Money Talks…

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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