PETALING JAYA: The 12 surveillance drones worth nearly RM80mil to be used by the country’s navy and army were funded by the United States under the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) programme.
The Defence Ministry said the government paid nothing to acquire these drones.
The US-funded MSI programme provides assistance in terms of capability (assets) and capacity (training) to countries including Malaysia to help increase the Maritime Domain Awareness in South-East Asia.
“The Royal Malaysian Navy will receive the assets in stages from 2019 to 2022. The first batch of six ScanEagle UAVs is expected to arrive in mid-November,” the ministry said in a statement.
It also said that apart from the Malaysian Armed Forces, other enforcement agencies would also benefit from enhanced maritime surveillance and sharing of information.
“The ScanEagle UAV will help Malaysia in maritime patrolling,” it said.
The ministry also said that it had purchased two Maritime Patrol Aircraft and three Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Airborne Systems under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
“As a maritime country, Malaysia needs intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance abilities to monitor its extensive strategic paths in the Straits of Malacca, the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea.
“In line with the nation’s non-
partisan position and to forge a friendship with everyone, Malaysia
welcomes such defence cooperation with all stakeholders, including
the US and China, to safeguard
the country’s security and stability in the South-East Asian region,”
said the ministry.
It was reported that the US drones was a move seen as part of President Donald Trump’s effort to boost its allies’ intelligence-gathering capabilities amid the rising tension with China.
Reuters reported that it is part of a US$47mil (RM195.5mil) deal to sell 34 ScanEagle drones to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The ScanEagle is an unarmed drone manufactured by Boeing’s Insitu, which also makes the RQ-21A Blackjack, the armed drone used by the US Navy and Marine Corps.