RMAF's C-130 will be upgraded after 2014 (photo : Airlines)
Lifeline For Our Nuri Copters
KUALA LUMPUR: The United States has agreed to assist the Royal Malaysian Air Force in extending the lifespan of its fleet of 30 Sikorsky S-61A-4 Nuri helicopters and 20 Hercules C-130 transport aeroplanes.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this was agreed upon during his call on US Defence Secretary Robert Gates last week."They have agreed to provide technical support via a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) agreement for refurbishment and upgrading to be done through Airod Sdn Bhd.
"While the airframe will be much of the same, the aircraft will be more durable, with better cockpit features under the life-extension programme," he said, referring to improved avionics, flight instrumentation and on-board equipment.
Zahid added that the life-extension programme would begin in 2014, with funding from the 10th Malaysia Plan.The life-extension programme provides a breathing space for the RMAF which recently procured 12 Eurocopter EC725 combat helicopters and 4 Airbus Military A400M medium-lift transport aeroplanes.
Originally, the Nuris, purchased in 1968, were planned to be phased out by 2012, but with the latest development, they are expected to complement the EC725, much the same way as the A400 would do for the C-130s.
The EC725s are expected to be delivered next year while the A400Ms are scheduled for delivery in 2012.On another note, Zahid said he had managed to secure US$2.5 billion (RM8.1 million) worth of foreign direct investments from 25 US companies to participate in the Defence Industry Park in Sungkai.
"This follows my meeting with US captains of defence industries who have agreed in principle on the investments by the end of the year when the infrastructure takes shape.
"We hope to formally clinch the deals soon," he said after launching the Mindef Transformation Day at the Defence Ministry yesterday.
Zahid said the Sungkai facility would augur well for the Asean defence industries cooperation, following the preliminary Asean Defence Ministers Meeting in Hanoi, last week.
"We are to meet again in Hanoi on Oct 10 to finalise the commitment of other countries. So far, Indonesia and Thailand are very supportive of our plans on the transfer of technology and manufacture of defence assets and parts," he said.
On the biennial Cobra Gold multi-lateral exercise hosted by Thailand under the supervision of the US, Zahid said Gates was in favour of upgrading Malaysia's status as an observer to a participating country.
"As a participant of the exercise, Malaysia can obtain valuable experience on defence strategy, technology, training and operating sophisticated equipment," he said, adding Gates was also receptive to providing training for Malaysian armed forces personnel from the three services.