Black Hawks For The Army?

A PUTD Nuri helicopter carrying an Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer at a firing exercise in 2016.

SHAH ALAM: Black Hawks for the Army. Back in 2021, Malaysian Defence posted that a subsidiary of a publicly listed company had offered Black Hawks – second hand ones – for the leasing tender for RMAF. The tender eventually went to Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd and currently at least three AW139s are operational with the No. 3 Squadron based at the Butterworth air base.

The AW139s were leased to cover the retirement of the Nuri helicopters and for that reason the Army had also issued a tender to lease four helicopters for a period of three to five years.

One of RMAF leased AW139 flying at Butterworth airbase on February 10. Mindef

It appears that one of the six companies which bid for the Army helicopter lease is the same company that offered the Black Hawks for the RMAF one. Again. it is likely that these helicopters are ex-US military aircraft which had been purchased by US companies and offered for leasing or outright purchase to the international market.

In August, Malaysian Defence reported:

A check with the Eperolehan website today showed that six companies had filed their bids for the tender. The lowest bid was listed at RM187 million while the highest was RM405 million. What is interesting that one of the companies had a bid of RM264.7 million for the contract. It is interesting as this was the same figure of the contract for the leasing of four AW139 for the RMAF. One must wonder whether this bid was from Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, the company that won the RMAF contract which is also a leasing deal. It is likely

A RMAF EC725 helicopter carrying a single 105mm pack howitzer at the Army’s 89th anniversary celebration on March 1, 2022. BTDM

What is interesting is that the talk in the industry is that Weststar is not the favourite to win the tender. I was told that although the AW139 was capable of hoisting equipment, it was not the best solution to meet the Army requirements, however. I am guessing that the final word on the matter will only resolved after the general elections and a new minister take charge at Jalan Padang Tembak.

–Malaysian Defence.

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Shah Alam

18 Comments

  1. There are plenty of ways to get your hands on free Blackhawks.

    One of it is through the FA-50 deal, requesting some (Korea going to dispose all its Blackhawks for Surion) as one of the offsets.

    The political masters must have the will to decide or request for that option, rather than the normal “what is there for me in this deal” way.

  2. leasing just small amount of Blackhawks (just 4) is a no no.

    but getting 12-24 Blackhawks, even used ones, would be great for the army

  3. The decision was 24 EC725 with 12 deferred. Now we are all over the place with AW139s or Blackhawk rentals.

    Can’t we get used EC725?

  4. Look like the bid price for these “military” specs helicopter are even lower than the air force lease. How is this possible?

  5. They are used EC725s in the market and even more for used Blackhawks. Even Brunei has offered us previously, but somebody in power to be decided no 2nd hands. Probaly becoz he can’t get big commission for selling used helis.

  6. But somebody with questionable intent put this statement into the tender document

    “The landing gear shall be a retractable type with an emergency
    extension mechanism”

    Blackhawks does not have retractable landing gear. Why does a retractable landing gear is a specific requirement for this tender anyway?

  7. Hasnan – ”The decision was 24 EC725 with 12 deferred.”

    The plan then was for 36 to be ordered in batches with only funding for an initial 12 allocated.

    Hasnan – ”Now we are all over the place with AW139s or Blackhawk rentals.”

    We are ”al over the place” because of a government which is reluctant to commit to anything and constantly changes priorities. If the Nuris had been upgraded as the RMAF had long been asking; they wouldn’t have had to be prematurely retired and the army and RMAF wouldn’t have had t look at a leasing option.

  8. wong – ”getting 12-24 Blackhawks, even used ones, would be great for the army”

    Given that the Nuri was retired some time ago and that crews have been allocated to the Little Birds; does the army have at ready the needed air crews and ground support; plus administrative personnel for those ”12-24 Blackhawks”? Highly doubt it; especially given that the Aviation Corps was small to begin with.

  9. Marhalim, could you please enable the comment section on the ‘He said, she said part..’ article on the MPA? I would like to add some of my opinion there. Thanks!!

  10. Kakadu- listing specific requirement that only the particular aircraft or equipment that you favoured in tender spec. is one way of ensuring it will win. It could be done by the user themselves or by the tender spec. committee in ‘cahoot’ with tender participant.

  11. Marhalim,
    My mistake on the figure. 187 to 405 million is a lot for the lease indeed. Perhaps it’s due to the requirement listed in the tender that reduces the choice of helos available in the market to be leased. One of the criteria listed was the helos should have retractable landing gears. Wouldn’t that shrink the list down to a smaller number of choices? Unless of course there is a way around this, the Blackhawk does not stand a chance in the bid.
    Then again, if the Blackhawk is allowed and the amount to be spent is in the middle of the high and low bid, would it be wise for the incoming government to reconsider the Brunei Blackhawk? Another one of my wishful think? 😅

  12. Buying used Blackhawks are a 50/50 gamble. Those known heavily used ones such as ex-US or ex-Aussies that were heavily stressed during their usage, are a big no no. Those RBA ones are moderately used is a okay, so others could fall in between these 2 extremes. Do we want to take a 50/50 gamble when brand new off the shelf civvie specced S70i only cost USD $12-15mil a pop?

    And while Malaysian Helicopters(iinm?) does have used EC225s for lease there must be reasons why TUDM did not go for these and so it would applies to TDM. The civvie AW139 might have not sat well with TDM since it lacked an underbelly hoist and even then it could only haul a light 105mm.

    And yes, certain tender requirements are there to “guide” the bids to certain preferred types without actually stating in a biased way. Sikorsky S-92 are quite popular with the O&G leasing market plus it has retractable gears.

  13. Talking about the Army, does anyone know what rockets we have for the Astros? Do we have any of the GPS guided ones, just like the HIMARS that have been used so successfully in Ukraine?

  14. We have HE and cluster rounds which can go as far as 80-90km. We have the SS40, SS60 and SS80 as reported years ago. No Avibras has yet to develop a guided round. It was looking for partners to contribute funds and Indonesia years ago was reportedly interested.

    Bear in mind that HIMARs per see wasn’t affective but HIMARs as part of a kill chain also comprising UASs, radar and satellite imagery. No point having a guided round if you can’t acquire, fix and hit targets at certain distances; including in a time sensitive manner. A strike/recce complex is needed for arty,MLRSs, UASss and missiles.

  15. I think there is now a GPS version of the SS-80 and this armchair expert thinks Malaysia should acquire and develop the capacity to use them as well as guided 155mm rounds like Excalibur.

  16. Before we even fantasise about deep strike with long range rounds we first have to acquire a recce/strike complex. Same with artillery; same with UASs; none operate in a vacuum. This is a lesson we learnt a long time ago; one the war in the Ukraine reminds us. The reality is that the Royal Artillery Corps has only 2 counter battery radars and no organic UAS capability.

    If we can’t detect, fix and hit targets at long range with precision [a problem the Russians are facing with arty and MLRSs] having all the smart rounds in the world won’t make a difference.

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