Malaysia is looking at launching its own aerobatics team for the Langkawi International Maritime Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition in 2019 and may seek help from ‘Russian Knights’ team for the purpose.
Indications to this effect were available during the last day of LIMA 17 where the defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at the closing ceremony turning to the South Korean and Indonesian aerobatics teams, ?What you have done is a challenge to all of us “now the Russian Knights want to work with the Malaysian aerobatics team. This is something to celebrate,” he said.
Earlier, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Chief, General Datuk Seri Affendi Buang did not rule out the possibility of RMAF setting up its own aerobatic team and putting up either a solo or joint show at the LIMA 2019.
Referring to the Indonesian Jupiter and South Korean Air Force’s Black Eagles which collaborated to perform at the LIMA 2017, he said, "This was a very spectacular sight. This was the first time in the world where two countries collaborated and cooperated to do an air show. They did it very well," when presenting souvenirs to the aerobatic teams. For the coming LIMA, I think there is a possibility we will put up our own aerobatic team, if the situation permits," Affendi was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency Saturday.
Earlier during the show, Col Andrei Alekseev, the group leader of the ‘Russian Knights’ team while replying to a question by Defenseworld.net at a press conference said, “we will be happy to train them (countries owing Su-30 aircraft) if requested to form an aerobatic team for their country. In-service Su-30 aircraft will have to be suitably modified and their pilots trained accordingly if they were to perform extreme manoeuvres such as those of the Russian Knights,” he added.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force has 18 Su-30MKMs in service with the 11th Squadron based at RMAF Gong Kedak. It would make economic sense for Malaysia to upgrade some of their Su-30s for aerobatic performance rather than buying an entirely new set of aircraft for the purpose. Besides, given the two year timeframe for the next LIMA, going with existing aircraft would allow more time for their pilots to hone their skills.
The Malaysian pilots also participated in the LIMA 17 aerobatics with their Su-30MKM showing a trick or two themselves to the assembled crowd.