Leonardo ATR P-72 MSA. Leonardo

SHAH ALAM: RFP for MPAs. FlightGlobal is reporting that the Defence Ministry will soon issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the acquisition of a new maritime patrol aircraft. The report admitted the current political situation in Putrajaya may well see a postponement of the RFP.

From FlightGlobal

According to a source familiar with the proposed deal, Kuala Lumpur seeks “five or six” aircraft capable of performing the full MPA mission, with the ability to detect submarines and prosecute them with torpedoes.

The timing of the RFP, however, could be challenged by the 24 February decision of Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to resign. The decision could result in a tumultuous political situation that in all likelihood will delay military procurements. Still, Kuala Lumpur is clearly waking up to the importance of building its maritime surveillance capabilities.

Saab Swordfish MPA based on the Bombardier Q400.

AFAIK, RFPs for the MPA is in the works already as it is among the programmes which have been greenlighted by the government for the next RMK. This include the LCA and UAV as well, if you remember my previous reports.
Leonardo ATR 72 MPA. Leonardo

However with the current political situation, it remained uncertain whether the approved programmes would be reviewed, once a new government has been sworn in, by next week, if there is no need for a general election. If a general election is called for, a new government is only expected to be sworn in – at earliest – in early April.
Chilean Navy C295 MPA. Airbus

Technically, the Defence Ministry can issue the RFPs for the three programmes even if a general election is called but I am guessing that the civil servants at Jalan Padang Tembak will be disinclined to do so. The secretary-general has only been on the job for the last three weeks (RMAF chief is also new) and even the Procurement division head is new so caution is the key word.
Kawasaki P-1 MPA. JSMDF

I am guessing that only once a new Defence Minister had been sworn in that the RFPs would be sent out, if the new government concurred with the programme, of course. I believed this will take place by June, at the earliest. Anyhow, the ministry already has its hands full for the conversion of the CN235s as MPA already.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2201 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Is this separate from the CN235 repurpose programme?

    Of course, why you need a RFP for the CN235

  2. My humble opinion is,

    Forget about the MPA RFP and concentrate to make the best MPA possible out of our 6 CN-235. A full ASW capability with sub attack function might not be possible with CN-235 MPA, but we dont have to waste resources to get 2 different types of MPA.

    Friendly countries like Australia and UK have the P-8, and australia will be permanently deploying at least 1 to malaysia anyway. Something that we need to take into consideration too. UK will be deploying its aircraft carrier to south china sea next year, and surely its P-8 will also be deployed to cover the ship.

    Anyway, bfore we even think of ASW MPA, where is the plan for ASW helicopter?

    For TUDM RMK12 rather than having 2 types of MPA, try to maximise the budget to get the best LCA/LIFT as possible.

  3. Maybe they are also keen on the CN 295. There must be a lot of commonality in the aircraft hardware. As for the surveillance software, I am sure they can get smart enough RMAF techs who can adapt to and operate both American and European systems and radars.

    C295 will not cut it as an ASW MPA, armed with torpedoes it will not have the range or endurance. None of the turboprops will cut it

  4. … – “Something that we need to take into consideration too””

    We have long factored in their presence. They are in in charge of their own taskings and when it comes to places which have overlapping claims; they won’t touch it with a barge pole.

    In short; RAAF P-3s will be very useful/helpful for certain situations like SAR and piracy: as well as areas of mutual concern but not more than that.

    Its P8s now as RAAF is retiring the Orions.

  5. P.S. There is also the fact that under “Gatekeeper” certain tastings undertaken by P-3s – in the Andaman and South China Sea – are related to matters of no direct or immediate interest/concern (being part of the Australian/U.S. intel arrangement) to us and intel obtained is only shared at their discretion.

    We had actually looked at converting the CNs in the 2008/9 period with roll on/off surveillance kits but for some reason the idea never caught traction with the powers that be.

  6. “None of the turboprops will cut it”. Settle for jet platform which have the range & endurance. Pricier than a turboprop. Unfortunately nobody manufactures a 4-engine turboprop ASW MP like P-3.

  7. Nimitz,

    Catch 22. Will the RMAF be provided width the funds needed to operate and support a jet platform?

    Same argument can be made with a AEW platform. A jet can get to where it has to go faster than a turboprop and will be able to operate at a higher altitude but operating/support costs will be higher.

    Personally I think a ASW platform – like various other things – is something we have to go without for the the foreseeable future and to instead concentrate first on acquiring a ASW configured helo to operate from the LCS. Sure, a ASW helo is no substitute for a AAW conducted MPA but at least it provides some level of capability; provided we get the right platform able to carry a pair of torps, sonobuoys and a dipping sonar

  8. Agreed on the Catch-22. Hopefully Mindef will tell us,which manufacturer submitted its proposal. Not surprised if they will fall for a twin engine turboprop though.

    For ASW helis, the ‘right’ one is Wildcat…just a gut feeling.

  9. Nimitz,

    It is from a price perspective; assuming that’s the minimum we can afford. From an operational perspective it’s a different however; as far as ASW goes. It can’t carry a pair of torps and dipping sonar (never mind sonobuoys) and still have decent endurance.

    An ASW platform has to reach point A to search and persecute the contact and has to get back to the ship. Even assuming it might not have to fly too far to get to the vicinity of the contact; searching and getting a firing solution which can enable the launch of a torp will take time and likelihood is that only a single torp will be carried. Given that ASW is at the best of times; time intensive we can’t assume that the helo wont have to spend time searching and flying around dipping and retracting the sonar. The objective will also have to also keep the contact as far away from the ship as possible; this will require endurance; which in turn requires fuel.

    It’s the same really for a fixed wing MPA. I am of the opinion that only the P-8 will meet the technical requirements but not on cost

  10. Marhalim,

    No doubt range, endurance and lift capacity for ASW configured MPAs applies but given that there is close to zero likelihood our MPAs will have such a capability; hopefully in 2-3 years we’ll go for ASW configured helos first. Enabling a ASW capability will add significant cost to the MPA programme and funds will also have to be allocated to operate and maintain the equipment. There is also the question of how much time just 2 MPAs will be able to spend on ASW training given that their priority will be surveillance.

    I have to agree, on paper the P-8 is the only contender that adequately fulfils all the requirements we should/expect from a MPA; assuming of course whether one can afford it.


    I think we can safely assume that the decision to proceed with the Little Birds was made way before the Defence Minister’s post became vacant; only days ago.

    Now the army will have to find ways to put to operational use the Little Birds; either as a quick reaction armed platform to deal with just detected threats or to deploy special forces (notwithstanding the type’s limited lift capacity, range, endurance and and cabin space

  11. Marhalim,

    To the best of your knowledge, did the contact for the Little Birds include a weapons package?

    Mini guns and unguided rocket launchers only as this was a DCS deal. Guided weapons need to be purchased via FMS

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