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Author Topic: Malaysian Flankers poised to be operational by year-end  (Read 6314 times)

Offline tigershark

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Malaysian Flankers poised to be operational by year-end
« on: February 19, 2008, 03:19:07 AM »
Malaysian Flankers poised to be operational by year-end

By Nigel Pittaway
February 19, 2008

The ninth Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace (LIMA) show, held in December, gave the Malaysian air force the opportunity to showcase its newly received Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighters. Three of the six Su-30s delivered to date were on display at the show and one, flown by a Malaysian crew, participated in the daily flying routine.

The first two aircraft were handed over last May 24 at the Irkut Corp. plant in Irkutsk and were transported to Malaysia aboard an Antonov An-124, arriving at their Gong Kedak air base home on June 18. Four more arrived in August and two more batches of six each are to follow later this year, with deliveries to be complete by year-end. The government of Malaysia signed the RM3.4 billion ($900 million) contract in May 2003  with Rosoboronexport, the Russian defense exporter, for 18 multi-role Su-30MKM aircraft to be built by Irkut.

Gong Kedak in Terengganu, Kelentan Province, is on Malaysia’s east coast, about 190 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur. It has undergone extensive capital improvements to receive the Sukhois, all 18 of which will be consolidated within the newly re-formed No. 11 Squadron under the command of C.O. Kol Suri Mohd Daud.

As the Su-30MKM is a multi-role aircraft, operated by a pilot and weapons system operator (WSO), initial crews have come from the Boeing F/A-18D Hornets of No. 18 Squadron based at Butterworth Air Force Base in Penang, each with a minimum of 300 hours on type. Six crews initially trained on Sukhoi Su-30MK2s in Russia and follow-on training was carried out at Gong Kedak. Sukhoi is contracted to perform initial training at both locations, and product support in-country.

The training is divided into three stages, taking approximately six months from start to finish. For the first candidates this was split almost evenly between Moscow and Gong Kedak. This initial cadre has completed the first two stages of the training syllabus, comprising both theoretical and practical applications. The practical phase was completed at the beginning of last October and the third phase, including basic weapons training, is to get under way early this year. Full weapons training will follow throughout the year and the No. 11 Squadron expects to be declared operational at the end of the year, coinciding with the final deliveries of the aircraft.

The initial six pilots will form the cadre of qualified flying instructors (QFIs) within the No. 11 Squadron, and four of them–divided into two crews–took turns performing the spirited and impressive flying display at LIMA.

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