On December 15, 2022, at the Myanmar Air Force Flight School Meiktila airfield near Mandalay, 15 different planes and helicopters officially joined the Myanmar Air Force, including the first two Su-30SME multifunctional fighters from Russia. This event commemorated the 75th anniversary of Myanmar (Burmese) aviation. The commander of the Myanmar Armed Forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and the chairman of the State Administrative Council of Myanmar was present.
JSC Rosoboronexport inked the contract to sell six Su-30SME fighters manufactured by Irkutsk Aviation Plant PJSC United Aircraft Corporation (PJSC UAC, a subsidiary of Rostec State Corporation) to Myanmar while Sergei Shoigu was in Myanmar on January 21 and 22. According to unofficial Russian sources, the contract would cost $400 million, excluding the cost of aircraft weaponry. A Russian loan funded the contract, and the agreement on its terms caused a delay in its implementation.
When Senior General Min Aung Hlaing visited the Irkutsk Aviation Plant in April 2019, he was shown Myanmar’s first Su-30SME fighter jet. It appears that the second aircraft was also ready at the same time. However, Myanmar received the first two Su-30SME fighters built under this contract in March 2022. They began flying from the Naypyidaw and Meiktila airfields in July 2022. Some press reports claim that the planes have already been used in combat against the armed opposition; however, the Myanmar Air Force officially recognised them on December 15. The tail numbers of Myanmar’s first Su-30SMEs begin with “1904” and “1905” At the ceremony on December 15, they both demonstrated their abilities by flying.
Myanmar is the first nation to acquire the Su-30SME aircraft, the export version of the Su-30SM fighter. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing returned to the Irkutsk Aviation Plant at the beginning of September 2022 to learn more about how Su-30SME aircraft for Myanmar are manufactured.
Also on December 15, five Chinese export FTC-2000G light fighters (tail numbers “1401, “1403, “1404, “1405, and “1406), one Chinese combat training FT-7M fighter (tail number “1665”, apparently supplied from stock), four Chinese K-8W combat training aircraft (known tail numbers “3937” and “3938”), one Chinese military transport aircraft Y-8F-200 (tail number “5821”), and, surprisingly, two Soviet Ka-28 helicopters were handed over (tail numbers “6351” and “6352”).
Former Indian navy Ka-28 helicopter transferred to Myanmar
Myanmar received Ka-28 helicopters that possibly originated from the Indian Navy Aviation. It is unclear if India retained the weaponry and equipment needed to combat submarines. Previously, Myanmar opposition sources claimed that on October 19, when the Myanmar military attacked the opposition in Sagayn, a Ka-28 helicopter was first spotted.
Chinese light fighters, training aircraft and helicopters
As for the light two-seat FTC-2000G fighters that China exports, it was reported that Myanmar would acquire at least eight of these aircraft by the beginning of October 2022. Starting in November, six were shipped to the Namsan Air Force Base in Myanmar, and five are currently in service (apparently, there was no aircraft with the tail number “1402”). Myanmar was the first country to get FTC-2000G fighters. It was reported that Cambodia ordered six of these aircraft for delivery in 2020; however, deliveries have yet to commence.
The FTC-2000G is an export variant of the Chinese FTC-2000 supersonic combat trainer aircraft (PLA designation JL-9 or JJ-9), manufactured by the Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation (GAIC, Guiyang, Guizhou Province), a subsidiary of the Chinese state aircraft corporation AVIC. The FTC-2000 (JL-9) aircraft was also based on the JJ-7A supersonic combat training aircraft, which is comparable to the MiG-21U and was long produced by the Guiyang facility. Since 2011, GAIC has produced a substantial amount for the PLA Air Force and Aviation. The FTC-2000G is a version of the light fighter. It is equipped with a two-seat cockpit, airborne radar, and an extensive array of air-to-air and air-to-surface guided weaponry.
Concerning the four Chinese K-8W combat training aircraft that were presented to the Myanmar Air Force at a ceremony on December 15, 2022, it is already known that Myanmar already possesses 12 K-8 aircraft that were provided to them under a 1998 contract. Myanmar and China inked an agreement in 2009 for procuring 48 (or 50, according to various sources) modified K-8W aircraft to be manufactured in Myanmar. The implementation of this agreement required considerable time. The Myanmar Air Force aircraft repair facility at Meythila began assembling K-8W aircraft from Chinese-sent kits in 2016. No one knows how many K-8W aircraft have previously been assembled there, although according to one account, there were 20 by the start of 2021. With the addition of the four K-8W aircraft that were transferred during ceremonies on December 15 2021, and December 15 2022, the country has about 28 K-8W aircraft.