Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Malaysian airpower set to demonstrate technological edge at Singapore Airshow 2016
When the Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia, TUDM) attends the Singapore Airshow 2016, Malaysian airpower on display will be the most advanced and most capable ever seen in the Lion City.
Military aviation fans may also note another interesting milestone to TUDM's upcoming display alongside the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF): TUDM as a guest air force will demonstrate technological superiority over the RSAF on its own turf for the first time.
The Su-30MKM fighter and A400M transport in TUDM warpaint stem from aircraft technology that is newer and more advanced than that seen on RSAF warplanes and transport aircraft at the Singapore Airshow.
Armchair critics will no doubt have a field day debating till the cows come home whether the Boeing F-15SG Strike Eagle or Sukhoi Su-30MKM is a more capable aircraft. In terms of the genealogy for both fighter types, however, the F-15 design (first flight 1972) is more dated than the Su-27 (first flight 1977) that eventually morphed into the Su-30.
And while the first flight comparison makes an interesting point to mull over - some would say it is irrelevant as later marque F-15s have far more advanced avionics that the 1970s-vintage birds - it is the Su-27's moniker as an Eagle-killer that is hard to sweep under the carpet.
As for trash haulers, the Airbus A400M Atlas is years ahead of the vintage Lockheed C-130B/H model Hercules transports in RSAF service.
Is there a saving grace? Possibly this fact: RSAF C-130s upgraded by Singapore Technologies Aerospace have been modernised to the state-of-the-art in terms of avionics, RWR and self-protection measures.
But RSAF C-130s, which are older than some of their aircrew, are from another generation compared to the A400M in terms of flying characteristics.
The lesson here is that technological advantages are never guaranteed.
Even for a country with a weak defence science and engineering sector, such gaps can be filled as quickly as off-the-shelf purchases are delivered.
Technological superior in single platforms is just one aspect of the larger matrix of factors used for assessments of military firepower and combat potential.
Whether the technology fights as a system is another point to consider. An air force's ability to generate and sustain airpower - with airborne early warning, with resilient air base infrastructure, the ability to fight as an integrated air defence network - should also be considered.
But for now, TUDM Kuat.
You may also like:
Malaysia launches Operasi Piramid: Largest long-range strategic airlift operation. Click here
Malaysia shows off the sharp end of its Su-30MKM fighter force. Click here
Posted by David Boey at 11:01 PM