How Much Is That MPA In The Window?

Irish Air Force Airbus C295 MPA. IDF.

SHAH ALAM: How much is that MPA in the window? Based on the contract announcement made at LIMA 2023, RMAF own MPA costs RM395 million per aircraft. The MPA is of course the Leonardo ATR 72 which is equipped for ASW. The whole contract:

Leonardo SPA. RM789.6 million for the supply, delivery and commissioning of two units of Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) Phase 1 and associated equipment

It is interesting to note that on June 27, it was revealed that Ireland has taken delivery of the first of two Airbus C295 MPA. The contract for the two aircraft, according to the Ireland Defence Ministry:

the total cost of the contract for both Maritime Patrol Aircraft and associated training, ground equipment and spare parts is €230 million, inclusive of VAT.

Based on the current exchange rate, the Irish MPA cost RM1.168 billion or RM584 million per aircraft. Unfortunately, we cannot simply infer that the cost of RMAF MPA is cheaper than the Irish one, as we do not know the exact specifications for both aircraft. Furthermore, we do not know other variable such as the maintenance costs.

What about the cost of the Boeing P-8A Poseidon cost then? It varies with the order but according to the Drive a unit cost of P-8A for the US Navy is US$175 million or RM818 million.

New Zealand four P-8A costs US$1.6 billion (US$403 million per aircraft) or RM7.4 billion or RM1.9 billion per aircraft. Again, the price is for New Zealand though it is likely it will be the same if we were to buy the same numbers.

Perhaps, we will get an inkling on the price soon once Singapore buys the Poseidon. This is likely as on May 29, Boeing signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ST Engineering to outline potential areas of collaboration in systems integration, training, local parts distribution, support, and sustainment work for the P-8A Poseidon.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

35 Comments

  1. I believe RMAF wants to get cn295 or P8 but because of cost of purchase and maintenance. They got for ATR 72 will be cost lesser in term of maintenance. Training also can share experience with the private. Understand our budget willnot expand very far, choose ATR 72 is a right way with the solution they want.

  2. Is it confirmed that those ATR-72 MPA ordered, with Leonardo mission suite, would be ASW capable?

  3. Whether it is RM818 million or RM1.9 billion, the P8 is still way out of our budget and realm of possibly owning one.

    Hate it or not, at RM400mil per bird it is possibly the cheapest ASW and with our puny budget for it, likely the only real option we have despite your haranguing about it being the slowest plane. Again as I sad before, we can drool over a Mercedes, wishing for Toyota, but if we only have budget for a Proton, we should just resign ourselves and make do with a Proton.

  4. Like I have said before, the best MPA is the one we can afford to sustain, maintain and keep flying in the air. No point buying a plane that’s is going to be in the hangar only gathering dust because it costs to much to operate.

  5. … – “haranguing about it being the slowest plane”

    Was he really “haranguing” as you put it? He raised an important point … This is not a question about prices but about why the ATR was selected despite not ostensibly meeting the specs laid out in the tender.

    … – “ we should just resign ourselves and make do with a Proton”

    “Resign” ourselves and look at ways how we can operate the Proton to its full potential by doing certain things. Thank

  6. My issue with the ATR-72 is not the aircraft or its capability per see, but the zero compatibility of aircraft and mission suite with the one that is already in TUDM fleet, the CN-235MSA

    At least if the mission system is the same, you can have just 1 pool of systems operator. Right now the ATR-72 will have different everything from the CN-235

    It is 1 step forward with the FA-50 (replacing 3 different platforms with 1) but 2 step backwards with the ATR-72 (replacing 1 platform with 2 different platforms undertaking the same MPA mission)

  7. Well if mindef is willing to buy 1 P-8A per RMK instead of 2 ATR-72MP (as well as taking up Japan’s P-3 offer) we might have chance to operate them as well as getting enough MPAs to cover not only SCS, but also sulu sea and malacca straits

    -dundun

  8. If one was to buy a Poseidon, the worse thing they can do is ran a couple of high-cost P-3s at the same time or in the run up to it. Anyhow if we were to buy Poseidon, four of them, the best thing is to buy two of them per one RMK.

  9. I don’t think having two systems, ie CN 235 and ATR 72 is going to be a real problem for TUDM operators. Give them more credit. They are not dumb. I am pretty you can convert from system to another system in a few days if that is needed.

    My question to Marhalim: do you know if the ATRs will be equipped with MAD booms like the Turkish ones?
    Tom Tom

  10. … – “My issue with the ATR-72 is not the aircraft or its capability per see, but the zero compatibility”

    I totally agree; after all I’ve been harping about the need for greater commonality for ages; just like how I’ve been harping for quite a while now about the fact that we’re in the systems and not platform centric age.

    Getting back. The issue is why the ATR was selected despite not meeting technical specifications as laid out in the tender. That is a pertinent question which I do not see as “haranguing” on the part of Marhalim …

  11. The CN-235MSA had and always been a stopgaps measure pending introduction of a full fledged MPA & are in the pipelines to be retired from RMAF services in the next 10 to 15 years. So there’s no lack of commonalities issues there’s.

    The ATR72 are pretty much a sound choice & it’s quite amazing that a ‘sound’ choice get picked to begin with unlike 10/15 years ago. The ATR 2 other contender, one of which while ‘fast’ or meeting allegedly ‘technicality requirements’ but still for the most part a non existent paper plane with no guarantee & thus high risks against delay, cost overrun, capabilities, upgradability & etc etc while the others lacks real world users & not much interest/support from it manufacturing country for future support/upgrade & updates.

    Poseidon are great & all but it is designed to cover vast swaft of mostly deep ocean territories while what we need most is lingering capabilities to have almost constant surveillance in limited littoral area with a high traffic settings.

  12. “I don’t think having two systems, ie CN 235 and ATR 72”

    You sure about that? It will be a challenge but yes the issue can be handled” – still a strain though. Just like how the TNI-AU on paper can handle F-16s, Su-27s/Su-30s [of different variants] and Rafale. Not an ideal arrangement.

    “. Give them more credit. They are not dumb. “

    When did “dumb” enter the equation?

    You will note that the RMAF has a large logistical/support footprint and is/has taken steps to reduce it. It’s not as if the service is rich in resources and has an abundance of qualified support people. As it stands we know that the K/A-50 was the RMAF’s preferred choice but we can’t say the same yet for the ATR 72. Did the RMAF for commonality reasons prefer the CN-235? Or did it for reasons of its own decide that it didn’t want more CN-235s and that non commonality was a penalty worth incurring?

    In an ideal world we’d have a MPA based on a single platform with a common avionics/bsensors suite … but we don’t live in an ideal world. I’m all for commonality but only if if serves a purpose and not for the sake of it.

    “I am pretty you can convert from system to another system in a few days if that is needed”

    You see to have “pretty” much overlooked the fact that perple have to be trained to operate 2 different systems and spares have to be stocked for 2 different systems. You aware of how many manuals there are for air and ground crews to be proficient/familiar with?

  13. Having only sonobuoy launcher as its ASW sensor is a very expensive way of doing things.

    MAD sensor now is so small and lightweight it is a no brainer to fit them.

  14. “This is not a question about prices”
    Ohh but the issue *is* about prices. If other systems offered were too expensive to buy and the ATR72’s offer price meets the tender budget then it met “the specs laid out in the tender.” When you buy something you have to make sure you can afford to pay it firstly.

    “look at ways how we can operate the Proton to its full potential”
    That’s what TUDM bee doing since long ago when they had to contend with Western & Russian mix of planes, which is why operational jointness that you’d played up is not an issue, they will make it work somehow. They always do.

    @dundun
    “mindef is willing to buy 1 P-8A per RMK”
    We can’t. Each RMK the 3 Armed Forces branches takes turn to get the lion share of that budget. It will take TUDM each 3rd RMK to get an extra plane, and they still have MRCA yet to fulfill.

    @TomTom
    “having two systems, ie CN 235 and ATR 72 is going to be a real problem”
    Agreed. As long as the C&C can integrate with both plane systems, I don’t see the issue here. Its not like were asking both to ‘talk’ with each other and share their data. If its about crew familiarity, they could be split into 2 squadrons each running them separately. And if a swap will happen, its just a matter of time for conversion training. No biggie which is unsurmountable.

  15. The ATR 72 for our requirement is also a paper airplane as the Italians do not operate a similar aircraft, theirs is a MSA while the MPA/ASW version in Turkey was developed by the Turkish themselves.

  16. I was told by various people that the MAD sensor is only used for the prosecution of targets ie submarines, so it is not use really for the detecting or long range tracking of submarines.

  17. ..: – “Ohh but the issue *is* about prices”

    Yes aware of that and a thousand thanks and your penchant for comparing paper prices but in this regard the discussion was about something else …

    … – “I don’t see the issue here”

    Irrespective of what you “see” or don’t; operating two systems presents its set of challenges; especially for an under resourced air arm.

    … – “ I don’t see the issue here. Its not like were asking both to ‘talk’ with each other and share their data”

    The ATR and CN should be able to “talk” to each …

    ..: – “. If other systems offered were too expensive to buy”

    Was the CN-295 and CN-235 eliminated because of their respective price tags? No..: Was the P-8 included in the tender? No… Was the he ATR selected mainly due to being cheaper? Why was it selected despite not meeting the specs as laid out in the tender?

    ..: – “That’s what TUDM bee doing since long ago”

    Thank you but I was alluding to achieving a higher level of network centric capabilities. Nothing about “since long ago@ as you put it.

    … – “is why operational jointness that you’d played up is not an issue”

    You are assuming as you tend to do – what appears possible in paper can differ greatly in reality …

    It’s not a matter of me “playing up” anything but pointing out that a lot more has to be done towards achieving better jointness which entails improving actual procedures and minimising service centric parochialism and bureaucracy..

    … – “They always“

    You know for a fact or assuming? Innovation is always there but like everywhere else can be limited by the fact that certain things are not institutionalised and are hampered by inherent military cultural issues. Contrary to your “always” there is a limit on how much innovation the services can indulge in given various issues faced.

  18. Sorry azlan, that was not me you are replying to. That is Joe that is raising the price issue

    When you assume the reply is from me there is a sudden clear change in tone.

    I have only 3 short replies on this topic (make this 4), and one you totally agreed with me (which is a very rare occurance)

    – hulubalang

  19. A MPA only uses MAD when it’s known or thought that there is a sub in the area. Sonobuoys are only deployed after MAD has detected a contact. Quite often the MPA will be qued to the area by another asset which has detected a contact. By and large just like how ships do not activate their sonar 24/7 to avoid “wear and tear” a MAD is only activated in specific circumstance.

    In our case if a RMN ship detected a faint contact say 70NM away and called in a RMAF MPA; ideally both would be able to “talk” by means other than radio and be able to share a common feed. Contrary to the assumption of others we still have a very long way to go towards achieving jointness beyond the basics. It’s also not only jointness but having the right C3 mechanism in place. Sounds easy but isn’t …

    As it stands even Tier 1 militaries which got into the jointness business way before us still struggle with service centric parochialism and bureaucratic issues: i.e. the campaign against IS which was mostly an air effort but conducted mainly by army people who saw things from an army perspective.

    … – “That’s what TUDM bee doing since long ago when they had to contend with Western & Russian”

    Shoot the right calibre. Was referring to something else …
    Also we never could operate both to their full potential …

  20. “MAD sensor now is so small and lightweight it is a no brainer to fit them.”

    Yet the USN can’t find either the space or justification for it on the much bigger Poseidon

  21. This talk of keeping the logistics footprint small is only good during peacetime. If a war breaks out like in Ukraine, we would be operating a lot of hodgepodge stuff since we would lose most of the asset that we have now in the first month alone.

  22. This talk of keeping the logistics footprint small is only good during peacetime“

    Nonsense. During a war it would get worse for a variety of reasons.

    “If a war breaks out like in Ukraine, we would be operating a lot”

    Think… The Ukraine receives substantial help to sustain its stuff; spares, technical support; funding ….

  23. … – “That is Joe that is raising the price issue“

    Indeed. You’re “…”. My mistake ….

    … – “When you assume the reply is from me there is a sudden clear change in tone”

    Perceived on your part or in actuality? BTW I didn’t “asume” anything; was a mistake…

    … – “which is a very rare”

    Pigs and oxen might fly yet.

  24. “comparing paper prices but in this regard the discussion was about something else”
    The sticker price will tell you what you can and cannot afford. That is the MOST important spec in any buy first and foremost. Think.

    “operating two systems presents its set of challenges”
    We operated 2 different transporters and then went to 3 and yet we managed to log the highest hours with the latest ones. TUDM aren’t dumb that they cannot overcome challenges.

    “The ATR and CN should be able to “talk” to each”
    Neither which are ideal as the C&C.

    “No..:”
    What makes you so certain? For a cash strapped force like TUDM, money, or the lack of it, is a significant decisionmaker not just the purchase price but the TOC too. In peacetime operations, the economic rules not the maximum performance of certain platforms (I recalled someone way saying not to be too addled with the platform?).
    The Irish specced birds may be/could be cheaper on the TOC but if the buy in price is too high for the budget, its not gonna fly. Simple as that.

    “lot more has to be done towards achieving better jointness”
    A lot more can be done but that shouldn’t be a limiting factor to get certain equipment/platforms.

    “there is a limit on how much innovation the services can indulge”
    Innovation is the mother to all necessities and limitations is the father. With a cash strapped force, TUDM has no choice but to innovate. Just as TLDM could not sit on their hands waiting for LCS to arrive and to beget more LMS, they had to find ways to innovate to remain relevant and thus the OP Plus.

    “Also we never could operate both to their full potential”
    You don’t need to during peacetime. You just have to make it economically viable.

  25. ” Yet the USN can’t find either the space or justification for it on the much bigger Poseidon ”

    A reason why it is not fitted to the Poseidon is because the Poseidon mission profile is flying at high altitudes where MAD cannot be used. USN also has bigger budgets, with systems of sensors, from nuclear attack subs, destroyers and classified seafloor sensors all available to track hostile submarines without the need for MAD to be installed on the Poseidon. The smaller lightweight MAD sensor was also not available when the Poseidon was developed, although Indian Navy Poseidon is actually fitted with a MAD sensor.

    MAD use needs the aircraft to be flown at low altitudes. Turboprop MPAs fly at lower altitudes compared to jets, which makes MAD viable.

    USN is installing MAD on its Romeo Seahawk and also UAVs.
    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/37704/navy-mh-60r-seahawks-to-get-magnetic-anomaly-detectors-to-help-hunt-enemy-submarines

  26. ”MOST important spec in any buy first and foremost. Think.”

    Perhaps before going off script and replicating what others have written; understand what the discussion was centered on. Think…

    Appreciate the upper case but the discussion was on what we can or can’t afford but the ATR and how it was selected despite ostensibly not meeting the specs as laid out in the tender. We have no idea on what basis the ATR was selected over the CN-295 and 2353; that was the crux of the conversation. Not as if anyone was suggesting we get the P-8 or nothing …

    ”TUDM aren’t dumb that they cannot overcome challenges.”

    When did ”dumb” enter the equation? Who said the RMAF can’t – to quote you – “overcome challenges”?

    The RMAF has made it a priority to lower its logistical/support footprint and there are reasons for it. Just because the RMAF is able to keep things running on paper does not mean its the most ideal or cost effective solution; which is why like the RMN the RMAF is reducing its logistical/support footprint. Also; being ‘dumb’; being able to do something optimally and being forced to do something out of sheer necessity are different things – measure of efficiency against measure of success.

    ”What makes you so certain?”

    What makes you certain? I’m not assuming anything; what know I based on wat I’ve been told from, asking around; didn’t claim claim I was infallible …

    ”A lot more can be done but that shouldn’t be a limiting factor to get certain equipment/platforms.”

    Did anyone say otherwise; when, where and who?

    ”Innovation is the mother to all necessities and limitations is the father.”

    Thanks for the cliche but I truly understand the need and challenges faced in achieving peacetime innovation and wartime adaptation…

    ”You don’t need to during peacetime. You just have to make it economically viable.”

    So you say but there’s a world of difference operating operating something in peacetime and in wartime. Also, I was referring to the issue of us never being able to operate the Fulcrum and Hornet to its full potential….

    ”Neither which are ideal as the C&C.”

    Have no idea what you mean but the CN and ATR should be able to ‘talk’ to each other’ whether they will be able to ‘talk’ to other assets is the question.

    ”With a cash strapped force, TUDM has no choice but to innovate. ”

    Like some examples of how the RMAF innovated in the 1970’s? Innovation is nothing new. BTW even if the RMAF had cash flowing out of its ears it would still innovate. The issue is whether it has to innovate because it wants to or because it’s forced to; one’s ideal the other isn’t.

    Innovation can often be hampered bureaucracy; has to be institutionalised; a unit in the field might innovate but also has to be passed on to other units; a mechanism has to be in place. Easy on paper; wee bit harder in actuality.

    Highly recommended – ” On Flexibility: Recovery from Technological and Doctrinal Surprise on the Battlefield” [Finkel]

  27. … – “ nuclear attack subs, destroyers and classified seafloor sensors all available to track hostile submarines without the need for MAD to be installed on the Poseidon”

    Yes but even if that was not the case a MPA would only be directed to an area and deploy MAD after it had been notified by other means that a sub was in the vicinity.

    … – “. Turboprop MPAs fly at lower altitudes compared to jets, which makes MAD viable”

    The exception of course being Nimrod. Another issue is that planes have to be at a certain f t altitude to release torps and sonobuoys. The P-8 will be the exception; able to release torps from higher altitudes.

    I remember being told at DSA 2002 that we had been offered Nimrod airframes. Unsurprisingly it went nowhere.

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