Royal Malaysian Air Force

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF; Malay: Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM); Jawi : تنترا اودارا دراج مليسيا) was formed on 2 June 1958 as the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Persekutuan Tanah Melayu; تنترا اودارا دراج ڤرسكوتون تانه ملايو). 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 American, European and Russian-made aircraft.

Royal Malaysian Air Force
Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia
تنترا اودارا دراج مليسيا
Founded2 June 1958 (1958-06-02)[1]
Country Malaysia
Allegiance Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Branch Malaysian Armed Forces
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size15,000 personnel [2]
169 active aircraft[3]
PatronYang di-Pertuan Agong
Motto(s)"Sentiasa di Angkasa Raya"
(Always in the Sky)
Colours  Navy blue and   Maya blue
March"Perwira di Angkasa"
(Warriors in the Skies)
Anniversaries2 June
EngagementsMalayan Emergency
Sarawak Communist Insurgency
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation
Communist insurgency in Malaysia (1968–89)
MV Bunga Laurel hijacking
Cross border attacks in Sabah (2013 standoff)
MT Orkim Harmony hijacking
Colonel-in-ChiefHM Sultan Abdulllah of Pahang
Chief of the Air ForceGeneral Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Affendi bin Buang RMAF
Deputy Chief of the Air ForceLieutenant General Dato’ Sri Ackbal bin Hj Abdul Samad RMAF
Fin flash
Aircraft flown
FighterMiG-29, Su-30MKM, F/A-18D
HelicopterEC 725, S-61 Sea King, Sikorsky S-70 Alouette III
PatrolSuper King Air
TrainerBAE Hawk, MB-339, Pilatus PC-7
TransportC-130, Airbus A400M, CASA CN-235, 737


Early years

The Malaysian air forces trace their lineage to the Malayan Auxiliary Air Force formations of the Royal Air Force (RAF) formed in 1934. They later transformed into the Straits Settlements Volunteer Air Force (SSVAF) and the Malaya Volunteer Air Force (MVAF) formed in 1940 and dissolved in 1942 during the height of the Japanese advance over Malaya. The latter was re-established 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 (RFMAF), this date is celebrated as RMAF Day yearly.

On 25 October 1962, after the end of the Malayan Emergency, the RAF handed over their first airfields in Malaya to the RFMAF, at Simpang Airport; it was opened on 1 June 1941, in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur which was formerly part of Selangor and the national capital city. The first aircraft for the fledgling air force was a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer named "Lang Rajawali" by the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. Several Malayans serving with the Royal Air Force transferred to the Royal Federation of Malaya Air Force. The role played by TUDM was limited initially to communications and the support of ground operations against Communist insurgents during the Malayan Emergency. TUDM received its first combat aircraft with the delivery of 20 Canadair CL41G Tebuans (an armed version of the Canadair Tutor trainer). TUDM also received Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters, to be used in the liaison role.

With the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the name of the air force was changed to "Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia" or "Royal Malaysian Air Force". New types introduced into service included the Handley Page Herald transport and the De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou. TUDM received Sikorsky S-61A-4 helicopters in the late 1960s and early 1970s which were used in the transport role. TUDM gained an air defence capability when the Australian Government donated 10 ex-Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) CAC Sabre fighters. These were based at the Butterworth Air Base. After the withdrawal of British military forces from Malaysia and Singapore at the end of 1971, a five-nation agreement between Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom was concluded to ensure defence against external aggression. The RAAF maintained two Mirage IIIO squadrons at RAF/RAAF Station Butterworth, Butterworth Air Base as part of its commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). These squadrons were withdrawn in 1986, although occasional deployments of RAAF aircraft continue.


With the withdrawal of British military forces, TUDM underwent gradual modernisation from the 1970s to the 1990s. The Sabres were replaced by 16 Northrop F-5E Tiger-IIs. A reconnaissance capability was acquired with the purchase of two RF-5E Tigereye aircraft. TUDM also purchased 88 ex-US Navy Douglas A-4C Skyhawks, of which 40 of the airframes were converted/refurbished by Grumman Aircraft Engineering at Bethpage into the A-4PTM ('Peculiar To Malaysia'), configuration (similar to A-4M standard). TUDM has traditionally looked to the West for its purchases, primarily to the United States. However, limitations imposed by the US on "new technology" to the region, such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM fire-and-forget air-to-air missile, has made TUDM consider purchases from Russia and other non-traditional sources. The 1990s saw the arrival of first the BAE Hawk Mk108/208 which replaced the T/A-4PTMs, followed by the MiG-29N/NUB in 1995 in the air superiority role and delivery of the F/A-18D Hornet in 1997 to provide an all weather interdiction capability. In 2003 a contract was signed for eighteen Su-30MKMs for delivery in 2007 to fulfill a requirement for an initial order of multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA). A requirement for a further eighteen MRCAs remains unfulfilled. TUDM is also looking for an AWACS aircraft, although no firm orders have been placed.

On 8 December 2005, four Airbus Military A400M aircraft were ordered to enhance the airlift capability. By March 2017 all Malaysian A400Ms were delivered to the customer.[4] In late 2006, the Government signed a contract to purchase eight Aermacchi MB-339CMs to add to the eight MB-339AMs already in service.

In March 2007, then-Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Najib Razak notified the public that the MiG-29s would continue in service until 2010. Later that year, Najib announced the Nuri (Sikorsky S-61A-4) helicopter, in service since 1968 with 89 crew members killed in 15 accidents, would be phased out by 2012 and replaced by the Eurocopter EC725.[5] Deputy RMAF Chief Lieutenant General Bashir Abu Bakar told the media after opening Heli-Asia 2007, that tender assessment for the replacement of the Sikorsky S-61A-4 would occur in early 2008.[6] In June 2009, RMAF chief General Azizan Ariffin said that the air force would replace their MiG-29s with aircraft that have better agility and the capability to attack enemy forces.[7] At the 12th Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition 2010,[8] a Letter of Agreement (LOA) was signed for 12 EC725 helicopters to be supplied to the RMAF.[9] With that, EADS, (the European Aeronautical Defence and Space Company), has pledged 100 million Euros to set up a comprehensive helicopter centre in Subang for an aeronautical academy, training, simulation and a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for the EC725 Cougar military version and the EC225 civilian model.[10]

In late 2013, Vector Aerospace, a global independent provider of aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, with its subsidiary, Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services-North America ("HS-NA"), one of the world’s leading providers of helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services was chosen to carry out a comprehensive fully integrated glass cockpit installation for the S-61A-4 Nuri, breathing new life in an already well established platform, and giving a modern, reliable and cost effective product that will carry the S61A-4 Nuri well into the future. The Royal Malaysian Air Force currently has an MRCA replacement program to replace the MiG-29 and F-5 fighters that will be retired by the end of 2015.

The MRCA replacement program is currently narrowed down to 4 types of aircraft (Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab JAS 39 Gripen). Under the program, the RMAF is looking to equip three squadrons with 36 to 40 new fighter aircraft with a budget of RM6 billion to RM8 billion (US$1.84 billion to US$2.46 billion).[11]

In December 2017, the Royal Malaysian Air Force's Brigadier General Yazid Bin Arshad announced it had shortlisted four aircraft types to replace the force's ageing fleet of Beechcraft Super King Air maritime patrol aircraft. The selected types are the EADS CASA C-295 from Airbus, the P-8 Poseidon from Boeing, ATR 72 MP from ATR, a joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo, and the CASA/IPTN CN-235, which could be provided by either Airbus or Indonesian Aerospace, which acquired a licence to produce it. Brigadier General Yazid Bin Arshad added, however, that while "these four types are shortlisted, the door is not closed yet", indicating other options may still be possible.[12]

Airfields/Air bases



  • 1st Division
    • 2 Squadron – Global Express, Boeing BBJ (737–700), Subang AFB
    • 3 Squadron – S-61A4A Nuri, Butterworth AFB
    • 10 Squadron – Eurocopter EC-725, Kuantan AFB
    • 11 Squadron – Su-30MKM Flanker, Gong Kedak AFB
    • 12 Squadron – Northrop F-5E/F, RF-5E,(retired) Butterworth AFB
    • 15 Squadron – BAE Hawk 108/208, Aermacchi MB-339CM, Butterworth AFB
    • 16 Squadron – Beech 200T, Subang AFB
    • 18 Squadron – Boeing F/A-18D Hornet, Butterworth AFB
    • 19 Squadron – MiG 29N/UB (retired), Kuantan AFB
    • 20 Squadron – Lockheed C-130H Hercules, KC-130T Subang AFB
    • 22 Squadron – Airbus A400M, Subang AFB
  • 2nd Division
    • 1 Squadron – CN-235-220M, Kuching AFB
    • 5 Squadron – Eurocopter EC-725, Labuan AFB
    • 6 Squadron – BAE Hawk 108/Hawk 208, Labuan AFB
    • 7 Squadron – S-61A4A, Nuri Kuching AFB
    • 14 Squadron – Lockheed C-130H Hercules, Labuan AFB
  • Training Division
    • 1 FTC PC-7 Mk II, Alor Setar AFB
    • 2 FTC EC-120B Alor, Setar AFB
    • 3 FTC MB-339CM, Kuantan AFB


Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Sukhoi Su-30 Russia multirole Su-30MKM 18[13]
Boeing F/A-18 Hornet United States multirole F/A-18D 8[14]
BAE Hawk United Kingdom light attack Hawk 208 13[15]
Maritime Patrol
Super King Air United States maritime patrol 200 3[16]
KC-130 Hercules United States aerial refuelling KC-130H 4[17]
CASA CN-235 Spain / Indonesia utility transport 7[18][19]
Airbus A400M Atlas France / Spain transport A400M 4[20]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130H 10[21][22]
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk United States VIP / utility S-70A 4[23]
Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King United States SAR / utility 12[24][25]
Eurocopter EC 725 France SAR / utility 12[26]
Trainer Aircraft
BAE Hawk United Kingdom jet trainer Hawk 108 5[27]
Aermacchi MB-339 Italy jet trainer 7[28]
Super King Air United States multi engine trainer 350 2[29]
Pilatus PC-7 Switzerland trainer PC-7 MkII 21[30] 7 on order
Eurocopter EC120 Colibri France rotorcraft trainer 120 5[31]
CTRM Aludra Malaysia surveillance MK 1 3[32][33]
Boeing Insitu ScanEagle United States surveillance 2[34]
Eagle ARV System Australia/Malaysia surveillance 1[34] Developed from the Eagle 150 aircraft
Schiebel Camcopter S-100 Austria surveillance 2[35] Transferred from Petronas[36][37][38]



Name Origin Type Notes
Air-to-air missile
R-27 Russia beyond-visual-range missile 280[39]
R-73 Russia IR guided missile 500[39]
R-77 Russia active radar homing 35[39]
AIM-7 Sparrow United States IR guided missile 51+
AIM-9 Sidewinder United States IR guided missile 210 units of which 20 are the AIM-9X[39]
AIM-120 AMRAAM United States beyond-visual-range missile 30[40][39]
Air-to-surface missile
Kh-29 Russia [41]
Kh-31P Russia anti-radiation missile [42]
Kh-59 Russia [43]
AGM-65 Maverick United States 30[39][39]
General-purpose bomb
JDAM United States precision guided munition 50[39]
Paveway United States laser-guided bomb 60[39]
OFAB 250-270 Russia general-purpose bomb [44]
Anti-ship missile
Kh-31 Russia anti-surface 150[39]
Exocet France anti-surface 150[39]
AGM-84 Harpoon United States anti-surface 29[39]


Until the late 1970s, the Royal Malaysian Air Force used the same officer ranking system as the Royal Air Force. They were replaced by army-style designations and given Malay title equivalents, but the sleeve insignia remained the same mirroring the RAF practice, but all General Officers wear 1 to 5 stars on the shoulder board in addition to the existing sleeve insignia. The list of ranks which are currently used are shown below (in descending order). NCOs and enlisted ranks remained unchanged, and retain their pre-1970s names.

NATO code
OF-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D) and student officer
Commander-in-Chief Generals Senior officers Junior officers Officer Cadets
Pemerintah Tertinggi Pegawai Tinggi Pegawai Kanan Pegawai Muda Pegawai Kadet
No insignia
Marshal of the Air Force General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant Officer Cadet
Marsyal Tentera Udara Jeneral TUDM Leftenan Jeneral TUDM Mejar Jeneral TUDM Brigedier Jeneral TUDM Kolonel TUDM Leftenan Kolonel TUDM Mejar TUDM Kapten TUDM Leftenan TUDM Leftenan Muda TUDM Pegawai Kadet

All officers, with the exception of the Marshal of the Royal Malaysian Air Force apply the Air Force acronym (RMAF, TUDM) to their rank title, to differentiate from their Malaysian Army equivalents. For example, a Colonel in the Air Force would be titled Colonel, RMAF or Kolonel, TUDM in Malay.

Warrant Officers Senior Non-Commissioned Officers Junior Non-Commissioned Officers Others
Pegawai Waran Pegawai Tanpa Tauliah Kanan Pegawai Tanpa Tauliah Rendah Lain-lain
No equivalent No insignia No insignia
Pegawai Waran Udara I
Warrant Officer Class 1
Pegawai Waran Udara II
Warrant Officer Class 2
Flait Sarjan
Flight Sergeant
Sarjan Udara
Koperal Udara
Laskar Udara Kanan
Leading Aircraftman
Laskar Udara I
Aircraftman First Class
Laskar Udara II
Aircraftman Second Class
Perajurit Muda

List of Chiefs of the Royal Malaysian Air Force

NoNameTenure BeginTenure End
1Air Commodore Alexander Vallance Ridell Johnstone30 November 19574 September 1958
2Air Commodore Nicol Challis Hyde5 September 195831 December 1959
3Group Captain John Nichol Stacey1 January 196019 May 1963
4Group Captain C.S.J. West20 May 196313 May 1965
5Air Commodore Alasdair Mackay Sinclair Steedman14 May 196531 October 1967
6Air Vice Marshal Tan Sri Dato' Datuk Sulaiman Sujak1 November 196731 December 1976
7Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Dato' Mohamed Taib1 January 197724 August 1983
8Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Mohamad Ngah Said24 August 198318 March 1990
9Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Seri Mohd Yunus Mohd Tasi19 March 199019 August 1993
10Lieutenant General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Seri Abdul Ghani Abdul Aziz19 August 199310 August 1996
11General Tan Sri Dato' Seri Ahmad Saruji Che Rose10 August 199612 June 2001
12General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Sri Suleiman Hj Mahmud12 June 20014 March 2003
13General Tan Sri Dato' Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad4 March 20034 April 2004
14General Tan Sri Dato Sri Nik Ismail Nik Mahmud4 April 200430 October 2006
15General Tan Sri Dato Sri Azizan Ariffin30 October 200631 August 2009
16General Tan Sri Dato Sri Rodzali Daud1 September 200911 September 2014
17General Tan Sri Dato Seri Roslan Saad12 September 201420 December 2016
18General Tan Sri Dato Sri Affendi Buang21 December 2016current


Royal Malaysian Air Force Regiment

The RMAF Regiment is the ground and air defence support unit of the RMAF. The regiment is composed of four sub-units tasked with fulfilling the RMAF's mission. These units are:


The special forces arm of the RMAF is known as PASKAU (a Malay acronym for Pasukan Khas Udara, which loosely translates as 'Special Air Service'). 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 combat.

RMAF Provost Unit

This is the military police unit of the RMAF Regiment, mandated to provide military police duties in RMAF air bases.

RMAF Infantry
RMAF Ground Air Defence Artillery

Aerobatic team

The Kris Sakti (English: Magic Dagger) is the aerobatic display team of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. It made its debut on 2011 Langkawi International Maritime and Air Show in December 2011. They operated four Extra 300L aircraft.

See also


  1. Note: founded as Malaysian Auxiliary Air force in 1936
  2. "Malaysian Armed Forces". Global Security. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  3. See Equipment of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
  4. "Fourth and Final A400M Delivered to Malaysia". Airheads Fly. 9 March 2017. Archived from the original on 10 March 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  5. "RMAF's two new copters arrive". Eurocopter Malaysia. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  6. "International Tender For Nuri Replacement To Open Soon". Bernama. 24 October 2007. Archived from the original on 24 January 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  7. "TUDM tunggu keputusan kerajaan ganti MiG-29N" (in Malay). Utusan Malaysia. 4 June 2009. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  8. "DSA 2010: Asia's Largest Defence and Security Exhibition Closes on a 'High' Despite Challenges (Ministry of Defence Malaysia signs RM10.355 billion contracts)". Defence Services Asia. April 2010. Archived from the original on 3 November 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  9. "Eurocopter likely to deliver 12 EC725 helicopters to Malaysia". Defense World. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  10. "Aerospace corp to set up copter centre in Subang". New Straits Times. 22 July 2010. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  11. John Gilbert (18 March 2014). "Three fighter jet makers to submit leasing bids". The Malaysian Reserve. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  12. Ridzwan, Rahmat (19 December 2017). "Malaysia discloses line of aircraft shortlisted for maritime patrol requirements". IHS Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 26 December 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  32. "Malaysian Firm To Produce Male Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Next Year". 3 December 2009. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  33. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 January 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. "SIPRI". Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  35. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 July 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. "Continue Funding NCO Programme - Malaysian Defence". Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  38. says, 3 Comments. "LIMA 2015 Day 3: Contracts Confusion - Malaysian Defence". Archived from the original on 10 July 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  39. Trade Registers Archived 14 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2017-12-23.
  44. Latihan Kuasa Tembakan 2018, retrieved 27 October 2019
  45. "History of RMAF". Blogger. 26 October 2009. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
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