21 April 2010

Malaysia Wants Attack Helicopter

21 April 2010

Sikorsky S-70/AH-60 Battle Hawk - attack helicopter that can be used for multiple roles (photo : Global Security)

Malaysia Publicly Agrees to Buy 12 EC725s, Also Wants Attack Helicopters

Malaysia has publicly agreed to buy 12 Eurocopter EC725 combat search and rescue helicopters and is in the early stages of looking for attack helicopters.

At this week's Defence Services Asia (DSA) show in Kuala Lumpur, the country's defence minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi signed a letter-of-acceptance for 12 EC725s for delivery in 2012 and 2013.

He told local news media that the plan is to sign the final contract when his country's prime minister Najib Abdul Razak returns from overseas later this week. Najib is in Tokyo meeting with Japanese leaders.

Malaysia's air force is also trying to have a requirement for attack helicopters included in the country's next five-year plan, say industry sources.

At DSA, Eurocopter had a scale model of its Eurocopter EC665 attack helicopter on display next to a scale model of the EC725.

Sikorsky was promoting its S-70 attack helicopter at the show and highlighting how this helicopter has interior kits so it can be used for multiple roles. For example, it can be re-configured to be a VIP transport, medivac, reconnaissance team insertion or troop movement helicopter.

Sikorsky was also promoting its upgrade package for the Nuri helicopter that includes new rotor blades and a new avionics system from
Rockwell Collins that includes four flat-panel digital displays. The original Nuri helicopters have an analogue system.

The EC725 will replace some of the air force's 20
Sikorsky S-61 Nuri helicopters, the first of which the country received in 1968.

Malaysia originally planned to phase out all the Nuri helicopters but budget constraints mean it plans to retain and upgrade at least 15 of the Nuri helicopters, say industry sources.

At DSA, Finmeccanica's Selex Galileo unit was also pitching to get its systems included in the Nuri upgrade programme.

Selex Galileo was also promoting its airborne tactical observation and surveillance (ATOS) system to meet Malaysia's requirement for maritime patrol aircraft.

The air force is seeking to buy four maritime patrol aircraft with Selex Galileo's sister company Alenia Aeronautica in the running with its ATR 42MP aircraft. But Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) is understood to be the front-runner in the competition with its CN-235. If IAe wins the contract, Selex Galileo could still be contracted to provide the systems because, for example, the ATOS system is on board Ecuador's CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft.

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