The service technical centre (STC) for the maintenance and repair of Sukhoi aircraft at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Base at Gong Kedak, here can boost the national defence industry. (photo : Bernama)
GONG KEDAK: The Royal Malaysian Air Force today unveiled a new multi-million ringgit technical service centre aimed at providing a comprehensive maintenance for the country's foremost jet fighters, the Sukhoi Su-30MKM, at the Gong Kedak air base.
RMAF chief Gen Tan Sri Roslan Saad said the facility would serve as a 'second line for servicing' to complement the existing services provided by privateer ATSC Sdn Bhd at the base's 11th Squadron hangar.
He said the new facility was undertaken by Setiajaya Sdn Bhd from March 24, 2014 and completed yesterday (Dec 6). The centre will operate through collaboration with the Public Works Department.
"This new facility will be fully equipped with the necessary logistics, spares and equipment to provide a comprehensive and effective servicing and maintenance for the Sukhois.
"Before this, we were relying on the services provided by ATSC," he said after unveiling the new facility at the Gong Kedak air base.
On another note, Roslan revealed that the air traffic control radar at the Butterworth base would be upgraded for a year from January, to meet with the advancement of technology.
This, he said, followed a similar successful upgrade at the Gong Kedak air base by Jetro Sdn Bhd which equipped it with the ASR Meteor 087 type.
"We hope these developments will spur the local defence industries to play a greater role in maintaining the sovereignty of the country's defence and security," said Roslan.
The agreement for the purchase of the Su-30MKM jet fighters costing US$900 million (RM3.42 billion) was officially signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Malaysia in May 2003, with the first of 18 jets arriving in June 2007.
By Sept 2010, operations at the Gong Kedak base became an all-Malaysian affair, after the 50-odd Russian and Indian technical crew, engineering officers and instructor pilots ended their two-year service tenure.
Their departure posed a strong challenge to the local airmen and women to stand on their own and operate the Sukhoi SU-30MKM flanker multi-role combat aircraft.
The RMAF also utilised the services of 300-odd staff from ATSC Sdn to support a similar strength of its own crew to continue running the base.
While the Indians provided flight instructors, engineering officers, technical experts and administrative staff here, the Russians provided their test pilots and engineers to verify, certify and standardise the Flanker.
The base here is now Malaysia's foremost jet-fighter facility. It was established in 1993, with nearby Bukit Puteri housing an air defence tactical radar for the RMAF's 321st Squadron.
By 2009, the ground-based 402nd air defence squadron and 11th Sukhoi Squadron were established.
To date, there are more than 1,000 servicemen and civilians stationed at the base, which is divided into two entities that nestle in an area straddling Kelantan and Terengganu.