More Pictures of RMAF MSA

A clear view of the FLIR turret on RMAF CN-235MSA. RMAF

SHAH ALAM: More pictures of RMAF MSA. A few days back one of Malaysian Defence regular commenters asked about the RMAF CN-235 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA). As the MSA/MPA capability/community is one of the things RMAF do not talk about – one of the Beechcraft King Air had a Rahsia sign posted on its doors when parked at an event – Malaysian Defence has little to say about it.

Thankfully, RMAF answered the call – albeit with pictures – following the four-day visit to the Kuching airbase by its Training Commander Lt General Zahani Zainal Abidin from February 28 to March 3. As expected, Zahani visited No 1 Skuadron, the operator of the MSA and the sole flying unit at the airbase. He also visited the Skuadron 330 at Kota Samarahan which served as the Control and Reporting Centre, located some three-hour’s drive from Kuching. The squadron operates the ThalesRaytheon GM403 long range air surveillance radar.

Note the Link 16 sign on one of the monitors as Lt General Zahani visits one of the command-and-control facility. RMAF

Release from RMAF

KUCHING, 3 Mac 23 – Lt Jen Dato’ Zahani bin Hj Zainal Abidin TUDM, Panglima Pendidikan dan Latihan Udara telah merasmikan Mesyuarat Pemerintahan Panglima Pendidikan dan Latihan Udara Siri 1/23 bertempat di Dewan Sri Angkasa, PU Kuching. Turut hadir bersama dalam mesyuarat kali ini adalah Ketua Staf MAWILUD 1, Brig Jen Dato’ Abdul Halim bin Abu Hassan TUDM.
Mesyuarat yang diadakan selama empat (4) hari iaitu bermula pada 28 Feb hingga 3 Mac 23 ini memfokuskan kepada isu semasa dan rancangan hadapan dalam mendukung fungsi dan peranan MPPLU selari dengan Pelan Strategik CAP55 khususnya melibatkan pendidikan dan latihan di dalam TUDM.
Pada mesyuarat edisi kali ini, sebanyak 12 taklimat dan kertas kerja telah dibentangkan iaitu Taklimat Kurikulum Basic Flying Course (BFC) dari INSPEN 1, Taklimat Kurikulum Flying Instructor Course (FIC) dari ILIT, Kajian Centre of Excellence for Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) Basic Helicopter Pilot Training (Helicopter Joint School),Kajian Cadangan Pelarasan Skop Pengendalian dan Senggaraan Pesawat PC-7 MK II di antara TUDM dan Industri, Conceptual of Non-Pilot Aircrew (WSO, TACCO, UAS/SO, NAV) Training Center; Kertas Kerja Cadangan Penstrukturan Semula Organisasi Unit Naungan MPPLU dan Organisasi MPPLU serta sebanyak enam (6) pembentangan berkenaan tajuk “Virtual vs Real Training”, Relevansi Kurikulum Latihan Semasa oleh institut latihan di bawah naungan MPPLU.
Selain daripada itu, peserta mesyuarat turut melawat No 1 Skn dan Skn 330 TUDM bagi melihat lebih dekat pengoperasian unit dalam aspek latihan lanjutan (advance training).

RMAF Training Commander Lt Gen Zahani Zainal Abidin checking one of the two MSA delivered to No 1 Skuadron. The aircraft lacked the observers’ seats behind the mission consoles and appears to have the jump seats still installed. RMAF

As expected, not much can be gleaned from the release apart that both No 1 Squadron and Skn 330 are operational while at the same time conducting advanced training. From one of the pictures, it appears that command and control facility at the airbase – Sector Operating Centre 3 – are equipped with the equipment to receive the ISR data gathered by the MSA via the Link 16 datalink installed on the aircraft as part of the upgrade.
CDF General TS Affendi Buang being briefed on the MSA upgrade during his visit to PTDI facility in Bandung, Indonesia in June, last year. Note the observer’s seat next to the mission console. The aircraft – likely tail number 05 – also lacked the jump seats. ATM

From the US Navy release previously, we know the ISR data captured by the CN-235s on operational mission could be shared live via the datalink to the mobile and fixed ground stations provided by the upgrade. The MSA upgrade is paid for by the United States Maritime Security Initiative.
RMAF Training Commander Lt General Zahani Zainal Abidin (centre, seated) posed for a group photograph in front of one of the CN-235MSA. RMAF

RMAF also did not confirm the tail number of the second MSA delivered. The first delivered was M44-03, which was the second aircraft sent for the conversion to Bandung, Indonesia. The first was M44-05 and the third send there was M44-01. The second aircraft delivered (see the pictures) is tail number 05.
RMAF Training Commander Lt General Zahani Zainal Abidin (leaning on aircraft) checking out the FLIR turret on the tail number M44-03 CN-235 MSA. RMAF

I am also guessing that third aircraft -likely tail number 01 – will be delivered at LIMA 2023 to be held this May in Langkawi. It is likely the acceptance ceremony for the fleet will be conducted there with the US Ambassador in attendance.
Updated to correct the second to be delivered after the upgrade.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Just some hypothesis, it may be that Plane #1 wasn’t quite finished yet but got an early delivery, perhaps later on it will return back to standardise it with those coming later (removal of jump seats & adding the observer eats). Another possibility could be TUDM are trying out different configurations of the plane interior, like if they temporarily remove the mission controller seats, they could reconfig the plane as a limited transporter of sorts with the remainder jump seats. Or it could simply be an easy job and TUDM personnel could remove them without much difficulty.

    Are the Beechcraft MPAs still in operation or were they phased out now?

  2. Can’t they salvage the two Amascos and put them in the remaining CN235?….when they retire the Super Kings next year

    Then we would have more MSI assets

  3. hafiz – ”Any plans to pass on the Beechcraft MPAs to MMEA?”

    They are old and have you seen the inside of one [extremely cramped with no standing head space or a toilet] or spoke to people who have to sit in them for hours? You figure the MMEA wants them?

  4. We still need those CN235 for regular cargo transport.

    prolly can get a white tailed cn235 and install one fo the plane with salvaged amascos. Pretty sure Brunei had one of those unused cn235 they could sell to us

  5. @Hasnan
    Indeed that’s what I also proposed here many moons ago, the planes may be aged but the system is still being sold & supported by the OEM. It will help to offload more of the mundane patrol duties from the much dearer MPAs that we will get.

  6. I used to fly regularly in a Queen air, the smaller version. Believe me it’s a sardine can.

  7. Dundun – ”We still need those CN235 for regular cargo transport.”

    I would think so especially if the load is a single or a couple of pallets or a few people. Never mind what’s mentioned in CAP 55; in reality I have no idea if the RMAF in the long run still sees the need for a 2 engine platform which is far more practical and cheaper for sorties which don’t require a A400M or Charlie.

  8. Tom Tom – ”Believe me it’s a sardine can.”

    Yes. I’ve seen the inside of one and have spoken to crews who have been inside them for hours on end. Extremely cramped and uncomfortable. No toilet too.

    Can safely assume the MMEA doesn’t want them; in addition to inherent limitations and age; the MMEA has neither the crews or the funds to operate/sustain them. The MMEA also doesn’t want to be in the position where it continues to gets hand me downs because of sustainment issues and because it already has a large footprint with the wide variety of stuff operated.

  9. Dundun – ”We still need those CN235 for regular cargo transport.”

    Yes, RMAF still need it.
    RMAF already set a record in using A400. Using A400 frequently is unavoidable because there are not enough smaller size plane.
    CN235 has a ramp door which is very helpfull in loading and unloading and paratrooping too.

    A400 is too big to have. There is no requirement for this size plane in RMAF. The C130 should be the biggest logistic plane in RMAF inventory.

    The funny thing is ID/TNI never has desire to have a logistic plane bigger than C130, but RMAF has show they need it when there is a disaster in Sulawesi. They ordered 2 A400m from that experience.

  10. Dundun – ”CN235 has a ramp door which is very helpfull in loading and unloading and paratrooping too.”

    They all have ramp doors. The CN is also very useful is operating from strips which can’t handle a A400M or Charlie. Remember how we used to operate Caribous from grass strips during the 2nd Emergency? Even the PPH base at ulu Kinta had a grass strip.

    Dundun – ”A400 is too big to have. There is no requirement for this size plane in RMAF.”

    Maybe but if a times comes when the unique capabilities it offers is required then even if it’s only 5 percent of the time; it pays of and justifies the investment.

    Ultimately aa payoff is required. The RMAF may decide that having only 4 engine lifters and the fact that most of the time they will not be flying at full capacity is a penalty worth incurring rather than sustaining the infrastructure for 2 types of 4 engine platforms and one type of a twin engine platform.

  11. The quote was wrongly attributed to Dundun when it should have been Romeo. Apologies.

  12. From the parliamentary sessions just now the timb. menhan YB Whathisname said that C-130H is going to be used until 2040

    Perhaps the AF could consider C295W to replace CN235 and to complement and eventually replace C-130. The CN235 can be reconfigured to MSA perhaps using the equipment on the King Air as we can never have too many MPA/MSA

    With 6 CN235MSA and 6 ATR-72MPA we can expect 4 to fly regularly during peacetime, 2 patrolling SCS, 1 to patrol malacca strait and one to patrol Sulu Sea, with UAV patching the hole left by any unpatrolled area

  13. There is no BBJ in RMAF. That one has been sold off in 2018. The only airliner operated by the RMAF is the leased Airbus A319CJ on behalf of PMO. And I don’t think RMAF is interested in high hour ATRs even if they are gifted to them.

  14. That’s have been the plan for the Hercules. Doubt RMAF wants C295s to replace the CNs as they are likely to be flying as long as the Hercules

  15. C295 aren’t going to carry IFV,APC nor can provide tankers services. So it’s unlikely going to replace the c130.

    CN 235 can Technically speaking be replaced with few more ATR similar to RSAF utilizing it Fokker as both MPA & transport or it could just be retired without replacement if MAF get something like aw609 or Valor.

  16. I think the A400s are useful for humanitarian work, as seen recently with the earthquake in Turkey.

  17. Zaft – ” So it’s unlikely going to replace the c130″

    Dundun mentioned the possibility of the CN295 replacing the CN235; not the C130 which is in a different class/weight category. As it stands the RMAF has no plans to replace the CN235 with anything.

    Tom Tom – “I think the A400s are useful for humanitarian work”

    No joke..

  18. @Tom Tom
    We are more than likely, and more often to, use defence assets for humanitarian, HADR, & low threat peacekeeping roles.

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