Probe into deal stalls delivery of attack copters


Firepower: Filepic of an MD-530G scout attack helicopter in flight during Lima 2015.

PETALING JAYA: Six US attack helicopters commissioned by the Defence Ministry (Mindef) in 2016 are still waiting for “take off” as the government has ordered an investigation into the deal.

The MD-530G helicopters were ordered by the ministry through a private company in Malaysia at a purchase price of RM321mil.

A reliable source said Mindef was believed to have paid RM120mil to Arizona-based MD Helicopters via the private company.

However, the source said the firm was not able to fulfil the contract after two years resulting in a public-listed company stepping in to take over.

The source said the new company forked out RM100mil to the US aircraft maker.

“The public-listed firm saw the deal for its business potential in maintenance and repair of the helicopters.

“The terms and conditions of the original deal were unusual,” said the source.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu confirmed that the deal was being reviewed by the Governance, Pro­curement and Finance Investigating Committee (GPFIC).

“I will not comment on the issue of the helicopters until the investigation into the contract is comple­ted and I have received a complete report on it,” he said in a WhatsApp message.

He declined to say whether Min­def would accept the helicopters should they be delivered by the manufacturer before the go-ahead was given.

The minister made a plea last week for speculation on the deal to cease until the investigation was over.

GPFIC, chaired by the former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, was set up to investigate projects by the previous government as well as to advise the Pakatan Harapan government on how to ensure effective procurement and prevent leakages.

Then defence minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein was first reported to have said that the helicopters would arrive in 2017 and then by September 2018.

Checks showed that this March, the Malaysia-bound MD-530G helicopters were showcased at the Heli-Expo 2019 event in Atlanta, Georgia.

A video showed MD Helicopter programme manager Luke Puleo as saying that the six light attack helicopters would be flown to Malaysia in batches in June and August this year.

He said the choppers had two cameras, two screens, upgraded tactical radios, various guided and unguided ammunition, mini-guns and could install four different rockets and guided rockets.

According to Facebook group Malaysia Military Power, which has about 200,000 followers, the helicopters were meant for the Eastern Sabah Security Command which oversees the Eastern Sabah Security Zone.


   

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