Black Eagles preparing for LIMA ’19, says air force chief

LANGKAWI | The Black Eagles are one of at least two aerobatic teams preparing to perform at this year’s Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition, a senior official has said.

Photo: Adam Landau

General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Hj Affendi bin Buang, the chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, told local newspaper Sinar Harian that the Black Eagles and Jupiter Aerobatic Team were both planning to attend the show. However, he said preparations are still ongoing and their participation will not be confirmed until the end of the month.

Indonesia’s Jupiter Aerobatic Team had already announced their intention to perform at the event, but the Black Eagles were widely expected not to participate again so soon after their Malaysian debut in 2017.

The Black Eagles fly eight T-50B Golden Eagles, and are the national aerobatic team of the Republic of Korea. As well as LIMA 2017, they have performed at two editions of the Singapore Airshow and the Waddington Airshow in the UK. Their spectacular routine also saw them pick up two of the most coveted awards at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2012.

Photo: Tom Wittevrongel

General Buang also confirmed that the Royal Malaysian Air Force will stage Sukhoi Su-30MKM and F/A-18D Hornet solo displays, the Sinar Harian said, as well as a spectacular opening ceremony sequence, which will see large numbers of jets and helicopters performing a spectacular one-off aerial display for a small number of invited guests.

While barely mentioned in the Malaysian press, the Indian Air Force are also expecting to participate in the show with the Tejas LCA in the flying and static display. India plans to exhibit at least one single-seat combat jet and one twin-seat trainer aircraft.

Some commentators have speculated that the Pakistan Air Force, who fly the JF-17 Thunder, may also feel obligated to bring their jet to the show. The JF-17 is the Tejas’ main rival for a lucrative export order to Malaysia – but the Tejas is widely believed to be the frontrunner.

The hunt for a new Light Combat Aircraft for the RMAF has not yet officially been approved by the Malaysian government. The RMAF’s Multi-Role Combat Aircraft programme, which has been running for some years, has also been put on hold, meaning that regular LIMA participants such as the Dassault Rafale C and JAS-39C Gripen are unlikely to appear in the flying display.

LIMA is one of the largest airshows in Asia and is set to be held on the 26th-30th March 2019. The organisers have not yet confirmed which aircraft will be participating in the event.