Who will buy our Migs?

KUALA LUMPUR: The story below is self-explainatory but the sale left us wondering how in the world are we going to sell our Migs?

With a reported price tag of RM300 million for all 16 planes, lock, stock and barrel, it will be much cheaper for anyone else to buy new planes from Russia.

Mig-29 last hurrah at Lima
Mig-29 last hurrah at Lima

It also appears with the latest development we may have to accept the offer from Russia to trade the 29s for six MKMs but Mindef is still hoping that we will find another buyer soon

There is one country of course that is willing to buy the planes for the price we are asking, but I am sure that we will not sell it to them. That country, is Iran of course. Iraq might be another candidate but I dont think the US will let us sell them the jets….

Myanmar Buys 20 Mig-29 Fulcrum D for US$570 mln
Moscow A 400 million-euro ($570 mln) contract has been signed for the delivery of Russian MiG-29 fighters for the Myanmar Air Force, a source close to Russia’s arms export monopoly told a business daily on Wednesday.

Vedomosti quoted the source at Rosoboronexport as saying the Russian bid to supply MiG-29 Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets beat China’s offer to sell its latest J-10 and FC-1 fighters.

Myanmar was rearmed with Chinese military aircraft worth some $2 billion in the 1990s, the paper said.

The country bought 12 MiG-29 fighters in 2001, but this contract is the largest since the 2007 unfulfilled contract to supply Algeria with 34 MiG-29 fighters.

In 2008, a contract for the supply of six MiG fighters was signed with Sri Lanka.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced last year that Russia would give Lebanon 10 MiG-29 fighter jets for free, Vedomosti said.

MOSCOW, December 23 (RIA Novosti)

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
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  1. In another website it was quoted that it will be delivery of 20 MIG 29 to Myanmar for total USD400 million. It never mentioned any model but Russion only producing the SMT currently. But logicly, SMT version cant be that cheap of USD20 million a piece. Checking in wiki (yep the worst source) the SMT version going at least USD35 million a piece.

    This is where my conspiracy theory 🙂 (the ridiculous sort) checks in. I believe Malaysia will sell the MIGs to Russia, who will in turn do the update/upgrade it to SMT standards before selling to Myanmar. The Balance 4 MIGs may come from their 200+ mothballed stocks. If i remembered correctly, Russia did not opt for new SMT but upgrades old C class to SMT which cost (estimates) 25% of new built.
    I believe, if my theory ever holds,at RM300 million total or approximately USD87 million selling price, that will be about USD5.4 million a piece. Say another USD 10 million for upgrades, balance 5 million weapon, walla u got yourself an upgraded MIG ready to serve Myanmar.

    Marhalim: Thats interesting Kamal. I will check that out…..

  2. Before being operated by a new customer, the MiG-29Ns will also require an engine overhaul.
    I’m curious as to whether U.S. sourced items like the AN/APN-118 TACAN receiver and AN/APN-147 VOR/ILS will have taken out before the fleet is handed over.
    And assuming the new customer doesn’t want the CAE Electronics Full Mission Simulator with the a fibre-optic helmet mounted display sight [HMD]and Operational Flight Trainer, what will the RMAF do with it? There is also a non flying MiG-29 airframe used for training, I hope this ends up at the RMAF Museum!

    Marhalim: The Defence Minister has said that they do not want a single Mig left in Malaysian soil as it would be a reminder of the bad experience they had with them. Nothing about the simulators and other equipment on the Mig though, but your question does give me some ideas!

  3. I prefer it if Malaysia choose the buyback package from the Russian of which the Russian will buy back the MIGs and will supply Malaysia back with additional 6 MKMs.

    We can save money for buying other fighter with the current tight budget through this package. We sell the MIGs and we get the MKMs. Simple.

    Same goes to the Hornet. It’s better for us to take the Boeing package for buying back the Hornet and supplying us back with the Super Hornet as part of the package offered by Boeing.

    The buy-back packages offered for Malaysia should be taken into consideration because of our little and yet tight development budget for the next upcoming years.

  4. Potential buyer of our MiG’s (others than Iran, Iraq & North Korea) :-

    1. Sri Lanka – Interested on MiG-29 to replace ageing Kfir & F-7 Airguard.
    2. Sudan – Current operator of MiG-29 and wanted to add more.
    3. Peru – Similar to Sudan.
    4. Bangladesh – Interested to add number of MiG in inventory.

  5. 300 million ringgit is less than 100 million US dollars for 16 aircrafts. compared to the myanmars’ buy at 570 million US dollar for 20 aircrafts, i still feel that it’s a worthhile buy for the potential customer….

  6. Manof, yes but it depends on who’s going to absorb the cost for the engine overhauls and if any upgrades are required. The cockpit and avionics were modified to suit the RMAF’s requirements and may not suitable for the new owner. I also suspect that stuff like the IFF, TACAN and ILS will be removed before the sale.

  7. oops my bad, it is actualy 20 million euro or USD28.5 million a piece. Still cheap compared to the at least USD35 million a piece of the SMT offered to Algeria in 2008 but cancelled the delivery. Still i incline to say that our MIG could land in Myanmar after the necessary upgrades by the russian could still possible hehehhehe.I thought someone quoted in local dailies that the airframes still got good 15 years left.. Anyway hope they get a good deal for it.

    Marhalim: Yes the airframe still has 10 to 15 years to go….

  8. Selling the MIGs to Iran, Sudan, Syria, Myanmar, NoKor etc. is a brilliant way to get Malaysia slapped with trade sanctions. We are already a known ITAR violator with not just the J81s going to Iran. Malaysia has issued bogus end user certificates for stuff like F14 spares. Was anyone done for that? I don’t think so.
    If we persist in having a cavalier attitude towards the binding terms of procurement, we should expect to suffer consequences.

  9. ”Selling the MIGs to Iran, Sudan, Syria, Myanmar, NoKor etc. is a brilliant way to get Malaysia slapped with trade sanctions. ”

    Why is this even an issue and why does this have to be mentioned? The Defence Minister has clearly stated that the MiGs would only be sold to countries or companies approved by the UN. In order not to piss ”big brother” off, the chances of Malaysia selling the MiGs to any of the countries indicated is very slim. In event of the MiGs being traded in with Russia for new MKMs, what happens to them after that is beyond Malaysia’s control and responsibility. As I mentioned earlier, the handful of U.S. sourced avionics on the MiGs like the GPS, TACAN, ILS and IFF will most probably have to be stripped before the fleet is handover.

  10. Ya I agreed with Azlan on the MIGs matter. But, although I supported the idea of trading the MIGs for more MKMs, but I don’t think the govt will do so as I’ve mentioned in my old posting.

    At the moment, I do think that instead of continue with the MRCA program, we should look at other ‘cheaper’ alternative like Mid-range SAMs or Long-Range SAMs. As what Marhalim has posted before, the S-300 missile from Russia should be considered.

    They should just considered the Iskander-E Theatre Tactical Balistic Missile system for the Army or even the Iskander-M if they are daring enough as they’ve already put their interest in procuring such missile from the Russian.

    Marhalim: There is no official MRCA programme at the moment. I cannot confirm it but all the talk about MRCA programme was just borak-borak kosong at Lima, RMAF has not prepared the MRCA specs yet, no one apart from BAE Systems had grabbed on to the straws that is why when Bernama reported that they were offering the Typhoon, most of us, Lima veterans had a good laugh…..

  11. Syameer,

    SAMs, whether short, medium or long range are not and never will be an alternative to manned aircraft. Each performs a different role. Buying Iskander E or M or for that matter any surface to surface missile will be downright ludicrous when money isn’t available at the moment for the Cougars or even basic items like sights for the M4s or body armour.

    On another subject, coming so soon after the KD Inderapura fiasco, the revelations of the missing engines is embarrassing for the MAF and government. One would have hoped that after the Al Maunah incident, nothing would go missing again. We can only be thankful that its engines and not a batch of Starbursts or Metis Ms that have gone missing. As predicted, the U.S. government has requested a report on the investigations done on the missing engines and it is within their right to do so.

  12. Guess before we dream further of the best in this world, we should get our foundation right first.

  13. Who would want to buy them?

    I think we will be able to sell only a few that had recently been overhauled. The rest of the birds are due for a very expensive (russian style) overhaul – which is one of the mian reasons we are getting rid of them in the first place…

    Would you buy a used car that is due for an expensive major overhaul?

    Marhalim: In the case of the Migs, there are some people who really want to get their hands on them, expensive overhaul or not although in most cases we are unable to sell it to them due the threat sanctions and all.

  14. May be cost wise, its the unavoidable things to do selling the MIGs. We may not even have a replacement for the next 3-5 years. But i hope by sacrificing the MIGs, it would ensure that the rest of fighter fleet and transport fleet would get its good operational and maintenance budget share.

  15. Why don’t we just upgrade the Mig’s to SMT standard?I mean the SMT is a multi-role aircraft and is a lot cheaper than buying new MRCA aircraft.

  16. how much cheaper the “cheap” upgrade will be, compared to the new MRCA?

    Marhalim: Of course it will be cheaper than buying new planes, for example an F-35 will easily cost us Rm340 million per plane, based on current prices, so funds for one plane is enough to have a super-duper upgrade of the Migs…..

  17. I’m wondering twhat is the hours clocked by the malaysian MiG’s and we can deduce the problems of it based on the cold war ear MiG specs of the SOviet Union.

    Also what is to become of FOXY? once her MiG’s are sold ? so sad..

    Marhalim: No worries about Foxy, shes going to be a Flanker driver…..as I mentioned earlier our Migs were screwed by our own middleman mafia……

  18. If the middlemen mafia is the culprit behind the high operating costs of the migs, why dont MINDEF just cut out the middlemen, review the contract with ATSC. There must be a clause in the contract for govt rights to terminate the arrangements if unsatisfactory with the services/prices.

    Marhalim: Yes there are supposed to cut out the middleman out but the problems it seemed is continuing….

  19. Somebodywith better knowledge please help me :-

    Tun in its blog stated that the F18 D is merely for show as it cant be used to the fullest due to restriction in source code by US.

    Well he may be true in a sense but I am thinking with two other allies i.e. Thailand and Singapore also using US made weapon, it would not be in their best interest for US made weapon to gun down any of them is not it (assuming conflict broke out between us and any of them).

    Anyway I sincerely doubt that we will have any arm altercation with Singapore. Fiery stuff as we can be towards eac other, economic sense will prevail as sizeable international trade for Malaysia is done via Singapore.

    With Thailand, the selatan thai is always a fiery issue, but up to now there is no arm hostilities between the two (at least none that i know oflah).Thai army is quite sizeable but i think their focus is more with Myanmar and cambodia at the moment.

    As such with those 2 countries, having the SU 30 MKM as a deterrent against the F16 Viper and F15 Eagles sounds ok strategy eventhough we are out numbered at least 4 to 1 (Thai about 65 Fighters and SG about 120 fighters)

    But with our nusantara brother which we had fought 1 war in the 60’s and with recent spate of gun boat muscle flexing (though we may also be guilty of the same) then its a different scenario altogether. Current with 20+ Hawk 209, 7 SU27/30 type, 12 F16 and few F5, this is a potential adversary(if it is a right word to use) as we seems to be disputing over oil and land resources.

    Few years back it was rumoured that they want to build up to 44 SU30 type aircraft as the F16’s are not in the best of shape. Again using my simplistic logic here, as deterrrent we cant really match SU VS SU. To have a bit of perceived advantage, then it sould be a western type model.

    Based on the above and may not be logically sound anyway, taking also factor of land mass etc, the selection seems to rule out Typhoon, Rafale or Gripen (short leg). Seem the Super Hornet looks like the best alternative although we may not get the source code.

    Marhalim: On the source codes I believed Tun has been misinformed….

  20. err does anybody knows whether the MM38 exocet supposedly in our investory still usable and whether it can be integrated to the 6 NGPV? (hope janganla itu hilang juga)

    Marhalim: The MM38 will be phased out by next year, exactly when its up to RMN. I am told its no longer economically feasible to maintain their service life. No info on the exact numbers remaining in stock….

  21. Thats great news for FOXY.. hope she continues to kick ass in the Flankers.

    Also I hope the middlemen mafia does not continue with our Sukhoi’s as I belive Najib has already said they are gonna change their corrupted ways with the SUkhoi and that the sukhoi wont face the same fate as the MiG’s.

    Marhalim: I am not too sure about whether the Sukhoi will escape the same fate as Migs, but I am not too hopeful…..

  22. @Kamal, your aircraft numbers for Thailand (above 80 aircraft) and Singapore (7 squadrons or a total of 167 to 168 aircraft) are a little low. Fyi, Thailand operates at least 57 F-16s and has 6 JAS-39 Gripen. Additional Gripen orders are delayed but the type is intended to replace replace its aging fleet of F-5 B/E Tiger II aircraft. The Israeli-upgraded F-5Ts with DASH helmet displays and Python missiles will remain in service.

  23. For more details on Thai F-16s see:

    For more details on Singapore F-16s see:

    (i) http://www.f-16.net/f-16_users_article17.html
    (The F-16 numbers are in the above article are updated to Peace Carvin IV in 2004).

    (ii) In September 2009, it was announced that Singapore will renew the pilot proficiency training program for US$250m. It should also be noted that the RSAF is also paying another US$75 million to lease additional F-16s from the USAF and for other related support and services at Springfield.(See http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2009/Singapore_09-51.pdf)

  24. So if they are really want to phased out the MM38, what type of missile will replace it?

    And about the Tun matter, how if he correct?

    Dear Kamal, I don’t see any possibility of armed conflict between Malaysia and any country in this region. Despite there are many time the Indon-extremist threaten to attack Malaysia, but this can be assume as a low level to mid-level threat.

    The Indonesia Govt will not be a fool to start armed conflict for once again with Malaysia. From what we can see today, we silently control the Indonesian through our many investment in their country and the need of their people to works here in Malaysia for a better pay or in a simpler words through economy.

    If there’re any armed conflict between us, Malaysia can pull back all of their investment in Indonesia and this will result in major economic downturn in their country as they’ll lose their 4th largest export partner.

    Ya I agreed that we should get the Super Hornet for our MRCA procurement program.

    Marhalim: None officially as the MM38s were part of the FAC weapon system. The FAC missiles will now be gun boat only. MM40 Block III is a possible replacement for the Block IIs

  25. @Mohd Syameer Firdaus, Dr M is wrong about source codes. Fyi, the US does not and will not share source codes with Australia, Malaysia, Thailand or Singapore. As a rule, the software source codes that program the electronic-warfare, radar, and data buses on US fighters are too sensitive for export. Instead, the USA sent the UAE “object codes” (similar to APIs), which allow them to add to the F-16’s threat library on their own. See: http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-uaes-f-16-block-60-desert-falcon-fleet-04538/

    Malaysian bought 8 F-18Ds and is the world’s smallest F-18D customer. Understand your country’s position and decisions.

    Marhalim: I believe the source codes sharing is on a code to code basis, for example Australia got to tweak their F/A-18 weapon system to include the Asraam while the Singapore also got an exception when they fitted Israeli-based EW systems on the F16s. I also believed our Hornets received a software upgrade ie source codes upgrade so they can be armed with Amraams, so there……

  26. The Russian offer for to replace our MiGs with 6 more SU-30MKMs is a pretty good deal. But they must fixed the integration problem before coming through with the deal. However that ain’t gonna cut it for our new MRCA requirements.

    I think we should take the deal to increase our Sukhois squadron aircraft and also go for the Super Hornet or Gripens. However I disagree with turning back our 8 F-18Ds for the newer Super Hornets. We should keep them and buy new Super Hornets without giving back one of the most combat effective aircraft type of the country.

    Gripens maybe is cheaper and have one engine, compare to the F-18E/F but still a good choice. We can make the same deal as the Thai’s. Buying Gripens along with Erieye AWACS.

    Marhalim, is it true that the Gov has aprroved the purchase of F-18E/F Super Hornet but RMAF freeze the program is because the US didn’t want sell us the AESA radar? When did the Gov approved it?

    Marhalim: It always been the myth that the govt wants the Super Hornet, not, its the RMAF that wants it, esp those who want to fly them and maintain them, the rest of the gang, like those in the govt do not want anything to do with an American purchase, first of all its bloody expensive and its not in the national interest not to have a lot of middlemen make money from the deal…….

  27. The “source code” of any software application, be it Windows Vista or Fly-by-wire systems or what have you, is the actual program statements that show you how the thing was programmed e.g. this is the source code for a Java program that prints a simple message:

    class SourceCode{
    public static void main(String[] a)
    System.out.println(“Some source code”);

    Why do American defense companies NOT want to release the source codes to their customers? Microsoft doesn’t let anyone see the source code for Windows, why would Boeing or Raytheon let anyone see the source code for its weapons?
    Even the UK won’t be getting the source code for all the software that runs and manages the F-35!

    What customers always get are the “object codes” i.e. already compiled and functioning programs. So, when TDM says our F-18Ds are useless because we don’t have the “source codes”, he is either bluffing or he does not know what he is talking about.

    Give you a scenario that Uncle Sam prefers to avoid: USA gives Malaysia the source code for (weapon/sub-system) and then Malaysia sells it to some other country that could be hostile to the US or its allies.

    When you have the actual program code (the “source code”) for something, you know how it works, and you can devise a counter against it. That is why even close allies like the UK do not get the “source codes” for the USA’s weapon exports.

  28. @Hazwan, the Malaysia’s FMS notification which was dated 4 September 2002 (see:http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/malaysia_02-56.pdf), the US had not sold their AESA radar technology to other countries. Please also note that the F-15Ks are not currently AESA equipped (which is related to the time frame).

    The only other country with AESA radar tech, in 2002, was Japan in their F-2.

  29. @Kamal and Marhalim,

    Happy New Year to all of you guys commenting in Malaysian Defence.

    IMO, most politicians like Dr M and the Auzzie guy are really talking about ‘object codes’ (and not ‘source codes) but are just using the terms loosely. And I think anonymous chap has hit the nail on the head on the source code issue.

  30. I found it surprising that the MM-38s will be retired as several years ago, the IDS factory in Pakistan received a contract to re-life the RMN’s MM-38s. Prior to that, Naval Dockyard had work with Aerospatiale to refurbishment the
    MM-38s. Then again, the RMN was the first in the region to get Exocets, so its MM-38s are old….

    I think the the source/object codes issue should be put to rest as no Malaysian company currently company has the ability to take advantage of it even if any codes were provided.

    Marhalim: I am told that it no longer makes economic sense to re-SLEP the missiles especially when the platforms left for it are the FACs which are currently used patrol boats only….

  31. May be there is no need for the MM38 replacement. When i refer through SIPRI, i noticed that RMN ordered a huge number of Ottomat, more than 60 between 1997 to 2003. With 4 laksamana and 6 launchers each, the most they would order imo would be between 24 to 32. Plus i read somewhere in tempur/perajurit couple years back that there was a plan to lighten up the congestion on Laksamana deck by taking out two of the ottomat launcher and the torpedo. if these spare launcher could then be wired to the Kedah NGPV (assuming the wiring is available) together with the Torpedo, walla…but then again this is just my theory

  32. oops i accidently add 18 aspide to the ottomat count, it should be 48. Still for only 4 corvettes, quite a big amount. Still if it is possible to integrate the 2 ottomat to each NGPV and torpedo’s to the NGPV, would be a ok platform. The only thing lacking is SAM. Well maybe few dozens ANZA from GAPU can be loaned to the NGPV perhaps?…wishful thinking.

    Marhalim: Its called floating stock, Kamal, excess weapons or engines are kept in store in case of repairs etc. Although theoretically one can fit a torpedo launcher on the current Kedah-class it will be almost impossible to fire them accurately unless you can fit a tow array or VDS onto the ships. They are only fitted with nav sonar….

  33. Seems a lot of negative talk about middleman mafia, although I believe it is about the cut they take, rather than the concept itself. If they can find a middleman with lowest profit margin, a lot of things can go better than the present situation. But with exclusive distributorship and all that, it is hard to argue for continuing that business strategy.

    However, direct negotiation doesn’t always solve the middleman mafia issue either. The Armed forces are corrupt entities themselves in all kinds of ways, and on top of that, the politicians themselves are far from clean. Money will bleed in other mysterious ways..

    Anyways, bolehland mechanics cannot put western half-cut engine into Migs ah? 😉

  34. I kesian you miskin Malays who still believe in a free lunch – the Russians will accept these aircraft back on trade-in by adding the cost of transporting them back to Russia to be scrapped to the follow-on contract Su-30s. Plus profit. Plus “commission”.

    And no one else is going to want them for the same reason the RMAF doesn’t want them…

  35. Green Hornet …. I believe you have missed the plot. Who’s talking about a free lunch here?? If you’re going to resort to racist remarks at least have the courage to use your real name instead of hiding behing something so original like ”GREEN HORNET”….

    The last time I checked .. a number of countries were still buying Fulcrums in line with their operational and political/financial requirements so at least get your facts right.

  36. Slm and good day. I’m a new guy here. Just to express my opinion regarding our country MiG-29Ns. Personally, I agree with Azlan. We should keep one or two examples of the great aircraft at home and displayed it in TUDM Museum. The MiG-29 has nostalgic and historical values to us. It’s the first Russian aircraft we bought. For me, it’s stupid if we don’t keep some for display purposes just because Defence Minister said TUDM had a bad experience operating the MiGs.

  37. One more thing. I prefer for Malaysia to accept Russia’s offer of buying back our MiGs for six Su-30MKM as return package. It’s more worthy. We don’t need to find buyers. Plus, we can boost up the number of our Su-30MKM in our inventory.

  38. It is unlikely that any of the 14 Ns and 2 NUBs will be retained for a museum. There is however a non-flying airframe that is used for training support personnel, perhaps this can be used as an exhibit. A few days ago whilst driving near Serdang, I came across a Skyhawk and a Caribou displayed outdoors [before the Petronas station].

    Marhalim: There is a Skyhawk each at Subang and Kuantan airbases. Of course Sg Besi is the venue of the RMAF museum,. I havent been to Butterworth, Kuching and Labuan from the land side so I am not sure whether they also have gate guards….I am told that UTM aeronautics department also got a Skyhawk and one of the ejection seats of one of the crash Fulcrums…

  39. Even though it’s just a non-flying airframe, but it’s still OK. At least we have one example which we can preserve in TUDM Museum. Good for our next generation too…

  40. My gut feeling is that money will not be available for the new MRCA project in the 10th MP, nor for additional SU30 MKM’s in lieu of the MiG’s.In all likelihood the RMAF will be required to soldier on with its present assets of F18s, SU30 MKMs and MiG29s for many many years to come.

  41. How about Bangladesh, they already fly a few mig 29s and they are right next to burma a (bit of tif between the two recently), their def budget is tight but at that price i think they would easily be able to buy them.

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