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.

Defence diplomacy
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."


Anonymous said...

At last!!! All ASEAN nation should show support in each other exhibition or open house. I wonder when can we ASEAN attain the trust and solidarity or participation of an airshow like EU or NATO. Hopefully, Thailand, Brunei or even Vietnam even Myanmar one day will send their aircraft.
We've seen Australian yrs after yrs participated. But sadly even regional airforce doesn't show up.
Kudos to Malaysia and Singapore! It will speak volumes for ASEAN region

David Boey said...

The ASEAN Armies Rifle Meet is a promising start, linking all 10 forces regularly.

It's indeed fortunate tempers have never boiled over at such events considering the mix of competitive spirit, territorial disputes (Thailand vs Cambodia), martial attitudes and live ammunition. I wonder why they haven't turned this into a spectator's event, if anything just for defence buffs to see the different uniforms, small arms and weapons handling skills.

I'm sure some of us here would show up if they did.

Anonymous said...

Did they find their engines that were lost the last time? :D

Anonymous said...

whats really cool .. or a coup... will be to see J10s from china.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this will be interpreted as sabre rattling or the showing off of new aircraft that Malaysia has boasted are better than the F-15. To a significant number of Singaporeans, Malaysia is the eternal bogeyman.

Derek Low said...

But they are sabre rattlers! They're always trying to stay 1 step ahead of the SAF's weapons - Check out their tesla coil tank hahahaha


F said...


I'm sure the RMAF will do it's best to ensure no RD-33 engines go missing in Singapore and end up in a 3rd country.....

I remember when the Red Knights made it sole appearance at LIMA in 1991. The visit to Singapore will only be the 3rd made by RMAF Fulcrums to a foreign country - the first in the Jakarta Air Show in 1996 and to Brunei more recently. The only RMAF aircraft seen at AA are CN-235s that fly senior officers in.

David, do you remember what year the RMAF MBB-339A was at Singapore?

David Boey said...

Hi F,
You mean "Black Knights" at LIMA? :)

TUDM displayed MB-339 tail number M34-13 at the Static Aircraft Display Area during Asian Aerospace'86.

A big T'kasih to plane spotters on both sides of the Causeway for helping keep track of things.

Good hunting at SA 2012.

Best regards,


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