MECU is still up in the air

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: MECU is still up in the air. Last July, I wrote that the tender for MECU, the Multi Engine Conversion Unit, aircraft was published by the Defence Ministry. It appears until today, the tender has yet to be sorted out, meaning that a bidder has not been selected yet. This was confirmed by RMAF chief General Ackbal Samad in a press conference today.

What I wrote last July.

The Defence Ministry has issued a tender for multi engine, conversion unit (MECU) aircraft for pilot training on behalf of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). The tender was published on July 5, 2019 and ends on Aug. 1. 20191.The MECU programme is conducted by the Tactical Transport Flight Training Centre (PLTT) based at the Subang airbase.Since 2013, the centre had used two Beechcraft Super King 350i twin turboprop aircraft leased from Aerotree Defence & Services Sdn Bhd, designated M101-01 and M101-02.The company received a five year, RM41.6 million contract in 2012 which likely ended in late 2017 or early 2018. The company continue to provide the services from August to December, 2018 based on the Finance Ministry’s archives of tender results.I am guessing that Aerotree will be the most suitable to continue with the programme as it already have the two aircraft available but as the current government’s policy for an open competition for all contracts, the Defence Ministry has no other option but to open it for other companies as well

The PLTT squadron logo. Internet

Ackbal said they were in discussions with the Finance Ministry regarding the contract and hoped it will be concluded soon. In the meantime, he said the course was still on going though he did not say what aircraft was being used. It is likely that the pilot trainees are being trained in the RMAF King Air B200Ts or the CN-235s which were used previously following the retirement of the Cessna 402B.
RMAF Super King Air 350 M101-01

And as for the Nuri, Ackbal confirmed that they want to retire them and buy or lease new medium lift helicopters. He said the Nuri was at the end of its service life and the cost and support were getting expensive. The statement by Ackbal confirmed what I wrote late last year.
Nuri M23-29 flying over the Kota Belud air to ground firing range.

It is unlikely that funding will be available for new helicopters in the next 24 months though it could be slotted in 2021 or RMK12. Leasing a couple of them is possible within the next few months though. It must be noted the RMAF in its Cap 55 had wanted new helicopters in RMK13.
RMAF EC725 flying at the opening ceremony of LIMA 17.

— Malaysian Defence


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Shah Alam


  1. I am hoping that TUDM will give the Nuri the grand farewell that it richly deserves.

    As for the Nuri replacement, IMO it should be additional used EC225LP. For that I suggest Kementah to order LTAT to just hand over the EC225LP of MHS Aviation to TUDM for free.

    Current EC225LP of MHS Aviation:

    There is also 4 AS332 of MHS aviation that is still for sale. This can be passed on to TLDM for their Maritime Mission Helicopter requirements (and also as an offset to the LCS delays).

    There is also 1 more EC225, almost brand new unused, still in Subang airport. Owned by the son of Taib Mahmud of Sarawak.

    As for the ex-awan inspirasi EC225LP, i dont know the exact details, but seems that 2 of the ex awan inspirasi EC225LP is probably still in Miri. Both has been re-registered with a 3rd party proxy company in USA.
    1 EC225LP ex-9M-AIM now N225XT
    2 EC225LP ex-9M-AI0 now N225RT

  2. Off topic

    Wow now even municipal council personels are wearing camouflage uniforms!!!

    Saw on the news Majlis Perbandaran Kuantan (MPK).

    This is outrageous! The government needs to put a stop on non defence ministry and home ministry personels using camouflage uniforms. And this is to include the bomba. Please get rid of the bomba fire camouflage!

    Back on the topic

    On MECU. In the long term, i would prefer TUDM to have its own aircraft for multi engine conversion and other utility and medevac missions.

  3. @…
    “IMO it should be additional used EC225LP.”
    Here is your answer “It must be noted the RMAF in its Cap 55 had wanted new helicopters in RMK13.”

    I don’t support getting more EC225/EC725 as the platform is still dogged with crashes. I would rather prefer Black Hawks and as a general purpose medium lifter, it doesn’t have to be the expensive militarised version so it would make more sense to get new built civilian spec S-70s with underslung hook capability. This would be more cost efficient and ties into their CAP55 plan.

  4. Yup, next we’ll have Indah Water # now Hon.members of the Territorial Army units. I would love to see my N9 in military gear. 🙂 The last Sports Minister@KJ wore his military fatigues with panache!

  5. The two Aerotree King Air 350 is still there. Saw them using the M41-01 for multi engine conversion course…

    I saw the Aerotree King Airs when I went for the handing over ceremony on Friday.

  6. great news regarding the nuri’s replacement plan. hope this time the RMAF will chose a heli which has a back ramp to facilitate its loading capacity.

  7. KJ was, at one point, a brigadier general in TA and even had parachutist badge and went to combat course(s) so he’s the last guy you want to complain about. Besides when he relinquished his post in TA he didn’t wear it anymore so it’s a non issue

  8. mustafa – “great news regarding the nuri’s replacement plan”

    Nothing “great” so far. The government might end up leasing a mere handful of platforms to perform taskings that by right should be performed by a whole squadron and actual replacements for the Nuri could take 4,6,8 years or even longer. The requirement hasn’t even been approved yet, not to mention actual
    funding allocation. Years and years of underfunding the MAF has now caught up with us.

    mustafa – “RMAF will chose a heli which has a back ramp to facilitate its loading capacity”

    A rear ramp certainly has utility but going down this route will result in the RMAF having 2 different types of utility platforms in service, this will add to the already large logistical footprint in that a separate training and support infrastructure will have to be established. As it is the RMAF is short of funds and resources.

  9. Mr Marhalim,
    Any update on Tldm Maritime Utility Heli? Still in evaluation? The Budget for procurement program already approve?

  10. …,
    Awan’s all gone. Happily flying somewhere north.
    MHS’s gov is competing against external buyer. AF is lucky that being a GLC, MHS been dragging their feet missing at least 2 opportunities. But comparing a lease, MHS needs cash to turn around as next OG recovery is around the corner.
    L1’s are very hot in the market, as the fear for wild fire looming. Brokers are seeing at least 10% jump on base price. Unlikely AF is willing to price match, and does not make sense.
    L2s are facing obsolescence. Will be a bad idea.
    Taib’s baby will most likely forego due to current ownership.

    Under new rule, mil contract will be open tender in two scenario, a new contract or under perform. If AF wants to keep certain contract going, they will justify to MoF such that a tender is made to have a clear winner. The message sent above is very clear on the MECU which is which. In the same time, some are selling hard the IPTN CN235s as MPA cum trainer. Lets see.

  11. Another article from NST that is riddled with wrong facts (like the whole fleet has only flown just 14,000 hours in 52 years??)

    The only important take from this is the number of required helicopters (8). IMO we can easily find 8 used EC225LP for this requirement to buy/acquire outright without resorting to leasing. We have 6 around in malaysia, and another 2 to be found internationally.

  12. I reiterate what IMO the lowest cost option for the nuri replacement (of course will not be liked by those who will profit from any leasing deals)

    1. Transfer all 5 MHS Helicopters EC225LP (which is a subsidiary of Boustead, which in turn is owned by LTAT, retired soldiers pension fund) to TUDM for free. Force the MAF veterans to publicly support this move (they are supposed to be a patriotic bunch right?). As a “reward” for handing over the EC225LPs, approve Bousteads additional request for funds to complete the LCS, and also approve the LCS batch 2 for RMK13 (IMO better to get EC225LP in exchange for approving additional money for LCS rather than just giving to boustead without getting something in return).

    2. PM to nicely ask Taib Mahmud to order his son to “donate” the single unused EC225LP of aerial power lines to TUDM. I believe his son wont go bankrupt if he donates this to TUDM. Package this donation publicly as a gift from Sarawak to the federal government.

    3. Use the remaining OPEX for the Nuri to buy additional 2 EC225LP from international market.

    So that is done for TUDM.

    For Army PUTD,

    Offer to give to Australia our unwanted MD530G helicopters in exchange for their retired S-70A-9 Blackhawks. 2 squadrons of blackhawk would be ideal but 1 squadron worth would still be better than stuck with unwanted MD530Gs.

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