BANGKOK: The Royal Malaysian Air Force will evaluate the types of maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to add to its list of arsenal.
This follows the Government’s approval in purchasing new surveillance aircraft, says RMAF chief Jen Tan Sri Affendi Buang.
Among the contenders to fulfil RMAF’s MPA requirement include Airbus Defence and Space C295, Indonesia’s PT Dirgantara CN235, Leonardo’s ATR72 and P-8 Poseidon, which are used by the United States and Australia’s armed forces.
Jen Affendi said the approval for the purchases, announced under Budget 2018 recently, was most welcomed and the air force would set up a technical team to evaluate several aspects of the contenders’ aircraft.
“We will choose the best option,” he said.
“Besides the aircraft’s capabilities, the team will evaluate their other functions, including its supportive aspect and whether these could collaborate with our local industry.
“We need to look holistically at its long-term benefits,” Jen Affendi told the media while attending the Defence and Security 2017 exhibition here recently.
He said the Government approved the procurement of four MPAs in line with RMAF’s minimum requirement, but the number of the aircraft could be added in future, depending on the Government's financial ability.
Currently, safeguarding the nation’s maritime sovereignty is primarily shouldered by three of RMAF’s Beechcraft B200 aircraft, and aircraft from other agencies.
To ensure the technical team made the best evaluation on the right aircraft, the RMAF chief said a Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) officer would also be included in the team.
Although the MPA will be operated by the RMAF, the multi-spectral mission of the aircraft also consists of naval operations such as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), which makes it imperative to have output from a naval officer in the evaluation team.
Besides ASW and maritime surveillance, the MPAs, said Jen Affendi also needed to perform missions such as Search and Rescue and Electronic Intelligence.
On offer by the Japanese Government to transfer its Kawasaki P-1 maritime surveillance aircraft to Malaysia for free, Jen Affendi said the RMAF technical team had just left for the country to evaluate the offer.
“The air force needs to wait for the team’s return before making a decision,” he said.
He noted that the Kawasaki P-1 aircraft had been in operation for more than 30 years and was nearing the end of its life cycle.
“The aircraft is not manufactured anymore by the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer),” said Jen Affendi. — Bernama
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