MRCA Tender Is On? Part III…All Four Goes To War

KUALA LUMPUR: Since Mar 19, US and Nato forces have been involved in Operation Odyssey Dawn. From that time, three of the candidates for the RMAF MRCA programme have been involved in the operations.

They are the Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale. Now it seems that the fourth candidate the JAS 39 Gripen is also to be involved. Read Here.. This will be the first time the Gripen will see action as the Super Hornet has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan while the Typhoons and Rafale have been used in anger in Afghanistan only.

For more information on Odyssey Dawn. Read Here. Here. There is also the concern about the future Libya.

Why I am writing this? Well apparently, the discussions on the MRCA programme is getting serious and I am told that a Request For Quotation has been issued to the four manufacturers. A RFQ is indeed a key stage that may led to a decision probably by the end of the year. Or it could be a good way to get all four manufacturers to show off their planes during Lima by year end. But if the European planes does show up in Langkawi it clearly meant that they feel that we are really serious looking for a replacement for the Fulcrums.

And the numbers? It hovers from 24 to 54! To be honest, I am more convinced that a 24-plane buy is more likely than a 54-plane deal. Nonetheless, based on the Aussie experience, a 24-plsne deal is likely to cost around RM6 billion (airframes plus engines only). Of course it will take two Rancangan Malaysia to pay for them and another to pay for the weapons and other stuff!

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2186 Articles
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  1. I am shocked and in awed. Where the hell that the money come from? I thought we had used up our budget for RMK10 for the AV8, Cougar and SGPV. I can understand if we splash some more for a regiment of SPHs or infantry gears but a 24-54 MRCAs is out of my scope. I expect the replacement for the MiG29N somewhere in the RMK11 but not this early. Nonetheless, it is a very good surprise if it come through. The Super Hornet is the most likely candidate it seems as a 24SHs + 8Hs will lead to a 2 complete squadron. And ideas were the planes might be based? Labu perhaps?

  2. Bro Marhalim, Aussie 24 SH is not RM6 billion, it is AUD6 billion or about USD5 billion. Its inclusive of 10 years maintenance and support package and weapon suite i.e amraam, aim 9x, JDAM. Plus to make it more expensive, 12 of the 24 is the electronic warfare version or the growler.

    SU is not in the pic? There goes the commonality factor then and another logistic issue needs to be sort out. based on this development, i bet only another 2 years before the decision will be made and the first aircraft will only be supplied between 5 years later. In this case it should be by 2018

    As I mentioned the RM6 billion price is for the airframes. The whole deal complete with training, basing, weapons and support for five years is more like Rm12 billion…

  3. Whatever it takes for the national security, RM6 billion for 24 frames? That’s cheap! Look at what our neighbours are doing presently. Indon is talking about 150 fighter jets on the way. And we are right smack in the middle. Let the armed forces tell the politician what they need to safeguard the country. Because if you give peanuts than you’ll get monkeys.

    RM6 billion is for initial outlay only. By the time its in service we may be paying up to Rm10 billion and a whole live investment of around RM30 billion.

  4. Wwell, what a surprise!. An MRCA is a multi role airplane- a swing role plane which can be good at every task thrown at it.That is to say, it must be good at air to air, interdiction, attack and recce too. Out of the 4, the Typhoon is out of contention I suppose due to two main factors and they are i)It is not yet truly a multirole aircraft.The RAF is now trying to add in the attack role only.Now its an ait fighter supreme-something like the MIG29 before upgrade with multi station ejector racks and ii)it is not cheap at all.
    The Rafale is an unknown quantity and how well it can perform. Furthermore, it is also expensive and with Brazil considering it only, the desicion of the other air forces must be correct.Just look at how people buy the popular non national cars and the same principles will apply.
    This leaves the Gripen and the super Hornet.The Gripen is not a very capable airplane as its only a single engine, no super cruise, not super agile but it is cheap enough and with numbers and a good long range aesa radar can do some harm. This leaves the super hornet.This cannot be compared to our own hornets as its a totally different plane altogether with fewer parts and the maintenance and logistics is totally different.But it is a proven package, in service, bought by Australia who is very satisfied with its service. But then again, Singapore bought the F-15. Why should we not consider the latest offering of the F15 too? Of course it is more expensive and we can buy less only but it is a hugely capable aircraft.But in Libya it came down all the same. Whatever it is, if the government listens for once to the RMAF may we yet get the best and most suitable for our country.
    But please dont bump up the price with huge needless commission that will not go any distance in helping to defend the country.

    If its the Super Hornet there is no way of bumping up the price as it will be FMS deal all the way.
    The Typhoon for Malaysia is Tranche 3, a real MRCA. It is also expected to be available the quickest, by 2013, via Tranche 1 version of the RAF and full Tranche 3 also from RAF line. But like the Rafale its also the most expensive in the region of RM400 million or more a plane…

  5. Come to think of it, why is the F-16 not in the fray?.Its a good agile MRCA-LIGHT cheap and tested

    I don’t know. To say the air force prefer twin engine jets, the Gripen is there….

  6. Another example of our political and military leaders not wanting to implement defence requirements in its correct order of priority.
    No amount of MRCA units added to the current RMAF’s fighter jets inventory will drastically improve our national defence capability.
    The new MRCA will not be able to neutralize the current threat of hostile jet fighters’ ability to deliver precision-guided missiles against high- value targets in our territories such as Agong’s Palace, PM’s office and house, CDF’s office and house, VVIP’s Offices and houses, Petronas Complexes at Bintulu and Kertih, Electricity Power Stations, Water Plants, telecommunication centres, airports, seaports, transportation hubs, telecommunication centres, military bases etc.
    Only a comprehensive Ground-to-Air Defence System at 25-30% of the 8×8 AFV budget will deter and prevent the ability of hostile fighter jets from launching their precision-guided missiles at will against us.Our military leaders should have the moral courage to step forward and advise the political decision-maker(s) on what need to be put in place immediately in order to make Malaysia a safer place from aerial attacks.

  7. Given the limited numbers of fast jet pilots we have and the limited number of LIFT’s operated by PULATIBANG 3, around 18 is the maximum number of jets we can get, even if we have the funds to buy more. I’d love to see an order of 25-28 jets to equip 2 squadrons but it’s not going to happen – not enough pilots and not enough cash.

    Rafale and Typhoon is definitely out of the picture due to high units costs. As we already operate Hornets, buying Super Hornets is the next logical step, with regards to training, support and commonality [not only in ordnance but in certain parts and ground support equipment]. Another advantage in buying Super Hornets is the level of support we receive via FMS, something that neither BAE Systems or Dassault can match. In last Sunday’s STAR, the RMAF Chief confirmed what most of us already know, that the Super Hornet was and is the RMAF’s main choice…..

    YM Lee, for one thing the F-15 requires a pilot and a WSO. Not to mention the price tag. We already have 28 jets, not including the Hawks, that require 2 crews.

    Yes on the Super Bug. That’s why the manufacturers are looking into the deal whether or not we are serious or just simply to fill up the tarmac at Lima.

  8. I guess they got the money from the Customs Officers..hehehehe….

    BTW statistics tells that Malaysia lost appx RM 108 Billion per year due to customs undeclared value etc, it tells us of how rich actually our country trade is……
    if only the army got 20% of it,,,,,imagine what we can do to secure our country

    How do you know the leakages will be given to the Armed Forces? They might just use it to light up the Sepang F1 track and build a bridge to Sumatra…

  9. lol 54 aircraft? let’s say bye2 to the more important and useful project like the MPSS, NGPV and the APC programme

    One must remember that 54 aircraft is perhaps the minimum if we are to follow the Forward Defence Strategy put forward in the recently published National Defence Policy.

    The MRSS and APC by definition does not meet the requirement of forward defence

  10. maybe the top brass should think out of the box,for goodness sake to buy a bare jet fighter just to wow its neighbour,i would rather spend the billion ringgit on air defence missile, hi altitude AA,mid altitude AA,n not to mention coastal missiles n the best passive radar money can buy.
    this could deter any agressor for sometime,while the top brass squabble among themselves what jet fighter to buy in the next MALAYSIAN PLAN.

    There is no squabbles, they wanted the SH back in 1999 and they still want it now.
    Now its how many, when and how much.
    As for the rest, didn’t I mention that they don’t want a lot of empty tarmac at Lima 2011?

  11. sambung cerita to have 24 about to aquire jet fighter plus 18 SU plus all the odd balls RMAF got is not much,if we ar talking about defending Malaysia against the best choice anti air craft missiles,hi altitude AAM to whip all the awacs that loiter for sigint n giving command n control to all available singaland war assets,mid altitude AAM just to harrass their jet fighter,cos they ar armed well with protection suite money can buy.coastal missiles just to ensure no amphbious launches ar made

  12. O.I.C, in that case malaysia will be buying an air asset that is good when in peace time n scrape metal in time of war or crisis,being unable to launch missile at valuable target,because its coordinate is invalid….

  13. RedDot, the MRCA programme is not intended to ”wow neighbours”…. We are short of airframes, in relation to the size of the country and the RMAF’s operational reponsibilities. SAM’s are best used in conjuction with air assets and not as a stand alone option. There is no ”squabble” the prefered choice of the RMAF has been and is the S. Hornet.

  14. It’s an open secret since last Jan-Feb, I’ve been told by RMAF insider that the air force wants at least 2 squadrons of MRCA = 40 units.


    Have a look at the shadow on the poster during the recent Air Force Next Generation book launch. Someone told me this coming LIMA is going to be hot, keep your fingers crossed lads.

    The reason RMAF ruled out F-16 is because our neighbors have them in their orbat, the same applies with SAAB, thus the supposedly remaining contenders are:

    a) The all time favourite Super Hornet
    b) The hyped EF Typhoon
    c) The femme le Raffale

    Well, it’s just my opinion and maybe it’s all wrong, remember, RMAF love surprises…

  15. Dream On Dream On Dream On
    Dream until your dreams come true
    Dream On Dream On Dream On
    Dream until your dream comes through
    Dream On Dream On Dream On

    “Dream On” – Aerosmith


    I thought it was YNWA LOL…

  16. I got the feeling it will be the latest version of SH with 30% more powerful engine and other extras…the Boeing roadmap plus with the uncertainty of F35 makes improvement of SH a viable option even for the US Navy….I do not see any other more tangible roadmap for other US fighters…I believe we would not have any significant problem to go through the Congress approval with Najib in helm.
    EF – not bad – MBDA Meteor, TVC otw.
    Rafale – depends on UAE requirements research completion

    Yes it will probably be the International Super Hornet with probably a downgraded AESA.

    US Congress won’t have a problem with the procurement even if DSAI is at the helm

  17. those with more military experience in the matter please correct me.

    If we look at the 1967 and 1973 war, where egypt was supposed to have one of the best air defence soviets can provide at that time, IMHO their ground target still get a good beating by the technological superior airforce of the jew.

    The Vietnam war where the north also got one of the best GBAD soviet can provide, hanoi still get a beating by the Yankee airforce. Their Mig 17 and 19 and their pilots cant provide enough air cover.

    In the Bosnian war, where NATO pound the Serb, it was mixed results as the Serbs seems to have adequate mix of GBAD and employed good tactics to evade the SEAD action using mainly HARM.

    Point: I believe that we need a mixture of both, balanced if possible. relying on just one may not be sufficient. Budgetary concern will be a major issue though.

    I dont know how they are going to fund the MRCA purchase. The last 8-10 months gov already issuing about RM50 billion in bonds to pay for the ETP projects with the new MRT slated to cost RM48.5 billion would also go to the debt market. Our Debt to GDP is around 50%-55%, not alarming but still worrysome, if we do less than 5% growth then the only way to pay for all that is to raise taxes or improve taxes collection.

  18. To have a well balanced force-wow it means several things.First the air defence must be good.What makes it good? A good detection means-good ground radars that is not easily jammed, air borne detection, control and command, a layered air defence system of high altitude, middle attitude and low lever air defence and also point defence of gun systems-wow all these needs money. But of course, nothing can beat another fighter to beat another fighters.
    But of course the person manning the fighter must be motivated, aggressive and well trained with great tactics and strategy.
    See how complex it can get?

    “The RMAF ” is great at surprises. So what is there for the RMAF acquiring the new MIG 35? Its 30% more powerful, no more smoke(our smokey bandits will have to get a name change if we get this MRCA).New avionics, AESA radar and no downgrading too.
    Lets watch the show

    No Russian birds this time and none is expected in the near future, as the RMAF is still licking its wounds over the Fulcrum and Flanker deal.
    Furthermore with no 4th floor boys and nephews or nieces to come in from the blind side it appears the air force will get what it wants…

  19. What Eagle mentioned, confirms what I suspected – the RTAF’s selection of the Gripen also played some part in effecting our decision. Saab however had one big advantage over it’s competitors – it was also able to offer an AEW as part of the package.

    Something else to consider, apart from the fact that we have a better military relationship with Uncle SAM rather than the countries from which the other contenders come from, and Uncle Sam is our biggest investor, Boeing by virtue of it’s size and resources, is able to provide us with a much better transfer of technology and offsets [which the government loves very much!] than BAE, Dassault and Boeing.

    Kamal, in 67 Egypt had no serious AD cpability. In 73 when they stayed on the east bank of the Suez things were fine. The problem started when they started moving west to expend their bridgehead on the west bank of the Suez to take off some pressure from the Syrians who were bogged down on the Golan, they moved out of the coverage provided by their GBAD and they started running out of missiles! In all the conflicts you mentioned – Vietnam and Bosnia – the emphasis was on a GBAD because of the inability of the air arm to contest the skies. In the long run no GBAD irrespective of how comprehensive or networked, has been able the deny the use of ones airspace.

  20. RedDot…….

    I assume you’re reffering to the ‘codes’ issue. There is a vast difference between ‘source codes’ and ‘object codes’ and not being provided with both does not mean the Hornets can’t fire missiles. Very few countries get the codes, even NATO allies.
    It has been discussed at great lenght already.

  21. Marhalim, hope you don’t mind, I’ve posted excerpts from another forum regarding the Hornet ‘codes’ issue. Hopefully the RMAF will get it’s S. Hornets and hopefully after they enter service, we won’t get similiar, misinformed, cries of ”they are only good for LIMA and Merdeka day air displays because we have no codes”. The opposition won’t be able to cry foul about the prices due to FMS so hopefully they don’t use the codes issue to cry foul. Often forgotten, is that Russia also does not supply codes to even it’s largest customers – India and China.

    ”There are a couple of different perspectives which the analogy can be viewed from. If viewed from an F/A-18 Hornet/Vista platform perspective, then the ability conduct A-to-G missions is analogous to creating a speadsheet, document or database file. The platform can do the task, it just needs the appropriate software (computer) or software/integrated hardware (F/A-18 Hornet) in order to perform the task.

    Here is where things get a bit different:

    In the case of a computer user, the user could just go out and purchase the relevant program(s) which someone else wrote, after having licensed or otherwise obtained the Windows Vista source codes.

    In the case of the F/A-18 Hornet, if a country wanted to add a capability like A-to-G, there are a limited number of vendors which offer such munitions/capabilities integrated with that particular aircraft. Additionally, due to FMS and licensing agreements as well as US control of the Hornet source code and other military intellectual property (IP) the US is normally able to block a sale.

    If the US chose to block such a sale, the country wishing to integrate a capability onto their Hornets would then need the appropriate ‘source codes’ so that the hardware/software package for the A-to-G munitions chosen can be made to ‘talk’ with the aircraft’s sensors and avionics. This situation is akin to a computer owner/user deciding that there is no OTS software written which does what they (the user) wants/needs and therefore they will develop such an application themselves. In order to do so and have it work correctly they need access to the Vista source code.

    Now, if the US was unwilling to sell a nation A-to-G munitions for their Hornets, and/or blocked other countries from selling such munitions, then it is highly unlikely that the US would be willing to provide the ‘source codes’ needed to get the different pieces of hardware and software to communicate with each other. This is where someone would need to ‘hack the source code’ as it were, to determine what/how data is passed between systems. As I understand it, the process is not all that different from the process one would go through to reverse engineer a product.

    Given that it is involving military hardware, I would expect that the process would be a bit more difficult and time consuming than it would if one were ‘hacking’ or reverse engineering a piece of normal civilian kit, but it is certainly doable. IIRC Australia had occasion to do something like this after the US sold Indonesia F-16 fighter aircraft. The US did not want to provide Australia information on how the F-16 radar/avionics system functioned, which Australia wanted so they could develop countermeasures. As I understand it, using various intelligence-gathering methods, Australia was able to collect the information they felt necessary to develop and deploy appropriate countermeasures.

    In the case of military systems, functionality largely revolves are what munitions/mission systems are available and integrated with the chosen platform. In other words, it is not about what features were turned off by the vendor, but what features were added on.”

  22. A problem
    peculiar to the TUDM is a
    mix of Western and
    Russian aircraft that does little to simplify
    the logistics chain.

  23. @mar

    Please put the blame on our dear TDM and give the RMAF some time, they’re trying to undo the past mistakes done by those retired cuckoo planners@generals.

  24. RMAF going to Super Hornet and Typhoon… and Singapore going to F-35 JSF…


    If you had read my earlier postings, I had also advocated the Lightning II over the current contenders…

  25. Thanks azlan for the correction.

    Anyway, as i am a beancounter by profession, numbers speaks volume to me. Rightly or wrongly so, i would rather we stick with additional SU30mkm for commonality and logistic sake.

    yes they are at least 5-10 years behind in terms of sophistication and yes their span life is between 20-25 years as opposed to the western type of up to 40 years and yes they are at least 1.5 times more expensive to maintain.

    But with average price of Typhoon, Rafale and SH (bare) at least USd80 million, only Gripen seems to be close in the price range of SU30 (50-65 mil USd) but with longer range and weapon fit.

    Assuming we go minimum additional 24, the first three will cost us at least USd2 billion before maintenance and weapon. Say another 30% for that, would be around USd2.5 billion. For USD2.5 billion, we can get another 40 SU 30.

    Enough to have 3 squadron, 2 in peninsular and 1 in East malaysia. It is no the best in every angle, but its adequate number and some of its capabilities would give us an added leverage in the negotiating table when we talk about border disputes.

    Anyway, the idea is not to go to war but to deter war and have some leverage in our batgaining table. IMHO more SU 30, eventhough not the best in every aspect, will fit the bill just nicely and bearable..

    Yes I agree more Flankers are more desirable in terms of logistics, training and financing.
    But there seemed to be an underlying unannounced concerns with the Flankers. It is not made public, perhaps due to Operational Security, but if there is any serious issues RMAF should come clean about it.

  26. Kamal, no worries. We are all here to learn something and share opinions on what we do know.

  27. To make an effective deterrence, we need various types of planes.Wwe need ground attack-we have none but the Hawks have to take on this ability now. We need air superiority-for long range we have the Flankers and for short range the Migs .For dedicated attack and deep penetration we only have 8 hornets now.Thats not enough.We cant buy second hand hornets even if we want to as the Americans are flying them like there is no tomorrow since the Lightning is delayed and they have now to get an interim solution in the super hornets. Actually this leaves us little choice but to get the sh’s. The source code issue is something we need to live with as there is no country who will give you a program and then lost control over it for both political and security purpose. Thats why when we buy we must make sure they give us machines which are on par with their own so that we start off at an equal footing.Never mind that they can improve their software continously but we cant but at least when we get them, they are the very capable. The worst case scenario is that the machines just cant hang any new weapons developed as the software cant handle these new weapons. But then it would also prevent us modernising the machines too in that any upgrades to the radar etc would require the software to be updated especially when now all modern aircraft use the open architecture and mil standard for integration.I am sure the opposition is not opposing defence purchases but rather is the money well spent. Thats the question. Come to think of it, why is the RMAF purchases so difficult and the choice of equipment the politicians needs to interfere? See how the RMN chooses its ships and how are they handling obsolesence? They are now doing a life extension program on the two german corvettes with up to date systems and equipment to extend its service life.This is money well spent.

    We cannot afford the hi and lo mix Lee> we just need a single type MRCA. And mordernising corvettes which has not more than 20 years of life is not money well spent. If the NGPV project had been undertaken with careful monitoring and no patronage, the RMN could have retired most of its fleet already, those bought in 70s and 80s. The German corvettes could have been turned into training ships for the next 10 years before retiring them.

  28. is there any reasons why the RMAF object to buying more SU?

    Officially its due to the lessons learnt from the Fulcrum fleet; high cost of maintenance etc.

  29. What is missing here is a deep understanding of what it takes to actually fight and win a war. Large numbers of advanced modern aircraft do not guarantee success. Effective and integrated C4I (Command and Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) is the key to modern warfare, without which all of the Saab Gripens, F/A-18s, Rafales and Typhoons in the world will not prevent a determined foe from striking the “Agong’s Palace, PM’s office and house, CDF’s office and house, VVIP’s Offices and houses, Petronas Complexes…” Israel is the best example of a small, highly organized, state that has been able to dominate much larger foes with even the most sophisticated weapons systems for over 50 years. (Small wonder why Singapore has done so much to emulate Israel). So, the question should be not what Malaysia should buy or even whether it can afford it, but rather will any aircraft procurement genuinely serve the interests of Malaysian national security or will it be another white elephant?

  30. Please, no more Russian planes in the future, even the Indians are not happy.

    Malaysia is also facing the same problems but as for the IAF this must be seen in another context. The service wants Western planes and the current government is supportive. However the current government is rather shaky and a new general election is on the horizon. The opposition are more socialist minded hence the IAF is setting the stage that in case in a change of government, long standing warning will tilt the argument in their favour. However as in anywhere else its the politicians who make the decisions. I predict that the MMRCA tender, should the Indian government was voted out, be thrown and new competition being put up with the Russians being the favourites.

  31. Just asking…. what the current situations for our SU 30 MKM…? it’s still in evaluation or declared operational… and what about the integration system in SU…? it’s resolved…

    The problems with the avionics have been resolved

  32. Fareed LHS, to make a long story short – it’s how you integrate and network your assets to ensure they’re all speaking the same ”language” and to ensure they give you optimum performance and provide you with enhanced situational awareness. What aircraft would you suggest to ”serve the interests of Malaysian national security or will it be another white elephant?”

  33. Maybe we should emulate Switzerland, a nation with a relatively large, F/A-18 fleet … whose current tasking is that they operate on ready-to-fly on office hours due to pilot numbers, limited budgets and ‘why would you even need expensive aircraft to interdict what comes by in Switzerland’. Now, I do understand that geopolitical scenarios for Switzerland and Malaysia are worlds apart, but they serve a good template for re-prioritising our actual defence requirements. Why should we invest in capabilities that project nowhere? Because of parity concerns? That’s an old line and we all should know it.

  34. Really enjoyed reading the posts and replies, lol at the aerosmith post. A little heartened by the fact that seemingly more people are warming to the idea that the SH is the practical choice. I think so anyways. Great post from Azlan for clarifying the source code thingy for others.

    Having said that I don’t wholeheartedly disagree with some of the other posts. I don’t think it’s entirely a bad idea to say, ditch every other fighter in the RMAF and just focus on the 18 Su-30MKM and learning to use them properly. And using the money saved to gear RMAF to adopt C4I as Fareed LHS has mentioned. Awacs play an integral part in the C4I world, which why I try to gently stress their importance every now and then. Although in such a scenario, I do worry about how well integrated the SU-30MKM avionics (including datalinking) are, as well as the fact that MKM’s particular configuration isn’t battle tested.

    But, in reality, it sounds like we are getting the SH though, and in greater numbers than I would have thought. I would have guessed 12 would be the absolute max! In fact I’d say stop at that and plough the remaining money in for training and laying the groundwork for up-to-date C4I infrastructure. I’d like to see RMAF pilots get the training/flying hours that Nato pilots receive (that aerosmith song playing again), and quality training at that. This also means the ground crews are going to have to up their game at the same time. It would be good if we only flew the sukhois and hornets from then on, retiring every other fighters (Mig-29, F-5, Hawk 200) in this “having purchased the SH” scenario.

    And interestingly, in this same scenario, I find myself pondering should the entire SH purchase be of 2-seater airframes? Or a mix of 1 and 2?

  35. @overseasbased

    My spider sense it could be the 2 seater as in line with RMAF MRCA program. A 2 seater jet fighter yield better mission success than a single seater (theoretically). Ditto on the streamlining our fighter orbat, I’ve been thinking the same, SU-30 MKM and SH will be a formidable pair in our air force, given the huge time and training to make the MKM a reality, it’s such a waste if we’re going to ditch those flankers in the future. Retire the Migs, Hawks and F-5, then complete the dream MRCA with only SU-30 MKM + Super Hornet. I’s the best option so far IMO.

  36. overseasbased,

    None of the SU-30 variants, whether made by KNAAPO or Ikurstk is combat proven. Except of course the Su-27 from which the Su-30 is based on. Unlike most if not all the ordnance offered with the Super Hornet, not all of the air to ground ordnance that goes with the MKI/MKM has been tested either. As point defence interceptors, IMO the 15 or 16 surviving Hawk 200’s, especially if fitted with an AESA at a later date, still have an important role to play. The F-5’s are used as escorts for the RF-5E’s and for pilots to
    mantain their flight hours.
    But yes, I think both should be retired as a dedicated recce pod for the F-18’s can be bought to replace the RF-5E.
    The RMAF may have a long term requirement for 40 MRCA’s but whether there are enough pilots and whether FTC3 can train them in time, given the shortage of LIFT’s is the 1st question that comes to my mind.

    There is a limit to how realistic and challenging our exercises can be as we don’t have the gear to simulate operating against a GBAD or under conditions where there is heavy jamming or EW activity.
    The ACMI system when delivered should be useful for DACT. The good news however is that we train annually with the USN and USAF as well as the FPDA countries.
    The RMAF is also reportedly looking at participating at Red Flag. It all comes down to how much cash we have.
    The Sing’s have hit the perfect solution – mantaining training detachments in the U.S. We couln’t do the same with the MKM, assuming we wanted to, as the Russians don’t operate it and don’t even have an operating syllabus and manual for it!

  37. Problems with the russian suppliers is part and parcel of doing business with these people.
    Well they under-priced their goods by 20-40% but make a killing on the spare parts and maintenance.
    Well its one way of doing business and ensure long term profitability, its not pretty nor its ethical but so long as they are willing to sell top of the range equipment with less political strings attached, it could be acceptable.

    Anyway if we dont have money to properly maintained any combat assets bought , we should have not bought them in the first place.
    So if we really do want to kick the russian out of any future arms supply, be prepared to shell out more money upfront but with surety of at least 10 years assets deployment

  38. Kamal, with regards to the Russians, any problems we have with the Su-30 is largely due to the fact that we integrated non-Russian gear on it and created our own Su-30 variant. This was an expensive compromise due to the RMAF being forced to take the Su-30 and it’s desire to ‘westernise’ it to suit our requirements. If you ask the Russians, they will tell you that Vietnam and Indonesia faced no such problems…. Though the Russians have a different way of doing business, which causes problems for even long time customers such as India, some of the problems we faced, such as with the Fulcrum, was due to our own making. We could only go through a single company to source parts…

  39. Eagle, based on what you know, will the RMAF have a problem in finding sufficient pilots and WSO’s to crew the Super Hornets, given that the MKM’s and Hornets already require a crew of 2?

  40. I think SH is the only logical buy since it is reliable battle proven airframe. We may not like to depend too much on western technologies but what choice do we have? And it’s about time for RMAF to do away with too many types of aircraft and RMAF should start now.I agree with Eagle in the sense that the Flanker and SH being teamed up and that combination will be formidable. Not forgetting the AEW though and all this talk about the government not having enough money to buy state of the art stuff… we have the dough but there are too many leaks.

  41. with so many people prefer SH rather than other aircraft (so am i), i doubt it will be a straight forward choice when all the process become official. i believe the nearest contender will be coming from Sweden. for sure they will give an offer like they gave to thailand which was gripen + erieye. if gripen head to head with SH we all know the answer but if gripen + erieye package? who can tell the answer …….

    Some say Its the Thai deal that pushed the Gripen proposal to the back burner although some will say its because the local agent (I am not sure its still his) is no longer favoured …Whether or not the tender process is real or just wayang kulit remained to be seen. Yes in the end its the politicians who will decide which plane will be purchased.

  42. @Azlan

    Well, I don’t know but my guess IF the RMAF are going to purchase new birds, by logic, they will sent some of their crews abroad batch by batch to the manufacturer’s country. Frankly speaking, I’m not worried by the availability of the crews but do they have sufficient flight hours which concerns me the most. I guess that’s why RMAF request another 12 Pilatus last year.

  43. Re: What aircraft would I suggest?

    Well, first of all it is not as if the TUDM is starting from scratch; any procurement has to take into consideration the types of aircraft currently in the inventory. Secondly, all of Malaysia’s front-line combat aircraft, save the Su-30MKM, are approximately 15 years old (F/A-18D, Hawk 208, MiG-29N) or older (F-5E/F). Thirdly, Malaysia lacks AEW&C aircraft, as well as other essential support aircraft, etc. Lastly, Malaysia does not have deep pockets.

    Therefore, considering all of that, Malaysia should purchase aircraft that are going to be capable of independent operations without the aid of AEW&C aircraft, etc., that are capable of at minimum replacing the capabilities of the MiG-29N, F/A-18D, etc., that do not cost an excessive amount ($50 ml USD per aircraft), that will last at least 20 years, and preferable that will come with some technology transfer allowing Malaysia to perform its own overhauls and upgrades. The only aircraft that fits into that category at present is the Gripen NG. Sweden designed the aircraft to operate independently and in an expeditionary role (most other aircraft were designed to operate as part of a very complex integrated network – F/A-18E/F for example). The aircraft is much cheaper than Rafale or Eurofighter. It is also a highly capable, though admittedly small, aircraft, that will more than fill the roles currently performed by Malaysia’s current aircraft. In addition, Saab, the Gripen manufacturer, is sure to enter into a technology sharing agreement with Malaysia. An added bonus: Sweden is a high quality aircraft manufacturer (no more Russian junk please), that is not a NATO member (and I hope everyone understands the significance of that, even though the aircraft uses the US-licensed GE F414 engine)

  44. Azlan

    Yea I’m aware of the Su-30 pedigree, was just trying to keep that particular aspect in RMAF’s interest. Now that you mention it though, I’d rate the MKI’s as one of the better SU-30 avionics packages (ignoring the spares logistics problem for the moment), because they’ve had a local, hands-on, say in the systems integration, and had the opportunity to tweak after they’ve put their aircraft through some decent exercises like Red Flag.I know they did have to restrict use of the Bars in some of those scenarios. And it’s still not as good as a real battle deployment shakeout…

    Regarding training, yea totally, training with other air forces, as well as training exercises (Red Flag, etc.) should be part of the RMAF pilot program. It is expensive indeed, which is why I think it would be wise to focus only on the two planes. Some might argue just one, and I can see their point as I’ve mentioned earlier.

    Point taken on possible MKM training deployments. Perhaps some joint exercises with India or Vietnam?


    Glad to hear you’re thinking about that too. I have read up on the same thing about dual seaters a while back. Although I remember some mentions of a similar effect that can be achieved if single-seaters were sent out in mission groups in pairs or more? Anyways I’m bringing this up for discussion sake. I was thinking if we bought say 8 two seaters and 4 single seaters. Pilots will be trained to fly missions in mixed groups anyways – might also slightly buffer the pilot (or having to train rear seater) shortage problem? Any thoughts? Why does USN use both (haven’t had time to research this aspect yet)?

    Also, does anyone know if the APG-73s in our hornets were (knowingly) downgraded? Wasn’t it the case that some modes were blocked?

  45. Who said we can’t afford RM20 billion for 54 SH? Our foreign reserves is more than USD100 billion. Petronas is pumping 150k barrels of lite sweet daily not to mention an additional 100k barrels daily from overseas ventures. Our national debts of 57% of GDP is almost all internally generated from institutions mostly owned by the govt.

    The taxes alone if collected properly from the trades would worth more than RM200 billion. Ask the Customs officials who “closed both eyes” of more than RM100 billlion of tax monies for their personal gains of millions. The real reason for not going at the bull’s eye is because we lacked of national defence’s lobbyist. Our politicians are clueless of the military equipments not to mention the decision is basicly fall on the PM. If only Panglima ATM and the public are more persuasive and pushy,I am sure the govt. would go along in making the purchase of SH as “kacang putih”.

    But the sad truth is that all these would only be realized when the war breaks up or what the Malay use to say “Payung Disediakan Bila Hari Hujan” and not Sediakan Payung Sebelum Hujan. As citizens, we have to change this.

  46. Bro ashraf,

    USd100 billion foreign reserves is not a realistic indicator whether we are capable of buying RM20 billion MRCA. Economic 101, we import a lot of stuffs so we pay in foreign currency. Where do we get this foreign currency, two source at least, 1 from FDI the other from export receipt. But under both situation, one time or another FDI would want capital and profit repatriation while for export you would need to import capital goods.

    Yes petronas is pumping 150k, barrel aday of lite sweet crude, which priced about USD3 dollars more that brent. But petronas also paying nearly Rm60 billion a year to govt, which consist of 40% govt revenue, still we have about RM40 billion budget deficit. Plus you must remember petronas money is being used for all different kind of things and their reserve are only another 20 years more. In order to replenish the reserve, petronas need to spend between RM18 to RM30 billion a year in capex. So last year profit about RM120 billion minus capex RM30 billion minus payment to gov RM60 billion, only left RM30 billion for working capital, i.e around 4-5 months.

    yep 3/4 of government bond held by EPF, which consist of more than 50% of their investment. This is priced between 4.5% to 5.5%, so go figure why our EPF pays very little dividend. debt is still debt no matter foreign or local. It still need to be paid, even japan 200% debt over GDP is to japanase public, but the govt almost bankrupt already.

  47. But bro ashraf, i do agree onething with you. the Custom collection of Around Rm29 billion a year is a joke. Our economy is worth almost RM800 billion last year, a 6% collection custom( based on service tax figure only) should have yielded us at least RM44 billion in custom duties. We all know that our levy is much-much higher than 6%

  48. Bro Kamal,

    I disagreed with you on the foreign reserves issue. USD100 billion are consist os gold and buckets of foreign currencies. We normally staggered the currencies in 4 denominators ie USD,BPS, Yen and EUR. Dr M once proposed to use the reserves for the budget deficit. Meanwhile as for the Petronas revenue, it is one of the source not to mention we have other natural resources ie palm oil,rubber and timber to offer for counter trade. Remember that Thailand paid with chickens for their Gripen purchase.

    And finally, the purchase price can be leverage thru staggered payments and “creative financial modelling” if only the govt. financial planners know the methods. Apparently ALL of Finance Ministry stooges are dumbfounded and will never be creative. I AM SURE OF THAT.

    It will be a staggered payment alright. At least RM1 billion a year for the next decade. Thats how they are financing the AV8, SGPV and other things in RMK10 and 11. How this will affect the operational budget remained to be seen…

  49. Fareed, the Gripen contains many U.S. made gear apart from the engine. The chances of us been slapped with a U.S. embargo is very slim, and if we do, we’re screwed anyway regardless or not if our militsry stuff has ”Made in the U.S.A.” markings. What many don’t realise is even our Fulcrums have U.S. stuff, minor but very vital stuff like the GPS, TACAN, radios, IFF, etc. By virtue of being a much bigger company with more diversity and resources, Boeing is able to offer us a much better off-set and technology transfer [which we’re so keen about]than SAAB. All the jets on offer and not just the Gripen as you mentioned, if fitted with a common data-link, can operate to some degree independently.

    Training with the IAF does has it’s benefits but IMO we need to train regularly with air arms which have greater combat and operational experience like the USAF, USN, etc. We made one appearance in Pitch Black but didn’t go for last year’s one, probably due to costs issues and availibility. The last RMAF Chief said that disccusions were being held to operate at next year’s Red Flag. The best solution, if we buy Super Hornets, would be to have a small training detachment based in the U.S. with an operational USN or USMC Hornet squadron – but this will never happen as it will cost a bomb. You mentioned the Bars, the IAF instructed all it’s pilots to only use their Bars radar in training mode when they deployed to the U.K. for fear there would be attempts to pick up it’s combat frequency. During the Merdeka 2007 flypast, Tempur alleged that there was a foreign presence close to our airspace trying to listen in our our MKM’s.

    There is no need for them to use cloak and dagger to get stuff of the MKM. They can go to Russia and buy the stuff directly from the manufacturers…

  50. Eagle,

    I’m very curious about the PC-7 Light Attack Squadron formed in the 80’s at Kuantan. Apart from their PC-7s being painted with a ‘sharksmouth’ and in green, I don’t know much about it. Was their main role, as the name implies, light attack or was it also as forward air controllers? Do you know from year they operated and how many PC-7’s they had? Thank you.

  51. overseasbased,

    Many strike/intediction aicraft have 2 crews because of the heavy worload involved. Traditionally, the role of the back-seater was to navigate, and that is why in the RAF, until recently, he was still known as a navigator and not a WSO. In the F-18D, as his name implies, the WSO operates the radar, the Nitehawk pod and is reponsible for operating the Sparrow, Harpoon and Maverick, as well as navigation. I would assume it’s the same with the MKM but I’m pretty sure that with semi active BVRs like the AMRRAM and R-77, it is the pilot who operates it. I’m not sure, in 2 seater aircraft, who releases the dumb bombs.

  52. why not we focus on PAK FA?????

    They want something already in service, the PAK FA remained an unknown entity. And the fact that its Russian makes it even worse….

  53. Azlan

    My bad for not clarifying, but good recap on two-seater positives. I do try to strike a balance between having to insert ‘disclaimers’ in every sentence I write and being casual. Still got some work to do obviously 🙂

    What I was getting at is, given the known advantages of two man crew, even more so in a multi-role plane, why does the USN still acquire single crew versions of a multi-role plane? And they’ve done that since the regular hornet days too. I’m thinking, among possible reasons, is that you can fly mixture of one and two seaters effectively, given they have such good C4I infrastructure. And you’d save training costs at the same time – pretty substantial in USN. But that’s a guess from my part, haven’t got time to trawl through the net or head over to the library at the moment.

    Regarding the Bars. Hmm, interesting. I actually thought the NIIP wanted the restriction as well, my bad. Anyways, hence the training suggestion with IAF, no such restrictions then as they operate the same radar. But sounds like that isn’t an issue, so the su should be deployable for training exercises.

    Interesting tidbit about that possible elint mission in 2007. Although as Murhalim mentioned, and if NIIP has no sale restrictions, then heck, just ordering it would be so much easier. Then again, perhaps that foreign presence just wanted to check out how good their capability in that regard was? 🙂

    Yea, I’d agree permanent detachments aren’t a sensible option for us. Likewise, we could do with more LIFTS. It’s another reason why I advocate 12 plane purchase (if at all) max. It’s no way ideal, but we got to upgrade the fundamentals in RMAF at the same time.

    I believe we cant afford more LIFTs, we have two types already. The Russians will sell their own m….for the money

  54. overseasbased,

    You’re right, the IAF and NIIP both wanted the ‘Bars’ to be on training mode. Even at Red Flag, the MKM;s were using only training mode for their Bars. But it will soon be a moot point as the IAF’s MKM’s in the coming years will be fitted with an AESA.

    USN Hornets. Not sure about the E and F Super Hornets, but though all the USN’s legacy Hornets were ‘multi-role’ the main task of the D’s was all wheather strike/interdiction, hence the 2 crews. Your guess about achieving the right mix could be right.

    Most of the D Hornets are Marines aircraft optimised for ground support and reconnaissance. Since they are considering Rafale and Eurofighters, single seaters could be in the mix but no numbers is coming out.

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