Water Under The Bridge

Sukhoi Su-30MKM from the 12th Squadron - M52-09 and M52-18. Picture taken in 2016.

SHAH ALAM: Water Under The Bridge. Several days after Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu revealed in Parliament that only four out of 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker of the RMAF is serviceable, the service finally responded with a statement on the issue.

It stated that the lack of funding and provisions for the 10th year service program (10YS) as the reason for the low number of aircraft available currently.

It said the lack of funding was confirmed in an audit conducted by the National Audit Department in 2017. (This audit report was not made public though another report on the delayed Sukhoi Technical Centre was made public in 2016, ED).

Hanging in the air, a RMAF picture of the Flanker in her display on Feb. 7 at the Singapor Airshow 2018.

The statement also stated that only one Flanker is currently undergoing the 10YS at the Gong Kedak airbase as part of a pilot program undertaken by the service and its current maintenance providers. This was because the one proposed by the OEM was deemed too expensive. Among others the 10YS will have to be conducted at its facilities in Russia.
The statement by RMAF

Second Page

As the OEM 10YS was beyond RMAF means, and as OEM was finalising the scope of the program – this was the first time the MKM had reached its 10 year milestone, it was decided that a pilot program be initiated at Gong Kedak by the RMAF and its vendors and service providers to determine whether the 10YS could be conducted locally
Sukhoi Su-30MKM M52-18 at Sukhoi Technical Centre at the Gong Kedak airbase in 2016.

The pilot program has shown that the 10YS could be conducted locally and at a reduce cost. However as the pilot program continued to be developed and optimised, the 12 Flankers which had reached their decade milestone will not be available for operations.
Nine Sukhoi Su-30MKMs flew in a diamond formation on June 1, 2010 over Sungei Besi to mark RMAF birthday. www.malaysiandefence.com

This leave only six aircraft which had not the reached the decade milestone available for operations.
RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM seemed to hang in the air at the Singapore Airshow 2018

The service further noted that apart from completing a comprehensive 10YS plan, it was still constrained by the lack of funding. “Due to this RMAF needs the proper allocation to ensure the Flankers are capable of conducting its operations.

–Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Meaning RMAF started the SLEP localisation wayyy too late! They should have initiated the pilot program at least 2 years ago, when they already knew going back to Russia was a no-go. Money problems is no excuse when we can even send A400Ms back to Airbus for enhancement.

    Who else would have capability to SLEP Flankers independent of Russian support? Perhaps India, China & Ukraine. Why not seek their help earlier on?

    Lack of funding sounds like a cover excuse. My gut feeling is, RMAF was unable to send them back to Russia (due to MH17) and they waited and waited and waited until the pilot project viability kicked them into action.

    The A400M enhancement was paid by Airbus as the aircraft was under warranty

  2. So basically my graph is almost correct
    But the actual situation is worse as the overhaul has not even started.

    Question now.
    – if we can’t afford to fly MKMs, surely we cannot afford to fly Typhoons or Rafales.
    – Just tell the actual cost of 10 year servicing for all to see.
    – Can the parliment approve an emergency budget to complete the 10 year servicing?
    – Why we need something that not only cheap to buy, but economical to fly and maintain.

  3. This is it, one of my nightmare is The Fall of RMAF. Now 4 of MKMs In service and how long MKM SLEP is gonna Wait. ?

  4. Would you say the Minister took a calculated risk with his statement in Parliament, to convince not only Tun but the public what’s depleting states the forces are in? Only left less then two months to budget session…

    No lah, I think he went off script based on the recording of the parliamentary proceedings. He went to Gong Kedak almost two weeks earlier where the challenges facing the 11th Sqdn was briefed to him in full detail as he is the minister. They wanted him to push for the funding.

  5. Is the local vendor up to it to upgred the MKM wit combo equipmen on board? i tink beter go back to OEM to avoid sistem conflict. Look at MKI.

    The local vendors are just the components suppliers

  6. People like Tony Pua who are quick to argue and opposed the proper allocation for defence before are now in the government.

    So please, no more excuses after this.

  7. Mates, we simply can’t divorce the MH17 shooting from the equation. It divided Msian opinions. I for one won’t grovel for Russian help after my kin were murdered by Russian separatists. I read somewhere even the Indian MKIs are not all serviceable. I pity the TUDM bosses here, getting brickbats when those volleys should have been aimed at MinDef and the last government for not not giving them the said funds! We have no business getting those A400s. It should be delayed then to allow funding for the Sukhois.
    If YB Mat Sabu wanted to make the public sit up at his revelation, well we all wide awake now. It’s up to the PM and Finance Minister to see the gravity of the situation.
    Perhaps its now worthwhile to ask the air force to check if the Skyhawks and F5Es can be brought back to life! (BTW, that’s a grim joke).
    And hopefully, we won’t hear of any peace activist hollering that the nation’s funds are again being squandered by ‘non-essential’ agendas.

  8. This will take a few year to fix. How it become like tis? For sure rmaf goal not become like kiwi or brunei air force. Swallow the world embarasment. Go back to the basic start from zero and stick to western or ruskie only.

    All not lost. Work wit ur frens and together secure ur border and region. But the straregy picture in peninsula and suround area has change. Exampel Sg can longer expect north be secure must act acordingly if shit hit this fan.

  9. the question remaining is:
    -our menhan simply did just blurt out the info right??i mean its not a calculated move.

    -do we really have other company right now which could do 10th years maintenance check?or we just have to wait for the company to form partnership and then work can be done?

    hopefully this open the eyes of new people in govt about our military spending.

    Based on the recording I think the minister had revealed the numbers by accident. There is only ATSC, no other local company involved in the maintenance. The others are vendors, the direct purchasing agents, registered with the ministry and finance. When RMAF and ATSC want to buy parts, Russian or otherwise, the DPA will source it for them. Some parts like the EW system are purchased directly in this case from SAAB. I guessing Thales or Safran stuff are also bought directly from them

  10. I think we have to take RMAF statement with a big grain of salt. Of course now that the problem had been put under public spotlight, everyone is out to save their hides and shifting blames. RMAF is probably the least transparent when it comes to fund allocations. The public will always be told that certain assets is too costly to maintain and they have to pay for some even more expensive new ones, without any detail explanations or independent studies to maybe come up with a viable solutions. Malaysians just have to take RMAF words for it, trust them, they are the “experts” and would never lies to you, fellow Malaysians, now just fork over your wallets. When rebuffed by the public on the astronomical costs for new toys, RMAF seemingly threw a tantrum and just ran their old toys into the ground and condemning them to the scrap yard, again, with no plans on what to do with these assets. Among MAF, RMAF seem to be the one with the worst case of “my way or no way” syndrome, with absolutely no concern for the nation financial crisis. Am hoping to see some some heads row in RMAF commands in the near future, over all these years of patchy performance and for essentially running the service into the ground. Wonder why despite knowing that there is a critical shortage of fighters, RMAF still sent the hornets to Australia? A very long distance and relatively unnecessary deployment that will no doubt eat into whatever lifespan these air-frames have remaining…

    Regarding the MH17 tragedy, there is no direct evidence showing whether Russia or the separatist did it. The so called Dutch (or should I say US-NATO’s) report is a one sided-story aiming to further demonized Russia. In the anti-Russia political climate of the time, common sense would dictate that Russia has nothing to gain from downing the plane, while Ukraine has a lot of potential benefits to gain from just such an incident; it could ‘prove’ the Russian threats, demand support from NATO for ‘lethal’ weapons (and eventually join NATO), isolate Russia internationally (sanctions etc.) while simultaneously justify its ongoing genocidal, ethnic cleansing wars on these ethnically Russian eastern provinces, since this can now be a part of America ‘War on Terror’. All these are also what Ukraine’s puppet master, America was aiming to achieve when they initiate the coup d’etat in Ukraine. Plus, as the owner of the downed plane, still have not hear a solid statement from the Malaysian government and from all that were announced so far, the Malaysian government seem very reluctant to fully back the NATO ‘official’ autopsy report and formally condemned Russia, as NATO would love. Notice how the news cycle on this incident died out for a long time and just suddenly resurfaced after the limeys’ failed operation “Skirpals-Novichok’ backfired…

  11. Now that a new Team is taking over and the revelation have open the eyes of the people. Hopefully, like taib and tomahawk said, let the TUDM chiefs have the funds and able to “restructure” the airforce. Hari Pahlawan means means nothing if we don’t provide the Pahlawan the weapon that are able for thrm to make a stand. And this is by continue support from any government that rules the nation through many years. Purchasing a fighter platforms is not a 5 to10 years of use.

  12. @Taib
    While lack of funding may have been one of the cause for this predicament (we should still have sufficient due to retirement of the Migs), I believe the pertinent reason was; how can we do SLEP without Russian direct involvement? The RMAF & Mindef took way too long to resolve that question.
    They knew since 2014 that going back to Russia was a no-go, yet for 3 years, they were sleeping on the job, waiting waiting waiting for somebody to take action and by then it was too late!!!

    There is the question whether it will be cost effective in the long run to do the 10YS. The government decided it was good to buy them back in 2003.

  13. @Tomahawk-“All not lost. Work wit ur frens and together secure ur border and region.”

    I agree with this.

    I have been thinking if we can work with Indonesia air force on the Suks. Indo is building a parts factory there. They also just ordered more Suks this year. If we can coordinate on logistics and procurement with them we may save some money. and who knows, in the future this might lead to greater defense cooperation with indon armed forces, and dare I say it, an alliance. I know our history with them is not that great, but we must look to the future. the world is a smaller place, and there are bigger fishes out there stirring the waters…

    The Indonesian Sukhois even the new ones are built by Knaapo. Most components are not interchangeable

  14. What happen today is what we’ve decided years ago.
    When money is there, many decisions on buying are questionable and full of scandals.

    Now, money is scarce not because the gov unwilling to give the fund needed but the econony is not good.

    Unfortunately, the situation move from bad to worse. The US wil give sanction to certain country who make transaction on military equipment with Russia, except India, Indonesia and Vietnam due to US interest to those nations.
    Maybe that will explain why the gov want local company to do the the slep program. Does local company have the expertise? Of course not, Russian assitance is needed.

  15. kerberosWXIV, we did go thru’ this line of argument before. I believe it’s not TUDM’s fault. I believe the big toys are ultimately selected by the PM, and his cabinet rather than the generals. Going thru’ what I know of the 3 services, this is actually the case with TUDM & TLDM.
    I sincerely hope the present PM will listen or at least ‘lend an ear’ to our MenHan and his top men, both the generals and their civilian counterpart in MinDef. I remember my ex boss years ago telling me that buying those 8 Hornets in the late 90s was more about playing golf at Boeing’s expenses than the actual deal itself. So we know TUDM has little say in what toys they get to play with.
    … as for the fallout due to suspected Russian hand in MH17, why can’t we believe the Russians are to be blamed? It beggars belief that Ukraine will fire off a BUK well knowing there are many passenger planes overhead. And that they lost a fighter just days before that.But coming back to expectations of rapid TUDM acquisition of LCAs or LIFT cum LCAs, let’s hope we get to hear of better news for TUDM and TLDM. This new government is partially filled with peaceniks like Tony Pua but I do believe Tun and Azmin(Economic Minister and LGE(Finance Minister) can sort out the massive defense funding shortfall that YB Mat Sabu has revealed. And just forget about the Army requirements for once.

  16. We have to rely on india or ukraine to service the su30 mkm and the related weaponry.. Though at a much premium price and certain performance risk

  17. I really want to slap the decision makers for approving the Flankers instead of the Super Hornets!

    Malu malu malu.

  18. Conclusion is we dun have big budget to play big toy, so we better choose n focus LCA first? Or Su-30mkm just too expensive to maintain n operate with compare the western counterpart? The only jets still can have cheaper maintainence n operation price will be F-16 n F-18 because big demand. I foresee Rafale n Tyhnoon also need to high price.

  19. As a stop gap measure, I would suggest we send our Migs to India or Ukraine for relife and reactivation pending the Sukhois & LCA arrival. Later on, we can still sell them as fully functional planes (higher RV) to interested countries or even DRAKEN.

    Where to find the money for that?

  20. IMHO, TUDM should augmented the strength with so called RSAF Vipers. At least 28 aircraft Vipers and sell those Hawks. Booking the Kuwaitis and Aussies Hornets through G to G. TUDM and Mindef should be more proactive from now. Whether it is legacy Vipers or not, we should have the numbers. What i can say is that, we are better a bit than Philippines in terms of tech and numbers.

    What RSAF Vipers are you talking about, the F16s?

  21. How is it imaginable that they bought these wonderful war birds without detailed life costs planning by year of operation and plan the budget accordingly? It does not matter who makes the decision, the party concerned should have had the facts sorted out and ensured that the budget was appropriately allotted. The situation now is akin to buying a Rolls Royce and parking it in the garage after the free 3 or 5 year service period is over. No budget?? Easy as an excuse but does not show much institutional intelligence both in RMAF and Mindef! Really embarrassing to say the least! Blatantly putting the country’s security at risk!

    They asked for the budget, money given was not enough, so what do you do? Do with what they had.

  22. @Maharlim
    Well, it depends. Do we still allocate budget for maintenance of the Migs or is that kitty totally dried out?

    They are in storage, why do you need to allocate money for them, apart from maintaining the storage facility.

  23. I have no idea why my comments since saturday are deleted by marhalim. Anyway…

    Off topic.

    An answer by Mat Sabu in Parliment today.

    ” Bagi kontrak pembinaan, sebanayak RM6.7 bilion bagi pembinaan kapal Patrol Vessel (PV) ”

    What the F ?? If it is at RM4 to 1USD, and if the contract is for 6 PV, that is about USD300 million per ship!!

    Please, no hyper expensive gun-only armed PV, give APMM just 20% of that budget and they can get 6 more DAMEN OPV1800 in place of those uber expensive PVs.

    What comments? I have not deleted any comments. That’s the cost of the Kedah class inclusive of the amount of money spent to revive the project. At least RM2 billion was squandered by Amin with the consent of the powers that be

  24. @ camp

    Sg will possibel receive the first few f35s n 2024-25 from 1st batch order. The 70+ F16Vs will be operation together wit the new f35s. Only decommision after 2030.

    Unless you talking abt rsaf f5 s/t. But this are upgred wit israel electronik and can fire derby and pythons.

  25. Retype one of my comments. The rest I cannot remember.

    @ kerberosWXIV

    ” Malaysians just have to take RMAF words for it, trust them, they are the “experts” and would never lies to you, fellow Malaysians, now just fork over your wallets. When rebuffed by the public on the astronomical costs for new toys, RMAF seemingly threw a tantrum and just ran their old toys into the ground and condemning them to the scrap yard, again, with no plans on what to do with these assets. Among MAF, RMAF seem to be the one with the worst case of “my way or no way” syndrome, with absolutely no concern for the nation financial crisis. ”

    The issue is that the airforce leaders insists on “my way or no way” too much. They wanted western fighters and when they got MKMs instead, they did not move on to whatever they needed next like the MPA for example, but insisted for the next 10 years for western MRCA without other plans as that would take away the budget for MRCA. But in reality there is not enough budget anyway for those MRCAs, and that results in no concrete plans for MiG retirement, no MPA until last year when they realised they wasted 10 years to get those unaffordable MRCAs and no budget for MKM maintenance.

    Look at TLDM. There are also pushes for Mistral LPD (eventually bought by egypt), Dokdo LPD, MSC (missile strike craft) to replace the laksamana and fac, C28A frigates, etc etc. But they pushed all that aside and stand firm with their plan, planned for cheap platforms instead to get money for submarine overhaul and refits to their current ships. Even though the LMS is not what they really wanted, they took it and now moved on to their next requirement the MRSS.

    ” Regarding the MH17 tragedy, there is no direct evidence showing whether Russia or the separatist did it. The so called Dutch (or should I say US-NATO’s) report is a one sided-story aiming to further demonized Russia ”

    Ukraine does not need to have SAMs to target the separatists as they do not operate any fighter jets and russian jets does not fly over donesk. About 2 weeks before the separatists have increasingly successful in shooting down ukrainian helicopters, small transports and fighter jets. This has forced them to fly higher. The day that MH17 was shot down, the separatist social media account boasted shooting down a large ukrainian cargo plane. Only later when it is realised that it shot down MH17 that the post is deleted.

  26. The present predicament befallen by the RMAF is quite similar to what was faced by the Philippines Air Force back in the sixties when Marcos was in reign.So,I won’t be surprised if we have a toothless airforce within the coming two decades.Mistakes were made but no one seems to learn anything from the debacle.whatever it was,we’re now the laughing stock of our neighbours.

  27. lest we forget, the air force generals are actually the ones that have to live with the problems initiated by the politicians of yesteryear. Yes, inc our 7th PM. Repeatedly hitting them is fine but ¾ of the punches should be directed at these pollies… That point was raised by YB Sabu when he said it is easier to blame the previous admin but that doesn’t make the problems go away. I heartily concur with the man. Let’s hope we see some sense spouting in the new govt rhetoric on defence. Aamiin.

    I am guessing that he said that as he realized that the problem with the Armed Forces was created by his new boss which was perpetuated by his hand picked successors.

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