Airbus C295 MPA For RMAF Tender

Chilean Navy C295 MPA. Airbus

SHAH ALAM: Airbus has confirmed that they had offered the C295 MPA for the recent MPA tender which closed on December 3. The confirmation was made by Ioannis Papachristofilou, Vice President, Head of Sales Europe / Canada for Airbus Defence and Space at the virtual Trade Media Briefing 2020 which was held today.

I posted in an earlier article, that Airbus would offer the C295 MPA.

As for the MPA tender, I am going to say that it will be a three way battle pitting Leonardo (ATR 72 MPA); Airbus (C295 MPA) and PTDI (CN235-MPA).

C295 MPA. Airbus

The confirmation by Airbus seemed to indicate that the aircraft RMAF was looking for to meet the MPA mission would be a twin-engine aircraft. Interestingly, Airbus had previously declined to take part in a tender in the Philippines for a similar mission requirement with a budget of around RM450 million. The tender itself has been put on hold as they cannot find the aircraft that meet the requirements for the money allocated.

C295 MPA. Airbus

Based on this I will assume that the budget for the two MPA being sought for the RMAF is around RM600 million. It must be noted that the flyaway for a basic C295 and CN235 transport versions are listed at around US$28 million while the ATR-72 at US$26 million.

C295 MPA

It is likely that Airbus will offer the C295 with the Thales Searchmaster airborne multirole surveillance radar though publicly it has not identify the type. As for the FLIR, it may well be the FLIR Systems Star Safire 380 HD, the same one offered for the ATR72 MPA.

C295 MPA launching torpedo. Airbus

As for the mission system it will be Airbus own FIT system which it said was already integrated for ASW capabilities; acoustic, MAD and torpedo integration.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2187 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Just to get is in a way, philippines air force also ran the number and C-295 mpa is going to cost more than ATR-72 mpa.

    Also we already have experience in ATR-72 in the civilian market

    Also Pakistan also choose ATR-72 MPA

  2. Lets see if we have learned anything about rojak and having not enough of anything.

    BRW it would be more interesting to know more about what subsystems that will be offered by each of the contenders (to have more insight of what TUDM wants) rather than the platform itself.

    @ dundun

    FYI pakistani ATR MPA is not from leonardo. No idea if the same integrator has submitted for the TUDM MPA tender.

  3. This tender will decide either we are still repeating past mistakes by getting a bit of everything or we will learn from it by standardising as much equipment as possible in this case choosing the CN235. If past mistakes were repeated even after the armed service clearly saying they want to standardize/reduce logistics footprint, then im not surprised what will happen in the future.

  4. @ tom tom

    Affording it is one thing

    Not causing other priorities to be compromised is another.

    For example, would it be okay if we get 2x of the best MPA we can afford, but it will cause us not to get the best LCA/LIFT or MALE UAV that we need?

  5. I see nothing wrong with C295..The remaining CN235 still got some roles to play..Not Finalise yet wether C295 or ATR to complement 3 MSA currently in conversion process..But i do hope at least another 2 will be bought during phase 2..

  6. Oh and i believe nuris replacement is kinda high on priority list cuz not viable to lease a number of helis for a long time..I reckon, nuris replacement will be sought after mpa, male uav phase 1 is completed, after lca batch 1 ( possibly before lca batch 1 too )

  7. For people who are harping about “how government have not enough of everything” in regard to the MPA. Our “MPA” are practically free, with grants from daddy america and using our existing CN235. This MPAs can be pressed back into transport role if required, just like our C-130MP. So getting a completely new MPA is a non issue especially if the benefit (better airframe, better avionics and electronic suite) offered outweigh the issue of commonality shared with our CN235 “MPA” and the price isn’t that much different from completely new CM235MPA.

    In fact choosing ATR-72 might be better since we already have ATR-72 MRO centre in malaysia instead of sending B-check and up to indonesia

  8. As far as i see,TUDM are in a decision making,they need to compare both beast CN295 n what they are going to own MSA.
    Nobody will let TUDM to lease or borrow their equipment for comparision purposes,they got to do it the hard way.
    So if they are comfortable wirh CN295 we will see more of these beast plus other of their variants,and the MSA beast will be stripe of their role to be just transport plane until they are retired.
    If a follow on order of CN295 religiously followed we will see CN295 AWAC,SIGNT etc etc using same airframe….boy oh boy we are not a blue eyed country,some time you have to go a long route to get to what we want…..

    Its C295 really as it is wholly built by Airbus. The CN235 is the one built by IPTN, Airbus also used to build them previously but has since stopped since 2014 I believed.

  9. The TUDM ppl I spoke to have said commonality has been a real issue. It goes to show how hard the maintainers have to work to keep our planes in the air in spite of the multiple suply chains they have to manage and work with.
    I really hope the TUDM will get the best aircraft for the needs and MPA does not stand for Mari Pelbagaikan Aircraft….but that remains to be seen.

  10. Sounds like the cost of buying the aircraft is not too much different, so the most important factor now must be operational costs. My guess is it’s going to be the ATR.

  11. @dundun
    IMHO we should go for the CN235 MPA offering not just because we couldn’t afford anything better (I’m sure we can!) but more to operational, servicing, and future upgrades commonality with the converted MSAs. We also have to consider the current B200Ts are going to retire so we need a common platform (ie CN235) which we could port the AMASCOS system over.

  12. @ dundun

    Those CN-235 MSA cannot be simply converted back to transport role. the interior system consoles are practically permanent installation, unlike the C-130H-MP, which only differs to plain vanilla C-130H with the observation doors and observer seats.

    Getting a different MPA will be a big issue. then there will be 2 different operational plans to consider for the same maritime patrol mission. Say a patrol to pulau layang2, for example the CN-235 and ATR-72 will have different flying range, different fuel load, different systems performance.

    You will need 2 pools of mission system operators, as the mission systems are different. It is akin to a company running with 2 different accounting systems say SAP and SQL. You cannot train all of your staff to be proficient in 2 drastically different systems.

    For a fleet of less than half a dozen MPA/MSA, you need to have 2 different parts pool, 2 different technical trainings, 2 different of everything when it can be just 1.

    For example if it is up to me my preference would be the RAS-72 maritme patrol aircraft like pakistan has. But we already converting the CN-235 to MSA, the best thing for us is to have an all CN-235 MPA fleet, and upspec the MSA to a common MPA configuration across the whole fleet.

    We should not attempt port the amascos over, as the in conversion MSA is not using the amascos.

  13. @dundun
    So getting a completely new MPA is a non issue especially if the benefit (better airframe, better avionics and electronic suite) offered outweigh the issue of commonality shared with our CN235 “MPA”

    IMO in this issue, commonality outweighs everything else. If we did not convert our CN235 mpa then i would see the justification of getting CN295. But because we are already comitting to convert 3 CN235, it is logical to acquire the same airframe due to obvious reasons. Better ariframe, better avionics, better electronic suite??? The heck would probably be getting the same Merlin system as on our CN235 so no advantages there.

    As for AEW CN295, it uses an Israeli made radar which clearly would be thrown out the window by us. We could leverage our current experience with the vip bombardier global express to acquire additional AEW global express from SAAB. Thus still maintaining commonality with current existing airframes without the need to introduce an entirely new type. This version of AEW would have more range than the CN295.

  14. you do know that even if we do get CN235 MPA, the only thing that is going to be similar is the airframe, right? Even then they’re prolly going to use the newer CN235 model that might or might not be similar to our own

    So unless we get a similar system as the ones currently being retrofitted in Indonesia, commonality isn’t actually a good excuse

  15. @ luqman

    ” If we did not convert our CN235 mpa ”

    If we did not convert our 3x CN-235, I would prefer the RAS-72, as we have quite a few underutilised ATR-72 lying around malaysia, and the RAS mission suite to enable MPA+ASW is impressive (to me at least).

    But we already committed to the free CN-235 MSA conversion, so we should wholly commit to not just the CN-235 as a platform, but to the merlin mission suite (if that is really the mission suite of the MSA) as well. And expand the MPA capability centered around that mission suite.

    A Global 6000 based AEW advantage vs any turboprop is not only the range, but faster speed to station and also higher flight altitude, thus giving much more longer radar range to the horizon.

    The saab globaleye IMO combined 2 vastly different needs (MPA and AEW) into 1 platform, which compromises both missions. You need high altitude for AEW, but need to go low for MPA. But the arabs are paying for it so saab just took their money and build something that they want. IMO not something we should ever buy. We just need a global 6000 airframe plus the Erieye ER radar. Thats it and no need for fancy MPA+AEW combo of the Globaleye.

  16. Let the higher ups decide what best for RMAF..Surely they knew better than most of us here..But then, the deciding factor is not RMAF preference alone knowing our previous dealing

  17. @ FIRDAUS

    Most of us here, unlike the higher ups, has no personal interests in getting those multi million hardwares.

    For me, I just want the best of things that we can afford.

  18. @dundun

    “you do know that even if we do get CN235 MPA, the only thing that is going to be similar is the airframe, right?”

    I do also know that it uses the same engines which would take the bulk of the maintenance cost as you would aware.

    “If we did not convert our 3x CN-235, I would prefer the RAS-72, as we have quite a few underutilised ATR-72 lying around malaysia”

    Would that be from MAS’s ATR72’s?

  19. @dundun
    “the only thing that is going to be similar is the airframe”
    What do you mean by that? The airframe is the same -220 as those being converted. System-wise we could go for the same as those being converted to MSA plus the additional MPA specific mission suite (ESM, self-protection, Satcom datalink). See:

    So in future, when budget permits, we could upgrade the 3 MSAs into MPAs giving us 5 MPAs with the same specs plus another 2 CN235s MPAs with the ported over AMASCOS from retiring B200Ts. That is 7 MPAs on hand.

  20. @ Luqman

    There are parked MASwings, Firefly and Malindo ATR-72s.


    Important to also have the same mission system. Porting over AMASCOS could mean in at least 2 different mission systems ( Merlin and AMASCOS) thus defeating the commonisation drive. Just sell off the B200T as is.

  21. Azlan, Marhalim,

    If you could choose between C295 or C235 for MPA, which would be best for TUDM? C295 seemed to have better payload but C235 have more commonity if rest. Which would you choose?

    I don’t see the need to choose. The ATR 72 MPA will be the solution

  22. Kamal – “Which would you choose”

    From a training/support perspective the CN-235. We already have a pool of trained pilots and support personnel: as well as a simulator. The CN-295 however might have certain advantages over the CN-235 and there might be certain things we’re unhappy about with the CN-235; so although on paper the CN-235 appears to be the logical candidate: there might be certain aspects leading to the RMAF preferring the CN-295 and willing to incur the penalty of supporting 2 types of MPAs.

    As such there is no easy answer; there will determining factors which we’re unaware of or haven’t factored in.

    For me; issues which are vital are flying costs per hour (including the number of maintenance hours needed); costs of spares and the total; overall costs of operating both types as they age; for the duration of their projected service lives.

  23. @…
    The AMASCOS capabilities are not unknown to us neither are the capabilities of the CN235 plane, and the support systems are already there for the AMASCOS. Porting over the AMASCOS into convert CN235s is nobrainer for us since we are well familiar with both.

    It is the incoming MSA & MPA that would be the new thing for us.

    Selling the B200T MPAs on airframes that are near expiry, who would want it?

    “The ATR 72 MPA will be the solution”
    Wait… what?

  24. Leonardo systems for MPA, like their SEASPRAY and OSPREY AESA radar, SAGE ESM and ULISSES sonobuoy processor are one of the best and is used in many MPA aircraft, even those not integrated by leonardo.

    My ideal MPA, based on our current circumstances is as per below:

    – CN-235-220 airframe with winglets
    – stub wings for torpedoes or other external stores
    – WR Davis engine exhaust IR supressor
    – in-flight refuelling probe
    – merlin mission suite (or anything that is common with the 3x MSA conversion)
    – Leonardo Seaspray AESA or Osprey AESA search radar.
    – Leonardo SAGE ESM or equivalent.
    – Leonardo ulisses sonobuoy processor.
    – Ultra electronics miniature sonobuoys
    – CAE MAD-XR
    – Santient ViDAR
    – FLIR Star Safire 380HD or equivalent
    – Leonardo Miysis DIRCM or equivalent
    – Cobham Aviator SP SATCOM

    @ joe

    king airs has a max airframe limit of 30,000 hours. I dont think ours has expanded even half of that.

    A no brainer to maintain 2 different mission systems? Then there will be a need of 2 different flight crews/system operators for less than a dozen aircraft.

  25. Btw we have plenty of ATR-72 that we’re dumping close to a dozen of them to some random indonesian and african airlinesd

  26. Marhalim “I don’t see the need to choose. The ATR 72 MPA will be the solution”
    Nice 🙂

    Joe “…2 CN235s MPAs with the ported over AMASCOS from retiring B200Ts”
    But do we have that number?

    … “Those CN-235 MSA cannot be simply converted back to transport role. the interior system consoles are practically permanent installation”
    Might just be RORO system?
    “You will need 2 pools of mission system operators, as the mission systems are different”
    Lead to a question, which squadron will be operating both these MPAs and where will they be operating from?

  27. @ Ed liew

    Even if it will be 2 different squadrons, 2 everything of different things will complicate our overall operational readiness.

    For example, lets say we really will have just 3x MSA and 2x MPA, both of different types.

    lets say 2x MPA is down with issues. You cannot just send over 1x MSA to be used by the MPA squadron. The MPA sqn manpower, support systems is different to the MSA.

    If you have a homogeneous MSA/MPA fleet, you will not have such a problem.

    Even if say the operational and maintenance cost of the MPA is lower than the CN-235MSA, having to pay for 2 of everything different will increase the overall operational costs.

  28. … It’s good to have a perfect world but in reality seldom is so. At a glance, our air force have been making do with what’s available, making the best of what’s needed. Though they’ve tried and still trying to reduce operational footprint, many things still don’t come their way. The 3 MSA were not in their CAP55 and it kind of derailed their MPA plan. To me it’s not that bad, at least it up the number of asset require for their tasks. Plan change and they’ll continue to make the best of what’s available. May I borrow Azlan words from the little bird comment, “like other things forced upon the end user, some use will have to be found…”

  29. @…
    What I understand from previous discussion on that topic (can’t recall where), that TUDM are retiring the B200Ts due to airframe life, not because of system obsolesce or no longer fit for use. Again let me reempahsise, the flight crew and mission system crew for the AMASCOS are already exist. For 2 AMASCOS CN235 we can simpy based them together in one patrol sector so there is no issues of mixed mission profiles or manpower resources or maintenance issues. If you want to talk about rojak, our current transport fleet is more rojak with CN235s, C-130s, A400Ms and yet we still managed so I don’t see what’s the issue here. Its not like we’re setting up new infra or systems or whatnot for the 2 units of AMASCOS, you know. Its the other way around.

  30. @Ed Liew
    “But do we have that number?”
    Yes we do. We supposedly still have 2 surviving B200T AMASCOS after the 1 unit crashed. And we still have 2 CN235-220s remaining after the MSA conversion.

    “which squadron will be operating both these MPAs”
    The both converted AMASCOS units can be based to monitor a single operational sector apart from the MSAs & MPAs working in other operational sectors. We could do that with our transport fleet (3 variants) & fighter fleets (4 variants), so I don’t a problem for the MPA operation with 2 variants.

  31. @ ed

    The world is never perfect, but you can plan to make the best of what you have.

    Nobody forced TUDM to take the MSA. Unlike A400M or MD530G. If they wanted those free MSA, they should have tweaked their MPA plan accordingly.

    If the future MPA fleet is a rojak, it is the failure of TUDM leaders to properly plan, not something to blame on others.

    @ joe

    TUDM is retiring the B200T because of the limited takeoff weight allowance of the aircraft as it is (but can be solved by upgrades, if there is a will). Retiring it would also give a reason for TUDM to get a new MPA.

    You got your numbers wrong.

    We still have 3x B200T, after 1 crashed.

    We will still have 3x transport CN-235-220 after 3x is converted to MSA. We currently have 6x CN-235-220 and 1x CN-235-110VIP.

    What we fu*ked up in the past does not mean we should continue to fu*k up in the future. With all CN-235 to MPA we could have just

    2 transporter type (A400M and C-130H)

    1 MPA type (cn-235-220 MPA)

    3 fighter/lift types (MKM, Hornet, LCA/LIFT) from current 4 (MKM, Hornet, hawk, mb-339cm)

  32. Ed – ” Plan change and they’ll continue to make the best of what’s available”

    Indeed. It remains to be seen which platform is its preferred option and which is the one the bureaucrats decide should be selected. Plans do change and it’s the government which has often shifted priorities; hugely complicating and delaying things for the armed services.

    As I mentioned in a previous post; there might be certain issues which would lead to the RMAF deciding not to go for additional CN-235s and incur the penalties of doing so. There will be various technical and long term factors at play not factored in by outsiders; influencing the RMAF’s decision; irrespective of the CN-235 being on paper the natural [I try to avoid the term ‘best’ as its misleading] candidate.

    For me; commonality and reducing the logistical; and support footprint is paramount but if the RMAF decides to go for a non CN-235 option; it will have legitimate reasons for doing so and more than anybody else; will understand the penalty it incurs and what needs to be done.

  33. @Ed Liew
    Yes, as I understand there should still be remaining 2 of the surviving ones in operation til now, so yes, “supposedly”.

    Yeah typo on the remaining CN235s, should still left 3 more -220 transporters. We had this discussion before on how many actual B200T MPAs remaining and until I see other more factual reasons, I would prefer to trust those with better first hand knowledge whom are certain there are only 2 surviving units after the sole crash.

  34. Off topic

    Sg army have 155mm simulator for training. I see it for the first time.

    I think they have simulators for all weapons they have

  35. Come to think of it, the arguments so far has been on:
    1. Commonality
    2. Cost of lifetime
    How about looking at it from a diffetent angle?. Like:
    1. Requirements n specifications of TUDM n RMN
    2. Range
    3. Capability
    4. The different requirements in different places within Malaysia.
    While I am not saying cost, commonality etc are not important but I feel that the system n capability of the planes in meeting the needs n requirements of our armed forces should be the most important criteria. No point in getting something that can satisfy some of the requirements n not all their requirements. The CN 235 free conversion should not be used for a yardstick. Its simple. When people give free you take. It may not meet all of our specs but if its for free, just grab it. But when we need to pay hard cash for it, it better meet all our requirements.

  36. @ lee

    1. Requirements n specifications of TUDM n RMN
    Reply: Why i want to know more about the systems offered to know what really is the requirement.

    2. Range
    Reply: CN-235 and ATR72 has similar range

    3. Capability
    Reply: See no1. if there is no offer of ASW systems by the contenders, then everything on the free MSA should be equivalent.

    4. The different requirements in different places within Malaysia.
    Reply: If there is a lesser requirement, something different could be operated by MMEA instead. I would prefer

    – TLDM with MPA/ASW capable platform

    – MMEA with MSA spec B200 king airs, with the airframe upgraded with all the latest STCs. To use latest affordable COTS based mission systems, not legacy systems like amascos. For example the latest B200 for UK coastguard has some of the most advanced hardwares (osprey fixed panel AESA radar, FLIR and other equipments) but is run from a mission system all installed in a rugged laptop. no fixed consoles in the cabin at all.–C6lSAI/AAAAAAAAFVM/2Q2C5BBP5lw37t2oB-1hsWDeQg72fEt1ACLcBGAsYHQ/s1600/Beechcraft-King-Air-B200-aircraft-Image-1.jpg


    Saddle tank

    G1000 NXi cockpit

  37. @Lee Yoke Ming

    For no.1
    full-spectrum MPA.
    If anyone has full list of TUDM requirements of MPA please let us know.
    Question: what does full-spectrum define? Does CN235 met all minimum requirements? Does TUDM have a need for heavier payload and longer range than CN235? Is TUDM willing to expand its logistical footprint?

    For no.2

    CN235 – 11 hours 20 mins (include 45 mins fuel reserve)
    C295 – 11 hours
    ATR72 – 10 hours (plus 45 mins hold)

    CN235 – 660nm (4700kg payload)
    C295 – 1100nm (8000kg payload)
    ATR72 – 835nm (6600kg payload)

    For no.3
    Any of these MPA can be configured with almost any mission suite out there. Clearly C295 and ATR72 can carry heavier payloads than CN295.

    For no.4
    Do we have different requirements for different parts of Malaysia? Our MPA is clearly just to patrol our EEZ which includes SCS and Malacca straits which i think have similar requirements.

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