MRCA: Fulcrum and Retirement

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

SHAH ALAM: IN my post about the RMK11, I mentioned the political considerations as one of the reasons for the retirement of RMAF Mig-29 Fulcrum fleet. Without approved funding in RMK11, the Fulcrum will simply grind out of service without any fanfare.

However as I had reported (the post is missing) during the 57th anniversary Press conference at the Kuantan air base on June 1 this year, RMAF chief Jen Tan Sri Roslan Saad refused to confirm nor deny the retirement date.

The reticence about Fulcrum exact retirement date was puzzling to say the least as the previous RMAF chief had unequivocally stated that the aircraft will be retired by the end of 2015.

The issue became more confusing when the New Straits Times the next day reported ( although the reporter stated that his story never said it) that the Government had agreed to fund the Fulcrum upgrade!

For the record the latest version of the story, available online, still contained a quote by Roslan that the Fulcrums will be upgraded. It is less sensational than the original story published on June 2, however. (My video recording of the whole Press conference clearly showed that Roslan never said such a thing).

As it was an NST report, a couple of aviation portals and even a magazine had subsequently reported that RMAF will upgrade the Fulcrums, claiming it will follow the upgrade path as proposed by Airod’s subsidiary, ATSC Sdn Bhd at LIMA 2015.

A model at ATSC stand featuring the proposed Fuclrum modernisation. Among others it will be fitted with the Flanker's avionics.
A model at ATSC stand featuring the proposed Fuclrum modernisation. Among others it will be fitted with the Flanker’s avionics.

This is the Aviation Week report on the proposal:

“The aircraft proposed by Airod’s Aerospace Technology Systems Corporation, in conjunction with Malaysia’s Sukhoi Technical Centre, would receive a new high-resolution, fire-control radar; improved cockpit ergonomics; and better avionics, while the type’s airframe life would be extended to 6,000h from the current 4,000h.”

To read the full story go here.

I did not report about the proposal as I was told bluntly by several officials at the air show that a political decision had been made on the Fulcrum. No more funding period. And then came the NST on June 2!

Well anyhow, I find out recently why the retirement of the Fulcrum is a sensitive one. Apparently, Russia is putting pressure on Malaysia to cancel the retirement plan. Instead of retiring the fighters, Russia offered to upgrade “all” surviving aircraft to the same standard as the Indian Air Force Mig-29 upgrade, the same one proposed by Airod.

The IAF Fulcrum UPG among others include the the new Zhuk-M2E radar made by Phazotron-NIIR, the OLS-UEM infrared search-and-track system (IRST) similar to the Indian Navy MiG-29Ks, thermal / TV / laser imaging made by Moscow-based NPK SPP, multi-functional full-colour LCDs in the cockpit, increased fuel capacity and more powerful RD-33 series 3 turbo-jet engines.

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

According to reports, the new radar range has increase to 200 nautical miles and the ability to track 60 targets simultaneously and adds terrain-following mode and ground-target acquisition.

However, there is a catch to the Russian proposal. Until we come up with the actual number of aircraft to be upgraded, the Russians cannot give an exact cost of the project. And apparently we have not replied hence the Russians cannot give us a quotation (perhaps this is a way for us not to say yes or not). I believed the cost upgrading the MIGs (at least 16 airframes), will be cheaper than buying a new batch of MRCAs, of course.

Mig-29N at LIMA 2009. last hurrah at Lima
Mig-29N at LIMA 2009. last hurrah at Lima

Why pressure Malaysia to continue flying the Fuclrums then?. Apart from pride, the Russian apparently are miffed that Malaysia wants to retire its pride and joy halfway through its expected service life.

With MIG design bureau continue to bleed money while at the same time Rosoboronexport, the state owned arms export agency continuing to market the Fulcrum, it is imperative that they ensure one of its main users continue flying the aircraft as long as possible.

RMAF MiG-29N M40-11 at Kuantan air base in 2014.
RMAF MiG-29N M40-11 at Kuantan air base in 2014.

So are we going to upgrade the Fulcrum after all especially with our funding difficulties? I was told, Nyet!.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2207 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. The easiest way out of this condurum is, sell them off (for peanuts pon ok)!

    So we technically didn’t retire it while getting rid of them at the same time.

    Bangladesh once said to be interested in the fulcrums, or maybe to India in exchange of maybe 2-4 new MKM’s?

    AFAIK there is also no desire for more MKMs

  2. What i gonna give conclusion they not making any decide to replace or upgrade Fulcrum yet due to funding political problem while chinese naval army making weird activity at South China Sea.

  3. Migs

    No political will.
    Sana jimat sini jimat (while the gov cntinue to splash money on unneeded program).
    No threat concept.
    Ringgit free fall.
    All and all im not suprise if the gov even decide to put our operational fighters on reserved mode. Hey. It worked 4 the south african.

  4. No political will
    No desire for more MKMs
    Funding for new fighter jets delayed
    Funding for upgrades for present fighter jets not confirmed

    We might as well push our present Hornets ans MKMs to the extend and shorten their shelf life.

    Then retire the RMAF off her fighter jet fleet. No threat, neither the IS nor the terrorists are attacking by plane.

    Can’t blame Eurofighter for shifting their focus to Indonesia, it looks like we are not so keen to get the planes compared to the Indonesians.

    The Indonesians have been working with the Europeans ages ago mostly through tie-up Eurocopter and CASA. Now as both companies are now under the Airbus Group it goes naturally that they will try to exploit that long term relationship with the Eurofighter, which is of course comes under the same group.

  5. Impressive to think our Migs with the upgraded capabilities. But as you conclude, it will be cheaper than to buy a new batch of MRCA but for reason to retire our Migs is partly due to high operational cost. Now, to upgrade we need funds from somewhere within the limited defence budget and to keep them flying, more allocation is needed. As for the layman me, retire the Migs is a better option.

  6. Is there a problem with mkm? Sorry i miss a lot of posts so i kinda wondering. All i heard is that we hav spare parts problems.

  7. It happened in South Africa because the government did not/delayed renewing the support contract with Denel. Completely different scenario and unlikely to happen here.

    Events in the South China Sea will have as much bearing on the decision to retire the Fulcrums as the continued strife in Syria or the potential for another round of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nargano Karabakh : zero.

  8. If there is no funding for new MRCAs and RMAF is adamant about not continuing with the MiGs, then the RMAF is going to be significantly reduced in capability in the near future. So the question is, whether it is wiser to abandon the generally maligned MiGs to just rely on other assets and hope for a bright future where finances recover sufficiently for RMAF to buy what they want, or go with the more budget-friendly SLEP for the MiGs? Pressure from Russia aside, what is the potential pressure from the impending US’s TPP on the MRCA?

  9. I have to say the upgrade offer is attractive — cheap, and the Indian Navy’s Migs are impressive, not to mention weapons compatibility with the Sukhois.

    I reckon RMAF is at a point where it has to decide whether it wants to continue operating a service ala the IAF ie flying aircraft made in both the West and Russia. At the moment RMAF’s fast jets, if we count the Hawk, are about equal.

    Apart from Geopolitics — in particular Ukraine — there’s also the question of the RMAF’s own people. The IAF’s personnel are in virtually two parallel services, Western and Russian, and they seldom interchange except at higher levels of command — it’s difficult for a technician to switch from a Mirage to a Mig especially with increased sophistication of the planes. It’s easier for IAF because they have a big combined fast jet fleet, so their people can go pretty far up in a particular ‘line of specialty’, so to speak.

  10. Perhaps Indonesia is aiming for the license to build the Eurofighter in their backyard a.k.a Eundofighter. I maybe that is not a bad thing since it might be cheaper to buy from Indonesia than from Europe. Just SLEP the MiGs.

  11. No upgrade
    No MRCA
    It is a crystal clear there is no money.

    Tell me again why RMAF has no desire for another MKM? While TNI is looking for another sq of SU-35.

  12. Again, no funding? Oh well, looks like berjanggut lah nak tunggu MRCA…. AGAIN. After all, our country doesn’t need to expand a lot of money in modernizing our armed forces (lol)

    What a wet dream…

  13. well if SLEP Mig29 can use other 5 year until 2021-2022 also fine, good enough waiting time for RMAF to get new jet. like if order new fighter in 2016, expected take 2-3 year waiting to get new fighter, after receive new fighter also take time for pilot training, tactical training with other RMAF fighter/A400M, than reach IOC also take other 2-3 year. so 5-7 year time need too.

    By all accounts the Fulcrum upgrade will allow the plane to be in service until 2030

  14. Ayat ini yg penting

    According to Mikoyan, extensive use of radar-absorbent materials reduce the MiG-29K’s radar signature 4–5 times over the basic MiG-29.[27] The RD-33MK turbofan engine was also engineered to reduce infrared signature and improve aircraft camouflage.

    and your point is…

  15. I hope MRCA can order 24 unit, so can sprite 12 unit put in Labuan AB, 12 unit in Kuantan,maybe maintenance cost will increase, but it enhance our Sabah defense capability. 12 unit MRCA capability should equal or better capability than current 16 unit (if not wrong) MIG29 in service。

  16. Marhalim, tried to post the comment and button made a fuss again… Sorry for the notice

  17. What is the point of upgrading?

    From what I understand, the Fulcrums have low serviceability which means that at any one time, only a very few will be flying while the rest will be going through maintenance and repairs (correct me if I’m wrong).

    So, even if the radars etc are upgraded, most of them will still spend the vast majority of their time in the hangar.

    Is this right Marhalim?

    AFAIK that is the situation, RMAF faces..

  18. Romeo ….

    MKM is heavy fighter so cost operation is high, so we need medium fighter to do “rough work” like more patrol,also Russia fighter have less lifespan/component reliability than Euro/US fighter,although price cheaper to order initially, but overall maintenance cost much higher too. if we get Euro/US fighter easily we get double lifespan in airframe, engine and etc. also more easy integration with our data-link or AEW.
    well Su-35 is base on Su-27, not Su-30MKM,means we need other set of component.

  19. Often heard the \”high operational cost\” of the MiGs as one of the most prominent stated reasons for retiring the fleet, so any definite cost figures from RMAF? And how does it compare to the operational cost of RMAF\’s preferred MRCA? And does the new MRCA offer overwhelming advantages over the upgraded MiGs to justify the huge investment involved, even when fund is available. US pressure aside, the fact RSAF did not go for any of the MRCA candidates for its requirement might raise some questions about significant advantages over older platforms as advertised by the makers, given that Singapore is widely acknowledged as a discerning buyer. With all the current corruption scandals rampant in the country, one can only hope it is not another \”Mercedes cheaper than Perdana\” scenario… Maybe a national referendum should be called for when it is time to decide, seeing that it is ultimately the people that will foot the bill…

  20. Just retire the MIGs. If no money for MRCA, then just continue to operate what we have, till hopefully one day we have the budget for new shiny things.

    Rather than upgrading the MIGs, would rather use the money to further upgrade the SU30MKM avianics such as new radar (that can engage 8 aircrafts instead of 4 simultaneously), more R77 (we only have 35 according to SIPRI) and maybe longer version of the KH31 ASHM (currently only max 50km in our inventory)…you know stuffs like that

  21. The best deal WoulD be trade in the mig for 6 mkm and we getting kuwait legacy hornet for 40 pcs. Good hi lo mix. As mkm used for strike mission only.

  22. kerberosWXIV,

    ” Maybe a national referendum should be called for when it is time to decide, seeing that it is ultimately the people that will foot the bill…”

    Most people don’t know shit about RMAF fighters requirements and are easily swayed by marketing hype. I’ve been following Malaysian Jet Fighter facebook page, and i’ve seen so many stupid comments from other followers (not all lah). Following the Indrahanush Exercise news, so many comments urged for more MKM or the Su-35 without even realizing that the exercise’s RoE was limited to WVR. One comment even gave a long winded praise to the MKI for beating the Typhoons in dogfight even if the latter is supercruise capable. I asked the commenter on how supercruise capability is advantageous in WVR dogfight, still waiting for an answer.

    If it was to me the T-65 is the best option..

  23. Marketing hypes aside,

    There is not much differences in actual “platform” capability between MRCA candidates and current RMAF fighters (the MKM and Hornet).

    And if you argue that those MRCA candidates offers better radar in the future, better datalink and situational awareness that comes with the datalink; well those items can easily be retrofitted to the current RMAF platforms.

    In my opinion, getting a totally new MRCA platform to replace the Migs would not give a major increase in capability compared to getting additional MKM’s and hornets (for hornets this would only be available 2nd hand) and upgrading all with better datalinks and radar upgrades.

  24. If a national referendum were held; not only would most reject an MRCA but but they would also call for further cuts to the defence budget!!


    Not only were engagements limited to WVR but other restrictions were placed as well. Bilateral exercises are excellent for refining tactics, learning new stuff and building relationships but are in no way indicative of what the results would be in a real life engagement.

    Many went gaga over the fact that the RMAF scored some kills at last year’s Cope Taufan; forgetting that in real life the F-22s would be operating with ISR platforms, would detect the MKMs much earlier and that the first indication the MKMs would have that F-22s are around is when seeker heads of the AMRAAMs go terminal.

  25. kerberos – ”And how does it compare to the operational cost of RMAF\’s preferred MRCA?”

    The high operating cost of the Fulcrum is largely due to the low MTBO of the RD-33s. The high operating cost of new generation platforms is due to the high level of computers, electronics and over complex systems that need regular maintenance and looking after. Thus, new generation platforms would probably cost more to fly per hour compared to legacy Fulcrums but for different reasons.

    keberos – ”the fact RSAF did not go for any of the MRCA candidates for its requirement might raise some questions about significant advantages over older platforms as advertised by the makers, given that Singapore is widely acknowledged as a discerning buyer.”

    Politics aside, the RSAF also had its own requirements. The RSAF specified a need for a twin engine MRCA that had already been integrated or was going to be integrated with an AESA. When Dassault was pushing Rafale to Singapore, Rafale had yet to be integrated to an AESA and was years away from doing so.

    Tom Tom – ”So, even if the radars etc are upgraded, most of them will still spend the vast majority of their time in the hangar.”


    The whole point of the UPG upgrade is not only to improve the Fulcrum’s capabilities but also to make it cheaper and more economically efficient; operating wise. On paper, the fact that the UPG upgrade replaces older stuff with newer gear and with gear that have a longer life span, would mean that upgraded Fulcrums would be able to fly longer before undergoing overhauls or depot level maintenance.

    Johnrambo – ”The best deal WoulD be trade in the mig for 6 mkm and we getting kuwait legacy hornet for 40 pcs.”

    As mentioned previous times here; the RMAF does not want any more Russian gear and politically, we can’t buy new stuff from Russia until the MH370 issue is sorted out. Spares and upgrades yes but not new big ticket items.

  26. “If it was to me the T-65 is the best option..”

    I have to disagree with you Marhalim, the T-65 only works well if the pilot has a high midi-chlorian count.

    “There is not much differences in actual “platform” capability between MRCA candidates and current RMAF fighters (the MKM and Hornet).”
    I think that is one point most of us agree, but all i’m saying is let RMAF pick what they want. All platforms has its own strength and weaknesses, but in the end, the one who’ll operate those platforms would be our servicemen.

    “If a national referendum were held; not only would most reject an MRCA but but they would also call for further cuts to the defence budget!!”

    that’s a real possibility right there, but at least we’ll have cheap highly subsidized petrol ;-D Kidding aside, I was very appalled by the sheer ignorance of the comments in the aforementioned FB page, and those kind of comments are the one that get the most ‘thumbs up’. And they’re not very kind to fact-checkers..

    T-16s are too provincial …

    No one likes Cliff.. really apart from Norm..

  27. Marhalim

    T 65 starfighter? The good old days..


    Yup. The “rakyat” will surely ask 4 more defense cut if there is a referendrum. Just look at the swiss grippen saga. Thats why malaysia need a leader with a b@lls.

    I settled for an honest leadership..

  28. Apart from perpetuating a maintenance hog and hangar queen, why reward the Russians, who are Suspect No 1 in the MH17 crash? By succumbing to political pressure, it sends a message that Malaysia can be pushed over even in defence issues.

  29. An upgrade would not cure the Fulcrum’s ills. High cockpit workload, short range, really poor serviceability and availability. You get what you pay for.

  30. Adding up all the Fulus to “spruce” up N maintain the Mig, maybe TUDM can lower their expectation a little by considering buying a, I assumed cheap N low operating cost BUT new Korean made FA50.
    Comparing the Gripen N FA50, anyone know which is the cheapest of the 2?

  31. In 1990, CBS 60 Minutes reported about the MIG-29 that Malaysia was going to buy.The segment which I watched talked about the fuel usage of a MIG-29 at USD 10,000/hr at oil price of USD 38/barrel. Now, oil price is USD 60/barrel, count how many MIGs are flying in an hour, how much fuel are you going to pay in an hour.You get a huge sum.

    So are you going to use up all the budgeted expenditures allotted by Kem. Kewangan just on fuel alone?

    So retirement is the best option but Russia is interfering.No one is complaining which is weird and since we have no funds for new MRCAs just let it be then.

  32. Eurofighter for indonesia. Yes there is talk but to me unlikely as indonesia isor had entered into joint development with kai on the new generation fighter

  33. @ steelshot

    A full spec fa-50 cost about usd35million each. The t-50 is around usd25million each.

    A Gripen is about usd50million each

    Read my previous post in the blackhawk topic.

  34. Sorry marhalim, just going to repost my previous comment in this more appropriate topic.



    Talking about LIFT…

    I am in favour of the current mrca search be put on hold and a new common platform is bought instead to replace the Mb-339cm and hawks. I know both of them still have plenty of hours left, selling them to other countries or private buyers (leisure flights, contractor agressor support) could be a solution.

    Im thinking of a mass buy of t-50/fa-50 fighters. Indonesia bought 16 t-50 for around Usd400million. Phillipines bought 12 combat capable fa-50 for around usd450million. A buy of 24 fa-50 and 16 t-50 (for a total of 40 aircrafts) would cost about usd1.3bil and would give tudm 2 full fighter sqn with 1 lift sqn. Compare that to the remaining number of hawk that we have (a total of only 19) and 8 Mb-339cm

    A force of 40 golden eagles plus hornets and flankers would still give a credible fighting capability to the air force, not to mention reducing the fighter variants down to 3 (and engine variations down to 2). I don’t think usd1.3bil would get anything credible and in meaningful numbers if they go and buy MRCAs.

    As usual, just my 2kupang…

  35. And the option above would consolidate rmafs fighter types to 3 while still open the possibility of aquiring extra second hand legacy hornets in the 2018-2025 timeframe. A proper search for new mrca could start in 2025, with in service date of post 2030 to replace the legacy hornets.

  36. The Mig-29 is quite a popular aircraft, at one time flown by over 20 (albeit some Warsaw Pact) air forces. Ironically Poland is using their Mig 29 for the Baltic Air Patrol.

    The upgrades are meant to address the present shortcomings of the Migs: low range, old-fashioned cockpit, availability, smokiness (although in the picture the engines still look a wee bit smoky to me), lack of strike capability, etc. Still, improved customer care has not been mentioned although ATSC has said that they can do the mods locally.

    But I’m with kamal and a few others on this: RMAF should just retire the Migs and wait for funds for MRCA. They should resist offers of interim purchases because ‘interim’ can last a long time, possibly decades. Upgrading risks early technological obsolescence.


    The Russians are suspect No 1 according to the US, not necessarily the rest of the world. Perhaps because when pressed for evidence, the State Dept spokeswoman presented ‘evidence’ got from the internet.

    We managed to recover the black boxes from the rebels. I don’t think they’d hand them over without a nod from the Kremlin.

    Lee Yoke Meng,

    “Eurofighter for indonesia”

    I hope they are buying them with weapons because they bought their initial batch of Sukhois without weapons. They are playing catch-up.

  37. If the MAF reason of retiring Mig is due to high maintenance cost, it should also apply to Bangladesh and Myammar. Are we saying both countries have more budget and knowhow to maintain the MIG fleet than us?

  38. Talking RMAF, does anyone know when the A400 will become operational again?

    M54-01 has returned to flying status since last month. The chief took it out for a test flight on Tuesday. No invite however although it was featured in RMAF official webpage and it’s social media. The chief told a few of us reporters that they expect the aircraft to achieve IOC next month and the second A400M is expected to be delivered by November. Hopefully I will get the chance to take pictures of 02 in late October.

  39. truthseeker,

    Look at the bigger picture.

    Myanmar and Bangladesh both have a long history of operating Soviet designed aircraft (in their case Chinese supplied ones). We on the other hand are a long time operator of Western aircraft but fly our Russian aircraft the way we do our Western ones. Part of the problem we experienced with our Fulcrums is because we flew them much more than we were supposed to! Russian/Soviet aircraft were never intended to be flown as much as Western equivalents before their engines required overhauls and before the aircraft had to undergo depot level work for the replacement of time sensitive gear and airframe checks. We also have no idea as to the servicibility rates of Myanmar and Bangladeshi Fulcrums.

  40. Should Malaysia financial problems continue one more option should be considered; upgrade the ‘gray-haired’ veteran F5Es.. Definitely much much cheaper and less burden for MY government. What do you all think?


  41. The Fulcrum upgrade off course doesn’t overcome all the types weaknesses (even the OEM doesn’t claim so) but it does go a long way in making it more economical to run and significantly improving its capabilities.

    – The addition of key components (radar, nozzles, landing gear, etc) with a longer MTBO and MBTF leads to cost savings by increasing the period it can fly before overhauls and increases servicibility rates.

    – The improved RD-33 with FADEC, less engine pumps and other improvements results in a much safer engine and one that is more fuel efficient.

    – The new radar much better performance; new cockpit with better displays and less pilot workload; self-defence suite (not all Russian sourced), new mission computer (ours are 486s) and comms results in a much better aircraft and one that offers more operational flexibility.

    – At the end of the day, the UPG upgrade does wonders on a legacy aircraft and the fact that the IAF is happy with its Fulcrums is telling. Also, the upgrade by itself doesn’t tell the whole story as the upgraded Fulcrum – like all fighters in this,day and age – is intended to be fitted with a data link and work with AEW platforms. It is not intended to operate by itself.

    – In our case the whole subject of an upgrade is a moot point as the RMAF – for reasons specific to it’s needs and plans – is not keen to embark on an upgrade programme.

    Someone asked how the operating costs of the Fulcrum compares to new generation platforms. 2 very different things as new generation platforms come with a lot of comes systems, which not only requires maintenance but also better human resources and test/support equipment. It is mainly for this reason (not fuel usage as is commonly believed) that the RAF has found its Typhoons to be more expensive to operate per hour compared to its GR4s.

    Politics aside, the Rafale did not stand a chance with the RSAF requirement as the RSAF wanted an aircraft that was integrated with an AESA. The fact that certain aircraft were dropped in favour of the F-15 doesn’t indicate anything wrong. The RSAF had its own requirements and preferences.

  42. Ferret. I am saying that talk of indonesia buying the eurofighter is slum as they have invested in the next gen korean fighter which is stealthy.
    In this light, we can actually wait for the new jorean fighter n get the stealthy new korean fighter

  43. @ Lee Yoke Meng

    Actually the Typhoon was recommended by PT Dirgantara to TNI-AU for the F-5 replacement.

    TNi-AU as reported by the media wants the Su-35.

    Anyway the reports that the F-5 replacement tender will be announce soon.

  44. “Im thinking of a mass buy of t-50/fa-50 fighters. Indonesia bought 16 t-50 for around Usd400million. Phillipines bought 12 combat capable fa-50 for around usd450million. A buy of 24 fa-50 and 16 t-50 (for a total of 40 aircrafts) would cost about usd1.3bil and would give tudm 2 full fighter sqn with 1 lift sqn.”

    I think 24 fa-50 and 16 t-50 will cost more than usd1.3bil, the contract proposed by KAI to provide 30 t-50s to the Israelis were worth usd1b, and the procurement was mainly for training purposes so i’m guessing the usd1b pricetag does not include weaponry. 24 fa-50 and 16 t-50 plus weapons will going to cost a lot more money.

    Replacing all our trainers with t-50s and fa-50s may streamline the maintenance but because they are supersonic jets the flying cost would be more expensive as well and may also translates to shorter airframe lifespan. Having said that, considering our constrained budget and urgent need for more aircrafts, the golden eagles are not a bad choice and it is a good aircraft with many modernization programs planned. But there’s a caveat though, the current radar for fa-50 is Israeli made. There is plan to equip them with samsung-thales radar, but it’s a plan still.

    Since most or if not all of the T50 weapons are sourced from the US or Europe their cost should not be in the procurement package. More over as most of these weapons are all ready in RMAF inventory only a small number will be bought based on previous purchases.

  45. Ferret,

    There was a report sometime back in the Indonesian press that long overdue contracts had been signed for missiles (including the R-77 and KH-1) to equip the TNI-AU’s Su-27 SKs/SKMs and Su-30MKs (quite a mix they have).


    Just like how a certain side favoured T-90s and another Leopards; certain Indonesian politicians want Su-35s and others a Western aircraft. The TNI hasn’t forgotten the arms embargo placed following events in East Timor and firmly believes that it still must have an East/West mix.

    The Rafale which was previously not considered due to its price tag is now officially a contender. The ones that were at LIMA flew straight to Indonesia for a demonstration. The programme is intended to be replacement for the F-5 but it’s funny in the sense that twin engine heavyweights are in the running to replace a single engine lightweight.

  46. Higher cost of supersonic t/fa-50 would be offsetted by:

    Deleting 3 different fighter types (hawk, mig and aermacchi) and consolidating with just 3. Cost saving on stocking of so many different spares. This also would mean increased availability of remaining fighter fleet, as more money available for maintaining only 3 fighter types

    Commonality of engine parts with the hornets (more cost savings)

    Higher overall capability compared to the hawk (or even the fulcrums)

    All of them are twin seaters. That means 1 aircraft could be used to maintain currency of 2 pilots. A money saving feature during peacetime.

  47. Azlan

    What light single engine fighter? The F5s got 2 J85 engine..

    Malaysian bloggers once used to belittle our indonesian counterpart. Just look at them now.

  48. @ Azlan

    Interesting that the Rafale that flew straight to Indonesia from LIMA to do a demo was also facilitated by PT DI.

  49. Shed,

    You’re right my mistake. The F-5 is a lightweight single engine fighter that is going to be replaced by a fighter which is in a different class/weight category (it’s like I’m referring to boxing). There was speculation circulating years ago, given that the RMAF already has two types of twin engine, twin seat fighters, that it might go for a single engine, single seater. Obviously this is not the case as preference is still for a twin engine platform.

    The Indonesians still have a lot of catching on to do in relation to the size of the country and the number of aging assets that are long in need of replacement. Yes they are on the right track but the TNI still needs years of constant adequate funding to make right all the years of neglect and the fact that the TNI is still very overstretched when one takes into account the sheer size of the country.

    There is an excellent article currently online which goes into depth in the issues facing the TNI-AL that still prevention it from having a minimum credible force structure intended to deter.

  50. Off topic.

    PT DI to launch four CN-235 MPA. Two for TNI-AL by the end of the year & two for TNI-AU early next year.

    It was also reported that these MPAs will be equipped with a 20mm gun.

    “The main modification to the maritime version is the inclusion of a large gun using 20 millimeter caliber bullets.”

  51. Lee,

    OK understood.


    I’ll echo Azlan on Indonesia. The TNI is starting from a low base and some of the purchases, for instance the Leopards, arguably could be called symbolic, catching-up — I’ve asked before if their infrastructure will allow easy movement of 60 tonne tanks. They are keenly aware their neighbours have gone up the sophistication ladder and they have a steep learning curve in front of them and some catching up to do.

    To put things in perspective, Indonesia’s territory, both land and sea, is as big as Europe, spanning 3 time zones. I think they’ll be hard pressed at the moment if they want to patrol their country properly.

    We have the SCS to think about. They have the SCS (Natuna) and the Indian Ocean to ponder now that Jokowi has articulated his 2-ocean maritime strategy. The PLAN are now operating in the east Indian Ocean and with India responding; Jokowi has stated his vision for Indonesia’s bigger role in the Indian Ocean. How that sits with India, I don’t know. As well, there’s a festering insurgency in the far east of the archipelago.

  52. Anas,

    Indeed. That’s the article.

    2 things I never understood why the TNI-AL did. First was the announcement 3/4 years ago that they had refurbished their Seacats. Why anyone would refurbished a 30 year old wire guided missile is anyone’s guess. Second, why they went through all the trouble to arm and integrate the Ahmad Yani with Yakhont. Not only is the missile so big that only a pair can be carried but the TNI-AL does not have the means (at present) to utilise the missile’s long range. There was a report in Antara about the Type-209s being able to provide OTHT for the Yakhont but I’m not sure how this is even possible.

  53. So from what is posted above, the upgraded MiGs will address a significant portion of the problems of the legacy MiGs; not perfect but usable for the foreseeable future. With the current financial pressure Malaysia is facing (which will likely to continue for a long while, looking at the world economy), is it wise to write off these assets while there is no free fund for replacement without going into financing/loan which will further burden the nation? RMAF can plan and dream all they want but it is ultimately Malaysians that will be paying, so why can\’t there be an official public discourse on RMAF decision…

  54. They refurbished their seacats just to serve as low cost targets (unguided) for testing their guns and mistral manpads

  55. @ Azlan

    Correction there are 2 pair of Yakhont on the only Yakhont equipped Ahmad Yani Class KRI Oswald Siahaan. Two located on each side of the helicopter hangar.

  56. kerberos – ”RMAF can plan and dream all they want but it is ultimately Malaysians that will be paying, so why can\’t there be an official public discourse on RMAF decision…”

    Sounds in good in theory but Malaysia is nor exactly Finland or Switzerland when it comes to defence awareness. What if a referendum is held and the decision is not only to postpone a MRCA but also to make further cuts in the budget and also to freeze all defence buys until the economy improves?

    One thing having a referendum for the sake it or to say we’re a true democracy and that taxpayers should have more say in how their ringgit is spend; a completely different thing having a referendum where those voicing their opinions or making decisions understand what they’re talking about and understand that that their decision will have implications.

  57. Instead of just having to place our trust in RMAF decision with no questions asked, independent professional advisory panels can be set up to review RMAF proposals and explanations can be made to the public and/or MPs (from both . Is it fair to assume Malaysians to be so ignorant as to be unable to be educated/reasoned with… Transparency & accountability is to ensure the public know how and why their taxes are spent. It may not be easy to achieve but it would be better than just to take a one-sided decision without any debate… If Canada can u-turn on the F-35… With regard to defense budget cut, if social development spending can be cut, why can’t the defense cut be put on the block as well… Greece spend 7% of GDP on defense, but is that wise under their current situation. As important as security are, if the economy slides any further, is it unreasonable to propose defend spending cut?

    of course if the economy goes from bad to worse the defence budget will be cut that is always the case

  58. The key difference is that the MAF is very over stretched, has been for some time and is operating on a penny pinching budget. It doesn’t even have what is comfortably needed to carry out its peacetime roles. Imposing further defence cuts would adversely affect the MAF’s ability to do its job. This would be akin to gambling with our security and would also determine how countries – especially those with overlapping claims – conduct their dealings with us…..

  59. Having watched Ah Boys To Men I think we should have a referandum on national service. Need more aunties complaining about how aging the equipment their kids are using. Without national service and first hand appreciation I fear we may end up with Homeguard defending us.

  60. Any type of National Referendum by any country on the status of its National Defence is, IMHO, a crap shoot. It becomes a big political issue that has nothing to do with the state of that country’s defence, but what brings in more votes.

    And the level of the citizenship’s education has nothing to do with it either. When it come to the Military, 99% of the general public are plain ignorant about it. It doesn’t matter if they hold a PhD or if they never went to school.

    The Swiss Referendum on the purchase of the JAS-39E Gripen is a good example. It became a game on National Brinkmanship of the political parties, ignoring the fact that the Swiss Air Force was in dire need of new combat aircraft. Much like Malaysia… Yes, the Inmates are running the Mental Asylum…

  61. Is Malaysia Ready to Buy Rafale Fighters?

    Sale of Dassault’s Rafale fighter aircraft to Malaysia could be on agenda during the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s visit to Kuala Lumpur this weekend.

    The French media has reported that Le Drian is expected to visit the South East Asian nation on August 30. In the past, sudden visits by the French defence minister have resulted in contracts signing as in the case of Egypt and Qatar.

    Dassault had offered a 10 year financial package to Malaysia from a French bank guaranteed by the government of France for procurement of its Rafale fighter jet at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition earlier this year.

    Dassault Chief Executive Officer Eric Trappier had expressed willingness to have a long term business deal in Malaysia. He had said that Dassault is looking at different types of industrial packages that includes final assembly line of aircraft, production of some parts, development, maintenance and support to local industries if they were willing to collaborate with them.

    “We believe we can succeed in Malaysia. We have a good aircraft to offer and as far as I am concerned, good government-to-government relations as well,” Trappier had said during the exhibition.

    Malaysia is eyeing to replace its fleet of Russian MiG-29 fighters. Boeing’s F/A-18, Saab’s Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon are the other alternatives that Malaysia may eye.

    With fiscal troubles due to low oil and commodity prices, Malaysia might delay its decision to buy fighter jets, local reports said. However a French government financial package, along the lines of what sealed the deal with Egypt might tempt Kuala Lumpur which needs new aircraft to serve as deterrence against Chinese aggressive maneuvers in the South China Sea.

    source from:

    no doubt about Rafale capability but i not sure how our country can have $ to buy it and operate it mix with 4 type aircraft in a same time from 4 different countries…

  62. In my opinion we should just retired the migs.The government should start saving money and buy or joint any fifth generation fighter program beside f35 and kfx.

  63. Seriously, for some of you guys here,please edit/preview before you post comments. It’s like Malay and/or Chinese thoughts being spelt out in English! It’s a blur guy!
    Secondly, I do think MiG29 upgrades are worth it. Stretch out the airframe & avionic lifespan by 10 years, that means money saved in the RMAF for urgent MRP purchase. I believe upto 16 airframes can be upgraded. That’s OK rather than buying a Korean trainer dressed up as a lightweight fighter like the Philippines or Indonesia. Ughhh!

  64. We need the upgrades. It’ll cost less that getting new fighters. But what we urgently need are Maritime Patrol/ Surveillance aircraft. Money saved from the former can be used to buy off the shelf top-class surveillance packages packed into refurbished Saab 340s or Embraers.

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