What’s Up Flanker?

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

SHAH ALAM: What’s up Flanker. For those keeping up on defence matters on Malaysian Defence and others will be aware that the RMAF is keeping its MRCA fleet – the F/A-18 Hornets and Sukhoi Su-30MKM – beyond 2030. In the next few years – if it happens – the Hornet fleet could be supplemented by around 18 Hornets purchased from Kuwait. The 2019 Defence White Paper (DWP) and RMAF’s own CAP 55 plan, also said the same thing as does the various statements by the successive defence ministers since 2019.

So, it was not surprise to me when Free Malaysia Today on March 23 reported that the RMAF Sukhois can fly for 20 more years, subject to available of parts. That said some people were quite surprised by the fact.

PETALING JAYA: The Royal Malaysian Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighter jets are capable of remaining airworthy for about two more decades, the primary contractor maintaining the Russian-made aircraft said.

Aerospace Technology Systems Corporation Sdn Bhd (ATSC) CEO Lt Col (Rtd) Fadzar Suhada said the company was capable of ensuring the 16-year-old fighter jets – the country’s most advanced and sophisticated – were maintained until 2035, subject to the availability of parts.

He also said the company could completely overhaul the Su-30MKM in Malaysia – which they had done since 2007 – at half the cost, compared with if they were to be sent to Russia for the purpose.

It is understood that each Su-30 requires a sum of US$27 million to be completely overhauled for every 1,500 hours of flight or 10 years of operation.

What is surprising is the need for the story as it is a well-known fact that we intend to fly the Sukhois for that long. The writer – a former colleague with the NST, who stayed until retirement – may well be doing it simply to get a story out. AFAIK there is no plan to retire both the Hornets and Flankers as simply there is no money to replace them in the next few years.

There is a case for their replacement in the next five years, though again the issue of funding is the biggest one that need to be overcome. This comes even before the discussion about the actual platform.

— Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

Share
About Marhalim Abas 2149 Articles
Shah Alam

61 Comments

  1. How about our Anti tank missiles that needed replacements? Bakhar Shikan? Metis?
    How about our requirements for Anti air missiles?
    How about our requirements for Medium range air defense?
    And how about bids for MPA (is it confirmed?), Drones and Radar?
    No updates huh?

  2. Personally I thought of the story as a sorts of sponsored article for the flankers local maintenance contractors. It’s 16 years old and it due for $27 mil refit but historically speaking we only operated MIG for 20 years.

    Slovakia supposedly get viper at 70% discount for sending MIG to Ukraine while UK is offering 1 to 1 exchanged with eurofighter while the LCA might drop in price by probably half as the Intergration cost of aesa & weapons had been paid off by the first batch. Then there’s the question of where the money for the Kuwaiti hornet would comes from. Our hornet itself is pretty old & won’t be economical to operate it in 5 more years. So we maybe well of accelerating the MRCA program or just pull a sweeden use LCA with a AW&C exclusively for some time period.

    The government has Plenty of options to choose from & the DWP is due for a review in the next 2 years where they can justified a rewrite of their earlier policy. So I won’t say that the flankers would continue flying is a certainty.

  3. Solving the Chicken & Egg problems is the highest priority for Malaysia Madani government. Defense issues are way down the list..

  4. Kamal – “No updates huh?”

    There are updates on various things. Just a matter of you keeping track of what Marhalim posts.

    Zaft – “Our hornet itself is pretty old & won’t be economil”

    You know this for a fact or you speculating yet again? Yes they getting older and yes airframes tend to get maintenance intensive as they age but the hours they fly plays a part as do a host of other things. Our Hornets are quite a while away from reaching the point where they “won’t be economical to operate it in 5 more years”
    – if that were the case we wouldn’t be trying to get Kuwaiti Hornets which are older than ours …

    Zaft – “The government has Plenty of options to choose from & the DWP is due for a review in the next 2″

    You make it sound like the government has made it a priority to meet our defence needs and has made a commitment to adhere to what’s stipulated in the White Paper which I will remind you is a politically driven exercise which excites fan boys and those who don’t know any better but means nothing without firm commitments.

    Zaft – ” So I won’t say that the flankers would continue flying is a certainty”

    As it stands there remains the strong likelihood that they will be around for at least a decade more. If you want to talk about “certainties” based on hypothetical factors I can also say there’s no “certainty” that King Kong won’t have an altercation with Godzilla on top KLCC.

  5. There is no plan and no talk of any MRCA replacement (Hornet and Su-30MKM) within this decade (2021-2030). The major purchase for this decade would be the LCA/FLIT batch 1 and Batch 2 buy.

    Which is why RMAF is looking to add more Legacy Hornets as an Intrim MRCA within this decade. Legacy Hornets are looked at as it will not need major integration to the existing resources. But there is a downside to this, as the official support for Legacy Hornet will stop around 2028-30, with the big likelihood that RMAF will be the sole user of Legacy Hornets after 2030

    The Su-30MKM, if to be used for 20 more years, that would be to at least 2043. That is about 36 years old. From now till its planned retirement, if they are currently going through their 1st overhaul, they have to go through only 1 more overhaul. The MKI/MKM/MKA/SM version would be used by its major users probably past the 2043 date. The next overhaul would be in more than 10 years from now, with no way to predict what kind of situation Russia will be in at the time. For comparison, in RSAF next gen 2040 plan, their F-15SG would still be operational alongside its F-35B.

  6. Wong … – ” The major purchase for this decade would be the LCA/FLIT batch 1 and Batch 2 buy.”

    But this is Malaysia : priorities can and do shift. It’s not inconceivable that we might not see a follow on LCA order and might see a MRCA one instead prior t0 2030.

    Wong … – ” with the big likelihood that RMAF will be the sole user of Legacy Hornets after 2030”

    Then it will be daft to get them as even if Kuwait signs on the dotted line today; getting U.S. export approval can take 1-2 years.

    Wong … – ” with no way to predict what kind of situation Russia will be in at the time.”

    India is of far more importance when it comes to assistance with Su-30 sustainment. As it stands it’s unlikely we’ll go to Russia for anything unless we really have to. The problem is not CAATSA [the Yanks won’t sanction us for buying spares and it will be counterproductive for them to do so at a time when they seek a united front against China] but the negative political baggage that comes with it from Europe especially.

  7. What is the point of having old expensive fighter jets that can’t detect the enemy?

    Just use the cheap LCAs for QRA and patrols.

  8. Zaft – ”but historically speaking we only operated MIG for 20 years.”

    What has that got to do with anything? We retired them prematurely because we didn’t want to overhaul the RD-33s and wanted to channel the costs savings somewhere else. We can’t and won’t retire the Flanker fleet prematurely and this has been widely acknowledged.

    Zaft – ”Slovakia supposedly get viper at 70% discount for sending MIG to Ukraine while UK is offering 1 to 1 exchanged with eurofighter”

    So? We are a non aligned nation and will not send anything to the Ukraine [neither has any ASEAN member] and it remains to be seen if anybody wants Typhoon Tranche 1s because they are too expensive to upgrade and have software issues; as it stands only suitable for air defence missions.

  9. If we want to induct 5th gen aircraft, 2030 (and beyond) would be a more realistic timeframe where KF-21 would finally reach its supposed potential as 5th gen aircraft, TFX would enter serial production and America would finally open up F-35 export to other countries that isn’t partner in JSF programme as major superpower will commence on fielding 6th gen aircraft

  10. Hasnan – ”What is the point of having old expensive fighter jets that can’t detect the enemy?”

    What exactly is the point you’re tryng to make?

    If you’re referring to the Flankers and Hornets; both can – despite their age – do much more than ” detect the enemy”… Both can lob a HE warhead through the roof of your house from many KM away day or night; rain or shine. In case you didn’t notice the U.S. has gone to war with old jets which performed as intended.

    Hasnan – ”Just use the cheap LCAs for QRA and patrols.”

    The problem will com when or if the ”cheap” LCAs meet something they can’t handle…

  11. Can be maintained subject availability of parts, it stating the obvious. Anything can be kept running as long as parts are available. Or is this a shot across the bow? To tell the government, if sanctions keep going on, parts availability will be a problem – time to consider bringing forward the MRCA program? Recall when the sanctions on Russia was first imposed, the story goes Malaysia had 2 years of parts available. We’re already 12 months into the conflict with no end in sight, and India is stating Russia is unable to deliver equipment ordered.

  12. Azlan “What has that got to do with anything? We retired them prematurely because we didn’t want to overhaul the RD-33s and wanted to channel the costs savings somewhere else. We can’t and won’t retire the Flanker fleet prematurely and this has been widely acknowledged”

    You answered your own question over here though

    “But this is Malaysia : priorities can and do shift. It’s not inconceivable that we might not see a follow on LCA order and might see a MRCA one instead prior t0 2030.”

    Azlan “I will remind you is a politically driven exercise which excites fan boys and those who don’t know any better but means nothing without firm commitments.”

    Everything is political because politics by definition is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups.

    Gov Commitment thus depends on how the plan is publicly received & supported. For example the decision to keep the flankers flying is IMHO pretty piss poor value propositions to the voters just like RMN previous proposition to buy plenty of ffbnw gun only boat. And obviously things that aren’t going to passed public scrutiny won’t get any funding nor commitment by the gov and thus the plan would have to change.

    Hasnan “What is the point of having old expensive fighter jets that can’t detect the enemy?”

    Which is likely why the article is written.
    Here we have a potential contract for somewhere between $30mil (locally done) to $60mil (doing it in Russia) per jet. so between half a billion to a billion dollar of contract to keep the 18 flankers flying.

    Supposedly Mat Sabu once Said to network the flankers to other assets would cost MYR 1 billions more. If we wanted to upgrade the flankers to keep up with the times then it would cost plenty more billions. So many billions that we might be better off buying new jet or just use the money for enablers asset like AEW&C & compass call.

  13. May well be the case. Actually, if the spare parts remained available, the engines would be the biggest issue as they need to be sent to Russia for work as we don’t have the facilities to do it here. Only the engines are sent back there now. I am not sure even the Indians have the facilities to overhaul or repair the engines. Another issue is ordnance, while the Flankers can use US made bombs, it is unclear whether it will be able to do the same with missiles. The only good thing here is that we may well have to tap Indian expertise for this part.

  14. Zaft – “You answered your own question over here though”

    You think I did but all I did was to rebutt your claim that the Flankers might be retired prematurely. Also your comparison between the situation with the Fulcrums differs greatly to that with the Flankers. Research …

    Zaft – “Everything is political because politics by definition is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups”

    You got that from an encyclopedia? Glad you realise it; you won’t be quoting the White Paper like it’s written in stone or holy writ the and you’ll understand the dynamics behind it: the 5/15 and the CAP55.

    Zaft – ” Gov Commitment thus depends on how the plan is publicly received & supported”

    You might think so but in reality the average voter doesn’t care; thus public opinion will hardly influence the government’s decision.

    Zaft – “or just use the money for enablers asset like AEW&C & compass call”

    Another joke? Do you think our CONOPs call for the likes of Compass Call? Why not suggest we buy THAADS or JSTARS next?

    Zaft – “If we wanted to upgrade the flankers to keep up with the times then it would cost plenty more billions”

    Really? Something you know for a fact or again merely assumption as if it’s true? A feasibility study done years ago did not come up with “plenty more billions” [to quite your good self]. You also have to note that the RMAzF has no intention of conducting a full upgrade; merely just what the minimum calls to keep them operational as the cash would be better off utilised for a new platform.

  15. Marhalim – “The only good thing here is that we may well have to tap Indian expertise for this part”

    Will be politically unpalatable but there’s China. Back in 2009 the RMAF did say it would seek Chinese assistance for parts. On India I have no idea if HAL is still producing various parts; I assume it is.

  16. There goes our MRCA acquisition talks, at least not until 2030 and beyond. Even if there’s an effort towards the program now, the opposition of MRCA procurement program could simply cite that FMT news article as validation to their opposition.

    Major props to ATSC, I guess?

  17. @Azlan

    The cheap LCAs can lob HE bombs too.
    If they come across something they could not handle, it is the same with the expensive old jets…undetected stealth fighters. Last year, 2 RAAF F35s can “kill” 6 F15SGs. I would assume the old flankers and hornets will do worst in 2030.

  18. Q: can Malaysia get parts and expertise for the Flankers from China? Don’t the Chinese planes use the same engines?

    Or just stick with HAL. The Indians will IMHO eventually work out how to overhaul the engines themselves and built the spare parts themselves.

  19. From an Australian angle:
    If a real shooting war erupted and all RMAF had were the FA-50s as the Hornets as well Flankers were not airworthy.
    The LCAs will be up against something they can’t handle like the J-20, for example.
    IMHO, that scenario will probably not happen in real life because by then, the RAAF will be there with its F35s and Super Bugs.
    What I am saying is this: the RMAF will never be in a situation where it’s fighting alone with only the LCA.

  20. Azlan,

    “Then it will be daft to get them as even if Kuwait signs on the dotted line today; getting U.S. export approval can take 1-2 years”

    It would not be daft if we could get it for almost free. Even if we get them in 2026, we could still use them for 10 more years. Canada, for example now plans to fully phase out its Legacy Hornets in 2032. It received 18 former Australian Classic Hornets as top ups in 2021, that is about 11 years of use. Even if we ordered our new MRCA in 2031, it would take at least 5 years for the new MRCA to be fully operational in RMAF.

    Hasnan,

    “What is the point of having old expensive fighter jets that can’t detect the enemy?”

    That is not the point.

    Yes, leave QRA and patrols to LCA.

    But the Su-30MKM has one of the longest unrefuelled range of any fighter around the South China Sea pond. Lobbing long range anti-ship missiles outside of the targeted ship anti-aircraft envelope is one of the mission the MKM could do. The MKM unrefuelled range (700nm to and back, with 8tons of weapons) means that any ship in the south china sea could be reached by the MKM from Gong Kedak or Labuan.

    Still a very potent A2/AD system in our hands.

  21. Although it has been reported that it tapped China for spares and parts, India may well be the best thing. We have been trained by them so it will be much easier for us to get the stuff from them. AFAIK We have never bought or got any stuff from China on the Flankers, I stand to be corrected of course

  22. The priority should we getting our own awacs system and allow smooth communication with our hornet/flanker/LCA etc

    If our enemy have longer ear or eyes in the sky, any 5th or 6th gen could be a sitting duck for bvr missiles. Even the US is doing making older jet as missiles carrier with support of the awacs.

    Old horse still have a role compared to those stealth where missiles carrying capacity are limited if no external hardpoint carriage

    If Ukraine war is anything, drone carrying strike are better than sending expensive jet into well contested area. See the plane that Russian have lost even the sm30 their so call best fighters. Worse part is not to SAM but manpads.

  23. Russian lost many of their latest SM due to how they use their SM.

    They used their SM for close support with unguided rockets and freefall dumb bombs, flying over Ukrainian air defences.

    Any aircraft, even f-35 will be shot down if you used it exactly like how the russian does.

    You will not be shot down if you use standoff weapons.

  24. Wong … – “It would not be daft if we could get it for almost free. Even if we get them in 2026, we could still use them for 10 more years”

    I know you’re all gung go about the Kuwaiti Hornets but my comments were in reference to the possibility that we might face sustainment issues past 2030; no point getting them getting them if we can only sustain them for a few years. Also yes if we get them on paper they will be a stop gap measure but that’s on paper…

    It would also be daft if we got them but didn’t get the right amount of ordnance for them and the needed ground support equipment. There is also the pertinent fact [most have a tendency to only focus on the aspect of getting the airframes] on having sufficient funding to sustain the already 30 odd year airframes as they get older and get more maintenance intensive…

    Wong … – “But the Su-30MKM has one of the longest unrefuelled range of any fighter around the South China Sea pond”

    Yes you keep mentioning as if this is the one deciding point in measuring its level of efficacy but not all operational sorties will call for a long range/endurance and the very downside is that it has a RCS the size of a barn door…

    Also, as has been pointed out previously one has to detect a target and fix its location. The target is moving; will be defended by other assets and will trying its damnest not to be located and hit…

    Wong … – “Still a very potent A2/AD system in our hands”

    For me whether it’s really “potent” will depend on a host of factors and not merely the actual platform itself. If you’ve noticed; other platforms operated by others are also “potent”.

    Hasnan – ” Last year, 2 RAAF F35s can “kill” 6 F15SGs”

    So? That was in a simulated engagement. In 2014 a Hawk got a F-22 in its gunsights. In a real world engagement the possibility would be next to nil. The Flankers and Hornets might be getting old but this doesn’t indicate your nonsensical “having old expensive fighter jets that can’t detect the enemy”‘

    Tom Tom – “What I am saying is this: the RMAF will never be in a situation where it’s fighting alone with only the LCA.”

    Spot on. Nothing is intended to be placed in a situation where something has to punch above its weight category.

  25. Thoas – ” If Ukraine war is anything, drone carrying strike are better than sending expensive jet into well contested area”

    We saw this way before the Ukraine. We saw it in Libya, Syria and Nargano Karabakh. You will also have noticed that by July last year the Ukrainians lost 90 percent of their UASs. The lesson is that UASs must be integrated with other things and must be available in numbers because they will be lost and we can’t assume that in a future war we’ll be able to deploy UASs against who lacks a layered and networked decentralised IADS and who can employ EW.

    Thoas – “Russian have lost even the sm30 their so call best fighters. Worse part is not to SAM but manpads”

    Instead of drawing hasty conclusions looks at things in totality. The RUssians we discovered were unable to conduct a strategic integrated SEAD/DEAD campaign [in the past I countered fan boy claims that having KH-31 gives us a potent SEAD/DEAD capability – many things come into play] and both sides have achieved mutual limited air denial but the Russians are still deploying airpower; albeit ineffectively.

    Toas – “The priority should we getting our own awacs system and allow smooth communication with our hornet/flanker/LCA etc”

    Not to “allow smooth communication” but battle management and SA. Yes that is a key enabler and something which one can’t do without [yet many are still fixated on things at a platform level as if it’s still 1969] the reality is that it’s still a very long way from being acquired.

  26. Wong … – ”Lobbing long range anti-ship missiles outside of the targeted ship anti-aircraft envelope”

    You’re assuming that a long range shot can be undertaken and surely as a learned person you’ll be cognisant of the fact that a long range shot isn’t always possible and even if possible can be less than ideal. You’ll also have noticed or will be aware that to increase survivability Russian fighters undertook KH-31P shots at long range but this significantly decreased the PK.

  27. Its a nonevent news. The USN will continue to transition to E/F variants towards 2030 while the USMC will keep using a bit further into 2034 but they are pushing for an earlier cut off date. Either way we still have upto 2030 to make a decision for MRCA.

    The ‘beyond’ part is just waiting 5 years for the new planes to arrive and to transition from the old to the new, even then we will most likely still can procure spares for the legacy Hornets while the MKMs can still be kept updated as long as Russia & India produces new Flankers.

  28. ”while the MKMs can still be kept updated as long as Russia & India produces new Flankers.”

    I believe not ”kept updated” but kept operational with various parts which are longer supportable being replaced by non Russian parts; when possible. A prohibiting factor in the past was that using parts which were not certified by the OEM resulted in there being warranty issues and the OEM not assisting in case of issues but I suspect we’ll soon reach a point when this becomes a non issue. As for actual upgrades I really doubt there will be any; focus will be on maintaining what there is in order to keep the planes operational or mission ready until such a time they can be retired.

    Hasnan – ”it is the same with the expensive old jets…undetected stealth fighters. ”

    The proper term is ”low observability’. ”Stealth” is a misnomer. Understand that LO does not make a 5th gen fighter invisible or invincible? It makes it much harder to detect and track and that makes it immensely problematic for the opponent but doesn’t mean a legacy platform is totally impotent against a LO platform.

  29. cheekucai – ”Russian lost many of their latest SM due to how they use their SM.”

    It was also because they were unable to fully degrade the Ukrainian IADs and the reason for that is because they lacked the means to perform a concentrated SEAD/DEAD campaign as part of an overall strategic air campaign. Note that the bulk of air losses to MANPADS were Su-25s,KA-50s, Mil-28s and Mil-24/35s. As it stands we have a situation where both have achieved mutual limited air denial but the Russians have the upper hand for obvious reasons. The bulk of air kills has been by Su-30s firing R-77s but that’s due to the fact that the R-77 has reach and is fully active; rather than strengths with the Su-30 per see.

    cheekucai – ”unguided rockets and freefall dumb bombs, flying over Ukrainian air defences.”

    Yea and no; at times they used ”toss” bombing to avoid exposing themselves.

    cheekucai -”You will not be shot down if you use standoff weapons.”

    Will still be shot down if you’re targeted by medium and long range systems. Buk has been the main killer of medium and high altitude targets at various ranges; followed by
    S-300s.

  30. Azlan,

    “and the very downside is that it has a RCS the size of a barn door…”

    RCS of Su-30 is around the same as a F-15

    Also radar travels in straight line. a ground-based radar will have a radar shadow (where it cannot detect any aircraft) below the horizon. That means any aircraft flying low at more than 50km from a ground radar cannot be detected. Low flying + modern standoff weapons can do the trick. NSM for example has around 185km range.

    Su-30SM sometimes used Kh-31 in their attacks, but most of the time unguided rockets and dumb bombs. It is when they do attacks with unguided rockets and dumb bombs is were they are mostly shot down.

  31. Wong …

    – Yes but we were talking about the Su-30’s RCS being the size of a barn door. The discussion wasn’t on the F-15.
    – Yes I’m aware of radar/sensor limitations due to the earth’s curvature. That’s why there are things such as OTHT targeting, over the horizon radars and AEW platforms.
    – You are quoting promotional brochures. There is a major difference between ”maximum effective range” and ”maximum range”. As alluded to there will be times when a long range shot isn’t practical or possible; just because ‘X’ has ”Y” maximum range doesn’t mean that a shot at that range will be conducted.
    – To increase survivability KH-31P shots were taken at long range but the problem is it also decreased the PK rate. To compensate for inherent recce/strike capabilities; as well as the lack of an integrated SEAD/DEAD capability the Russian relied on cruise and ballistic missiles to target the Ukrainian IADS.
    -As for ”that means any aircraft flying low at more than 50km from a ground radar cannot be detected” that’s a blanket claim and overlooks the fact that the target might have early warning in the form of pickets or other assets; isn’t 1982 in the South Atlantic now but 2023. There is also EW…

  32. “kept operational with various parts which are longer supportable”
    Yeah that too, but I think Russia will still be making newer & updated Flankers even with SU57 in existence. Much like how USA still produces newer generation F15s that flies alongside F22, I believe Russia will continue to make new Flanker generations.

    And for that longevity to maintain relevance, I believe Russia will need to update the Flanker platform ie new AESA radar, updated avionics for newer sensors, ECM, integration, next gen payloads. The SM evolution was interesting as it was based on the MKI/MKM branch variation and further updates to the SM could be a base for the evolution to our MKM.

  33. ”I believe Russia will continue to make new Flanker generations.”

    For want of anything else it will; just like how it will still produce T-90s despite on paper having Armata which is hit by delays and technical issues. The question is will we decide in the coming years to seek support [including buying spares] from Russia or will we decide it’s politically unpalatable.

    As it stands any plans there were [one was made years ago] to actually upgrade the Flankers with Russian assistance will be ditched; focus instead on merely keeping them operational with Indian help. Technically, integrating a new weapon or even a targeting/navigational pod to the Flanker will require source/object codes which are only known to the OEM of the mission computer but there will be ways around this; albeit lenghtly and costly ones.

  34. “will we decide in the coming years to seek support from Russia”
    Much of the avionics & ECM suite is Westernised (or French to be precise), except the plane’s core electronics, engines & radar. Personally I have made my stand about dealing with Russia (which is to not!). At best is what we trying to do, seek India (or China) assistance as much as possible. The MKM are still potent but may not be when more nations induct 4.5/5th gens so it depends whether we want the planes to remain relevant in the airspace or not.

  35. “Much of the avionics & ECM suite”

    The radar and mission computer are not and those are the components which will need integration and certification to anything else added.

    “The MKM are still potent”

    A 46 year old upgraded F-5 is “potent” but depends on the context and operational circumstances.

    “may not be when more nations induct 4.5/5th gens”.

    “May not be” even if up against a legacy type which by virtue of being networked has superior SA.

  36. “Much of the avionics & ECM suite is Westernised (or French to be precise”

    The only ECM are the Russian wingtip active jammers. The self defence suite in the form of a MAWS and laser warning receiver is South African/Swedish.

  37. Self-protection jammer pod = SAP-518
    RWR = L-150 Pastel
    MAWS = Saab MAW-300
    LWR = Saab LWS-310

    Future radar upgrade to AESA. Either plug n play indian UTTAM radar from MKI, or Turkish AESA radar for TF-X. Long stretch, Leonardo AESA radars. I don’t think USA will allow its radar to be installed into the MKM.

    Another upgrade that I think will be important is integration of more western weapons to the MKM. Long range missiles such as NSM, or turkish SOJ. Glide bombs. Air to air missiles such as AMRAAM.

  38. “A 46 year old upgraded F-5 is “potent” but depends on the context and operational circumstances.”
    A 5th gen will “see” and kill an F5 long before it knows what shot it down. How is that potent?

  39. We need to prep for the Hornets n SUs. We need to stock up on spares to ensure they are serviceable until timed ROD date. There is also upgrading options like changing targeting pods with new n better ones. Upgrading of Radars, ECCM n support measuresetc

  40. We cannot simply stock up on spares. It must be done carefully as some spares are time expired while somethings are very expensive to be kept in the store just like that.

  41. ”A 5th gen will see and kill an F-5 long before it knows what shot it down”’

    Did I say or indicate otherwise? I tend not to make meaningless direct comparisons. What I did imply is that various things can be ”potent”; a cliche which is overused and can be a misnomer. BTW a 46 year old legacy platform with a fully active guided AAM can have an advantage as the target might not know its been fired upon until the seeker goes active during the terminal phase and the legacy platform might be operating in tandem with a AEW platform; like I said : ”depends on the context and operational circumstances.”…

  42. Getting more Hornets / Rhinos may give RMAF the option to early retire the SU-30s. If the 2nd hand Kuwait F-18 transfer proves to be financially and operationally viable (e.g., less maintenance headache, increased readiness, streamline logistics from 2 to 1 supplier) it may convince the government that getting 2nd hand Super Hornets and Hornets progressively (whether from Canada, Switzerland, Finland, USN or USMC) maybe a viable financial option if the new MRCA won’t happen until late 2030s early 2040s.

  43. Kel,

    “How do you plug and play an AESA radar?”

    Because the UTTAM Mk3 AESA is made bespoke for the MKI thus also able to fit to MKM?

    https://su27flankerfamily.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/s-uper-sukhoi.jpg

    As for the flying hours information of RMAF SU-30MKM

    “Malaysia’s Sukhoi fleet entered service in 2009. The Su-30MKM fleet’s exact airframe hour for each aircraft is an RMAF-guarded secret, and this paper can only reveal that the average number of hours for the fleet is 864 flight hours, which is only 57% of the total 1500 flying hours required for the aircraft to be overhauled. This means the 10-year calendar date came first, in 2019”

    So after 10 years of operation, average flight hour of the MKM fleet was only 864 hours. That is an average of less than 100 hours per aircraft per year. To compare:
    “The NATO minimum is 180 hours (15 per month). RAF flying hours for jet pilots is between 180 and 240 per year (18.5 per month on average)”

    Why something like the FA-50 is needed. To be able to regularly fly and put 2 pilots logging flight times in each aircraft.

  44. “a cliche which is overused and can be a misnomer.”
    If you want to generalise, sure. But what is a fighter plane’s role? To get up and take on adversary planes, that often will have fighter escorts so likely will be fighter vs fighter. The one that “sees” first will shoot first, will have the advantage, and a 5th gen LO is awfully hard to “see” while a 3rd/4th gen is otherwise rather visible from afar with modern radar.

  45. “If you want to generalise, sure”

    The ones generalising are the ones who loosely apply cliches such as “potent”, “force multiplier” and others. Sure a MKM is “potent” but in the right operational circumstances so is a 46 year old upgraded F-5.

    ” The one that “sees” first will shoot first, will have the advantage, and a 5th gen LO is awfully hard to “see” while a 3rd/4th gen is otherwise rather visible from afar with modern radar”

    Nobody’s disputing that a 5th gen platform has inherent advantages but if operating in tandem with other assets a non legacy platform will be able to nulify the advantages processed by the 5th gen platform. The 5th gen platform will still have the advantage but it won’t be as loop sided

  46. Wong …

    I’m see the value in range but as explained to; long range isn’t a panacea and shots at extreme ranges can’t always be undertaken and even if they can midget not be undertaken. Difference between “maximum range” and “maximum effective range”

    Note that very few of the AMRAAM and R-77 shots undertaken in the former Yugoslavia, by Pakistan; in the Ukraine and other places were at extreme ranges; most of the time they were well within range of a Sparrow or Alamo. The value is that they were fully active. As for long range air to ground shots note that were undertaken by airarms which have a good ISR capability in order to detect and fix targets.

  47. I’m see the value in range and realise it memorises and fixates people but as explained; long range isn’t a panacea and shots at extreme ranges can’t always be undertaken and even if they can midget not be undertaken. Difference between “maximum range” and “maximum effective range”

    Note that very few of the AMRAAM and R-77 shots undertaken in the former Yugoslavia, by Pakistan; in the Ukraine and other places were at extreme ranges; most of the time they were well within range of a Sparrow or Alamo. The value is that they were fully active. As for long range air to ground shots note that were undertaken by airarms which have a good ISR capability in order to detect and fix targets.

  48. “if operating in tandem with other assets”
    That is a lot of circumstances there to give that F5 a handicap but those who could afford a 5th Gen would likewise have the same advantages ie networking, AEW support, so such advantages would nullify each other.

  49. ”That is a lot of circumstances there to give that F5 a handicap ”

    If a lightweight fighter first designed in the 1960’s and intended for those who couldn’t afford; were unable to get or didn’t have a need for a Phantom didn’t have a various ”handicaps” against a 5th gen platform then something would be terribly wrong. I only used the F-5 as an example; could easily have inserted Fulcrum or a Hornet D in the narrative.

    ” so such advantages would nullify each other.”

    Yes and no : as I said it depends entirely on the operational circumstances. That is the point I was driving at many posts ago.

  50. “So after 10 years of operation, average flight hour of the MKM fleet was only 864 hours. That is an average of less than 100 hours per aircraft per year”

    If we are going to use them till 2049 for example, that is 40 years of operation. If we continue the same pace of flying as the first 10 years of service, total average flight hours would just be 3,456 hours, very much less than the 6000 hours limit for 40 years.

    So as long as we could secure the spare parts for the MKM, operating them far into the future should not be a concern.

  51. Wong … – “So as long as we could secure the spare parts for the MKM, operating them far into the future should not be a concern”

    Yes this has been made clear. The problem would aside if we wanted upgrade certain things but as it stands the intention is to keep it operational with what it has; only replacing things which are no longer supportable.

  52. “depends entirely on the operational circumstances.”
    Your operational circumstances will need the 2nd parting of the Red Sea or the full alignment of all 9 planets to the Sun, for it to happen. Yeah right.

  53. Like RMN, RMAF need numbers. Like RMN, its short of fighters to be effective. Doesn’t matter the circumstances, adjacent forces, etc. No one is talking about AWAC/AEWC, airbone tankers because the priority is just getting enough jets to do what is currently required. Hence all efforts being placed on 2nd hand Hornets (today its Kuwait Hornets, tomorrow its probably Rhinos from Canada), and LCA. Even if 2nd hand Hornets and LCA is not good enough, it is what’s possible today. All the talk about platform is moot since MRCA is not due until 2035 earliest (likely 2040s). There is still the question of whether single engine fighters qualify for MRCA (because the only stealth fighter that can be bought in 2035 and delivered in 2040s is the single engine F-35). Also RMAF wants all 33 Kuwait F-18s. If RMAF does get all 33 jets, including the 8 existing F-18s, is enough to form 2×18 F-18 squadrons (satisfying the CAP55 requirement). If that happens, the SU-30 might just be retired early. Then the discussion on supporting platforms can start.

  54. Kel – “. If RMAF does get all 33 jets, including the 8 existing F-18s, is enough to form 2×18 F-18 squadrons (satisfying the CAP55 requirement)”

    The intention is to operate about 12; the remainder for spares. Operating more then that will be a strain on already stretched resources.

    kel – ” Then the discussion on supporting platforms can start”

    Yes that’s the reality but an observer can point out that getting a key enabler adds greatly to the combat efficacy of what we have now and will induct into operational service prior to 2030.

    Breaking posts in paragraphs makes it easier to digest..

  55. Doesn’t matter how much jet we bought because we would still be constrained by pilots, technician numbers and so on

    Unlike physical constrain like hanger which could be solve rather quickly & ‘cheaply’ Pilots & technician are limited in numbers in the 1st place, expensive & time consuming to trains and are easy to lose.

    Thus There’s a huge likelihood that the hornet would just use existing flankers pilot & ground crew if the flankers goes into retirement.

    But it still would be enough for 2 squadron of 12 hornet each. 1 consist of mostly single seater while another do double duty as conversion fighter training as well.

    The savings from operating common airframe might allow them to squeeze more pilot training which allows for some enabler asset or even MRCA to be introduced a bit earlier than the current proposed timeline.

    Off course it all depends on the availability of funds and availability of purchase. Nothing we can do if people didn’t want to sell us stuff.

  56. Zaft – ”Nothing we can do if people didn’t want to sell us stuff.”

    From 1957 onwards ”people” have been more than ready to sell us ”stuff’. The problem is us.

  57. Zaft – Azlan is spot on. I concur with him that having a squadron of 12 Legacy Hornets is more than enough for RMAF. We’d missed the boat over 20 years with stagnant and bad decisions in buying Russian airframes.

    Time to move forward and find ways to procure the elusive 5th gen fighter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*