The MRCA Tender Is On?

KUALA LUMPUR: I know I maybe putting the cart before the horse, but I believed that the RMAF new MRCA programme will be tendered soon.

Why I am saying this? Well, for instance the Boeing people visited Putrajaya recently and sounded very confident. And among the insiders, the Super Hornets are the shoe-in to win tender.

Nonetheless, this hasnt stopped the rest of the gang to try their luck. The Dassault people I am told is visiting Malaysia before the New Year although the Rafale is a very long shot for the tender.
As does the Gripen and the Eurofighter.

Yes, the Brits would want us to take 24 planes from them on a lease basis, but it remained a true long shot just like the Rafale , notably for their high prices and support cost. The Typhoon reportedly cost around USD130 million while the Rafale around USD150 to USD170 million, depending on who you asked.
It will be cheaper to lease the Typhoons but support and long term maintenance cost will remain high.

The Gripen, which the Thai has added another six is the cheapest at around USD60 million to USD80 million with the Super Hornets price hovering around USD120 million.

Personally I would prefer the F35s (around USD130 million) but then this is again beyond my pay scale to make such recommendation.

When exactly will the tender be issued? Perhaps after the 13th GE, which is rumoured to be soon and if the present government is returned to power. If there is a change of government all bets are off of course.

How many Super Hornets then? As Kamal had pointed out probably not more than 10.
And why are we talking about buying new planes when we cannot even properly fund the current fleet? My guess is as good as yours….

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1187 Articles
Shah Alam

71 Comments

  1. Pure speculation on my part but I would guess that the RTAF’s selection of the Gripen will probably play a part in the government’s decision. Other factors will be the improving relations with Uncle Sam and the fact that this country has stronger diplomatic, trade and defence relations with the U.S. rather than Sweden. As we all know, the government loves ”transfers of technology” and ”industrial offsets” and Boeing is certainly in a far better position to offer more than Saab [whether and how exactly these so called ”transfers of technology” annd ”offsets” have benefited Malaysia is another story] Saab on the other hand has something Boeing can’t offer or counter, a Gripen/Eriye package.

  2. Maybe, we should sell our darn Hornet and buy the Super Hornet through a buy-back package from Boeing. Perhaps that’s the best for us. Personally, I think we need at least 18 Super Hornet to form an adequate squadron with at least 3-fighter in a flight capability. Anyway, I truly understand that we have no money for this so better we sell off our MIGs to the Russian as a buy-back package for us to buy another 6 MKMs to form 2 squadron of the MKMs.

  3. If Boeing can show that the Super Hornets deal can benefit the Economic Transformation Programme, then they will have a chance.The Government is looking for innovative and creative ideas to move Malaysia to high-income economy by 2020.Can Boeing offer such counter trade/offset programmes?It would be interesting to know what Boeing has to offer.

  4. Why bother getting new 4th gen planes now when in 5years time 5th gen fighters will be in production?

    And getting MRCA that is less capable but more expensive (gripen 60-80Mil, when MKM’s 50Mil, and that was when our currency exchange was way weaker) than our superb SU-30MKM makes no sense…

    If we really need more fighters, get some used ones now… Or additional MKM’s.

  5. my bet is the tender will officially come out in 2012, and the actual contract signed by 2015.

    Assuming by that time the budget deficit is controlled to the magic no 3% of GDP and GDP grew by at least 6% yo yo from now till 2015, credit to fund such purchase should be comfortably available

    Marhalim: And Najib remained the PM…

  6. Well have a lot of option. perhap we can joint the South korean and indonesian joint developt KF-X, swedish improved gripen ng or russian-indian T-50 maybe instead of others, as long our gov n mindef got budget.

  7. And i tend to agree with marhalim, unless we had a major disagreement with the US, SH seems a good bet to win this tender.Even if the opposition win the election, i believe Boeing will still have a good chance due to the near perfect record and hassle free of the hornet D. I think RMAF already called for upgrading of the EW and weaponry suite of the F18D last year right to include the Aim 9X and AIM120 C-7 i think. So makes sense to go for the SH

  8. Yes I agree with you. The question to ask is which project is more critical to Malaysia?. Should not our force be made more effective and efficinet by buying force multiplier assets like the Airborne Early Warning and Control assets like the newly designed wedgetails of Australi, and other similar products like the Erieye. Also, Malaysia actually lacks a fast , mobile maritime patrol capabilities. While ships can have the staying power and the armaments, only aeroplanes will be able to transit and reach a boiling point in a matter of hours. Thus we should conseder some new Boeing 737’s or even refurbished or second hand P3’s equipend with radar, anti surface and submarine weapons, electronic intelligence and infra red and laser sensors.
    We should service the MIG 29, the existing hornets and the Fulcrums with great care and this will be sufficient for the time being. If we are to proceed with purely equiping with fighter/interdiction assets the force would not be well balanced

  9. If budget is the issue, stick with the MKMs, trade the Migs and get the additional 6 MKMs, the Russian will be more than happy plus they accept our commodity barter trade unlike the US.
    As for the Hornet’s, what is the big huu haa about it? It’s capability? Naaaah, Eagle’s perform way better than those SH by comparison and the SH have been around for years but only the RAAF is their export customer then again, why do the RMAF favor the SH? To ease logistical matter? It’s very unlikely for them. I say, lease the SH, wait for the result of the coming GE, if the opposition win, we may have a chance to get the F-35 which is a better strike plane than SH.
    And about the Wedgetail, it’s too darn big and expensive for our mediocre country, how about the E-2D Hawkeye? It’s the latest version equipped with AESA capabilities with ground target searching, a turbo prop plane which suit the MAF well both in budget and manpower.

  10. Ym Lee, perhaps we should unsure that the RMAF has a decent number of fighters first before we can consider force multipliers like AWE aircraft. Despite it not providing 360 coverage and the inability to fly as high as a jet powered platform, the Eriye is the only option we can afford assuming of course cash can be allocated. As to MPA’s with ”electronic intelligence”, ‘ASW and ASuW warfare capabilities” and ”laser sensors”, forget the sexy/canggih stuff, at the moment we would be very lucky to have a few more CN235s fitted with just a radar and FLIR.

  11. I am totally against the buying of the SH based on 3 reasons.1)The government should buy an interim mrca fighter that are superior than the others 4th generation fighters in this region eg;Singaporean F15sg ,Indon Sukhoi and Aussie FA 18.I suggest the Su 35MKM with Irbis E radar which perhaps have the ability to detect stealth fighter and better than the APG-77 on the chart.It will not only poise significant threat to the 4th generation fighter, but also the 5th generation fighter that very soon going to enter this region (most probably Singapore going to get it first).2) The price is cheaper that the others western made aircraft. We have been operating the Su30 MKM and most of the spare parts are the same with Su30 as they have the same structure design .So, just cut the crappy middle man and RMAF should deals direcltly with the russian and the support technical part should be included in the agreement as well. We should also abolish this stupid idea of mixing aircraft because we only bought them in small numbers, so its only hard to maintain but not economically as well. Besides that, the Su35 have better structure integrity than the previous sukhois and longer tbo.3)f we bought the SH,the Uncle Sam may restricted the technology and ammo as they have done to the current hornets. This will compromise the attack capability,and it will be just cosmetics (nice in the eye but not of the use).The Russian are more than willing to deliver us the latest technology and unlimited ammo. But I don’t think the government is not in the right financial position to endorse this second mrca procurement as even the others more prioritized are put on hold.

  12. Sell the MIG-29’s. Upgrade the SU30MKM that we have,buy another 6 at least. Establish one Sq in P.Malaysia and the second Sq in E.Malaysia,our heavy air superiority fighters.Participate in exercises with USAF Red Flag ,to help gauge our levels.

    Sell the Hornets we have now and replace them with either the SH or Typhoon, as our fighter-bombers.The final decision shud be on the technical basis of which can still be ugraded and used for at least the next 20 years. Probaly the Typhoon might be it,,since it is designed to be continiously upgraded with the latest technologies.
    Since the economic situation in Europe has forced the typhoon partners to slash or sell thier current inventory and slow thier agreed upgrades,they have worked hard to win India’s MMRCA contract. India chose to buy GE engines for its Tejas,is buying C17s,P-8i’s.A lot for US companies, I feel they will go for the Typhoon. The major motivation could be if the europeans keep thier agreement to make India a partner in the project and involve tech transfers.SH is being pitched for the Indian navy,The F35s are also being put on the table .
    We could easily benefit from all this,as we have a close technical relationship with India,i.e SU30MKM.
    Start with the SU30 upgrades,and further purchases.

    Further comment on another reader who said something about a cresent co-op. Well the only country we can trust and respect is Turkey.
    They have the know how,the technology and acess to the latest american.euro,russian developements.And they are a solid partner to have in other areas as well.

  13. Agreed with Syameer on trading our Hornets for 18 Super Hornets, and trading the MiG29s for 6 Su30MKM. That should greatly reduced our logistical problems by reducing type of fighters in RMAF. It is also about time we retired the F5E/F with additional Su30MKMs. Buying Su35 may not be logical at this point of time as it will increased they types of aircraft rather than reducing it as RMAF had planned for. The additional Su30MKMs should be equipped with the new Irbis-E radar and RVV-AE. This will put some pressure on the Americans to sold us better radars and AMRAAM missiles for the SH to us.

    However, the Govt didn’t want more Russian assets in our armed forces just to maintain our neutral image.

    For AWACS, E-2D Hawkeye may not be a good idea since we will hav to sign the interoperability agreements for high-tech avionics(like the Indians was persuaded to for the C130J transport deal) with the US effectively making us their ally thus compromising our neutrality stance. The Govt won’t want that as that can be their downfall in next GE.

  14. Well, I have land to sell for the new airbases to house all those aircraft you guys want the government to buy, and I also offer a bridge too 😉

  15. Dear Ali, no way for such an irresponsible, corrupted and power crazy people will win the next GE so just forget it. If they win the next GE, our country will be no more prosper as we are now. Thanks to god for blessing us with a very good government that have lead this nation towards prosperity all this while.

    Anyway, I agreed with your idea regarding the MIGs and the MKMs.

  16. Newcomer,

    There is nothing currently available on the market that is superior to the F15S, Su30MKI or the Super Hornet. It is a misconception that the lack of source and objects codes
    will mean the Super Hornets are just nice to look at and will not be able to perform. Even key NATO allies are not provided the source and object codes. BTW, even the Russians do not provide source and object codes for the Su30 ang Mig29…

    The Su35 may indeed have improvements over the Su30MKM/MKI but we do not know how it measures up against the Super Hornet or against other Western tpres like the Typhoon, Rafale, Gripen, etc. A plus point in choosing the Super Hornet the Super Hornet is the level of product support the USN and Boeing can provide to its customers through the FMS, unlike the Russians. Another very important point is that the Super Hornet, unlike the Su30 or Su35, has been tested in combat conditions, as has almost all the air/ground ordnance it carries. The R77 and Kh31 missiles carried by the Su30’s do have very impressive specs, on paper, but remain untested. There is also the question of operating and life cycle costs, will the Su35 be cheaper to support for every hour flown and does it’s engine, radar, avionics have a longer MBTF than its U.S. or Western equivalents?

  17. Hi, I’m observing all the post here for a long time and would like to give some opinion.
    It’s good for the air forces to have 2 tier defense types of aircraft to guard our sky. Scrap the MIG-29, trade-off with another 6 MKM. Just concentrate on MKM and F/A 18. This 2 type of aircraft can offer tremendous capability and multiple the options for the air force to conduct different mission profile in a different scenario.
    As we all know, Boeing will not buying back our hornet as part of the package and trust me, it would not be a major problem either. Both aircraft Hornet and Super Bug share almost 90% commonality and having direct interoperability. They have common support equipment and ground crew maintenance training systems as well.
    It’s not the same problem we face on the MIG vs MKM in terms of maintenance, serviceability and spare parts. The RMAF rely on the hornet for almost 15 years, and very very satisfied with the performance. The 8 Hornet perhaps can supplement the 18 newly acquire Super Hornet (Hopefully it will materialize). And it would be good if those 8 hornet be use to have primary role to conduct CAS for the ground troop or to guard any future AWACS.
    And off course, even if we oppose Iraq and Afghanistan invasion, thinks about what we will get when geopolitics is in mind?? Who do you prefer most, US or China?? Because we needed them both, if not now maybe in some cases we’ll choose one over the other.

  18. Marhalim,

    Guess all these MRCA’s, Awacs, A400M, CSAR purchases must be part of the “forward defence” strategy mentioned in the “Dasar Pertahanan Malaysia”. There are also a lot of new honorary generals and admiral being appointed, this must be part of “total defence”.

    Syameer,

    Dont count the BN govt out yet. I think they have a fair chance of winning the next GE.

  19. Dear Syameer, the opposition is a bunch of corrupt maggots? Owh please, pot calling kettle black, given the F-5 engine stolen fiasco, the KD TAR, PKFZ, and more and u still believe the current G is righteous and holy? OMG

    Dear Mohd Hazwan, why is it bad to side with the Americans? Drop the boy scout act and we should start choosing sides right now, with the NK-SK escalating war, it’s a just a matter of time, when all hell breaks lose.

  20. Syameer, I think it’s best to leave politics out as this is a defence blog. Anyway, the BN and Pakatan are just as bad.

    In many cases it’s a case of the BN ”kettle” calling the Pakatan ”pot” black or vice versa, with both claiming a monopoly of truth and righteousness. Whilst the government has run down our armed forces and has wasted tonnes of public funds, the opposition has yet to even make a meaningful or constructive suggestion with regards to national defence, apart from critising for political milage.

    Syameer, I would be be very selective in believing everything you read in ausairpower.net. Below are excerpts of a message I got about Carlo Kopp who runs asuairpower.net

    ”The APA articles are indeed well researched, but the problem is Carlo Kopp uses data very selectively to support his conclusions. You see, back when the AIR 6000 project (which was the RAAF’s program to select a replacement aircraft for the F/A-18 and F-111) was started, Kopp and Goon (the people behind APA) submitted a proposal to modernise the F-111s to be viable into the 21st century, and to procure F-22s for the air superiority role. They had a vested financial interest in pushing their proposal as the only viable response to the “regional Flanker threat” as they put it, and so their integrity is somewhat questionable because they stood to profit from exaggerating the threat posed by these Flankers (ie by implying that the F-35/Super Hornet were not up to scratch).

    For an example of how their data is skewed, check out the following link for a rebuttal written by Ozzy Blizzard (who is a poster on DT):

    http://ozzyblizzard.blogspot.com/200…-analysis.html

    In addition there is a long thread discussing (and sometimes insulting) Carlo Kopp’s attempts to influence Defence acquisitions here:

    http://www.t5c.biz/showthread.php?t=5127&page=1

    That thread is a long one but you’ll find quite a bit of information in there, some of it coming from posters who are also moderators on DT (Robopimp on that forum is GF from here).

    I don’t mean this to sound like I’m trying to influence you in an undue manner, but I mean it more as friendly advice, as I used to believe a lot of Carlo’s material but really had my eyes opened by exposure to the wider online Defence community. If you wanted some confirmation from people with a bit more authority, one of the Australian mods on here would be good people to ask (Aussie Digger or gf-0012-aust have both expressed similar sentiments regarding APA analyses).

    I’m from Australia so obviously we hear a bit more from Carlo here, as his work is predominantly concerned with the strategic balance in South East Asia (I’m actually from the same city as him).

    Anyway I hope you find some of this information useful, as I said I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to influence you, it’s up to you to decide for yourself, but there are many flaws in APA’s work and so I’d rather people see the other side of the story as well.”

  21. The discussion above concerning national defense requirements and parity concerns could only bring a sense of hilarity to my senses.

    Over the course of nearly 20 years, the probable regional threats to our sovereignty, or nay, even national existence, has failed to adequately justify the fantasy of acquiring latest-generation advanced aircraft systems. What it has, in the course of those years, to exemplify core in competencies, increased unprofessional ism, corrupt practices and scandalous political failures with notable infamy in regard to Malaysia’s military acquisitions.

    Malaysia’s security needs are, and continue to be, best served on the international and regional diplomatic stage, not on our mere defence capabilities and certainly not based on threats whose dimensions are as vague and remains so. The 1996 Taiwan Straits crisis and Spratlys may certainly give impetus to advance our capabilities, but I cannot support such irresponsible military expenditure under a government whose track record in such matters are increasingly appalling.

    Certainly the fantasies of Malaysia’s civilian populace for a strong, advanced military are in disconnect with the actual exigencies of current needs.

    Marhalim: The only “real” reason for re-armament as envisaged by the NDP is the gradual shrinking of natural resources. When it will happen, god knows, but we must be prepared for it. To bankrupt ourselves into doing is of course is irresponsible but to disarm completely is foolhardy. Its striking the balance that is most difficult, catering for current and future needs…

  22. Dear Ali, why is it so bad to side with the Americans? Have you forgotten that it is our country stance(in laws) to remain neutral in any situations. We are a signatory of NAM and ZOPFAN treaty which highlighted our neutrality. To change our laws just to side with the Americans is ridiculous not to mention the public stance on the matter(issues on Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine has made majority of Malaysians to be a bit anti-USA). To make a move like siding with the great USA is irresponsible for a govt that represent the people. We are democracy and govt have to take the stance of the public, not military.

    In term of foreign affairs and economic, being an ally of the USA will make us shun by many countries that are friendly to us; i.e. Iran, Venezuela, Russia, China, Myanmar and Cuba. We gain a friend but lose ten friends. Malaysian companies such as PETRONAS will be kicked out from operating in Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China as we had been seen as proxy of the great USA thus representing billions of ringgit in term of economic loss of our foreign investment. Do the math, do you thinks it worth it to have a strong military ties but losing friends and economic opportunities that we had enjoy?

  23. Get 10 SH and 18 Suk35 for a decend 3 sqdns of prospective mrcas. Get 8 more macchi 339c for lift. Other 3 sqdns of mrcas can come next malaysia plan.

  24. Dear Mohd Hazwan, to say majority of Malaysia to be a bit anti-USA is not accurate, I\’m not and I know many aren\’t too, call me liberal if you want but I stand firm with siding with the Americans, if you do care to look at the list of NAM members, you can see most of them are not a developed country, does that ring any bell to you? Turkey is ally of the USA, the same goes with Pakistan, do Iran shut their door from cooperating with both countries? No. Does Shell, BP got kick out from China or Russia since their mother country is a big supporter of USA? No again. This is a globalization world that we\’re living in right now. Here\’s an interesting news about Petronas stop selling gasoline to Iran. Ironic huh?

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63E0LG20100415

    Those country that you said won\’t cut out Petronas oil concession in one night, they are bounded by laws and rights. We lose 10 friends but we gain better friends. The US have bigger influence than the emerging China right now. Plus, China have a dispute in our water, how can we trust them?

  25. H.A.S, it won’t be hilarous at all if a national threat suddenly appears and our military is unprepared, either due to government neglect or public indifference. Malaysia’s security is best served by a combination of strategic partnerships and as you pointed out, by diplomacy, as well as having a well equipped and well funded military geared to deal with our operational requirements. To rely only diplomacy would be extremely foolish, as history has proven. Unfortunately, having a well equipped military costs money, and lots of it, there’s no other way around it. To gain a certain capability takes time, money and effort. Many skills can’t be developed overnight and once lost, can’t be regained rapidly. The perception of many that we should seriously invest in our defence ONLY when a threat appears over the horizon is false.

    Mohd Hazwan, reading your last post, I’m reminded of the ‘South to South’ initiative that Mahathir was so fond of. We made friends with many 3rd world countries like Zimbabwe, and sign many MOU’s and partnerships but did we benefit?? Though Mahathir was very critical of the U.S., the fact was Malaysia was and is very dependent on the U.S., not just in defence but as you know in trade. In terms of security and trade, our relations with the U.S. outweighs anything else Iran, Venezuela, Russia, China, Myanmar and Cuba can offer and this is unlikely to change in the near future.

  26. Dear hazwan, International politics is the worst nightmare to understand. It’s not the same way for every nation in regards on how those things are manage by the Gov. It might be base on so many factors including cultural and historical factor.
    In Cold War era, we once combating commies back then, but on the other hand we’re a member of NAM. We’re hunting them for years with lots of fallen heroes. No soviet and No US but it’s just on paper. To say that we’re not siding the US and Nato is something out of my mind. Most importantly, how we make statement to the public internally or externally on our stance. Try to make friends so much possible at the same time minimize our potential enemy. That’s why like the US, they always seeks for “common interest” as a backbone to gain support and making allies all over the world.
    For every democratic country is easy to predict. They never strike first unless provoke in a crazy manner. Try to maintain peace and harmony is always the dream of every citizen. But in reality is not easy as it is. If your neighbor knocking your door with full of hatred and arms to the teeth, what would you do?? We should not just simply say we’re member of ZOPFAN. The guardian of this country will not even dare to sleep at night. At some point we need “friends” as a back-up plan. Soon, if they have tools for power projection it could be even scarier.
    Again, get the Super Hornet together with state of the art electronics warfare suite. Capable of taking down any incoming Russian made BVRAAM and subsequently JHMCS will do the rest. Uncle Sam EW hardware/sofware and jamming technique is unmatched so far. For those who understand, EW is much more credible tools to maintain peace and stability to our country, without breaking the morning news. The next thing to eyes on is F-35 in 2020 onwards.

  27. Guys,
    Firstly, before we purchase any aircraft we need to evaluate performance, maintenance, long term support, electronics and etc.

    Let do simple or basic evaluation for both aircrafts Su30MkM vs. Super Hornet

    Performance – Both 4.5 generation fighters and Super Hornet employs the most extensive radar cross section reduction measures of any contemporary fighter.

    Radar – BARS (Su30MkM) and our requirement for SH must come with APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA).
    Maintenance – Su30MkM required 12 ground crews/ Super Hornet required 5 ground crews. Su30MkM required maintenance for every 50 hours. As for SH, it require 100-Hour engine inspection.
    IRKUT supply of spare parts, ground support equipment, tools and materials still questions. However, Boeing’s supply support system based on “paperless” maintenance manuals that are updated every three months on CD-ROM discs. Boeing provide, spare parts tracking via NET.
    Electronics – depending on sensitivities to seller.

    Marhalim: Yes, we got the Sukhois dirt cheap, basically USD900 million but we were not informed of the price of the French electronic boxes and the cost of the weaponary and of course the 30-year maintenance cost.
    We bought the Sukhois because its affordable at the point of procurement, in the long run of course it will be expensive
    The Super Hornet will cost more than USD2 billion, if we buy 18 of course. It will cost another USD1 billion to maintain it for 30 years and around another USD500 million for weaponary. Cost of operations? At least USD1 billion for 30 years.
    With all of that on the table, with guesses and estimates, I still think the SH is cheaper of course.

  28. I agree with Ali about the E2D Hawkeye.Northrop Grumman’s E2D Hawkeye is far superior to other AEW aircrafts.The E2D unlike other AEW aircrafts can do airspace and water surface surveillance at the same time.Other AEW aircraft can only handle one medium at any one time.Because of its capability the E2D Hawkeye can be used as a National Asset by the RMAF, Navy, MMEA, Customs, Immigration and Police.We not only get our money’s worth but superior equipment where all relevant agencies can benefit.

  29. Though we do not say it publicly, for domestic reasons, the fact is that Malaysia, like it’s neighbours, draws a lot of comfort from the U.S. military presence in Asia, especially given that as China becomes more powerful it will become more assertive with it’s foreign policy. In fact I think we train more with the U.S. than we do with any other country. Common sense, common interests, plus realpolitik would dictate that we mantain close realtions with Uncle Sam. Our disagreement with the U.S. over it’s policy in the Middle East should not be a factor in our relations, religon aside. The Russians laid waste to Chechnya yet we still bought Russian gear for the ATM. Since there has been mentioned of Nam and ZOPFAN the question perhaps we should ask is how exactly has our involvement in NAM and ZOPFAN benefited Malaysia?

  30. I Agreed with Hazwan regarding the US matter. China is a very emerging power right now and soon will become the next superpower. This is the facts that everyone must admit, the chinese will be the next superpower. Continue our hundreds of years relationship with the Chinese is the best thing we can do.

    http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?sec=business&file=/2010/4/27/business/6136931

    We don’t have to be the allies of the US, our relationship with the US have get better since the administration of the current prime minister incumbent and we are their friendly-country. There’re cons and pros to be the US allies. All and all, maintaining our status as the NAM country is the best we can do at the moment. We are not facing the WW3 to side with anyone at the moment. Maintaining our status as a NAM country will give us the best platform to outreach both side and other emerging market like China.

  31. Dear gentleman and maybe ladies,

    There is no way we can afford 18 MRCA in the calibre of Super Hornets. At USD120-170 million a piece minimum, 18 SH will cost us about USD2.1 to USD 3 billion. Well not in this 5 years anyway. Our defense spending has been in the range 0f 2-2.5% GDP roughly. Assuming 6% yoy growth till 2015, our GDP will be in the range of RM883 billion by 2015. 2.5% of that will be at 22 billion theoretically by 2015. 60% will goes to emolument and staff benefits, another 20-30% maintenance of existing assets while the balance for development/new assets. That will only leave about 2.2 to 4.4 billion for assets purchased to be split among 3 armed services and the HQ. How to pay for a USD2.1 billion expenditure for one class of assets?

  32. Not to say that defense should be given a lower priority, like a roman scholar used to say a country with no wall is a country with no choices, but a critical review need to be done on how to obain more bang for buck and better utilisation of limited resources.

    yes, less or no corruption would be ideal in a perfect world but even in the most perfect country in the world some form of corruption still exist.
    We just have to learn/find ways to uphold our defense sector but in a more cost effective manner.

  33. Al Kilroy,

    The RMAF does evaluate what it’s offered but ultimately the politicans have the final say. It was Mahathir who pushed the Fulcrum, Flanker and PT-91 sales, amongst others. We don’t know if this dangerous/ruinous trend will continue under Najib as so far no major deals have been awarded under the Najib government. That the Super Hornet would have been a much more practical and cost effective solution in the long run is beyond doubt.

    Prior to being ordered the Su-30MKM did not exist. It was a new variant created to meet the RMAF’s requirements, based on the IAF’s
    Su-30MKI. Key components such as the radar, thrust vectors and certain electronics are Russian. The cockpit displays are French, the RWR South African, radios U.S., etc.

    Apart from basic flight and combat techniques the Russian were unable to train us on the MKM for the simple reason that the MKM is not flown by Russian. In short, with the help of the IAF we have to write our own mantainance and operating manual. With the F-18, everything has been integrated, paid for by the USN and combat tested……..

  34. Yup i think we should sell our migs and get MKMs. I think what we need is quantity. Our air force have too little planes compared to our neighbours. Maybe we should get 2nd hand hornets from the US as they are replacing then with F-35s.

    Marhalim: Theres no US Hornets around for us to buy, from Canada yes, Finland, maybe….

  35. I agreed on the SH as being a good choice for the MRCA requirement. True it is expensive but it will offers us better benefits in the long run with minor headaches, unlike the Fulcrum and Flanker had and will bring us. F35 on the other hand is too expensive and have a lot of technical problems now, especially the STOVL version. We should wait for Lockheed to perfect the jet before considering it for RMAF. Still not clear either Erieye or Hawkeye will suit our need. With Erieye, we can get all the latest EW suites but i do no know with Hawkeye. The US may drain it from advanced avionics(just like the AMRAAM deal and SH offer before) even if we considered it.

    Then again, rather than considering more fighters, we should consider better SAM capabilities. We should develop an integrated SAM network equipped with both medium and long range SAM systems to be operated by the RMAF. Anyone wish for S300, Buk, KS-1A and NASAMS to be operated here?

    On one hand, I still believe that we should maintain our status as a friend to the US, not ally. Being and neutral friendly to all with help us a lot better. This is one of the reasons why Petronas managed to enter Venezuela and Iran giant oil fields recently while many Western companies get the boot. Eventhough there a laws to protect a company operating in a country but laws have loopholes can be ammended. Tell that to Shell(get the boot in Sakhalin when Gazprom was brought in by Rusian Govt even after a $37bil investment) and BP(also in Rusia, their joint-venture was practically ‘taken away’ in one nite). Not to mention what happen in Venezuela and Iran….

    I agreed with Sunliner. International diplomatics is a nightmare. Being neutral meant that we will and only be your friend, not your wife. US doesn’t always treat their ally nicely. South Vietnam was practically left on their own on the wake of hordes of commies heading south and Arab Saudi’s F15 package was practically sabotaged by the Israelis despite paying $60bil for it. I just didn’t want our country to suffer the same fate as South Vietnam and Arab Saudi(with Singapore in view), as we are way closer to China than the US. Being a battlefield between two superpowers is nightmare beyond which we all can imagine. Being neutral can safe a nation, just like how the Swiss did during WW2(they were saved from the flames of war despite being in the middle of the actions!). Maintaining a powerful armed forces as a contingency and to show the world that we a serious in defending our sovereignty is more than enough. We are not hippies after all.

    “International relations is a game of carrot and stick”

  36. Will the Super Hornets incorporate AESA radars? I understand such sales require Congress approval.

    Currently, the only US aligned state in Asia with AESA equipped fighter jets are Australia and Singapore. Of course, Singapore also has Phalcon AESA derived AEW & C Gulf-Stream planes. And Australia and South Korea will be getting the AESA AEW & C Wedgetail planes. A new batch of South Korean and Japanese F15s will probably come with AESA radars as well.

    It is also unlikely for any other country, apart from partner nations(United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark)and security cooperation participants(Singapore and Israel), which can get F35s in the next 2 decades till around 2025-2030.

    By 2030, a 6th generation fighter will be flying to replace the F22. And prior to that, I expect the US to sell F22s overseas to buyers, especially current users of F15s and F18s.

    Marhalim: All sales of US military weapons needs to go Congress. The inclusion of sensitive equipment will be decided by the State Department while Congress can have it say when a sale notification is made by the DSCA.
    Whether or not we will get the AESA-equipped SH remain a speculation as we have yet to sit down with the US over what our exact requirement. Anyhow, since any SH delivery to Malaysia will be around 2015, I am quite sure that if we buy the SH, we will get the AESA. By that time it will be an old technology already…..

  37. Hello all. It’s joy to read a Malaysian defence forum and even more one that has kept mainly to the issues/topics at hand. Other asian based defence forums have had many an interesting topic heading regularly degenerate into childish arguments.

    I’ve always thought that the SH were the best choice having purchased the F-18Ds in the 90s. In term of logistics, support staff training its a given, this was a selling point for the US Navy as well. Is it pound for pound, better than say, the f-15SG? Maybe not, lots of factors to discuss here alone, e.g. F-15SG’s superior thrust, SH’s lower radar signature, but let’s forget about that for the moment. How about thinking more about things like: operational readiness, hiking up pilot training hours per month, spares availability, etc. ?

    Apart from that, and it’s a sad bottom line, Malaysian politics just isn’t geared to purchasing the most suitable products as well as nurturing the required support and R&D industry. I think Marhalim does a pretty decent job of patiently re-iterating this and playing down everyone’s expectations, not just in this particular topic but all others. Things like, “lets buy 18/24/30 of this” is sadly unrealistic at this point. Take even the “sell the Mig-29s and total up the Su-30MKMs to 24”. Even if that were to happen, what do you (realistically) think the operational readiness of those 24 planes will be?

    Why then do we even bother to discuss? I guess we all care enough to want to discuss it, and kudos to Marhalim for keeping it a mature and fun to read forum.

    Marhalim: Tks for the kind words

  38. The problem with many 3rd World procurement systems, is not that it makes mistakes (because everybody’s procurement system makes mistakes some of the time). Rather, it’s the inability of a 3rd World procurement system to learn the right lessons from past mistakes and are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes again and again.

    The fundamental error made by many Malaysians is to think that there is a platform is the ‘best’ out there and that the purchase of the ‘best’ platform will cure all ills. It does not. There are only platforms that are more suitable or less suitable (to a particular system). Each platform comes with it’s strengths and limitations within a particular concept of operations.

    Keep in mind that the Singaporean concept of operations is radically different from the Malaysian concept of operations. This means that a platform that is a good fit for Singapore many not be ideal for Malaysia and you will need to keep that in mind. The RSAF is very differently resourced and what is good for us is not good for you.

  39. Why do we need more MRCAs?

    Marhalim: Thats the One million dollar question…oops One billion question….

  40. Air Forces are an essential part of Malaysia Defence Force – but billions can be saved by buying more cost-effective aircraft.
    the question is which fighter. ?
    The F/A-18As are now technically obsolete and unable to compete with the advanced Sukhoi Flankers now becoming the standard fighter plane across the region.Looking at the specifications of available fighter aircraft suggests that Sukhoi has the best aircraft for Malaysia where range is so important.

  41. Looking at the specifications of available fighter aircraft suggests that Sukhoi has the best aircraft for Malaysia where range is so important.
    The Su-35 is a Mach 2.4 aircraft while the F/A-18E/F is limited to about Mach 1.8. The Sukhoi has a huge 1-meter diameter radar bay which can accommodate the most powerful radar systems fitted to any combat aircraft. This will enable the Sukhoi driver to detect and destroy partially stealthy aircraft such as the JSF. “Partial Stealth” Russian engineers are now producing advanced VHF radar systems for the Sukhoi and for ground-based system such as Nebo SVU. Sukhoi Flankers can carry a wide range of AAM on twelve hard-points. The Su-35 has an effective range of about 4,000km compared to about 3,300 for the F/A-18E/F.

  42. I’ve read about the new l-band radar(can be fitted into SU-35@30@27)which the Russkies are researching right now to counter the Western stealth plane, how effective are those radar since the F-35 are designed to overcome current x-band radar detection?

  43. Non-supercruising fighters such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or the JSF would be wholly uncompetitive against the much cheaper supercruising Sukhoi.

    Marhalim: On paper at least. Lets hope we can corral Russia’s well-known inability to support their products on a timely basis…..

  44. Nice to see the interest in the MRCA plane. I’m actually a fan of the Sukhoi Su-30/35 series. In terms of raw performance they are a credit to the Russian aerospace, because they have closed the gap and in some aspects, surpassed the Western teen series of fighters. I think the Su-30MKM are superb fighters, and on paper specs alone they are a match for any fighters in this region, plus they look pretty cool too!

    But, once again it is not down to the individual specs of a plane alone. And I’m not a die-hard fan of the super hornet. But lets attempt to get down to details here. I’ll admit I can’t cover every aspect as it’ll take all night.

    Why do I think the SH is a pretty good choice? Well they have superb reliability/operational records in the USN. Having read about the problems with the Mig-29s (not sure how the Su-30MKM maintenance is going), and reading Murhalim’s earlier article “Hornets always flying”, hmm, that explains a lot doesn’t it? The RMAF has got to become a more complete package, and one of the things it needs to be able to do is keep most of its plane combat ready and at optimum operational conditions. Yes, politicians buying a whole bunch of different planes with no long term planning don’t help. And of course that means support staff, pilot training, spares availability, etc. has to factor in to the cost just as much.

    But operational reliability is where the existing hornets have already shown that they have proven themselves, at least compared to some other planes in the RMAF inventory. And the super hornets were design to provide some familiarity to hornet support staff.

    Technology – lets take supercruise to begin with. Supercruise can enable well trained pilots to engage and disengage at will, given the right setting. It requires high tech materials engineering to allow for the intense, sustained, high STATIC thrust operation of the engine. Now the Russian engines have a shorter lifespan, and much inferior, sometimes less than half the MTBO (read up about this in airforce-technology, wiki, forums: comparing say, the F414 to the Saturn) of the American engines. No disrespect to the Russian engines, I think they’ve done an incredible job of catching up in terms of raw thrust performance, plus some of them are remarkably stall resistant. But my point is, given that pilot training hours are already not the best in the RMAF, and supercruise will wear out the already less durable Russian engines more quickly – is supercruise an affordably maintainable technology for the RMAF, and one that they can train to leverage effectively?

    If you read up on all the Super Hornet Block 3 improvements, it might still not match the Sukhois in something like thrust to weight ratio but I hardly think it comprises obsolete technology? Don’t really want to list them out here, it’s all easily available to read on wikipedia, forums, etc.

    If Malaysia had nurtured a defence industry like India, where local developments and expertise can be infused into the plane, as well as locally assembling and manufacturing them, than I’d say, yes the Sukhoi would a great option. Thats a whole other topic though, I was kinda disappointed with that whole Kedah class thing. But anyways the SH comes with all that, and I think a better training package as there’s been red flag exposure in the past (at least that’s what I’ve read, is that right Murhalim?) This kind of exposure is vital, remember the red flag exercises between the sukhois and the F-15/F-16s.

    Also, kinda a little forgotten is AWACS. Ok, nothing left in the kitty for that rather important piece(s) of hardware right now. But realistically, if that does happen some years time, I think RMAF will buy western rather than russian. In terms of packages, this is something the Russian aerospace doesn’t have as much options to offer. So if the RMAF does buy say, latest editon of Erieye, which plane do you think it’d be easier to integrate with?

    Ok, I’ve already written a fair bit, and will stop now. I hope somewhere in what was just written makes a noticeable point of why I think the SH is the right choice, at least in current times. And RMAF’s effectiveness is not just down to any individual specs of a particular plane.

  45. Unless it is the Pak-FA or the F-22 or F35, practically all the touted supercrusing 4.5 generation aircrafts will suffer significant speed penalties with the external weapons they carry, especially russian weapons.

    Interestingly, there are not many users of Russian Sukhois, apart from India and China who did not have much of a choice apart from Russian and French equipment(in India’s case)given their political stances during the cold war and the ability to absorb large costs owning to equipment degradation and technical faults.

    For all the hyperbole spouted by Russian companies, they still fail to secure contracts from the majority of the countries overseas after technical evaluations.

  46. China older Su 27 around 100+, su 30K around 50 going to 100
    India Su 30 MK1 around 140 going to 300
    Venezuela i think around 24 su30 k going for another 24
    Morocco around 14 su30 MKI version going to 20+
    Vietnam older su27 12 and su30k around 6
    I think chad ordered 6 su30k
    Malaysia 18 su30mkm may be going another 6

    So quite alot also although may not as many as the SH (mainly US going around 800+, then Australia 24)

  47. My bad, not morrocco but algeria
    Plus forgotten about indonesia, 10 Su27sk and su 30k, with planning another 6.

    The above excludes ex soviet users.

  48. Dear Noble team.
    I do not agree that the Hornet is obsolete. If you say the airframe design for “A” model maybe its true but not E/F. Both Flanker and Hornet is being upgraded continuously from time to time to counter the advantage of one and the other. The American were not investing to put trust vectoring for the SHornet because they believes on the capability of JHMCS and their advanced jamming tactics. AESA radar can be upgraded just only the software rather than changing the whole thing with completely new build.
    While Russian BVRAAM can be defeated with jamming tactics, the trust vectoring can be defeated with JHMCS . This is how they counter trust vectoring in a dog fight.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g4_jzqBJnA&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpBpzuDRt0A
    If the hornet/super hornet is obsolete enough, how on earth they’re having a tour in a yellow sea??. 
    As I said I prefer if we have advance EW concept of war fighting rather then putting JDAM or similar stuff on the target. The scar will be there for generation. That is not the way to maintain peace and stability for our lovely country.
    For countering VLO/LO aircraft or any 5th generation fighter plane, it should be using the same fighter class rather than investing for an aircraft to be fitted with such “powerful radar”. We still do not know how effective those radar, maybe the accuracy will be hundred meter or even a few miles away.
    For the future maybe JSF kot… go the same road with Turkish Air forces.

    It’s just my 2 cent.

  49. I had done some research on this version of “Super Hornet”. Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System(JHMCS) just effective with AIM-9X and one more thing Kaiser(US)and Elbit(Israel) is the major subcontractor for Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System(JHMCS) as Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

    Marhalim: They can always buy the Thales system….

  50. Don’t forget, the Su-30MKM is fitted with French’s Thales avionic systems plus other advance jamming components as well.

  51. agreed with Mohd Hazwan the Govt didn’t want more Russian assets in our armed forces just to maintain our neutral image.

  52. why shouldn’t?

    Marhalim: This talk about a high-lo fighter mix is another stuff of dreamslah bro. Face it we cannot afford to have so many type of fighter jets, no matter how much I like fighter planes.

    What we should be doing is to consolidate on one fighter type and fund it much as possible so pilots can fly them all the time. Based on the money situation at the moment, the RMAF should be flying the SU-30MKM alone. Yes, I know its expensive to maintain compared to the Hornets or even the Super Hornet but its the most youngest in the fleet and such it need to be one for the future.
    Do I like it? Of course, not. Again money wise, we should have bought the Super Hornet, yes we might not get as much but life is unfair. Bear it. And for training? We should sent our boys and gals to South Africa for conversion training.

  53. Noble Team,
    In addition to the JHMCS, the SH drop tanks are also supplied by Elbit. And its Litening targeting system for the SH is considered far superior to the Nite Hawk.

    Marhalim, do you know why the RTAF Charlies landed at Subang instead of Ipoh as was earlier mentioned? It seems silly from a logistics standpoint to have them fly further and for the Malaysian side having to transport the bodies all the way from Ipoh to Subang

    Marhalim: Initially, I had no idea. But just check with someone and he said that Charlies can land at Ipoh airport but with weight restrictions…perhaps thats the reason they land in Subang…

  54. I am with Marhalim on flying a single type of MRCA. Although SU30MKM is not the best in every aspects, especially on the costly maintenance side, at this moment it has the better compromise between price, quality and quantity.

    based on what i gathered,Its capability in air to air is 4 times that compared to Mig 29N especially in BVR and almost equal to the Hornet D in BVR but less superior than the SH, F15T or f35 in BVR. WVR however it can give all the three fighters a run for their money and only pilot training and skill will be the deciding factor

    Its ground attack role and marine stike, I have little clue about it, buts its array of weapons supposedly it can bring and the quantity it can carry seems to give an initial indicator that it could be one good platform.

    Main issue with this type is its built up compared to the western fighters. Lower engine TBO and assuming less sophisticated avionics and radars could spell an expensive maintenance cost. Not to mention the reliability of the russian suppliers. Another not so strong plus point is that India and China is practically producing by themselves a similar copy, thus in desperate times we could go to them for parts.

    But for the price of 1 SH of even 1 F15T (clean, flyaway), we can obtained between 2-3 SU 30 and with our budgets normally does not exceed USD1 billion per purchase, we can get a squadron of 16-20 SU 30 while for similar size western fighters would only give us at best 12.

    Though one may argue quality will negate the need for bigger quantity, there is still those like myself who belief sufficient quantity itself is a good quality.

    With its capability, IMHO we do not really need to have up to 70+ fighters in our inventory (my calculation inclusive of the F5), but we can do around 36-40 airframes of the SU30 to meet our minimum requirements.

  55. I have been following this blog for a long time and decided to post my first comment here.

    With the recent unveiling of J20,the Chinese stealth fighter aircraft, I think there is a need for us to relook at the threat environment and decide on the type of fighter aircraft and weaponry we need to counter this new threat.

  56. Sukhoi aircraft are typically networked to each other and other defence assets such as ground based radar (vera-e) capable of exposing ‘stealth’ aircraft. This would give Malaysian Sukhoi a clear advantage over any intruding Sukhoi

  57. I think the gov will going to 12 EF Thypoon and 8 Super Hornet and the complatement of the squadron will take 2 RMK (ten years.

  58. why shouldn’t six su-30/35 plus 12 JAS-39 Gripen.

    Choosing the F/A-18E/F a.k.a Super Hornet does not yield any cost saving. We would be totally dependent on a continuous stream US-supplied parts to keep the planes flying.

    Any exported F/A-18E/F would be less capable than the US version and Malaysia would have limited access to sensitive technologies on the aircraft. This raises the question of whether we would really own the aircraft and whether it can be “turned off” remotely by one means or another but Su-30/35 is a multi-role Flanker and features a customized avionics package built to Malaysian specifications that mean for Sukhoi would be totally “ours”

    The Sukhoi is like an “open source” aircraft

    interesting facts for all Sukhoi fans
    Why cheap Sukhoi with Russian Air-Air Missiles will defeat the expensive JSF and ‘Super’ Hornet. See also article on likely two stage hybrid BVR combat missile.
    http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-NOTAM-200408-1.html

    Marhalim: What do you mean open source AC? We are still dependent on Russia for most of the parts while French and Sweden for some of the avionics and RWR. Yes, there have been talk about getting them from China and India but these parts are not OEM and the Russkis will not have it so we will have to depend on them.

  59. I doubt why people always talk about source code of an aircraft like the Super Hornet case…what we can do even if we have the source code? sell it to the terrorist? perhaps yes.

    Marhalim: I have no idea also Syameer. Its not like the Russians also give us the source codes for their radars also….

  60. If the Suks are great as proclaimed, then why do the RMAF didn’t bat an eyelash towards Rosoboronexport offer to buy back the Migs and trade in for another 6 new Suks? The Suks is a better plane compared to the Migs, the only plus point of the Migs is the speed.
    I foreseen the Super Hornet as a better deal because of its strike package, the AESA radar, the JHMCS, the constant upgrade of missiles, do Russkies upgrades their missiles frequently compared to the American? Is R-77 combat proven against the AMRAAM? Is the R-73 comparable to the new AIM-9X? The JDAMS, Paveway? Can the Suks be wired to be an EW plane like the Growler? There’s reason why the Hornet stays longer than the soon to be retired Migs.

  61. I may be wrong, any experts please correct me, but i was under the impression that the reason the creation of AIM9X with its JHMCS is to counter the R73 Mk1 with its JHMC that was fielded about 10 years before the Aim9X. I think only Phyton 5 of israel was said to be superior to the R73 Mk 1. However if i am not mistaken the R73 now has come to Mk 3 with 40 km range (making it almost qualify as a BVR fire and forget missile) and even better off boresight capability than Mk 1 of 60 degrees. I may be wrong but the AIM 9x have a maximum range around 15 miles or 20+km.

    I dunno the reason why TUDM does not take the offer to trade the 16 migs with 6 sukhoi, i can only speculate 1001 reasons.

    Marhalim: The Snake had been given an air-to-surface capability recently, probably to give the US pilots another option once they ran out of the usual air-to-ground ordnance

    As for the six Sukhois for the Fulcrum fleet, I believed its most likely due to the new MRCA tender….

  62. Kamal,

    R-73’s 40 km range is useless because it has a 3rd gen seeker which can only see about 10km and can easily be fooled by flares. The missile has no datalink, meaning it can’t lock after launch. So effective range is just about 10km.

    The much smaller Aim-9X has a range of 20+km. However, it has a new generation seeker that can see to 20km. The seeker is also immune to flares as it locks on to the image of the aircraft and not just a heat source.

  63. dear Ree,

    Are you sure about the data on R73? As your explanation is similar to the R27 R (infra red guided). yep for R27 R yes it does not have any datalink and even with a supposed range of 80km, it is only good up to a max 15km for forward range and slightly more if rear detection range.

    As far as i know, the R73M or R74 are slaved to the OLS (latest generation) that have a rear detection up to 70km with approximately half of that for forward detection. Plus from what i read in some defense journal, R73M or its successors R74, does have a datalink with latest russian radar but should that link were jammed it will alternate with the OLS.

    But your source may be more verifiable than mine.

    Cheers

  64. y do we need 2nd batch MRCA now? i dont think we have enough budget to fully utilize it….. better upgrade our SAM to protect military airfield ….

  65. dear scorpio,

    based on what sipri stated, we currently have 5 types of Shorad systems (4 manpads based and JERNAS) with more than 750 missiles, rough guess (all below 8km missile effective range).

    A medium range SAM (25km to 50Km) or E-Shorad (below 25km) can cost as much a an MRCA and could still cost as much to operate.

    So its a question of cost and benefit i guess and in reality what is our threat perception.

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