Better Late Than Never

SHAH ALAM: Its better late than never, so the saying goes. When I first heard about the decision to order the MD-530G Light Scout Armed Helicopters in October last year, I expected that it will be delivered by 2017, at the earliest.

How could it be delivered in 2016 when it was not mentioned in this year’s budget? 

Since it was meant to enhance Sabah security, it would have been mentioned in the budget presentation –  like the rest of ESSCOM centric buys – even though it is a small order.

Malaysian Defence report on the 2016 budget.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in his budget speech presentation stated that among the items to be procured are “the Littoral Combat Ship, A400M, armoured personnel carriers and the VSHORAD system.

MD530G test aircraft.
MD530G test aircraft.
 

However, at DSA 2016 in April, where the MD-530G contract was signed publicly, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was reported as saying that all six helicopters will be delivered this year.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Defence Ministry is purchasing six Multipurpose Armed Reconnaissance MD530G Helicopters from the United States, which will be deployed at the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) area. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said all six helicopters are expected to arrive by this year. “Along with other security assets, the purchase of the helicopters will further strengthen security in Sabah,” said Hishammuddin, who with Armed Forces chief General Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, witnessed the signing ceremony.

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/04/140099/esscom-get-six-md530g-helicopters-year-video

I did not report the statement as I was told by industry sources that the delivery dates announced by the minister was “very optimistic” (too say the least). Furthermore, as training for the helicopter pilots was supposed to start later in September, I did not expect the helicopters to be delivered by year end.

And you know what? My prediction was correct. The MD-530Gs will not be delivered this year. It is likely that the first aircraft will only be ferried here by the middle of 2017.

And the training of PUTD pilots selected for the MD-530Gs will only commenced early next year, a delay as much as six months.

MD530G
MD530G

The training – basic aircraft handling and weapon system familiarization to safely release ordnance – will be conducted at MD Helicopters facilities in Mesa, Arizona. And by that, it will take at least another 24 months before the helicopters could be declared operationally ready.

Why the delay then? As funding for the helicopters was not included in 2016 allocation, payment – even the initial one – need to be green lighted under the 2017 Budget. No one from the Treasury will take the chance to pay for something that had yet to be funded. In certain cases, they will but the helicopters are not priority items.

What ever the case, its better be late than never!

From DSA Day 2

The deal for the six MD Helicopters MD530G light scout armed helicopters is RM321 milion. Malaysian Defence was told that the contract includes the weapon systems and training. The weapons package include the Dillon Aero M134 mini-gun, rocket pods and the FN Herstal RMP Rocket Machine gun pod.

Mindef

By the way, PUTD has issued a tender for 48 flight helmets (called Bone Dome in the advertisement, picture above) and 48 SAR beacons. No face masks though!

— Malaysian Defence

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