RMAF Takes Delivery Of Sukhoi SU-30MKM Fighter Aircraft
May 23, 2007 10:14 AM
From Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa
IRKUTSK (Russia), May 23 (Bernama) -- After a four-year wait, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will take delivery of two Sukhoi SU-30MKM multi-role fighter aircraft Thursday.
They will be the first two of 18 aircraft ordered by Malaysia in May 2003, being the most sophisticated aircraft of its kind in Southeast Asia.
Chief of Air Force Jen Datuk Seri Azizan Ariffin and Defence Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Ahmad Latffi Hashim will receive the aircraft on behalf of the Malaysian government at the Irkut Aircraft Corporation manufacturing plant here.
Malaysia and the Russian government agency, Rosoboronexport, signed a US$900 million (RM3.4 billion) contract for 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM (Modernizirovannyi Kommercheskiy Malaysia or Modernised Commercial Malaysia) aircraft.
In return for the purchase, Russia agreed to train and send a Malaysian astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS).
The 16 other Su-30MKM aircraft will be delivered to Malaysia in stages up to the middle of next year.
Other than Malaysia, the Indonesian Air Force has two Su-27 and eight Su-30MK2 aircraft while Vietnam has four Su-30 and 12 Su-27 aircraft.
Defence analysts believe, however, that the Su-30MKM and a similar version, the Su-30 MKI, used by the Indian Air Force are the most modern Su-30 aircraft in the market.
Although the Su-30 aircraft of the RMAF and the Indian Air Force are the same, the electronic equipment and avionics used by the aircraft are different, for political reasons.
India's aircraft are equipped with systems produced by Israel while Malaysia, which does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, uses electronic and avionics systems from France, India and South Africa for the Su-30MKM.
RMAF's two-seater Su-30MKM aircraft are equipped with the thrust vectoring control (TVC) engine system and two small wings by the side of the pilot's seat called "canard" for maximum air movement.
The TVC engine system relates to the control of the nozzle movement and vectoring for determining movement in the air.
Maximum movement in the air is a factor that determines whether the aircraft can defeat the enemy during aerial combats or dogfights.
The Su-30MKMs can fly for 4.5 hours covering 3,000 km with a normal fuel tank but with inflight refuelling, the time and distance can be extended to 10 hours and 8,000 km.
The ability to operate over long distances is important to RMAF as Malaysia is vast with undulating landscape and the peninsula is separated from Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea.
In addition, Malaysia also has oil platforms owned by Petronas and its production-sharing contract partners, not only close to shore but also in deep-sea areas.
The ability to safeguard oil resources is important not only to check external threats but also ensure that the nation's sovereignty is not questioned by other countries.
Defence analysts believe that the delivery to RMAF of the Su-30MKM aircraft that can cover long distances has shifted the balance of power in Southeast Asia.
The fighter aircraft can fly at Mach 2 and can carry about eight tonnes of weapons in 12 storage centres or "hardpoints" in the lower portion of the aircraft.
The Su-30MKM aircraft will be equipped with air-to-air, air-to-land and anti-radiation missiles, for destruction of electronic equipment like radar, and laser-guided bombs.
They are also equipped with high-powered radar of the "NO11M Bars" type that can detect up to 15 enemy targets and attack four of them simultaneously.
The "Bars" radar enable the aircraft to detect ships from 400 km away and smaller vessels from 120 km off.
The ability to detect targets from afar using high-powered radar enables the Su-30MKM jet-fighters to double up as early warning aircraft.