SHAH ALAM: He said, she said, Part II. In an earlier post, I asked will the attempt of transparency prompted by the LCS scandal prevent the MALE UAS, MPA and FLIT-LCA from becoming like the MD-530G and LCS projects or will Rahsia supersede everything even shenanigans, corruption, and collusion. Today I will take a closer look at the MPA programme.
I have learned from several sources that the final decision for the MPA now rests with MoF and
that the choice is between the Dash 8 400 P-4 and the ATR-72. This was done at the same time as the UAS MALE decision. From a quick Google search, I have learnt that the Dash 8’s engines at 5000 horsepower each are twice as powerful as the ATR’s.
The impact on speed is enormous. At 667 km/hour, the Dash 8 is 30% faster than the ATR’s maximum speed of 518 km/hour. There are of course other important safety issues to consider including climb rate in dangerous mountainous areas and maximum altitude when flying with one engine: 11,000 feet for the ATR and 17,000 feet for the Dash 8.
Back to the most important specification to any air force; speed. At 667 km/hour, if it takes the
Dash 8 three hours to reach its target it will take the ATR four hours. Some additional information
available on the internet: the biggest threat to any proposed Malaysian MPA is the Chinese
MPA, which is known as the Y-8.
While the Y-8 is a very old design, it has a top speed of 660km/hour. This is slower than the Dash-8 but much faster than the ATR. As the Dash 8 is faster than its foe it can outmaneuver the Chinese threat. The ATR is 25% slower than the Y-8 and is a sitting duck to the well-armed Y-8.
I contacted Keith Stoodley, CEO of the UAE based PAL Aerospace that is leading the UAE
consortium that has proposed the Dash 8 for the RMAF MPA programme, to get his thoughts.
“While I cannot comment on the status of the tender, I can confirm that the Dash 8 is still under
consideration”, said Stoodley.
He added “Our team had originally thought that price was a very important discriminator and as such had proposed the ATR during the Request for Information or RFI stage. The end user subsequently advised us that speed is the critical attribute and for this reason alone, we decided to offer the Dash 8 as it is hands down the fastest aircraft in its class”.
When I asked him about the Y-8 he noted, “It is a fact that the Dash 8 is faster than the Y-8 whereas all of our competitors are much slower and are therefore disadvantaged against the Y-8”.
Hopefully, the attempt at transparency that has been prompted by the LCS scandal will ensure
that the decision makers at the MoF are focused on the most optimum use of taxpayer money
while ensuring maximum safety of our MPA crews.
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