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.
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 Unfortunately, the UAS was withdrawn about a year into service due an incident which injured an MMEA personnel.
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 Although the UAS were withdrawn, their launchers remained on these two boats for unknown reason.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.
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.
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.
The RM400 million includes the RM152 million extended to it in early 2022 to complete OPV1. I stand to be corrected of course.
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