How Much is That Helicopter in the Window, Part 5

Republic of Korean Air Force KUH-1 Surion helicopter. ROKAF picture.

SHAH ALAM: In an earlier post, Malaysian Defence speculated that the budget for the new 12 helicopters will be at least RM1.6 billion – the contract price for 12 EC725 helicopters bought in 2008.

I further stated that:

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.

Yesterday, Defence Minister DS Khaled Nordin stated that the allocation for the new RMAF helicopters announced in the 2024 budget was RM2.8 billion. RMAF, he said is also getting another RM1.13 billion in allocation this year to continue with its other procurement programmes. It is interesting to note that under RMAF Cap 55 plan the service envisaged operating two helicopter squadrons of one make.

RMAF Cap 55 plan

If indeed the RM2.8 billion allocation is for 12 helicopters, it is RM1.2 billion more than the amount I had predicted earlier. The higher allocation is likely to account for the ringgit depreciation. That said I also stated that it will not be lower than the amount we paid in 2008, which was sixteen years ago.

— Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

Share
About Marhalim Abas 2150 Articles
Shah Alam

49 Comments

  1. 2.8 bill for 12 helos? Our MYR plummeting that bad huh?.Can we just put our pride aside and order additional caracals from PTDI or airbus will only subcon them to PTDI?.But if the pricetag are about the same with the unit that out from airbus might aswell order directly with airbus.So as of now it could be additional h225ms for TUDM or it could be not right

  2. A confirmed allocation of RM2.8 billion?

    That is USD 600 million.

    If this is true, the development expenditure allocation for TUDM in RMK12 2021-2025 is the highest ever in its history.

    Confirmed allocation for TUDM in RMK 12 2021-2025
    18 FA-50MY – USD0.92 bil
    2 ATR-72 MPA – USD0.171 bil
    3 ANKA MALE UAV – USD0.091 bil
    1 GM400 Alpha – ground radar – USD0.038 bil
    12 Medium Lift Helicopter – USD0.6 bil

    total USD1.82 billion

  3. Also I believe the higher budget is for TUDM to get a fully fitted CSAR chopper config since the EC725 afaik is quite a bit short on gear to be the CSAR that they wanted.

    But dang where did they get all that money? LCA also ordered, MPA also ordered, MALE UAS also ordered (i think?), then whats left in the kitty for big ticket items; Kuwaiti Hornets, AEW, MRCA?

  4. Philipines buy 32 blackhawk worth 624 million usd. TUDM requirement is 12 helos. Maybe we can buy 12 more?

  5. RM2.8 bilion for ‘perolehan helikopter TUDM fasa 1’? Is that means there will be another phase?

  6. I suppose no complaints. Air Force wants its second helicopter squadron, Govt agrees to fund and provides more money then expected. Whether its sufficient is another problem for another day. But for now, when compared to Army’s 2 step forward and 1 step backwards procurements (e.g., SPH, the constantly changing armour requirements, the random new combat rifle, and the Blackhawk leasing) and Navy’s black hole LCS, RMAF is on track to meet their (supposedly) useless DWP and CAP55 plans. They got their 1st batch of MPAs, 1st batch of LCAs, 1st batch of MALE drones, nore Long Range radars, and now 2nd helicopter squadron signed off before 2030. Next cycle (after 2030) they can either buy 2nd batch of everything bought this cycle, or focus on the MRCA and the AEWC.

  7. Joe “But dang where did they get all that money?”

    The army. (Zaft)
    I like Zaft’s answer. The Army should give way to the Navy and Air Force for now as these junior services need all the money that MinDef can get.

  8. No lah, the money for Army is already allocated and budgeted for, as with navy and air force. Do note that the payments are on progressive basis not one lump sum at one go. The only issue with the Army as they keep changing their priorities unlike navy and air force.

  9. @ZAFT
    The budget for each service arm is already split so there is no way to rob Peter to pay Paul. But based on the yearly budget allocated for TUDM its seems unlikely they will have enough to pay in a single RMK. To stretch into the next RMK meant cutting close to when we should start buying MRCA already so unless from now until 2029, the Govt have to make huge cuts along the way to other arms which they cannot do either as each of them has their priorities as well. And it is also obvious our Govt cannot magically up the strength of Ringgit to pay for all that which were buying in USD.

  10. @joe
    Statistically speaking the % of budgets for the army is on a declining trend year over year.

  11. The the annual DE for Army should be reduced to the barest minimum. Leave them with the OE. Give more to the 2 sister services.
    Only then will the Navy and Air Force be able to introduce new assets for themselves.
    I don’t get the hype over the need for more land-based assets inc vehicles for the Army whilst their brethren are limping along in ‘ghost planes and ships’.

  12. Well it is not productive also for TUDM to spend USD600 million for just 12 helicopters. Standing up a large force of 24 CSAR helicopters for a fighter jet fleet of less than 100 is not a funny joke.

    What other things can be had for USD600 million?

    – 12x FA-50M
    or
    – 180 AV8 Gempita (based on Oman ParsIII buy)
    or
    – 1500-1800x JLTV (based on Lithuania dsca)
    or
    – 72x used Blackhawk helicopters (based on Portugal buy)
    or
    – 30x brand new blackhawks (based on Philippines buy)
    or
    – 1x Scorpene
    or
    – 10x Hyundai HDP-3000 OPV

  13. The budget is 1% of GDP. Hopefully we grow our GDP at 5% annually then by 2030, its 1% of a much bigger GDP

    Or follow Indonesia. Go borrow money to fund the MEF and use the annual capex of the defence budget to pay the loans.

  14. @Zaft
    Statistically speaking, it havent reach TDM turn for a big ticket buy as the next was TUDM MRCA but that was replaced with LCA, MPA, 12x new choppers. TDM also didnt do themselves much service when they hemmed & hayed the SPH buy just to get their Caesar, did not push for Gempita Batch2 instead settled for a 4×4 + 6×6 plan which got reduced to 4x4s HMAV + HMLTV.

  15. “Hopefully we grow our GDP at 5% annually”
    GDP growth is one thing we must also strengthen the RM. No point if GDP grows by 5% but RM drops by 5%, after conversion to USD (which is what we used to buy defence stuff), its back to square one.

    If our current RM 20bil budget can only afford for USD $4.3bil imagine how much more we can get for USD $8Bil when our currency was at the strongest level @RM2.50 per $1. This is what I mean by real world economic & currency strengths that affects what we can or cannot afford.

    “Go borrow money to fund the MEF”
    We cant go borrowing arround. Already our national debts is 78% of GDP. Indonesia is the nation version of ‘biar papa, asal bergaya’.

  16. … – ”Standing up a large force of 24 CSAR helicopters for a fighter jet fleet of less than 100 is not a funny joke.”

    It’s not a ”joke” at least not the way you present it. The 24 platforms might be configured for CSAR but as you very well know; CSAR is but one of the many roles they will be able to perform …. Don’t make it sound like the 24 platforms will only or be mainly performing CSAR and nothing else.

  17. This whole emphasis on CSAR was a way to gain funding approval and a raison d’etre but ultimately RMAF helis will also perform SAR, mercy flights, assisting the army; assisting government agencies and a number of RMAF centric tasks. CSAR is merely one of the any roles. Also what does a CSAR configured platform entail of hardware : NVG compatible cockpit, winch, FLIR, self defence suite, etc, some of which are part of the standard fit out anyway.

    There’s also the fact that in a high threat or non permissive environment where a heli would have to fly deep into enemy lines against an enemy with air defences and fully altered; various enablers would be needed; enablers we lack and are unlikely to get anytime soon. Look at the various assets used to rescue Scott O’Grady; AEW, CSAR heli, fast movers, etc.

    Taib – “ I don’t get the hype over the need for more land-based assets inc vehicles for the Army whilst their brethren are limping along in ‘ghost planes and ships”

    Agree. If I had my way the MAF chief would always be a RMAF or RMN chap but as things stands the army as the most senior and largest service has a say.

    Problem however is that the wars or threats we might actually face may be different from the ones we expect or cater for. Amidst all the talk about the Spratlys and how we supposedly will have to face off the might of China with asymmetric tactics [as if the Chinese can’t conduct their own version of asymmetric or hybrid warfare] and the need to deter [what happens if one is not deterred by our deterrence remains a mystery]; who’s to say we won’t be unexpectedly faced with a land threat? Prior to 2013 who would have guessed that a small number of lightly armed players would land in Sabah and not leave; be a major problem due to the size of the area and would entail us deploying thousands of troops backed by armoured vehicles, arty and airpower?

    It’s also not as if the army is well funded and equipped relative to its sister services. Only a bare fraction is mechanised and trained for combined arms maneuver warfare; there are only a measly 28 155mm guns; the only unit which has an organic AD capability is 10 Para and the only UASs we have are a handful of Mavics and military grade UASs which are mostly operated by intel elements. Not to mention C3 issues; the fact that various things are still centralised and that quality manpower is a major issue. Also lest it not be overlooked; in an average battalion what is the actual rifle strength as opposed to staff people, signallers, medics, supply people ; engineering people ; etc.

  18. Ostensibly these new choppers are for CSAR but as we all know they will mostly be used to haul the army, after all its not like PUTD will do a whole lot with just 4 leased Blackhawks and they arent likely to be buying additional choppers (new or used) anytime soon so its obvious who will be the main user of these birds. The CSAR function was just their excuse to get them as it is whats specified in their CAP55 plan. The added budget is also an opportunity for TUDM to finally get a ‘real’ CSAR chopper since the EC725 is not fully equipped for that function despite ostensibly being bought for that purpose.

    Im hoping for 2 outcomes; longshot to get Pave Hawks for CSAR to start commonise using Blackhawk platform. More realistically another I hope is them going back for fully CSAR fitted EC725, with some spare cash to get the supporting equipments to turn our existing EC725 into similar spec CSAR chopper too.

  19. The Cougar has a NVG compatible cockpit; a winch and a FLIR [all standard fit these days] thus it is configured for CSAR. There’s now a very fine line in terms of actual fit out which makes the distinction with what is and is not a CSAR platform. What it lacks is a self defence suite and the various enablers needed in the event CSAR has to be performed in airspace controlled by an opponent which is alerted and can put up significant opposition; i.e. a non permissive or highly contested environment.

    Way before CAP 55 and before the Genting crash which led to the Cougar deal [intended to supplement and eventually replace the Nuri] there was already a requirement for a CSAR platform. At one time we looked at and considered the NH90 but the Genting crash and the subsequent decision to get a new generation heli [to perform various roles and not CSAR per see] changed the dynamics.

  20. IMHO it is the lack of defence suit that held it to be a proper CSAR, after all the point of CSAR that it should be able to go in & out a combat zone safely. So heres to hoping this dozen will the complete kitted out chopper.

  21. It’s various things which determine whether a platform is CSAR configured or not. Then there’s the enablers. Great if a heli has a self defence suite but not so great if it’s operating in an area where AD systems are operating and there’s no means to suppress them or if enemy fighters are expected to be present but there’s no friendly fighter escort.

    That’s the reason until now it’s generally accepted that in NATO although various countries have CSAR configured helis: only
    the U.S. has the needed enablers in the required numbers for CSAR in a highly contested or non permissive environment. The rescue of Scott O’Grady is a prime example of the needed enablers or assets needed if CSAR is to be conducted over enemy lines with an alerted enemy equipped with AD systems.

  22. Great to have all the enablers to do proper CSAR but if only USA has the complete package and the rest of the world doesnt, it doesnt mean we are lacking or need to be critical, we are just yet another nation that doesnt have enough of all. Platform-wise if the current EC725 is lacking then this is the opportunity to make right this time. Whether they need 24 CSAR choppers is another matter as we know whom will be the main users for TUDM lift capable choppers.

  23. Can them get 12 fully kitted CSAR helos with that said budget though? Maybe can get Singapore specs H225m?.Still this procurement for RMAF doesnt kill the need for army to have their own more able aviation wing right? or does army PUTD will keep relying on RMAF and satisfied with just the like of upcoming used blackhawks

  24. @ firdaus

    That budget is more than enough to get 12 fully kitted CSAR helicopters.

    Thailand EC725 CSAR, which is fitted with armor plating, missile warning sensors, chaff/flare dispensers, guns, FLIR Turrrets cost them USD128 million (THB4 bil) for 4 helicopters
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GJppR24a8AAl4tw.jpg

    USD600 for just 12 helicopters means each CSAR helicopter (USD50 million) is as expensive as 1x FA-50 that has stuff like panthomstrike AESA radars inside.

    Ludicrous

    Id rather have 12 more FA-50 rather than 12 super expensive CSAR helicopter for that budget.

    The Philippines bought 32x S-70i Blackhawk for just USD552 million.

  25. RSAF H225M CSAR

    Most noticeable is the engine IR suppressor, and SATCOM dome on top of the tailboom.

    there are blanking plates in the nose & sponsons for Missile warning sensors, and in the tailboom for chaff/flare dispensers.

  26. Ultimately TDM should be responsible for their airlifting, the raison d’etre for PUTD existence, but its up to TDM chiefs. If their reluctant to give importance & the needed resources to get PUTD to where they could perform their roles effectively, then TUDM choppers will continue to be the mainstay utility lifter for hauling the army. The 4 Blackhawks is barely enough to haul a para brigade.

  27. LoL!

    Forgot the pic for RSAF H225M CSAR
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GJqJg64a0AAlZpj.jpg

    @ Joe

    If I am the TDM leaders, i would prioritize buying my own used Blackhawk helicopters in the numbers enough for both east and west malaysia (24-30 units) first rather than spending money to upgrade the Pendekars. Also prioritize getting stuff to enable long range precision strikes. At least precision guided fuse (M1156 PGK Precision Guidance Kit or similar) for 155mm howitzer shells. Also for GAPU to be able to do counter-drone and counter-loitering munitions (by getting used VADS 20mm gatling gun systems)

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Fuc0jFEaEAA0p57.jpg

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FkZnJXtaYAEpRQq.jpg

  28. … – “Id rather have 12 more FA-50 rather than 12 super expensive CSAR helicopter for that budget”

    I’m sure you would but direct comparisons are misleading as both are for different things. We need both. None is more needed than the other ….

  29. ”We are just another nation” which can perform CSAR in a permissive environment; against an enemy which does not have strong AD; is expecting us and has fighters on standby. The Europeans lack all the enablers [as they do with effective tanker support and a SEAD/DEAD Wild Weasel capability – having the ability to shoot a ARM makes one a ARM shooter but not necessarily enable a Wild Weasel capability] but then in time of war they would be operating alongside the U.S. We also have to make the distinction between ”SAR” and ‘CSAR”; a fine line dividing the two with ”CSAR” sounding more impressive.

    … – ”i would prioritize buying my own used Blackhawk helicopters in the numbers enough for both east and west malaysia (24-30 units) ”

    The army can prioritise it all they want and even to Kingdom Come but it has to be parallel with a policy decision by the government.

  30. We don’t have a need for 24 CSAR-missioned helicopters with 12 more to add to the existing 12 costing USD50 million a piece.

    Yes we need medium lift helicopters, but of the regular type not costing USD50 million each, ideally operated by PUTD.

    There should be more important priorities for TUDM to spend that USD600 million (that is actually more allocation than even TLDM for its 3x LMS Batch 2 ships!) rather than on a huge fleet of helicopters equipped for rescuing downed pilots behind enemy lines. Training more pilots (for FLIT) is one (I am saying this as all 18 of the batch 1 LCS is not for FLIT). AEW&C capability is one. Long range precision strike munitions and missiles is one.

  31. … – ”We don’t have a need for 24 CSAR-missioned helicopters”

    As has been explained despite the ”CSAR” moniker they will be to all intents and purposes multi role rotary assets. Stuff like a FLIR, NVG compatible cockpit and other things are standard fit these days. The ”CSAR” moniker was mainly to secure funding.

    … – ”There should be more important priorities for TUDM to spend that USD600 million ”

    That is your opinion but someone else might have a different idea as to what’s ”more important”. Also as I said when we were discussing the the LCA issue years ago; if we’re faced with a situation in which LCAs are the answer; great. If however we’re faced with a situation which calls for MRCAs but we prioritised on LCAs then were buggered ….

  32. ” but of the regular type not”

    What pray tell is a regular type”? It’s 2024; stuff like a FLIR, NVG compatible cockpit; winch; etc, are not things which are nice to have but things which are needed.

  33. … – “Long range precision strike munitions and missiles is one.”

    Which sounds impressive but are useless if one lacks the means to fully exploit the capabilities they offer and I’m not assured that we will get the means.

    … – “ideally operated by PUTD”

    So you keep saying but there’s nothing to suggest – accept personal opinion/preference – that the army is in greater need of them as opposed to the army. Both services need them for slightly different purposes.

    You seem fixated on this “CSAR” thing but overlook that there’s political at play and that RMAF helicopters will perform a whole range of tasks; from SAR, to HADR, to mercy flights, to supporting sister services and government agencies. You make it sound like the RMAF’s Nuri replacements will do CSAR and only CSAR. In essence you are making something out of nothing.

  34. The annual allocation for gov department and agencies aren’t ‘fixed’ thus the more responsibility one bear the more allocation one get.

    The more responsibility and funding created economic of scale and thus allows them more responsibility and funding.

  35. Maybe but still rmaf need that additional birds nonetheless..their existing caracals already clocked a staggering 30000 flying hours..sound impressive right but just to show that they are being ‘lenjan’ so yes rmaf in dire need for that additional helos fully kitted csar or not..We really cant have another tragedy that being caused by aging and overused assets now cant we,our airmen life are far more valuable than any sum of ringgit..And in the near future TDM still need to rely on TUDM in several scenarios so yeah just add another 12 helos for RMAF

  36. ” It’s 2024; stuff like a FLIR, NVG compatible cockpit; winch; etc, are not things which are nice to have but things which are needed ”
    Does all that stuff really cost USD50 million for each helicopter? Looking at RTAF buy, it would cost at most USD32 million per helicopter

    ” You make it sound like the RMAF’s Nuri replacements will do CSAR and only CSAR ”
    No I am making it sound that it is absurd to spend USD50 million on a helicopter that will do most things things that a normal helicopter can do.

    ” If however we’re faced with a situation which calls for MRCAs ”
    We currently still have our F/A-18D Hornets and SU-30MKM to do MRCA stuffs while our Hawk fleet is now at about 50% of its strength due to crashes, with zero flyable MB339CM and MiG-29N. So the LCA call is the right one (even if you feel it is not and previously TUDM wanted Rafales or Typhoons over LCA). Still feel that 2031-2040 is the right timeframe to get a new MRCA after we have completed our 2nd batch of FA-50MY

  37. I would agree if USD50 million per airframe is spent in RMK16 2041-2045 to buy Bell V-280 Valor for TUDM CSAR Requirements. This thing can fly faster, further than any current available helicopters, which would be well suited for CSAR missions especially over great distances of water.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GAzRHZRWcAAKw3l.jpg

    But buying current available types right now for USD50 million each for CSAR? Please no.

  38. … – ”But buying current available types right now for USD50 million each for CSAR? ”

    This is being silly. As I said : ”You make it sound like the RMAF’s Nuri replacements will do CSAR and only CSAR. In essence you are making something out of nothing.”

    As I also said : ”You seem fixated on this “CSAR” thing but overlook that there’s political at play and that RMAF helicopters will perform a whole range of tasks; from SAR, to HADR, to mercy flights, to supporting sister services and government agencies.”

  39. ” RMAF helicopters will perform a whole range of tasks; from SAR, to HADR, to mercy flights, to supporting sister services and government agencies ”

    As i also said : it is absurd to spend USD50 million on a helicopter that will do most things things that a normal helicopter can do.

  40. … – the LCA call is the right one (even if you feel it is not and previously TUDM wanted Rafales or Typhoons over LCA). Still feel that

    That’s you displaying selective amnesia. As has been explained countless times during that period the requirement was for a MRCA not a LCA. The requirement for a LCA only came later. I pointed out that a LCA can’t do what a MRCA is intended.

    So instead of regurgitating things inaccurately; get the narrative right.

    As for the fact that we still have MRCAs this is you cherry picking and going around in circles as you have been for years.
    As it stands if you are faced with an operational requirement which calls for LCAs and you have them then great but if you are faced with a situation which calls for MRCAs and you have focused on LCAs then you’re buggered. Not only that but it’s the “right one” because we were not placed on a position where our lack of MRCAs was a major issue. In case you need a reminder air arms make the needed decisions after deciding what trade offs they ate willing to make and hope the decision is the right one.

    As for your “normal helicopter” again pray tell what does that mean? Do you even know? It’s 2024 [if you’ve noticed] not 1985 and stuff like FLIR, NVG compatible cockpits are standard and essential. Don’t make it sound like we’re talking about titanium seats, IR jammers and laser warning receivers for each helicopter.

  41. “stuff like FLIR, NVG compatible cockpits are standard and essential”

    Those stuff does not cost USD50 million per helicopter, as Thailand has paid for, just USD32 million per helicopter even with missile approach sensors, armoring and chaff/flare dispensers

  42. The issue with them being expensive and your inaccurate claim that they are “special” aircraft as opposed to “normal” aircraft are two different things.

  43. “between ”SAR” and ‘CSAR”; a fine line dividing the two”
    The requirement as stated by TUDM is for CSAR (with SAR as latter) so there is no ambiguity there which requirement takes precedence.

  44. @Hulubalang
    Dont hope on it. The Arty & GAPU sections are just as much sidelined as PUTD are by TDM chiefs. So dont hope on used Blackhawks for PUTD, nor precision munitions for Arty, nor new guns for GAPU.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*