Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) and Malaysia's Aerospace Technology System (ATSC) plan to set up regional service centres for Sukhoi fighters to support the fast-growing fleet of Su-27s and Su-30s in South-East Asia.

IAe has held preliminary talks with Sukhoi over setting up an Su-27/30 support centre at its Bandung plant. But an agreement cannot be forged until at least early next year, when IAe plans to complete a restructuring.

Indonesia took delivery of two Su-30MKs and two Su-27SKs in the third quarter of this year and is seeking to purchase at least another 14 fighters. Indonesian sources say the air force wants to operate a full squadron of 18 Su-27/30s by 2006 and possibly a second squadron by the end of the decade, but budget constraints threaten to delay or derail follow-on purchases.

Malaysia earlier this year purchased 18 Su-30MKMs for delivery starting in 2006 and plans to select a company to service the fleet next year. Several companies plan to bid, but industry sources say ATSC is the favourite given its experience in servicing Malaysia's RSK MiG-29 fleet.

ATSC was created in 1994 as a 70:30 venture between Malaysia and Russia. The partners envisaged building ATSC into a regional centre for MiG logistics and technical support. But ATSC so far has only supported Malaysia's MiGs, although a company official says it is seeking MiG maintenance business from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sudan.

Vietnam this month acquired four Su-30MKKs to complement its 12 Su-27s. Politically, it would be difficult for these aircraft to be serviced in Indonesia or Malaysia, but they could be supported with parts stocked at IAe or ATSC. Indonesia and Malaysia will probably insist on keeping most maintenance in the country but co-operation is possible on parts and logistical support.

Source: Flight International