Plan B, Part 1

RMAF Hawk 208

SHAH ALAM: Plan B, Part 1. As you are aware the new administration seemed to be swamped with many things that they said were done by the previous administration. I dont have time to go through all of them here but it is likely to have an impact on the military budget. It must be noted that even the previous administration had cut the military budget to give priorities to other areas.

Even though there are many issues affecting the military for this post I will like to concentrate on RMAF Lead In Fighter Trainer (LIFT), the rest will follow suit and in no particular order. As you are aware the MB339 CM fleet is long in the tooth, not the airframe of course as these were only bought some 10 years ago.

One of the MB-339CM getting ready for a test flight in 2008 prior to delivery to RMAF.

The problem is the engines, one each for the seven CM in service. As you are also aware the engines were recycled from the original MB-339AM we operated from the 1980s to 2007. As this engines are no longer manufactured, parts are hard to find, reducing the availability of the fleet. Engine failure was the reason one of the CM crashed in May, 2016. There are several ways to fix the problem which will be listed below.

A Nuri helicopter at the scene of the MB339CM crash in May 2016. Bomba picture.
There are several ways to fix the problem, these are listed below.

Buy new engines

This could be an issue as Leonardo no longer manufacture the CM. I am pretty sure we could find a suitable engine for the CMs but the investment (integration and cost of the new engines) will mean that we have to fly them for at least another 10 years or more to justify the cost.

79 Squadron Trainee, Flying Officer Iain Roberts-Thomson, operates the Hawk Simulator on a training evolution over a simulated Perth, Western Australia, at RAAF Base Pearce. Commonwealth Australia picture

LIFT training overseas

Retire the CMs and conduct the LIFT program overseas. Several countries offer LIFT programs for foreign militaries which we could turn to if we choose to retire the CMs without getting a replacement. Pakistan is not one of them as we have sent trainee pilots there to undergo a similar program but I was told that the result was less than satisfactory. I am pretty sure that the foreign countries running such LIFT programs would welcome Malaysian students but this will definitely cost more than Pakistan.

Omani Hawks.

Replace the CM with Hawks

RMAF have been offered surplus Hawks, both the single seater 203 and twin seater trainer, 103 from the Royal Omani Air Force. The Omanis are taking delivery of 10 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers to replace the 10 103s in service with the air force hence their availability. The Omani Hawks are very similar in age, flight hours and specifications to our own 108s and with these extra airframes, they could replace the CMs completely. Apart from the 103s, we could also buy the 203s to add to the 208s already in service. When all of these Hawks are upgraded these could be operated until 2030. We could also get the extra Hawks while still not get involved with LIFT with extra airframes used to beef up the two operational squadrons.

One of the two RTAF T-50 at Kuantan airbase in Jan,. 2018. via @KaptRahmat

Buy a new LIFT

Retire the CMs and buy a new LIFT aircraft. The obvious candidate is the KAI TA-50/FA-50. The problem is that by buying a new aircraft we are adding more cost to the air force apart from the initial procurement of course. RMAF do not have the budget to operate four fast jet types at the same time. If we buy a completely new LIFT, all of the Hawks must be retired as well so we need to buy at least 30 of the Korean made light jets. A huge undertaking in the current economic conditions. Not doing anything is also not option so take your pick. I prefer the second one if anyone asking.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1728 Articles
Shah Alam

76 Comments

  1. FA50 at USD30 million a piece, with minimum requirement of at least 28 being 10 for LIFT and 18 for light attack role would cost us atleast USD850 million. Make sense only if the macchi and hawks are retired

  2. I’ve got a better one. Since Saudi, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, & India has hawks, why not tie up with them for outsourced LIFT training? Cheaper than sending to UK, Canada or USA.

    Though since the new administration is wary of oil sheikhs influence, that would leave India as the only option. Hmm, do you suppose our flyboys’ stomachs can hold their curry in combat taining?

  3. We have to look at the overall picture.

    Marhalim, is it true that Oman is offering their hawks to Malaysia?

    Oman does not have 10 Hawk 103s.
    It has 3x Hawk 103, 1x Hawk 155 and 10x Hawk 203

    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/first-omani-typhoon-delivered/#comment-276562

    That means if we get the Omani Hawks, the fleet would be 10 twin seat and 22 single seat hawks. Still we need another fighter, or additional Hornets or MKM to shoulder the QRA tasks done by MiG-29s. Then in 10-15 years time we still need to replace them, and the candidate would still be the TA/FA-50.

    As my previous guest article, a fleet of 40 TA/FA-50 would be around USD1.3 billion. This will streamline the Pilot training flow, pilots flying the same aircraft from training to their 1st operational tour (no need for OCU at this step). Another advantage is this can also be a low cost supersonic fighter for our peacetime air policing duties., replacing the MiG-29 in this role.

    Training pilots overseas can be an option, but don’t think it is a cost saving one.

    Reply
    I am not sure of their legacy Hawk inventory it was based on a Google search as well as Wikipedia (not the most accurate one I admit). If your number is correct, yes it will barely enough to replace the CMs. Yes it is not cheap to train pilots overseas, but it will be a fixed figure for certain number of trainees. A local LIFT program will cost a lot more apart from the initial expenditure for the planes.

  4. I’d prefer the 2nd option. Buy & upgrade all the Omani Hawks. We can’t suddenly spend money that’s not budgetted for anyway.
    And any chance of Leonardo buying back the 339s and selling us the M346FAs? 🙂 Anyone?

    Reply
    Even if we buy the M346s we need to buy enough planes not just for LIFT but also to replace the 208s.

  5. i much prefer we go to new LIFT such as FA-50 but that maybe a long way. Replace the CM with Hawks i kind a an option.

    i think that is a good chance. there is a used hawks out there and waiting to be procure. we already have experience with it,have logistic figure out and it cheaper than buy new LIFT.

    about LIFT training overseas,some have point out its much cheaper and budget wise to use this option several years ago. but some points out it as it have different need and goal from ours. is there any way it can be change to suit our need??

  6. The Hawks are already becoming outdated today. Indo/Thai/Php have the TA-50s, SG have M346s. Russia and China also have M346 variants. By 2030? It should belong in the RMAF museum.

    IMHO RMAF should outsource LIFT and with money saved, buy FA-50s.

    Could outsource to South Korea maybe? will they do it? perhaps as part of a deal for FA-50s?

  7. Having a LIFT does not only provide better training than an advanced trainer, it allows you to save money by moving some training modules from fighters to the LIFT which is cheaper to operate.

    Before the M346s, Singapore’s LIFT was the TA-4, TA-4S and ultimately the TA-4SU. In wartime the two seaters has a role delivering LGBs. The M346s also have a wartime role.

  8. Is that official Oman offer their Hawk 103/203 to Malaysia?

    Reply
    No that was an official offer from Groot

  9. @…
    Some issues with your proposal:

    The TA/FA fleet will eat up half the budget for the MIG replacement, and really cannot compare with the MIGs for QRA – for that price point they will only have basic radars and AIM-9Ms.

    Just pulling ideas out of my ass, what do you think of the costs and feasibility of the following 2 options:

    Option A
    Continue to operate Hawks, retire Mb-339s, buy TA-50

    Option B
    Sell Hawks, retire Mb-339s, buy TA-50, buy 12 Gripen-E to replace Hawks and MIGs

  10. @ chua

    Yes it is half of the MiG replacement budget, if you are talking of getting a full budget to get a measly 8 typhoon or rafales. That half of the MiG replacement budget gets you 40 TA/FA-50s (my take? 16 TA-50 and 24 FA-50), isn’t that much more useful than anything that resembles a real MiG replacement but in a few units and won’t fly regularly due to high operational costs?

    Another thing, do you need more than a basic radar and AIM-9 for peacetime air policing duties? You are intercepting civil aircrafts that is not complying and military aircraft probing the edge of our airspace, and you need to visually identify them, so there is nothing BVR about that. Needing anything more serious than that means we are in a conflict with somebody and that will be the time for the MKMs and Hornets that we already have at the front. Only compulsory QRA attribute is a supersonic dash capability, which something like the hawk lacks .

    Anyway look at my post here for what I think the realistic time to get the MRCA
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/rmaf-2020-part-2/
    Yes it needs to be tweaked a little bit taking into consideration the tight budgets of the new government we are having but most of it still remains true.

    BTW both of your options does not undo the rojak fleet we are facing. There is no reason to have hawk and TA-50 at the same time, as is the hornet and the gripen e.

  11. Here’s my take on the most cost efficient (read: cheapest) option if we truly need a LIFT fleet. Retire the MB339s and replace with Pilatus PC-21s (the Swiss already did that). Get the Omani Hawks (and any others available), retire the Migs and replace its role with the expanded Hawk fleet. As … said, QRA doesn’t require a sophisticated fighter so the Hawks with basic radars and ability to fire AIMs coupled with its high reliability, should be up for the job.

    After 10-15 years, when its time to replace the Hawk fleet, the situation will be clearer for us to consider getting which advanced trainer cum QRA plane.

  12. If just a basic radar abd wvr cspabilities, a refurbished mig 29 would do the job at a lower refurbished cost of around 5 to 13 mil usd each. But the penalty is high operating cost which i googled to be around usd14k an hour at least.

    Reply
    With the US sanctions it will take forever to upgrade the 16 Fulcrums

  13. the go-big option only makes sense if:

    Hawks/MB-339 retired,
    more Hornets.

    or:

    Hawks/MB-339 retired,
    new Super Hornets,
    Hornets traded with Super Hornets,
    T-50s with F414s.

    engine and armament commonality could save a lot of money and headache in the long run.

    1st and 2nd option is ok but it does not solve the rojakness of RMAF.

  14. If you pay for the price today you will not pay the high price tomorrow. You pay the price then you get quality.

    But beggars can’t be chooser. So,if the budget too tight just hold all desire and get what the money can buy with the price of less quality and quantity.

    For training RMAF should have:
    Pilatus – beginner
    TA 50- LIFT (cheaper than FA50)

    The golden eagle can gives pilot combat trainee an experience of supersonic speed modern fighter with much less cost if they do it in the “real fighter” especially for RMAF whose all fighters consist only 2 engines type.

    About the hawks….I preffer they should be retired gradually. Canibalization of parts is quite effective to save maintenance cost and keep some of them flying.

  15. @Mahalim.
    I recall that Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, other Eastern EU countries have private companies providing refurbishment and upgrading services to legacy Soviet jets. So refurb can still be done quicker and at cheaper cost, but its the running cost and high maintenance that will make it unviable as QRA.

    @Romeo. The Swiss have changed their LIFT planes to PC-21s. Much cheaper than FA50. We can do the same and it helps that we now using the PC-7s as beginner training planes.

  16. @…
    The problem with the FA-50 is that it carries an Elbit radar and is mainly expected to focus on integrating Israeli weapons in future. We will have to pay if we want a better radar than the trainer model and possibly pay for integrating AMRAAMs.

    And yes both a decent radar and BVRAAMs are important because QRA aircraft are the first responders to any incident and must be prepared for a wide range of eventualities. E.g. even if not in a peer state conflict, there is the possibility of rogue extremist pilots. QRA is 1 of the most demanding jobs for an air force, it shouldn’t be passed off to a mere upgraded trainer. But we wish to economise. So lets see where we can fit in the role in our fleet:

    MRCA?
    Strike/superiority – Sukhoi, Hornet
    Attack – Hawk
    LIFT – Mb339, Hawk

    Ideally MRCA will be our QRA, but its purchase is a long way away. The SUs and 18s are out as they are reserved for strike. The Hawks are incapable, and I argue the FA-50s are insufficiently capable too.

    There are actually 2 holes we are trying to fill – QRA (Migs) and LIFT (Mb339). I argue that with its better radar, weapons and performance Gripen can fill the QRA role whereas the FA-50 won’t be able to. The Gripens have reasonably low operating costs compared to the SU/18s and whatever we pick as MRCA. There is a further advantage to the Gripen actually – it can also serve as our main mud-movers in place of the Hawks. The Gripen is a true multirole LCA. Hence this would be my suggestion:

    Strike/superiority – Sukhoi, Hornet
    QRA/Attack – Gripen
    LIFT – Hawk, TA-50

    with the TA-50s eventually phasing out the Hawks. With the possibility of leasing the Gripens we can also make this a temporary arrangement until we can buy MRCA and pass off QRA to either the MRCA or Hornets.

    Just a possibility for thought.

    Reply
    If we buy the Gripen it should be also be the LIFT as well or don’t operate a LIFT at all. And the replacement for both the Sukhois and Hornets. Yes I know some like the heavy and light weight fighter option but let’s be realistic where are going to find the money to operate optimally such diverse range of fast jets?

  17. Belarus and Ukraine would be the ideal country to refurbished the engines, avionics and even old stock russian aa10 and aa11 missiles for the mig29

  18. @ chua

    I have simulated all kinds of combinations for TUDM. And the best compromise IMO is what I presented here.

    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/rmaf-2020-part-2/

    Why?

    1. Your suggestion entails a rojak fleet of 5 different platforms. The wastage of varied spare parts, non interchangable parts and systems, maintenance systems, support personnel, different training, human resource management (pilots, crews cannot be easily transferred between squadrons/platforms without the need for retraining). Maintaining a rojak fleet just to have a minor advantage between platforms will cost more in the long term, and would be a big problem to get the fleet servicability and availability high.

    2. We need to maintain only 3 platforms maximum.
    i) LIFT/LCA
    ii) medium fighter
    iii) heavy fighter
    That means having to really make tough decisions. There will be compromises, retiring something early and buying something in big numbers up front. So if you want hawks, there should not be a TA-50 in the picture. If you want gripens, be ready to dump the hornets. As in my guest post the best combination in the near future (up till 2030) IMO is
    i) LIFT/LCA – TA/FA-50
    ii) medium fighter – F/A-18 C/D hornets
    iii) heavy fighter – Su-30MKM

    3. Israeli avionics is not a big concern. We have done it before, removing them from the MKM. We have used it in hornets, and would be using it for nuri upgrade too (the avionic supplier for nuri upgrade was bought over by israeli company). I dont see a big issue removing the israeli radar and replacing it with italian or american one.

  19. @Marhalim “If we buy the Gripen it should be also be the LIFT as well or don’t operate a LIFT at all.”

    Gripen is the nearest thing we have to a modern F-16 (other than a F-16V, which appears to be in the $100m range ). Its not a LIFT, its a budget multirole just like the old 16s were.

    “And the replacement for both the Sukhois and Hornets.”

    My argument here is that with Gripen we can continue meeting defence requirements until the Hornets/Sukhois are ready for replacement ie 2030s. Yes its a single engine but this is exploring options yeah?

    “Yes I know some like the heavy and light weight fighter option but let’s be realistic where are going to find the money to operate optimally such diverse range of fast jets?”

    There should be significant savings from operating a single-engine low-end fighter for QRA rather than a twin-engine MRCA. Its the good old high-low mix again. Since we continue to operate the SUs and Hornets this is what we have to work with.

    ————

    The ideal of course is the high-high full twin-engine multirole fleet, we buy 18 Eurofighter Typhoons for QRA and 12 TA-50, option another 8 Typhoon to replace Hornet. That will settle us for the next 20 years until we have to replace the SUs. But each Typhoon is a truly billion ringgit aircraft, counting support and everything. Hence some middle option is more realistic.

    Using FA50s is a real middle-low option as its barely better than a trainer without the Israeli bits, with a vague non-Israeli development future. And even then the extra mods may double the price of the FA50.

    Hence I’m revisiting the Gripen, despite previous discussion here, to propose this middle-high option. There is also the leasing arrangement to consider.

    F-16V of course is another nice option with support advantages over Gripen but I assume we don’t want to tie ourselves to the US.

    Another option (becoming very likely) is simply to take a capability gap and not operate QRA till like 2025. Very painful for the TUDM but there we are.

  20. @…
    1. Rojak fleet
    At some point or other we will have to operate a rojak fleet as we phase in new aircraft and phase out old. We also have to operate a rojak fleet if we retain both Sukhois and F18s, and not use them for QRA.

    My suggestion appears to be rojak because its allowing for phase-in of TA50 to replace the Hawks gradually. This is what everyone does, its the very rare exception rather than the norm to dispose of a whole fleet one day and operate something else the next. So in actual fact I am operating 4 types – strike (2), QRA (1), trainer (1).

    2. Your proposal
    i) LIFT/LCA – TA/FA-50
    ii) medium fighter – F/A-18 C/D hornets
    iii) heavy fighter – Su-30MKM

    FA50 is inadequate for QRA as I will point out again in 3.

    Medium fighter – F18 is not a medium in terms of cost, nor is it a fighter as TUDM wishes to reserve it for strike. The F18Cs are a possible option but operating costs will be significantly higher than a Gripen solution, also because of age. Plus again we are tied into the US network.

    The F18C option would indeed be preferable IF – they are cheaper than Gripens/F16Vs, can be used for QRA, and can expect to serve TUDM at least 20 years, after which we replace them and the SUs with a single MRCA type. Then we can truly rationalise the fast jet fleet.

    3. Israeli radar, weapons and avionics are indeed a concern and a major downcheck to the FA50 option.

    To repeat, if we mod the FA50s we will need to source for a suitable radar etc, pay for integration, and develop our own tactical playbook just like the SUs had to. There is no current suitable solution. The risk of finding a wrong and subpar solution is there. All in all it might double the program cost of the FA50s which puts it close to the Gripen solution.

    In fact come to think of it, if we discard the TA50 altogether, whats wrong with buying the Hawk AJT?

  21. My take….why do we need to keep certain fast jets n retire some…lets bear in mind of the constraint budget…tudm have to be brave enough to retire its ammichi…hawks..migs..leaving what is left su n hornet…buy more pilatus for training purposes…
    Since it a new govt…we start with a new white sheet of paper.
    Strenghten the air defence in mid range n hi altitude range..cause its cheaper than a piece of super sonic jets…manpower ar readily available…easy to absorb by new battalion unlike flyboys.
    When options ar available…money is ready then we talk about new flying toys….

  22. @ Chua

    A question. Are you talking about the Gripen C/D or the Gripen E/F?

    Gripen C/D costs around USD 60 million each, while the Gripen E/F double of the C/D cost.

    Yes it is good to throw out ideas exploring all options. Remember the this is a “stopgap requirement” to fill in the MRCA requirement for about 10 years until around 2030.

    My opinion is that requirement is best fulfilled by the kuwaiti hornets. No additional type. No rojak fleet. But still, for real operational cost savings and to make sure there is 24 hour QRA watch, the best is to use a low cost supersonic fighter even if we have a new MRCA later, which IMO the FA-50 fits the bill without having to rojak the fleet.

    On FA-50. Do you know what Korean air force use for their 1st combat air patrol in 2018? Yes the FA-50. Have you compared the performance of the FA-50 with the Gripen C/D? Yes their design philosophy is different, but it has a similar weight and more importantly both uses a variant of the F404 engine from the hornet. Saab letting the gripen do some wonders on ita airframe (but its performace of each capability cannot be done at the same time, and one capability will severely affect another). For example the long qouted range means it cannot carry anything more tha a pair of AAM and low maneuverbility due to drop tanks, and the big payload numbers can be done but the range is left to only like 100-200km as the weapons load eats up its max takeoff weight and that means it cannot fill up its tanks to full without exceeding the max takeoff limit. That is something the wonderful saab adverts didn’t mention. That said, compared to the gripen c/d, the FA-50 performance is around 70-80% of the gripen c/d as it is a more conventional design. An acceptable compromise IMO as can perform better than our current hawks, and we do still have the MKM and hornets for any more serious tasks.

  23. Hell, Sdr Chua maybe right after all. Reread his article and regretfully concurred. The idea of leasing Gripens as both LIFT and QRA is worth buying into, if the Hawks n 339s are retired. Its either that OR buying a ‘used Hornets and new TA50 mix’. We’re all agreed the current aircraft rojak mix has got to go.
    Here’s to hoping YB Mat Sabu has got the balls and nerve to present anything similar to whatever’s discussed here 😉 to the PM. There’s not much else that can be done. TUDM is indeed hobbled.

  24. @…

    I am talking about the Gripen E, which is a highly competitive “Super Gripen” with an AESA, new avionics and engine, and said to rival the F-16V in key performance areas. Flyaway cost quoted as $85m and Brazil signed a deal inclusive of support for about $130m each. If we buy FA50s you should know also that it will not be $35m if we include support etc.

    As i said, your Hornet idea is very good, all the more if we can get parts from the USMC too who have just retired their Hornet. But this depends much on theor availability, maintenance and operating costs in the QRA role. Part of the idea of the Gripen therefore is that we will get a cheaper but also capable fighter and reserve all Sukhois and Hornets for strike work.

    Again, the FA50 performance as employed by the ROKAF may be decent. But that is mainly because of its (small) Israeli radar, and ROKAF accepts the AIM-9M as adequate for now, with the actual support of its F15Ks and F16Cs of course, and with integration of Python missiles coming.

    That is very different from what we would get if we bought FA50. We would be getting something more customised with all the inherent risks that entails.

    So what if… we went for 18 Gripen E/Fs (leased or bought), switched all existing Hawks to training duties only, and maybe topped up with Hawk AJTs?

  25. @ chua

    1. On the rojak fleet.
    Of course there would be an overlap during change. If we order the TA-50 in 2020, there would of course be an overlap up to 2025.

    2. Anything we buy as a stopgap for about 10 years until we can buy a proper MRCA. Those F/A-18 C are secondhand as there is no newbuild C model now. Any different type from what we used now would be a waste of resources and will have a steep learning curve. You will probably need 3-4 years to fully train people on new type, probably half of that time if you just need to train additional people of something we already familiar with. Buying something new but compromised as the MRCA stopgap will be questioned when the time for real MRCA comes. BTW the MKM and Hornets are true multi role fighters. There is no such thing as reserving them for strikes only. It can and will be used for air defence if and when needed.

    Anyway lets extract something from my 2020-2025 plan here.

    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/rmaf-2020-part-2/

    RMK12 2021-2025 USD2.0bil
    10 EC-225LP(used) $100mil
    40 TA/FA-50M $1300mil
    16 TA-50, 24 FA-50. Hawk/MB-339CM replacement
    3+2 G6000 Erieye ER AEW&C $600mil
    3 AEW&C, 2 VIP/training to replace Global Express.
    -3+1 C-130H Sell of 3 long fuselage Hercules to fund the Hercules upgrade. Buy 1 short fuselage Hercules (the one in AIROD) and convert to special forces support aircraft with air refuelling, FLIR, DIRCM, ESM system, SATCOM, armour and extra fuel tanks.

    Phaseout timeline
    – Hawk 108/208 2023-2025
    – Aermacchi MB339CM 2023-2025

    If the government really wants to save money, the AEW&C can be deferred, and RMK12 TUDM budget would only be USD1.4 billion. Can you fit gripens there, and how many gripens can you get? Getting gripens only will see the rojak hawk and mb339 continues.

    3. We need to come out with our own “tactical playbook” (with the help of our indian IAF friends) for MKM as at the time the russian does not use any multi role flanker variant. We got a variant of Indian MKI which at the time not used by the russian forces (now though there is the SM Russian variant that is based on MKM). So that is not caused by our deletion of israeli avionics.

    Whats wrong with getting Hawk AJT? Nothing wrong if you like a trainer with aged kinematics, just the latest costs of those is around USD27 million each. TA-50 is around USD25 million and the FA-50 USD33million. M346 looking at the latest Polish top up order is about USD35 million each.

  26. @ chua

    If you buy gripen e, that would be TUDM’s MRCA for the next 30 years. Full stop. 18 Gripen E surely cost north of USD2 billion, and no way the government will put out a similar amount in 10 years time after that for a new MRCA. Basically buy anything new for anything that looks like a MRCA, that would be the de facto MRCA for the next 30 years. So say goodbye to anything stealthy up to 2050.

    There won’t be enough budget to get gripen + AJT at the same time. There would also be the additional training for pilots to go from AJT to Gripen E. No additional training for pilots moving from TA-50 to FA-50 as it is basically the same aircraft. That costs additional time and money.

  27. Super Hornet production line will be open for at least the next four years. Just saying, there is time if we to decide on it later. If we want it ASAP, production can probably be ramped up or they might let us have those intended for the USN, since we only want 18.

    Personally, the best solution is the one that leaves budget for the AEW. Even better if comes as a bundle deal with the MRCA, so it can’t be kicked down the road again. Think it’s been 30 years since the AEW requirement first surfaced.

    Reply
    The offer for Gripen came bundled with 4 AEW,

  28. Ordering brand new FA50 would take at least 3 years delivery assuming ordering now. Kuwaiti FA18 only available from 20222 onwards. Only Australian Classic hornets available for delivery within next 12 months assuming Canada has not sapu habis.

  29. @ Kamal Areif

    Yes, it would take around 3 years from the contract signing date to get the FA-50s.

    Kuwaiti hornets would be available in around 2021.

    Canada is only buying 18 of the Aussie Hornets. 1st Aussie Hornet to Canada 2019. Australia has 57 single seat Hornets and 18 twin seat Hornets, with only 2 of each crashed in 30+ years of service. So minus those going to Canada, there is still plenty (53 to be exact) of Aussie Legacy Hornets left.

  30. Aussie will phase out their F 18s in stages as they phase in the F35s. Even if we buy 2nd hand, we probably won’t see the 1st plane until Canada’s units have completed the transfer which might take 2 years.

    Anyone knows if Aussie F18s are used hard or hardly used, and if they can be hot transferred if we buy 2nd hand?

    Reply
    The Aussie Hornets have been used extensively. No idea on how fast the transfer process

  31. @Mahalim
    If they were extensively used, we should be wary on the remaining life of the airframe and subsystems. Even after purchasing, Canada might look to replace their F 18s with F35s in the near future. We don’t have that luxury in case the transferred planes goes tits up.

    Looking at the possible transfer time frame and plane condition, perhaps the Kuwaitis might be a better option. Just my opinion.

    P.S Sorry for the multiple comment submissions as I weren’t sure if it pass thru the spam filter.

  32. @ joe

    The final date of Aussie Classic Hornets (aussies call them classics while americans call them legacy) retirement is set at 2022, with the first to be retired starting this year. Aussie F/A-18 are used hard, but is maintained diligently and about half of the fleet has a new center fuselage retrofitted. All of them are planned to be retired before reaching 6,000 flying hours. Those with new center fuselages can probably fly another 2,000 hours before major updates required. So that is good for 10 more years of flying 200 hours per year.

    History of every single aussie hornets
    http://www.adf-serials.com.au/3a21.htm

    Kuwaiti Hornets are low houred, probably less than 3,000 flying hours each.

  33. @… “BTW the MKM and Hornets are true multi role fighters. There is no such thing as reserving them for strikes only. It can and will be used for air defence if and when needed.”

    Yes I know. But TUDM is so far apparently conserving their regular use.

    @… “If the government really wants to save money, the AEW&C can be deferred, and RMK12 TUDM budget would only be USD1.4 billion. Can you fit gripens there, and how many gripens can you get? Getting gripens only will see the rojak hawk and mb339 continues.”

    Dispose Mb339. Defer the AEW gives US$ 2 billion. US$ 1.1 billion can fit 8 Gripens’ full program cost ($130m each). Remainder for TA-50s. Next RMK, buy another 10 Gripens.

    @… “If you buy gripen e, that would be TUDM’s MRCA for the next 30 years. Full stop.”

    Sorry to say, but IF we can’t get used Hornets affordably (disclaimer), I would actually favour this.

    TUDM already has a squadron of decent twin-engine MRCA. That is the “high”. Gripen is the “low”, a very decent low. The Gripen E can compete with the F-16V as the best single-engine fighter currently on paper, it is merely combat-unproven. 2 squadrons of fast-jet fighters is essentially what we have always had.

    The lower cost of the Gripens should be able to shorten the time between now and buying a single MRCA model to replace the Hornets and Sukhois both.

    @Marhalim,

    do you have in your notes the price of the Gripen deal offered to the Msian Govt previously?

    Reply
    No they never gave the price for the Gripens..

  34. How much would the used F18s be for the Aussie fleet and the Kuwaitis? If we can get another 18 planes, perhaps the sufficient Hornets can be tasked for QRA. Then the remaining Hawks can be tasked for LIFT in replacement of the MB339s.

    This arrangement might tide us for another 10-15 years ahead, which gives us a better chance to get 5th Gen stealth fighters instead (from China, India, Korea, Japan, Russia?, 2nd hand F35s?).

    Reply
    It’s difficult to ascertain the price as we have not made an offer to Kuwait just enquiries the last time check. There’s no interest in the Aussie Hornets, they are the A/B variants unlike the Kuwaitis one and had been flown to the bone

  35. @ chua

    That “lower” cost of gripen E is actually the same price as a super hornet or even the F-35.

    It is like saying the expensive but small smart fortwo is a decent alternative to a perodua axia.

    The MKM can be used past 2040. There is no need to replace that and definately no western fighter other than the F-15SE that has the same capability as the MKM. The next rancangan malaysia will see some serious cost cutting. If a public project like the HSR is now in doubt, do you think a clearly expensive gripen e will get the green light? If from my plan the AEW is deferred, that money saved will surely go to pay debts, not on more weapons. So what i meant if in rancangan malaysia ke 12 2021-2025 budget for TUDM is just USD1.4 billion, would that be prudent to spend all of that on just 8 Gripen E (there won’t be any money on top of that to buy TA-50)? What kind of effect 8 Gripen E will contribute to improve TUDM operational condition compared to 40 TA/FA-50? Does it lower the overall operational cost when there is still a rojak of many types of fighters? Does it increase the operational availability? You will need more manpower as each type will require people that is fully familiar with that particular aircraft type, from pilots to the technicians.

  36. @ joe

    Price of used hornets? The last time used hornets was sold was in 1995 by us navy to spain. If from a friendly country like kuwait or australia it could probably be free (australia has given us free avon sabre before) or just a token amount.

    Indonesia got 24 free F-16 from usa stored examples, and spent usd700 million on upgrades. Kuwaiti and australian are maintained and upgraded continously so those are up to the latest standards.

  37. The aussie hornets are upgraded to the latest C/D standards. Some history:

    The Royal Australian Air Force
    announced its plan to buy 75 Hornets
    to replace its Dassault Mirage III-Os
    on October 20, 1981. The first two
    aircraft, two-seat versions delivered
    May 17, 1985, were built by
    McDonnell Douglas/Northrop. The
    remaining aircraft, beginning in May
    1985, were assembled by Aerospace
    Technologies of Australia (ASTA) at
    the firm’s Avalon plant. The last air-
    craft was delivered in May 1990.

    In early 1991 the RAAF an-
    nounced an upgrade program for its
    73 Hornets in inventory. The program
    involves structural and avionics mod-
    ifications, bringing the aircraft to
    “C/D Minus” configuration.
    In 1995,the RAAF announced its HUG (Hornet Upgrade) program, which will
    bring the fleet up to late model C/D
    standard, including an APG-65 radar
    upgrade. The first phase of HUG is
    being implemented between 2000
    and 2002, and the first completed air-
    craft was delivered in late 2000.
    Also, Hughes delivered two
    APG-73 radars to Australia in July
    1997, and the RAAF signed a contract
    in March 2000 to upgrade the rest of
    its fleet. This is the second phase of
    HUG, which also includes a MIDS
    datalink and a new EW system. The
    last of 71 Hornets with APG-73 ra-
    dars was re-delivered to the RAAF in
    August 2003.

    In July 2002, Australia initiated
    HUG Phase Three, which was fully
    approved in December 2003. This in-
    volves a structural refurbishment pro-
    gram, with Boeing Australia and
    BAE Systems acting as contractor.
    The firms are replacing the airframe
    center barrel (on some aircraft) and
    other components. Total value of
    Phase Three is estimated at $230 mil-
    lion.

    Also, in September 2005 Austalia
    ordered 37 Litening AT targetting
    pods. Australia plans to keep its Hor-
    nets in service until 2018-2020.

  38. @… “That “lower” cost of gripen E is actually the same price as a super hornet or even the F-35”

    $130m per Gripen is based on contract price, inclusive of support costs. The quoted prices of about $100m per Hornet/F-35 are flyaway costs not inclusive of support which can go up to 2 or 3 times the unit flyaway cost.

    @… “definately no western fighter other than the F-15SE that has the same capability as the MKM”

    debatable, but okay.

    @… “What kind of effect 8 Gripen E will contribute to improve TUDM operational condition compared to 40 TA/FA-50?”

    It will give TUDM an cheaper single-engine aircraft to operate other than the expensive twin-engine aircraft that is nothing more than a WVR trainer less capable than the F-20 Tigershark.

    @… “rojak”

    You keep saying that. I have already pointed out to you a few times now that the rojak is mainly due to the Sukhois/Hornets and Mb339s/Hawks. The SUs/18s are immutable. We can retire the Mb339s but have to phase-in TA-50s. Therefore, the rojak is unavoidable.

    You’re attempting to force-fit the FA-50 due to budgetary concerns and type-rationalisation. I can agree with the first but not the second, because for any role other than LIFT and insurgent hunting the FA-50 is unsuitable.

    What I’ve noticed is that here, we’ve been sort of pegged into the idea that its “twin-engine MRCA or bust”. I’m questioning that assumption.

    1 point against the used F/A-18C/D idea is apparently high maintenance costs, based on the USMC’s experiences.

  39. @ chua

    1. Super hornet flyaway cost is USD75 mil. Its cost with support is around USD130 mil. So that seems to be the most expensive “light” fighter there is (i wouldn’t place gripen e as a light fighter, but as you insist lets play along)

    2. What is less capable than the F-20 tigershark? FA-50? Are you sure?

    3. You have not said anything on the hawks. Retire with the mb339?

    Say each gripen E (no gripen F as you say only buy 8) is USD130 million. That is USD1.04 billion. Say 12 TA-50. The cheapest version without radar is USD25 million. That is USD300 million. That gives a fleet of:
    18x Su-30MKM gong kedak
    8x F/A-18D butterworth
    8x Gripen E kuantan
    12x TA-50 kuantan

    QRA is in Kuantan only? So that means east malaysia has no fighter cover? How do you convert novice pilots from TA-50 to Gripen E? Do you really need all the Gripen E superior tech to do mundane tasks such as air policing and intercepting airliners?

    BTW this is a good read.
    http://www.africanaerospace.aero/south-korea-s-eagle-swoops-on-botswana.html
    Summary:
    – 12 Gripen C/D offered to Botswana for USD1.7 billion (higher then the Brazilian numbers)
    – FA-50 operating costs is 1/3 of the Gripen C/D. To save operational costs that is a very big difference.
    – Synergy between fighter and training versions of the golden eagle.

  40. Seems like you guys are having a very interesting conversation here. I’d like to offer my 2 cents worth: The problem we, or for that matter any air force in the world is tight budget. The point of contention is always to buy the ‘most appropriate’ equipment, and appropriate means the most suitable, capable, lower TCO, etc. Since there are so many factors involved then maybe we should look at the areas where the ‘point of contention’ arise. In my opinion one area definitely is in the fighter type/class selection. For most air forces we need to have:
    LIFT – overlaps with light fighter
    Low end of the Hi-Lo mix – overlaps with the LIFT and Hi end fighter Hi end of the Hi-Lo mix – some overlaps with the Lower end fighter

    In view of the current assets, and to find the most economical and logical way to solve the problem we might need to retain the F/A18D and Su-30MKM Now we’re sure that we need an LIFT, but can we be happy with one single type of ‘medium fighter’ instead of 2 different types as Hi-Lo mix? If this is the option (actually Sg did it for years by having only F-16 before the entry of the F-15) then the LIFT + medium fighter would be our Hi-Lo mix. The way I look at it, since we can’t get rid of LIFT, the problem is whether we can maximise the potential of the LIFT to squeeze it into the Lo end fighter tier. I tend to agree with … that T/FA50 is a good choice for offering this option. But at the same time I’m also curious that since the Hawk and MB339 still have a lot of air frame life in them, why not we just continue using those? What would be the cost of acquiring new engines for the MB339? What would be the opex for the types and is it more economical to have a brand new type? Without these figures we can’t really proceed further. The next question is regarding the ‘hi-end’ fighter. Our problem started since we’re operating 2 different fighter types in this category, which even the USA is not ‘capable’ of doing. I just wonder if the 18+8 number is sufficient, and if not then how many more are required. I think options such as Rafale and Typhoon is definitely out of the question, at least for the next 10 years (but after that period they might not be available anymore and that\’s another problem…) What good would it make if we can only afford a puny fleet of 8 Typhoon/Rafale? So we might need to supplement the current fleet with either the F18 or Su 30. Since Su 30 is a nightmare to us then there left us with F18. Used F18 that is. My choice would be to stop upgrading the Su30 and use it until the air frame life expired. Get the Kuwaiti F18, and use 24 of those with the remaining as attrition replacement. Who knows we could set up a “Kuwaiti Centre for International Peace’ at Putrajaya and get a massive discount for the hornets? 🙂

    Reply
    I think we can offer Kuwait US$50 million for the whole lot including spares. Then we need to spend almost the same amount to upgrade the whole fleet to a single standard probably with AESA radar as well as recapitalasing the ordnance stock

  41. @ hornet lover

    Doing R&D to fit a totally new engine type to only 7 airframes is putting money down the drain. The RR Viper turbojet engine is actually a low maintenance engine. Just it is very old design and drinks jet fuel at a rate higher than new turbofan engines.

    The best is to sell the MB339 and Hawks to American Contractors to fulfil large upcoming “Red Air” adversary contracts.

    As for calling the Su-30MKM as “nightmare”. I have not heard problems with the platform in sevice with TUDM. Its just a different way of doing things. Problems in IAF is because they didn’t allocate enough spares for normal use, and they skimp on building shelters for all of their MKIs. TUDM kept its MKMs most of the time in individual climate controlled bunkers.

    Reply
    Not really

  42. @Hornet Lover
    “Since Su 30 is a nightmare to us then there left us with F18. Used F18 that is. My choice would be to stop upgrading the Su30 and use it until the air frame life expired. Get the Kuwaiti F18, and use 24 of those with the remaining as attrition replacement.”

    I think the TUDM loves the Su30s more than the F18s.

    I believe maintenance is an issue for the F18s based on USMC complaints. Then again who knows, US forces have high standards. But if the price point is truly $100 million for like 2 squadrons including upgrades, it is a steal even if we only operate them for 10 years or so.

    Reply
    Yes if based on the number of guys who flew the Sukhois that have been promoted up the ranks compared to the Hornet’s drivers. Same as the guys who flew the Fulcrums

  43. @ chua

    The maintenance issues of USMC Legacy hornets is that most have now flown near to the 8’000 hour mark and so many are in need of deep maintenance and MLU at the same time means a lot are grounded pending thair turn to be maintained/MLUed. It is the issue of their maintenence resources cannot cope with the massive backlog of hornets needing MLU and that is their issue right now.

    Malaysian and Kuwaiti hornets hours are probably less than 1/3 of that, even if flown up till 2030 probably will not even reach 6’000 hours, which is the limit australian air force put for the retirement of their own legacy hornets. So we probably wont face such issues although as usual aging aircraft will need more maintenece and that can be mitigated by having extra airframes to rotate through maintenance and a pool of retired hornet airframes to harvest for spare parts.

  44. @ joe

    What would be the opex for the types and is it more economical to have a brand new type?

    The opex for a supersonic LIFT/LCA is probably a bit higher than the MB339/Hawk but way lower than the current MiG-29s. Another thing to ponder is the Hawks and MiGs (if we want to continue using them) badly needs Mid Life Upgrades. Remember they are bought in the mid 90s. At that time computers use floppy discs, and people have no idea of LCDs, Google, Facebook or even internet on handphones. Buying new aircrafts will eliminate the costs needed for MLU, streamline 3 different platforms into 1 and increase the overall capability, be it in training (simulated radar and weapons capability and advanced ground based training systems) or operationally (better radar functions, cockpit displays, datalink). There would be just 1 set of support tools and hardware rather than 3, not to mention spareparts to stock too, so that is a major cost saving to be had. The engine maintenance is the same as hornets, so could leverage the personel and tools that we already have for the hornets.

    Another issue is maintaining the minimum numbers of fighters for us to defend both east and west malaysia. Let see our numbers 20 years ago (1998)
    18x MiG-29N
    8x F/A-18D Hornet
    28x Hawk 108/208
    12x F-5E/F/RF-5E
    7x MB-339AM
    Total 73 airframes. More than half less than 5 years old.
    Numbers now (2018)
    18x Su-30MKM
    8x F/A-18D Hornet
    10x MiG-29N
    18x Hawk 108/208
    7x MB-339CM
    Total 59 airframes. Youngest around 10 years old.
    We need to get the numbers to around 70 again and get rid of the rojak mix of airframes we have. From my previous article:
    2025 milestone fighter fleet –
    18x Su-30MKM,
    32x F/A-18C/D,
    40x TA/FA-50M
    Total 90 airframes. Youngest 2-3 years old.
    Let say we cannot get those extra hornets, or probably just can get like 4-6 additional 2 seater hornets, that would still be around 70 airframes.

  45. @Mahalim
    In that case, the Aussie F18s shouldn’t be considered as our maintenance won’t be able to support its well used airframes. About their drivers, some opined that Russki planes are pilots planes, in that its a more pure experience, hence the skill and knowledge gained from operating it are hence more respected by the flyboy chain. Akin to street cred of those racing in RX7s vs GTRs. 🙂

    @Chua
    So far, I haven’t heard of any issues on maintenance for our F18s. Can’t compare with US because they used them hard unlike us. Anybody else can confirm this?

    @Hornet Lover
    I would dare say its we who should be upgrading our F18s to Kuwaitis version, not the other way around. Their upgrades are probably more current than ours.

  46. @…
    Its not that simple to intro a whole new plane into the mix, even if we remove legacy planes. The steep learning curve on piloting, logistics, operations planning, maintenance, etc will not be easily solved in short term. Somemore for $100million we can get only 3 FA50s compared to 18(?) upgraded Hornets. In terms of mission capability, the Hornets will trounce the FA50s.

    Yes, the Hawks will require MLU but that’s certainly much much cheaper than buying a whole fleet of new planes, nothwithstanding the savings from retiring other planes.

    P.S Sorry if you see my multiple submissions, Mahalim. Not sure if it passes thru spam filter.

  47. @ Joe

    Of course, a new aircraft cannot be fully operational in “short term”. Be it a LIFT/LCA or MRCA. That is to be expected.

    And yes the Hornet will trounce the FA-50 in terms of mission capability, you can say the same for the Hawk too.

    Right now, there is nobody developing upgrades for the Hawk. We need to develop it ourselves.

    There is something you didn’t address, relating to the overall fighter fleet. If you delay everything now, in 10-15 years time you need to replace everything, MB339, Hawk, Hornets all at the same time. If that happens we will be in deep trouble as we won’t have the money to replace so much at the same time. It is a tough decision to replace something now (well now is really like 2021) as the money is not there, but if you compare LIFT/LCA and MRCA, the former is more cheaper to buy now, while delaying the latter will give us more choices when the time comes.

  48. @…
    Yes the F18s do trouce the Hawks but my intention wasn’t replace it. Maybe if there’s sufficient F18s, it can do the QRA inplace of the Hawks.

    Anyways, why need to continue upgrade the Hawks? If for purpose of LIFT & QRA against civilian planes, then its plenty sufficient. It only needs a MLU and replace any worn systems. If we can cannibalise from non-functional planes, then its a better option (Zimbabwe has a non-flying fleet of Hawks, I hear).

    Yes, my plan only delays everything but by then we should have more money and clearer options for LIFT, LCA, & MRCA (hopefully 5th gen). Get the Omani Hawks and our LIFT+QRA is taken care off for next 5-10 years. By then, we might consider getting 2nd hand Gripens or FA50s to replace for another 20 years.

    Get the Kuwaiti F18s and our fighter force will be taken care for next 10-15 years (or 20 years if we can get all the Kuwaitis to be sold, some for cannibalisation). MLU the MKMs within 7 years and it can tide us until we make a decision on MRCA by 2025. By the time we retire the F18s, we would already be taking in the MRCAs, and few years down we can then retire MKMs.

    Still rojak but only during the phase in/out periods.

  49. @ joe

    If we delay everything, you need to spend USD3-5 billion at once. That kind of money won’t be approved.

    If we delay LIFT/LCA
    1. We need to pay for upgrades and repair of the hawks + buy additional used hawks. Upgrades we need to spend on R&D as nobody else has upgraded their hawk single seaters. R&D need more time and money.
    2. The option for LIFT/LCA in 15 years time will probably still be the TA/FA-50. So you are only delaying the inevitable.

    If we delay the MRCA
    1. We have just upgraded our Hornet to the latest 25X standard (new IFF, new targetting pods, JHMCS helmet mounted display and targetting system, colour cockpit montors, new AIM-9X missiles) about 2 years ago. To buy additional used Hornets (most are of the same upgrade status). Upgrades are planned and researched by US Navy and to be fully supported by them up till 2030. So just pay for upgrades once available. No need to spend on R&D. AESA radar upgrade is available and can be retrofitted plug and play in 1 hour.
    2. Options for MRCA in 15 years time will be much more than what is available now. There would be TF-X, KF-X, FC-31, Su-57, F-35 to choose from.

    So pick one.

  50. I think we should find solution based on problems:
    1. Migs and MKMs are double engine fighters. Both have high cost to operate and maintenance. Both have problem in spare parts. The migs has an upgrade option but it too costly better buy a new one. The MKMs is western plane in russian body, upgrading them will give a big headache. Considering the defence budget, both fighters are not helping.

    2. The hornets seem in a better position. TUDM can buy a 2nd hand from others but upgrading are needed. The other problem is not many countries operate this fighter anymore and replace it with other fighter. Spare part will be scarce. If TUDM insists on buying 2nd hand hornet then they should make sure that the fighter will last for another 20 years with enough spare parts or the upgrade will only become problem in the near future.

    3. For training, the hawks certainly is still usefull. Buying 2nd hand hawks to add the number is a good option. It will save the budget. On the other hand, our close neighbours are replacing this plane with a new one.

    4. In shorts TUDM is bad situation to keep and operate fighters in their hand as the budget is not enough. It will impact on readiness and pilot skill.

  51. @…
    1. I don’t see the need to extensively upgrade the Hawks. Just need to Omani Hawks, do MLU and limited updates to bring all planes up to common standards. LIFT/QRA doesn’t need the latest tech in the planes unlike frontline fighters. $50~70 million should be sufficient.

    2. As I mentioned, after that timeframe we could consider 2nd hand Gripen A/Bs or FA50s for the LIFT/QRA role.

    About the MRCA, seems like you agree with my point.

  52. @ joe

    You have not addressed the elephant in the house. If we delay everything now, you need to spend USD3-5 billion at once in 2030 thereabouts to replace the hornet and hawk at the same time. That kind of money won’t be approved.

    Another thing that i have not addressed. Your plan for all Hawks to be dispersed to 4 airbases and used for QRA (as a solution to its non supersonic ability). Doing so would not be viable as twin seat Hawks does not have a radar and cannot be fitted with one as the nose is too small. Using all Hawks for QRA will also mean there is none for LIFT training.

    BTW this is the cost of avionic upgrade for twin seater hawk. Single seat Hawk 200 will need radar upgrade, weapons computer upgrade and RWR upgrade.
    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/finland-signs-40m-deal-for-secondhand-hawk-upgrade-337524/

  53. Ah I forget that with the latest crash, the hawk 108 quantity is now down just to 5. So even adding the Omani Hawks, the numbers would just be 9 aircrafts.

  54. Status of TUDM Hawk 108

    M40-01 active
    M40-02 crashed 15/6/2017
    M40-03 crashed 18/6/1996
    M40-04 active
    M40-05 active
    M40-06 crashed 2/10/2000
    M40-07 crashed 23/7/2005
    M40-08 active
    M40-09 active
    M40-10 crashed 23/7/1996

  55. Just want to get a sense of opinion here.

    If we get AEW, will they be based at Subang where our airlifters and large jet infrastructure are?

    Reply
    Yes and Labuan as well which also has infrastructure for such planes

  56. I am tired of thinking about the future when nothing is being done for our MRCA programme for the past 10 years. With the RM1 Trillion debt, the outlook is just not looking good. Better look at the present.

    Better go for the most realistic option. Retired the MB339CM and get Omani Hawk Mk103s/203 to both replace them and boosting the numbers in service to complete 2 squadron.

    We shall also retired the MiG29N as there is just no point keeping grounded or about to aircraft in service. We shall get the Kuwaiti Hornets to replace them. The Kuwaiti has 34nos of F-18C/D and has ordered 40nos of F-18E/F to replace them. We shall try to get minimum 16 aircraft to bring our inventory to 24. Enough for 2 light squadron of 12 each. But we can always try to haggle for more for free.

    All these would have to be upgraded though to allowed for service up to 2030. Quite a healthy numbers i would say. We will also be ridding 2 types of aircraft to simplify logistics.

    Buying new types is just an expensive ordeal both in short and mid term. The initial buy, training and logistics is just an ordeal not needed at this time.

    The FA-50 usage of Israeli avionics will mean more money to develop alternatives solution. The Gripen NG would be a better choice in the long term albeit more expensive but they already came with advanced avionics, AESA radar and weapon packages compatible with the rest of the fleet (AIM9X, AMRAAM, AGM65, CR70 etc.) except for the SU-30MKM.

  57. @…
    Now that you mentioned it, there will be less overall Hawk numbers available. Here are 2 opinions then:

    Option A
    LIFT. Get PC 21s. Cheaper and and can tide us for quite some time, this being a relatively new platform. Support is less burden due to we already have PC7s. At $1million/plane, total outlay $7 million.

    LCA/QRA. Get all the Omani Hawks and do limited upgrades to bring all to common standards. The QRA idea will be affected, some flights might only have 1 jet at the ready but can be boosted with more planes via interception. Est $50~70million.

    Strike. Get 18(?) Kuwaiti F 18s. $100 million.

    Option B
    LIFT. Don’t get Omani Hawks. Transfer all our Hawks to LIFT role.

    QRA. Get all 28 (39?) Kuwaiti legacy F18s and combined with our F18s for QRA and strike roles.

    Strike. The expanded F18s will continue this role.

    For either options, by 2030 we can look to get sufficient 2nd hand Gripens or T/FA 50s for LIFT and QRA. Let’s say $1 Billion.
    Then by 2040, we can look into getting 5th gen MRCA. Lets say $2 Billion.

    10 year gap, just about right for RMK plan.

  58. @ joe

    Your understanding of defence still need to be polished.

    PC-21 for $1million? Find me some for that price and I’ll gladly pay quadruple to you. Hint, even the basic Pilatus PC-7MkII is USD5 million each.

    Flying cost of F/A-18 is around USD20k per hour. Gripen C/D is half of that, and FA-50 is 1/3 of the gripen.

    How many MRCA can you get for USD2 billion? 8? and is that enough?

  59. @…
    I was in error about the PC 21 price. Sorry about that. It should be $1.5Million/plane (https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/pilatus-receives-follow-on-pc-21-trainer-order-from-351075/ *After convert Swiss Francs to USD). Still much cheaper than any other options.

    Flying cost would still be bearable. So far haven’t heard about it for our F 18s. Certainly the cost saved from retiring & selling the Migs will go into this kitty, will be substantial.

    As for MRCA numbers, 8 would probably suffice initially otherwise why RMAF proposed 8 units. But my plan would be to buy in stages 1st: intro the MRCA capability into RMAF, 2nd: gradually replace the F18s (our current + Kuwaiti units), 3rd: replace MKMs. This will commonise our fighter platform.

    Eventually ending with PC21s for LIFT, 2nd hand Gripens or T/FA50s for QRA/LCA, MRCA for everything else.

  60. For USD 2 billion you can get 40 MRCA..but MIG35 without AESA radar just like the Egyptian..yeah it will never be considered by RMAF top brass

  61. Mig 35 is based off Mig 25 (29?) platform which is even more ancient than the Su 27 that was our MKMs ancestor. It wasn’t designed for MRCA role and without AESA doesn’t help matters since future adversaries will be 5th gen stealths.

  62. If I am not mistaken MIG #5 is an evolvement of MIG29 SMT, slightly better than the indian upgraded MIG29 UPG. Currently Russia and Egypt are the known user.The Zhuk AESA radar to be included in the Russian version, which when it happens in 2018/19 will be the first operational Russian fighter to be equipped with AESA (as claimed by wiki). Just like Su27 which later morphed into SU30/32/35, the original version was never intended as an MRCA, but the India UPG upgrades seems in theory allowed the MIG29 frame to perform all that. Whether it will be as good as the theory the jury still out there.

  63. @…
    Sorry about that. Saw 17 there and thought that was the numbers they bought. A lack of sleep due to various timezones. So ~$16 Million each. Still not so bad.

  64. Romeo: “The MKMs is western plane in russian body, upgrading them will give a big headache.”

    I’ve heard this before- even heard someone say the French content means it has a “Rafale soul.” The fact is the only things French are the Damocles pod, IFF, radios and helmets. Contrary to some beliefs, we never integrated French weapons.

    “The other problem is not many countries operate this fighter anymore and replace it with other fighter. Spare part will be scarce.”

    If there is a silver lining, it’s that not all countries that retire the Hornets have used them as hard as the US and Canada. Also, the retirement of some jets means there is a larger parts pool to pick from- just like how the US goes to AMARC to salvage parts and even complete legacy Hornet airframes. Could be the best option for the available money.

    joe: “Mig 35 is based off Mig 25 (29?) platform which is even more ancient than the Su 27 that was our MKMs ancestor. It wasn’t designed for MRCA role and without AESA doesn’t help matters since future adversaries will be 5th gen stealths.”

    You can’t be serious. Either this logic of ancestry doesn’t mean much, or it wouldn’t be worth anyone’s time to have Super Hornets or Strike Eagles, would it?

    As matters of fact, the MiG-35 is more advanced than our Su-30MKM and even the Su-35 (the most advanced Flanker), in the sense that contrary to what you stated it has been produced with an AESA and the Su-35 is still PESA. What you should be worrying about is whether the Zhuk AESA’s surface modes are as good as its air to air modes. For that matter the MiG-35 has a wide variety of air to surface weapons.

    Both the MiG and Sukhoi started as dedicated air superiority fighters (as did the F-15 which no one says isn’t a good MRCA). They were intended as different range and weight classes and one could argue the lower altitude optimisation, smaller size and simplicity of the MiG-29 make it a better MRCA as long as one does not require the Flanker’s range and payload. It’s proving to be a popular export, you know.

  65. @ AM

    “I’ve heard this before- even heard someone say the French content means it has a “Rafale soul.” The fact is the only things French are the Damocles pod, IFF, radios and helmets. Contrary to some beliefs, we never integrated French weapons”

    Frenchie things in MKM
    – Thales wide angle HUD
    – Thales multi function displays
    – Thales IFF (birdslicer)
    – Sagem Sigma 95 inertial navigation system.
    – MSA gallet LA100 helmet
    – Thales Damocles targeting pod
    – Thales NAVFLIR

    Radios are from Rhode & Schwartz

    France offered Mica missile integration with MKM but the offer was not taken up due to cost considerations.

  66. Thanks for pointing out the error. I got mixed up between Mig 35 & 31. Then again, talking about Russki planes is moot point, no? Not with the JIT revelation and the continuing stubbornness of Russia about the findings.

  67. Just wishing there are some people with influencing power from MOD/RMAF reading this site. Unless there’s something significantly different from what’s already available in the public domain that will alter the decision making, I think we can reach a pretty logical and economical consent here, that is:

    – obtain additional used F/A18 on the cheap, Oz samples included since some of those are with fuselage change, and they were upgraded to C/D standard – Almost all here agreed

    – obtain additional Hawks – debatable.

    – obtain new T/FA50 – debatable, but I believe in the long run when we retire the Hawks/macchi, it’s either T/FA50 or M346. Maybe it’s good to buy it now?

    – get rid of the Hawks and macchi (as LIFT) – not much debated. I think we have to look at the TCO of operating such airplanes in the LIFT role as oppose to obtaining new type and the salvage value of selling them off. The role of LCA is just a bolt on bonus of operating a similar jet of the same family.

    – sell off Mig29 – I think all of us will agree on this point, but there’s just no buyer and the value could be extremely low. These are the white tails…

    – obtain new MRCA in the next 10 years – Everyone can see that this is but a wish…

  68. Just wishing there are some people with influencing power from MOD/RMAF reading this site. Unless there’s something significantly different from what’s already available in the public domain that will alter the decision making, I think we can reach a pretty logical and economical consent here, that is:

    – obtain additional used F/A18 on the cheap, Oz samples included since some of those are with fuselage change, and they were upgraded to C/D standard – Almost all here agreed

    – obtain additional Hawks – debatable.

    – obtain new T/FA50 – debatable, but I believe in the long run when we retire the Hawks/macchi, it’s either T/FA50 or M346. Maybe it’s good to buy it now?

    – get rid of the Hawks and macchi (as LIFT) – not much debated. I think we have to look at the TCO of operating such airplanes in the LIFT role as oppose to obtaining new type and the salvage value of selling them off. The role of LCA is just a bolt on bonus of operating a similar jet of the same family.

    – sell off Mig29 – I think all of us will agree on this point, but there’s just no buyer and the value could be extremely low. These are the white tails…

    – obtain new MRCA in the next 10 years – Everyone can see that this is but a wish…

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