SHAH ALAM: Forward Operating Base Ready for Operations. The RMAF Forward Operating Base (FOB) complex at Lahad Datu aiport, Sabah, launched in May, 2016 is expected to start operations by year end.
RMAF posted in its website that the FOB will strengthened the capability of the ESSCOM operations with the detachment of EC725 helicoptes capable of conducting night time operations. The FOB, it said is expected to assist security operations at the ESSCOM AOR especially those involving cross border intrusions.
RMAF Air operations commander Lt. Jen. Abdul Mutalib Wahab toured the facility on Oct. 23 and was briefed on the expected operations of the FOB.
Bernama the national news agency reported on May 28, 2016 that the FOB ground breaking ceremony was performed by the then PM Najib Razak
The helicopter FOB project with an allocation of RM9 million on a 0.48 hectare area at the Lahad Datu Airport involved the construction of a shelter and apron capable of accommodating six helicopters.
The FOB will function as a transit and air support centre for the operations of all types of helicopters of the Malaysian Armed Forces besides acting as an operations centre when defence operations are carried out to fend off external threats
Malaysian Defence post on the FOB.
Previously the then Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had also said that the six MD530G light scout attack helicopter bought for the Army will be based at the FOB. With the Defence Ministry looking to cancel the deal this unlikely to happen. It is likely that the RMN which is buying three maritime operations helicopter for operations in ESSCOM will also use the FOB for refueling and ad-hoc basing when they get them.
It must be said that from the pictures provided by RMAF and a Google Map search, the FOB is located next to a village, with just a single perimeter fencing separating them. I believed RMAF and the military are aware of the security risks associated with the location of the FOB and are trying to find a solution. The best one is of course to relocate the houses there to another location but of course this will mean that the cost of the FOB will increase.
It be must noted that during the Lahad Datu incursion, several military facility in Sabah were reportedly targeted by sympathisers of the Sultan of Sulu by taking pot shots from outside the perimeter fencing. None of the incident were officially verified by the government though I was told that every one at these facilities took the threat very seriously.
— Malaysian Defence