Fight’s On – Hercules Upgrade

RMAF Hercules M30-08 landing at Labuan in late November, 2017. Malaysian Defence picture.

SHAH ALAM: Fight’s on, Hercules Upgrade. It appears that the local defence industry together with their international partners are gearing up for RMAF’s Hercules upgrade project. This despite the RMAF not announcing it officially that it had received the funding from the Finance Ministry though it had sought the approval for it.

The intense lobbying for the Hercules upgrade work was revealed after industry sources stated that a support letter was issued to the Finance Minister to look into the proposal of a local company. The local company is partnered with a foreign firm which is an authorised Lockheed Martin C-130 maintenance company. I am not naming the company as I am not able to confirm the authenticity of the letter though it must be noted that similar documents have been leaked in the past.

Hercules M30-08 taking off from Labuan airport in 2017.

Furthermore the support letter is just that, the Finance Ministry is still able to ignore it and not picked the company, which is currently doing a number of maintenance services for aircraft belonging to government agencies.

Paskau troopers exiting from a Hercules as part of the demonstration for RMAF 58th anniversary parade. 30 Paskau operators were dropped in the demonstration.

It must be noted that Malaysian Defence has reported previously on the Hercules upgrade. From a post in 2016.

Botswana Defence Force C130B Hercules returning to the Airod hangar in Subang after an engine check in 2016. The aircraft has returned to Botswana after undergoing maintenance at Airod. The last time it came for maintenance at Airod was in 2008.

On the Hercules upgrade as reported previously, Airod was awarded a letter of intent at DSA 2014 for the upgrade of the avionics and communications systems aboard the RMAF’s fleet of 14 Hercules to meet international aviation traffic standards. The work is to be done with Canada’s Esterline-CMC which was selected by the government for the programme. However, the work had yet to start as the contract had not been signed as Airod seek to work with Rockwell Collins, its long time partner. Industry sources told Malaysian Defence that the government was adamant though that the project be carried out with Esterline.

Hercules M30-12, one of the planes of the 20th Squadron.

With companies lobbying for a new contract, this basically means that the upgrade project with Esterline has floundered and RMAF is looking to sign a new one soon – likely next year – to ensure its Hercules fleet remain in service into the 2030s as per its Cap 55 plan.

Hercules M30-04 from the 14th Squadron. Picture taken in 2015

It is unclear however whether all Hercules in RMAF fleet will be upgraded in RMK 12 or whether half will be done during next five years and the other half to be done in RMK13. It is likely that Airod, the current maintenance provider of the Hercules, will not be in the picture though.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Hopefully the upgrade, if goes through, also includes the installation of new NP2000 propeller system

  2. As since Airod is now persona non grata, this contract will be a duck hunt. Hopefully the selected one is a company that have done maintenance on large bodied aircraft and has track record for on time delivery & within cost.

    Thinking out of the box, MAS & AirAsia have their own engineering and maintenance organisations, perhaps they could be tapped for these upgrades & regular maint works, in view that airline traffic are massively on hold for now. Just a thought.

  3. @joe
    Why is Airod put on ‘persona non grata’ Bro Joe? Truthfully haven’t heard of this…

  4. @Taib
    This was mentioned by Marhalim but I did push for more details exactly why. It might be due to cost or delivery dates overrun, but AIROD has been in the business for such a long time to screw that up so I’m not sure what.

    What seems sure is AIROD no longer automatically gets the Herc maint anymore.

  5. Taib,

    Marhalim did make reference to it some time back. Whatever the reason; justified or not; it’s a blow to AIROD.

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