Going, Going… Gone Part 2…

The MD530G fitted with the FN Herstal rocket machine gun pod and a Gatling. This is a likely weapon configuration for the LSH.

SHAH ALAM: Going, going..gone part 2. It appears that the deal for six MD Helicopters MD530G light scout attack helicopters is likely to be cancelled. Defence Minister Mohamed Sabu told the Parliament today that “the government probably need to go to court over the six helicopter deal made by the previous administration, worth RM300 million, which had not been received until today.”.

This is the first official confirmation that the deal had gone sour. As I had reported before the ministry had not want to confirm that the deal was likely to be canceled.

The MD530G fitted with the FN Herstal rocket machine gun pod and a Gatling. This is a likely weapon configuration for the LSH.

It must be noted that past legal challenges against the government for cancelling contracts have usually been in the favour of the defendant. I have no idea why the ministry in this instance felt so defensive over its decision apart from the money already paid for the helicopters, reportedly some RM112 million. If it felt aggrieved over the payment it could always get the courts to compel the company which received the payment to pay it back. It is my assumption that the ministry’s in this regard deemed it’s case as weak and it is likely it will be unable to get the repayment order hence it’s tepid steps in regards to finally cancelling the order.

MD530 which was supposed to be delivered for the Malaysian Army on display at the HAI Heli-Expo in Las Vegas

Although the Defence Minister continue to say that the helicopters have not been delivered yet, the real reason for the cancelling the deal is the fact that the Army does not want it anymore. And although the ministry had to try to pass on the helicopters to others including other government agencies, it appears no one wants a single pilot light scout attack helicopter.

The MD530G displayed at HAI Heli-Expo is also fitted with the twin Hellfire missile launcher on its starboard pylon. The Army did not purchased the Hellfires.

Please read previous reports by Malaysian Defence on the issue for context. First story Story.

Contract confirmed.

DSA contract signing.

Going, Going…Gone.

MD 530G light attack scout helicopter to be based in ESSCOM.

As for the M109 SPH, again it was the Army that decided that these vehicles – ex-US Army stocks are long in the teeth – are superfluous to its needs.

— Malaysian Defence.

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53 Comments

  1. Since Army dosen’t want MD 530G. Are they gonna concidered with New Advance Attack Helicopters ?

    Just asking….

    Reply
    Nope

  2. So TDM is willing to hold out for another 20 years to finally get a proper attack chopper. Seems reasonable… that would only be 40 years since this requirement first came out. Suicide drones are proving to be more cost effective, so by that time the role of attack chopper might be obsoleted.

    If the M109s are superfluous, does it mean the SPG requirement had been superfluous too?

    Reply
    Of course not they want new SPH

  3. My, my, picky aren’t we? Then it’s actually true then that the Army thinks these toys aren’t good enough to be assets in their inventory. I can understand the Paladins being 2nd hand and all, but the Little Birds? Something is always better than nothing.
    But then again, I’m just Joe Public, not a Von Bismarck or a Napoleon Bonaparte! 😉

    Reply
    The MD530G has a range of 40 minutes when fully kitted out

  4. We do not see Army speak out they dun wan the MD530. So they want Apache or Tiger? Ok lah, we all wait. wait until dream come true….

  5. Taib – ” true then that the Army thinks these toys aren’t good enough to be assets in their inventory.”

    First ask who laid out the specs for the Little Birds and how much say did the army actually have in the matter ….. When that is done ask whether a platform the Little Bird’s size; with its range [when fully loaded with crew, passengers and fuel] and carrying capacity actually can do what the army has in mind.

    Taib – ”Something is always better than nothing.”

    An often heard cliche but in this context if that ”something” can’t even do half of what is needed then it serves no purpose ……

    Customers normally get the Little Bird to perform as a fast reaction asset, the light armed recce role or as a light fire support platform : the army quite obviously had something else in mind and one does not have to be a
    ‘ Von Bismarck or a Napoleon Bonaparte’ to see this …….

  6. Question, Marhalim, if you don’t mind

    Do you have a source for that dissatisfaction or is that speculation on your part?

    Just trying to make thing clear here

    Reply
    Yes, of course, several sources, actually. How do you think I managed to write about the cancellations without even getting the official acknowledgement in the first place?

  7. The army had tried several SPH since the 90s and and them refusing M109s (that wasn’t even being upgraded to newest A5+/A6 or KAWEST standard) means that the army know what they want and are holding out for their wishlist. Keep in mind the moment they accept these M109s they have to forgo their actual wish. Also unlike Caesar (which we have conducted pretty extensive tests upon), we didn’t even do anything particular to the M109s. No on road/off road endurance test, no munition firing test, no nothing

    As for the helicopter, I already against the idea of getting something so small to be of any practical use. I’d rather if the army gets more AW109 or prolly even continue with their medium lift helo. Who knows, prolly mahathir’s russophile policies means that the army will get Mi-171. It has rear ramp option which is very useful for disembarking troops who had to jump off from side door of Nuri previously and could undersling up to 4 tonne load externally.

  8. I wonder if the army wants the Atak or even the Mi28 instead of MD 530, hence this change of mind.

    Reply
    ATAK was still a prototype when they they bought the MD530G though it could be considered the favourite now. The Mil was never considered then. It was the Tiger that was the odds on favourite in early 2015. How the requirement actually warped into the MD530G is however beyond me. Probably it will come out in the open, if they really take the case to court.

  9. Ah, I see

    Keep it up then! You’re the closest thing we have to a true investigative journalist in defence area in all of SEA!

  10. Michael – “We do not see Army speak out they dun wan the MD530”

    You are going off tangent and making assumptions. The Little Bird contract has gone ratshit but it’s not because the army would rather have a Tiger or Apache. The army never declared that its needs a full fledged gunship for ESSCOM.

  11. “Of course not they want new SPH”

    New as in new “new SPH”? I have never known a cash strapped army that could have such privileges.

  12. @Azlan
    We do know they had wanted a full fledged attack chopper before. Not sure if this need is still there.

  13. 6 little birds good enough for fast reaction purpose of ESSCOM .. Not going into full scale war yet 😜

  14. @ romeo

    On indonesia.

    While we wanted a new type of MRCA right after we received our Su-30MKM, indonesia while there are push for fighters such as gripens, they did the sensible thing and bought 24 more used F-16s to add to their existing F-16 fleet, and sought to buy Su-35s with has some commonality with their current flanker fleet.

    They invested in the future by joining the KFX development. Now they are going to add 24 more brand new F-16V to their fleet.

    I can see that they will be one of the best equipped air force in south east asia by 2030.

  15. On the LCS.

    It is hard to believe that design failure is the main cause of the LCS delays. You can look at the egyptian gowinds that uses the same design, which is sailing fine. Delays in funding and confirming the equipments to be installed is IMO the real reason of the delays. Still there is no mention about the air defence missiles to be fitted to the gowinds. It is said that the government has paid RM6 billion to date, and it needs an additional RM1.4 billion. Is that RM1.4 billion a part of the ceilling price of RM9 billion or additional to the RM9 billion ceiling price?

    BTW recently there was a major refit of a FAC(M), KD Ganas at Shin Yang Shipyard in Sarawak. It is put through a deep refit that includes installation of a new engine. Something major like a brand new engine will enable it to be used for at least 10 more years into the future. Right now it is nearly 50 years old (sailed back to malaysia from France in 1973). If a perdana-class ship like the KD Ganas is being put through a deep refit including engine change, does this mean that all 14 FACs will also be refitted and maintained in the fleet?

    http://pbs.twimg.com/media/EICJ9HGVUAAqv9_.jpg

    Reply
    Its not a design failure but failure to translate the blueprint into the manufacturing process.
    I have to check on the money paid for LCS already. As I posted earlier there was the plan to equip the FACs with new EOs to control the guns. But from the pictures of Ganas there is no new EO yet. I will have to dig further on these.

  16. I wonder why thailand can consider this suitable whilst we dont? Are helis supposed to ranged out across the SCS to east malaysia or just behind the front line. Its like our navy aint good enuf for OPV while RAN, RN PAK navy consider its ok to do constabulary work. Its after all a light scout not a gunship. And wht cant we sue the local company not Boeing. Isnt anybody going to clear the smoke on that? 100 mil is not small change. So we cancelled it and that small company just walk away with it.

    Reply
    The Thai Army is putting the AH-6i at the batallion level like other users of the helicopters. Much of the money had been paid out to pay for the helicopters, its basically the downpayment for them, though some of course were kept by the company that took over from the original small company.

  17. The LCS design is not an issue. The issue is our own building capability and attitude. Yes, we can build any ship but in what manner? This is the main issue on most of our project. You need deep into the business not business as usual.

  18. Just thinking out loud…

    If TLDM can conclude that doing a deep refit to a perdana-class ship is worthwhile, cant it do the same to KD hang Tuah? A normal refit does not normally include a new engine. Spending money on a new engine means that KD Ganas would be maintained in the fleet for a considerable future.

    I really hope that KD Hang Tuah could be maintained as a comissioned and operational ship, as the main training ship for PSSTLDM and as an OPV. Its simple systems and build should enable an economical refit to full operational status. Its historical status should mean that we really need to take a good care of the ship, and the surest way to do that is to keep it as an operational vessel.

    @ shahrudin esa

    Boeing is not the manufacturer of the malaysian little birds. MD Helicopters (not McDonnell Douglas) is.

  19. “If a perdana-class ship like the KD Ganas is being put through a deep refit including engine change, does this mean that all 14 FACs will also be refitted and maintained in the fleet? ”

    The Laksamanas are also being retained. 15-to-5 is not proving to work out in practice. The commitment to buy new ships has not materialised, so the retirement of old ships cannot proceed.

    “The army never declared that its needs a full fledged gunship for ESSCOM.”

    True. Then again many things are done in the name of ESSCOM that are not necessarily for its purposes.

  20. ….. – “ this mean that all 14 FACs will also be refitted and maintained in the fleet”

    They will have to be maintained as there’s no definite timeframe for their replacement. The RMN will do all it can to ensure these ships can remain in service but it will be the bare minimum; the most essential. Some ships will be in worst state then others; some will have parts/components that are in more urgent need of replacing.

    Whilst a new engine certainly helps; whether these ships can continue in service for years more depends on various other things like the state of the hull, shaft, etc. A full refit can go a long way rectifying certain issues related to age and make the ships less maintenance intensive but there will be certain things a refit can’t address.

  21. @Taib
    “Something is always better than nothing.”
    But it seems TDM prefers nothing, so that when shit hits the fan, they can justify getting the thing that they had wanted. I believe its the same with ESSCOM too. Everyone turned a blind eye until something happens.

  22. @ azlan

    IMO a bare minimum refit just to ensure it can still float for a few more years would not include replacing all the engines with a new one…

  23. When we signed for the new LCS, it took a good 7,8 years before the first boat entered service. Even with LMS it took more than 3 years before the first boat entered service so you can understand how long it going to take for stuff to arrive. That doesn’t include the time for personnel to fully familiarize and optimize the assets. There’s the Gagah samudera ship that is supposedly completed within 60 days but with what happened to NGVtech I doubt the navy will go for more

    So yeah ships like the Laksamana class and the FACs will have to soldier on. doesnt means the 15 to 5 is dead tho

  24. ….

    Depends on what engine. Off the shelf yanmar marine diesel engine isn’t exactly hard or expensive to install

  25. ….

    Think about it.

    It would if the ship in particular has engines that are in such bad condition that it needs immediate replacement in order for the ship to continue in service. Their age and condition means they spend less time at sea and more time undergoing maintenance; even having one ship with a low operational rate due to dodgy engines will affect things.

    As I’ve mentioned on a few occasions : the intent is to spend as minimum as possible on the FACs and Laksamanas in order for them to remain operational to conduct low threat routine duties. Spending more than absolutely needed is not considered a good investment given the overall age of the said ships.

    If a new engine wasn’t absolutely needed the RMN wouldn’t have done it.

  26. Dundun -“So yeah ships like the Laksamana class and the FACs will have to soldier on. doesnt means the 15 to 5 is dead”

    No of course not.

    What might lead the 15/5 dying a natural death or be becoming the 15/6 or 15/7 will be other factors.
    Lets see how things with the follow on LMSs pan out; with regards to design and fit out. Lets also see whether we get follow on LCSs in the coming years.

  27. “Its not a design failure but failure to translate the blueprint into the manufacturing process.”

    Why am I not surprised?
    Kedah class problem repeat again?

    Reply
    Not really, the problem with the Kedah class happened because the money was siphoned off for something else leaving most of the suppliers unpaid.

  28. Point about the 15/5 – bear in mind the plan as it is, is very ambitious to a level that no other navy is successfully doing anything like it

  29. AM – “The commitment to buy new ships has not materialised, so the retirement of old ships cannot proceed”

    Thus the RMN has to do all it can to keep them operational but nothing more than that. To think that it’s 2019 now and by the 1990’s the FACs were already showing signs of age.

    For some reason the directors the ships originally came with were never replaced; despite “retiring” more than a decade ago.Because of their design (never intended to be used beyond a littoral environment) the FACs can’t put to sea in certain sea conditions. I’m assuming the 4 LMSs have better seakeeping.

  30. Chua,

    The 15/5 (including the decision to go for modular payloads) was a plan born out of sheer desperation due to the realisation that the government was unwilling to provide any firm indication as to funding; not only to replace ships long overdue for replacement but also enable future sustained growth.

    Who can argue with a long term plan stretched in such a way that – hopefully – makes funding easier and also increases commonality and results in costs savings?

    The problem is that there are various factors beyond the RMN’s control and change in leadership (both politically and in the RMN) as well in geopolitics and threat perceptions that may or will occur.

    To have a realistic chance of succeeding a firm commitment on the part of the government is essential and also consistency and quantity. The way we go about procurement also needs a revamp; which the Deputy Defence Minister mentioned not too long ago.

  31. Personally, with the delay in LCS till 2022, I think it make sense to up arm the Kedah with anti ship missile in the like of exocet at least 2 or 3 out of 6 ships at least.

    Reply
    That remains a possibility but no firm commitment has even been made.

  32. Curious to know even if Destini Prima bought over the heli contract, does MD Helicopters still recognise them as their local agent? Another is, RM112.6 million have been paid to Halaman Optima. Do we know how much were paid to MD so far?

    Reply
    Money was paid to Destini actually. Yes on the first question

  33. With the LCS-class quickly becoming Malaysia’s own INS Vikrant as well as too-big-to-fail enterprise, chances are looking really good that there will be no followup orders… Might be a blessing in disguise with the ballooning cost, BNS failure to deliver within deadline and bailout blackmail, not to mention the all but certain quality issues resulting from an under-qualified builder. Funny to see the much-maligned, late-starting foster child LMS beating the favorite child to the punch, especially after all those pompous, self-congratulatory launching ceremony. To think that not long ago BNS want to get its grubby fingers on the LMS project as well, what audacity… Most interested in an investigation into the parties responsible for the delay and cost overrun. Perhaps yet another corruption scandal is about to be blown open by the (go-)WINDs rusting at BNS shipyard… Kudos to the Malaysian arms procurement process that never fails to deliver the scandalous entertainment we need to spice up life a little in these dire times. Want to see some heads rolling, been too long since the regime change…

  34. When it comes to defence procurement, we takes thousand of years before either buy it of cancel it. By 2030 we will be behind the Philippine Armed Forces. From old gomen to new gomen with stupid ministers, we never learn from the past. Should start with homemade Assault rifle first

  35. I don’t follow ships too well. But am inclined to follow the idea here that we stick to what we can save out of the LCS story and not turn it into another ‘Little Bird’ Saga. Just get the boats safely in the water and be damned with what set of equipment later!
    Secondly, if Shin Yang Sarawak can re-engine KD Ganas, maybe it’s good time to check if they can build serious naval boats for TLDM! And teach BNS a thing or two about shipbuilding to boot!
    Finally, Little Birds… forget about them if the Army don’t want them. Concentrate on other things.

    Reply
    They won’t cancelled the LCS, too much money is at stake

  36. @Abuyane
    What’s the point of a homemade assault rifle?

    Does the army have a severe need for a new assault rifle?

    How does a homemade assault rifle improve the capability of our army to keep Malaysia secure?

  37. @ marhalim

    I have heard that the LG1 howitzer delivery is imminent and it should be completed by febuary 2020. Any latest news on this?

  38. Abuyene – “ By 2030 we will be behind the Philippine Armed Forces”

    I doubt it. Unless the long-standing insurgencies against the NPA and other non state groups like the ASG are resolved; the main focus of the PAF (despite measures taken to deal with external threats) will remain internal security. They also haven’t allocated the needed finances to get the frigates, subs, fighters and other stuff they need. Also bear in mind that the PAF has been in much greater state of neglect than than the MAF. It will take more than a decade to make right decades of neglect.

    Even if they get the hardware in record time; learning the skills to deploy that hardware will also take time; especially when they are starting from scratch in many keys areas; with regards to trained personnel and the needed support infrastructure. The one advantage they have over us is that they have a press that is more critical in asking the right queries and in challenging/questioning authority and various Congressmen and Senators have previous military experience: thus they know the issues the military faces.

    Abuyane – “From old gomen to new gomen with stupid ministers, we never learn from the past”

    That is because we don’t have a clear and present threat that would force us to revise our outlook in defence and lead to a much greater sense of urgency. With regards to Ministers; if they are underperforming and not up to the task; the person who bears full responsibility for not rectifying the problem is the PM.

    Abuyane – “Should start with homemade Assault rifle first”

    It will look great on Merdeka Day and on the glossy pages of a magazine but in reality what tangible benefits are there to be gained? Are we going to order hundreds of thousands and what would be so unique with this rifle that would make it exportable? What would this rifle have that works make it more practical and cost effective in the long run compared to buying foreign.

  39. While it’s ok to look good on parade or buy for foreign ones. We must have the will to really make our own and we should start form small arms before dreaming to be more adventurous. Creativity starts at home and we must least from our neighbours to become a seller and not user. SME has the knowledge and from small arm we can gradually move up to bigger calibre weapon. It will save us a lot and good for SME and local vendors and some thing we can be proud of. We have to think positive and take up the challenge to become self sustain.

  40. “The one advantage they have over us is that they have a press that is more critical in asking the right queries and in challenging/questioning authority and various Congressmen and Senators have previous military experience: thus they know the issues the military faces.”

    Another advantage is their personnel speak English on a much wider level than ours. It helps with everything from military education and holding complex exercises with outside partners to the integration of new assets and techniques. In Marawi, units were able to coordinate support much more quickly from Australian and US elements than we would have been able to.

    “learning the skills to deploy that hardware will also take time; especially when they are starting from scratch in many keys areas; with regards to trained personnel and the needed support infrastructure.”

    Like us, they will also find themselves limited by the level of education in their ability to field a credible, integrated force for high intensity conflicts.

    Abuyene – “ By 2030 we will be behind the Philippine Armed Forces”

    More power to them if they make progress. We should chart our progress according to our own requirements and threat perceptions, not for the sake of competition and headline grabbing.

  41. “Point about the 15/5 – bear in mind the plan as it is, is very ambitious to a level that no other navy is successfully doing anything like it”

    I’m not sure if 15/5 really is unprecedented. There are several replacement and expansion programs going on elsewhere that are larger in value or unit numbers, and which unlike ours, are funded.

    Not to state the obvious but we are simply replacing several classes of ships (that are on the small side, each of small numbers) with fewer classes which themselves aren’t very large or complex. The numbers “suggested” by 15/5 represent large growth but it has always been understood that they cannot be acquired at once or even in totality in the numbers put forward.

    Perhaps where our circumstances differ from others’ is in the urgency of the process, arising from our navy being denied the replacement of old hulls in the numbers needed, many of which are beyond the economical or practical ends of their service lives.

    I would say the TNI-AL’s current program has some similarities to 15/5. They are in the process of replacing a large (compared to ours) and diverse fleet of aging vessels and in some cases have managed to standardise on a single class, even as these are acquired over extended periods and from different sources. Not to say that they have shown complete commitment to standardisation, or that keeping to just five types is desirable for their circumstances or even for ours.

    Off topic- We were talking about operations in very large urban areas a while back.

    Just learned the USAF trains aircrews and observers in providing “Urban CAS” using real cities and towns. There are simply no MOUT sites with the scale and complexity of real ones. Realistic, forward looking training for future conflicts IMO. Unfortunately some inhabitants don’t like the presence of the aircraft and are mounting a legal challenge.

  42. “SME has the knowledge…”

    Are you sure about that?

    “…and from small arm we can gradually move up to bigger calibre weapon. It will save us a lot…”

    The larger the weapon, the fewer we or any military needs of it. It is simply uneconomical to set up production lines to make a small quantity. Sure if you were some oil rich Arab state, but should we be letting our many unfulfilled requirements go unfunded just so that we can make a few sniper rifles?

  43. Abuyane -“ It will save us a lot and good for SME and local vendors and some thing we can be proud of”

    One reason things are in such a deplorable date is because emphasis has been placed on meeting the needs of the local industry rather than ensuring the end user gets the desired capability. The result is both the both MAF and taxpayer gets screwed.

    Something we can be proud off is having an armed services decently equipped with stuff that actually meets its requirements and stuff we can afford to get in decent quantity in order to meet the types threats we face or might face. Producing stuff which we can’t buy in numbers and which we won’t be able to export; stuff than which reliance still has to be placed on foreign technology providers; is nothing to be proud of.

  44. AN – “There are several replacement and expansion programs going on elsewhere”

    AM – “Perhaps where our circumstances differ from others’ is in the urgency of the process”

    Yes and with regards to the MAF: each of the armed services have always has long term modernisation/growth plans. The only difference is that the 5/15 was made public in glossy colourful Power Point format. Also, unlike other plans the 5/15 was made out of sheer desperate necessity with a lot of compromises made including the adoption of modular payloads which the RMN has long planned to adopt although not on this scale.

    In truth there’s nothing so revolutionary or new about the 5/15. It’s always been an RMN aim to reduce its support/logistical footprint and we’ve seen this in the use of the DRS-300s for the Kasturis and FACs; the 30mms on the Lekius, Kasturis, training ships and LCSs and initial preference for TACTICOS on the
    LCS (BNS had the final say).

  45. AM- “Another advantage is their personnel speak English on a much wider level than ours”

    In the 60’s and 70’s it was taken that although many other ranks were not fluent; officers were. From the late 80’s the rot started. Today we have a situation where even officers have issues conversing in English; to the extent that during joint exercises and exchanges language is a problem and an obstacle to interaction. Also not helping matters is that all the documentation and manuals that comes with stuff we buy are in English.

  46. “Today we have a situation where even officers have issues conversing in English; to the extent that during joint exercises and exchanges language is a problem and an obstacle to interaction.”

    We could fix this if we wanted, since our officer training process lasts four years at NDUM. Though it might lower the passing rate and would take time away from less important things.

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