DSA 2012: Some sort of a review

SHAH ALAM: As widely reported in the media, no decision had been for the MRCA programme. To me it was expected as the time-line for a final decision would be in the middle of next year. This could change of course depending on the results of the general election.

At DSA 2012, BAE Systems, Rafale Malaysia and Saab were in full attendance. But Boeing which did not take part push ahead with its promotion albeit through a back door means when it was announced that its Insitu subsidiary inked a RM10 million deal with CTRM for the ScanEagle unmanned aerial system. The deal was surprising as publicly, both the Defence Ministry and CTRM had touted the Aludra as the solution for Malaysian UAV needs. Suddenly CTRM now has plans to local manufacture the ScanEagle for Malaysia and regional buyers!

I asked the group CEO whether this deal was an offset for the Super Hornet programme, he hesitated but said yes when the Boeing representative said it was indeed. Yes Boeing chose predictability above anything else. Of course technically it is really not an offset programme as the Super Hornet has not been selected for the MRCA deal.

As this was happening, Rafale International chose the French way of dealing with the local participation requirement.

As reported by Janes: “Turbomeca and Snecma – subsidiaries of French group Safran – have expanded their presence in the Malaysian aerospace and defence market through investment and industrial collaboration deals with local firm Global Turbine Asia (GTA), it emerged at the Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Both deals have strengthened Dassault’s hand in bidding for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) requirement.

Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, GTA will service the Snecma M88 turbojet engine that powers the Dassault Rafale if the French fighter wins the USD1.5 billion MRCA contract, which is also being contested by Russia’s Sukhoi Su-30MKM, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab’s Gripen NG.

GTA confirmed to IHS Jane’s on 17 April that Turbomeca has recently completed the acquisition of a 30 per cent stake in the Malaysian company. Meanwhile, Snecma signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GTA that is intended to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to Snecma engines in service in civil and military sectors in Malaysia.”

Although Jane’s used the headline “Safran’s Malaysian expansion strengthens Rafale’s MRCA bid” to me the deal only weakened the Rafale bid. First of all who are the people behind GTA? Are they really involved in the local MRO industry? A Google search only found their own press announcements. I know a little bit more about them but since I do not know too much at the moment, I rather let them reveal themselves in the future as the situation remains fluid.

Lets just say Rafale International is copying the playbook of its French counterparts like DCNS and Eurocopter in dealing with defence procurement programme. They don’t want to know about predictability. I am not saying that the French way is the wrong way (with the deals DCNS and Eurocopter already secured it could be the right way) to do business but this time around Rafale International will have a more assertive and more importantly well connected industry sector against them as well as a service which knows what it wants.

BAE Systems which had been in country for some 30 years, as expected opted for predictability. On third day of DSA it announced an MOU covering software integration with CTRM. This was a follow-up on what I had reported before about software integration and local manufacture of composite parts as part of the off-set programme for the Typhoon.

What about the Gripen then? I am under the impression that they have other things in their minds which is more likely to happen then the Gripen being chosen for the RMAF. Further reading. And this..

Anyhow, as I mentioned at the start, real development will only come after the general election unless the unthinkable happened. Do I need to state “the unthinkable”?. Even with unthinkable, I was told that if the MRCA programme is allowed to go through , it is likely the 2002 DSCA notification will become an official request albeit with a few modifications of course.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1187 Articles
Shah Alam

9 Comments

  1. Marhalim,

    Any news on the Turkish defence companies? I see that FNSS, Otokar, TAI and others were present. I’m interested to find out if the Turks have been marketing their new tank, the Altay, the T-155 Firtina variant of Samsung Techwin’s K-9 Thunder, the T129 attack helicopter, or anything else for that matter.

    http://www.armyrecognition.com/march_2012_new_army_military_defence_industry/turkish-made_main_battle_tank_project_altay_from_otokar_will_be_complete_by_the_end_of_2015_2703123.html

    Reply
    K9 Thunder was there courtesy of Samsung Techwin. Yes the Turks wants to sell everything including the kitchen sink. But they know we are not biting…

  2. Has there been actually anything official regarding your word that CTRM is planning of “locally manufacture” the ScanEagle? or it’s purely your interpretation?

    Reply
    Nope it was what the CTRM group CEO told me. If I am speculating, I will say (most of the time) “I am guessing”.
    Of course any local manufacture will depend on the Defence Ministry or other agencies ordering more Scaneagles (that was also said by the Group CEO but I did not put that in post, do I need to quote him at verbatim?) The Boeing rep said since the ScanEagle airframe are made entirely from composites they do not see any problem of local manufacture granted there is enough order. And as part of the Super Hornet off-sets don’t you think local manufacture is is the only forward?

  3. mmmbop,

    Aviation Week is also reporting the ScanEagle deal. Marhalim reported it before they did though! 🙂

    They are also reporting on the MRCA programme and the EC725:

    Industrial Package Key To Malaysia’s Fighter Campaign
    Apr 20 ,2012
    Leithen Francis

    The industrial cooperation package that manufacturers can offer Malaysia appears to be the key to winning government support in the country, which has a competition under way for the purchase of 18 fighters.

    Ian Malin, BAE Systems’ director of Eurofighter Typhoon Malaysia, says it is “the most important thing. It is . . . an integral part of our strategy. Yes, you have to have a product that is of a sufficient standard and meets the Malaysian air force’s requirements. But it’s not just about having a strong product, it’s about helping Malaysia get to that 2020 vision that” Prime Minister Najib Razak has outlined.

    Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said at the Defense Services Asia (DSA) exhibition in Kuala Lumpur this week that: “Nations have become more prudent and look for products and services with better value for money when expanding their defense capability. Thus, equipment manufacturers are expected to go beyond their contractual obligation in terms of transfer of technology and offset programs.” Countries such as Malaysia want to develop lasting partnerships in which technological know-how would continue to be shared in future years as well, he added.

    Ahmad told Aviation Week in December that he wants foreign companies “to give us some intellectual property rights for components which would then give us some economic advantage.”

    BAE’s director for industrial partnerships and offsets, Andy Wilson, says BAE has a proven track record. He notes that when BAE won the contract in the 1990s to supply BAE Hawk jet trainers to the country, it named Malaysian-based SME Aerospace as the sole supplier for Hawk pylons globally. “SME wanted something substantive, something that gave them new capability,” Wilson says. Building wing pylons involves complex machining, assembly, electronics and pyrotechnics, he adds. “We transferred the technology to SME to build the pylons and every pylon from SME is compliant with our airworthiness standards.”

    He also says BAE has just signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysian composite parts manufacturer CTRM to help the latter develop systems integration capability.

    This means Malaysia will eventually have the capability to add new systems to military aircraft. For example, if Malaysia wants to add a Western system to its Sukhoi fighters it can use its systems integration expertise to achieve this, he says. Likewise, if there is some system on Russian aircraft that Malaysia favors, it can install it on Western aircraft, he adds.

    Theoretically, a country is only able to install new systems on aircraft with the approval of the aircraft maker, but if a country has the capability to install the system on their own and maintain the aircraft and systems, there is little an aircraft maker can do to stop it.

    The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Sukhoi Su-30 and Su-35, and Saab Gripen are also contenders in the competition.

    BAE is acknowledged to be a formidable competitor here by range of industry executives. BAE spokeswoman Louise Robson says the company has a staff of 15 in its Kuala Lumpur office and that BAE is the single largest defense equipment supplier to the country’s defense forces. BAE also is a major player in the country’s land and maritime defense and has already has sold ground vehicles, radars and naval frigates to Malaysia.

    Malaysian Air Force To Receive EC-725 This Year
    Apr 20 ,2012
    Leithen Francis

    Eurocopter aims to deliver the first of 12 EC-725 tactical transport helicopters ordered by the Malaysian air force by the end of the year.

    Training starts in July, Eurocopter Malaysia President Pierre Rossignol tells Aviation Week on the sidelines of the Defense Services Asia exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. He also says an EC-225/725 training simulator will be coming to Malaysia and will be stationed here.

    Malaysia ’s air force has said it actually needs a total of 27 tactical utility helicopters. But it only received a budget for 12. Rossignol says his company hopes to sell more EC-725s to the air force in the future. The EC-725 is the replacement for the air force ’s Sikorsky S-61 Nuri helicopters . Sikorsky is offering to upgrade the Nuris, arguing it is cheaper and more practical than buying 15 additional EC-725s.

  4. Marhalim,

    We operate the Aludra on a lease basis from CTRM right? Do you know who actually are the people behind the controls, MAF or CTRM personnel?

    Reply
    I am not really sure its a lease but CTRM calls its a contract. You are right it is most probably a wet lease style arrangement. The last time I was briefed on the subject, years ago, it was a mixed operations with the CTRM personnel controlling the air vehicle and the data being monitored by MAF personnel. I am not sure of the current practice.

  5. Yes but the problem for BAE Systems is that Charles Masefield is gone and the Frenchies have taken a large slice of the Malaysian market. Malaysia, despite our smaller orders, has become very crucial for the French, especially after losing traditional markets in Morocco and Algeria. Apart from the Typhoon, I can’t think of anything else British that interests us at the moment. We were offered a place in the Type 26 programme, not sure if we showed any interest.

    Reply
    the Type 26 was offered but the navy had declined saying its too big. Personally I prefer the size as its capable of carrying longer ranges SAMS, but again with the LCS projet we cannot afford having two big ships in the fleet when we are scratching the bottom for only one.

  6. Azlan,

    The only other thing I can think of that the British are offering, and we are interested in, is the AW159 Lynx Wildcat. The problem is that there is no money for ASW helicopters right now.

  7. Fareed,

    The Chief of RMN stated a few years ago that there was a need for 6 ASW configured helicopters and that the Lynx would be the most logical choice. The problem is though the Lynx may have enough space for a dipping sonar and processing equipment, it has no space for sonar buoys and has endurance and range limitations. There is also the question if the Lynx has enough power supply on board. Ideally, if cash was available, we would go for something bigger. Someone here mentioned that the hangar of the LCS will be enlarged to take Cougars, so perhaps we are looking at ASW Cougars? Something else British, or formerly British, that I think we should get is the Starstreak – to replace the Starburst – and for our L-96s to be reworked. Having IR and laser SACLOS missiles simultaneously let go at a target would make it very hard for the target to evade. Indonesia looks set to be the first Starstreak customer in the region.

    Reply
    In an interview with the media in conjunction with the 78th anniversary of the RMN, the CN said the LCS would be built to accept the Cougar for landings and take-offs only and not as an organic helicopter. The requirement for ASW remains but no funding. I will write further in another posting

  8. Looking at it from a different angle, one reason but not the only, that LCS will be cleared for the Cougars are for visits by VVIPs. I csn’t imagine the Agung or a Sultan landing in a Fennec or a Super Lynx. But I would have thought that only the hangar would be englarged as the deck of the LCS can take the weight of a Cougar, Blackhawk or Nuri. In the past, Blackhawks and Nuris have landed on the Kasturi and Lekiu class.

    Reply
    Only the Agong used the VIP Nuri to get onboard the frigates, the rest prefer the smaller helos.

  9. Along with these major procurements,does any manufacturer offering upgraded body armor kit, surveillance equipment etc for TD/rejimen sempadan who beat the grounds or keeping guard our land borders?

    Reply
    There is movement on the soldier’s personal equipment issue but money is tight.

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