Good Deal Perhaps

MD 530G light attack scout helicopter to be based in ESSCOM.

SHAH ALAM: A Good Deal Perhaps.It appears that the contract for the six MD530G light attack helicopter seemed to be a good deal, after all, at least based on the contract price. At DSA 2016 the government signed a RM321 million contract for the supply of the MD530G inclusive of training and weapons package. That said the full details of the training and weapon package remained unknown.

MD530G test bird with the weapons package expected to be procured.

Why I am pointing this out? Well, on Dec. 13, the U.S announced a gift package of weapons and hardware to Lebanon. Included are six MD530G LAH (same as ours) and associated equipment valued at more $94 million or RM383 million.

MD 530G light attack scout helicopter to be based in ESSCOM.

On paper this means our MD530G is cheaper by RM62 million. A caveat though, as we do not know the full details of our MD530G deal we cannot be celebrating just yet. Hopefully in the near future we will find out more about the contract and hopefully we did get a good deal.

The MD530G that was displayed at LIMA 2015. Note the weapons fit.

The full release on the Lebanon deal.

On December 13, 2017, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard and the Commander of United States Central Command General Joseph Votel met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Defense Yaacoub el-Sarraf, and Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces General Joseph Aoun, and visited the Lebanese Military Academy to reaffirm the U.S. government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership and support the Lebanese Armed Forces in their capacity as the sole defender of Lebanon.

After their meeting with the Prime Minister, Ambassador Richard and General Votel announced three new U.S. Department of Defense programs of assistance to continue to build the LAF’s capability to conduct border security and counterterrorism operations. These programs are being funded through the Department of Defense’s “Building Partner Capacity” program and are together valued at more than $120 million.

The first program will provide the LAF a rotary wing close air support capability through delivery of six new MD 530G light attack helicopters and associated equipment and training, valued at more $94 million. The second program will provide the LAF additional command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities through the delivery of six new Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles and associated equipment and training, valued at more than $11 million. The third program will provide the LAF additional capabilities to employ joint fire support and close air support through the delivery of communications equipment, electronics equipment, night vision devices, and training, valued at more than $16 million. The announcement of these programs reaffirms the U.S. Government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership and support of the Lebanese Armed Forces in their capacity as the sole defender of Lebanon.

Scaneagle UAV, which is deployed at ESSCOM.

Previously it was difficult to determine whether or not we got a good deal as other MD Helicopters customers like Afghanistan bought the MD530F, which is the older model.

By the way, as I reported previously the MD530Gs will only be delivered by late 2018.

– Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2186 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Marhalim,

    That is just a measly usd 15 million difference. Probably more ammo and unguided rockets than what we bought. So it can be said we bought them at a reasonable price, not quite a good deal like you suggested.

    Another interesting figure from the lebanon deal, a price on a system of 6 scanegles of usd 11 million.

    There is another very interesting story cropped up these few days (on TUDM), but i’ll wait of an article on this from you to comment more

    The MPA story? I was not in Singapore but was on holiday with my family. Anyhow I won’t go into it, please do so anyhow

  2. Basically what was said is not that the selection is narrowed down to 4. Its just the mpa requirement study by tudm team will concentrate on that 4 platform (atr72, c-295, cn-235 and poseidon), and it is still open to any other mpa offers.

    One of the requirements as of now would be ASW. IMO, getting the capability is one thing, maintaining full competency of the said capability is another. Remembered during an exercise involving MiG-29N and USMC where there is an air to air refuelling practice with USMC hercules. The Mig pilot struggled to get contact with the basket, due to not getting regular practice in air to air refuelling (even though we have 4 air refuelling capable hercules). I would prefer expanded ISR and real time ground MTI capability for the MPA rather than a complex ASW system, which need to have sonobuoy launch capability to be of any serious significance. If it is just a token system with just a MAD boom, better don’t have any ASW system at all. Any software/hardware for ISR and GMTI is also useful during maritime patrol mission, whilst ASW system is of no use during ISR missions.

  3. too soon to said anything about MD530G. we wont know until we get it. although we do buy it for cost effective solution.

    off topic.
    read at janes about MPA shortlist news(although no naming, just pic) at Singapore. i hope Mr Marhalim, Mr… or anybody would do some commenting or guest article here. would appreciate it.thank you

  4. Marhalim,
    you are better than this. Cost of doing business alone could have costed more than that amount.

  5. Care to share with us what is the breakdown of the “cost of doing business” that would be more than that based on your defence contracts with the government?

  6. Why didnt the goverment purchase “Littlebirds” they’re fairly cheap these days and are combat proven and surprisingly boasts a wide variety of potential weapons

    ((out of topic))

    Any updates on the Self Propelled Howitzers?

  7. Why didnt the goverment purchase “Littlebirds” they’re fairly cheap these days and are combat proven and surprisingly boasts a wide variety of potential weapons

    ((out of topic))

    Any updates on the Self Propelled Howitzers?

    Which Little Birds are you talking about?

  8. I’ll be very, very surprised if we do get ASW configured MPAs as the gear will significantly drive the overall costs up. As it is, there’s no certainty the RMN will get ASW configured helos anytime soon and if does; whether it’ll be Wildcats which due to size and other factors are not the best of platforms for ASW – it’s for the same reason that very few Lynx users configured theirs for ASW, with sonars.

    Whether it’s CN-235s or something else; the MPAs must be have RMN involvement and in addition to the usual radar, FLIR and ESM must have a data link to display radar feeds to ships and for OTHT.

  9. Hi Marhalim,

    Are our aquired MD 530’s equipt to operate at night? Will our MD 530’s be patrolling coastal areas? – if they are, will they be equipt with emergency floatation devices? Will pilot training be done overseas or back home?

    I suppose these questions in itself may add to the cost as well. In each aquisition, Too many variables are involved (to customise each customer needs) that result in each aquisition being different in value.

    Thank you

  10. CharlieTango,

    – It makes no sense to buy them but not have a night capability; so its safe to say that we intend to operate them at night and that we’ll get NVGs to go along with the NVG compatible cockpits. For night ops they’ll also have a FLIR.

    – Given that they are intended to operate in ESSCOM and that not only does ESSCOM have a long coastline but that intruders will come from the sea; we can safely that they’ll not only patrol or operate along coastal areas but also over the sea.

    – An initial cadre will probably receive conversion from the OEM or a private company and follow on training will be done locally.

    – Given the small size of the platform and the fact that it’s loaded with sensors/weapons and crew, plus fuel; I’ll be surprised if it can take the weight of a floatation device [even if its barely a few kilos in weight]; assuming of course a floatation device has been certified for use on the platform.

  11. There is an off the shelf emergency flotation device designed for the little birds. Here it is attached to an ASW (!) equipped little bird of taiwanese navy.

    As for the helmets, we know the little birds will come with thales scorpion HMD. Hopefully the same HMD can be integrated with the MKM. If for the legacy hornets, Spain has modified theirs to use the Thales scorpion instead of the JHMCS.

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