SHAH ALAM: IN his response to the news that Brunei will transfer its four Sikorsky S-70A Blackhawks to RMAF, Azlan wrote: “By logic, ownership of the 2 S-70As should be transferred from the PMs Department to the RMAF, to add to the 4 former RBAF examples.
I am not it sure its logic or not, but the two VIP Blackhawk S-70A helicopters – M46-01 and M46-02 – will soon be operated by RMAF in utility role in addition to the 4 RBAF examples. The two Blackhawks, I am told would be de-VIPed (is there such a word?) and reconfigured into a utility role, complete -ahem with the mini-guns.
The PM was quoted by Bernama on Aug 11 confirming that Malaysia was getting the 4 RBAF Blackhawks.
The two VIP helicopters will joined the 4 ex-RBAF examples, once they are transferred to Malaysia of course. As with any US made arms, Brunei need to get the approval from Uncle Sam to transfer to them to us. So far there is no confirmation whether or not the transfer has been cleared by the US.
Ironically, I am also told that to re-role the two Blackhawks as utility helicopters, we also need the clearance from the US. Again I have yet to find out whether the clearance has been given or not. The conversions is expected to be conducted by Airod which is under contract to support the helicopters. The conversions have not started, I am told.
Wait, does this mean the PM Department getting new VIP helicopters? I have no idea. Perhaps they will not or maybe the replacement helicopters had already been ordered but have yet to be announced. Instead of buying they could also opt for another hire and purchase deal as with the ACJ320 which replaced the BBJ earlier this year. Of course, they can also signed a deal with a local helicopter provider to provide the machines under a PFI programme, similar to the one for the RMAF’s training helicopters.
Whatever method chosen, it is likely that RMAF will continue to provide the flight crews for the helicopters (just like the other PMO executive jets) with Airod providing support and maintenance unless the machines selected are from Airbus Helicopters. If thats the case, BHIC Aeroservices Sdn Bhd, the ISS provider for the Cougars will be selected.
The story about the ACJ320 deal, from the Star datelined March 17, 2015:
KUALA LUMPUR: The Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ320) was bought to replace a 16-year-old Boeing Business Jet (BBJ).
Discussions to replace the BBJ started two years ago taking into consideration the increasing costs and safety concerns of the older plane, said the Prime Minister’s Department in a statement yesterday.
“The BBJ would be disposed off to finance the purchase of the new jet,” said the statement.
It added that the ACJ320 was bought via a hire-purchase agreement for 15 years.
“Acquiring the ACJ320 for the Government executive fleet of aircraft will reduce the operational, management and maintenance costs as the Government already own the ACJ319 aircraft,” added the statement.
The statement said, apart from the ACJ319 and ACJ320, other vehicles in the executive fleet included the smaller Falcon bought in 1989 and the Global Express 2001″. – The Star.
It must be noted that the BBJ was purchased in 1997 (delivered in 1999) by Malaysia Airlines almost the same time as the VIP Blackhawks were procured. However I am pretty sure that the Blackhawks have lower flight hours than the BBJ. The BBJ was added to the PMO executive flight after Malaysia Airlines was sold back to the government following the 1998 economic crisis.
In justifying replacing the BBJ, the PMO statement cited “increasing costs and safety concerns of the older plane“.
So is this the case with Blackhawks? Your guess is as good as mine!
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It is acceptable for pm dept transferring the blackhawk, but what is not logic is RMAF getting them for utility mission. The heli should be going for Putd. Rmaf should maintain its business in sar and csar only. No more tth utility roles. Is this apmm/police marine saga continue ?
Smaller blackhawks going to the airforce while half of the larger nuri fleet going to the army?
Rather have 1 force operating all of the nuri while another operates all of the blackhawk
The green side also did not want the Nuris but its their big boss pet project….
In other words, the army won’t getting a new birds for a while huh?
So, just when will the army gets the chance for troop transport role? Another 10 years perhaps?
the Army is just starting to learn the troop transport role. Once they got it right then it will be the time for them to do it.
S-70A VIP convert to Utility (what kind of Utility version? it is Utility S-70A RBAF or Utility S-70A US Army)
I don’t care which service will run the S-70A Utility SQN. All I care is those operators know what to do WTSHTF.
No idea at the moment. Probably the cheapest version.
Someone will donate a nice new VIP bird to the PMOlah. Interior by Hermes.
Why dont we buy the australian black hawk since them are being replaced soon
I have not heard anything about buying more Blackhawks at the moment…
I do know that the Ringgit currency will be restore by next year so it look’s like we have to survive this ‘Darkest time’ year while waiting fhe family of AV8 Gempita.
With the retirement of the AS-61s, the only rotary assets owned by the government, which are VVIP/VIP configured, are the 2 S-70s. Protocol dictates that the Agong can’t fly in a Nuri or a Cougar. The S-70 has never been popular as there is not enough roof clearance for the passengers to stand when entering or exiting the aircraft. There were rumours in the 1990’s that we tried to sell the S-70s to Brunei.
Rather than converting the VIP bird, why not sell those off and get used utility blackhawks with the proceeds?
Yes Australia is replacing their blackhawks with nh90, and its blackhawk is mostly similar to the bruneian blackhawks. Could ask them nicely as a “derma” right?
I doubt anyone wants to buy two second hand VIP Blackhawks. Yes we could get the Aussie to “derma” their Blackhawks but as I said earlier I have not heard anything about that. I am not saying that if I did not hear anything about it means we are not trying to get them. Far from it.
The main concern is how long will the army take to be able to not only operate but also maintain its Nuris. Remember that a lot of maintenance and stuff like rotor and engine changes are done at squadron level.
Given their age and size, the Nuris will obviously be more maintenance intensive than the A-109s and even with RMAF assistance; army support crews will need time to get it right. The army may have the needed pilots at hand but it will have to expand and improve its group support infrastructure.
Selling them to fund utility S-70s would serve no purpose. Faster and more practical to strip the 2 of their VIP fittings. The good news is that both haven’t flown a lot and will have more hours left in their airframes than surplus S-70s acquired from elsewhere. No doubt the availability of a External Stores Support System will come in handy.
A VIP blackhawk has many unique structural difference from a utility one. And to convert it into a utility version will cost money. For example, a VIP blackhawk does not have sliding doors on both side of the fuselage. It has a small door with a built in folding step on the left side of the fuselage.
Also a low houred VIP blackhawk should be worth at least double of a used utility blackhawk. That in itself would be something to be taken into account.
BTW about the ESSS wing. The bruneian and Australian blackhawks are equipped for ESSS installation.
The cheapest S-70A Utility variant is hard to fanthom for us here I guess. Have to wait for Sikorsky-Airod to roll out S-70A-XX variant for TUDM.
S-70A-14 is RBAF variant from Sikorsky while S-70A-9 is Aus Army variant license built by Hawker de Hallivand (from Wiki).
Sorry, I meant, the standard seats and mounting for the miniguns and without any self protection system, IFR probe and FLIR turret.
You raise good points.
The problem however, is I can’t see us going through the cumbersome and time consuming process of gaining expert approval and finding a buyer for the 2 VIP Blackhawks. The beauty of the 2 Blackhawks is that we have them and they are low houred.
Granted, modifications will be needed to convert them into utility birds but the modifications are minor and can be performed by AIROD. As for cash needed for the modifications; cash will also be needed to upgrade and make suitable for our operational needs, any surplus Blackhawks we acquire.
Having just one door is a hindrance but a minor one and one we’ll just have to live with : it will be taken into consideration when operating the 2 Blackhawks. After all, having a platform with just a single troop compartment door is not new to us; the Nuri.
Why don’t we modified the black hawk to the AH-60L that proposed by Sikorsky to Australia. This can solve our attack helicopter requirement right.
Let say we get some second hand black hawk:
Total we have 41 of it ,we can reserved one of it as VIP Transport , then the 40 left we can divide it to 5 squadron with 8 black hawk each .
Money. BTW the Battle Hawk main contractor is Elbit, an Israeli company.
Marhalim / azlan
On a dfferent topic. Ive just read an article on the upgrade of our fa18d. Im sorry but i dnt know that 4 of our hornets were classified as ‘trainers’ aircraft while the other 4 was for actual strike mission. 4 trainers version in a squadron of 8? And now 1 strike capable airframe is being cnverted into a trainer version. Ist it like pulling the teeth out of the rmaf. Yes the trainers version do posses a limited degree of strike capability but the question still stands. Why so many trainers when theres not that much actual strike aircraft to begin with. I hope u guys can elaborate on the matter..
What article are you talking about?
Ive been an avid reader of malaysian defense base magazine since 1993. Yes not all of their articles were true @ correct but still they make in interesting subject matter. Btw the article is in the perajurit august edition. Is it faulty journalism or is it me that is misinformed..
When we bought the 8 Hornets the intention was always to use them as “training” platforms, before a follow on order could be placed. McDonell Douglas responded to a RFI for 24 Cs but then the Asian Economic Crisis came along.
I suspect that 4 of the 8 are used as conversion platforms to train new pilots and back seaters but at the end of the day all 8 are fully combat capable and have the same capabilities. As for why so many trainers, it’s necessary to enable sufficient numbers of training intakes and having sufficient number of operational platforms (why we ordered 44 PC-7 Mk1s).
As for Malaysian defence magazines, Asian Defence Journal came out on the 1970’s and it spared no effort forking out cash on the best writers in the industry. A good example is the late Anthony Preston (naval writer) who regularly contributed till the 1990’s. It was a very good magazine but from the late 1990’s (in my opinion), the magazine went downwards in terms of analysis and quality of content. The magazine became thinner and much of the writing was based of OEM brochures.
Next on scene was Pahlawan which was launched at LIMA but didn’t last long. Like Perajurit and Tempur; Pahlawan was not an industry magazine (like Asian Defence Journal) but was aimed at MAF people, students and defence enthusiasts. Compared to Perajurit, Tempur was the better magazine and was run by someone who knew the subject matter. Problem was he was a one man show and did not have the resources of Perjaurit, which was bought by Asian Defence Journal’s publisher. Another industry magazine was Asian Defence and Diplomacy (run by a former MINDEF PR man) which is now based in Singapore. Since it operates from Singapore, it can run ads from Israeli companies. Asian Defence Journal used to be sold by newsagents until it got into a bit of trouble with the Home Ministry for running ads from Israeli companies. Compared to foreign magazines, local ones come nowhere near with regards to analysis and quality of writing : to be expected given the lack of writers who know the subject matter, as opposed to writers who base their articles on OEM brochures and worry about writing anything “sensitive”, to avoid the unwelcome attention of the Home Ministry. The advantage they have is their local contacts which enables them to report on MAF stuff way before their foreign opposites.
You know, all this angst about the MRCA and AEW-maybe it’s better we don’t get them now. It is probably not a bad idea to stagger our big purchases. Otherwise they have to be replaced all at once……in 35 years!
Look at the bright side (I’m a glass half full person), we are still getting the LCS, MPA and light attack helicopters and the Starstreak. When I was a child, all we had were the Tebuan and Spica M, not to mention the Nuri and Alouette. V100 armoured car only, no APC till 1982. Those helis used to do medivacs to the Penang General during the 2nd emergency. I can still remember the ‘thump’ ‘thump’ of the Nuris at 0300 in the morning (vs the smaller Alouette. Believe me they sound different!!)
Yet, we survived. Jalan perlahan-lahan at the moment. There is the FDPA for back-up in desperate situations (and indirectly via Aus and UK, the USA), so China is not a real threat in the short to medium term.
Now who bought tempur? Adj? Ive always wondered what happened to them. Theres an english segment in that magazine written by mr prasun k sangupta that i found very informative.
Im a reader of a few international magazine too. Starting from “airfleet” mag (russian based i presume). The quality of the articles between the local and the foreign ones is like night and day..
Back to the fa18. Orgnally only 4 was configured 4 strike mission. Taking into consideration the 25x modernazation program now the number of strike capable airframe is down to 3. Instead of the standard wiso platform, the trainer version has an identical instrumentation 4 the back seat as the pilot. Imo this version is optimized 4 the air to air mission looking at the combat load of aam and the usage of jhmcs. Does it got to do with the retirement of our migs? If its simply for training purposes than thats dfferent issue
AFAIK no one bought Tempur. The last editor Fuad took over and managed the magazine until the last edition. Last I heard he was with…as a contractor for their transformation programme.
The pc 7 issue is not the same as the hornets. The pc7 were used 4 basic flight training. From there the trainees will undergo training with the aermacchy or with the alouettes. Only after that will the graduates be sent to their respective squadrons.. all would be pilots starts with the pc7. But not the fa18. Training 4 the hornet is primarily the job of the 18 squadron. The the question arises. Why so many trainers 4 a fleet of 8? But if the offer 4 the fa18c did go through then everything make sense. But they dindnt. Why go cnverting operational strike aircraft to the trainer version?
I made mention of the PC-7s to show that it is normal for air arms to have a high ratio of trainers to fighters.
There is and never was any “converting of an operational strike aircraft to a trainer version”. Any extra instrumentations on the back seats of the 4 came as delivered. Yes, the RMAF may have designated a number of platforms to be used for operational conversion but no “converting” per say was done. Also, all 8, whether 4 are used for strike and the remaining 4 for air to air; can be used and are fitted to perform either role. The key distinction may be the fact that certain pilots receive more training for a particular role; not the actual platform.
Not all the PC-7s were utilised as basic trainers. FTC also operates PC-7s and use to (or still do) have on strength the former Light Attack Squadron’s Mk1s. Until the early 2000’s these still had their sharks mouths motifs.
I know personally a AQM who did many landings on the field next to the hospital.
During the period you described, we also had Panhards, which like the V-100/150, was an APC.
I think the report about conversion to trainers is mistaken.
All of RMAF’s F-18 are two-seaters aren’t they? Can’t they be used for training without needing to be converted? If any conversion was needed, I would have thought they’d convert the aft seat for a weapons officer.
Foreign magazines tend to have better content simply because they can afford to have contributors who specialise in key areas. Some established publications also have in house writers who are good at what they do. Up to the 1990’s Asian Defence Journal had an impressive list of contributors. Some were academics and others were considered the best in their respective fields.
Also, a point to remember is that certain magazines are “biased” towards their main advertisers. For example, if BAE Systems places large ads every month and sponsors your show daily; you obviously won’t write anything too critical about the company’s products and won’t say no if they insist on X articles annually.
If thats the case then it goes to show the quality of the malaysian base defense journalisme (excluding our friend marhalims blog of course).
Have u read the article azlan? I do know that a few type of two seat combat aircraft do have dual control 4 the plane (a centre stick and ect 4 the back seater). Does the wiso of our hornets have the same capability? I mean 4 the strike version.
Thanks, we now have the AV8 and the ACV300! Remember, our weakness (big country in 2 halves) is also our strength. It will be a logistical nightmare for anyone trying to come in. That’s why the Japs had to knock off Pearl Harbour.
F-18: “4 for strike and 4 for air to air” is not how they are used, I think. Although the F-18 is capable of doing counter air, that capability is secondary to its strike role — it’ so that it can defend itself and get out of trouble if confronted with enemy air and return to base or, in the original brief, carrier. Platforms count here because the Hornet has good slow speed and low altitude performance which is important for strike missions; indeed Hornet was designed for strike and is very good in that role.
The aircraft mix in Lahad Datu should tell us something.
The most likely employment in a full blown mission, to use Battle of Britain parlance, would be for Hornet to act as bombers with Sukhoi providing fighter escort. It would be odd, looking at the, erm, platforms, to see the roles reversed.
Having said all that, of course with the Hornet’s upgrades, it’s going to improve its a2a capabilities and the tactics might change.
Problems with the links again?
My reference to “4 for the strike role and 4 for air to air” is based on the fact that all 8 are painted in 2 different schemes which highlights their different roles. Marhalim in the past has also pointed out that 4 indeed are optimised for the strike role and the other 4 for air to air. I also beg to differ with your assertion that air to air is secondary to the strike role. I’m depends more in the user, rather than the actual platform. The Hornet may have started out with the strike role being it’s main function but it can perform the role of killing aircraft just as well.
It was also intended to explain to Shed that although 4 may optimised for the strike role and 4 for the air to air role, that all 8 can perform both. Note that when I use the word “optimised”, it’s in reference to the fact that crews might receive more training for a certain role, rather than any limitations with the actual platform.
Unless I’m wrong, the only joystick in the back seat of a Hornet is used for weapons guidance and to operate the pod. Same with the Fulcrum UB, there is no joystick in the back seat but there is a periscope due to limited visibility in the back 🙂 Like I said, I could be wrong and if I am, no doubt someone will correct me.
Dedicated twin seat training aircraft (like the MBB-339 or Goshawk?) would have dual controls in the back seat to enable the pilot to fly the aircraft or overide the pilot. The Hornet however, is not a dedicated training aircraft so I would be very surprised if it has dual controls.
the back seater of the UB has full set of controls (stick, throttle and rudder pedals), and the pilot seating at the back can fully control the aircraft if he wants to. This is similar to any 2 seater trainers. The periscope is to help the pilot in the rear seat to look over the front pilot during takeoff and landing phase as the seating arrangement is not staggered (similar arrangement exists for Mig-21 trainers)
for the D model hornets, the default arrangement of the rear seats is as a trainer, with full pilot controls at the back. The rear seat area could be converted to a WSO station with a specific kit to remove all the controls and fit in joysticks for the ATFLIR systems. Theoretically it could be converted from any configuration in a few hours.
BTW all 8 hornets was painted in gunship grey as per USAF F-15E strike eagles. The hue was somewhat different in different pictures due to camera exposure and the brightness of the sun.
1 of them (07) was repainted in RAMF current overall grey (not USN grey as most of the malaysian journalist wrote) during a major overhaul. it would be expected that all of the fleet to be repainted in TUDM grey as the years progresses.
Thank you for the information. I learn something new every day.
Around 2001/2002 the Fulcrums also received a new colour scheme. I always found it a bit odd why the RMAF decided to paint a number of Charlies in a camo scheme. A platform which received several different colour schemes was the F-5. At time of delivery they were painted in a metallic silver scheme; the same which was standard with USAF interceptors of that period. The whole fleet was later repainted and several were given a USAF type “aggressor” scheme.
In the 1970’s the RMN also experimented with a camo scheme in the FACs (I forgot which class) but it wasn’t applied for long and was identical to the one applied on the Hong Kong Lurssen built riverine craft. Some of our Condors and Sibmas also had a camo scheme way before the “harimau belang” pattern was adopted. It was olive green with spots of black.
Azlan / …..
Thank u 4 the info bros. Returning to the hornets. Why did the rmaf cnvert an operational strike capable aircraft to the trainer version? With the latest one to be cnverted then the rmaf is only left with 3 fully mission capable strike aircraft. And dont go into “both plane can do the same job” idea. A trainer version wont have 100 % the same capability of a dedicated strike aircraft.
If i was not mistaken the sukhoi 30mkm and even the f15sg have dual cntrol 4 the front and rear cockpit. Does the 25x modernazation program got to do with the retirement of the migs? I cant see need the 4 so many trainers in a fleet of 8.. even the migs with 18 originals aircraft had 2 UN type 4 training purposes
shed – ” And dont go into “both plane can do the same job” idea. A trainer version wont have 100 % the same capability of a dedicated strike aircraft.”
Why? Are you suggesting that just because x number are used for conversion, that they can’t be used for combat? If you’re suggesting that those used for conversion aren’t fully mission capable, please by all means tell us why this is so.
Like I mentioned before, the fact that x number are used for operational conversion does not distract from the fact that all are fully mission capable : all have the same software updates, all have the same self defence suite, all have the same radar and all are qualified to carry the whole range of ordnance [AMRAAM, Harpoon, Maverick, Sidewinder] that 18 Squadron has. X number may be used for conversion but at the end of the day, ALL 8 are dedicated front line combat aircraft and are not dedicated trainers [e.g. the Fulcrum NUBs which have no radar and are intended to be dedicated trainers with a secondary combat capability].
With all do respect i did not say /mean that the hornets were not not mission capable. If both sets of pilot were provided with the same set of controls for delivering the ordanance then whats the point of having two seater plane? A single seater should do just well. And i bet the plane would have a longer combat range too. A wiso job is to manage the system 4 delivering weapons, doing the survailance and ect. In a word to lighten the the pilot workload and enabling him to focus flying the plane, doing the manouvers and so on. It was simply a question of numbers. Why have so many trainers / conversions for a fleet of plane that some experts wont call a full squadron. Are they trying to create a large pool of pilots for the 18 squadron? What are the ratio of pilot per plane in that squadron? What is the cost to upgrade to the trainer type hornets? Are the remaining 3 aircraft enough to train future wisos?. “Trainees” on that type of plane is not meant 4 other operational squadron like the 6 or the 11th. Even if they were transferred to the other squadron, they would still have to be train in a specific type trainer / simulator..
These are questions which I will leave unanswered.
All 8 Hornets can perform the same role; even the 4 that are used for conversion. You’re completely right in saying that “a trainer won’t have 100 percent of the same capability” but as I’ve pointed out, the Hornet is not a “trainer” per say like the Fulcrum NUB for example.
As of now, we can’t say with certainty whether the 4 used for conversion have been fitted with any extras : my sources (who admittedly are a bit out of touch) say they haven’t been fitted with any extra gadgets or intrumentations. As for numbers that make up a squadron, there is no fix rule; completely up to the operator. Same goes with navies, a squadron can comprise of 2 ships. I have no idea why the RMAF uses 4 of 8 for conversion but if it does indeed do so, then it must have a good reason.
Lets just wait and see i guess.. as marhalim would say “some question are better leave unanswered”.
I think the report about the conversion, as I said in my earlier post, is mistaken.
… has shed (no pun intended) some light on the matter in his posts above — all RMAF Hornets come configured as trainers.
According to the US DSCA (link below), upgrades are similar for all 8 Hornets. Looking at the upgrades, it’s more likely conversion of the aft seat into a weapons/sensor officer’s station, if indeed conversions are being contemplated.
dsca.mil, search term ‘Malaysia’. You’ll need to put in the http and w3 prefix yourself ….there’s a bug here that won’t allow links to be posted correctly.
All 24 australian super hornets are the 2 seat models, flown mostly with empty rear seats. So no issue of 2 seater hornets is fully mission capable or not.
Another problem the RMAF is facing – in addition to fighters – is the need for a dedicated LIFT to train potential pilots for whatever MRCA is selected. The 8 MBB -339CMs are great as intermediate trainers but something more capable is needed. It all boils down to money and at the moment, as we all know, there isn’t much of it.
Given that the RMAF has spared no expense in upgrading the Hornets and getting a new simulator; the next logical step would be to replace the APG-73. The Marconi Cat Eyes NVGs have been replaced but I don’t know with what.
To overcome the shortage of LIFT RMAF had sent out pilots to among others Pakistan. I am not sure whether its current practice or not as the Chief had said it is expensive.
We had previously sent trainee pilots to Bangladesh. Pakistan was the first time we sent pilots who had already earned their wings for further flight training abroad. But in general yes, we are saving cash by not sending people abroad unless we really have to. The last time we sent cadets to Sandhurst and Britannia Naval College was many, many moons ago.
Countries who have send trainee pots to FTC1 include Bangladesh and Cambodia. Back in the 1990’s a Bangladeshi pilots had a rough landing in a PC-7. I also recall Omani pilots spending time in the fighters simulator at Butterworth.
Talking about LIFT…
I am in favour of the current mrca search be put on hold and a new common platform is bought instead to replace the Mb-339cm and hawks. I know both of them still have plenty of hours left, selling them to other countries or private buyers (leisure flights, contractor agressor support) could be a solution.
Im thinking of a mass buy of t-50/fa-50 fighters. Indonesia bought 16 t-50 for around Usd400million. Phillipines bought 12 combat capable fa-50 for around usd450million. A buy of 24 fa-50 and 16 t-50 (for a total of 40 aircrafts) would cost about usd1.3bil and would give tudm 2 full fighter sqn with 1 lift sqn. Compare that to the remaining number of hawk that we have (a total of only 19) and 8 Mb-339cm
A force of 40 golden eagles plus hornets and flankers would still give a credible fighting capability to the air force, not to mention reducing the fighter variants down to 3 (and engine variations down to 2). I don’t think usd1.3bil would get anything credible and in meaningful numbers if they go and buy MRCAs.
As usual, just my 2kupang…
If i was not mistaken the RMAF was looking at the E version of the superbug. Not the F. Marhalim could elaborate on the matter..
No I was mistaken, it was just a short period, the final choice now is the F while its competitors are all single seaters which just to show which plane is actually favoured.
Sorry a bit off topic, but it has being puzzling for me for quite sometime.
Is it a standard procedure that whenever the PM travel with Whitehawk, at least 1 additional heli will be used as backup or escort purpose?
I have seen PM travel with Whitehawk twice over the years. Once was accompanied by 2 MMEA’s Dauphines and once accompanied by 1 MMEA’s AW139.
Yes, apart from the lower ranking officials, they also need a back up helicopter just in case the VIP helicopter go un-serviceable.