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Myanmar Air Force inducts new combat aircraft and helicopters.

| 2023

According to Asia Pacific Defense Journal, the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) has formally received and inducted several new air assets as it celebrated its 75th founding anniversary on 15 December 2022. The anniversary and acceptance ceremony was held at the MAF’s air base in Mithila. Among those inducted into service by the MAF were two Sukhoi Su-30SME heavy fighter aircraft from Russia, six Guizhou FTC-2000G Mountain Eagle light combat aircraft and four additional K-8 Karakorum jet trainers from China.

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Myanmar Air Force inducts new combat aircraft and helicopters

One of the new Su-30SME fighters of the Myanmar Air Force (Picture source: Myanmar witness via Asia Pacific Defense Journal)

The Su-30SME Flankers are just the first batch as more aircraft are expected to be delivered by Russia in a couple of years. The SU-30SME is a variant of the SU-30 aircraft, which is a twin-engine, multirole fighter jet. The SU-30SME is an upgraded version of the SU-30MKI with new avionics and weapons systems. It is equipped with thrust vectoring engines, which provide high maneuverability and improved performance. The aircraft is designed for air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, and can carry a wide range of weapons including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, bombs, and a 30mm cannon. It is also equipped with a state-of-the-art radar system and an advanced electronic warfare suite. The SU-30SME has been exported to a number of countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Venezuela

The FTC-2000G is the baseline variant of the GAIC JL-9 Shanying two-seat supersonic turbojet-powered trainer. It is a “low-cost, multipurpose aircraft” intended for export: its unit price is estimated at USD8.50 million.

The K-8 Karakorum is a jet trainer and light attack aircraft developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) of China. It is primarily used by the Chinese and Pakistani air forces for advanced pilot training and close air support missions. The aircraft is a two-seat, single-engine, low-wing monoplane with a tandem cockpit configuration. It is equipped with a variety of weapons systems, including bombs, missiles, and a 23mm cannon. The K-8 has been in service since the 1990s and has been exported to several countries, including Bangladesh, Egypt, and Myanmar.

Also commissioned was a Shaanxi Y-8F-200 transport aircraft. The Shaanxi Y-8F-200 is a military transport aircraft developed by the Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation of China, based on the Soviet Antonov An-12. It's also known as Y-8GX8 or Y-9. It's intended for cargo and troop transport, as well as maritime patrol, search and rescue and electronic intelligence missions. It can carry up to 60 troops or cargo payloads up to 20 tons. The Y-8F-200 has been upgraded with new avionics, engines and other systems, it has the ability to carry out maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare missions. It also has a glass cockpit and an improved navigation and communication system. It is currently in service with the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and has been exported to a number of countries, including Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Two Kamov Ka-27 Helix helicopters from Russia were also commissioned on December 15, 2022. Dutch aviation publication Scramble Magazine believes the Ka-27 Helix helicopters were formerly with the Indian Navy, and might have been upgraded and transferred to Myanmar recently. The Ka-27 Helix was developed by the Kamov Design Bureau in Russia. It is primarily used for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), search and rescue (SAR), and utility transport missions. It is equipped with a wide range of sensors and weapons systems, including dipping sonar, radar, and magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) for ASW missions. It can also carry a variety of torpedoes and depth charges for anti-submarine warfare. It can also be equipped with searchlights and rescue hoists for search and rescue missions. It has a crew of 3-4 people (pilot, co-pilot, operator, and navigator). The Ka-27 Helix is operated by the Russian Navy and Navies of several countries such as India, China, Vietnam, and now Myanmar.

Myanmar press sources also confirmed that a Chengdu J-7 fighter with tail number 1665 was commissioned, although it remains to be seen if this is a new addition, or a newly-rehabilitated unit since the MAF has been operating the J-7 since the early 1990s. The Chengdu J-7 is a single-engine, lightweight, supersonic fighter aircraft developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation. It's a Chinese license-built version of the Soviet MiG-21. It was primarily used as an air superiority fighter, but it could also be used for ground attack and reconnaissance missions. The J-7 has a maximum speed of 1,400 km/h (870 mph) and can reach a maximum altitude of 17,500 meters. The J-7 was widely used by the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) and several other countries, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The production of J-7 was stopped in 2013, it has been replaced by more advanced fighter aircraft such as the JF-17 and J-10.

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