Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Equipment of the Royal Malaysian Air Force

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Equipment of the Royal Malaysian Air Force

The equipment of the Royal Malaysian Air Force can be subdivided into: aircraft, ammunition, weapons, satellites, and ground vehicles.



To boost Malaysia's security in eastern Sabah from the threats of militants from the southern Philippines as well as to dispose of older inventory, the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAF) transferred four of its S-70A Black Hawk to the RMAF. BAE Hawk 200 squadrons have been stationed in various bases across East Malaysia in order to launch air-to-ground operations and attacks against foreign militants attempting intrusion into Sabah. In 2016, BAE Systems entered into a strategic partnership with a Malaysian aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre AIROD to upgrade the avionic systems on the Malaysian BAE Hawk aircraft. As part of the Malaysia's Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) program, Malaysia is looking to replace its ageing MiG-29 and F-5 fighters which have long since passed retirement age. Due to financial difficulties, the plan was postponed year after year. Announcement of the winner of the project, as well as purchasing of the new generation fighters will most likely occur between 2016-2020. The major contenders of this project would be the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Sukhoi Su-30 and the Sukhoi Su-35. While Malaysia's Aerospace Technology Systems Corp. (ATSC) has launched a bid to upgrade the ageing MiG-29 fighters, Dassault Rafale has offering financial package with a ten-year repayment loan from a French commercial bank and guaranteed by the government of France to assist procurement of their fighter. This offer was countered by BAE Systems' Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab JAS 39 Gripen which has offered competitive leasing deals instead. EADS and BAE Systems has offered to set up joint venture companies for maintenance and repair of the aircraft if it is selected, along with competitive financial support extended by the UK government. Beside promoting their jet fighters, Saab is pitching their airborne early warning and control aircraft, the Global Eye (Bombardier 6000) equipped with Erieye radar system and is looking for local partners in Malaysia for manufacturing and maintenance, repair and overhaul. Russia is ready to offer their jet fighters to meet Malaysia’s requirements. The Russian defence export corporation, Rosoboronexport which supplied the Royal Malaysian Air Force with Sukhoi Su-30MKM expressed its readiness to discuss the prospect of establishing joint and licensed production facilities in Malaysia. The Russians have argued that despite some initial advantages especially in terms of meeting the high cost for maintenance, fuel, parts and insurance in the short term, the lessors the aircraft will require frequent checks to be assured that terms of the lease are upheld, and the aircraft will eventually have to be returned after the leasing period is up. As such, leasing fighter aircraft will have significant drawbacks in the defence of sovereignty of the nation. Instead, the Russian offering their Sukhoi Su-35 at lower prices than their western rivals. However, according to reports by insider sources, the Malaysian Government has shortlisted the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale instead.

In the late 2015, it was rumoured that Malaysia might purchase the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder, but the report was denied by Malaysian Defence Minister and said they were still determining to choose. It was believed that there was an immediate requirement for new fighters due to the increase of China's aggression in the South China Sea dispute. Belarusian company also expressed their interest to help Malaysia to upgrade and repair their Russian-made fighter jets. Following the visit of Saudi King in early 2017, Malaysia are reportedly seek to buy the excessive Royal Saudi Air Force jet fighters and helicopters.

Incidents and accidents

  • Since 1989, around 95 armed forces personnel (most of those are the RMAF) have been killed in 18 crashes involving the ageing type American-made Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King (Nuri) helicopter. This led the RMAF to purchase the French-made EC725 helicopter to replace it. But with the nation having ordered only 12 of a planned 28 EC725 helicopters as replacements, the RMAF was forced to prolong the life of its Sikorskys. On 21 October 2016, it was reported that a Canadian helicopter company Heli-One will upgrade all Malaysia's Nuri helicopter.
  • In May 2008, two J85-GE-21 engines that power the Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighter jets belonging to the Royal Malaysian Air Force were reported missing, as of sometime in 2007, from an RMAF warehouse in Kuala Lumpur during Najib's tenure as Defence Minister in Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's cabinet. The jet engines belonged to the 12th Squadron (Scorpion) based in Butterworth. The issue became a matter of political dispute, and it was reported a brigadier-general together with 40 other armed forces personnel had been sacked over the incident. Further investigation led to the arrest of two RMAF personnel and a civilian contractor were charged in connection with the theft and disposal of both engines on 6 January 2010. On 5 February 2010, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail revealed that the two missing engines had been found in Uruguay with the help of the Government of Uruguay and the Malaysian government is proceeding with the necessary measures to secure their return. Investigations showed that the engines were taken out of the RMAF base between 20 December 2007 to 1 January 2008 before being sent to a warehouse in Subang Jaya to be shipped out of Malaysia to South America.
  • On 26 February 2016, the RMAF Indonesian made-CN-325-220M version were forced to make an emergency landing into mangrove swamps near Kuala Selangor due to engine failure. The aircraft co-pilot sustained a broken left arm during the incident while the rest of the crew managed to escape without major injuries. A fisherman who trying to help the crews out of the aircraft were reported drowned after his foot got stuck in a mud. The black box from the aircraft was found on the next day and sent to Bandung, Indonesia for analysing by Indonesian manufacturer over the cause of the accident.
  • On 21 December 2016, an American-made Beachcraft King Air 200T crashed into Butterworth airbase during its training mission from Subang airbase, killing one pilot while injuring three others.
  • References

    Equipment of the Royal Malaysian Air Force Wikipedia

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