FOR HOR­NETS

New Straits Times - - Lima'17 -

the reg­is­tra­tion M45-01.

“It was on March 19, 1997, when the first four Hor­nets were of­fi­cially re­ceived by then de­fence min­is­ter Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Al­bar in St Louis, Mis­souri.

“The first batch of air­craft ar­rived at the But­ter­worth air force base on May 27 that year, af­ter mak­ing stopovers in Hawaii and Guam, and per­form­ing 20 air-toair re­fu­el­ings.

“Our squadron was of­fi­cially formed on July 1, 1997, and this no dif­fer­ent.

The tar­get was for 70,000 public vis­i­tors yes­ter­day and a sim­i­lar num­ber to­day. There were no es­ti­mates avail­able yes­ter­day, but judg­ing from the crowd, it came close to the tar­get, if not hit­ting or sur­pass­ing it.

The lines grew steadily once the sun be­gan peek­ing over the hori­zon. Be­fore the gates to the Mah­suri In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre (MIEC) com­pound could open at 8am, there was a huge crowd wait­ing.

And more came still, walk­ing was fol­lowed by the ar­rival of the re­main­ing four air­craft on Aug 28,” he told the New Straits Times af­ter the air­show yes­ter­day.

Haz­man, who is a weapons sys­tems op­er­a­tor (WSO), said The Mighty Hor­nets were given “Oper­a­tionally Ready” sta­tus on March 1, 1998, af­ter train­ing for its pi­lots and sup­port ser­vices were con­cluded.

Lima holds spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for 18 Squadron. It was at Lima 1993, when the show was held in slowly but surely to the show. They came to see the dis­plays, but above all, they came for the air­show.

So it was for 8-year-old Ab­dul Harith Iskan­dar Bokhori from Per­matang Sun­gai Dua, Pe­nang.

Look­ing as ex­cited as if he were in a toy store, Harith knew just what he was talk­ing about and was even able to spout off the names of the air­craft he saw.

It was ob­vi­ous he was a fan of fight­ers as he named the Das­sault Rafale, Sukhoi Su-30MKM and Boe­ing F/A-18D Hor­net as De­cem­ber, that the gov­ern­ment signed its con­tract for the Hor­nets.

Haz­man said al­though the air­craft had reached 20 years of age, their ca­pa­bil­i­ties were on a par with modern ma­chines.

The Hor­nets have the lat­est 25X soft­ware, which was pre­sented by Boe­ing dur­ing Lima 2015 af­ter a suc­cess­ful sys­tem in­te­gra­tion.

Speak­ing about the squadron’s func­tions, he said its core du­ties were of­fen­sive counter-air and de­fen­sive counter-air mis­sions, which in­cluded in­ter­cept­ing pos­si­ble threats that en­tered the coun­try’s airspace.

Among the no­table op­er­a­tions that the squadron were in­volved in was Op Daulat in La­had Datu, Sabah in 2013. Three of the air­craft were sent to Eastern Sabah to drop smart bombs against Sulu in­trud­ers.

For the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, Haz­man said they were plan­ning ac­tiv­i­ties at their base in But­ter­worth, in­clud­ing a reunion gather­ing of all for­mer RMAF F/A-18D pi­lots, WSOs and ground sup­port crew; a tahlil kesyuku­ran (spe­cial prayer to give thanks to God), as well as a fly-past. among his favourites.

“This is my first time at Lima. I came with my fa­ther and two el­der broth­ers. I felt over­joyed to see the jets per­form­ing aer­o­batic moves. I think I want to be­come a fighter pi­lot.”

This year’s Lima was the sec­ond for 38-year-old house­wife Ad­lynna Ar­shad, and she was thrilled that there was more to see this time around.

“The air­show was a lot more in­ter­est­ing com­pared with the one in 2007. There are also more par­tic­i­pants,” she said.

SHAHRIZAL MD NOOR PIC BY

Public vis­i­tors at the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aerospace ex­hi­bi­tion yes­ter­day.

PIC BY DANIAL SAAD

Royal Malaysian Air Force’s 18 Squadron op­er­a­tions chief Ma­jor Haz­man Harun with an Hor­net at the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aerospace Ex­hi­bi­tion 2017 yes­ter­day.

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