Irkutsk, Russia: The Royal Malaysian Air Force will receive the first two of its Su-30MKM jet fighters in late May this year. Itar-Tass news agency quotes Sukhoi officials as saying that the Southeast Asian country will receive another lot of four planes by late 2007.
"By late 2007, Malaysia will receive another four planes," the Sukhoi official was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.
These deliveries are part of a total order for 18 Sukhoi-30 MKM jets placed by Malaysia with the Russian aerospace major, as a replacement for its fleet of ageing 14 US-made F-5E fighters (See: Royal Malaysian Air Force set to take delivery of Sukhoi-30MKM's).
The approximately $900mn contract was signed by Russia and Malaysia in the summer of 2003.
It is not clear whether the Sukhoi design bureau/Irkutsk corporation will open a service centre in Malaysia to repair and upgrade the jets on-site, or whether such activity will be carried out through Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the contracting agency for the Indian version of the jets, the Su-30MKI, on which the Su-30MKM is patterned.
Deliveries of the Su-30MKM's are reportedly a year behind schedule, as the Malaysians insisted on replacing Israeli avionics that form part of the Su-30's Indian version with French and South African components.
Comments from Malaysian ministers would suggest that the country would be supplied with enough spares for the Su-30MKM even before deliveries of the aircraft begins. As for training of its technical personnel and pilots, it is not clear whether this will happen through India or directly with Russia, as reports over the years have indicated both possibilities.