Limited Open Tender for Hawk Upgrade

SHAH ALAM: AT DSA 2016, Airod Sdn Bhd signed an MOU with BAE Systems for the upgrade of RMAF Hawk aircraft. One expects that the next chapter in the saga will be the contract signing. Unfortunately, as usual we seek to complicate things.

The Hawk up-grade, I have been told, will be up for a restricted, open tender. In other words, the More, the Merrier policy. Basically a couple of companies will be invited to bid for the Hawk upgrade and one might even win the contract. And Airod may not be in the mix at all.

While this may seem to be a good idea to some — and what ever you might feel about Airod — its the only local company which had performed the maintenance on the Hawk since its introduction in 1995.

RMAF Hawk M40-25 which carries the Lahad Datu mission markings.
RMAF Hawk M40-25 which carries the Lahad Datu mission markings.

While upgrading is different from maintenance, the work done will be beneficial to the engineers and technicians doing the maintenance even though its less glamorous. For more on the up-grade of the Hawk go here.

Personally, I believed Malaysia is too small to have several companies performing the same work for the same client. And its not like our industry is striving to make a larger pool of skilled engineers and technicians. Every body keeps pinching the same people from their rivals and the services.

RMAF Hawk 208s tail number 36 and 34 in the dispersal shed at Labuan airbase. Picture taken in 2015
RMAF Hawk 208s tail number 36 and 34 in the dispersal shed at Labuan airbase. Picture taken in 2015

Just look at our southern neighbor. They have more aircraft in its military but they do not have multiple companies doing MRO work. The company and personnel are widely regarded as the best in the industry.

Over here, its the opposite. Every body wants a finger in the pie. To make matter worse, all of these companies are partly-government owned either directly or in-directly.

RMAF Hawk 208 M40-34 taking off during Eks Paradise 2/2015 at Labuan airbase.
RMAF Hawk 208 M40-34 taking off during Eks Paradise 2/2015 at Labuan airbase.

It’s also telling that one of the companies bidding for the job (not Airod) seemed to think that it have a direct line for the contract.

Whether or not this will help it get the Hawk upgrade contract is beyond me but the company have snagged several contracts already, though not in MRO or upgrade work.

With the Hercules upgrade remaining in the sidelines, one has to wonder the logic of another open tender for an upgrade program.
If we really want to continue “The More, The Merrier Policy” at least be firm about it and make sure it is completed ASAP instead of muddling about it.

— Malaysian Defence

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