See My Way Part 2

TAI Anka mockup at LIMA 19. Ed Liew

SHAH ALAM: See my way. In an earlier article, I wrote that it is likely that we will not see any American equipment offered for both the MPA and UAS tenders. The UAS tender, closed seven days ago on Nov. 26 while the MPA ones closes today.

Unless the ministry decided to extend the deadlines of both tenders, it now has to work out which products will be the most suitable to meet the requirements. What ever happened in the background, it is likely we shall see the Turkish manufacturers battling it out with the rest of the world for the UAS tender. As for the MPA tender, I am going to say that it will be a three way battle pitting Leonardo (ATR 72 MPA); Airbus (C295 MPA) and PTDI (CN235-MPA).

CN235 MPA of TNI-AL displayed at LIMA 2015.

Again I am saying that no major American equipment (main contractor) will be involved in both tenders as no DSCA announcement have been made. And before you go all keyboard warrior on me – typing in the comments section that it could be done through the commercial way – I would like to inform everyone I am not making a guess here. I did not do so when I wrote about it the last time round either.

Leonardo ATR 72 MPA. Leonardo

As for when we will get an official list of the contenders for both tenders, I am guessing it will take awhile as the tender committee will have to see the tender documents first. They will have to sort out which tenders that meet the requirements first to find out the rightful contenders.

Chilean Navy C295 MPA. Airbus

I agree that the best way to evaluate the products offered – especially for the UAS – would be to do it locally but we are buying too small numbers to make it cost effective.

Bayraktar TB-2

So I guess for the UAS at least, we have to rely on glossy brochures and the word of their salesmen.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2191 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. You can go to turkey or azerbaijan to evaluate the TB2 😁

    But you cannot see the effects of our high humidity on the UAV. In any case, we should take into account attrition losses when we buy the UAV.

    I would prefer the CN-235MPA, as a common operating platform with the 3 now in conversion to MSA. Systems wise, i would prefer the CMS to be common with the CN-235 MSA, radars, esm and sonobuoy processors from leonardo, MAD from CAE, sonobuoys from Ultra Electronics and optical radar from VIDAR.

    But IMO spending much on new MPA instead of just converting all our existing CN-235 will mean less budget of other things that we do really need to get brand new, like LCA/LIFT.

  2. Plus there will be various other things we’ll only find out when we do a proper field evaluations.

  3. The advantage of getting TB2 isnt just because of the superiority and battle proven attributes of the UAV itself.

    Another advantage to us, which is a novice user of UAV capability, is the vast experience of turkish advisors they had accumulated by using the TB2 over syria, libya and azerbaijan. Learning from those experiences will greatly shape and will affect how effectively we will integrate the UAV capability within our overall force structure.

  4. Seems like our future UAV/UCAV will source from Turkey 😀

    BTW, recently I heard about the sanctions of the western countries on the Turkey. How this will affect the western made component in ANKA and Bayraktar?

    AFAIK Turkey is making do with its locally made components. Whether or not they are on par with imported ones is beyond me

  5. … – “TB2 isnt just because of the superiority and battle proven attributes of the UAV itself”

    Well I don’t know about the “superiority” and “battle proven” “attributes” you’re on about.

    To me (we’ve discussed this before) “battle proven” relative. A lot of things are “battle proven” the trick is under what operational conditions and circumstances; which go beyond saying it performed well in “x” and was “cost effective” or destroyed “Y” number of things.

    In order to find out if indeed something suits our requirements; we have to conduct thorough trials in local conditions; without the OEM or agent influencing anything. In the past we have evaluated certain things which came with the “battle proven” label (so loved by OEMs) which due to various factors we didn’t find suitable for our requirements.

    … – “will greatly shape and will affect how effectively we will integrate the UAV capability within our overall force structure.”

    As pointed out before; the Turks have come a long way in maturing as a UAS operator. From not being able to act in a timely manner on intel obtained; to being able to lay ordnance within minutes of a UAS detecting something; they’ve made remarkable progress.

    Closer to home; Singapore has also made great progress (albeit minus the combat experience). It started off with RSAF operated short range systems and transitioned to much better ones fully integrated to all levels of operations; managed by a tri service Command; in the best tradition of “jointness” and fully utilising one’s resources.

  6. @ azlan

    All is relative of course. So from the shortlisted contenders, which one has the most operational time and gives quantifiable operational outcome by multiple sources (not just the numners from the user) at various locations all over the world? So my statement still stands.

    @ A

    Most of the foreign components are civilian grade parts. The Rotax 912 engine is used and sold for microlights. We can easily buy all the components (so that the end user is malaysia, not turkey), and assemble them here in malaysia to the Turkish TB2 airframe.

    @ marhalim

    Still no official word on the AW-139 for TLDM MUH? So it is going to be bought outright or leased? There was 2 tenders right, for MUH and Ops Benteng requirements?

  7. For 3 MALE UAVs right? Yup nobody is going to give a flying hoot if we ask to do local trials. With such low asking numbers, going for proven systems are the only assurance we got. Are the Chinese part of bidders too?

  8. A – “Seems like our future UAV/UCAV will source from Turkey”

    If they can deliver what we want at the right price and right specs; why not? The Turks are eager for sales and it’s in line with our foreign policy.

    The thing is; our policy being what it is; things might change in a few years; politics might dictate we go for something else then. At one point we set our sights on deep collaboration with Korea and the Koreans approached us before they did other regional countries.

    One thing’s for sure; irrespective of whether we buy 3 or a dozen; trials in local conditions have to be performed in other for us to gain a true picture of whether something actually suits our requirements.

    It’s not enough relying on “proven” labels which can mean nothing in our context and there’s the fact that other systems which don’t have the “proven” label and haven’t been deployed in a war zone might be more suitable for our needs. The market is very competitive; OEMs understand that local trials will be expected by customers and plan accordingly. Unfortunately; on a few occasions we didn’t do any trials; the political decision came to buy something and we relied merely on paper specs provided by the OEM and agent.

  9. will army buy more tank or upgrade it pt 91m pendekar and will air force buy new aircaft or upgrade

  10. Muhammad,

    For the next few years there will be no money allocated for new MBTs. As they get older in the coming years we can expect to see certain things replaced or upgraded (nothing major) in the PT-91.

    The RMAF plans to get its first batch of LCAs in the near future; as well as MPAs. The plan to upgrade the Hawks has been put on hold and I have no idea if in the near term the RMAF will seek to upgrade its C-130s.

  11. @joe? Kinda agree 3 MALE UAVs is odd. Why 3, why not 6 or 9 or 12? It’s not that flying UAVs is new in Malaysia. I wonder what’s the case behind just buying ‘3’ … If we can’t afford more LCAs or submarines and whatnots, the very least is more drones and more drone operators. We may be behind others regionally, yes, but we aren’t a nation of Dumbo’s. We probably in all honesty, have the necessary number of kids eager to fly the drones whilst wearing the army fatigues. Forget the traditional concepts. Azerbaijan needed only 3+ months to train drone operators. Even if our kids aren’t smart enough, it won’t take a year to train and acclimatise them to the machines. Welcome to warfare, 21st century.

    And they got Turkish advisers throughout the campaign

  12. What do people think of prioritising ASEAN equipment? I would have hoped Malaysia and ASEAN members collaborate. Malaysia buying Singaporean Navy technology, Indonesia tanks, artillery and MPA. Just as Europe buys from within – mostly – ASEAN should as well. It’ll be cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain over the long run (shared costs), and reduces tensions between allies. For example, Malaysis shipyards seem competent with FIC and RHIB class boats. Thailand and Indonesia has a large army centric industry. Singapore constructed 5 of its 6 Formidable class ships.

  13. KL – “What do people think of prioritising ASEAN equipment”

    One off drake yes. An actual coordinated long term approach : no … Too much politics involved and each country has different priorities and requirements.

    We use to have meetings with Singapore on possibly joint buys and at one point looked at the possibility of joint 12.7mn production.

    KL – “ust as Europe buys from within – mostly – ASEAN should as well”

    Big difference. The EU is a bloc not united by a common stand; a vision of a Europe they want to see and are united against a common threat : Russia. EU countries have also jointly underwent the traumatic experience of WW2.

    ASEAN comprises countries which share a common economic vision; as well as a common stand in most security issues but its nemeses have very different foreign policies and there is still an element of mistrust or apprehension amongst certain members. Also; the actual technological and capability gap between most EU members is not as wide as in ASEAN and within the EU there is a common consensus on collective defence cooperation.

  14. @KL
    For 50 years we can’t even come to an agreement on settling common borders, you would stand a better chance of convincing all ASEAN countries to adopt single currency sooner than getting everyone to agree on commonising defence purchases.

    In the first place do you realise EU operates as part of NATO aegis and each country has their role to play in that umbrella so their defence policies and purchases are in sync with NATO needs hence a lot more interoperability and commonality is possible but even so the major powers do not have common fighters or tanks, or subs, or even rifles, so nope they don’t have as much unity as you may have put up.

  15. KL “For example, Malaysis shipyards seem competent with FIC and RHIB class boats. Thailand and Indonesia has a large army centric industry. Singapore constructed 5 of its 6 Formidable class ships.”

    What you are proposing goes beyond simply “buying ASEAN.” You’re suggesting a grand division of labour between member countries.

    One issue here is that a technological and economic base is built up over decades of investment and patronage, and that no country wants to lose what it has built up. Especially when these are strategic capabilities, are economically significant and when one can’t entirely trust another country to come through.

    KL “It’ll be cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain over the long run (shared costs)”

    You’ve implicitly put forward the hypothesis that a larger ASEAN market, if it can overcome all the obstacles (mistrust, differing requirements, national interests and so on) is large enough to make production viable if it is concentrated in single suppliers. This is not necessarily true- if a global market is not enough in many cases, there is no telling an ASEAN market will be. Even if it is in the case of some platforms, it is surely not when it comes to the components that go into them.

    KL “Just as Europe buys from within – mostly – ASEAN should as well. ”

    In ASEAN, there is the real possibility that a dispute between countries -or even a case of differing alignment manifesting itself- could result in one country cutting off support for the equipment another country has bought from it. This is of course not unique to ASEAN but the chance of this happening between EU members is much lower.

    Never mind the anxiety that comes with having neighbours being intimately familiar with the capabilities and limitations of your principal combat platforms. Even with patrol boats and utility vehicles, having support cut off can have disastrous effects. And this potentially not just from hostile intent but from a lack of competence and ability to deliver.

  16. On malaysian perspective

    We have bought ASEAN.

    All the latest GK-M1 FFR, Gun carriers and howitzer towers are based on Thai designed Thairung Transformers and built on thai-built Hilux chassis and drivetrains.

    As is the multitude of GS Cargo pickups. Thai-built Dmax fitted with locally built rear tub.

    Not to mention the Lipanbara MRAP.

    We have also bought CN-235 from indonesia, and was looking at PT PAL LPD for MRSS requirements.

  17. Of course we have. One of Singapore’s first export orders was to us; in 1969 for a million small arms rounds. Like everything else bought by us and others within ASEAN; they were one off deals; not part of a sustained, coordinated long term policy.

    Efforts to NADI to sell the AUG to neighbours failed as did efforts to sell the M-4 [which a former Defence Minister spoke so confidently of] but we did sell a couple of patrol boats to Cambodia, Handalans to Brunei and IR resistant paint to a number of countries.

    The submarine rescue vessel was bought from Singapore. We wanted to buy M-16s from Singapore when they were supposed to get the license them but alas it didn’t happened. In the late 70s the US allowed us to buy M-16s directly for them. And by the time Singapore got to manufacture their own rifles, we started to make our own. We also bought small number of Pindad pistols but then the military realised that pistols without safeties were also quite safe and their polymer frames don’t rust too easily so we bought more those

  18. On the MPAs, our requirement based on CAP55 is for 6 MPA

    – Now we have 3 CN235 going to be convert to MPA with 3 B200T MPA in service
    – We are also procuring 2 new MPA
    – So in total there will be 8 MPA in service assuming we got 2 new MPA and 3 CN235 converted and B200T is still not retired.
    – I am assuming that TUDM want to maintain max of 8 MPA in service or at least 6.
    – The Thales AMASCOS on B200T can be transfered to the remaining 3 CN235 after the B200T were retired.
    – So can get 3 extra MPA at very little cost (conversion using existing components, just pay the Indonesians for labor)
    – IMO having 8 airframes for MPA is better due to having extra airframes if any of those 8 were to crash especially the converted ones. Flying in daily long endurance patrols would take tolls on the airframes much faster on the converted airframes as compared to being a transport.
    – Hence having extra airframes because of the reasons above.
    – Also, as long as PTDI is still building the cn235s, we can just replace our old converted cn235 with a new one later in 2035-2040
    – At least this is just my assumption and opinions.

  19. @ luqman

    B200T is to be retired by 2024

    IMO should just sell them as is. we need all of our TUDM MPA/MSA systems of the same type, not rojak so that only 1 training to operate the mission system is needed and all crew can operate in all MPA/MSA aircraft.

    The overall maritime patrol mission will be shared among the TUDM MPA/MSA, TUDM MALE UAV, and MMEA MSA. Currently even police air wing is doing maritime patrol missions.

  20. Luqman – “8 airframes for MPA is better due to having extra airframes if any of those 8 were to crash”

    Not so much about attrition but the fact that at any given time a number will not be operational – either under depot level maintenance or at squadron level.

    Having more airframes always enables greater operational flexibility; in case there is an emergency or we have to maintain a higher tempo by generating extra sorties over a sustained period.

  21. @Luqman
    Your point on the MPA/MSA composition is exactly what I commented in a previous article. Differing a bit, rather than buying 2 new MPAs I would prefer we use that budget to convert the remaining 3 CN235s into MPAs. Then pass on the MPA responsibility to TLDM as they are the ones that will use them the most. TUDM can then recapitalise their fleet for AEW/AWACs, and if brand new AEW are too expensive, we can always go for recently retired E-2C Hawkeyes at US boneyard. USN are switching over to new built E-2D variant so a newly retired C would be of recent vintage with still top of the line upgrades already done. The Government just need some steel to “convince” the ATM that not everything must be bought brand new and shiny.

    Back to TLDM, they could combine their current rotary chopper fleet with the MPA fleet as a mixed rotary airwing division, initially operating from TUDM airbases but eventually setting up their own naval air stations nearer to TLDM sea bases.

  22. @…
    The OEM vendors may still able to support on technical matters but spares would have to be sourced from Boneyard as well. No biggie since USAF also continues to rely on Boneyard parts for their C-5s and B-52s to keep them running long after the OEM stop making new parts.

  23. you dont forage the boneyard for electronic equipments.

    main function for C-5 is to carry loads. B-52 is to bomb other places. Even B-52 its latest sensor is the sniper pod, not those antique avionics. E-2C main function is the radar, and the radar is practically obsolete with no further support.

  24. You could forage the boneyard for say blackhawk spareparts and hardwares, no issue with that. But for its avionics to fit and use the latest brand new state of the art systems.

    Which is exactly why I am all for used blackhawks, and totally not for things that would need to depend on its electronics to function like the E-2C.

  25. @…
    They forage the Boneyard for anything they need actually, even outdated out of production avionics are scrounged from there since electronics gets outdated much sooner and there are no cost efficient ways to recreate them. An iphone processor is many times more powerful than a B-52 processing system but its hopelessly too recent to replace any of the onboard systems.

    The E-2C radar is probably obsoleted against First World 5th gen planes but still has an edge against regional adversary planes which still are majority 3-4th gen.

  26. B-52 uses the latest sniper targeting pod for its main mission requirements. Not 1960s targeting systems.

    You are for used E-2C that will not be supportable in just a few more years but against used Blackhawks with plenty of upgrades and still in production?

    Read the article and see that there is basically nothing common between E2C and E-2D systems. Even the E-2D airframe is 60% different to the E-2C.

    All E-2C to be phased out by 2025. No support after 2025. 4 more years to no support.

    Great priorities BTW

  27. @…
    Look at it this way, I’m okay to use a well worn 1988 Ferrari Testarossa which is no longer supported with new spares as I will not be using it very often nor stress it out on long journeys nor on hazardous roads. But I sure as heck won’t buy a well used 2008 Proton Saga because if I’m gonna be using it everyday for long strenuous journeys, I don’t want it to breakdown on me even though spareparts are widely available.

    We are gonna use the utility choppers a whole lot more often than an AEW and in situations that can be more challenging. For something that we gonna use so much more often IMHO we should get new & quality but at the cheapest cost possible. For something that we would be using on/off in situations where it would stay out of danger, we can make do with used stuff.

    I don’t just look at paper specs but also what suits our use in real world and what compromises we could take.

  28. ferrari testarossa is a mechanical stuff. like the Blackhawks.

    e-2c is electronic stuff. like iphone 1. can you really use iphone 1 now?

  29. @…
    We’re talking about spareparts right? Whether its mechanical or electronical is immaterial as parts that no longer made is obsoleted. The same with Testas are needed 3rd party support but that doesn’t mean owners only can admire them and not drive them. Its all about taking care and ensure usage & maintenance is well taken cared, the same goes for E-2C (if we get them) or any other older equipment. But if we intend to use them very often and in any kinds of situations, we’re better off buying new.

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