14 Mei 2010

Asian Ambitions (2)

14 Mei 2010

The naval air wing consist of two squadrons operating AS-555 Fennec 2 and Super Lynx 300 helicopters (photo : Militaryphotos)

Navy Wings

Of the three helicopter fleets, the RMN’s Naval Air Wing has been the most frequently deployed in the past two years, particularly due to the services anti-piracy escort role in the Gulf of Aden.

The Naval Air Wing consists of two squadrons of six helicopters each - No 501 with the AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 and No 502 with the Eurocopter AS-555 Eennec. No 502 also serves. as a training squadron for new pilots.

The RMN does not deploy its helicopters permanently on ships, instead assigning them as and when required. When not at sea, helicopters from both squadrons are based at the KD Rajawali Naval Air Station located within the Lumut naval base.

The Naval air wing has a standing requirement for additional ASW-capable helicopters, although these may not necessarily be more Super Lynxes (photo : Airliners)

Both helicopter types have been deployed aboard RMN ships tasked with escorting Malaysian shipping in the area, and on two occasions Fennecs have responded to distress calls and driven off attempted pirate attacks - the first on a Chinese merchant ship on 19 Decernber 2008 and the second on 1 January 2009 involving an Indian merchant vessel.

One of the RMN's Super Lynx helicopters reached a milestone of '1,000 flying hours in 2009, and the overall total flight time for the fleet since it entered service in 2004 stood at 5,365.75 hours in October, with 2,6591 hours listed as operational.

Lumut naval air base (image : googlemaps)

While the Fennecs are equipped with radar and a FLIR system, the helicopter's only weapons are door-mounted 7.62mm machine guns and the aircraft also lack the over-the ­horizon targeting capability of the Super Lynx.

In addition, while performing well operationally, the fact that the Fenner has skids instead of wheels has made it more susceptible to airframe stresses caused by deck landings.

In terms of procuring additional aircraft, funding again appears to be the issue,
although the RMN has indicated that it would like to obtain six more ASW-capable helicopters, and that these may not necessarily be additional Super Lynxes.

Ageing Air Force Fleet

S-61A-4 Nuri helicopter (photo : cavok-aviation)

Of the three services, the RMAF has the oldest helicopter fleet in service with its aging S-61A-4 Nuris, some 28 of which are spread across four squadrons: No 3, No 5, No 7 and No 10. The latter unit, based at Kuala Lumpur, also flies two Sikorsky S- 70s, which serve as VIP transports.

The RMAF also maintains a small fleet of Alouette Ills for pilot training with 2 Flying Training Center at Alor Setar.

Alor Setar, Malaysia (image : googlemaps)

The age of the Nuri fleet has led to concerns about its serviceability. A recent news report claimed that only 10 of the 28 helicopters ware certified as airworthy and only five of these were rated as operationally ready. However, plans to replace the Nuris with the Eurocopter EC725 have hit a brick wall owing to domestic politics.

An announcement on 26 September 2008 by the then Prime Minister and Defence Minister Abdullah Badawi about the planned purchase of 12 helicopters became a source of controversy following a dispute centring on irregularities in the selection process.

EC-725 Cougar combat search and rescue (photo : Eurocopter)

The row forced the Ministry of Defence to issue a public statement; which showed all seven bid offers on the tender, although it did not disclose the identity of the bidderss. The statement also noted that the information gathered by RMAF technical officers on the competing helicopters through past flight evaluations, technical visits and attendance at defence exhibitions prior to the tender announcement in November 2007 was sufficient to render a flight evaluation and trial of the competing types unnecessary.

Badawi then announced on 28 October 2008 that the purchase had been put on hold owing to the economic situation. The bipartisan parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, meanwhile, investigated the tender process that resulted in the EC725 being chosen. It concluded there had been no irregularities and recommended that the purchase should go ahead, albeit with the caveat that the government should try to obtain a better price.

In addition to it fleets of S-61A-4 Nuris, the RMAF also flies two Sikorsky S-70 helicopters for VIP transport duties (photo : Militaryphotos)

However, since then no moves have been made to progress with the purchase.
Current Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak stated at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aviation show in December 2009 that the acquisition would only go ahead when finances permitted, and that there was no timeframe for when the purchase should be made. However Jarnaluddin recently disclosed that the armed forces had made it a priority for the Nuri to be replaced by 2012-2013.

Given the ageing and increasingly unserviceable Nuri fleet, it would appear likely that a decision to purchase will be made this year.

1 komentar:

  1. This Air Craft is Specially Equipped with Anti-Submarine Warfare, A chin-mounted RDR-1500B X-band, 360° digital colour radar is used for search and surveillance.

    you can check some additional info for AS 555 http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/as555_fennec/