How Much Is That Helicopter in The Window, Part 4

RMAF Airbus EC725/H225M helicopter dropping a Paskau team at the Kota Belud ATG range on Nov. 21, 2017. Note the sliding window with an airman looking out. That is where the 7.62mm machine gun will be firing out. Malaysian Defence

SHAH ALAM: During the presentation of the 2024 budget, PMX announced that the RMAF will be getting 12 new helicopters for its operations. Industry sources told Malaysian Defence that the new helicopters will be configured for CSAR and utility work which was the same basic requirements for the Nuri replacement programme.

RMAF chief General TS Asghar Goriman Khan confirmed to the media yesterday that the new helicopters will be configured for CSAR and utility work. He also said the helicopters need to be armed as well. He said while the RMAF already operates 12 Airbus EC725 AP helicopters, an open tender for the new helicopters will be held next year.

RMAF Ec-725 AP M55-05 landing on Mount Kinabalu for the exercise. RMAF.

Anyhow, the general did not say anything about the budget for the new helicopters, but I believed it will be around RM1.6 billion. This was the contract price for the EC725s, which I think had set a precedent for the new contract. It could be higher, but it will not be lower than the previous contract.

It must be noted that Eurocopter (the name of the company before its changed to Airbus) had put a bid price of around RM1.3 billion for the Nuri replacement tender but somehow the contract price went up by around RM300 million when the contract was signed.

RMAF Airbus EC 725 AP M55-05 taking off from Mount Kinabalu. The helicopter was fitted with the enhanced motor gear box in its recent refit. The EMGB was introduced by Airbus early this year which among others increased hours before servicing. RMAF

From the story:

Abu Bakar said a total of seven offers were received with the bidding pricing including delivery charges. The pricing offered by Eurocopter (Code tender: T521/07/A/006) was Euro 233,345,390.

If Airbus could maintain the pricing for the new contract, I believed that it will be the favourite to win it. It is also the incumbent and RMAF will have no problems in operating the new ones even if it’s now designated as the H225M.

A US Army National Guard Chinook helicopter transporting a F-80 fighter jet. US Army.

Yes, used Black Hawks will be cheaper – with the RM1.6 billion budget we could probably get 30 or 40 machines – but I do not think the RMAF will accept used airframes for its tender.
The cockpit of the PAF Black Hawk fire fighting helicopters.

It must be noted that for the Nuri replacement programme, the Leonardo AW101 helicopter started as the favourite despite its hefty price tag. The EC 725 came late into the picture as it initially did not meet the specifications as it lacked a ramp (which was tweaked after consultations with the industry). It was for this reason even the Boeing Chinook and the Sikorsky S-92 were in the mix.

— Malaysian Defence

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15 Comments

  1. Lets welcome the used military spec helicopter options, new civilian spec option helicopter and even used civilian spec helicopter options for RMAF here!!!!

    If really want to save cost, not sure how a much saving does a civie cpec H225 armed with machine guns will be compared to a military variant.

    Though like Marhalim said it would be likely the H225M would be selected by RMAF, though if RMAF deemed H225 as too expensive or over budget, they might forced to choose other options. The Army might still consider s70i in the future though…

  2. As mentioned in the story, RMAF wants the helicopters to be armed. A civil specced helicopter cannot be armed. Yes of course it can be modified to be armed but it will not be supported by the OEM.

    Even Airbus balked when RMAF wanted to put the mini-guns on the EC. In the end, RMAF fit GPMGs on the helicopter. Ironically, Airbus has cleared the mini-guns for the EC much later after we try to put them on ours.

  3. Marhalim, I wonder why the Army doesn’t go Black Hawk for the Nuri replacement instead of the favoured Leonardo 101? Is it the rear ramp issue? Everyone one else uses the BH for their army. Even Oz is replacing the troubled NH90 Taipan with new BHs.

  4. on the medium lift helicopter capability and requirements.

    Previously TUDM plan for those additional helicopters was for
    – 12 medium lift helicopters in RMK13 2026-2030
    – 12 medium lift helicopters in RMK14 2031-2035

    Now the approval is for 12 medium lift helicopters in RMK12 2021-2025, and explicitly included in 2024 Budget.

    Medium lift (my personal opinion) is considered as a heli that can lift at least 12 person.

    So it should be AW139, blackhawk and heavier.

    in the 1990s there was around 36 Nuris remaining with 4 TUDM squadrons
    – 3 Skn Butterworth
    – 5 Skn Labuan
    – 7 Skn Kuching
    – 10 Skn Kuantan
    So I consider that is the number that we (malaysia as a whole) need

    Current available medium lift helicopter in government and military (+ in planning)
    PDRM
    – 5x AW139 (1 crashed)
    BOMBA
    – 4x MIL Mi-17/171
    – 2x AW139
    – 1x AW189 (1 crashed)
    APMM
    – 3x AW139
    TLDM
    – 3x AW139 HOM (+2 more to be bought)
    TUDM
    – 12x EC725
    – 4x AW139 leased for 5 years starting 2022
    PUTD
    – Infrastructure (buildings+hangars+aprons+helipads) completed to house 12x medium lift helicopters. 4x Blackhawk leased for 5 years incoming 2024, with minimum requirement is still set at 12.

    So even without the additional approval for 12 helicopter for TUDM, there is a total of around 48 medium lift helicopters available or in planning. Now with 12 more helicopters for TUDM is approved, there will be a total of 60 medium lift helicopters available across several services.

    So do we really need a the 2nd batch of 12 CSAR equipped helicopters for TUDM?
    Could half the numbers, filled with 5x MHS Helicopters (Boustead) EC225LP, and 1 more from the open market be adequate to have both 5 Skn Labuan and 10 Skn Kuantan a fleet of 6x EC725 & 3x EC225LP? Does any other airforce use civil-spec EC225LP? Yes, even the French air force. Google 2752, one of Armée de l’Air EC225LP.

    As for PUTD, their plan according to Army 4Next G is to have 2x PUTD Brigades, one each in east and west malaysia.

    Used blackhawks, as per Portugal buy costs RM36.6 million each, much less than what PUTD paid for the 5 year lease of RM46.75 million for each Blackhawk. That is a delta of RM10.15 million, which blows my mind as the lease is so much more expensive than buying outright.

    BTW should TUDM invest AEW instead in RMK13?

    We missed out on a pair of cheap AEW aircraft recently. Poland recently bought 2x SAAB 340 Erieye AEW aircraft for just USD58 million. It is said to be ex UAE passed back to SAAB as they got their new Globaleye.

    With the 12 unit additional CSAR helicopter, the approved buy for TUDM in RMK12 2021-2025 are
    USD0.95 for 18 FA-50MY
    USD0.171 for 2 ATR-72 MPA
    USD0.091 for 3 ANKA MALE UAV
    USD0.04 for 1 GM400 Alpha – Ground Radar
    USD0.34?? (RM1.6 billion suggested by Marhalim) for 12 medium lift helicopter

    That is a total of USD1.592 billion, nearly maximum of the usual development budget allocation for TUDM of around USD1.6 billion for each Rancangan Malaysia.

  5. If we are really going to get 12 full fleged CSAR choppers for the price of those dozen EC725 (that is fitted to nearly CSAR function) that we paid for 10 years ago, this is a real coup deal. Not only inflation and falling RM exchange has been tackled but we are getting more than what we gotten years ago. Is this deal real? Has Santa came early? Or is it another too good to be true and will be yet another failure?

  6. The CSAR function are fitted for but not equipped with. Indonesia recently took delivery of eight H225M and a single simulator for around US$330 million or around RM1.5 billion. Do note that the helicopters were completed in Indonesia by PTDI so the cost is higher.

  7. Wah, Marhalim, are you saying the BH is more expensive than the L101? That being said, the British army did use the L101 in Afghanistan, so it’s also a ‘battle proved’ helicopter.

  8. No, I did not say that. The Black Hawk did not meet the requirement for the Nuri Replacement Programme so it was the S-92 that was offered as it got a ramp. When they tweaked the requirement, they already put up the S-92 so it was not change to the Black Hawk. Would have the Black Hawk win then? Thats water under the bridge. Will it meet the requirement for the new helicopters, likely.

  9. Ah i see..putd doesnt have the budget and/or manpower to man the putd squadron..so we can expect that rmaf still will be the main air battle taxi and hauler untill an unforseable future?..And yes putd helos should have a ramp but not many helos that have ramp nowadays..not that we can afford i mean.That used blackhawks will do as stopgap measure

  10. Firdaus – ”putd doesnt have the budget and/or manpower to man the putd squadron..”

    It has barely sufficient resources to man and sustain what it now has. People overlook that the Aviation Wing is a small organisation. With some preparation it can also handle 8/12 Nuri replacements in some years but nothing beyond that. Any talk about the Aviation Wing being able to handle large numbers of helicopters is simply detached from reality.

    Firdaus – ”And yes putd helos should have a ramp but not many helos that have ramp nowadays”

    Very useful for loading/unloading stuff. BOMBAs Mil-17s are used by the army for free fall jumps; off the ramps. The down side is that passengers have to be trained to exit the right way; to not run into a rotor.

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