SHAH ALAM: IN the months after the Lahad Datu incident, Malaysian Defence ran several posts on ISR for the Cheap. Among the possible choices were the armed Cessna Caravan and AT-802 armed crop duster. This was in response to announcements made for the need of better intelligence and firepower.
Apparently I was wrong about Caravan and AT-802. There is even a cheaper ISR plane available for the Armed Forces. The aircraft is the Cessna 206H Stationair, the bigger version of the Cessna Skyhawk better known as 172.
The first known military user of the ISR configured Cessna 206 is the Mexican AIr Force. A Janes report stated “The Mexican Air Force has selected the Cessna 206H Stationair to fulfill a requirement for 12 tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, it was disclosed by a May 2015 investment project document that was published by the country’s Ministry of the Treasury and Public Finance in late August.
The document states that the air force intends to use the forward-looking, infrared-equipped aircraft for tracking and interception operations in direct support of ground troops. The 206Hs will operate as part of the Air Surveillance Squadron Command Post (PM-EVA, or Puesto de Mando del Escuadrón de Vigilancia Aérea) based at BAM-1 Santa Lucia airbase in Mexico State, but are usually deployed to Cozumel in Quintana Roo and Hermosillo, Sonora.”
The report also stated that the cost of the Stationair with the ISR kit.
“The document states that the Cessna 206H Stationair was selected on the basis of cost, adding that at USD325,000 per unit, plus USD287,000 for the surveillance package, presented the lowest price at USD612,000 each (compared with USD916,000 and USD845,000 for the Cessna Corvalis TTx and the Diamond DA50 Super Star alternatives). Procurement of the surveillance package will take place later in 2015, with deliveries of the ISR-configured Cessnas scheduled to begin in 2016 and run through to the end of 2017. The Cessna 206H is expected to remain in service with the Mexican Air Force until 2042.”.
Based on the above, it appears that the cost of a single ISR Stationair is US$612,000 or RM2.63 million. Compare that to the Cessna Caravan and the AT-802. A basic unmodified Cessna Caravan costs around US1.8 million (RM8 million) while the AT-802 costs around RM42 million per plane.
Going by the Mexican example, if we were to choose the Stationair, 12 aircraft would cost around RM20 million (probably RM30 million once the agents got in the mix). It is cheaper as not all of the aircraft are fitted with the ISR equipment as six will be used for basic flight training.
It will be cheaper than conducting ab-initio training on the Pilatus PC-7s either Mk 1s or IIs. Of course the 206s aircraft are too small to be armed with anything other than small arms. Even the current favourite, the Gatling gun is too big for the Stationair.
Apart from buying new planes, another way to break the log jam in ISR capability is to install the ISR equipment on the soon to be retired Mk 1s. It may well be the only option we have in the current economic environment.
— Malaysian Defence.If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment