MALAYSIA A POTENTIAL HUB
Airbus is working with RMAF, Defence Ministry to achieve this, says official
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.