SHAH ALAM: IT appears that the RMN Super Lynx fleet is down to four helicopters only. They are being used for operational and training duties. The other two are being kept in long term storage due to lack of maintenance funds, it was reported by Utusan Malaysia for the service’s anniversary question and answer session. The Q&A was answered by RMN chief Admiral Rahman Ayob.
On RMN’s future-plan for an ASW helicopter, Rahman said the service may lease new helicopters as a stop-gap measure when the Super Lynx are retired progressively, though he did not say when exactly their out-of-service dates.
RMN aviation wing’s woes is the same of the surface fleet predicament. With limited funding, it cannot move forward with the acquisition of new aircraft suited for the intended role. RMN had wanted to purchase the new ASW helicopters for the last 15 years-or-so and like the surface fleet it has been thwarted by the lack of funding.
The lack of money also prevented any upgrades of the Super Lynx fleet. Malaysian Defence had previously reported that RMN was offered an upgrade solution by Leonardo – the OEM – but it was declined due to cost (though I was not purview to the actual quote).
It must be noted that Brazilian Navy which operated nine older version of the Lynx – had in 2015 signed off on a US$160 million (RM713 million) upgrade programme for eight of the aircraft. By 2021, at least four Lynx had been upgraded to the Mk21B standard by Leonardo. Work with the other four will be completed in Brazil.
The upgrade for the Brazilian Lynx includes new engines, new NVG-compatible cockpits upgraded tactical and navigation system; and new ESM equipment.
It must be noted that Norway was recently approved for the purchase of six Sikorsky Seahawk ASW helicopters for US$1.1 billion (RM4.4 billion) which is much more expensive than the upgrades for the six Brazilian Lynx.
It must be pointed out that other customers for the Seahawk have been offered low prices for their helicopters though it must be said that the Norway ones must be as near standard to the US Navy ones hence their price.
RMN has also been offered the Leonardo Wildcat, the latest version of the Lynx but it was not taken up. Instead of buying the Wildcat, the government decided to approve the purchase of three AW13 maritime operations helicopter (MOH) for the RMN. Three more are expected to purchase in the near future. Even with six MOH in service, RMN requirement for ASW helicopters remains. One has to wonder when it will be funded.
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