Recently the Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) invited a selected group of new media practitioners for a tour of their facilities in TUDM Kuantan. We got to meet the Minister of Defense Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi while Panglima Tentera Udara Jen Tam Sri Rodzali “Rod” Daud was our gracious host.
A big thank you shout out to the Corporate Communications Unit of MINDEF, TUDM and Big Dog for organizing this and for inviting the Spanker.
We were issued media kits and specially commissioned shirts before being flown onboard a stripped down C130H Hercules military transport from Pengakalan Udara Subang to Pengkalan Udara Kuantan.
While en-route, we noticed two MiG 29Ns from Squadron No 17 that suddenly appeared and started “escorting” our C130H and were informed that we were in for a ‘Forced Down’ interception demonstration.
We were ill prepared for what would follow after we landed. In a scene straight from a Hollywood movie, PASKAU commandos surrounded our plane and ordered everyone out in double quick time, quickly identifying five ‘terrorists’ in our midst and expertly disabling, arresting and quarantining them all within 3 minutes! The Spanker found out that it is possible to be shocked and impressed at the same time.
After being welcomed by Minister of Defense Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, we were advised that although we were free to shoot and write about anything that we saw and observed in Pengkalan Udara Kuantan without any restriction, we were still encouraged to practice self censorship in certain sensitive matters of national defense. The Spanker thought that this was a very mature approach indeed, and found Dato Seri to be quite a cool guy.
TUDM proceeded to showcase their MiG 29N ‘Smoking Bandits’ launch alert and Hawk 206 attack aerial display together with fast roping, SPIE rig (Special Patrol/Purpose Insertion/Extraction) and several static displays but the highlight of the day would definitely have to be two of our own media fellers being specially selected and flown to a height of 10,000ft from where they participated in a tandem-free-fall jump from the military transport! Lucky buggers.
At Squadron 320 Sector Operations Centre 02 (SOC02), we witnessed a live demonstration of the SENTRY Command and Control system where 150 aircraft movements all over the Peninsular were being tracked. For our benefit, a real time air defense operation involving two MiG 29Ns from Squadron No. 17 with the callsigns of ‘Taufan Ganas 1′ and ‘Taufan Ganas 2′ were deployed to identify and intercept an approaching aircraft codenamed ‘Bravo Bravo 100’.
The visit to Pengkalan Udara Kuantan also demonstrated the TUDM's alertness, readiness and PASKAU deployment and extraction from the combat area of operations.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) was formed on 2 June 1958 as the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force. However, its roots can be traced back to the Malayan Auxiliary Air Force formations of the British Royal Air Force in then colonial British Malaya. Today, the Royal Malaysian Air Force operates a unique mix of modern US, European and Russian-made aircraft.
The Malaysian air forces trace their lineage to the Malayan Auxiliary Air Force formations of the Royal Air Force raised in 1934. They later transformed into the Straits Settlements Volunteer Air Force and the Malaya Volunteer Air Force formed in 1940 and dissolved in 1942 during the height of the Japanese advance over Malaya. The latter was reestablished in 1950 in time for the Malayan Emergency and contributed very much to the war effort. On 2 June 1958, the MVAF finally became the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force, this date is celebrated as RMAF Day yearly.
On 25 October 1960, after the end of the Malayan Emergency, the British Royal Air Force handed over their first base in Malaya to the RFMAF, at Simpang Airport; it was established on 1 June 1941, in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur which was formerly part of Selangor and the national capital city. With the formation of the Malaysian Federation on 16 September 1963, the name of the force was changed to "Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia" or Royal Malaysian Air Force".
The special arm of the RMAF is known as PASKAU (Pasukan Khas Udara - 'Special Air Service'), and is part of the RMAF Regiment. PASKAU was formed in response to a mortar attack by the then Communist Party of Malaya on a DHC-4 Caribou in the 1970s at the Kuala Lumpur Air Base. During peacetime, the unit is tasked with responding to aircraft hijacking incidents as well as protecting the country's numerous RMAF airbases and civilian airports. Its wartime roles include ground designation, sabotaging of enemy air assets and equipment and the defence of RMAF aircraft and bases. This unit is also deployed for counter-terrorism duties as well as Urban warfare/Close quarters
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Resources and citations for this article – Royal Malaysian Armed Forces official website, Malaysian Armed Forces official website, Ministry of defense official website, Wikipedia