Selamat Jalan, Fulcrum? A Photo Tribute

A four ship of MiG-29 aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Air Force(RMAF) aerobatic display team the "Smokey Bandits" perform during the 2012 Singapore Airshow on Feb. 15, 2012. The RMAF feature the worlds only female MiG-29 pilot, Maj. Patricia Yap Syau Yin.

SHAH ALAM: SELAMAT jalan, Fulcrum? With less than 10 days to go before the new year, there is still no word from RMAF whether or not it will retire its Mig-29N Fulcrum fleet. We know however that there is no upgrade planned for the fleet which will extend their service lives.

With the defence budget coming under pressure due to the uncertain economic conditions, it is likely that RMAF had already made its choice. As I have written before due to the sensitivity of the issue no announcement will be made. As the old ballad says: “An old soldier never dies, they just fade away”.

And no, we are not buying the JF-17 from Pakistan, despite reports to the contrary (as such I am not posting any comments on the issue).

RMAF MiG-29N M40-11 at Kuantan air base in 2014.
RMAF MiG-29N M40-11 at Kuantan air base in 2014.

As this a photo tribute, I am posting a slew of pictures of the Fulcrums. Some are from my own collection while others courtesy of many Google search especially the air-to-air ones of course.

A MIg-29N M43-04 flies in formation with Sukhoi Su-30MKM M52-10 and US Navy Super Hornets. What is interesting is the Fulcrum is carrying the Chobham air-to-air refueling pod normally carried by the Sukhois. Probably it was used to train other Fulcrum pilots in AAR without waiting for other aircraft. Picture credit US Navy
A MIg-29N M43-04 flies in formation with Sukhoi Su-30MKM M52-10 and US Navy Super Hornets. Picture credit US Navy
Mig-29N M43-03 flies together with a USAF F-22 Raptor at Cope Taufan 2014. 03 is one of the most pictured Fulcrum instantly reconigsable for its colourful fins simbolising the 17th Squadron,
Mig-29N M43-03 flies together with a USAF F-22 Raptor at Cope Taufan 2014. 03 is one of the most pictured Fulcrum instantly recognisable for its colourful fins simbolising the 17th Squadron,

During my research for this post, I found that many of the images of the Fulcrums on the Internet were the same ones. I cannot find any images of the tail number 17 and 07, which were lost in crashes in 1998 and 2004, respectively.

If you have them or know the link to the images and others not featured here namely 05, please do so in the comments section.

tail

The Fulcrum with the most images on the Internet is of course the M43-03 as pictured above. I am not sure whether its the same air-frame through out the years. Perhaps it is a couple of Fulcrum air-frames marked as O3 along the years. I could be wrong though I must concede.

Mig-29NUB M43-01
Mig-29NUB M43-01
MIG-29NUB m43-02 lands at Butterworth AB during Cope Taufan 2014. USAF picture
MIG-29NUB M43-02 lands at Butterworth AB during Cope Taufan 2014. USAF picture
MIG-29N M43-03 at the Snake's pit (QRA hangar) at Kuantan AB in 2014.
MIG-29N M43-03 at the Snake’s pit (QRA hangar) at Kuantan AB in 2014.
Mig-29N M43-04 at Lima 2011
Mig-29N M43-04 at Lima 2011
Mig-29N M43-06. Credit
Mig-29N M43-06. Credit?
Mig-29N M43-08, Lima 2009.
Mig-29N M43-08, Lima 2009.
Mig-29N M43-09
Mig-29N M43-09. Credit?
Mig-29N M43-10. Picture credit M.Radzi Desa
Mig-29N M43-10. Picture credit M.Radzi Desa
Mig-29N M43-11. USAF picture
Mig-29N M43-11. USAF picture
Mig-29N M43-12. Credit.?
Mig-29N M43-12. Credit.?
Mig-29N M43-13. Credit Sergey Kuznecov
Mig-29N M43-13. Picture Credit Sergey Kuznecov
Mig-29N M43-14. Credit M.Radzi Desa
Mig-29N M43-14. Picture credit M.Radzi Desa
Mig-29N M43-15. Credit Norman Yusof
Mig-29N M43-15. Picture credit Norman Yusof
Mig-29N M43-16
Mig-29N M43-16
Mig-29N M43-18
Mig-29N M43-18
A gaggle of Fulcrums at LIMA 2011.
A gaggle of Fulcrums at LIMA 2011.

And last but not least, a picture of a Fulcrum flying with a US Navy Tomcat. The picture was probably taken in 2004 prior to the retirement of the latter.

RMAF Mig-29N Fulcrum flies with a US Navy Tomcat. US Navy.
RMAF Mig-29N Fulcrum flies with a US Navy Tomcat. US Navy.

For all the men and women who fly and maintained the Fulcrums, through-out the years, thank you for your service. As for the Fulcrums, Paka…

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1187 Articles
Shah Alam

41 Comments

  1. It’s so sad to see a legend aircraft retired in such meanings. 🙁

    I do hope the RMAF keeps some for historical flights.

    Reply
    Most like gate guards…

  2. Whatever the fighter that we going to choose in MRCA programme will have to be at least 24 units to make up the number lost

  3. @ Sebastian William

    Great to have a real fulcrum driver commenting here. I really wish that the malaysian fulcrums could continue to serve a friendly air force rather than being just retired and left to rot.

  4. Farewell Smokey Bandits, TUDM can held with heads high with the Fulcrum, every FPDA ( US, Thailand, Indonesia) would love to tangle with it, it was a great asset for dissimilar aircombat, as quoted by an Australian top brass, ‘ lucky they are on our side’

    It was a dream comes to to every Singaporean to see them in Singapore Airshow, it was a crowd puller!!

    I hope the pilots being transferred to Sukhoi, IMHO, stay with Sukhoi and Hornet combo, please not the JF-17

  5. The m43-04 picture is not carrying a Cobham refuelling drogue (probe is the male connection on receiver aircraft)

    It is just a normal mig-29 wing drop tank.

    Reply
    Yes it is, the guy who sold it confirmed it to me. It is a AAR pod, though, I fixed it.

  6. Goodbye Fulcrum, i have seen many of your family Mig-29 were retire or destroy(by war) but the Fulcrum legacy will live on………………………… Anyway, since the MRCA still continue we have: 1. British offer us a Eurofighter Thyphoon. 2. French offer us a Dassault Rafale. 3. Sweden offer us a Saab Gripen. 4. US offer us a Super Hornet. And 5. Malaysia consider buy a Paksitan JF-17(NOT YET!!!) But what about Russian? Does they not offer us anything? Like Mig-35 or something? What about chinese? Nothing offer us a Shenyang J-31? Wait….. i don\’t think people in Malaysia like their military stuff. But i hope hear a great news in next year.

  7. Just wondering..were the engines used in our MIGs’ were the RD33 or the upgraded RD33-3? As in theory if were the latter, the engines still have at least 1,000 hours left (based on my estimates from 1995 till now of around 150 flying hours per year)..so in theory it could still be put in active flying reserve just in case of emergency, though the other avionics stuffs will be way obselete then

  8. minimum 24 units needed? With the current \’gold plated\’ MRCA requirement we are not going to get anywhere near that number.

    The MRCA program should be scrapped since it cannot be funded within the next few years. Waiting to it to come to fruition will just waste more time. We should launch an \’Interim fighter program\’. for a used/leased fighter that can be used for the next 15 years.

    Used fighters are available everything from F-16s to Gripens. Keep our requirement as modest as our available budget. A falcon in the hand is better than a majestic magical eagle stuck in a huge budgetary bush.

  9. @ marhalim

    That guy that sold it is a parasitic middlemen who don’t even know what he is selling.

    The Cobham refuelling pod looks like this, short and stubby with a propeller in front and the drogue at the rear. On fighters it is only put on the centre line station, not on the wings.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_44d3OT-xI3U/SOfIF3oNsKI/AAAAAAAAAIM/it8bTRR9emU/s400/COBHAM\’s+754+buddy-buddy+refuelling+pod.JPG

    It is really just a normal mig-29 drop tank

    http://www.airforce.ru/content/attachments/45344d1387366154-rac_mig_mig-29upg_1200.jpg

  10. SELAMAT jalan, Fulcrum?
    May be not.

    If there is still no word from RMAF whether or not it will retire its Mig-29N Fulcrum fleet. Menhankam, Kementah, PTU and the rest are still keeping their choices open.Many years ago it should have been retired but still flying till today.

    Based on the economic conditions, and the crude oil prices, the planes will still fly.We know the planes will be used just like the F5E Tiger II with a smaller numbers.It will be grounded if it dropped out of the sky like the MD A4 Skyhawks.

    The Sukhois are costlier to maintain and fly. Thank you for using it a a bomber for all to see in the late 1990s Brig. Jen. (U) Huang.

    Reply
    Did I say it will be retired on Jan 1? Like the F5s it will just fade away..

  11. I was 11 years old on a school field trip in Singapore. That day, two Fulcrums roared directly overhead at low level. It was an awesome sight. At the time, nothing in the Asian sky looked as majestic as that. Saw them a few more times down here after that.

    Obsolete aircraft are often used as aggressor training platforms by air forces and contractors. The Fulcrum would make a fantastic aggressor aircraft, but unfortunately there are plenty that can do the job more cheaply. Dedicated aggressors are beyond our budget anyway.

  12. I really appreciate if this blogpost MiG 29N will be updated with pics from links provided, as a complete album arranged according to serial numbers.

    If Fulcrum really retired, hope Muzium TUDM can keep an exibit -29N and -29NUB, then some goes to universities and colleges which their “latest” jet plane was the Skyhawk. If I’m allowed to take and keep a piece of -29N, I choose a portside tailfin.

  13. Whats the difference between a cobra and a bat?

    Reply
    AFAIK,the bat represented the 17th Squadron while the Cobra is 19th Squadron, the two Fulcrum squadrons.

  14. It would be sad to see such a mighty aircraft taken apart and kept as bits and pieces at home.

    Colleges and even our Museum takes horrible care of their aircraft. There was a Skyhawk in beautiful condition at Museum TUDM, probably the best maintained example that existed, until one idiot decided to park it outside the hangar and leave the cockpit open to the rain. A dilapidated F-5 was also restored to near perfection, then parked outside. These two incidents were in 2013 alone.

    The museum building is full and I’m very sure a new one will not be built. The land has been earmarked for 1MDB Bandar Malaysia but is now in limbo. So the Fulcrums will end up in the rain.

    Reply
    The two best kept gate guards in the country, arguably, are at the Institut Latihan TUDM at Ipoh. The two a Skyhawk and a Albatross are even in a better condition than the planes at the museum even before the rundown started. Perhaps the gate guards are used as training/punishment tools for the recruits and serving personnel at the institute, some of whom are trained as aircraft technicians.

  15. The Migs and Tigers are retiring. How on earth TUDM can get 18+18 jets to replace them if the budget focus on kebajikan veterans, personnels, keselamatan and bla…bla….bla.

    Depend on the Sukhois and Hornets as the backbone and Hawks as a support/patrol/lift jet, I hope TUDM morale keep on high even when the surrounding neighbours modernization programme seems unstopable.

    Unless the MRCA programme is materialized soon then TUDM will become toothless compare to SAF amd TNI AF.

  16. What will they do with the engines, etc.? Why not sell to other third world country or donate them? Instead of wasting their still usable engines, and equipments.

  17. I think MY got the priority right. To date all intrusion against our sovereignty were maritime in nature, so get those Gowinds and additional patrol vessels first, also get at least 6 mpas. If got budget get the AEWs then only proceed with the MRCAs..

  18. RF-5E also fade away? No replacement for the photo recon fast jet. Heard nothing if any capable UAV will come in to close the gap. Hopefuly our expertise in air photo analysis will not be lost together with the asset.

  19. Actually there is a cheap alternative for MRCA programme other than the sino-pak JF-17, the J-10 cost about USD35-50Mil a piece , it can share ordance with our Sukhoi and the engine is the same although different variant ,buying about 36 of them plus ordandce it just around 2Bil USD

  20. Romeo “Unless the MRCA programme is materialized soon then TUDM will become toothless compare to SAF amd TNI AF.”

    An advanced MRCA will not turn us into an advanced air force. Isn’t the Su-30 advanced enough? Did buying the Su-30 turn us into one?

    And we can be an advanced air force even if we operate aircraft that lag behind our neighbours.

  21. Also a peculiar oddity is a Russian Af mig-29ub with recycled tudm tail fin from m43-10

    Wow! That’s a great picture which clearly shows the Russians are Number 1 in recycling!

  22. Will the rmaf consider selling them? It could be used to fund the mrca programme

    Reply
    Who wants to buy them?

  23. Well, considering that there are countries that still seeks older Mirage F1 and F-16A/B (even F-5, like the brazillian couple of years ago), I think there are markets for the Migs

  24. In the US there are private companies that buy used fighter jets, if not mistaken the Hawks from New Zealand air force were sold to one of these companies. Also can be used in Hollywood movies for more realistic bad guys fighter jets …

    Reply
    I dont think the Russians will allow us to sell the jets to anyone..

  25. Marhalim,

    The concept of “cannot sell to anyone our secondhand weapons and must ask our consent first” only applies to usa, with its law of ITAR

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Traffic_in_Arms_Regulations

    No other countries have the same kind of restrictions of selling secondhand items.

    As for migs, I know that Bangladesh was interested the 1st time we want to retire them (before we flip flop the retirement decision). Bulgaria and Poland can surely have a use for them, even as spare part sources.

  26. @AM
    It’s not that we can’t be an advanced air force by operating old jets.

    It’s that with the number of fighter jets 8 Hornets and 18 Sukhois, we lag behind Singapore Air Force and Indonesian Air Force.

    Previously i see TUDM as if you can’t compete to others in terms of number of jets, maybe we can still safeguard our skies with our slightly superior technological advantage.

    But now i see TUDM lagging behind in both technology and numbers (I mean for fighter jets) and my worst fear is that we could end up like the Philippine Air Force. They lost their jet capability and only acquired it back recently.

  27. Now that we’ve sold a majority stake in Bandar Malaysia, RMAF Sungai Besi will need a new home.

    Hopefully this comes with a proper museum building. One area we are decidedly losing out is the air force museum. The RTAF museum in Bangkok was already impressive when I visited 3 years ago. They were renovating an existing hangar at the time. I just had a look on google and it seems an entire new building has been added.

    Wherever it is the museum will almost certainly be outside KL. I can’t imagine valuable land being dedicated to the purpose.

    Reply
    The new bases for the Sungei Besi are already being build in several locations, of course, the outstanding remains the museum.

  28. What were the arguments against upgrading the Fulcrums like what the Polish Air Force did for their fleet?

    Reply
    AFAIK, the problem lies with how the Migs and Sukhois are supported ie parts are slow to come by and furthermore, the cost get higher as parts are delivered. Even India with hundreds of Sukhois and Fulcrums in service cannot get their parts in an timely manner leading to low serviceability. What is the use of upgrading the planes if they will be grounded after delivery due to lack spares and parts?

  29. This post really made me sad… i really hope RMAF buy a low price Jet with a great number like 24..to counter the lost…all army needs number…
    Like :
    More 6 Su 30 mk2 and 24 JF 17..

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