SHAH ALAM: Pak Lah said a few days ago that the tender for projects that was approved in Ninth Malaysian Plan should be implemented fast. Although the details of defence projects in the 9MP were not made public (the amount given is about RM17 billion) it was expected some money (how much?) is allocated is the replacement of the Nuri.
I hope the Air Force will have a big say on the matter, no matter that in the future the air force will only operate CSAR helicopters. The Army Air Wing is taking over the role of providing utility duties.As the more experience helo operator, Air Force should take the lead in choosing the right platform. A new generation CSAR helo would make a great utility helo, with litle modification (equipped but not-installed equipment), and equipped with great pilots, the utility could also operate as CSAR.
The candidates are the usual suspects. Eurocopter EC725 Cougar and the AugustaWestland EH101. Some sources are saying the Cougar is in the lead (one even make an appearance at DSA 06) recently.
Personally, I believe the 101 is a better helo. Its a newer design, three-engine, equipped with good electronics. Its already chosen as the new helicopter for the US president replacing the S-61 (basically the same helo as Nuri) so it will be good replacement for the Nuri.
The Cougar with its connection EADS will certainly offer better trade deal for the country but this is offset by the fact that it is not a big seller. Only a few countries, France and Saudi Arabia, have chosen the helo for its forces. Even if we get a good off-set deal, most of it would be for our own helos unlike the deal with EADS and CTRM for A400M.
They could be creative and tie the deal with work for Airbus or A400M but as I said earlier its up to the Air Force to get to pick the choice of its helo and not be dictated by trade deals.
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