Black Hawks For Nuri Replacements?

The cockpit of the UH-60A offered for sale or lease by Jet Lease. Jet Lease.

SHAH ALAM: Black Hawks for Nuri replacements? Back in 2015, we were told by the-then Defence Minister that the RMAF will be getting four Black Hawk S-70 helicopters gifted from Brunei. That news were tempered somewhat when it was revealed later that the Black Hawks were not to be gifted after all and we need to pay a relatively small amount to get them.

The Black Hawks for free story came unraveled in 2016 and though the Defence Ministry never say it officially, the project was over before the end of the year. Five years down the road, it was apparent the RM58 million or so needed for the initial payment of the helicopters and the yearly maintenance costs had doomed the project from the start.

RBAF S-70A Blackhawk helicopter. USAF photo

Any how, remember the leasing tender to replace the Nuri which came out last year? It appears one of the companies which took part in the leasing tender had offered Black Hawk helicopters. For starters, they are not offering the Brunei Black Hawks but ones that had been retired by the US military and had been bought by aircraft leasing companies like the ones offered by Florida based Jet Lease

The ex-US military, UH-60A Black Hawk, listed for sale or lease on Jet Lease website. Jet Lease

Jet Lease website have a number of Black Hawks for sale or lease ranging from a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter for sale at US$3.3 million and leasing for US$61,000 to another one priced at U$6 million and a lease listing of $100,000.

Another UH-60A offered for sale or lease on Jet Lease website. Jet Lease

I was told that the Black Hawk offer was one of two shortlisted for the leasing deal with another proposal for the Leonardo AW139 helicopter.

Weststar Aviation Leonardo AW139. Picture used for illustration only. Weststar

I was told further that the Black Hawk offer was ranked higher than the AW139 as it is not a commercial (technically) helicopter.

Leonardo AW139

MMEA Leonardo AW139 landing onboard a ship. APMM

Apparently the AW139 did not score points by having other services flying them. It did help that the company which offered the Black Hawks is on the right side of the current political divide. It may face a rougher ride in the near future though, if the political musical chairs are rearranged again.

The cabin of the UH-60A offered for sale or lease by Jet Lease. Jet Lease

So will we have the Black Hawks gracing the skies to replace the Nuris? Your guess is as good as mine.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. As temporary lease solution permanent replacement of our legendary nuris 50-50..Yes for RMAF (They already got Caracals albeit not nearly enough) no for PUTD as they need Nuri standard helos to permanently replace them..

  2. If the blackhawaks, why not take tge 20 odd plus being retired by Australia?

  3. blackhawks can be had for free from many sources, like australia or even south korea if you know how to properly demand for offsets for the FLIT/LCA buy.

    But that would not help to line the pockets of those that is right now on the “right” side of the political divide.

  4. The point of leasing is that the air force wouldn’t be bothered to do the maintenance as the company will do it . Getting “free” helicopter from ex australian fleet would be counterproductive since the air force had to foot the bills for not only maintenance but also training ground support, all for a couple decade old helicopters

  5. Kamal A – “take the 20 odd plus being retired by Australia”

    At the moment there is no cash allocated for the Nuri replacement and the leasing option is a short term one.

    For the Nuri replacement the RMAF does not want to be straddled with 40 odd year old high mileage preowned platforms which will be maintenance and resource intensive. Leasing a small number of platforms is the most ideal option as the company is responsible for the upkeep.

  6. gonggok – “But that would not help to line the pockets ”

    Both the RMAF and the pen pushing bureaucrats – for different reasons – do not want pre owned platforms. It has to do with upkeep costs and the fact that aged platforms get increasingly maintenance intensive as they age further.

    It has less to do with opportunities to make money. If one with the connections is set on making money there are various creative ways of doing so; even if the purchase entails low cost pre owned gear supplied free.

  7. Any big procurement for now is dead to the politic… Rakyat tak dapat makan….. LCA, Nuri replacement I think is a bit hard to move on. Both engines need to replace but the situation now is unknow.

    The Nuri one is for leasing, the money is already there. The LCA project just tendered out, no decision needed within the next 12 months really, notwithstanding the current situation

  8. Michael – “ LCA, Nuri replacement I think is a bit hard to move on”

    There is no intention to “move on” with the Nuri replacement at present; it’s away and the intention is to proceed with a leasing arrangement. As for the LCA; tenders have been placed : we’ll see how things pan out.

    If a LCA deal proceeds as planned let’s see what reaction there is from the opposition. After all in the wake of the PLAAF incident the opposition publicly called for a non partisan discussion on defence and called on the government to meet the MAF’s needs. The government must also make its case. It has to explain in a clear and a coherent manner to an already weary, sceptical and cynical public why even in times such as this; adequate investments in the MAF are essential.

  9. @Marhalim
    Sorry which leasing tender was it again? For ATM or TUDM?

    In US Forces the Blackhawks have effectively replaced Sea Kings and this also extends to other ex-Sea King users as well ie Japan. Its no problem for Blackhawks to replace our Nuris.

    @Kamal A
    Their choppers were heavily used. No point to buy them if we can only expect few more years of use until their airframe lifespan is up.

    Nothing is free in the world and if we have to beholden to them cuz of this, might as well save up money to get brand new choppers. A S-70i only cost USD$15mil each while Caracals were USD$25mil so its a steal for something that highly flexible and multiuseable.

    Your comment reflects what I said earlier where rakyat couldn’t care less about buying for defence & security ouf our country if they suffering economically and ignoring that is politically suicidal. Doesn’t matter how many times China is going to overfly our airspace, even if they park a carrier fleet off KK is not like the B40s will immediately start a donation drive for us to buy antiship missiles. And yet defence commenters here live in bubbles and they insisted strengthening defence matters more and rakyat will understand.

    Its for RMAF

  10. @marhalim
    Why the wikipedia said we have 4 blackhawk helicopter and we get them from Brunei??…and they have source of receiving the blackhawks…

  11. Personally I was surprised to hear about the Blackhawk angle as I was under the impression that Weststar was the leading candidate to be awarded the leasing contract. I was wrong.

    It’s worth pointing out that the armed services have leased helicopters before. After the Wasp was retired and before the Fennecs and Lynxs were delivered; the RMN leased a couple of helicopters from a local company.

    The political environment is indeed not conducive for large ticket purchases (it rarely is even in the best of times) but irrespective of the fact that the average Malaysian is indifferent to defence matters and has far more pressing concerns to worry/focus on (something I’ve emphasised on multiple occasions over the years) the fact remains that the government and the armed services have to do a far better job explaining the rationale behind things.

    Irrespective of whether the average citizen accepts or understands the narrative; it’s incumbent on the government and armed services to do a better PR job. In my opinion; following the issuing of the tender the RMAF should have released a detailed statement explaining why LCAs are needed, including the role the play in the overall scheme of things.

  12. Better you ask Wikipedia, as I cannot answer for them nor control their content. Anyhow anyone can edit Wikipedia entry, you just need to log on

  13. @Aznan
    We have 4 Blackhawks indeed but they are the existing TUDM VIP choppers we have for years. Anyhow Wiki is user editable so never take what is written for granted.

    There is only two VIP Black Hawks

  14. At Heli Asia 1997 I heard a rumour we were trying to sell them to Brunei – no idea how true this was. Apparently they weren’t popular with VIPs/VVIPs because of the lack of standing head space.

    Like the Agustas they are owned and funded by the PM’s Department but operated by the RMAF.

  15. Im leaning towards the Blackhawk lease deal, not because of the political angle but because it could whet appetite with its multiflexibility to entice the Forces for a permanent S-70i buy. I am hoping ATM own leasing deal would take a close look at the selection by TUDM and try have a taste of what the Blackhawks could offer them.

    They already know the capabilities of Blackhawks.

  16. Yes after operating the type (albeit a pair) for almost 2 decades; they have pretty good idea by now as to what it can do as well as costs of spares and the amount of maintenance needed.

    On paper the only possible contenders for a future buy would be Cougars (a big of, S-70’s or NH-90’s – cash naturally being a factor. For a number of reasons we can safely rule out Mil-17s. With the RMN it’s more clear cut; for the needed range, endurance and lift capacity essential for ASW (all lacking with the Wildcat); it’s preferred option is the Romeo. Price again being a major deciding factor.

  17. How many helicopters are the RMAF planning to lease? And I suppose thet are meant primarily for general utility roles, unlike the Cougars (which are equipped for CSAR) ?

    I was told at least 2 available on a daily basis. It is for general utility roles,Medevac and SAR basically what the Nuri was doing. Cougars are supposed to do CSAR but not equipped with the necessary equipment only fitted for

  18. “They already know the capabilities of Blackhawks.”
    Am not sure if the 2 VIP units could sufficiently give them the full taste of an militarised utility Blackhawk. The difference in door configuration would limit the VIP birds from many of the flexible roles the Blackhawk utility bird could do for the ATM. Of course they also have pretty good idea how it performs from the various trainings & support missions with Blackhawk users, namely the US. But nothing beats having it hands on and running whatever missions that can be thrown at that chopper.

  19. ASM – “, unlike the Cougars (which are equipped for CSAR”

    The actual equipment fit for SAR/CSAR would include a FLIR, searchlight and hoist which the Cougars have; as well as stuff it doesn’t : self defence suite, AAR, etc.

    The ability to perform CSAR however is dependent not only on a suitably equipped platform but also all the other key enablers needed to perform the task over enemy territory in the face of enemy opposition : spare/back up helis (what happens if the actual CSAR platform is loft?), fighter cover, the ability to jam or degrade enemy defences (if needed), command:control; etc?

    Even within NATO only the U.S. (France and Britain to a lesser extent) has all the key enablers needed for CSAR in a high intensify contested environment.

  20. Azlan,
    “Like the Agustas they are owned and funded by the PM’s Department but operated by the RMAF.”
    How about the VIP Bombardier and Falcon, does that belong to the PM’s office too?

    “There is only two VIP Black Hawks”
    If we’re to count 1 still flying and the other being strip of parts. It’s a sad sight.

    “I was told at least 2 available on a daily basis. It is for general utility roles,Medevac and SAR basically what the Nuri was doing.”
    This will go to 3rd and 7th Squadrons?

    “Cougars are supposed to do CSAR but not equipped with the necessary equipment only fitted for.”
    CSAR as in equip with winch? If yes, at the recent Eks Kelawar in Sabah, one of the Cougar was mounted with one.

    As for TDM, if budget allow, do you think they’ll go back to the costly ramp requirement?

    Yes same arrangement with the VIP jets
    Whether its one or two available its still count as two under the TOE.
    No idea about the distribution yet. A winch is just a normal equipment for SAR. For CSAR they need the refueling probe and the defensive aids, flares etc. I believed the winch is rotated between the helicopters in the squadrons. I believed TDM will just go for a medium helicopter if they got budget for it. Anything with a ramp unless its an Mi-17 will be too expensive. That was their plan anyways before being forced to accept the Nuris and MD530Gs

  21. Ed – “does that belong to the PM’s office too”

    I would think so.

    Ed – “1This will go to 3rd and 7th Squadrons?”

    If they are leased and operated by non RMAF crews they won’t be part of any squadron I should think. The pair of Squrriels leased by the RMN after the Wasps were retired weren’t part of any squadron because they weren’t an RMN asset per see.

    Ed – “they’ll go back to the costly ramp requirement?”

    It’s only costly if we went for Merlins which will never happen. The closest we came was when SME was pushing the Ulan Ude Mil-17s in the early 2000’s.

    Ed – ““Cougars are supposed to do CSAR”

    They were supposed to do SAR strictly speaking. Prior to the Cougars the RMAF had looked at a batch of NH-90s but of course it lacked the other enablers needed for CSAR.

  22. I was told RMAF crews will be flying them and doing first line maintenance. This will be a similar arrangement as the two Beechcraft Super King Air leased from Aerotree. Likely with RMAF tail numbers and logos

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