Dash 8 400 P-4 For RMAF MPA Tender

De Havilland PAL Aerospace Dash 8 P-4 MPA. De Havilland.

SHAH ALAM: Dash 8 400 P-4 For RMAF MPA Tender. PAL Aerospace has confirmed they have offered the De Havilland Dash 8 400 for the MPA tender that closed on December 3, 2020. The confirmation was made in a press release announcing the recent MOU signed by PAL Aerospace and the manufacturer of the Dash 8 400, De Havilland Canada.

A CGI of P-4 MPA by De Havilland and PAL Aerospace. PAL Aerospace

PAL Aerospace is the only company competing in the RMAF MPA tender that owns and operates MPA’s. In Canada the company operates a combination of two King Air’s and two Dash 8’s in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans while in the Caribbean the company operates two Dash 8 MPA’s. In 2008, the UAE Air Force selected PAL to design and supply its MPA fleet that fly in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. Late last year the company was selected by the Dutch Coast Guard to supply and operate two Dash 8 MPA’s in support of that country’s surveillance requirements in the North Sea as well as periodic deployments in support of the European Coast Guard and Border Agency (FRONTEX).
MMEA Bombardier CL-415 M71-01 conducting water landing near NorthPort, Port Klang on july 15, 2016.

I recently contacted Keith Stoodley, regional CEO for PAL Aerospace based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. According to Stoodley, “While PAL may be lesser known in Malaysia than integrators like Leonardo and aircraft OEM Airbus, PAL has been designing, modifying, integrating and operating MPA’s for 35 years. PAL has been a frequent visitor to Malaysia since 2005. In 2008, we were awarded the contract to convert the MMEA’s two CL415 to MPA and in 2020 our subsidiary, CarteNav was awarded a contract to replace the mission management systems in the RMAF’s C235’s with the AIMS-ISR mission management system”.
Cl415 M71-01 landing at Subang in early November 2017

Stoodley noted that PAL was aircraft agnostic and that as such, has experience across a broad range of platforms manufactured by various OEM’s including the ATR-72 and C295. “Being aircraft agnostic brings with it the advantage of choosing the best aircraft for the application. During the RFI stage of the RMAF MPA tender, our proposal was based on the ATR-72. Once the RFP was issued, we concluded that the RMAF required the higher speed and altitude that could only be attained by the more powerful Dash 8 400”.
RMAF CN-235 M44-03 at PTDI facility in Bandung for conversion into MSA aircraft. PTDI

The 400 is the largest and most powerful of the Dash 8 product line that includes the 100, 200, 300 and 400. The Dash 8 is a preferred platform for special mission aircraft including MPA for many countries including the USA, Australia, and Japan.
De Havilland PAL Aerospace Dash 8 P-4. De Havilland.

When I asked Stoodley about PAL’s competition for the RMAF tender he noted that “our most likely competitor is ATR but we remain confident as only the Dash 8 has the power that the RMAF require. That along with the commonality that the AIMS-ISR mission management system has with other Malaysian assets and our commitment to establish PAL’s South East Asian Headquarters including a Dash 8 MRO in Malaysia, is the best value proposition for the RMAF.”

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. So Mr M, when we can expect to know the tender’s winner for MPA and Male Uav..Kinda Restless Now..and your preference for both tenders? Quick question does this dash 8 on par with ATR or does one better than the other?

    No idea when the announcement for both will be made. Hopefully it will be before they decide to call for the general election

  2. Interesting, perhaps if they can be the cheapest product, they may have a chance after all! Also, having read about the shenanigans at the US-China Talks in Alaska right at this minute, all indications are that tension will increase rather than decrease in our region. Certainly what happened at the Quad Summit recently won’t make the greedy dragon happy. All Malaysia can do is keep calm and carry on at our own pace, professionally.

  3. Firdaus – “Quick question does this dash 8 on par with ATR or does one better than the other”

    Each will have their respective advantages. The ability of the Dash to fly higher and faster will be useful at times. The question is which is more expensive to operate and maintain and which cones closest to what the RMAF seeks in an MPA?

  4. Q: How is the RMAF going to organise all the new maritime surveillance assets?

    I mean with 3 CN 235s from the MSI plus 2 further (possibly ATR or DASH 8 or 295) MSA from our own pocket plus maritime patrol UAS (possibly ANKA), will the RMAF form a Maritime Patrol Wing under a Group Captain or what? Will they put everything under a squadron?

    How are these things organised? Will the HQ be in KK. etc. Any hints?

    There is no Group Captain rank in MAF. The nearest equivalent is the Air Operations Division in ESSCOM headed by a RMAF one star.
    The No 11 Squadron will fly the UAS, as announced last year. The 16 Squadron which currently fly the B200T will likely take over the new MPA while the converted CN-235 will likely remained with 1 Skuadron as they can also performed light transport role.

  5. Marhalim,

    You mentioned a while ago that that the mission suite on the CNs will not be roll on/roll off. This would mean the converted CNs will hardly have any internal space for transport.

    I have been on board the Indonesian Navy CN-235 MPA, there is enough space to carry around 10 people even with the sensors on board. Not ideal of course but it can be done

  6. “in 2020 our subsidiary… awarded a contract…RMAF’s C235’s with the AIMS-ISR mission management system”
    Interesting info. Does it mean the MPA mission suit for the MSA convert CN235s is from PAL?


  7. “in 2020 our subsidiary… awarded a contract…RMAF’s C235’s with the AIMS-ISR mission management system”
    Interesting info. Does it mean the MPA mission suit for the MSA convert CN235s is from PAL?


    If this is true, then there’s little need to think a deal will not take place between our government and Dash 8s’ PAL.

  8. ‘aircraft agnostic’ what is that?

    Means that the system could be easily adapted into any type of aircraft. As mentioned in the story, PAL Aerospace had wanted to fit the system into an ATR aircraft but since Leonardo is offering the same aircraft, ATR, which is partly owned by Leonardo, does not agree to do it. Since the requirement is for new build aircraft, PAL Aerospace worked with De Havilland to offer the Dash 8 400

  9. “Does it mean the MPA mission suit for the MSA convert CN235s is from PAL?”

    Again logically MY MoD have to buy AIMS-ISR too unless strange happenings whereby we got ourselves 2 types of MPA Mission Suit…

  10. Actually, how many CN-235 convert become MSA? There are mixture of news, some written 2 some 3…
    If I not mistaken, only 2 CN-235 had fly to Indonesia to do the conversion.

    Its three. It may well be the third had gone there but RMAF had not announce it or delayed due to various reasons.

  11. Armchair General Tom Tom just realised the Dash 8 used to be made by Bombadier and is the same plane offered by SAAB as one of the options for the Swordfish!

    The Dash 8 is powered by a much more powerful Pratt and Whitney 150 engine instead of the PW127 of the ATR and 295. The maximum cruise speed on paper is around 650 kms versus 550 kmh for ATR and 295. Wah, that means they can get to the patrol area quicker.

    At the end of the day, it all boils down to cost, and what the RMAF can afford. The biggest cost is always the subsequent maintenance, spare parts, fuel and man power.

    A slower MPA is better than no MPA. at all!

  12. Tom Tom – “At the end of the day, it all boils down to cost, and what the RMAF can afford”

    It boils down to procurement costs; long term operating/support costs; what the government is willing to afford and what the RMAF wants in an MPA; as well as the trade offs it’s willing to make.

    Tom Tom – “A slower MPA is better than no MPA. at all”

    Not if specific circumstances results in the need for a MPA to get somewhere in time but is unable to …. That would mean the MPA was unable to do its job.

    I have never fully subscribed to the “better than nothing” cliche because it’s subjective and dependent on various factors.

  13. @Marhalim
    Interesting how PAL have revealed the performance envelope for the plane required can only be met by ATR72 or by their Dash8. That seriously narrows down the competition, tho i’d prefer for TUDM to pick the right plane with the right system.

    IMHO for MPA, the one critical criteria is endurance on station. No point being fast but only last 1 hour to patrol before having to return to refuel.

  14. It’s the time MAF passed this MPA role to RMN to setup their 1st fixed wing sqns as MPA/ASW role… RMAF will concentrate planning with AEW/ISR role…

    RMN don’t have the manpower to do it at the moment. It should concentrate on building its fleet really instead of chasing after something that’s it not geared up for it.

  15. aralez,

    A rear ramp is only needed/useful of the platform is a transport platform. If it intended to be used as a surveillance platform a rear ramp is not needed.

    Fa de Man,

    The next best step is have mixed RMAF/RMN crews and taskings to be planned by personnel from both services. The problem here is that the RMAF might ask for part of the operating budget to come from the RMN.

    Also; for budgetary and other reasons the RMAF might not want to hand over the role; even if the RMN has the resources; which it doesn’t.

  16. @Far de Man
    That is the logical way forward not only that I suspect TUDM’s “enthusiasm” towards having MPA role, otherwise they would have pushed this out the door much earlier instead of getting the MKMs. Having it under TUDM control meant TLDM missions would always defer to TUDM’s priorities which not necessarily meet TLDM’s each and every time. If the mission happens to be time critical, ie search for a missing airline, such deliberations could meant the success or failure.

    A mixed crew would be the best compromise provided those TUDM members assigned are clearly seconded under TLDM and their priority orders are from them, not their parent.

  17. with CN235 thrown out the window, commonality of the airframes is not a factor anymore. Instead we can also look for commonality of mission suites offered. with our CN235 equipped with AIMS-ISR suite by PAL, the Dash-8 will likely be configured with the same system as well.

  18. Uh i thought our soon to be CN235 MSA will have isr or msa system by Merlin Surveillence System or i’ve missed the boat?..If it up to me i will convert one more CN235 with MSI grant or our own money to make it 4 MSA plus 2 brand new MPA.

    The Merlin system was the one proposed by PTDI previously and installed on a couple of Indonesian military aircraft. The MSI grant gave us the Carte Nav system which is developed by PAL Aerospace and the same one proposed for their MPA, the P-4

  19. Curious tho, PTDI does license built C295 (as the CN295).

    On paper, the C295/CN295 is comparable with Dash8 and ATR72 but since Airbus is proposing their own C295, did it disallows PTDI from bidding their CN295 (on top of their own CN235)?

    They are only building C295 meant for Indonesian military not for export orders

  20. I dont believe TLDM can’t own and run fixed wing aircraft now. In matter of coming months, TLDM will run a fixed wing craft, abeit an unmanned one.

    Just a matter of political will followed by proper authorisation documents to shuffle resources. MY Govt did it before for MMEA air wing.

    Actualy I dont mind who own and run MPA, as long as it works as advertised, end user satisfied, not a hangar queen and operating it doesnt broke the bank.

  21. Nimitz – “I dont believe TLDM can’t own and run fixed wing aircraft now”

    Of course not. It doesn’t have the manpower, nor the ground support infrastructure.

    Nimitz – “Just a matter of political will followed by proper authorisation documents to shuffle resources”

    That’s being overly optimistic and simplistic. Even with RMAF help it will take years; not too mention the bureaucracy (approval, staffing, etc); for the RMN to be able to acquire the capability and resources.

    Nimitz – “Actualy I dont mind who own and run MPA”

    “As long” as it’s operated “jointly” and there’s a proper C2 set up in place. If a RMAF MPA detects a ship along the EEZ periphery; how will it pass the info to the nearest RMN ship? If a RMN ship at sea requires the assistance of a RMAF MPA; how will the request be transmitted and how many layers will it have to go through?

    The most logical approach will be for a RMN presence in the crew and for the RMN to have a say in taskings. We can’t realistically ask/hope for more as it’s the RMAF which owns and pays for the MPA. Inter service rivalry and parochialism is still a major issue.

  22. Nimitz – “ abeit an unmanned one”

    If it gets its way the RMN will also have a rotary unmanned capability.

    We’ve long reached the stage where UASs should be fully a part and integrated into every level of operations. By right no RMN ship should go on a routine patrol without an organic UAS capability to complement its sensors and (if available) it’s embarked helo.

    I’d like to think that the RMN has also done conceptual/feasibility studies on acquiring USVs and UUVs at some point in the future.

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