Second Hornet Returns To Service

A G7 official talking with RMAF chief Gen Asghar Khan (blue beret) at the Hornet readiness centre where the depot level maintenance work is carried out. Note the empty hull next to them with M45-07 in the background. RMAF.

SHAH ALAM: RMAF today took delivery of F/A-18D M45-07 after the completion of her Local Planned Maintenance 12 Years (LPM12Y) programme at the Butterworth airbase. She is the second Hornet to undergo the LPM12Y programme after tail number 01.

RMAF took delivery of 01 on January 5, last year. RMAF in its release stated that the work on 07 started on January 5, last year and was completed on April 15.

RMAF chief Gen Mohd Asghar Khan speaking with the guest at the acceptance ceremony back in January 5, 2023. A strip down M45-07 is in the background likely the second aircraft undergoing LPMY12. RMAF

From the pictures of the ceremony, it is likely that at least another Hornet is undergoing the same programme though its tail number is unknown. As it takes a year to complete one aircraft, the depot level maintenance programme is likely to be completed within the next five years or so. This means that the Hornet fleet is expected to soldier on well beyond 2030.
RMAF F/A-18D Hornet M45-07 at her acceptance/delivery ceremony on April 29, 2024. She was not painted with extra colours apart from the RMAF colours on her tail fin.

As previously reported RMAF had planned to conduct the depot level maintenance of the Hornet in Australia, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. In the release below, RMAF said rising costs was also one of the reasons for the decision to conduct the maintenance locally in 2021.
According to RMAF, the Butterworth airbase engineering branch and No 18 Squadron worked with Rosebank Engineering and local company, G7 Global Aerospace to conduct the depot level maintenance.
Malaysian Defence was told that some of the aircraft components including those off the Hornets were also repaired in Australia, likely, at one of the Rosebank Engineering facilities.

RMAF F/A-18D M45-01 in her new 25th anniversary colours. RMAF

The release from RMAF:

πŒπ€π‰π‹πˆπ’ 𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐀𝐇 π“π„π‘πˆπŒπ€ 𝐏𝐄𝐒𝐀𝐖𝐀𝐓 𝐅/𝐀-πŸπŸ–πƒ πŒπŸ’πŸ“-πŸŽπŸ• π˜π€ππ† π’πˆπ€π πŒπ„ππ‰π€π‹π€ππˆ ππ„ππ˜π„π‹π„ππ†π†π€π‘π€π€π πƒπˆ 𝐁𝐀𝐖𝐀𝐇 ππ‘πŽπ†π‘π€πŒ π‹ππŒ-𝟏𝟐𝐘
BUTTERWORTH, 29 April 2024 – Panglima Tentera Udara, Jeneral Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Mohd Asghar Khan bin Goriman Khan TUDM telah hadir menyaksikan Majlis Serah Terima Pesawat F/A-18D M45-07 yang siap menjalani penyelenggaraan Local Planned Maintenance 12 Years (LPM12Y) oleh Syarikat Rosebank Engineeering. Majlis yang diadakan di Hangar Hornet Readiness Center (HRC), Pangkalan Udara Butterworth pada hari ini telah melibatkan penyerahan pesawat daripada pihak Rosebank Engineering yang diwakili oleh Senior Maintenance Manager, Mr Joshua Robinson kepada Leftenan Kolonel Muhd Faizal bin Ab Rahim TUDM, Pegawai Memerintah No 18 Skuadron.
LPM-12Y merupakan senggaran peringkat Depot Level Maintenance (DLM) bagi pesawat F/A-18D yang telah dijalankan di dalam negara sejak tahun 2021. M45-07 merupakan pesawat kedua yang telah selesai senggaraan yang bermula dari 5 Jan 2023 sehingga 15 April 2024. Penyelengaraan ini melibatkan pemeriksaan menyeluruh terhadap struktur pesawat, penilaian kerosakan dan baik pulih kerosakan struktur yang disebabkan haus dan lusuh atau kemerosotan material ke atas pesawat akibat faktor persekitaran dan pengeporasian pesawat.
Secara amnya, pesawat F/A-18D ini perlu menjalani penyelenggaraan di luar negara. Namun atas usahasama erat antara TUDM dengan pemain industri aeroangkasa dalam dan luar negara, iaitu G7 Global Aerospace (G7GA) dan Rosebank Engineering, senggaraan tersebut berjaya dilaksanakan buat kali kedua di dalam negara. Kejayaan ini adalah satu pencapaian yang sangat membanggakan dan peningkatan kepakaran senggaraan oleh kejuruteraan aeroangkasa tempatan.

— Malaysian Defence

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31 Comments

  1. Finland is going to retire its hornet fleet starting this year

    So, RMAF start your engine

  2. The Finnish Hornets are for the lack of better word, well worn, and their last SLEP was back in 2016 so even if the airframes can take it, their systems are well enough obsoleted by the time these gets retired.

    And speaking of retirement, their president scoffed at transferring to Ukraine anytime soon. Its likely they will use up Hornets airframe lifespan while waiting the F35s.
    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/finnish-president-rules-out-transfer-of-hornet-fighter-jets-to-ukraine-before-arrival-of-new-aircraft/2888512

  3. Marhalim, if I understand correctly this LPM12Y is a SLEP for the Hornets so meaning no need send to Aus for it as was earmarked?

    And from the program title, it means the planes each will be able to fly for another 12 years after their out from the workshop? So est they will keep flying until circa 2035-2040(last jet out of SLEP)?

  4. Looks like they changed the color from dark gray to light gray. I wonder what’s the reason.

  5. It depends, the Hornets used to have two shades of grey, the lighter one is the jets optimised air to air while the darker grey for air to ground role.

  6. Yes but some parts as I mentioned in the story are still sent to Oz for work, ie the engines and others.

    Yes thats the plan on their draw down.

  7. If that is the drawdown plan, our MRCA plans could be

    RMK14 2031-2035
    Batch 1 MRCA – 12x KF-21MY (USD1 billion) – 9 Skuadron TUDM Butterworth

    RMK15 2036-2040
    Batch 2 MRCA – 12x KF-21MY (USD1 billion) – 18 Skuadron TUDM Butterworth (replacing F/A-18D Hornets)

    From latest info the current plan for LCA

    RMK12 2021-2025
    batch 1 LCA – 18x FA-50M (USD0.92 billion) – 17 Skuadron TUDM Kuantan (Yes the original plan for this squadron to be intrim MRCA has changed to be 1st LCA). 1st aircraft due 2026.

    RMK13 2026-2030
    Batch 2 LCA/FLIT – 18x FA-50M (USD??? billion) – 6 Skuadron TUDM Labuan (LCA) and 3FTC TUDM Kuantan (FLIT) (3FTC designation remain or change to ?? Skuadron?). Each squadron will have around 12 FA-50M.

    If possible, additional FA-50 in batch 2 so that it is possible to stand up 19 Skuadron (smokey bandits) as aggressor/flight display team. Or some free ex-ROKAF F-5F as offset to FA-50 buy also can.

  8. Hulubalang,
    No, not the Boramae! This armchair General prefers the KAAN purely for the fact it looks better..

  9. @ dundun

    ” The hell do you want F-5F? ”

    If we can get it by 2026
    – for intrim FLIT (Batch 2 would only be received by around 2028/2029 probably)
    – agressor
    – flight display
    That is as i say, if we cannot get additional FA-50 for the above tasks. 36 FA-50 planned buy would barely be enough for 3 Squadrons (17Skn, 6Skn, 3FTC), not 4 (add 19Skn). Just a thought. F-5s are cheap to fly, and if we cannibalise our existing F-5 (we had more than 2 dozen in all) for spares + additional christmas trees from ROKAF, we could fly them 10-20 yrs no issues.

    @ tomtom

    KF-21 is the most logical platform that we can afford to buy and fly. Yes of course everyone wants F-35, including me, but i don’t think we can afford/allowed to buy it.

    KAAN? it is bigger than the F-15. Can we afford to fly that? Lets see if the KAAN matures into a usable fighter. Maybe we can leverage its technology (like AESA radar) for MKM upgrade in 2035 or whereabouts.

  10. My take is go get the right tool for the jobs.
    Buying a 12v drill instead of an impact drill despite the job at hand requires an impact drill is a penny wise pound foolish move. Sure its cheaper but one the others hand you ain’t gonna be able the perform the task you wish to perform.

    So If one wants a 5th gen jet then go buy a proper 5th gen jet.
    Instead of going for a 4th gen jet cosplaying as a 5th gen one.

  11. This MRO setup is a good effort for building local talent but as usual with going local, Im doubtful about the saving money part as often its the reverse where we have to spend even more money to localise. And for a setup that can only manage 1 plane a year, Im doubtful such a slow rate is workable for TUDM operational needs nor is it economically sustainable. I mean positively we now have the capability to do the same localising SLEP for MKMs (so we dont need send to Russia) and upcoming 18x LCA/FLIT planes too but are we going to wait 18 years from 1st until the last plane is fully upgraded? Im all for a more viably sustainable program and for that they need to deliver 3-4 planes a year, not the current rate today.

    “Yes thats the plan on their draw down.”
    Indeed its what i have been saying all along that were going to be using the Hornets way past their OEM support end date (in 2035) unlike some that had insisted were going to stop using them as soon as after the cutoff date.
    If that is the case we still have more time up to 2030+ to make a decision for 5th gen MRCA with an eye to begin deliveries and induction to TLDM starting from 2035 so right around the time when we start retiring the Hornets one by one we are already receiving the new jets on a 1to1 replacement. So imho the ‘rush’ to make a decision for MRCA is premature and we still can wait a bit more for more 5th gen platforms to mature. Its what I have been saying all along.

    “Or some free ex-ROKAF F-5F as offset”
    We have long put our own F5 to pastures why do we want a return to them? As cannon fodder to waste opponent missiles onto them? What about the poor pilots then?

  12. @ darthzaft

    ” So If one wants a 5th gen jet then go buy a proper 5th gen jet.
    Instead of going for a 4th gen jet cosplaying as a 5th gen one ”

    So you prefer the subsonic M346 for LCA but want “proper” 5th gen jet?

    @ joe

    ” We have long put our own F5 to pastures why do we want a return to them? As cannon fodder to waste opponent missiles onto them? What about the poor pilots then? ”
    Please read carefully and understand what i write before attempting to reply to me.

  13. If we can be really good at this, maybe we should acquire the Finnish high mileage Cs and Ds, refurbish them and I am sure there are buyers. We keep the Ds of course.

  14. Hulubalang “So you prefer the subsonic M346 for LCA but want β€œproper” 5th gen jet?”

    Had said it times and times again but somehow it never get through to you. I only said the M346 is likely the politicians favorite at that point in time. Getting a half yankie LCA what more with yankie radar and effector was quite a surprise from a foreign policy perspective.

  15. I quite like the idea of getting the Finnish Hornets even if we need to do some extensive work on them.
    We might as well get and work on them since we have done SLEP on our own with Oz help.
    I hear the Ukrainians aren’t enamoured with Oz Hornets preferring the F16s. That’s their business and if the Finns are willing to part with a dozen Hornets soon, that will be great! IFs again but hey, it’s Malaysia and its unresponsive MPs who aren’t moved by the security needs of Malaysia.

  16. @Hulubalang
    What you wrote is, for the lack of better words, nonsense. An ancient 3rd gen jet has no benefit to be a teacher plane for FLIT duty as it lacks the modern systems of current gen, we have no need for aggressor planes (even Top Gun has retired their F5), and as parades flybys their smaller size lacks the oomph & awe vs a large MKM and we would have 18 LCA/FLITs for this role if wanting smaller plane.

  17. @ joe

    It is “nonsense” because you have no knowledge of what is already done with the F-5.

    As recently as last month, USA bought back 22x F-5 from Switzerland for USN and USMC aggressor units, the same units that is used for “TOP GUN”.
    http://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing/switzerland-begins-turning-over-retired-f-5-fighters-to-usa/157473.article

    Right now, those USN and USMC F-5 are being upgraded to “Advanced Tiger” specification. With advanced wide-area touchscreen multifunction cockpit displays (off the shelf civil Garmin units), THALES Scorpion Helmet Mounted Displays, IRST, new martin-baker ejection seats and others.
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GK5jX7vaQAEmN9d.jpg

    The same upgrades can be had for LIFT mission
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GK5yZFzbMAQMle1.jpg

    The cost to upgrade dozen of F-5 for aggressor/LIFT probably cost similar to 1x FA-50.

  18. BTW all my talk about the F-5 stuff is not a must. Just good to have. If we can get some for free (ex-ROKAF with the FA-50 buy), and upgrade them for a small fee. The best if we can buy additional FA-50 to do aggressor/flight display mission. Still, this is also not a must, just good to have.

    Oh USN/USMC call this mission adversary, not aggressor (USAF jargon).

  19. @Taib
    As I have said the Finns will be grinding down the usefulness of them Hornets while waiting for F35s. Not worth getting these well worn birds.

    If we want used Hornets imho better to pursue Kuwaiti legacy Hornets as these are well known in the industry to be the best preserved units around, coz unlike the Finns these have plenty of airframe mileage left and the only downer is their dated avionics & electronics vs our TUDM local updated but which is something we could do now as above. For me that is the more cost efficient route which guarantees a longer usage (thus better ROI) compared to the Finnish Hornets.

  20. @Hulu
    “The cost to upgrade dozen of F-5 for aggressor/LIFT probably cost similar to 1x FA-50.”
    Does it even make commercial sense, much less operational sense, to pick an ancient upgraded bird over a brand new one when both have the same capabilities? This is not the same comparison like FA50 vs upgraded old Kuwaiti Hornets which can carry more missiles & fly faster.

  21. The highest houred Finnish hornet has around 4.5k hours.

    RAAF hornets on average at their retirement 6k hours.

    Most users will retire their legacy hornets the latest around 2032. We will probably be the only remaining user in the world post 2032.

  22. The Kuwaiti Hornets are in much better shape.

    “We will probably be the only remaining user in the world post 2032.”
    And I dont see a problem with that. This SLEP is purposely so we could run pass that giving us an extra buffer until our 5th gens start arriving, exactly like the Finnish president has said in their case. If we could get the Kuwaiti Hornets in 5 years time even better as we could continue the local SLEP for these units and continue to use them way past 2030. This would help to early retire the MKM just before their engines are fully ran down.

  23. ” to pick an ancient upgraded bird over a brand new one when both have the same capabilities? ”

    Do you understand where i am coming from? From all i wrote above?

    Summary

    1) 36 FA-50 (if 2nd batch is exactly the same quantity as the 1st) is barely enough to equip 2 operational and 1 training squadrons (17th Skn Kuantan, 6th Skn Labuan & 3FTC Kuantan) with 12 aircraft each.

    2) I would have liked if we could buy additional FA-50 to equip 19th Skn Kuantan (so this would be the 4th FA-50 squadron), for aggressor & flight display team missions. This is nice to have, but not a must.

    3) If cannot get point 2) above for aggressor & flight display team missions (additional FA-50 would cost at least USD500 mil), that is where i suggest the option of getting used F-5.

    4) Something that will cost 1/10th of getting additional FA-50 for the same aggressor & flight display team missions. We still have all the spares and technical equipments to fly the F-5.

    5) ROKAF recently retired a few F-5Fs. We could ask if they could give those for free as part of our FA-50 deal. As for interim FLIT, we will only have FA-50 for 3FTC in the 2nd batch, as the 1st batch of FA-50 will be prioritized for LCA mission. We would only have FA-50 for FLIT probably by 2028-2029 in the 2nd batch. No harm to have F-5F for interim FLIT (then continue use as aggressor and flight display team), as right now TUDM pilots are flying the much more ancient Aero L-29 trainers in Canada for FLIT.
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/IPTS1.jpg

    6) Royal Canadian Air Force still uses the ancient CT-114 (aka TEBUAN) jet trainers for its flight display team. I see nothing wrong to fly F-5F for the same mission.

    7) TUDM previously tasked a few of its F-5E for aggressor missions. One of the aircraft is M29-12, painted in aggressor blue
    https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7059/6923898310_b73bd4ab27_b.jpg

  24. Lots of countries still operating the F5s. If spares are available I don’t see why not we hold on and add to our inventory. Thing is we need to really good at maintenance.

  25. @Hulu
    “Do you understand where i am coming from?”
    Do you understand what does TUDM wants? According to CAP55 their intention is for 2 types of jets and LCA will comprise of 3 squadron of only 1 type. With 12 planes per squadron, they could make do with lesser numbers thru leveraging the far better capabilities of FA50 and the much higher uptime availability (moreso when compared to the MIGS & MB339S).

    The F5 is ancient history, forget about it. We left it long behind for a good reason. If its gonna cost as much as a new plane to upgrade, dont even bother. Its not being smart with the little money we have. And if you want to use ‘as is’ its akin to todays learner students practising on a car with ancient 4 gear clutch when nearly every car in the market is using CVT. In other words it has no practical lesson to prepare students to driving todays modern cars fitted with intelligent self driving functions.

    “I see nothing wrong to fly F-5F for the same mission.”
    We have no need for a fancy display team when we are struggling to adequately equipped our current forces. No need waste money on frivolous vanity. Our current jets are more than sufficient for all manner of parade flybys & whatnot. As for agressor missions, the LCA has similar characteristic as F5, thus they can perform the same role if needed, no point spend money on ancient obsoleted birds. Stop hankering for Windows95, get on with the times as today Windows11 is the here & now, no need return to the past.

  26. Thats what people who are still stuck in WindowsXP says, I will leave you to it. Meanwhile the world & technology still revolves.

  27. I am sure joe has no idea what kind of tech is there in the cockpit of the upgraded F-5, or how does a current FA-50 cockpit looks like (FA-50 cockpit does not have touchscreens or wide area multi-color displays, or use helmet mounted displays)

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