Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Royal Malaysian Air Force to send largest contingent of warplanes to Singapore Airshow
Show time! An RMAF twin-seat MiG-29UB lines up for takeoff at Langkawi International Airport for LIMA 2011's air display segment as a single-seat MiG-29N waits its turn. Image courtesy of RX from the Milnuts group.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is set to send its largest contingent of fighter aircraft to next month's Singapore Airshow when six RMAF MiG-29 Fulcrum warplanes fly into town, reports defence journalist Dzirhan Mahadzir from Kuala Lumpur.
RMAF Chief General Tan Sri Rodzali Daud revealed the air force's intention to participate in the airshow during an interview with Dzirhan last week.
The Malaysian warplanes are due to perform daily at the airshow - marking another first for Malaysia as its warplanes have never flown at the Singapore Airshow before - though not all MiGs will fly at the same time.
The Singapore Airshow will be held from 14 to19 February 2012, with flying display participants using Changi Airport's Runway 3. The first four days of the show are open only to Trade visitors.
While the Singapore Airshow serves mainly as a shop window for weapons makers and commercial aviation companies, host nation Singapore uses the biennial airshow as a tool for advancing defence diplomacy as the large number of visiting defence big wigs makes it an invaluable platform for formal and informal catch-up sessions.
These include events held on the sidelines of the airshow such as courtesy calls between defence officials, cocktail receptions as well as defence-themed conferences. The main organiser for such defence diplomacy interactions is the Foreign Military Liaison Branch (FMLB), which comes under the Joint Intelligence Directorate at the Ministry of Defence.
Warplanes and helicopters from regional air forces such as Australia and the United States have been regular participants at the Singapore Airshow, which was first held in 2008. This event took over where Asian Aerospace left off in 2006. The airshow's organiser decided to move the show to Hong Kong after holding it 13 times in Singapore.
RMAF warplanes visit Singapore occasionally for Bersama Lima air combat exercises held under the auspices of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). Set up in 1971, the FPDA commits Australia, Britain, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore to jointly consult one another in the event of an external threat to peninsula Malaysia.
Low key presence
Malaysia has maintained a low key presence at previous airshows in Singapore, keeping its participation principally to contingents of ATM officials who fly in for the event.
The sole fixed-wing participant from Malaysia comprised a RMAF Aermacchi MB-339AM which took part in an Asian Aerospace edition in the 1980s as a static exhibit.
Giving his take of the RMAF's presence at the Singapore Airshow, Dzhirhan said:"I don't think it indicates anything really. It just happened that the timing is right and we do have aircraft free to fly.
"Before the Su-30MKMs reached IOC last year, the MiGs were restricted from flying overseas as no other frontline aircraft were available for duties then."
Readers should realise that the RMAF has commitments over East and West Malaysia, as well as Malaysian territorial waters in the air-sea gap in the South China Sea between peninsula Malaysia and Borneo.
"The RMAF has always wanted to reciprocate Singapore's participation at LIMA (the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace show in Langkawi, Malaysia), just that budget and circumstances prevented so."
Posted by David Boey at 5:00 PM