Service of Skyhawk with Malaysia

Last revised November 8, 2001

The Tentara Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM, or Royal Malaysian Air Force) ordered 88 surplus Skyhawks (25 A-4Cs and 63 A-4Ls) in 1980. The TUDM wanted these planes refurbished into 54 single-seaters and 14 two-seaters. However, the US government placed a temporary hold on the sale, and escalating costs due to inflation resulted in a cut in the order to only 40 aircraft.

Grumman Aerospace at St. Augustine, Florida was given the contract to perform the rework on the TUDM Skyhawks. The rework included a complete rewiring, plus two extra underwing hardpoints similar to A-4E and later Skyhawks. A refurbished J65-W-20 engine was fitted. Updated electronics were also fitted, includding the AN/ARN-118 TACAN, a SAAB RGS-2A lead computing weapons sight, a Lear Siegler altitude heading reference system, and an AN/ARC-164 UHF transceiver. The A-4Cs were fitted with the dorsal avionics hump. A drag chute was installed below the tailpipe. A new canopy was fitted, which was bulged at the sides. Provisions were made for the aircraft to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile. In the end, Grumman modified 34 aircraft. They were assigned the designation A-4PTM (where PTM stood for Peculiar to Malaysia). The first A-4PTM flew for the first time on April 12, 1984. The A-4PTMs were assigned the TUDM serials of M32-07 to M32-40.

Six A-4C/A-4L airframes were converted into two-place Skyhawks. This was done by inserting a 28-inch plug into the fuselage. Canopy and tandem seating arrangements were generally similar to those of the Douglas-built TA-4s. These planes were designated TA-4PTM. The TA-4PTM featured five underwing pylons. The first TA-4PTM took off on its maiden flight on August 28, 1984. The six TA-4PTMs were given the TUDM serials of M32-01 to M32-06.

Deliveries began in 1985 and were completed by February 1986. They served with Nos 6 and 9 Squadrons, both based at Kuantan. Their service with the TUDM was quite brief. In 1989, it was announced that they were gong to be withdrawn from service and replaced by British Aerospace Hwk Mk 298s in late 1994. Six Skyhawks were retained as tanker aircraft, using a centerline Douglas D-704 external buddy tank

By September 1999, the TUDM Skyhawks were no longer operational, and were derelict at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base at Kuantan.  Their future is uncertain.


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