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RMAF Future; need opinions

This is a discussion on RMAF Future; need opinions within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Hi there all, I'm starting this thread to get ideas and opinions on how the RMAF can be 'improved' so ...


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Old April 13th, 2006   #1
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RMAF Future; need opinions

Hi there all,

I'm starting this thread to get ideas and opinions on how the RMAF can be 'improved' so that it will a credible defence force of Malaysia. As you all know, Malaysia is divided into 2 areas, West Malaysia and East Malaysia.

Currently our ORBAT are as follows:-
MiG-29 N (14) Fighter
F/A-18 D (8) Maritime/Night Strike
BAe Hawk 208 (16) Light Fighter
BAe Hawk 108 (6) Lead In Fighter Trainer/Light Strike
F-5 E (10) Light Fighter
Su-30 MKM (18 on order) Multirole Strike/Fighter

My dream ORBAT would be
2 Sqn of MRCA (Su30MKM and SuperHornets)
2 Sqn of Air superiority Fighters MiG 29N preferbably upgraded to SMT standard (the Mindef is looking into this)
1 Sqn of Light Strike (Hawk 100 would do fine here)
1 Sqn of Maritime Strike (Hornets or maybe SuperHornets)

although the above will wreck havoc to logistics.Malaysians has this 'affliction' of mixing eastern bloc and western bloc equipments

What you guys think. Maybe you have better ideas?
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Old April 13th, 2006   #2
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What about an AWACs type platform to bring it all together through datalinking?
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Old April 13th, 2006   #3
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I reckon a "pocket AWAC's" such as Wedgetail 737 based AWAC's, the Erieye system or possibly E-2C Hawkeye (2000) would be a good purchase for Malaysia. Also I'd advocate having your upcoming A400M's fitted WITH the air to air refuelling kit. I know you've only ordered 4 and they are likely to be heavily tasked with Tactrans roles, but at least you've got a capability there if you need it.

A2A refuelling is a VITAL capability for modern air warfare and greatly extends the time you're aircraft can "remain" on station. The beauty of the A400M refuellers is they can fly slow enough to refuel helo's (if the helo's are appropriately equipped). This capability can be usefully employed supporting special forces missions, much as the USAF/USMC does. (RAAF will probably also go this way shortly, with a number C-130's modified to support upgraded Blackhawk's/Chinooks on specwarops missions).

As to future options, I'd suggest Malaysia pursue a 2 tier fleet as much as possible. Operating 4 or 5 air combat aircraft types, with relatively similar levels of capability seems wasteful to me. I acknowledge Malaysia (and everyone elses) funding constraints, however a larger force of Super Hornets and SU-30MKM's would be far more capable than smaller fleets of the same aircraft, mixed with Hawk 200's, MiG 29's, etc. Over time, it may be possible to acquire larger numbers of these aircraft in batches.

The SU-30MKM AND Super Hornet are far more capable air combat aircraft than the MiG 29. I'd use the Su-30 as my primary air combat aircraft and SH as your primary strike aircraft (it has extensive strike, maritime strike, SEAD AND A2A capability, as well as "buddy refuelling" capability). Both could be used in the other's role as necessary and would reduce your significant logistics train.

You would still operate your "Eastern/Western" force structure, and thus be less influenced by "political decisions" ie: blocking supply of weapons, spare parts etc, but would gain greater operational capability.


A force structure of 36x SH and 36x SU-30MKM could then be developed into the future, with upgraded Hawk 100's to provide lead-in fighter training and "Tier 2" point defence and light strike/CAS missions as required.

With the addition of A2A refuelling capability provided by A400M and SH's "buddy" capability, plus an AWACS capability, the RMAF would become quite a force to be reckoned with in regional terms.
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Old April 13th, 2006   #4
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it's all very well that they have those aircraft but can they arm those planes over a prolonged period of time as is needed in a war.
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Old April 13th, 2006   #5
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it's all very well that they have those aircraft but can they arm those planes over a prolonged period of time as is needed in a war.
Presumably such matters, would be taken into account at project time. Obviously it's almost useless possessing combat aircraft, without any armament. Other than training, and possibly surveillance/recon roles (though I doubt many air forces would be willing to risk an un-armed combat aircraft of such cost in recce tasks) they are a waste of money, IMHO.

Indonesia would have gained greater capability, by acquiring (or attempting to acquire) weapons and spare parts for their existing F-16 and Hawk 200 combat aircraft, than purchase the un-armed 2x SU-27 and 2x SU-30 fleet they have.

Malaysia no doubt, with it's greater access to US/Russian weapons, thanks to it's greater budget and political relationship, should not have difficulties arming/equiping it's aircraft appropriately, even if it's capability doesn't match that of ALL nations. Basic weapons such as WVR/BVR missiles, A2G rockets, bombs (guided and un-guided) standoff/maritime strike weapons and anti-radiation weapons, should be well within their budget and capability levels.
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Old April 13th, 2006   #6
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I hope we can get AWACS soon like the Erieye system. Although a mixture of 36 superhonets and 36 Su 30MKM would be good, i have some reservations about the superhornets. Although they are great strike forces especially in the marinestrike capablility, i feel they are overpriced and with the US not supplying us with many sensitive equipments, it may not be worth that much. If possible i would like the RMAF to have this :

36 SU-30 MKM
18 Superhornets
Either 24 Mig 29 SMT or maybe 24 Gripens
4 Erieye
12 A400M
24 Hawks


I feel in general Malaysia should try to defence and research agreements and joint projects with Sweden and Germany, we can learn a lot from them. India and China too since they are upcoming powers
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Old April 13th, 2006   #7
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Malaysia's Unmanned aircraft set for July takeoff

April 14 2006 at 3:15 AMwzhtg (Login wzhtg)
Malaysia
Unmanned aircraft set for July takeoff

RAWANG: The country抯 first prototype unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is set to take off in July, less than a year after the Government announced the decision to develop the mini aircraft.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the full-scale prototype would undergo rigorous testing by the army.

揥e would like to see how it performs, and how powerful it is,?he told a press conference after chairing the Malaysian Defence Industry Council meeting here yesterday.

揑f the specifications meet our requirements we will proceed with the booking.?

The meeting was held at Motor Teknologi & Industri Sdn Bhd (MTI) plant to coincide with his visit to the engine-refurbishing centre.

The mini aircraft can fly on its own via the auto-pilot system and can be equipped with cameras of various sensitivity, depending on the purpose.

The aircraft can fly at a speed of more than 100km an hour and at an altitude of 1,000m.

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Old April 14th, 2006   #8
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in reply to Aussie Digger

We do have A2A refueling capability with our 4 KC130H tankers. That's why all aircraft in our current orbat have air refueling probes. We are looking into awacs type aircraft, most probably the erieye. Also, rumours has it that the russians are offering to take back the MiGs and replace it with Fulcrum SMT standard (another MRCA).

In terms of weaponry, the offer by Boeing for the superhornets are infact irresistable... if we could find the budget for it. Aesa radar and Amraam would be included in the package. At the moment, in regards to the MiGs, we do have access to all A2A weapons. As for the Su30MKMs, it will be fitted to carry both the R77 and the MICA medium range missiles. Not too sure about maritime strike/strike weapons that will be offered in the package though.

After reading this thread, I think Aussie Digger's orbat is a well rounded package.

Okay updated dream orbat:-

36 (that's 2 sqns right?) Su30MKM Air defence fighters with secondary strike capability
36 SuperHornet D Strike aircraft with secondary air defence capability
36 Hawk 100 for LIFT and CAS/lightstrike

How about recce planes? is it needed in a defensive force like the RMAF? I know it's important if it's in an offensive force.
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Old April 14th, 2006   #9
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Originally Posted by Aussie Digger

Indonesia would have gained greater capability, by acquiring (or attempting to acquire) weapons and spare parts for their existing F-16 and Hawk 200 combat aircraft, than purchase the un-armed 2x SU-27 and 2x SU-30 fleet they have.
Indonesians really didn't have much of a choice with the U.S arms embargo - which only recently has been lifted. Much of the F16 fleet was alleged to be inoperable due to lack of spare parts. It made sense for Indonesia to look at Sukhois as alternative for a couple reasons: how long would the embargo last? Indonesians couldn't plan defence policy on the hopes that relations would get better. Even with the embargo lifted, Indonesia is still left with uncertainty as to how reliable the supply train will be from U.S. On the face of it, the Indonesians could be better off selling their F16's and buy Russian.
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Old April 14th, 2006   #10
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How about recce planes? is it needed in a defensive force like the RMAF? I know it's important if it's in an offensive force.
The SH can be fitted with the SHARP pod, which is a dedicated recce pod. Alternatively the RAAF is now convinced that a dedicated recce pod is not required, given the capability of it's chosen Litening AT targetting pods. Our current R/F-111's are not going to be directly replaced therefore. Rather any F/A-18 fitted with a Litening AT pod could be tasked to perform ISR/BDA missions.

These pods also feature a digital datalink that allow recce footage to be downloaded to a ground station, providing "near" real time intell footage. SH's could then perhaps use the ATFLIR targetting pod for these tasks. I understand a program is underway to fit it with a datalink, much like the Litening pod.

Also F/A-18's have an internally mounted "camera" bay, that is designed to allow F/A-18's to perform a recce role. These bays are mounted almost directly beneath the cockpit, on the underside of the fuselage. It was designed into the F-18 right at the beginning of it's development, when it was expected to be required to perform ISR missions. It wasn't and a camera package was never fitted, but the bay exists...

As to difficulties gaining a "full" sensor package from the USA, I wouldn't be too concerned. No-one gets a full "USA spec" aircraft, from the US. Not Australia, not Britain, not Pakistan and not Malaysia.

All the export models are still extremely capable combat aircraft though, and hardly any different to US models. With regards to sales of AMRAAM etc, with Malaysia already operating BVR weapons and Singapore having been sold AMRAAM etc, I don't hold many fears that a purchase of Super Hornets would come with the modern weaponry, needed to make it an effective aircraft.

The US has a history of selling advanced weapon systems to BOTH Country's that might one day face each other in war (Greece/Turkey, Israel/Egypt etc). They also sold Malaysia "high-spec" F/A-18C/D's (higher than those sold to Australia and Canada at that time day) so I wouldn't be too concerned...
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Old April 14th, 2006   #11
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Indonesians really didn't have much of a choice with the U.S arms embargo - which only recently has been lifted. Much of the F16 fleet was alleged to be inoperable due to lack of spare parts. It made sense for Indonesia to look at Sukhois as alternative for a couple reasons: how long would the embargo last? Indonesians couldn't plan defence policy on the hopes that relations would get better. Even with the embargo lifted, Indonesia is still left with uncertainty as to how reliable the supply train will be from U.S. On the face of it, the Indonesians could be better off selling their F16's and buy Russian.
Indonesia made a rod for it's own back. It's own human rights abuses were responsible for the Arms embargo. The problem with the Sukhoi's is that they cost far more to operate than Western aircraft, and offer little capability enhancement, despite what paper statistics might say.

Indonesia's embargo has now been lifted and they STILL haven't acquired further Sukhoi's OR spare parts for their F-16 fleet. Indonesia is in fact hoping for a "gift" of spare parts to even bring it's Hercules fleet back to an operational state.

To me it makes little sense to purchase aircraft that you can't arm, support OR even fly often. Indonesia has stated it has a preferrence for Western aircraft. IMHO, it should be focused on re-capitalising it's F-16 fleet, and look to acquire a light strike/point defence aircraft from other sources (South Korea's T-50 perhaps) that it CAN support and afford.

Trying to "keep up with the Joneses" when you're broke AND unable to actually acquire capability (due to embargo's) is the height of futility. Trying to maintain an effective air combat force, equipped with modern high capability fighters with their obvious shoe-string budget, is obviously impossible.

Perhaps it's time they recognised that and looked at acquiring a better, though less impressive looking capability (an A2A missile armed T-50 or equivalent is going to shoot down an unarmed SU-30 every day of the week, for instance).
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Old April 14th, 2006   #12
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The T50 sounds like a good idea on the surface but parts of that aircraft are American ala the engines and IIRC also subject to U.S approval for sale and sanctions. If it came down to another arms embargo (escalation of violence towards West Papuans as an example) then Indonesia would be back to square one.

If American (or third party manus using U.S parts/IP) and Russian aircraft are out of the question - could Chinese aircraft fill the void?

At any rate, TNI-AU is easily overmatched by Airforces of her neighbours - I'd like to know how that plays within TNI-AU and the Indonesian govt.
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Old April 14th, 2006   #13
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The T50 sounds like a good idea on the surface but parts of that aircraft are American ala the engines and IIRC also subject to U.S approval for sale and sanctions. If it came down to another arms embargo (escalation of violence towards West Papuans as an example) then Indonesia would be back to square one.

If American (or third party manus using U.S parts/IP) and Russian aircraft are out of the question - could Chinese aircraft fill the void?

At any rate, TNI-AU is easily overmatched by Airforces of her neighbours - I'd like to know how that plays within TNI-AU and the Indonesian govt.
T-50 was only an example. There's very few Western capabilities available that DON'T use American parts, equipment etc, and thus are subject to USA export policies. China may be a way to go, but Indonesia needs to start at the bottom to build it's capability, IMHO. Neither of it's frontline combat aircraft are operational. One type doesn't even HAVE armament. It's transport fleet is completely un-serviceable and all aircraft require at least a major overhaul to be made operational again.

An Indonesian air force commander was quoted last year as saying they "hoped to" (successfully) petition the Government for funding this year to acquire armament for their SUKHOI's.

On top of this, it's Hawks have been under embargo for many years and it's doubtful how many of them would be operational. Same with the F-5's. I know Indonesia has some MPA aircraft operational (based on C-235's I think, which they manufacture), because Australia exercised with them last year.

Other than that, TNI-AU is in a pretty sorry state. I don't doubt that annoys the hell out of them, because Indonesia seems to have a VERY high opinion of itself and it's perceived place in the world.
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Old April 14th, 2006   #14
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If I were the MOD for Maylasia, I would concentrate on one airframe, the true essence of a MRCA is that you can do a swing role and economise of spares, pilot training and weapons, as well as airfield infrastucture.

That being said, the F18 is mature technology, is being used and has proven capability. The SU30's, I still am skeptical about. If you look at Maratime Strike, it's the Hornet, If you look at Air Superiority, I still pick the Hornet.

Also don't forget that the Naval lineage of the Hornet means that it is one tough Aircraft, and as Aussie has pointed out, it can tank itself and also do self escort on strike missions.

Recce no longer requires a specialised aircraft, there are many strap on systems that provide recce solutions and the plus is that your recce aircraft is also armed!

Did I mention I love the Hornet
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Old April 15th, 2006   #15
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Did I mention I love the Hornet
You aren't alone in that...

I have to agree with Pursuit Curve here, and not because we're both Canucks. The Hornet airframe is such a great airframe that we were the envy of many countries when we bought ours 20 years ago. With the upgrades we've given them I believe we still have a great platform that can do both SEAD and Attack roles as it was designed to do. The nex logical step for us, I'm hoping will be the Super Bug, but thats another thread.

Malaysia would do well to streamline their forces by the acquisition of one specific type of all purpose airframe - those airframes which would be most practical would be the Hornet and Super Hornet. It would also be easier logistically and financially for you and your tech workers as they would only have to become familiar with one system instead of the many they have to work with now.

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