Formal Hand Over of the MSA

A group photograph of the handing over ceremony. US Embassy KL.

SHAH ALAM: The United States today formally handed over the three CN-235 transporters which had been converted to maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA). US Ambassador to Malaysia Edgard D. Kagan was present at the ceremony at the Subang airbase here, together with RMAF chief General Asghar Khan.

RMAF CN235-220 MSA M44-01 was present at the formal handing over ceremony. US Embassy KL picture.

The release from the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur:

Kuala Lumpur: On June 27 at Subang Air Force Base, Ambassador Edgard D. Kagan joined General Asghar Khan, Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, to commemorate the conversion of three Royal Malaysian Air Force transport aircraft (CN235) into Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA). The conversion program, which began in 2018 and totaled approximately $60 million U.S. dollars under the Maritime Security Initiative, served as the first major U.S. security grant program in Malaysia.

The CN-235s are now enhanced with maritime surveillance radars, electro-optical infrared turrets, beyond line-of sight communications and roll-on/roll-off system operator stations.  The aircraft are attached to Squadron 1 at Kuching Airbase in Sarawak.

Between 2019-2023, the U.S. provided more than $240 million in total security assistance.

During the ceremony, Ambassador Kagan said, “With all three aircraft converted and incorporated into Malaysia’s overall maritime domain awareness architecture, we know that Malaysia is better able to maintain vigilant watch over activities within its Exclusive Economic Zones, and better postured to secure the maritime environment.“

U.S-Malaysia security cooperation includes eleven bilateral and five multilateral defense exercises, the most Malaysia has with any country, which enhance Malaysian defense readiness, strengthen multinational relationships, and demonstrate U.S. resolve to support a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Inside the cabin of the MSA. US Embassy KL picture.

The release from RMAF:

SUBANG, 27 Jun 24 – Majlis Penyerahan Pesawat CN235-220M Modification Completion MSA daripada Kerajaan US yang diwakili oleh His Excellency Edgard D.Kagan, Ambassador of The United State To Malaysia kepada Kerajaan Malaysia yang diwakili oleh Panglima Tentera Udara, Jen Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Mohd Asghar Khan bin Goriman Khan TUDM telah dilaksanakan di Pangkalan Udara Subang.
Program naik taraf pesawat ‘Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA)’ di bawah ‘Maritime Security Initiative (MSI)’ bagi pesawat CN235-220M milik Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM) telah bermula pada tahun 2018 hingga 2023. Tiga (3) buah pesawat CN235-220M dari No 1 Skn yang dinaik taraf menjadi MSA telah dihantar secara berperingkat ke PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) yang merupakan Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) bagi melaksanakan naik taraf pesawat tersebut.
Dengan pelaksanaan program naik taraf ini juga, pesawat CN235-220M yang dulu hanya digunakan sebagai pesawat pengangkut kini telah berupaya untuk melaksanakan tugasan Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconaissance (ISR) yang mampu memberi satu impak yang besar kepada TUDM dalam menjaga kedaulatan dan keselamatan ruang perairan negara.

The handing over ceremony was planned to be held at the Kuching airbase in Sarawak but the plan was scrubbed and it was held here. For more on the MSA programme search for them in the Malaysian Defence archives.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2223 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Hundreds of millions in grant from them and we still get wet for another nation that downed our jets.

    Stockholm Syndrome is real.

  2. Out of topic. Marhalim, can you clarify whose the “sources” that said we will go for SU-57 for our next MRCA?

  3. TOV – “ and we still get wet for another nation that downed our jets”

    It was one jet and if we want to get down to the nuances it was Russia which provided the Donbas separatists with a Buk which was used to down a MAS plane in the belief it was a Ukrainian transport. A Russia which denied it provided Buks to anyone and was defended by a former Malaysian PM who said that there was no credible evidence to show Russia was at fault and that what so called evidence there was was a Western plot. He should have been vilified for what he said because it was an insult to those who died and their families/relatives. Would he have said the same if a family member was onboard the ill fated plane?

    Decades before the same former PM was asked if we’d stop buying Russian because of what was happening in Chechnya. My favourite was his answer in 1991 – to those who remember – if Malaysia would help defend Saudi against Iraq. His answer was that only if the two holy places were threatened. As if the Iraqis would have reached that far; even if they had wanted to.

    In another post you mentioned something about us paying more we should for things. Well the former PM laid the politically driven self defeating policy we have. Under him defence became part of the patronage system and priority was national interests not the armed services and taxpayer; the reason we have local agents; local production and bought stuff the end user object to; i.e. Fulcrums, Flankers, Laksamanas, etc. Part of a larger system our present PM was part of and understands very well. To those who remember he was at the Fulcrum signing ceremony and joked that it was delayed because the Russians haggled over how much they were willing to accept as barter.

  4. The next RMAF MRCA will IMHO very likely be the Kaan. TAI and Airod have recently signed an agreement to work together so I suspect the Turks are already positioning themselves to sell Kawan to Malaysia.

  5. No, Airod signed an MOU with Asfat the state owned factory and shipyard maintenance company. I have no idea why really.

  6. Or Maybe KF21/Boramae which just recently entered mass production stage after SoKor’s DAPA ordered 20 initial units of Boramae from KAI

  7. It’s nonsensical. If the MOF vetoed a plan to buy Metis reloads; why would anyone think we’d consider the Su-57 which also hasn’t even completed development.

    On top of that the Russians are facing major issues sourcing certain parts due to sanctions and priority for the local industry is to produce legacy fighters to replace combat losses.

    TOV – “Stockholm Syndrome is real”

    Were we ever captives of the Russians?

  8. Tom Tom,

    No need to “suspect”; as sure as hell will not freeze over anytime soon both the Koreans and Turks are already and have been “positioning” is themselves. The Koreans have openly stared that their aircraft would be a perfect complement to the F/A-50s.

  9. Doesnt appear it has a MAD so that was a missed chance, cuz with a roll off deck, we could still drop sonar buoys and air dropable torp.

  10. Also is the MSA program still on that we could request for more? Since USA best buddy is now in power, approvals for more funding should just be a formality if we simply ask.

  11. Irrespective of what’s laid out in CAP 55 do we still intend on doing away with 2 engine tactical transports; in other words do we still see a need for the 3 other CN-235s to perform the transport role or do we want them to also be converted to MSAs?

    Irrespective of who’s in power the U.S. since the 1970’s has always put aside ‘X’ amount of funding for defence related stuff in the form of the International Military Education and Training [IMET] programme. There is also ‘X’ amount of funding allocated for equipment; i.e. the Maritime Security Initiative programme and others; including the RMAF radar and Initiative 1206. Last but not least there is funding allocated under the Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs – Humanitarian Demining [NADR-HD] programme.

  12. Its an MSA because its not setup to mount & launch armaments. It did not say we could not drop ‘things’ from the cargo bay 😛

    Also I did a typo, it is MSI Program where the MSA came from.

  13. I don’t mean “we” as in the people on this website. But those anti American people who seem to hate the world police so much and yet ironically support actual authoritarian regimes who are far better at oppressing their own.

    America bad! Ok and then? China/Russia/Iran double plus good?

  14. TIV,

    I’m very critical of the role America and other Western countries have played in the Middle East for decades. Does that automatically mean I‘m pro China/Russia/ Iran?

  15. Azlan

    Not you. I’m sure you are more well read and are right to be critical of US policy.

    Just commenting on some of the comments and opinions of Malaysians (especially the Chinese) who have such an axe to grind against US they neglect our country’s own position. I am Chinese myself.

  16. TIV,

    It’s a major problem for a small country like us. We have to tread carefully; be friends with both. In line with our policy of non alignment we are not tilted to either side but at the same time maintain strategic ambiguity. We host the only base Australia has on foreign soil and have deeper more extensive defence ties with America and Australia than we do with any other country; yet officially we are not pro anyone. It’s also not the military which doesn’t want closer defence ties with America but the political establishment. Even amongst observers who should know better; there’s a tendency to claim that there’s a policy of appeasement on out part when it comes to China; ignoring that a lot of what we do is not public and that the way we do things; which are different from Vietnam and the Philippines; are driven by well thought off factors.

    A major problem I see with ‘generation X’; especially those who are Chinese educated is that China is viewed with a very subjective and narrow view. The narrative is about American hypocrisy [with justification] and about the deep progress China has made. No to little mention about China being a very authoritarian country; the restrictions ordinary citizens are placed under and the shit happening with the Uighurs. Then there’s China’s grey zone and highly aggressive actions in the South China Sea and elsewhere
    BTW there’s a great article about the general attitudes of Malaysian Chinese towards China in “ThinkChina”. By and the vast majority of Malaysian Chinese: despite being co ethnics and having a strong historical/cultural affinity with China; see themselves as Malaysians first.

    On America; despite its failings it did maintain the balance in the region for decades and it did do good in some places; i.e. it wasn’t Islamic countries or European who created conditions which led to the Dayton Accords and peace in Bosnia. It was also America which led the diplomatic and military effort in Kosovo. Also, no country can be fully trusted as all are driven by self interests but I trust the Americans more than the Chinese.

  17. Tom tom
    “The next RMAF MRCA will IMHO very likely be the Kaan”

    If the Kuwaiti hornet deal comes true. Then There’s would be enough airframes to last 20 more years. So MRCA acquisition can be push forwards to the 2040s if the penny pincher wanted too.

  18. If the decision to get next gen MRCA is done in 2030, it’ll going to take up until 2040 to achieve FOC anyway. Remember that an concrete decision to get LCA took place in 2019 and we’re only going to fully receive FA-50M by 2027 and it’ll take few years after that to achieve FOC

    There’s really no point in having MRCA before 2030 anyway as the only options we have are Typhoon and Rafale as 5th gen fighters that are available for export(that isn’t F-35) are still not ready yet

    Who knows in 2030s we’ll be allowed to join F-35 club

  19. a former Malaysian PM who said that there was no credible evidence to show Russia was at fault and that what so called evidence there was was a Western plot. He should have been vilified for what he said because it was an insult to those who died and their families/relatives. Would he have said the same if a family member was onboard the ill fated plane? (Azlan)
    I wholly agree with what Sdr Azlan said here.
    Being a guy who personally knew one of the families who died on MH17(the whole family was decimated), I have ambivalent feelings about supporting Russian issues.
    On one hand, I believe the Russian are right about insidious NATO expansion to its borders and hence the invasion of Ukraine, I cannot forget they caused extreme pain to my friends who lost their loved ones.
    To further add insult, the Russian government never acknowledged the involvement of their minions.
    To this day, I ask myself how my old friend is coping with the deaths, a question I couldn’t bring myself to ask after so many years…
    Al-Fatihah to those who died on MH17.

  20. Zaft,

    Not really because as it stands Boeing will only support the type till 2030 or so and the airframes aren’t exactly new or getting younger.

  21. “Boeing will only support the type till 2030 or so”
    Which is why the plan was to grab as many Kuwaiti Hornets we can get, while the intention is to put 16 unit back into active service, the remainder will be used for spareparts once the OEM stops supporting in 2030-35.

    Doesnt mean we unable or should not operate that type past the support date for a few more years while we sort out MRCA buy. We done that with the Nuris & A4s before so its not new to us. No choice really we have to plan how to support the current flying fleet as costly MRCA buy I dont think will come on the anticipated timeframe.

  22. “Which is why the plan was to grab as many Kuwaiti Hornets we can get”

    But the clock is ticking; nothing firm yet and if and when it does materialise; the approval process – even if fast tracked – will take time. Approval from the State Department; Defence Department and other entities are needed. They will not object but the agreement of
    Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate foreign affairs panels will also be seeked. Takes time.

    Boeing not supporting the Hornets anymore won’t be an inhibiting factor as we can leverage on the fact that spares will still be held by various users but certain types of technical support will not be available.

    On the “not new” part the case with the Nuris was different as a number of companies were certified to provide/ produce spares and conduct upgrades. As of 2024 are there any companies certified to produce Hornet spares? There was also the fact that from a technological viewpoint the S-61 did not have a high level of electronics and other high tech stuff that needed supporting. Same with the A-4 for which spares were plentiful [there were much more A4 users than they are a Hornet]; plus the fact that Grumman had ceased production but not support for the A-4 when we bought it.

  23. “But the clock is ticking”
    Indeed but Kuwait wont be releasing them anytime soon prior to getting their SH up & running so we still have, well… time, to sort our shit & nego with them.

  24. ”well… time, to sort our shit & nego with them.”

    After that comes the really hard part; ensuring the penny pinching politicians allocate funds to sustain the airframes [to also factor in that operating costs will rise as they further age]; to replace what needs replacing and to get the needed ground support equipment send the various types of ordnance needed.

    No point getting those extra airframes resulting in celebrations all around but the RMAF not having the funds to fly them as often as it’ll like and not being able to sustain them. Not to mention us doing things by the cheap and not getting ordnance.

    Also, the longer it takes the older the airframes will get and the more hours they clock.

  25. Joe “No choice really we have to plan how to support the current flying fleet as costly MRCA buy I dont think will come on the anticipated timeframe.“

    Personally even if we have the money I doubt any penny pincher would be weting their pants and sign the check for either the KFX nor TFX. Both would likely cost as much as the F35 to acquire and sustained but less capable then the F35s and only marginally better then the classic hornet. Not really a value for money proposition really.

    Might as well wait a bit longer with an interim solutions and jump straight to the 6th gen in the 2040s and use the available budget until Then to acquired enablers that can help with the network centric warfare capabilities.

  26. Zaft – “Personally even if we have the money I doubt any penny pincher would be weting their pants and sign the check for either the KFX nor TFX. Both would likely cost as much as the F35 to acquire and sustained”

    They are intended to be slightly cheaper.

    As for not being “better” than the F-35 and only “marginally better” then the Hornet; you’re looking at things from a platform basis; not a system centric one. Also, by virtue of having LO features and being more networked; as well as having superior sensors they will be superior to the Hornet.

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