Oz Maintenance Work For Hornets

Hornet M45-01 flying over the range dropping flares.

SHAH ALAM: Oz maintenance work for Hornets. At the Singapore Airshow 2020, a briefing by the 22nd Squadron revealed that they will be sending an F/A-18D Hornet to Australia for maintenance work. After some checking I was informed that the maintenance work is actually for the whole fleet with two aircraft undergoing the programme at the Boeing Australia facility at RAAF Williamtown, where RAAF Hornets are being maintained.

From Jane’s.

Jane’s understands that the maintenance work in Australia, which is expected to be completed in four years, will mainly involve work being done on the Hornets’ airframe and engines, although the aircraft are also expected to be fitted with new cockpit displays, a tactical datalink and associated hardware.

The plaque given to RMAF by Boeing for the successful integration of the 25X capability for its F/A-18D Hornet fleet,

It must be noted that with the maintenance work done in Australia, the fleet is expected to stay in service until 2035 as under the current plans. RMAF had wanted to do it locally but apparently such deep maintenance work – where the whole aircraft and components are stripped down to the bone- could only be done at a Boeing facility. Apparently we have better luck with the Sukhois (though in fairness, none of the Sukhoi people or Irkut have done such work before)
Two Hornets flies in formation with a Flanker over South China Sea. Note the ACMI pod on the wingtip rail of the near Hornet. RMAF picture

If you remember, the last time the Hornets underwent such programme was from 2011 to 2015 and we got a certificate for it from Boeing. As part of the MLU, 18th Squadron Hornets also received Boeing JHMC, integration with AIM-9X Sidewinder and JDAM and as well as a new targetting pod, the ATFLIR.
A RMAF Hornet and C-17 comes together in this picture at Butterworth airbase on June 29, 2018

As mentioned in the Jane’s story, we will not be replacing the Hornet’s APG-73 radar with an AESA one. I was told we were offered but declined due to cost issues. It must be noted that the issue about cost its not just about the Hornets we currently have but also the ones we are looking at seriously, the Kuwaiti Hornets. If indeed we actually move on them, funds must be available to ensure commonality with the current ones in service.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

30 Comments

  1. Thank you marhalim for the explaination.

    As for the MKM, it was to be expected that Irkut themselves has never done the 10 year overhaul as russian SM fleet is much younger than that. The only one who has done so is HAL, with the MKI. But as we have a specialized technical facility just for the MKM, it is expected that any overhauls for MKM will be done in malaysia.

    Regarding the commonality of our own hornets with others. Actually our hornets has much more in common with the aussie hornets, although older, rather than the kuwaiti hornets. Kuwait hornets uses the older APG-65. Aussie hornets originally uses the APG-65, it was later changed with APG-73 during MLU. Our hornets has APG-73 from the start. If we dont have the budget to change to the new AESA APG-79, i dont think we have the budget for kuwaiti hornets. IMO lets lower the bar, and just ask australia nicely for their legacy/classic hornets. If it is good enough for canada, it should be good enough for us. MKM + new LCA + beefed up hornet numbers would give a good fighter capability for us going through the 2020s.

    http://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/canberra-confirms-sale-of-25-hornets-to-canada-at-a95-million/130898.article

  2. 1)Paling awal bilakah Hornet Kuwait akan available utk dijual kepada negara luar?

    2)Dan saya rasa tak mustahil juga jika TUDM dapatkan Hornet daripada Australia sama ada beli dengan harga yang murah atau free memandangkan hubungan yang baik antara kedua negara.Australia juga pernah transfer Sabre secara percuma kepada TUDM dulu.

    Reply
    2021. Nope on number 2

  3. …. – “But as we have a specialized technical facility just for the MKM, it is expected that any overhauls for MKM will be done in malaysia.””

    Indeed. With the exception of the engines. We will and do perform the required checks but like the
    RD-33s the engines will have to be sent back to the OEM for overhauls.

    – “would give a good fighter capability for us going through the 2020s””

    The missing key element in the equation of course being an AEW platform for which unfortunately we’ll have to wait an extremely long time to get.

  4. With up to 18 LCA, 18 hornets and 18 MKM I think it’s about enough until the air force could get their MMRCA

    Hell we prolly should aim for more than that figure; 24 LCA and 24 hornets

  5. @ azlan

    ” The missing key element in the equation of course being an AEW platform for which unfortunately we’ll have to wait an extremely long time to get ”

    IMO if the will is there, we can get our AEW platform before 2030 ends.

    This is a sample of what can be done with USD1.6 billion budget for each rancangan malaysia.

    RMK12 2021-2025 USD1.6bil
    36 TA/FA-50M 1200mil 12 TA-50, 24 FA-50. Hawk/MB-339CM replacement 2 operational Sqn, 1 LIFT Sqn
    28 F/A-18A/B(used aussie) 100mil 12 F/A-18A, 8 F/A-18B, 8 F/A-18D, 8 F/A-18A spare. 18 Skn + 12 Skn.
    6 CN-235-220 MPA conv 50mil plus trade in 3 B200T MPA, 4 with MSI grant.
    12 Ecarys ES15 MALE UAV 120mil 4 systems with 3 uav per system or equivalent
    6 EC-225LP(used) 100mil
    1 GroundMaster GM403 radar 30mil or equivalent

    RMK13 2026-2030 USD1.6bil
    12 FA-50M 400mil top up 2 operational sqn, 18 airframe per sqn
    2 A400M 300mil partly used spain/UK/Germany allocation
    3 G6000 Erieye ER AEW&C 600mil G6000 business jet + Erieye ER system
    1 G6000 HAVASOJ EW 120mil airbone stand-off jammer/electronic attack
    2 G6000 (used) 50mil VIP/training (used) to replace Global Express
    8 PC-24 80mil multi-engine training, Medevec, utility, VIP
    2 GroundMaster GM403 radar 50mil or equivalent

  6. Would the hornets be flown whole to Australua or would the wings be removed n flown by the A 400 to Australia please

    Reply
    They will have to take off the wings and probably the horizontal stabilizers as well

  7. ‘Enough” to meet current peacetime operational and training commitments (including QRAs and exercises) and for low intensity scenarios which do not call for us to generate large numbers of sorties for a protracted period.

  8. “If indeed we actually move on them, funds must be available to ensure commonality with the current ones in service.”
    The key is we have go past the first hurdle which is to buy them before thinking about 2nd hurdle to commonise them. I am not sure if expenditure for upgrades is via RMK or yearly procurement but even if going by next RMK to fund the upgrade of Kuwaiti Hornets, we can still find them very useful for next 2 decades which is really a lot.

    And seriously we do need them in the current and near future. Regardless of their lower specs, we can make do with their current configuration if hot transferred and later on give them a SLEP to commonise with the upgrades being done. Obviously we couldn’t afford to buy them, and upgrade them while we’re at same time upgrading our current fleet. A staggered multi year program of upgrade current-buy Kuwaiti Hornets-Upgrade these Hornets, will mean we have a plan to move forward and still keep the bean counters happy.

    @A
    2) Masa tu bila Aus derma F-86 kepada kita, diorang ada dapat habuan dari USA dgn pesawat baru. Sama juga masa kita pulak derma pesawat F-86 ni ke Indonesia, kita pun diberi habuan. Tapi kali ini dah lain, tak ada habuan untuk Aus derma F-18 mereka pada kita.

  9. ….

    Indeed. “It” the will is there on the part of the government; a big “if” which is extremely unlikely unless something drastic happens to make it changes its mind. Given the state of things we should count ourselves lucky if the government actually commits to stuff that has been approved; namely the LCA, MPA and UASs( never mind that these will be in small quantities with no certainty follow on orders will be placed in a timely manner.

    The very good news is that the Hornets will be fitted with a data link – long overdue for something so essential and something we can’t afford to do with. Now we can only hope that the same happens for the MKMs and that future LCAs will also be “wired”.

  10. Am just hopeful (wishful more like) we’ll have the soon-to-be ex-Kuwaiti Hornets and that we’ll have the original Hornets of RMAF back ASAP! The assets are spread ‘really’ thin as is. And hopefully our MenHan has realised just how much… 🙁

  11. One thing, is our Sukhois fleet still under SLEP? If yes, will we have enough planes for operational use when the Sukhois are undergoing SLEP, and the Hornets are starting on theirs?

    Reply
    Yes it’s one at a time for the Sukhois for now

  12. Another first for A400M record i guess..

    First flown with an active F/A-18D Hornet combat aircraft as cargo.

    Reply
    I think the Spanish AF has done it before

  13. Taib – “ And hopefully our MenHan has realised just how much””

    He actually is very well informed on the state of things. The problem is that he’s not the one making the actual decisions (he can make recommendations) and his superior has no time or energy to focus on defence. We can have the most capable Defence Minister but it will account for nothing if the PM (who shares a large part of the blame for defence related flawed and highly damaging decisions made in the past) and government as a whole have other immediate priorities.

  14. No matter what its a good decision to send the aircraft for deep maintenance n upgrading as its the most effective aircraft we have, reliable n efficient. We need to husband the aircraft n keep it well maintained so that it can shoulder its responsibilities for many years to come safely.
    Please dont blame the Miniter of Defence n his deputy. Blame them all you want if we are so flushed with money. But if we dont have money now there is no point in talking as its all a dream.

  15. Lee – “ its a good decision to send the aircraft for deep”

    Yes the decision to send the Hornets to Australia is a sound one. The thing is, nobody has said otherwise.

    Lee – “Please dont blame the Minister of Defence n his deputy”

    Granted the Defence Minister doesn’t make the decisions, the PM and Cabinet does but he should do a better job when it comes to making statements. I actually thing the Deputy Minister has done a better job in this regard. Have you seen the articles generated? Ultimately if any minister is not doing his/her job and still occupies a certain position we can only blame the PM because it’s the PM’s prerogative to ensure those not performing are replaced.

  16. That’s what I’m implying, and is similar to Azlan’s last comment. Our MenHan should be extra vociferous in making his point across to the PM and MoF. It may be detrimental to his Cabinet position but many expect better things from the ‘still new broom’. Especially when its Tun’s decisions in his earlier term as Premier that’s partly to blame for the hodgepodge airforce that TUDM inherited today.

  17. Don’t blame Mat Sabu. Look, under him the Su 30 and FA 18 have been re-lifed, not to mention the MPA (ok only 2, but better than nothing) and LCA and KJA and UAV. Then there was the DWP that at least guaranteed minimum 1% GDP on defence. I personally think 1 to 1.5 % is best. But by the way, why do Hornets need maintenance again, considering last one was only 2011-5?

    Reply
    The one done is 2011 to 2015 was supposed to be done in 2007.

  18. @Azlan
    If our Dep Menhan isn’t able to support and convince his boss to do a better job, then he isn’t performing himself. Its easy to make statements when he isn’t the one responsible for carrying out or shouldering the blame. His ideas should have been coming from our Menhan.

    But normally in any organisation, the more inept the bosses are the easier for seconders to drive the direction of that organisation. So either he isn’t taking advantage of his bosses ineptitude or he is just as oblivious to the situation or he just don’t care as long he continues to get his monthly paycheck.

  19. Taib – “ Especially when its Tun’s decisions in his earlier term as Premier that’s partly to blame”

    I’m pretty sure the current Defence Minister was placed there because he would do as he’s told and not stir things up. I have no doubt he’s fully aware of the state of the MAF and would like to make improvements but it’s not him who makes the key decisions.

    The Deputy Defence Minister is the only one saying the right things; like how our whole procurement system has to be revamped, including our vendor based system – sharp contrast to some of his party comrades who tended to make preposterous and untrue statements on defence without first bothering to check their facts. Statements which unfortunately many believed.

  20. @…
    Quite disappointing to realise New Malaysia is just a repackage of Mahathir’s Malaysia with the same foibles and follies.

    @Tom Tom
    You gave his wayyy too much credit for things he didn’t do.

  21. Tom Tom,

    If you did some research you’d realise that all the contacts that have been signed since Pakatan took power were planned and approved by the last government. The same goes to requirements that have been approved but not funded yet – all requirements issued by the armed services years before Pakatan took power and before the
    current Defence Minister was even appointed …..

    As for the “better than nothing” statement it’s a meaningless cliche. With only 2 MPAs there will be times when both aren’t available – in this case it’s not ‘better than nothing” but ‘nothing”….. There is a reason why the RMAF asked and should receive a minimum of four – four that wont result in less schools, roads and hospitals being built . Instead of prioritising and dealing with the most essential
    requirements we are continuing with our longstanding policy of “a bit of everything of everything but not enough of anything” …..

  22. At this juncture, I’d say we have to make hard decisions, and some may not like them. Our BN ministers were fond of gold plating essential buys, assets. Our MenHan PH ministers think holding tighter to the purse strings will make the Defence Ministry more $$$ conscious. We shouldn’t really be talking of opportunity cost when we buy defence assets. Like buying a warship is a trade-off with building a hospital.
    Perhaps the ideal should be the re-scaling what we can and can’t buy. Say, the wishlist says a F15x but instead buying a smaller equally potent JAS39. Or a V4 MBT instead of an A7 Leopard MBT! That said, making sure the budget’s there for it. It’s sheer utter nonsense for ‘pollies’ to hee-haw lamenting the assets need replacement when it’s printed in the govt expenditure and yet conveniently erased or shunted elsewhere when some Minister or YB needed extra funding for a pet project or two. I for one can’t fathom why this is always happening.

    Reply
    The current difficulties are basically the result of the current PM thinking that there will be no war among Asean countries and that thinking was carried over by his two predecessors. Now that he is back in charge, its really the same thing. So even if a new Defence minister is appointed it will be the same thing. The PM understands that any one given the portfolio will be honoured as he or she is getting a really important job but it will be largely ceremonial and without any chance of changing the current doctrine of not spending anything more as there is no chance of a war breaking out in the region despite what is happening in the SCS in the last decade. Whether or not a completely new PM will be able to see the folly of our current doctrine is beyond me. It depends on the person being able to see the trees beyond the forest. The inability of the previous PM to walk away from the Doctor Doctrine is the reason he isn’t one now. Note that I am not saying that there will be a war in SCS soon but our inability to even prepare for any eventuality is worrying to say the least

  23. Guys, with our economy currently down due to coronavirus, a predicted looming recession, EPF & ASB dividends at an all time low, all time record high jobless rate, the Government in precarious situation (of their own doing), the lack of SCS news due to appeasement of China, right now nobody will be focusing much on the defence needs of the country. Even with upcoming DSA2020, I don’t expect any spectacular announcements from the Government.

    At moment, the views of the rakyat onto Government is paramount (to either factions) and so expenditure for defence ranks way below many priorities. Daily needs struggle takes precedence after all. This status quo won’t change unless our leaders deemed it necessary to manufacture an external enemy that would take away the spotlight from our troubles and hence justify the need to increase defence expenditure. Will this happen? This isn’t the first time it had, and if it worked before….who knows.

  24. Well said Marhalim.

    It also doesn’t help that the average voter couldn’t care less – if that wasn’t the case politicians would focus more on defence because they rely on votes to stay in power.

    Taib,

    We are already cutting back and making hard choices. The armed services can’t cut back anymore.
    Like I said, what we should do is to take a hard objective look at what we really need and to prioritise – we’re incapable of doing even this ….

    We openly state that our priority is our maritime domain yet have only approved a measly 2 MPAs for the next 5 year period. At a time when UAVs have become an essential or integral components of one’s ability to monitor one’s borders and to perform a variety of roles; we’re only getting 3 MALEs for the next 5 year period. Until the ScanEagles are all
    delivered (paid by the U.S. taxpayer) and the unit is fully operational; even non state actors have a much better UAV capability than the MAF and yet there is no sense of urgency on our part….

  25. ” Like I said, what we should do is to take a hard objective look at what we really need and to prioritise – we’re incapable of doing even this … ”

    I have been saying this for so many years. We need to prioritize. We cannot plan things that we cannot possibly execute because there is simply no budget to do that. Why i have talked about LCA instead of MRCAs, CN-235 MPA conversions, used EC225LP and such.

    The positive thing is that, if we do prioritize, we can actually achieve so much more.

    Praying that our country will emerge stronger after all that is happening today ends…

  26. Guys, our govt’s in caretaker mode now with the current PH cabinet gone! Perhaps this is the best time to see if the powers that be will seriously consider what’s being thoroughly and exhaustively discussed by the forum members here. Let’s du’a, pray for the best in the coming days.

  27. …. – “Why i have talked about LCA instead of MRCAs, CN-235 MPA conversions, used EC225LP and such””

    It’s not what we buy per see but what we deem is more vital in the order of things and how we go about buying it; as the procurement system including the participation of local vendors/companies; is in need of a total revamp. Unless that’s sorted out nothing will change …..

    At the end of the day the first question that should be asked is whether procurement should be capability or driven? Also are we going to continue basing high end purchases on the needs of the local industry and other politically driven imperatives or ensuring the MAF gets the desired capability and the taxpayer his/her Ringgit’s worth? Who holds the politicians accountable if the MAF is suddenly faced with a situation it can’t handle on account of years of being under resourced?

    ….. – “I have been saying this for so many years”

    And I’ve long been saying that our policy of buying “a bit of everything but not enough of anything” leaves the MAF in a neither here nor there situation in terms of getting the desired capability and having the ability to actually utilise the said capability effectively ….

  28. Taib,

    A radical change in government might result in existing plans being subject to change and that change might be in ways totally unpredicted. Same goes with the 5/15 and CAP which I’ve long said is not written in stone and is subject to changes due to internal politics, threat perceptions and geo-politics.

    We’ll see …

  29. Taib,

    A radical change in government might result in existing plans being subject to change and that change might be in ways totally unpredicted. Same goes with the 5/15 and CAP which I’ve long said is not written in stone and is subject to changes due to internal politics, threat perceptions and geo-politics.

    We’ll see …

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