THE HEAD OF the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has admitted that new British Aerospace Hawk 100 and 200s have been suffering serious serviceability problems (Flight International, 29 November-5 December).

"We did not realise the magnitude of the problem," says Lt Gen Dato' Seri Abdul Ghani, chief of the RMAF. "The two-seat Hawk 100 and the 200 are basically new aircraft and very different to the Hawks of the Royal Air Force," he adds.

Charles Masefield, head of defence exports at the UK Ministry of Defence, says that the problems with the Hawks centred on the advanced avionics systems and the tropical climate in which the aircraft are operated. He claims that these were "...teething problems that have been overcome".

Ghani was addressing the Lima '95 Aerospace Conference at Langkawi, where he called for the integration of Malaysia's civil and military radar networks and the devolvement to civil organisations of such tasks as maintenance of aircraft and radar systems.

Ghani admits that the RMAF is losing the battle for skilled manpower to Malaysia's expanding technology industries. "We are 30% down on manpower," he says, but adds that the RMAF can still maintain front-line capability. He says that the Mikoyan MiG-29s which, recently entered service are performing well, and that 14 or 15 of the 18 aircraft are combat ready.

Kuala Lumpur-based Airod is the obvious candidate for the increased civil participation in the RMAF maintenance task by private industry, being part of the Malaysia Helicopter Systems/ Malaysia Airline System (MAS) and having numbered the RMAF and Indonesian air force as principal customers.

MAS, is starting to integrate complementary maintenance skills, with those of Airod. Ghani says that pilot training will not form part of the RMAF tasks to be handed over to civil agencies.

Source: Flight International