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Singapore Airshow 2020: Malaysia reveals future plans for A400M airlifters

14 February 2020
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A Royal Malaysian Air Force A400M, on display at Singapore Airshow 2020. Source: Jane’s/Ridzwan Rahmat

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has laid out plans to further unlock the tactical capabilities of its A400M heavy airlifters, including equipping the aircraft with full paradropping capabilities.

The plans were revealed by Major Lo Chee Sing, an RMAF A400M pilot from the service’s 22 Squadron, during a briefing organised by Airbus us as part of Singapore Airshow 2020. The RMAF operates a fleet of four A400Ms.

“The Royal Malaysian Air Force is very keen to conduct, and get more involved in, the tactical capabilities of this aircraft,” said Maj Lo.

According to the pilot, the RMAF began unlocking these capabilities in early 2018 when it successfully conducted the first two-point tanking operations with the A400M.

The operation was conducted with two Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighter aircraft. “We are among the first in the world to conduct it [two-point taking operations with the A400M],” Maj Lo added.

Since then, the RMAF has conducted aerial refuelling exercises from the A400M for the two other fighter aircraft types in service: the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and the BAE Hawk 208.

The RMAF will soon move on to conduct take-off and landing operations at unpaved and austere airstrips, and the service will eventually explore the possibility of taking on high- altitude low opening (HALO) and high-altitude high opening (HAHO) jumps, and paradropping cargo via the container delivery system (CDS).

Major Lo did not provide further details on when each of these operations are expected to be carried out but did say that the squadron’s immediate focus is to support planned maintenance for a single F/A-18D airframe at Williamstown, Australia. The airframe will be transported from Malaysia to Australia with one A400M later this year.

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