Tunisia in Talks To Purchase Kuwaiti Hornets

Kuwait F/A-18 C Hornet. Flickr

SHAH ALAM: Tunisia is reportedly in talks with Kuwait to purchase its Hornet fleet, an African based blog is reporting. Military Africa on its Twitter handle stated:

Tunisia in talks with Kuwait for the purchase of the Kuwaiti F-18 Hornets. The F-18 Hornets will likely be modernized in the United States before integrating the Tunisian Air Force.

Kuwait F/A-18 C Hornet. Flickr

I cannot confirmed the veracity of the report but it appears that Military Africa is good in getting stories about African defence scene so it is likely the report is correct though it does not mean that a contract will be sign in the immediate future. It must be noted that Tunisian Air Force is reportedly set to take delivery of 14 Lockheed Martin F-16V fighters in 2023 though I have not seen any US official notice for purchase of the Vipers.
Kuwait AF F/A-18C Hornet. USAF

The US State Department in February announced that it had approved the possible Foreign Military Sale to Tunisia of four AT-6C Wolverine Light Attack Aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $325.8 million. The Tunisian military also have received a number of military equipment gifted from the US including 24 OH-5D Kiowa light helicopters.
Kuwaiti Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon. CGI Leonardo

So there is a possibility that if the Tunisian government to reduce the cost of buying new fighters – the air force still operates F-5s – by getting them at friendly prices from another Arab government. They will only need to pay for upgrade and other works on the Hornets, a cheaper option than buying new F-16s.
Eurofighter Typhoon in Kuwaiti Air Force colours. Finmeccanica.

As you are aware the Kuwaitis are getting Eurofighter Typhoons and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to replace their Hornet fleet.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2146 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Once again TUDM has lost the initiative to get tested aircrafts thats proven to be effective in our service

  2. RMAF is considering getting the ex Kuwaiti Hornet or not?


  3. To put this into perspective.

    Currently the only fighters Tunisia has are 15 units of F-5E/F. They have said to be interested in buying 14 brand new F-16V from USA, but no contract has actually been signed to date. Probably they are looking at the Kuwaiti legacy hornets as a cheaper alternative to buying the F-16V.

    TUDM on the other hand, we are currently operating 18 units of an advanced version of the Flanker, the SU-30MKM. Our most urgent need for TUDM in the near future is not for more MRCA’s, but to recapitalise our aging LCA and LIFT fleet. Yes it is nice to have those legacy hornets, but getting those right now instead of new LCA and LIFT will have a grave consequence to TUDM overall capability and readiness. With our tight budgetary situation, it is not possible to get and operate both additional legacy hornets plus new LCA and LIFT at the same time in the near future.

  4. Lee – “Once again TUDM has lost the initiative to get tested aircrafts

    It not a question of “tested” but a question of the RMAF and government being reluctant to acquire aged pre owned airframes which will get increasingly maintenance/resource intensive as they aged further ….

    The priority now is the LCA programme : period/full stop.

  5. A – “we are currently operating 18 units of an advanced version of the Flanker, the SU-30MKM”

    The Hornets have better serviceability rates and is something we rate higher (on account of several factors).

    The MKMs by right should undergo an upgrade sooner rather than later and the missing element which prevents us from exploiting what we face is the lack of a AEW.

  6. If we have fund, it’s better with new built fighters in enough numbers
    Remember A4-PTM Skyhawk?
    That’s why RMAF avoided 2ndhand aircrafts

  7. Actually second hand aircraft is not an issue. The A4PTM has always been used as an example. Singapore also bought second hand Scooters. But Singapores Scooters lasted n performed well

  8. There is no such thing as upgrading the SU-30MKM “by right”

    As it is right now, it is still a very potent piece of machinery. Among the most capable fighter aircraft in our region.

    The problem with TUDM is that there is nobody engineering-wise that is as good as say what TLDM got. Somebody that can think out of the box and does not just toe the contractors line. We got the bulk of our fleet “grounded” a few years ago when we could have immediately implemented IAF new limits for the Flanker.

    We need to concentrate on getting our LCA and LIFT first. When that is signed and done for, then we could look at upgrading the SU-30MKM. By the next one or two years, a much more clearer upgrade path would be available. Upgrades that we could piggyback with the SU-30SM2 such as the more powerful AL-41F1S engines, also with upgrades done to the Rafale such as the Talios targeting pod. The SU-30MKM will still be a capable and supportable platform for many years to come, the same cannot be said with our legacy hornets, with its end of official support deadline rapidly approaching and other current operators has already planned their phase out of their legacy hornet fleets.

    Of course lah TLDM is better at reengineering they got 50 years to do it. TUDM on the other hand have about 10 years or so to do it

  9. @A
    “TUDM is that there is nobody engineering-wise”
    You assume TUDM don’t know what they’re doing but the facts proven otherwise. The MTBF for SLEP isn’t determined by them but from the OEM, the reason why IAF could extended that cuz they are by far larger user and able to coax Sukhoi for extension. It doesn’t mean it would automatically applied to us. We still have to ask, and we(TUDM) did and we too got that extension.

    Regardless of the LCA order, the MKMs will need to be taken down for SLEP sooner than later. Regardless if the platform is currently potent, the engines still needs overhaul. An expanded Hornet fleet can take up the slack with lesser units due to higher fleet uptime. SG A4s were of the same vintage as ours and yet they were successfully used up til recent, why? Support for them have long ceased as well, so its not a matter whether the OEM still supports the platform or not.

  10. Its ok not to have extra 10 hornets to equip full sqdn of the 18th. The 36-62 LCA/FLIT could fill some of the 18th duties for the time being, until come the time when the hornets and mkm need to be replaced.
    Perhaps the country would have some extra leverage or capacity by then to produce its own 5th-6th gen fighter and ucav, in joint collaboration with foreign partners, in syaa Allah.

  11. A – “ Among the most capable fighter aircraft in our region0

    That’s on a platform basis. Things have long progressed to a “systems centric” basis … We’ll only be able to exploit it to its full advantage when we have a AEW to work with it ….

    The MKMs could do with a AESA; a new EW suite, a towed decoy, improves cockpit (it’s not a fully “glass”; etc.

  12. Lee- “ Actually second hand aircraft is not an issue“

    Incorrect …. Profound world of difference between a used Skyhawk and a used Hornet. The Hornet has much more electronics, computers, systems, etc.

    The RMAF is reluctant to get aged pre used platforms because they get increasingly expensive to maintain and operate as the age further …..

    The Skyhawks main problem was that we didn’t fund a new engine as was recommended by a Board of Inquiry which investigated the crashes.

  13. Lalok – “or capacity by then to produce its own 5th-6th gen fighter and ucav, in joint collaboration with foreign partners”

    Seriously? What have we got to offer? We have zero technology of our own; no economics of scale (not as if we have a requirement for 30-40) and it will require a huge investment.

    A pointless resource wasting exercise ….

  14. mr azlan, dont say pointless la.. i didnt say we build are very own fighter from scratch, i said with joint collaboration with some nations. seriously you dont know what we could offer?
    we have produced parts for boeing and airbus. dont say we cannot produced some parts for the designated jv fighter here and collaborate in tandem with the main manufacturer to assemble the fighters here, its not that something we had not done before (built aircraft, albeit small ones for the experience, assembled fighters such as the suks).
    cheer up mr azlan, no need to worry about the speculated cost uprising from the proposed dream project. If they wanna do it, they’ll do it, if not, they still will buy the 5th or 6th gen come 2030.
    selamat hari raya mr azlan, and mr halim & the rest 😀

  15. Tudm needs to retire all hawks, machis and migs. Don’t buy any lca, add more flankers instead. Buy off-the shelf lifts squadron but lease to a local private/glc flight school for fighter pilot training. As for hornet, I would suggest an asset transfer to tldm.

  16. lalok – “, i said with joint collaboration with some nations. seriously you dont know what we could offer”

    I’m aware you were referring to joint collaboration. My question again; what exactly do we have to offer?Technology? Are we going to buy in numbers? Are we investing a significant amount of cash for R&D?

    We don’t even use enough arty and mortar ammo to justify local production and most of our companies have yet to make the transition from pure licensed production to anything more significant.

  17. moksha,

    – The Fulcrums have long been retired.
    – The MBB-339s are not flying. No intent ongetting new engines.
    – The LCAs are needed to replace the Hawks (as part of the high/low end mix) and as a LIFT.
    – Unless it was forced to; the RMAF has no desire to buy anything Russian.
    – For reasons which have been thoroughly discussed; the RMAF and the government have their reasons why they won’t acquire pre owned aged airframes.
    – Unless there are significant changes (highly unlikely) the RMAF’s focus and resources in the next few years will be the LCA, MPA, UAS, radars, etc.

  18. @moksha
    Govt have retired most of them, but just merely mothballing in storage. Imho Govt should:
    Sell off the Migs to either Slovakia, Serbia or Ukraine as part barter for upgrades to Pendekar or for additional ammo, better if we can trade with Poland for additional used PT-91s upgraded to Pendekar specs.

    Sell off MB339s to private training firms ie Draken that are still using this plane since our airframes still have lot of airtime.

    No to more Russians until MH17 is resolved and those responsible are punished.

    Offloading to private agencies using Govt planes is basically supporting an Alibaba company but Govt bear the cost. So Heck No!

    Transfer MPA role to TLDM, not interdiction missions using fast jets. Those belong to TUDM.

  19. lalok – “we have produced parts for boeing and airbus. dont say we cannot produced some parts for the designated”

    Producing parts/components (using 100 percent foreign technology) for Hawks, A400Ms and other things and getting involved in a collaborative effort as a partner to produce an aircraft are 2 profoundly different things .

    lalok- lalbeit small ones for the experience, assembled fighters such as the suks)”

    Really? What did the experience of producing pylons for the Hawks and stairs for the A400M do for us in actual long term tangible benefits? SME has been producing ammo for 40 years; what has it gained? Has it come up with its own ammo? We did we get from license producing AUGs and M-4s? Also; we have never “assembled” fighters

    A lot of things sound good on paper but the reality is different. Look at the LCS, Kedahs and other ambitious projects intended to benefit the country but drained the coffers …..

  20. On the subject of planes, this is purely for speculation.

    Say RMAF wants to acquire another batch of 18 Flankers. Could we still buy them or are they subject to CAATSA?

    Is anything Russian-made now subject to CAATSA?

    New Flankers will be subject to CAATSA. Most new things will come under CAATSA apart from spares for stuff already in service

  21. i have given up hope too pertaining our defence industries generally, what else specifically on the aerospace sector.
    but then, i would like to give them a bit more chance to realise their hope by 2030. can read about their dream in

    dont promise much, but at least there is a hope.. 😁

  22. ASM – ”Could we still buy them or are they subject to CAATSA?”

    Depends on Uncle Sam ….. If it’s in its interests to allow a particular country to go ahead with a purchase; it will not do anything. Several countries which the U.S. has close ties with; as well as those it’s trying to improve relations with [India naturally comes to mind] as a counter to China; are in the midst of negotiating deals with Russia.

    I know your question was hypothetical but at this stage there’s very little chance of us getting more MKMs [a good thing from a training/support perspective]. At one point years ago the RMAF reportedly looked at selling the Fulcrum fleet to part pay for 6 follow on MKMs which would have enabled 2 squadrons of 12.

  23. lalok – “can read about their dream in MALAYSIA AEROSPACE INDUSTRY BLUEPRINT 2030”

    We can hope but higher chance of Pegasus appearing above the Penang Bridge or Bhutan forming a combined arms corps level formation.

    As I keep saying : everything boils down to our defence policy and our outlook on defence. We only spend when we have extra cash and priority is not ensuring the MAF gets the desired capability but how it benefits the country; including the local industry (people still buy the “self sufficiency” delusion). It’s this cloud cuckoo land delusion which has led us to where we are; the rut we’re in.

  24. mr azlan, no doubt, you can wallop them as u like now because they deserve it, i have done my walloping too albeit silently. be rest assured, in 2030 if i am still around they will get much more walloping from left, right and centre if they still maintaining their nato mode. 😂

  25. Malaysia have the funds to buy new light fighters. Thats where the market it. Thanks to the West market approach, they are selling overly expensive fighters once cheap 30 years ago..many countries could have bought the F-16 if the price was right but its become too expensive. 12 F-16s at $2.4 billion.

    Malaysia has the funds if its security is being challenged…would Malaysia open to losing air power? Thats the question the Malaysian govt and defence planners need to answer…a big investment in air power could translate into deterence.

    Again, aging war jet assets can be difficult to maintain since the Americans no longer use the Hornets but that dont mean the Hornets are vulnerable. If Malaysia went on to buy the entire Kuwaiti fleet, probably half is used as spare parts while the rest will be made operational. Skill sets…Malaysia does have the skill set to overhaul the jets if the government let industry players involved but politics intervenes when someone wants to make big bucks and at the end nothing moves. Buying used Hornets are expensive…overhauling 20 ex kuwaiti hornets can cost $600 m to $1 billion depend on the final say of the Americans..that money could well be spent on buying light foghters like the.FA-50 costing $35m. What can Malaysia do is improve the lethality of these jets…which is far better than buying secondhand Kuwaiti jets!

  26. @Danial
    We may have funds to buy planes but do we have enough to get in sufficient quantities to make them count? Due to Covid, lockdowns, & bantuan rakyat, the Govt & rakyat are burning thru cash like no tomorrow so how much left for defence, hmm? And what little heap we got left, is it not better to buy cheaper used planes that outperforms said LCA? The Hornet flies faster, farther and carry more. Comparing to LCA capabilities the Hornet is a force multiplier that packs a bigger punch. Seeing as we cannot afford a whole lot what we get need to have a bigger impact, so wouldn’t the legacy Hornet gives us that “bigger impact”?

  27. Danial – “hey are selling overly expensive fighters once cheap 30 years ago”

    30 years ago a F-16 or a Mirage 5 were not “cheap”. They were still cost prohibitive for most air forces. There are reasons why current gen types are more expensive to buy and operate/maintain in terms of cash value.

    Danial – “the Americans no longer use the Hornets but that dont mean the Hornets are vulnerable”

    Spares are still being produced and the type is still widely operated.

    Danial – “Malaysia does have the skill set to overhaul the jets if the government let industry players ”

    Malaysia does not have the skill sets and overhauls will be performed by either the OEM or a company authorised and certified by the OEM,

    Danial – “Buying used Hornets are expensive”

    Depends on how you define “expensive”. They are far cheaper to buy compared to something new and cash spent on upgrades provides a return of investment. What can be “expensive” is the costs of maintaining them as they age further.

    Danial – “which is far better than buying secondhand Kuwaiti jets”

    Don’t conflate the two together : one is a MRCA and one is a LCA; both ideal for different operational challenges. None is “better” than the other; like saying a bayonet is “better” than a dagger or a LMG is “better” than a GPMG.

  28. While we are still arguing whether or not to buy kuwaiti hornets..the indonesians adding another 6 units of kai t50i to their fleet

  29. Firdaus,

    What’s there to “argue”? Neither the government; nor the RMAF(for different reasons) are interested in getting pre owned aged airframes..

  30. If we wanted more Flankers couldn’t we purchase MKIs from India to get around CAATSA?

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