RMN looking at UAVs

SHAH ALAM: THE RMN is looking at acquiring UAVs to boost maritime domain awareness as budget woes limits it hull numbers, its newly appointed Chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Badaruddin said today. He however, did not specify numbers or the type of UAVs to be acquired nor the timeline for the procurement.

During the recent 2016 budget announcement, it was stated that the government wants to acquire UAVs for the Armed Forces to boost its ISR capabilities.

Admiral Kamarulzaman said the UAVs will allow the RMN to patrol larger areas compared to its current capability due to the lack of ships. “if something of interest is detected, we can then send our ship to the area,” he told reporters after conferring ranks to four RMN personnel. Two businessmen was awarded the honorary Commander rank in the naval reserves.

RMN chief Admiral Kamarulzaman putting on the honourary Commander rank on Datuk Seri Mahmud Bekir Taib Mahmud.
RMN chief Admiral Kamarulzaman putting on the honourary Commander rank on Datuk Seri Mahmud Bekir Taib Mahmud.

Admiral Kamarulzaman also said the navy was also looking into ways “to do more with less”. Among others, in the near future, training for navy personnel will be conducted using simulators, whenever possible, further reducing operational costs.

And also to reduce cost, the navy, according to the Admiral Kamarulzaman will also be centralising its procurement activities at the navy headquarters at the Defence Ministry. He said apart from reducing cost, it will also reduced the chance of corruption and leakages.

Although he did not say it, the re-location of the procurement activities was likely due to the the corruption scandal at the Lumut naval base recently. A number of senior RMN personnel, including a Captain, had been charged in court for various counts corruption and money laundering for contracts mostly related and approved at the Lumut base.

Gagah Samudera at the National Hydrography Centre. Picture taken on April 22, 2014
Gagah Samudera at the National Hydrography Centre. Picture taken on April 22, 2014

Meanwhile, Ahmad Kamarulzaman confirmed that both RMN’s uncompleted training ships, Teguh Samudera and Gagah Samudera, were now at the Grade One Marine Shipyard in Lumut. He said work on the ships are expected to be conducted once the contracts were finalised.

New Analysis

Ahmad Kamarulzaman statement on the UAVs is the first confirmation that the programme is officially on-going. However due to time constraints, not much details could be ascertained for the programme and other RMN’s priorities in RMK11.

Schiebel Camcopter on display at LIMA 2015.
Schiebel Camcopter on display at LIMA 2015.

However, it is likely that the UAVs being looked into could be the ones that could be easily integrated on RMN’s ships like the Insitu Scaneagle (already operated in ESSCOM AOR) and even the Scheibel Camcopter which an MOU between Petronas and the Armed Forces signed during LIMA 15.

The unarmed Predator XP.
The unarmed Predator XP.

It is unlikely we will be going for something much more capable and expensive at the same time, like the General Atomics Predator XP (above).

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2149 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. I hope they would consider Sapura’s UAV solutions. This would ultimately help to expand their portfolio and further invest the RnD work on their system.

    Last week, the french gendarmerie announced that they would procure quadcopters from Novadem, a small company in southern France. They would use the drones to survey buildings before launching their assault. This purchase would help this company to grow.

    My point is, the drone business is not an expensive one and the technology in it is not that complex either. So I strongly think that we should develop and support our own homemade system. This would allow our company to grow and eventually become a major player in this sector. The drone industry would continue to grow anyway, like what is shown by SNCF (French KTM) who uses drones to monitor the condition of their railway tracks. Other nations are investing in their own system to lead the market, so should we.

  2. Hmm…

    There is a leader which has alternative plans when their plan A (more ships) are constrained by current financial situation.

    I would like to see something similar from the leaders of the airforce.

  3. Agreed with Q

    If government can help Deftech to develop 8×8 capability by spending so much fund on AV8 project, WHY current administration and RMN can’t do the same for Local (maybe semi-local) UAV company???

    As Q already mentioned before, “the drone business is not an expensive one and the technology in it is not that complex either” and “This would allow our company to grow and eventually become a major player in this sector”. Set a standard and specification, give chances and ample time for local companies for R&D, and then purchase it. Give feedback so they can upgrade it.

    I hope Malaysia can follow Indonesian example by make it into law like “UNDANG-UNDANG REPUBLIK INDONESIA NOMOR 16 TAHUN 2012 TENTANG INDUSTRI PERTAHANAN” (Google it yourself). Don’t wait until our defense industries bankrupt and collapsed, and then take action. Too late and too much cost involved.

    DASAR PERTAHANAN NEGARA 2010 by MINDEF in “Bab 6: Sokongan Keupayaan Industri Pertahanan Negara” still have LONG WAY TO GO if this is MINDEF and MAF mindset. They would rather spend millions (or billions) on foreign OEM, declared that and this TOT, but at best, local companies just “Hidup Segan, Mati Tak Mahu” but our Government “Menang Sorak, Kampung Tergadai”. Don’t let local companies just become local supplier for big foreign companies, but support them to grow.

  4. Azhar,

    Yup, I agree with you. To be frank, they don’t need to start from zero, at least not for a fixed-wing UAV.

    If I remember correctly, there were some projects on this system under Abdullah’s period as PM. So we already have a working platform, the rest would be upgrades to meet the criteria needed. For example they can use third party sensors (which they usually do because we don’t have the skills in this high-tech system) to meet the requirements. But of course, I’m not sure how projects are conducted in Malaysia as I have no experience working there. But if we were to follow the conventional project management method, it shouldn’t be hard to do the upgrades, the rest only depends on money.

    I’m glad to see that they are others who share the same view on the importance of developing our own industry.

  5. Marhalim,
    Whats the latest on the SGPV?

    Next time around…the chief is not ready to give updates on the LCS

  6. The local industry isn’t able to meet the MAF’s UAV need, full stop.
    The main issues are ceiling, range, endurance and data link band with; it may not be cutting edge or restricted technology but we simply don’t have the know how; hence the decision to get the Scaneagles.

    To be able to meet the MAF’s needs, the local industry would need sufficient R and D funding and a technology [read foreign] partner. Even if that were to happen, the government would then have to order enough local UAVs for the MAF, MMEA and police, to enable the local companies to recoup their costs. If this does’t happen and none get exported; the UAVs become prohibitively uncompetitive and the local companies can’t expand.

    It’s all fine to talk about the need to build the local industry BUT it comes at a cost and the cost must never be at the expense of the MAF; unfortunately it has.

    The announcement by the RMN is long overdue. Any ship with a heli-deck can operate UAVs; which can also operate off the sweep decks of the Marhamiru class. Fit the UAVs with an ESM – we already ordered a few from Saab – and it becomes more value added.

  7. Agree with Q and Azhar. To have a mature technology is to start from immature. Navy should looks to the domestic product first, provide them the spec, follow up the quality and work together for improvement.

  8. Obviously best choice will be Airbus DS Tanan 300 VTOL. DCNS and Airbus in work together on Tanan 300 for future VTOL UAS for Fremm and Gowind navy ship , Tanan 300 design use same marine diesel fuel use in Fremm and Gowind for no need put extra aircraft fuel tank for UAS. Airbus DS Tanan 300 should ready around 2017. this means much easy our Gowind ship add UAS antenna under DCNS supervision.

  9. Businessmen as honorary Commander.

    Never thought the man in the pic likes his feet wet. I thought he’s a landlubber as his business interest so far has nothing to do with the sea, 😂

    More likely it got to do with the plan to build a navy base in Bintulu.

  10. KD Kelantan is now berthed at Pending Port in Kuching. Not sure if she is equipped with Scaneagle UAV though. Is the super Lynx a permanently stationed at the ship?

    There is only one Scaneagle system (three airframes) in country. It is based in ESSCOM. No, the Super Lynx is not permanently stationed on any of the RMN ships.

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