From Aludra To Matrice

SHAH ALAM: From Aludra to Matrice. On Dec 21, the Joint Force Command Headquarters 2 based in Tawau, Sabah announced the deployment of a drone unit to its quick reaction force (QRF) as part of Ops Benteng operations in its AOR. The deployment of the drone unit it said was to assist the QRF in its operations due to the size of areas under monitoring.

From the Joint Force FB page.

The drone team operating one of its DJI Matrice drones. JF Command.

Pengoperasian Op Benteng Bersama telah dilaksanakan sejak Mei 2020 selaras dengan hasrat kerajaan Malaysia memperkukuhkan persempadanan negara. Markas Angkatan Tugas Bersama 2 (ATB 2) telah diaturgerakkan ke kawasan berkepentingan bagi mengekang jenayah rentas sempadan dan penyeludupan. Dron merupakan aset terkini ATB 2 yang diterima di dalam usaha meningkatkan keberkesanan operasi.
Kepadatan penempatan di Pantai Tawau dan kawasan berpaya yang luas memerlukan keanggotaan yang ramai bagi mengawalnya. Namun aturgerak dron ke kawasan tersebut dapat menutup jurang dan kekangan pengoperasian. Tim QRF dan dron digembleng agar penyaluran maklumat terkini, semasa dan tepat serta digunakan sebagai platform aturgerak tindakan pengekangan selanjutnya. Pengawasan dan pemantauan di Kawasan Tanggungjawab (KTJ) dilaksanakan siang dan malam secara berterusan.
Menurut kenyataan Komander ATB 2, Brigedier Jeneral Johari bin Mohd Jaafar, beliau memaklumkan bahawa pengoperasian dron ini akan meningkatkan lagi keupayaan ATB 2 dalam melaksanakan Op Benteng Bersama terutamanya dari aspek operasi dan risikan udara di kawasan berisiko tinggi sejajar dengan arahan oleh Panglima Angkatan Bersama . Ini bagi memastikan keselamatan dan kepercayaan masyarakat tempatan terhadap kredibiliti dan peranan Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) kekal teguh terpelihara. Beliau turut mengingatkan anggota operasi agar sentiasa meningkatkan kesiagaan dan keupayaan operasi dari semasa ke semasa.

ATB 2 QRF team on patrol photographed by the drone team. JF Command.

It is interesting to note that ATB2 was the first command under the Malaysian military to have operated drones in its AOR. The first one was of course – the Malaysian-made Aludra, which started in the 2010 and ended around 2016/2017. There was no official explaination for the end of the Malaysian-made UAV and it remained unclear why the contract was not renewed.

Aludra Mk1. CTRM

The UAV was operated by Konsortium UST Sdn Bhd, which was made up of Composite Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM), System Consultancy Services Sdn. Bhd. (SCS) dan Ikramatic Systems Sdn. Bhd. It must be noted that when the Aludra was deployed operationally it came under the criticisms by the then defence minister saying the fixed wing drone was limited in its application as it could only take off and recovered from a runway. The four airframes in service were based at Semporna airport. He urged the consortium to develop a VTOL drone that could be used on the various islands off Semporna, Tawau and Lahad Datu.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ScanEagle is launched from the flight deck of the Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce . US Navy

The consortium unfortunately never developed a VTOL drone (not one that became operational, anyway) and in 2012, they were supplemented by the Boeing Insitu Scaneagles UAV under a company-owned, company-operated (COCO) contract with CTRM which by then became part of the DRB Hicom group.

From Malaysian Defence post in 2012.

Not so fast, CTRM is saying that the Scaneagles (two with day camera and one infra-red for night operations) will complement the Aludra especially for operations in support of Ops Pasir in Sabah. The Aludra will continue to fly from Tawau (Ops Pasir south) while the Scaneagles will be based in Kudat and Semporna (Ops Pasir North).

The controller of the drone operated by ATB2. JF Command

Like the Aludra contract, the Scan Eagles contract lapsed around the 2016/2017 after the drones were lost/crashed during operations. The industry was hoping for new contracts in 2017/2018 period but none were forthcoming when the PH government was in power.

A view of a village along the Tawau coastline, taken at night by the drone. JF Command

And now the latest drones, although the ATB2 post did not mentioned the type of drones it had gotten, from the pictures, we can identify them as the DJI Matrice 200 series. They are fitted with two types of cameras, one for day and one for the night based on the specifications listed in the tender documents. From the Eperolehan page, we know that eight of these drones were purchased under the Op Benteng UOR and the supplier is Deftech Unmmaned Systems Sdn Bhd. Like the Scaneagles, these drones will be operated in Tawau and Kudat/Semporna. And before I forget, Happy New Year to everyone.

— Malaysian Defence

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