End of the Alou?

RMAF leased training helicopter, the EC120B/H120. flying at KTU. The helicopter is used for basic and intermediate flight training at KTU.

SHAH ALAM: BASED on the pictures posted on Pulatibang 2 official Facebook page, it appears that it had qualified the last pilots on the Alouette III helicopters. It is also likely that the next batch of rotary pilots to get their wings will complete their training on the Airbus Helicopters H120/EC120 Colibri helicopters.

From the FB page, we can discerned that at least two EC120s are already stationed at the Pulatibang 2 located at the Kolej Tentera Udara at Kepala Batas, Kedah. The unit has also qualified its instructors on the EC120 helicopters which are leased from Gading Kasturi Sdn Bhd.

Pulatibang 2 QHIs with their newest helicopters, the EC120/H120 .
Pulatibang 2 QHIs with their newest helicopters, the EC120/H120. Pulatibang 2 FB Page .

According to the company website, Gading will provide total engineering & logistics support to five Airbus EC120B helicopter and one EC 120B simulator through Company Own Military Operates (COMO) concept for its basic helicopter flying school. The program also involves in house upgrading of the EC120B to fully glass cockpit and NVIS.

Pulatibang 2 instructors with their Alouette III helicopters. Pulatibang 2 FB page.
Pulatibang 2 instructors with their Alouette III helicopters. Pulatibang 2 FB page.

The H120/EC120 helicopters are supplied by Gading under a RM120 million PFI deal.

I have been trying to get official confirmation on the developments at Pulatibang 2 but so far nothing yet. Perhaps the Alouettes will only be retired once all the trainee pilots that had started their basic flight training on the aircraft are graduated.

RMAF new training helicopter, the EC120B/H120
RMAF new training helicopter, the EC120B/H120. Pulatibang 2 FB page.

But its likely that the latest batch of trainee pilots for the rotary wing will start their flight training on the EC120s.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2205 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. The Allouete is a truly magnificent piece of engineering and has served the RMAF well. It’s all mechanical system means that we can still fly it for the next 50 years, if we want to. The use of all mechanical aircraft is outmoded with the introduction of FADEC system, but come to think of it, the newer electronic-controlled aircraft of fly by wire will have issues with aging and support. Only time can tell. Good bye Alleoute.

  2. Better retire that old helicopter and donate it to some museum. The maintenance cost must be pretty high so its more cost effective to operate new helicopter.

  3. Alouette is as simple a helicopter that you could get. Old does not automatically mean more expensive (just more things to do, put greases regularly for example). Even the french navy still uses Alouette on its nuclear carrier

  4. The indian armed forces also still uses it and if i am not mistaken they also license manyfactured it as the cheetak. But if we can get a better ones without costing an arm and a leg,why not

  5. Should we transfer them to ESSCOM? Sure it’s old but if we can still squeeze it at least until the MD550s are delivered

    Unfortunately only the instructors and the newly qualified pilots are rated to fly the Alouettes. So it will not be practical to send them elsewhere

  6. Since all our operational helicopters will eventually have glass cockpits, digital flight and engine controls, it is only appropriate that pilots are exposed these early.

    On the Alou you only learn the fundamentals of helicopter flight, which is important but costs pilots a lot of time relearning when they reach the squadrons.

    For the same reason advanced jet trainers are updated to have the same systems as operational fighters.

  7. In general; as things get older, they become more expensive to run as more checks have to be made and stuff wears out faster. The Alo 3 is a great helicopter which has served us well but it’s high time a newer helicopter [with amongst others, a more up to date cockpit and one that is NVG compatible] is introduced to better provide basic rotary training.


    We’ve bought parts from HAL in the past; parts HAL makes for the Chetak.

  8. Yes for training new pilots, i believe the Alouette value for training has passed and new helicopters like the ec120 is needed for students to be exposed to all the latest technologies earlier.

  9. Get the Alloutte III and turned em’ to ersatz gunship..We’ve done it in 1980s with Aloutte with 20mm guns Rhodesia style.. So why not do the same thing today? We’ve expertise to maintained and repaired the Aloutte III for years..It didn’t hurt a budget if this bird got upgraded and uparmed.

    Yes it could be done even much cheaper than buying the Little Birds. But then there are also many arguments against it. Anyhow based on my recollection of reading about the Alouette gunships on the XNuri pilot blog much of the expertise are already lost and forgotten.

  10. The third, or should we say the first EC120 is not shown in the picture because it does not look nice in the picture.

    “It’s all mechanical system means that we can still fly it for the next 50 years”
    soooooooo not true.
    “the newer electronic-controlled aircraft of fly by wire will have issues with aging and support”

    If you want simple, Robinson is what you looking for. Practically a rubber band turn takecopter.
    Its not FBW and it was only mod-ed with glass cockpit locally.

  11. The Alouette 3 has been a dependable workhorse for the country during the second emergency . They can be used for casevac, for flying underslung cargoes using nets attached to the bottom n also as a gunship . However the cannon used has the common problem of being jam by the shells n the defence research org has yet to devise a way to extract the stuck shell from the barrel.
    But it can still carry unguided rockets n two side mounted machine guns. The fn 7.62mm n the .50 calibre machine guns can be a good option. If it can be used, then this heli should be converted to add to the muscle power in ESSCOM as armed patrol helis to deter intruders.

  12. The EC120 is more available than the Alouette, but are five enough?

    I am not sure but the Pulatibang2 FB page showed six trainee pilots who gained their wings recently. So if they had a 50 percent failure rate, they only had 12 trainees starting the training.

  13. The Alouette could still be used for utility and communication flights, until it could no longer be maintained. It is very simple to maintain and not very expensive to fly.

    To use them for shooting mission’s in esscom? No.

    Btw, pic of one of the Alouette’s still flown by French navy


    It’s not just a matter of whether its inexpensive or not. RMAF need the funding to continue flying them. Fuel is cheap but paying for the people to fly and maintain them is another issue altogether. I think that is the reason they do not want to say officially at this moment the end of service date so they can stretch it as long as possible. Same like the Fulcrums

  14. Of late, servicibility rates of the Alo 3 have fallen [Perajurit also mentioned this] : the aircraft is old. It’s not a question of the RMAF not wanting to fly the Alo 3 anymore because it wants new but a question of practicality.

    Azril – ”We’ve done it in 1980s with Aloutte with 20mm guns Rhodesia style.”

    Actually it’s ”Portuguese” style. The Portuguese were the first to arm the Alo3; the Rhodesians got the idea from the Portuguese. Yes we did it in the 1970’s and 1980’s but fast forward to 2016 the aircraft is much older. Much more checks have to be made following each flight and maintenance is more time intensive on account of age.

    Azril – ”It didn’t hurt a budget if this bird got upgraded and uparmed.”

    The Alo 3 is aged. Continuing to fly it operationally introduces its own set of problems : to be expected given that our examples are over 40 years old. As a ”gunship”; flying it at night or at bad weather is also a problem as only IFR can be flown. The Alo 3 is a great helo and has given us years of excellent service but its time has passed.

    Even as a ”gunship” [which was a makeshift solution for want of anything better]; the Alo 3 had issues. For one, the cannon could only be fired from one side and the gunner had to do everything; from changing barrels, to clearing stoppages, to reloading and looking for targets. Sure, the pilot could and did help look for targets but his main job was flying the aircraft [with the Mauser fitted, only 2 people could be carried inside, including the pilot.

    Prior to fitting a the cabin mounted Mauser, we had looked at a gun pod but there were weight issues involved. For those who want a good look at a ”gunship”, go to Museum Negara’s courtyard. Unfortunately, the Mauser is not in firing position and is ”folded” in the cabin.

  15. I hope PUTD will get AW149 or AW-189 for their medium utility helicopter to complement (and eventually replace) the S61s

  16. @ Alex

    Why something different for complementing the nuri? Btw those “old” nuris could possibly fly up to 30more years…

    If I have my way for the PUTD, I would reverse the decision to get the nuri and return them to tudm. Then I would get around Australia/EDA to add more blackhawks to the 4 donated by Brunei. A total of 12-16 blackhawks should be a good number for putd.

    Why “old” helicopters is different to “old” aircrafts? For helicopters, most of the parts that have finite life could be replaced just by bolting in new parts, like the rotor blade, transmissions, engines. For aircraft it is difficult to just simply change the wing for example (although it can be done). Thats why even usa “rebuilds” their helicopters regularly (huey, blackhawks, chinooks and apaches) rather than building new ones. Only when a new capability needed that cannot be supplied by the old helicopter (like if wanting a bigger increase in cargo capacity) then a new airframe or a totally new helicopter is bought.

  17. …,
    Helicopters rebuilt a lot not because it is easy and cheap. Its being regularly done because,
    1/ vibration kills the components and engine deck in short cycle.
    2/ fairings are loose panel that leaks water, and causes corrosion.
    3/ It flies at an altitude that is humid.
    3/ cabin ingress water that causes more corrosion.
    4/ lower up front cost means it is always badly design ed and built.

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