Royal Malaysian Air Force

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF; Malay: Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM); Jawi : تنترا اودارا دراج مليسيا) was formed on 2 June 1958 as the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Persekutuan Tanah Melayu; تنترا اودارا دراج ڤرسكوتون تانه ملايو). However, its roots can be traced back to the Malayan Auxiliary Air Force formations of the British Royal Air Force in then colonial British Malaya. Today, the Royal Malaysian Air Force operates a unique mix of modern American, European and Russian-made aircraft.

Royal Malaysian Air Force
Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia
تنترا اودارا دراج مليسيا
Badge of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.svg
Founded2 June 1958; 62 years ago (1958-06-02) [1]
Country Malaysia
AllegianceYang di-Pertuan Agong
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size15,000 personnel [2]
189 active aircraft [3]
Part ofMalaysian Armed Forces
Motto(s)Malay: Sentiasa di Angkasa Raya
"Always in the Sky"
Colours      
MarchMalay: Perwira di Angkasa
"Warriors in the Skies"
Anniversaries2 June
Engagements
Websitewww.airforce.mil.my
Commanders
Colonel-in-ChiefHM Sultan Abdulllah of Pahang
Chief of the Air ForceGeneral Tan Sri Datuk Seri Ackbal Abdul Samad
Deputy Chief of the Air ForceLieutenant General Dato Asghar Khan bin Goriman Khan
Insignia
RoundelRoundel of Malaysia.svg Roundel of Malaysia – Low Visibility.svg
Fin flashTUDM fin flash.svg
FlagAir Force Ensign of Malaysia.svg
Aircraft flown
FighterSu-30MKM, F/A-18D
HelicopterEC 725, Sikorsky S-70
PatrolSuper King Air
TrainerBAE Hawk, MB-339, Pilatus PC-7
TransportAirbus A400M, C-130, CASA CN-235, 737

HistoryEdit

Early YearsEdit

 
Labuan Air Base with CAC Sabre in 1965, today became the main airfield for East Malaysia.

The Malaysian air forces trace their lineage to the Malayan Auxiliary Air Force formations of the Royal Air Force (RAF) formed in 1934. They later transformed into the Straits Settlements Volunteer Air Force (SSVAF) and the Malaya Volunteer Air Force (MVAF) formed in 1940 and dissolved in 1942 during the height of the Japanese advance over Malaya. The latter was re-established in 1950 in time for the Malayan Emergency and contributed very much to the war effort.

On 2 June 1958 the MVAF finally became the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force (RFMAF), this date is celebrated as RMAF Day yearly.

On 25 October 1962, after the end of the Malayan Emergency, the RAF handed over their first airfields in Malaya to the RFMAF, at Simpang Airport; it was opened on 1 June 1941, in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur which was formerly part of Selangor and the national capital city. The first aircraft for the fledgling air force was a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer named "Lang Rajawali" by the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. Several Malayans serving with the Royal Air Force transferred to the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force. The role played by RMAF was limited initially to communications and the support of ground operations against Communist insurgents during the Malayan Emergency. RMAF received its first combat aircraft with the delivery of 20 Canadair CL41G Tebuans (an armed version of the Canadair Tutor trainer). RMAF also received Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters, to be used in the liaison role.

 
RMAF Douglas A-4PTM Skyhawk prepared for takeoff.

With the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the name of the air force was changed to "Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia" or "Royal Malaysian Air Force". New types introduced into service included the Handley Page Herald transport and the De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou. RMAF received Sikorsky S-61A-4 helicopters in the late 1960s and early 1970s which were used in the transport role. RMAF gained an air defence capability when the Australian Government donated 10 ex-Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) CAC Sabre fighters. These were based at the Butterworth Air Base. After the withdrawal of British military forces from Malaysia and Singapore at the end of 1971, a Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) agreement between Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom was concluded to ensure defence against external aggression. The RAAF maintained two Mirage IIIO squadrons at RAF/RAAF Station Butterworth, Butterworth Air Base as part of its commitment to the FPDA. These squadrons were withdrawn in 1986, although occasional deployments of RAAF aircraft continue.

ModernisationEdit

 
RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKMs seen from top and bottom.

With the withdrawal of British military forces, RMAF underwent gradual modernisation from the 1970s to the 1990s. The Sabres were replaced by 16 Northrop F-5E Tiger-IIs. A reconnaissance capability was acquired with the purchase of two RF-5E Tigereye aircraft. RMAF also purchased 88 ex-US Navy Douglas A-4C Skyhawks, of which 40 of the airframes were converted/refurbished by Grumman Aircraft Engineering at Bethpage into the A-4PTM ('Peculiar To Malaysia'), configuration (similar to A-4M standard). RMAF has traditionally looked to the West for its purchases, primarily to the United States. However, limitations imposed by the US on "new technology" to the region, such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM fire-and-forget air-to-air missile, has made RMAF consider purchases from Russia and other non-traditional sources. The 1990s saw the arrival of first the BAE Hawk Mk108/208 which replaced the T/A-4PTMs, followed by the MiG-29N/NUB in 1995 in the air superiority role and delivery of the F/A-18D Hornet in 1997 to provide an all weather interdiction capability. In 2003 a contract was signed for eighteen Su-30MKMs for delivery in 2007 to fulfill a requirement for an initial order of multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA). A requirement for a further eighteen MRCAs remains unfulfilled. RMAF is also looking for an AWACS aircraft, although no firm orders have been placed.

On 8 December 2005, four Airbus Military A400M aircraft were ordered to enhance the airlift capability. By March 2017 all Malaysian A400Ms were delivered to the customer.[4] In late 2006, the Government signed a contract to purchase eight Aermacchi MB-339CMs to add to the eight MB-339AMs already in service.

In March 2007, then-Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Najib Razak notified the public that the MiG-29s would continue in service until 2010. Later that year, Najib announced the Nuri (Sikorsky S-61A-4) helicopter, in service since 1968 with 89 crew members killed in 15 accidents, would be phased out by 2012 and replaced by the Eurocopter EC725.[5] Deputy RMAF Chief Lieutenant General Bashir Abu Bakar told the media after opening Heli-Asia 2007, that tender assessment for the replacement of the Sikorsky S-61A-4 would occur in early 2008.[6] In June 2009, RMAF chief General Azizan Ariffin said that the air force would replace their MiG-29s with aircraft that have better agility and the capability to attack enemy forces.[7] At the 12th Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition 2010,[8] a Letter of Agreement (LOA) was signed for 12 EC725 helicopters to be supplied to the RMAF.[9] With that, EADS, (the European Aeronautical Defence and Space Company), has pledged 100 million Euros to set up a comprehensive helicopter centre in Subang for an aeronautical academy, training, simulation and a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for the EC725 Cougar military version and the EC225 civilian model.[10]

 
RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKM, F/A-18 Hornet, MiG-29N and BAE Hawk 208 with USAF F-22 Raptor and F-15 Strike Eagle participating in Cope Taufan 2014.

In late 2013, Vector Aerospace, a global independent provider of aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, with its subsidiary, Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services-North America ("HS-NA"), one of the world’s leading providers of helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services was chosen to carry out a comprehensive fully integrated glass cockpit installation for the S-61A-4 Nuri, breathing new life in an already well established platform, and giving a modern, reliable and cost effective product that will carry the S61A-4 Nuri well into the future. The RMAF currently has an MRCA replacement program to replace the MiG-29 and F-5 fighters that will be retired by the end of 2015.

The MRCA replacement program is currently narrowed down to 4 types of aircraft (Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab JAS 39 Gripen). Under the program, the RMAF is looking to equip three squadrons with 36 to 40 new fighter aircraft with a budget of RM6 billion to RM8 billion (US$1.84 billion to US$2.46 billion).[11]

In December 2017, the RMAF's Brigadier General Yazid Bin Arshad announced it had shortlisted four aircraft types to replace the force's ageing fleet of Beechcraft Super King Air maritime patrol aircraft. The selected types are the EADS CASA C-295 from Airbus, the P-8 Poseidon from Boeing, ATR 72 MP from ATR, a joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo, and the CASA/IPTN CN-235, which could be provided by either Airbus or Indonesian Aerospace, which acquired a licence to produce it. Brigadier General Yazid Bin Arshad added, however, that while "these four types are shortlisted, the door is not closed yet", indicating other options may still be possible.[12] It was reported on 7 January 2020 that the RMAF ground its Nuri or Sea King helicopters and RMAF General Ackbal Abdul Samad remarked that there was an evaluation of a new utlity helicopter to replace the Nuris.[13]

List of Chiefs of the Royal Malaysian Air ForceEdit

No Name Tenure Begin Tenure End
1 Air Commodore Alexander Vallance Ridell Johnstone 30 November 1957 4 September 1958
2 Air Commodore Nicol Challis Hyde 5 September 1958 31 December 1959
3 Group Captain John Nichol Stacey 1 January 1960 19 May 1963
4 Group Captain C.S.J. West 20 May 1963 13 May 1965
5 Air Commodore Alasdair Mackay Sinclair Steedman 14 May 1965 31 October 1967
6 Air Vice Marshal Tan Sri Dato' Datuk Sulaiman Sujak 1 November 1967 31 December 1976
7 Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Dato' Mohamed Taib 1 January 1977 24 August 1983
8 Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Mohamad Ngah Said 24 August 1983 18 March 1990
9 Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Seri Mohd Yunus Mohd Tasi 19 March 1990 19 August 1993
10 Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Seri Abdul Ghani Abdul Aziz 19 August 1993 10 August 1996
11 General Tan Sri Dato' Seri Ahmad Saruji Che Rose 10 August 1996 12 June 2001
12 General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Seri Suleiman Hj Mahmud 12 June 2001 4 March 2003
13 General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad 4 March 2003 4 April 2004
14 General Tan Sri Dato Sri Nik Ismail Nik Mahmud 4 April 2004 30 October 2006
15 General Tan Sri Dato Sri Azizan Ariffin 30 October 2006 31 August 2009
16 General Tan Sri Dato Seri Rodzali Daud 1 September 2009 11 September 2014
17 General Tan Sri Dato Seri Roslan Saad 12 September 2014 20 December 2016
18 General Tan Sri Dato Seri Affendi Buang 21 December 2016 1 January 2020
19 General Dato Seri Ackbal Abdul Samad 2 January 2020 current[14]

Source:[15][better source needed]

RanksEdit

Until the late 1970s, the Royal Malaysian Air Force used the same officer ranking system as the Royal Air Force. They were replaced by army-style designations and given Malay title equivalents, but the sleeve insignia remained the same mirroring the RAF practice, but all General Officers wear 1 to 5 stars on the shoulder board in addition to the existing sleeve insignia. The list of ranks which are currently used are shown below (in descending order). NCOs and enlisted ranks remained unchanged, and retain their pre-1970s names.

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
Commander-in-Chief Generals Senior officers Junior officers Officer Cadets
Pemerintah Tertinggi Pegawai Tinggi Pegawai Kanan Pegawai Muda Pegawai Kadet
  Malaysia
(Edit)
                      No insignia
Marshal of the Air Force General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant Officer Cadet
Marsyal Tentera Udara Jeneral TUDM Leftenan Jeneral TUDM Mejar Jeneral TUDM Brigedier Jeneral TUDM Kolonel TUDM Leftenan Kolonel TUDM Mejar TUDM Kapten TUDM Leftenan TUDM Leftenan Muda TUDM Pegawai Kadet

All officers, with the exception of the Marshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force apply the Air Force acronym (RMAF, TUDM) to their rank title, to differentiate from their Malaysian Army equivalents. For example, a Colonel in the Air Force would be titled Colonel, RMAF or Kolonel, TUDM in Malay.

Equivalent
NATO Code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Warrant Officers Senior Non-Commissioned Officers Junior Non-Commissioned Officers Others
Pegawai Waran Pegawai Tanpa Tauliah Kanan Pegawai Tanpa Tauliah Rendah Lain-lain
  Malaysia
(Edit)
       
    No insignia No insignia
Pegawai Waran Udara I
Warrant Officer Class 1
Pegawai Waran Udara II
Warrant Officer Class 2
Flait Sarjan
Flight Sergeant
Sarjan Udara
Sergeant
Koperal Udara
Corporal
Laskar Udara Kanan
Leading Aircraftman
Laskar Udara I
Aircraftman First Class
Laskar Udara II
Aircraftman Second Class
Perajurit Muda
Recruit

Royal Malaysian Air Force RegimentEdit

The RMAF Regiment is the ground and air defence support unit of the RMAF. The regiment is composed of four sub-units tasked with fulfilling the RMAF's mission. These units are:

PASKAU
 
PASKAU detachments with dressed in the No.4 Digital Camouflage, tactical gear and ghillie suits parading during the 60th National Day Parade of Malaysia at Sultan Abdul Samad Street, Kuala Lumpur.

The special forces arm of the RMAF is known as PASKAU (a Malay acronym for Pasukan Khas Udara, which loosely translates as 'Special Air Service'). PASKAU was formed in response to a mortar attack by the then Communist Party of Malaya on a DHC-4 Caribou in the 1970s at the Kuala Lumpur Air Base. During peacetime, the unit is tasked with responding to aircraft hijacking incidents as well as protecting the country's numerous RMAF airbases and civilian airports. Its wartime roles include ground designation, sabotaging of enemy air assets and equipment and the defence of RMAF aircraft and bases. This unit is also deployed for counter-terrorism duties as well as Urban warfare/Close quarters combat.

RMAF Provost Unit

This is the military police unit of the RMAF regiment, mandated to provide military police duties in RMAF airbases.

RMAF Infantry

The unit that equipped with firearms for combat duties.

RMAF Ground Air Defence Artillery

This regiment responsible for providing air defense protection by using Ground Base Air Defence (GBAD) to the important places such as airbases as well as RMAF asset.

Aerobatic TeamEdit

The Kris Sakti (English: Magic Dagger) is the aerobatic display team of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. It made its debut on 2011 Langkawi International Maritime and Air Show in December 2011. They operated four Extra 300L aircraft.

SquadronsEdit

Division
Squadron
Aircraft
Airbase
1 Division   2 Squadron   Global Express, Boeing BBJ (737-700) Subang AFB
10 Squadron   Eurocopter EC-725 Kuantan AFB
11 Squadron   UAS
12 Squadron   Su-30MKM Flanker Gong Kedak AFB
15 Squadron   BAE Hawk 108/208, Aermacchi MB-339CM Butterworth AFB
16 Squadron   Beechcraft 200T Subang AFB
18 Squadron   Boeing F/A-18D Hornet Butterworth AFB
20 Squadron   Lockheed C-130H Hercules, KC-130T Subang AFB
21 Squadron   CN235-220M, CN235-220M VIP Subang AFB
22 Squadron   Airbus A400M Subang AFB
2 Division   1 Squadron   CN-235-220M Kuching AFB
5 Squadron   Eurocopter EC-725 Labuan AFB
6 Squadron   BAE Hawk 108/Hawk 208 Labuan AFB
14 Squadron   Lockheed C-130H Hercules Labuan AFB
Training Division   1 FTC   PC-7 Mk II Alor Setar AFB
2 FTC   EC-120B Alor Setar AFB
3 FTC MB-339CM Kuantan AFB

Airfields/AirbasesEdit

 
Airbases of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

List:

Incidents and AccidentsEdit

  • 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.[16] 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.[17] On 21 October 2016, it was reported that a Canadian helicopter company Heli-One will upgrade all Malaysia's Nuri helicopter.[18]
  • 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,[19] and it was reported a brigadier-general together with 40 other armed forces personnel had been sacked over the incident.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22][23]
  • 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.[24] 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.[25]
  • On 21 December 2016, an American-made Beechcraft King Air 200T crashed into Butterworth airbase during its training mission from Subang airbase, killing one pilot while injuring three others.[26]
  • On 14 June 2017, two pilots were killed after a British-made BAE Hawk (Mk 108) crashed at the Pahang - Terengganu border.[27] Previously, several other Hawks had crashed during training missions.[28]

EquipmentEdit

Present DevelopmentEdit

 
RMAF personnel performing combat air rescue at Cope Taufan 2012.

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) agreed to transfer four of its S-70A Black Hawk to the RMAF.[29][30] BAE Hawk 208 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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33][34] 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.[35] 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.[35][36][37][38] While ATSC has launched a bid to upgrade the ageing MiG-29 fighters,[39] Dassault Rafale has offered a 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.[40] This offer was countered by BAE Systems' Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab JAS 39 Gripen which has offered competitive leasing deals instead.[33][41][42] 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.[43] 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.[44]

Russia is ready to offer their jet fighters to meet Malaysia's requirements.[45] 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.[46] 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.[38] Instead, the Russian offering their Sukhoi Su-35 at lower prices than their western rivals. However, according to the Malaysian Ministry of Defence, the race for new fighter jets has narrowed down to the Dassault Rafale and the Typhoon instead, the latter built by BAE Systems.[47]

In the late 2015, it was rumoured that Malaysia might purchase the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder,[48] but the report was denied by Malaysian Defence Minister and said they were still determining to choose.[49] 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.[50] Belarusian company also expressed their interest to help Malaysia to upgrade and repair their Russian-made fighter jets.[51] Following the visit of Saudi King in early 2017, Malaysia are reportedly seek to buy the excessive Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) jet fighters and helicopters.[52]

Following the visit by French President also in early 2017, Malaysia said they remain undecided whether to buy the French fighters although it has become the leader on the list of all jet fighters suggested,[53] with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak assured the French President that they considering to buy.[54] The French government confirmed that negotiation is on the way although no final deal have yet been signed.[55]

In other hand Malaysia also in planned to acquire airborne early warning and control aircraft. Malaysia also urgently need to boost their maritime patrol capability with new Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Malaysia is reportedly considering an offer from Japan for P-3C Orion maritime patrollers if it can persuade the Japanese government to pay for the cost.[56] In July 2017, the plan to acquire new jet fighters were shelved by looking instead to upgrade its aerial surveillance capabilities to confront the growing threat of Islamist militants in the Southeast Asian region.[57]

In December 2017, the Royal Malaysian Air Force's Brigadier General Yazid Bin Arshad announced it had shortlisted four aircraft types to replace the force's ageing fleet of Beechcraft Super King Air maritime patrol aircraft. The selected types are the EADS CASA C-295 from Airbus, the P-8 Poseidon from Boeing, ATR 72 MP from ATR, a joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo, and the CASA/IPTN CN-235, which could be provided by either Airbus or Indonesian Aerospace, which acquired a licence to produce it. Brigadier General Yazid Bin Arshad added, however, that while "these four types are shortlisted, the door is not closed yet", indicating other options may still be possible.[58] On 7 January 2020, it is confirmed that the RMAF retired its Nuri or Sea King helicopters and remarked that there was an evaluation of a new utlity helicopter to replace the Nuris.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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