A Guest post by Ahmad Zaki.
It was the first visit by the author to the Singapore Airshow 1990 on a Sunday.
The author’s story began when he bought his Singapore Airshow 1990 SGD$30 or SGD$35 ticket(at the exchange rate of SGD$1 to RM1.77) from the Sistic outlet at Raffles’s City, Singapore. A visitor from KL would had paid RM180 for transportation to and fro inclusive of an admission ticket.
The author visited all the booths that sold military hardware to Malaysia at the airshow.The author found out that BAE System was interested in selling the RAYO MRLS to Malaysia at the time. Malaysia bought Astros and RAYO MRLS went into history.
The last booth that the author visited was that of the Beechcraft. A Caucasian man and a Chinese lady who were manning the Beechcraft booth were very interested in how I got to know what RMAF requirements for the MPA, which open sourced. That was how the author was roped in.
The RMAF requirements:
It that time RMAF required a minimum of 4 dedicated aircraft for maritime duties, SAR for both on land and sea. It should costs less to operate than a Hercules C-130 while achieving the same goal.The Beechcraft King Air B200T has an endurance of four hours.
For example, it costs more to use a C-130 MPA compared to a B200T to search for a missing fishing boat in the South China Sea.
The tender itself:
The initial tender preparation was all done in Singapore. Beechcraft staff prepared a list of offset items such as pilot’s training, avionics training,and technical training.The team listed out what offset programme that Beeechcraft could offer and what the Malaysian Government wanted in return.
Beeechcraft listed the MRO facilities which RMAF can send the planes for service as recommended by Hawker Siddeley, the parent company . Singapore was the nearest MRO centre followed by Australia and US Armed Forces aviation facilities in Japan.
Of course, the training of our airmen in maintaining and repairing the Beechcraft locally had been proven that we can do it locally rather than sending it overseas.
The later part of the planning stage saw Beechcraft tender team moving to KL for the flight demonstration for the RMAF.That was what I heard as I did not follow the sales team to KL for the flight demonstration. The author was unsure whether the flight demonstration took place or not. The author was already in college at that time. And the author was never involved in anyway in the official tender or received any gratuities for the initial contact with the Beechcraft team at the Singapore air show
This tender exercise generated lukewarm interest from other aircraft makers such as Alenia,Britten Norman,Dassault Breguet, Dornier and Embraer.The author advised these makers could opened a sales office in KL, though most were not interested unlike BAE Systems or Saab.
The author was and is not sure until today if any of the aircraft makers mentioned earlier took part in the tender at that time. Some said that a four aircraft tender were rather small number, 8-12 were better (and economical, ED) and they could make better profit by selling a larger size aircraft.
Maybe, Beechcraft was the only company that took part in the tender itself. Who knew?
HAWKER BEECHCRAFT KING AIR B200T
Crew:1 pilot 1 co-pilot,1 mission system operator,2 observers (aerial photographers)-recommended by manufacturer.
RMAF crew:1 pilot 1 co-pilot, 1 mission system operator, 1 observer (aerial photographer).
Aircraft Systems: It is equipped with auto pilot,EFIS,IFR,360°search radar,and separate weather radar with electro optical/ infrared camera.
Propeller:Two Pratt& Whitney turbo propeller PT6A Engine:Twin turbine engine each rated@ 850 SHP
The 360°search radar,electro optical and/or forward looking infrared system(FLIR) are located under the belly mounted radome of the plane.The Tactical Airborne Navigational (TACAN) system is in the plane itself.
A bubble canopy can be fitted on the either side of the plane or both sides depending on the client needs.
How the costs are calculated in the tender:
Option 1 (USD$ million)
Basic price of the plane (off the shelf) X.XX
Equipment (inclusive of all) XX.XX
Total price YY.YY
Option 2-Choose what you need
Basic price of the plane (off the shelf) X.XX
Wingtip tanks 0.XX
Drop hatch (later model not available for RMAF) 0.XX
Tactical Airborne Navigational (TACAN) system X.XX
Total price ZZ.ZZ
Price fluctuated according to equipment chosen
The RMAF got what it paid for and the planes still soldiered until today. You can read more about it at http://www.angelfire.com/trek/abdullatif/propellersstop.htm . A blog by RMAF pilot Mejar Abdul Latif.
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