Money Talks…

MD530 which was supposed to be delivered for the Malaysian Army on display at the HAI Heli-Expo in Las Vegas in 2018. The helicopters are supposed to be delivered this August.

SHAH ALAM: Money Talks…In one of its last action in power, the (now dissolved) Pakatan Harapan government on Feb.15 finally gave the green light to the Defence Ministry to continue with the MD-530G light scout/attack helicopter contract, a deal which was bordering on cancellation for almost two years.

Army chief General Ahmad Hasbullah Nawawi in an interview at his office ahead of the Army’s 87th anniversary on Feb. 25 (a day after the PH government dissolved following the resignation of its PM Tun Mahathir Mohamad) revealed the decision was made “some time back”. He said as they had been given the green light to continue with the contract, RMAF’s Directorate General Technical Airworthiness (DGTA) personnel will be send to the US to conduct inspection on the helicopters to determine its airworthiness for use with the Army’s Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat (PUTD). He said this was necessary as the DGTA is the sole body to issue airworthiness certificate for the Malaysian government aircraft.

The MD530G fitted with the FN Herstal rocket machine gun pod and a Gatling. This is a likely weapon configuration for the LSH.

He said once the certification was completed, the training of aircrew and technicians will be conducted. He said the helicopters were expected to be operational by year end. The helicopters are expected to be based in eastern Sabah under the ESSCOM AOR as originally planned. Hasbullah did not explained the reasons for the government to move ahead with the MD530G contract. I was told that this was because the government cannot reclaimed the downpayment made for them (some RM100 million) even if it cancelled the deal as well as it could be liable to pay the rest of the contract cost (around RM200 million).

Taiwan Army M109A5 SPH. Wikipedia.

As for the M-109A5 SPH contract, Hasbullah confirmed that the deal had been cancelled as the Army found that the cost of supporting them in the future as excessive. “We have written to the US to cancel the deal.

Two Nuri helicopters peforming their displays at LIMA 19 opening ceremony

Hasbullah also said the Army had decided to follow RMAF action in grounding its four Nuri helicopters. He said the Army accepted the RMAF decision to lease helicopters for PUTD’s operational tasking to replace the Nuris. The number of the helicopters to be leased will be four by PUTD, Hasbullah said. Pressed whether four was enough, Hasbullah said they actually need 20 helicopters but had to settle for four for the moment.

A PUTD Nuri hauling an Oto Melara 105mm Pack Howitzer at the Firepower Exercise 2017.

* I had hold on to the story as the Army had asked the story be embargoed until March 1. However as the NST saw fit to run the story, yesterday, I am posting this today.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2186 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Basically with the grounding, TDM is wingless until they get their leased choppers. WTH were they thinking! With our Government in chaos and defence in shambles, any yahoo would be eyeing us for opportunities.

    The NST writer was a real noob in explaining about the MD530 purchases goes to replace the Nuris. And does nobody nowadays respect embargoes anymore? (not referring to you Marhalim).

  2. If my memory serves right, read somewhere that we will be using helmet mounted display together with the md530g.

    Thales scorpion hmd i think. Is it true?

  3. That NST journalist should be banned by mindef!

    So basically we will take on the little birds as even if we dont want them, we are obligated to pay for the whole contract. Probably the army can pursue the path of passing them on to the australian army in part exchange for their retired S-70A-9 Blackhawks.

    So now we have a clarity that PUTD aims to have at least 20 medium lift helicopters. That is the requirement, not sure the government can set aside the required budget for 20 new helicopters.

    @ joe

    PUTD still has their AW109

    @ nihd

    The original specs includes the thales scorpion HMD. That HMD nearly becomes the intelectual property of a malaysian company before it was vetoed and passed on to gentex and later thales. I hope that we could include the scorpion HMD in any future upgrades for the MKM.

    Banned? Unlikely as most government agencies tends to bend over backwards with MSM reporters unlike freelancers like me

  4. For me it will be interesting to see how the army intends to use its Little Birds? Given inherent limitations with the type; probably as a fast reaction asset (deploying SF or fire support) and the armed scout role: roles it was intended to perform.

  5. That NST MSM reporter has wrong facts in every single article that he wrote! And now he jumped the gun! You have far more credibility compared to him.

  6. @…
    Thanks for reminding about the A109. But AFAIK that is still a light chopper?
    And it wouldn’t make sense to trade something new for something used with high mileage. I certainly wouldn’t want to trade a brand new Myvi for a well used Camry.

    If we want to go the cheaper Blackhawk route, this was my plan:
    “it is a nobrainer, cost effective option, and more importantly – new and relatively problem-free, to get civie S-70s for our general purpose chopper. In your article, it was pointed out the civie S-70i is basically the same chopper as US Army UH-60M minus the mil-tech gear, so you can see how much is saved by going off-the-shelf and removing the high-spec stuff. If PUTD are primarily going to use them overland, we could even make do w/o the marinisation of the airframe, thereby saving even more cost. For a fleet of 12 choppers it will only cost USD $180mil-200mil(with spares) translates to <RM 1Bil. That is peanuts even for our peanut butter budget."
    At USD$15mil each, we could afford for 10 @ USD$150mil in RMK12, and another 10 in RMK13.

  7. Can’t we just put FH70 howitzer on top of trucks for our first SPH? No need to be highly complex, just add hydraulic spades or something to stabilize the platform. At least can practice shoot and scoot better while we’re cash strap.

    Offtopic: since the recent operation by Turkey in both Syria and Libya using their drones extensively, will they have higher chance for MinDef to select them for our MALE drone program? Their drones looks like cheaper than American, while better than the Chinese one

  8. @ joe

    Never mind if the MD530 is new, it is still something that is unwanted and ill fitted for the army operational needs. Used blackhawks will be more useful for the army than those new lilte birds can ever be.

    For the army, USD300 million for 20 brand new blackhawk choppers could mean a few other requirements that need to be shelved.

    Some of the things that can be bought for around that amount:

    – 37x Caesar 155mm SPH howitzers (USD240 million indonesia)
    – 500x J-LTV 4×4 MRAP (USD170.8 milion Lithuania)
    – 4 batteries of VL-MICA land (USD223 million Morocco)

  9. Leased heli for MAF, private-own-govt operate&maintain? Any idea what type of helis being sought?…i think these leased heli using civil specs will not go for night ops due to not compatible with night vision goggle.

    Not really, SAR helicopters operated by various companies in Europe operate at night and bad weather with NVG equipment. The only thing we cannot do is to install weapons on them with the full support of the OEM. We can do it of course but then the OEM will not support or do the integration for us.

  10. @…
    One thing I have known about ATM is they can find use for ill fitted equipment, like shoehorning Sibmas & Scorpions in fire support and impromptu arty roles. They have a need for armed choppers so MD530 still is better than nothing, they would have to design their mission profiles in consideration of their limitations (operate from FOB near operation theaters?).

    Its certainly easy to see how much firepower trade off when considering the S-70s but in warfare, logistics is nearly as important as firepower. And the versatility of S70 meant they are more useful than 37 Caesars, or 500 JLTVs, or 4 batteries of SAM, during peacetime operations.

    All things considered, we can’t just focus to buy offensive type equipment. The logistic mules are equally important, despite their unglamorous roles.

  11. Ihei,

    – FH-70s are no longer in production and ours have long been retired. It also has a 39 calibre barrel which limits its options with regards to range.

    – It’s not only a “shoot and scoot” ability that’s vital but but also integration and fire control.

    – Mounting them in lorries makes no sense as there will still be design/engineering work involved and going through all that trouble is pointless for such a small number.

    – The Anka MALE is being marketed by DEFTECH. Like everything else it’s not the actual UAS that bakes the difference but stuff like command/control and integration. Being able to see in real time is great but the intel has to be made available to those who need it in the shortest time possible without any delays. Sounds easy but a bit hard in practice.

  12. @ihei47
    Hell no! It ain’t that simple. You can do that with mortars or up to 105mm arty but for use with 155mm guns, the truck not only needs to take the long load of the 155 but able to withstand the back blast of continuous firings or else the entire truck would literally fall apart. And did you consider that towed 155 arty have limited traverse range? Putting these gun on a truck would necessitate the entire truck to be aligned with the firing axis, something which is not practical.

  13. Hopefully more synchronisation, not to mention understanding between KEMENTAH and Kementerian Kewangan after this.

  14. If want have a weaponised heli,then opt for leasing military type helis. I think Airbus,AW,Sikorsky do not have military helis for rent…maybe not yet.

  15. Nimitz,

    No we don’t currently have a requirement for an armed rotary platform. The requirement is for a platform to be leased to perform roles the Nuri performed; roles that don’t require it to be armed.

  16. @nimitz
    I don’t think there exist such a business as the chopper systems would need to match with the weapons loadout of the particular customer and not every country will go for the same weapons even if they choose the same chopper.

    There is synchro. Fin Min says: No Enough Money, KEMENTAH says: Ok lorr, Generals says: Saya mengikut perintah so scaled down buys.

  17. Off topic

    “In a separate development, Affendi said the police and ATM have agreed to set up a special committee to review the use of camouflage uniforms and badges in order to avoid confusion.

    “We don’t want such uniforms to be exclusive to the police or ATM but there is a need to understand that the uniforms worn by personnel and officers needs to be more distinctive,” he said.”

  18. Talking about Sabah, there was reported in The Star that GOF, Sabah had received 12 armoured vehicles and penned for another 36 more. Do we know what kind of ‘armoured vehicles’ are these? Since its for GOF, I don’t think it would be Gempitas or Lipanbaras so my interest is piqued.

  19. @nimitz
    Thanks for the info. Going thru the vehicle profile, these are likely hand me downs from TDM as some are no longer produced. Quite a variety of platforms there; Land Rover, Unimog, & Land Cruiser based. I wonder how the maintenance would go (except the Land Cruiser based IAG Jaws). More is coming so likely TDM is getting rid of their hodge-podge variety armoured cars and streamlining to just a few models (Lipanbara, IAG Guardian, new 6X6 APC, Gempita).

    No, lah, the vehicles are PDRM ones, the Shorlands from the early 1970s, the Korean ones were purchased for the Timor Leste mission and the Jaws were purchased a few years back

  20. @Marhalim
    I see… I’m not sure why PDRM would previously see the need for APCs. Do they expect criminals to arm with assault rifles with armour piercing rounds and MGs? Kinda overkill when they had them before.

    The police has had them since the Emergency.

  21. I think PDRM apc 4×4 if want commonality across the fleet, settle for Land Cruiser based IAG Jaws. After all,almost all soft skinned 4WD with MY Govt registration now are Japan models,after sales support is nationwide…my 2 cents.

  22. just thinking out loud

    If PUTD say four leased helicopters would be good temporarily, is it still possible for the army to revisit the Brunei offer for their four S-70A-32 Blackhawks?

    For info – some of the designation of export Blackhawks:
    S-70A-32 – Brunei – 4 units
    S-70A-34 – Malaysia – 2 units
    S-70A-9 – Australia – 39 units, 5 crashed

    Have not heard anything on the Brunei helicopters

  23. USD300 millions..
    Can get 3-4 land based NSM for coastal defenses especially in our Eez.

    Its RM lah

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