Military Capabilities

Malaysia reduces aircraft types in air force transformation roadmap

08 August 2018

A Royal Malaysian Air Force Airbus A400M transport aircraft, seen here at Langkawi in 2017. Source: IHS Markit/Ridzwan Rahmat

Key Points

  • Malaysia will reduce the types of military aircraft it operates as part of a long-term transformation programme
  • The move aims to sustain the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s warfighting capabilities despite current fiscal challenges

The types of aircraft to be operated by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will be reduced as part of a long-term transformation programme aimed at sustaining the service’s operational capabilities up to 2055.

Details of the transformation programme, which has been referred to either as ‘Capability 55’ or ‘CAP55’ in official documents, were disclosed in an infographic released by the RMAF via its social media channel on 6 August.

“CAP55 will give us more flexibility in the management of assets, implementation of operations, and will give greater advantages to the country,” said the service in another presentation published earlier. The CAP55 programme will begin later in 2018 and run through to 2055.

The RMAF has a fleet of Sukhoi Su-30MKM, F/A-18D, and MiG-29N ‘Fulcrum-A’ fighter aircraft, although the MiGs are currently grounded. The service also operates the BAE Systems Hawk Mk 108/208 and the Aermacchi MB-339 in the light attack and lead-in trainer roles.

As part of the transformation programme, these will be reduced to just two types of aircraft: the multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) and the light combat aircraft/fighter lead-in trainer (LCA/FLIT). The MRCA airframes will be distributed across two squadrons, while the LCA/FLIT airframes will be operated across three squadrons.

The RMAF’s rotary-wing fleet, which currently comprises Airbus EC 725 and S-61A utility helicopters, will also be reduced to a single aircraft type that will be distributed across two squadrons.

Meanwhile, the RMAF’s transport squadron will be reduced to two aircraft types: the strategic airlift/multirole tanker transport (MRTT) and the tactical airlift platforms. The strategic airlift/MRTT platform will be based within a single squadron, while the tactical airlift airframes will be distributed across two squadrons.

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