Air­bus is work­ing with RMAF, De­fence Min­istry to achieve this, says of­fi­cial

New Straits Times - - News -


AIR­BUS is look­ing at Malaysia as a po­ten­tial hub for its A400M se­ries main­te­nance in South­east Asia. Air­bus pres­i­dent for Asia-Pa­cific Pierre Jaf­fre said Malaysia, which was Air­bus’s first ex­port cus­tomer out­side of Europe, al­ready had the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to be a hub and was de­vel­op­ing even fur­ther.

“When you go to Subang and see the fa­cil­i­ties there, it is quite im­pres­sive, so def­i­nitely we will look at that (the plan to make Malaysia a main­te­nance hub),” he said.

Jaf­fre was speak­ing at a brief­ing on the out­look for mil­i­tary air­craft in Malaysia and the re­gion, and was re­spond­ing to a ques­tion on whether there were any plans by Air­bus in Malaysia.

He said Malaysia was a great mar­ket and Air­bus was cur­rently pump­ing around US$400 mil­lion (RM1.77 bil­lion) ev­ery year into the in­dus­try. This, he said, was ex­pected to in­crease by 25 per cent in the next five years.

“Def­i­nitely, Malaysia is on the map be­cause it is a sup­plier, and a part­ner. We are work­ing closely with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and De­fence Min­istry to see how can we move to­gether and pro­mote this (A400M) plane in the re­gion.

“Al­to­gether, the re­la­tion­ship with Malaysia is very pos­i­tive, the more ad­vanced ver­sion of the SU30MK flown by Malaysia, In­dia and Al­ge­ria (des­ig­nated MKM, MKI and MKA, re­spec­tively). They use the Rus­sian Aerospace Forces lat­est fighter, the SU30SM, des­ig­nated Flanker-C by Nato.

Alex­eev was speak­ing at a spe­cial press con­fer­ence to in­tro­duce the SU-30SM at the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aerospace exhibition (Lima).

The team de­buted their new air­craft, man­u­fac­tured by Irkut Cor­po­ra­tion, at Lima this year, mar­ket is bright and we an­tic­i­pate in the next 20 years there will be de­mands for com­mer­cial planes,” he said at the Mah­suri In­ter­na­tional Exhibition Cen­tre, where the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aerospace exhibition is be­ing held.

Air­bus De­fence and Space head of mil­i­tary air­craft Fer­nando Alonso said the com­pany had a sub­sidiary — Sepang Air­craft En­gi­neer­ing Sdn Bhd — to help in main­tain­ing the air­craft.

“So, on the ques­tion of (hav­ing a main­te­nance hub) for A400M com­plete with a new rou­tine, af­ter only a month of fly­ing them. Five of the air­craft flew from Rus­sia for the air­show, but only four took to the skies at any one time.

They had been thrilling the crowds in their dis­tinc­tively-liv­er­ied air­craft, painted in the colours of the Rus­sian flag.

Alex­eev said the team made five stops along the way to Langkawi, three of which was within the Rus­sian fed­er­a­tion it­self. The other two stops were in China and Viet­nam.

“We did not stop merely to re­fuel. in Malaysia for the re­gion... (well) I am not go­ing to say what is go­ing to hap­pen but we would have a great priv­i­leged en­try point here,” he said.

Air­bus had ear­lier of­fi­cially handed over the fourth and fi­nal A400M to RMAF and while the de­liv­ery marked the end of the con­tract, Alonso said he was hop­ing there was more to come.

“We are open (for or­ders) and the pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity is ready,” he said.

Last year, said Alonso, Air­bus de­liv­ered 17 air­planes be­tween If it was just for re­fu­elling, we could al­ways have done that in the air. We stopped mainly to ad­just to the time dif­fer­ence.”

Asked the dif­fer­ence be­tween the SU-30SM and the Knights’ pre­vi­ous air­craft, the SU-27, also called Flanker (the SU-30 is a more ad­vanced ver­sion of the SU27), Alex­eev said it was more ma­noeu­vrable and more ca­pa­ble.

“As a pi­lot, I can tell you that this air­craft is ev­ery pi­lot’s dream,” he said, adding that it was not just Rus­sian pilots who loved the SU-30 fam­ily of air­craft, Jan­uary and De­cem­ber, and two oth­ers in the first week of Jan­uary this year.

Air­bus, he said, had con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of ex­ist­ing air­planes. In fact, the fi­nal de­liv­ery of the A400M, des­ig­nated At­las, to the RMAF was that of an en­hanced tac­ti­cal ver­sion.

“It is en­hanced in terms of ca­pa­bil­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, it has the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of drop­ping para­troop­ers, de­liv­er­ing cargo, air­drop of cargo, air-to-air re­fu­el­ing. It is avail­able on other air­planes, but these were not ‘fully de­vel­oped’.” but those from Malaysia, In­dia and Al­ge­ria too.

Irkut pres­i­dent Oleg Dem­chenko, when asked whether it was com­pli­cated to sup­ply the SU-30SMs to the Rus­sian Knights, con­sid­er­ing it was not ini­tially part of the deal with the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, said it was not com­pli­cated as it did not in­volve an ad­di­tional order.

“The eight air­craft sup­plied to the Rus­sian Knights came out of the order for the Rus­sian Aerospace Forces, so it was not com­pli­cated for us at all.”


Aer­o­bat­ics team Rus­sian Knights fly­ing the SU-30SM dur­ing an air­show at the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aerospace exhibition yes­ter­day.


The fourth Air­bus A400M de­liv­ered to the Royal Malaysian Air Force at the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aerospace exhibition yes­ter­day.

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