South African UAVs for MMEA’s OPVs

Alti Transition.

SHAH ALAM: As OPV1 is patrolling the South China Sea, the fact that the ship will be equipped with an UAS will certainly helped extend its range. In the press release issued by MMEA on the formal delivery of OPV1/KM Tun Fatimah early this month, it was mentioned that the ship was also equipped with an unmanned aerial vehicle. Unfortunately, the UAV type and manufacturer was not identified.

As with the NGPC/Bagan Datuk class patrol craft, the selection of the UAS is decided by the shipbuilder. In the case of the OPV, THHE Destini Sdn Bhd and Destini Marine Services Sdn Bhd for the NGPC.

OPV1. KDN

For the NGPC, Destini chose the Thales Fulmar UAS. Unfortunately, the UAS was withdrawn about a year into service due an incident which injured an MMEA personnel.

Four NGPC leads the ships taking part in Exercise Maritim Perkasa Timur in late 2023 Two Bagan Datuk class patrol boats are based in Sarawak, KM Sri Aman and KM Kota Belud while two more, KM Kota Kinabalu and KM Lahad Datu in Sabah. MMEA.

It was because of this only the first two patrol boats, KM Bagan Datok and KM Sri Aman were equipped with the UAS and its launchers. Although the UAS were withdrawn, their launchers remained on these two boats for unknown reason. The other boats were commissioned without the UAS and launchers and its place extra fire monitors were installed.
KM Lahad Datu -4546 – leaving Port Klang for her homeport in Labuan in 2021. Note the empty deck behind the main gun. APMM.

Anyhow for the three OPVs, Malaysian Defence can reveal that THHE had selected the South African Alti Transition – a hybrid VTOL drone – with an endurance of 12 hours. One UAS and a control system had been procured for each of the three ships even though only OPV1 has been completed and delivered to the MMEA. The fate of OPV2 and OPV3 remained unclear as detailed in this post.

More on the Transition UAS by Unmanned Systems:

The ALTI Transition is a fixed-wing UAV with VTOL and hover capabilities designed for everyday civil and commercial use. It features a modular airframe that can be set up in under ten minutes and requires no runway or catapult to get airborne.

The hybrid electric-fuel system provides an extended endurance of up to 12 hours. The ultra-lightweight carbon fuselage and highly advanced aerodynamic design provide the Transition with a low stall speed, efficient cruise with very low drag, excellent stability in high winds and an incredibly low MTOW weight of only 16kg.

ALTI’s advanced Ground Control System (GCS) is a complete control and command station for the ALTI Transition unmanned aircraft system. Contained within a single compact Pelican case, the system is built around a state-of-the-art computer with dual screens, pre-loaded with mission planning and control software, and is quick and easy to transport and set up.

The GCS features a main C2 control link for full time manual control and override, data telemetry and long-range video, as well as a Spektrum DX Controller. An optional ALTI Range Extension Package adds a pneumatic telescopic mast, directional grid antenna and 10W Microhard amplifier, providing long range data and video operation at up to 100km.

Alti Transition.

The fact that THHE had procured three UAS meant that it had received payments based on the progress of the ships built from OPV1 to OPV3. This is like what happened in the LCS programme. Based on this, I am guessing that the company had received up to RM400 million or some 60 percent of the total contract cost which was RM739.8 million.
Alti Transition ground control station.

The RM400 million includes the RM152 million extended to it in early 2022 to complete OPV1. I stand to be corrected of course.

— Malaysian Defence

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9 Comments

  1. “the company had received up to RM400 million or some 60 percent”
    So much money gone yet only 1 ship is in operation while OPV 2 & 3 are still in block stages yet no one seem to “care” with no push for PAC report or RCI or make report to MACC or to AG.

  2. This reinforces n proves once again that no more new built contracts for gov linked/ local yards

  3. @Lee Yoke Meng
    You will have to change the whole Govt & civil service structure and the rakyat mentality top to bottom, for it to happen and not raising issues & recriminations.

  4. What is there to push for?

    This is just a classic case of a company with a weak cashflow (and a weak tender costing team) running out of money due to taking on and bidding other projects too low. No hanky panky done on the OPV project itself.

    A reason why I am pushing for having PETRONAS to handle future vessel build for APMM by adding ships for APMM into its existing Project Safina. PETRONAS itself has deep knowledge and experience of managing projects (from building its own ships and offshore platforms to building KLCC and Putrajaya), and shipyards that gets PETRONAS contracts are thoroughly vetted and capable.

    Currently both the NGPC builder and OPV builder for APMM has gone out of business. The RHFB builder is going strong though, and i hope that APMM will have more RHFB boats in the future.

  5. @hulubalang
    “This is just a classic case of a company with a weak cashflow”
    This isnt some 2bit company, its a GLC with ties closer to MOF. The writing was on the wall from early on when Destini pulled out of the JV so something should have been triggered but it didnt. The project has eaten 60% of the budget but only 1 ship out while the 2 others had lagged so badly behind it can call to question how was the project managed or did they advanced OPV1 just to cover up the delays in OPV 2 & 3. It doesnt help that during the build period, TH had their own management issues & loss making subs yet still paying out dividends. There are a lot of things that could have happened, so yes there is a lot to push for. But like all things, if there is no political benefit to gain nobody will care.

  6. “Currently … the NGPC builder has gone out of business.”
    IINM Destini (the builder of NGPC) are still around and Im hoping they could be roped in to continue the OPV 2&3 until completion.

  7. … – “This is just a classic case of a company with a weak cashflow (and a weak tender costing team) running out of money due to taking on and bidding other projects too low. No hanky panky done on the OPV project itself”

    A classic case of a company which should never have been awarded the contract in the first place has there been proper apolitical oversight and due diligence.

    Just like how the companies behind the Little Birds [the only hard assets it had was office furniture], training ships and a long list of others got their contracts. The defence scene is a milk cow which everyone wants to be part of; companies appear out of nowhere and get contracts as part of the entrenched patronage system. Companies often disappear as fact as they appeared and the taxpayer and end user gets buggered.

  8. @ joe

    The destini shipyard that build the NGPC already closed and sold. They can now only do small speedboats.

    https://theedgemalaysia.com/article/destini-unit-slapped-windingup-petition-after-failing-settle-payment-irb

    @ Azlan

    The ” national interest ” excuse so far moat of the time is to give defense contracts to companies that usually cannot win contracts on merit. This includes THHE, which actually for the price that they quoted, I don’t know how little the profit margin that they took.

    Passing the management of new shipbuild to PETRONAS can be counted as ” national interest “, but without the hanky panky, and political interference. Project Safina by PETRONAS is in my opinion an ideal platform for APMM to build new ships on schedule and on budget.
    https://www.bernama.com/en/business/news.php?id=2239272

  9. Azlan “A classic case of a company which should never have been awarded the contract in the first place has there been proper apolitical oversight and due diligence.”

    THHE are not your typical RM2 companies getting contract ala early 2000s.

    THHE like BNS was awarded contract precisely because of apolitical oversight & due diligence.

    Basically the contract are awarded to ‘secretly’ bailed out both TH & LTAT.

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