17 August :The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal FH Major, is proceeding on a three day official visit to Malaysia from 18 – 20 Aug 08. He is slated to meet the Malaysian Defence Minister and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Chief for discussions on a wide range of bilateral issues comprising Defence cooperation. Amongst other RMAF bases, the CAS will also visit Gong Kedak Air Base in North-East Malaysia, which is home to an Indian Air Force Training Team.
The team of IAF pilots and technicians are in Malaysia for two years, on their invitation, to train their Pilots, Weapon System Operators and Maintenance staff for the smooth induction and operation of their newly acquired Su-30 MKM fighter aircraft. This follows the signing of a protocol between the two Governments in December last year at Langkawi, Malaysia and is seen as a major development in Indo-Malaysian relations. The team would also train the RMAF technicians to help them set up a Systems School for the Su-30 MKM at Gong Kedak Air Base. Under an earlier Memorandum of Understanding, the IAF had conducted ground training on MiG-29 aircraft for close to 100 personnel of the RMAF in Oct 94.
Air Force to Air Force cooperation with Malaysia has also received a boost with the first high level Air Staff Talks between the two Air Forces having been held at the IAF HQ in New Delhi on 04 and 05 Aug 08. The talks covered issues that included professional exchanges, Su-30 training, courses, logistics support and air exercises. The strengthening of bilateral relations with Malaysia is indicative of the Indian Air Force’s efforts to seek closer ties with its neighbours in South-East Asia.