RMAF Has Two Years of Spares to Keep Sukhois Flying

RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKMs seen from top and bottom. (Carl Brent)
RMAF Sukhoi Su-30MKMs seen from top and bottom. (Carl Brent)

Malaysian officials believe that they can keep the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF’s) fleet of 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM combat aircraft airworthy, despite the sanctions imposed by many countries on Russia, in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Senior defence minister Hashimmuddin noted that the RMAF contracts for support of the jets through local companies, that hold a two-year supply of spare parts.

The key local company is Aerospace Technology Systems Corporation (ATSC). It is a joint venture between Sukhoi and Airod, the long-established Malaysian MRO, which holds 70 percent share. “Any global economic sanction against Russia would have little or no affect in continuing to obtain spares, parts, services and technical input,” said ATSC chief executive officer Lt Col Mohd Fadzar, a retired RMAF engineer. “The engineers and technical crew involved in maintaining the RMAF jets are experienced and qualified to undertake various technical solutions” he added.

The Sukhois were delivered to the RMAF from 2007. There were some serviceability and parts supply issues, that led to much of the fleet being grounded in 2018. But the problems were resolved, allowing ATSC to proceed with a service life extension programme at Gong Kedak airbase, the home of the RMAF’s 12th Squadron, which flies the Russian jets.

Fadzar subsequently made an extended visit to Moscow where, he said, the Russian export agency Rosboronexport gave assurances that the OEM’s warranty and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) specifications would be maintained. The refurbishment is costing some $95 million (RM400 million), and is designed to keep the aircraft in service until 2035.

Hashimmuddin and Fadzar both mentioned other countries that could also be tapped for spares, such as China and India, which have large fleets of similar Sukhois.

by Chris Pocock