AgustaWestland AW101 The Winner

KUALA LUMPUR: As expected AgustaWestland AW101 is the clear winner for Malaysian Defence poll for the favourite helicopter to replace the Nuri.

The AW101 (formerly EH101) led the hustings from the start when Malaysian Defence was hosted at blogspot and when it went Dot Com,  the chosen helicopter for the western world continued to be the favourite.  So the AW101 was the clear winner with more than 52 per cent of the votes from the readers.

The NH90 and Chinook came second and third respectively with the Mi-17 closing the vote. One interesting thing that happened after Malaysian Defence went Dot Com was that the vote for the Russian machine actually increased even after the Auditor General report.

Anyhow as Malaysian Defence mentioned earlier the AW101 CSAR variant will be the most expensive of the four helicopters featured in the poll. With FLIR, radar and EW equipment it will easily cost around US$50 million (around RM170 million)

Malaysian Defence was informed that the budget for the Nuri helicopter programme is around RM600 million, so if the CSAR version of the AW101 was chosen, we will only be able to buy not more than five examples. In fact, if you add the cost for training, it will be not be more than four.

Unless more money is released it looked like as if the Nuri will continue to rule our skies. But Malaysian Defence believes if we could be smarter, more helicopters could be purchased after the initial batch of four or five.

Smart procurement is the key word. Cut other wasteful projects like the NGPV and others, we may be able to get more helicopters.

The NH90 is of course cheaper but it does not have the legs like the AW101, Chinook is to big and complex for the intended role while the Mi-17 is an old design which is not much better than the Nuri when it comes to modern electronics as exposed by the Auditor General report.

So how are we going to finance the AW101 purchase. By having a smart procurement plan of course. Malaysian Defence list below is not exclusive, if you have other ideas please chip in.

1) Buy the helicopter with cash, not on credit or barter. Like buying tv or fridge, cash is king, we will be able to haggle for the best price.

2) Do not placed any offset or local participation on the manufacturer apart from a full service centre in Kuala Lumpur. Offsets and local participation will only increase the price by at least 20 per cent and in extreme cases by 50 per cent.

3) Make sure the equipment to be installed are the ones recommended and guaranteed by the helicopter manufacturer. Let them haggle the price of these equipment with their sub-contractors.

4) As they will probably give us export versions of the black boxes (electronics) make sure that these equipment are tested and verified by the helicopter manufacturer before it is installed on our helicopters so there will be no integration issues.

5) Signed a fool-proof late delivery penalties to ensure that these helicopters are delivered on time, by 2010 of course.

6) Sent our pilots to undergo training with the helicopter manufacturers as soon as the procurement contract is signed so they will be ready as soon as the helicopters are ready to be commissioned (after completing testing of course)

7) When we decided the helicopter to purchase, make sure we signed for further examples to be purchased once the funds are available. AW101 helicopter

Malaysian Defence hopes that Mindef would take a hard look at the seven suggestions and see it as constructive criticisms. We do not need further wastefulness as in the past. Too much money has been wasted already.

By the way, a new poll will be online from tomorrow. Please continuing voting and thanks for the support

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2207 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. What is the right number for the replacement helicopter considering the roles Nuri have been playing thus far, if they are to be replaced completely by 2010. Any data showing the multitask capabilities versus cost of each candidate will be interesting. Imean, if for example Mi-17 has less features than AW101, then if it is a lot cheaper, we could get more units for the same cost. Furthermore, Bomba Mi-17 has proven his success during Tsunami SAR and humanitarian missions in Acheh.

  2. The actual number for the Nuri replacement programme was never announced. RMAF was to purchase CSAR helicopters by 2010 to replace the Nuri, with the Army Air Wing taking over the utility and troop transport roles from the air force.

    With that in mind the RMAF do not need too many helos (probably around a dozen or so) and for CSAR duties alone, it does not need the AW101, the NH90 is good enough.

    However, the Genting Sempah crash prompted the Govt to reverse the decision to wait until 2010 before purchasing the replacement for the Nuri, which would be in service by 2015.

    It was believed at that time (before the crash) the army air wing would only be able to perform the utility and troop transport role by 2015 and therefore there was no rush to replace the Nuri. The Genting Sempah crash of course changed everything.

    I backed the AW101 simply because it will help the army air wing to transition to its major role of utility and troop transport if the RMAF is already using it.

    Otherwise, we will have the current situation where air force pilots continuing to augment the air wing and others (navy, bomba, MMEA) to fly the helicopters. The navy has managed to wean dependence from the air force but the army and the rest are still lagging behind.

    With a single medium heavy type helicopter flying in country, we will be able to reduce cost for training and support. The army air wing however I was told favoured the Chinook..

    The Mi-17 is cheap of course (if we buy direct from the maker not through agents, it is not more than RM30 million) but for the CSAR role for the air force and special forces duties for the army it is almost as good as the Nuri. These are fair weather birds.

  3. The above suggestions imply that problems associated with our past procurement programs came from the suppliers’ side. I’d think that the problems mostly came from our side with poor program management, political interference etc. One very important thing that I think we should do is to have a transparent open tender process. The end user — ATM — should have a greater say in deciding the winner. I would suggest the government commit ATM a number, e.g. RM600m, and let it decide the rest.

  4. I understand what you are saying but leaving it up to the Generals alone, is not that wise. Perhaps the end-user selection could be the final arbiter when making procurement decisions but that must be tempered with the fact even such selection could also be swayed by other means (do you remember the resignations in the 80s of top ATM officials implicated in bribery cases?)

    In a democracy it is the civilian who make the policy and it is up to the military to obey and put up or resigned the commission.

    In truth, I have not find any model that is truly transparent for both the govt and military (in a dictatorship its even worse). The best we can strive for is to give the best to our personnel and at the same time not given in to wastefulness, corruption and self-interest.

    It is through this discussions, I hope we can find the best balance and solution to the current state of affairs although I must admit it is a long shot. Nonetheless…..

  5. Hi,
    Its me again.
    I read your posting on the AG’s report with sadness, anger and disgust. I agree with your recommendations here. I think local participation in defense projects will jack up the cost needlessly because we do not have expertise in this field. IMO its just a way of making somebody rich.
    I voted for the continuation of the NGPV project but all those responsible must be held accountable for this shameful waste. I hope the lessons are well learned.


  6. I agree with the admin, EH101 and NH90 may suitable for our needs. Maybe both models can be choosed depends on workload and distance. But it may leads to spare parts or question of commonlity of parts between both which is different. How about Bell and Sikorsky. Operation cost must be studied before any purchase, I beleived the expert in the government know about this. I’m not expert, but experience in maintain few vessels prefer me for trouble free and good technical service company.

  7. Most of the comment are constructive but the evaluation team must take into account maintainence
    cost. . Whether it is feasible or viable for supportability for next 15 to 20 year. before proceeding
    next course of action.

  8. It’s easy to give our comment when it’s not us who will be the pilot operating the aircraft in question. My husband is one of the young pilots whose life are in danger by reason of the old pitiful Nuri, and I do pray that Nuri will be replaced with AgustaWestland AW101 which is the best in its class. After all, its the public and our country who will get all the benefit from the usefulness of the new aircraft, not the army themselves.

  9. i don’t think the evaluation team really did their job; technically…

    Marhalim: This is old issue please check other posts for update. BTW for this post, the AW101 was chosen by Malaysian Defence readers.

  10. I agree that they should not mess with the recommended avionics/equipment. Any news on what’s happening with our PT91 Twardy tanks? How many are operational?

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