Malaysian Air Force’s 20-year-old F/A-18D Hornet fighter jet fleet has recently undergone a comprehensive upgrade that includes AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles, Joint Direct Attack Munitions besides targetng and cueing systems .
The programme was carried out in phases to enhance the Hornet’s combat effectiveness in its primary tasking in the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles, New Straits Times reported Monday.
The modernization included the integration of four primary elements, such as Boeing’s Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), the super-agile, thrust-vectoring AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile, Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance kits for the GBU-31, -32, -38 and -54 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) “smart” bombs, and the Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pods for the strike mission.
Air force chief General Datuk Seri Affendi Buang said that the upgrades had given RMAF Hornets a “quantum leap in capability”.
“The upgrades will ensure the Hornet’s dominance in the modern battle space against a broad spectrum of airborne and surface threats for years to come,” said Affendi. He added that the upgrades put RMAF’s Hornets on par with Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block 1.
On Nov 28, 2011, Boeing was awarded a firm-fixed price order for “Engineering Change Proposal 618” (ECP 618) kits for all RMAF Hornets under the United States’ Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. The contract included training for ECP 618 and ECP 624, and the installation of other systems that made up the Malaysian upgrade.
The upgrade program, in various phases, went on till 2015 when the last airframe was upgraded.