Pylons For The Flankers

A screen capture of the LGTR brochure for Hornet family

SHAH ALAM: Pylons for the Flankers. It appears that the RMAF has finally acknowledged that it will be arming -at least on occasions – its 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers with western made bombs – either live or training ones. As you might well be aware, the No.12 Squadron Flankers have been integrated with US-made Mark 82 bombs which can be turned into precision munition when fitted with guidance kit either laser/GPS/INS (or combination of them).

This was done some time back – around 2017 and 2018 – and it was confirmed by the then RMAF chief. The Malaysian Defence post on the subject was made private following a call from one of RMAF big-wigs then. I was made to understand that RMAF was wary that the US would stop selling us their ordnance for integrating its weapons on a Russian plane. The integration was later confirmed via a video published by RMAF itself which later deleted it.

A pilot from No. 12 Squadron checking what is likely unguided OFAB 250 bombs underneath the Flanker. RMAF picture.

Anyhow, it appears now that RMAF wants to get a local company to built a pylon – which it is designating Pylon X1 – which will be carrying the BDU-59 Laser Guided Training Round (LGTR) on the Flanker. This was revealed in a quotation notice published by the Eperolehan website today (May 31). The notice QT220000000017456 title:

PEROLEHAN PERKHIDMATAN PEMBUATAN PYLON-X1 DAN PEMASANGAN PERALATAN BDU-59 LGTR PADA PESAWAT SU-30MKM

No 12 Squadron ground crew preparing what appears to be FAB 500 bomb. RMAF picture.

The full specifications as usual is not listed publicly but the one listed in the specifications called for the winning vendor for the design of the prototype pylon and its associated equipment as well as the simulation to conduct the release of the LGTR from the pylon. It is likely the company will work with the RMAF to produce more of the same pylons once the prototype is certified for use on the Flankers.
An LGB and JDAM inert units displayed with an F/A-18 Hornet at LIMA 17

What about the LGTR then? Well back in 2017 I wrote a post on the MTO tender to ship 100 BDU-59 rounds from the US. The LGTR, according to its manufacturer is:

an inert cylindrical bomb body of 10 cm (4 in) diameter with a Paveway II guidance kit, and emulates the GBU-10( )/B, GBU-12( )/B and GBU-16( )/B live munitions. It is used by the U.S. Navy for operational Paveway II training to preserve the stockpile of live bombs and their guidance kits. The LGTR comes in several versions, including the BDU-57/B, BDU-59/B, BDU-59A/B, BDU-59B/B, BDU-60/B and BDU-60A/B (the BDU-60( )/B series is usually referred to as LGTR II). Since 1992, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 50000 LGTRs to the U.S. Navy, and production is continuing

Flanker M52-14 dropping unguided bombs at the LKT 2018 rehersal on July 10.

Anyhow, a number of friendly countries also manufactured the Mk-82 general purpose bombs including Turkey, UAE, Pakistan and Indonesia. Turkey and UAE also manufactured the guidance kits to turn the bombs into smart munition. It is likely that in the near future, RMAF has to rely on western-made ordnance for the Flankers as the sanctions on Russia is tightened further.

–Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

8 Comments

  1. The sanctions imposed on Russia may get worse for the next few years. Su-30MKM may need further changes to its configuration in order to maintain service until 2030+. Engines and radar swaps come to mind. I think radar overhauls is still manageable given our electronics capability, the engine parts however.. who else makes AL-31 hot sections?

  2. The way how we maximum Westernised this Russian plane has enabled this East-West combo to happen. If it were fully Russian, like our Fulcrums, this would have been impossible as the GBU guidance system is purely Western.

    Big question now, will this be a locally designed and built as detailed or yet another local company pushing a foreign make as their own.

    Imho, it helps to widen the capability scope of our MKM but that will still be dependent on Russia for most critical parts; engines, radar, dynamic parts.

  3. India has integrated their own domestic AAM and other type of missiles on the MKI, it is likely this will be the next best thing for our MKM. This could be away out of the LCA dilemma

  4. We should just bypass the sanctions and use russian financial messaging system SFPS to continue procuring russian weapons or services for the Flankers. The gov should look at ways to implement SFPS via the banking industry to use for critical operations for the country. We should claim that this is a matter of national security in order to continue the Air force operations if asked.

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