Thales Fulmar mini-UAV for NGPC

Thales Fulmar mini-UAV. Thales picture

SHAH ALAM: Thales Fulmar mini-UAV has been selected for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC). Six of the NGPC is being built by Destini Shipbuilding and Engineering Sdn Bhd (DMS), a subsidiary of public-listed Destini Bhd.

The UAV is among the major sub-systems of the NGPC which the builder must sourced, according to the tender requirement. Malaysian Defence had reported previously that the Aselsan SMASH 30mm will be the main gun for the six-vessel NGPC. Please check out the other reports of the NGPC by searching this website.

Thales Fulmar mini-UAV. Thales picture
Thales Fulmar mini-UAV. Thales picture

The Fulmar is described by Thales as a mini-UAV. “Its size is 3.1 meters and weighs 19 kilos, it flies to the altitude of 3,000 meters and can achieve a speed of 150 kilometers per hour. It has a range of eight hours due to a low consumption of the aircraft in flight as a result of its aerodynamic design, and it can fly 800 km without refueling.

This Spanish design counts on a terrestrial and a maritime version. Fulmar is purely Spanish, contributing with a profitable closeness to equipment maintenance as well as to operators’ training.

Fulmar is a competitive solution that can be adapted to different needs and can integrate with other systems to provide a global solution.”

The attributes of the Thales Fulmar
The attributes of the Thales Fulmar

A video from Thales

In my report on the NGPC, I stated that the tender requirement for the boats called for the ship builder – among others – to supply a UAV with the vessels, which is launched and recovered by a skyhook. I stated that the requirement seemed to indicate the Scaneagle UAV was the preferred solution.

Thales Fulmar on its launcher. The launcher could easily be adapted to fit into the deck of a ship.
Thales Fulmar on its launcher. The launcher could easily be adapted to fit into the deck of a ship.

It appears now that the Fulmar also meets that requirement. Perhaps more importantly it is cheaper than the Scaneagle. According to Thales, the Fulmar could also land on water and able to float for 24 hours for recovery in case of engine failure.

The Fulmar apparently had been tested in ESSCOM AOR previously when it was still designated as Ops Pasir – but it was not selected then. The Scaneagle UAV was contracted for the role, since 2012 with efficiency and reliability, flying for some 18 hours per day.

Thales Fulmar
Thales Fulmar

And speaking about my faux pas, I stated previously that the NGPC is being built at a shipyard in Sabah. I could never be so wrong! Actually the NGPC is to built at the Destini shipyard in Port Klang, at the former Destination Marine Services Sdn Bhd yard (the original winner of the contract).

SMASH 30mm gun at Aselsan stand. Contracted for the NGPC.
SMASH 30mm gun at Aselsan stand. Contracted for the NGPC.

The keel laying of the first NGPC was held on Nov 18. The release from Destini.

“KUALA LUMPUR,18 November 2015 – Destination Marine Services Sdn Bhd (DMS) held a keel laying ceremony of the Coastal Patrol Vessels for Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) at Destini‘s shipyard in Port Klang.

DMS secured the award to build six units of Coastal Patrol Vessels for RM381.30 million. The construction of the vessels will be done in stages; with the first vessel expected to be delivered to MMEA by December 2016 while the last vessel is expected to be delivered by June 2018.

Destini Berhad, a company listed on Bursa Malaysia, has recently announced that it will be acquiring the entire stake in Destini Shipbuilding and Engineering Sdn Bhd (DES), a wholly owned subsidiary of DMS for RM90.0 million.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Destini Shipbuilding and Engineering Sdn Bhd will undertake the shipbuilding activities of these vessels.

The momentous occasion was officiated by Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and witnessed by Admiral Maritime Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar, Director General, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Datin Junaidah Kamaruddin, Director General, Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Affairs Division.

NCPC keel laying ceremony on Nov 18, 20015. APMM picture
NCPC keel laying ceremony on Nov 18, 20015. APMM picture

The Costal Patrol Vessels are state of the art vessels with a comprehensive specification. The vessels can achieve a top speed of24 knots and will have a complement of 41 crew members. The vessels will also be equipped with a 30mm weapon system and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for reconnaissance.

Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan bin Kassim, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office said, “Once operational, these
new Coastal Patrol Vessels will be instrumental in raising MMEA’s surveillance capabilities in preventing crime in our Malaysian waters.

These vessels will be placed at the East Maritime Region in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, which face
the South China Sea. The vessels will patrol the Economic Exclusive Zone and replace the older
patrol vessels that will be decommissioned as they are no longer effective.”

This is the Colombian Coast Guard patrol boat designed by Fassmer which will be the basis of the NGPC.
This is the Colombian Coast Guard patrol boat designed by Fassmer which will be the basis of the NGPC.

Tan Sri Rodzali Daud, Chairman of Destini Group said, “We are very confident with our capabilities and
we will perform to the best of our abilities to ensure that these vessels meet MMEA’s stringent
requirements and are completed on schedule. Furthermore, we are working in collaboration with Fassmer
Group, a very established shipyard from Germany to ensure that the vessels are delivered with
excellent quality standards.Fassmer Group has been involved in the design of various vessels throughout
the world and has over 165 years of track record.”

Will the selection of the Thales Fulmar have a profound impact on the other services hunt for UAVs? It will of course especially with our financially challenged environment.

— Malaysian Defence

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19 Comments

  1. Regarding the Mmea vessel fleet.

    Looking at how successful commercial conversions of Bunga mas 5/6, esscom floating bases, could additional Mmea patrol ships be from oil and gas platform supply vessels (PSV)?

    With low oil prices, hundreds of PSV ships are sitting idle all over the world. These ships could be bought cheaply and converted ala the Bunga mas 5/6 ships (additional containers on deck with a helicopter pad on top) as a patrol vessel. These ships has high endurance, good seakeeping, can tow ships in distress and has fire fighting capability. 6-12 of these PSV’s could give Mmea its opv capability similar to the 2 ex-tldm opv’s.

    Other countries coast guard such as Australia and france has also used such ships for patrolling duties.

    Reply
    Actually I was thinking about the same thing when I went to Labuan recently, seeing all the OG boats parked in the harbour. My best guess is that the MMEA, mostly ex-RMN people, are very conservative and therefore will not be receptive to such idea. Again, like the air force, buying second hand is not a technical issue but the fear that the bean counters on duty may assumed once that route is taken they will never agree to fund new built again. And to be honest most of the bean counters that I met think that way.

  2. Interesting, Marhalim do you have the estimated cost of the system? Based on my digging, the Fulmar are already operational in an unspecified South Asian country, possibly Pakistan might be Afghanistan. I think, the Fulmar is good choice to bolster MAF\’s ISR capability and to develop its UAV doctrine. A bit poor on sensors though, but if it is significantly cheaper than scaneagle, sure why not.

  3. We should balance the buy of new and used equipments.

    There are things that would be bought new, and things that could be bought used.

    For example the army has gempita and starstreak bought new, additional items such as pt-91, MRAP could be bought used. As for the navy, they got their brand new gowinds, amphibious ships such as korean LST’s could be used buys. Mmea should look at the used route too (and most PSV’s are really new, just idle because of the low oil prices) , unless it is content in using really old hand me downs from the police and navy.

  4. Now, will the same system be considered by RMN after the recent comment of the new Chief?

    Overally a good move by MMEA despite the “difficult times”. I hope that the 6 off will be increase futher and soon. Those aging ships really needs to be replaced.

  5. I don’t really know much about UAVs, but the software is probably decent as it a Thales product. Probably came with a discount after the Starstreak buy.

    One thing I don’t understand….why bright yellow? Won’t that make it less stealthy??

    Reply
    Its for easy spotting once it landed at sea. Unless you are Steve Austin, you cannot eyeball the UAV flying at 1000 AGL directly at you even if its bright yellow

  6. There is a lot of pre-owned stuff we should buy and stuff we shouldn’t due to commonality, old age and other issues. I know the RMN has turned down several offers of pre-owned ships due to the long term operating costs of already high mileage ships; plus the fact that many key components on these ships will need replacing in the short term and that spares for others will be increasingly hard to get due to old age. Back in the early 2000’s we were offered ex-Saudi FH-70s but I suspected we weren’t interested because the gun is 39 calibre.

    Doubt if the army wants anymore PT-91s even if used hulls are available cheaply. The design has reached the end of its growth potential anyway. Instead of getting more hulls, we should use the cash to upgrade the ones we have. The upgrade should include stuff we originally wanted to do but didn’t and others, including providing the commander with an overide capability; replacing ERAWA with a new generation ERA to defeat KE rounds, fitting applique and chicken wire to the rear of the turret and engine compartment to protect against shoulder launched and medium calibre weapons; fitting a OWS [this might entail the need for better power supply and will invlove the need to realign the ERAs on the turret] etc. Just as important, there is a need for simulators including a gunnery one. Ruag was supposed to have received the contract but it was deferred.

  7. In the meantime,

    Vietnam coast guard has just launched a locally built brand new damen 2000+ tonne OPV

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-epIkoUGTwGU/VlzeeWb4GqI/AAAAAAAAoZE/EeNA0EgtzSs/s1600/tau-canh-sat-bien-hiendai8005-ha-thuy-tai-da-nang_301536172.jpg

    The MMEA needs a few big opv’s and a quick way to do that is with the PSV route.

    By the way, as the upgraded bousted shipyard would be capable of building up to 3 gowinds at a time, any plans to export the gowinds to fulfil requirements of Australia (anzac replacement) or even the UK? Even saudi is searching for a few new frigates maybe they could buy from us? Or a swap of new frigates with stealth FAC’s with UAE?

    Reply
    From my limited conversations with Boustead they have never talked about exports…

  8. Indian air force has started a historic squadron now with tiger month, havard and dc-3 aircraft. Thailand has one, isn’t it time for tudm to have one?

    http://m.deccanherald.com/content/514747/dakota-join-iaf-vintage-squadron.html

    Something with maybe:
    – Chipmunks
    – Piston provost
    – Tebuan (Canada still flys them for their acrobatic team)
    – twin seat skyhawks
    – Pc-7 (in the old blue-red colour scheme, and the sharkmouth scheme)

    Assign it under the instructors school/test pilots school as their training aircrafts when not on public displays.

  9. ……. – ”The MMEA needs a few big opv’s and a quick way to do that is with the PSV route.”

    I’ve previously spoken to an MMEA chap about his views on the size of ships needed. In his opinion even the former Marikh class OPVs are too big for the MMEA’s requirements given where MMEA ships operates, the type of sea conditions they usually encounter, the length of time they’re usually on patrol and the distance to the nearest base from where MMEA ships usually operate. He sees the need for a few vessels displacing around the 5-600 tonne mark, with the bulk of the fleet consisting of smaller ships.

  10. There is one company based in Melaka has used the fulmar uav for operations in Sabah. It was totally a bad experiences and considered as a failure. The video receiving was bad all the time and the coverage area was hard to even getting 20km. It only vapable of day mission as their IR camera is useless when no moon was present. The worst part is the landing. I can gurantee you need to replace the wing at every landing. What a waste and I can’t understand how MMEA can agree to select fulmar UAV. They don’t want to learned the lesson from other Malaysian. Please do study the dark side of the Fulmar that I believe somebody in Malaysia are still keeping the evidence instead of just listening only to the supplier and youtube.

  11. Better have than never, eventhough this is a new hardware in our inventory ( we do have UAV if you understand ) but it can be a new perspective and coverage on the technology and design of it.

    Reply
    Which UAV are you talking about?

  12. The Fulmar was actually produced by a Spanish company call Aerovision until Thales bought over the company. Yes, the fisherman in Spain use it to locate school of fish especially tuna. Have personally use the Fulmar and it did not achieved its full potential. Price wise of course it is a lot cheaper than the famous Scan E. Operationally…. I have my reservation.

    Reply
    Scaneagle was also originally developed to locate tuna. Beggars cannot be choosers.

  13. How many units of scaneagle uav we have or that’s classified?

    Reply
    AFAIK we have one Scaneagle system which translates into one control system and three airframes

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