrol, ground attack and even anti shipping. True if it only cost the canadian USD65 mil for 25 airframes, its worth a consideration.

  4. @ kamal

    Indonesia got 16 T-50i for usd400 million.

    The problem with upgrading the hawks is the numbers. We don’t have enough hawks for LCA and LIFT. Right now we have only approximately 13 hawk 208 and 5 hawk 108 (total of just 18). If each sqn needs at least 12 aircraft, we actually need at least 36 LCA/LIFT for 2 LCA and 1 LIFT squadrons.

    Another thing to consider is what the situation will be in 2030. Singapore will have F-35, F-15 and F-16V. Indonesia F-16, SU-35/30/27 and KF-X. China J-10C, J-20 and J-31 on aircraft carriers. Is the small quantity of hawks, hornets and flankers adequate?

    Basic daily supersonic capable air patrols should be done by low cost fighters, not Hornets or Flankers as we would not be able to bear the running costs. That means we need new low running cost supersonic capable LCAs. LCAs souldn’t need to have BVR or what nots as air policing does not need that capability. Leave BVR or what nots to hornets, flankers and future MRCAs. But our hawks isnt supersonic capable. So you have a better plan than this?

  5. In the event of Hawk extension instead of TA/FA-50, IF no source of used Hornets can be found, the answer is probably going to be to retire the Hornets

    Unless Mindef have the commitment to get Gripen NG or F-16V, that means the FA-50 plus TA-50s to expand training squadrons and eventually replace the Hawks

    Setting up the future air force to be 2 squadrons of FA-50s and 1 squadron of Su-30s, perhaps 54 aircraft, and 2 squadrons of Hawks and TA-50s, ~36 aircraft

    Total cost is what, bit less than $1.7 billion counting inflation? Achievable within 13 years, which is nicely when the Hawks will decommission and another 18 TA-50s can be added.

  6. Addendum to the above: I suggested retiring the Hornets because they are the only possible trade-off for the TA/FA-50s, like it or not.

    Other variations could be TA-50s and F-16Vs, TA-50s and Gripen, go wild, with the commensurate additional cost and political considerations.

    Who knows. If we got lubang to get F-15X why not.

    Alternatively TUDM could also take a capability gap and operate 26 combat jets. That’s the absolute rock-bottom of course.

  7. Why should we be worried about having sufficient planes in the air when soon we will have flying cars? With millions of flying cars available, just 10% being converted to VBIED and we will be unstoppable.

  8. Sorry my price reference was the FA50 bought by the Philippine 12 for ph18 billion in 2916 for roughly usd400 mil

  9. @ chua

    To get new more capable LCA/LIFT we need to do hard decision and retire early either

    1) hornet
    2) hawk

    and you choose to keep the hawk?

    You can replace hawk capability totally with LCA/LIFT. But can LCA/LIFT replace the hornets capability? That is my logic when planning my orbat. I understand there is life left in the hawks (and hornets too) but we need to make tough decisions and unfortunately something has to go.

    Based on former sales of the TA/FA-50, for USD1.4 billion (indonesia 16 T-50i usd400 mil, philippines 12x FA-50PH usd420 mil), we can get 24 FA-50 and 16 TA-50, a total of 40 so that we can have extra to rotate around for maintenance etc.

    Australia has available hornets that can be bought now. It is only a matter if we can swallow our pride and get them. Canada bought 25 of them for USD68 million. The hornets should be flown for about 10-15 years only and if there is an issue with flying hours (i dont think so) you could probably get 2 to fly the normal 1 aircraft hours.

  10. Unless government is willing to spend billions of $ and increase defence budget around 2.5% of gdp then ATM will be underequipped.

    Looking at CAP 55 then almost all RMAF assets that exist today will be gone. Even the MKMs will be 45 years old. So will the airlifter ( hercs and CNs) and all the helos. Maybe the only asset still flying is A400 which is 40 years old.

    If following the plan CAP 55, the next acquisition is an opportunity for RMAF to reset their asset that can meet future challenge and keep on par with the neighbours, at least RMAF assets is not fall behind indonesia and thailand.

    Buying LIFT/LCA is the first good acquistion before any MRCAs. This type of plane is a basic need, even so it can be used for daily patrol duty.
    The most popular LIFT today is M-346 and T/TA/FA 50. Although YAK130 is the sibling of M-346 but the latter is a better choice.
    Still T/TA/FA 50 is the best choice. 2 closest neighbours (TNI AU and RTAF) already used it.
    Maybe if money is provided RMAF can buy T-X.

  11. @ romeo

    Tudm can modernise its fleet without needing the budget to be 2.5% of gdp. Current budget is just about 1.25% of gdp. Probably increase to 1.5% of gdp is enough to do all the things i suggested before. The most important thing is good planning. The current TUDM situation is caused partly by deficiency in proper planning.

  12. Imho why go for TA/F50 its a F16 wannabe go for F16V or the F21 (Indian derivative ) again its all about the money right ?
    Do for the F15X it’s wishful thinking..

  13. Lets compare with RAAF

    It has

    70++ hornets to be replaced by F-35

    24 super hornets

    12 growlers

    30++ hawk LIFT.

    Right now TUDM has just 5 hawk 2 seaters and 7 MB339CM, a total of just 12 LIFT aircraft with questionable operating status. BTW has not seen the macchis flying for sometime already. What really happened to them?

    The Macchi engines are worn out already and no parts are available

  14. @…
    As I said, “in the event of Hawk extension” and “IF no source of used Hornets can be found”

    Why do you opt for 24 and 16 by the way? Nominally TUDM operates squadrons of 18.

  15. @ chua

    budgetary limitations means that we cannot afford 3x squadrons of 18 LCA/LIFT each. That would mean a total of 54 aircrafts.

    For 3 squadrons of 12 aircraft, that will need at least 36 aircrafts. Additional 4 is, like I said to cater for any maintenance rotations, or as additional aircrafts for the 2 operational squadrons. This number is also based on the costs of FA/TA-50 bought previously by indonesia and the philippines.

  16. @ marhalim

    So does this mean that the macchis are unofficially grounded due to expired engines?

    I have been told that’s some are flying though not enough

  17. Okay back on the topic

    So the Yak-130. So the one that is coming would be from?


    Russia, I am told. The Russian is bringing a super duper highly customised Mitten for our glorious leaders.

  18. @ chua

    I prefer to do this in the navy and apmm topics but as you posted it here…

    It is not just can enforce, IMO as a sovereign nation we should enforce our will in protecting our rights in our EEZ.

    As of now IMO we are still under equipped to deal with something like this. Our frontline force to deal with this should be the APMM, not the navy and our politicians and rakyat need to be conditioned to this reality.

    More OPVs need to be quickly built for the APMM, something in the size of and in the price range of the damen OPV 1800 in build for APMM and the vikram-class of indian coast guard.

    Another important element is to do all we can to deny china from building any outposts INSIDE our EEZ. When that happens, the situation will be like mischief reef and the parcel islands to the philippines and vietnam. As long as this does not happen, our task to pacify the chinese coast guard will be relatively easier.

  19. Am inclined to go for the M346. Like Bro Safran. Singapore Israel and Poland use the aircraft albeit not the 346FA. At least it’s a proper trainer that attained ‘manhood’ into a light fighter. And have not heard of Israelis grumblings about its use. Just get the one with the promised AESA radar. If you’re into F16 clones, just get the FA50 instead.

  20. Customising a Russian aircraft to some degree is going to be necessary for us, but it adds cost and complexity. Wouldn’t the M346 be a more straightforward option.

  21. Just wondering..when we order the MB-339.. do the new Viper engine still in production? or we just tell them we have old engine but we need a new body?

    i ok got with either M346 or Yak-130.


    The CMs were bought in 2007 but inexplicably they were fitted with RR engines from the As. I was told it done to save money. They’re overhauled before they put in the CMs. But after a while they cannot find the spares anymore likely they are canibalising the engines they got to keep a few still flying

  22. Jf 17 now got a combat kill already.. Battle proven?

    Not confirmed yet just pure speculation

  23. @ michael

    When we bought the CM, the RR viper engine production has long ended, the last RR viper was produced in 1999. RR viper is a 1950s turbojet design, and one if its first application is for the aussie GAF Jindivik target drone. Our CM is the last newbuild MB339 to come out of the factory.

    This is an example of why buying brand new but at the end of its life aircraft design has risks. We could be better off buying used MB339CB from new zealand rather than brand new MB338CM if both can just be used 10-15 years only.

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