SHAH ALAM: The End is Near, for the Sungai Besi airport. Back in 2010, I wrote in the Malay Mail newspaper that the government was planning to redevelop the Sungai Besi/Simpang Airport, or as the RMAF calls it the Kuala Lumpur airbase.
The power that be were very defensive when the story came out, with even the-then defence and federal territory ministers denying it, saying I was completely wrong.
Thanks to another colleague, the-then Kuala Lumpur mayor however confirmed the re-development plans. Since then we already know that the former international airport will become Bandar Malaysia and due to the redevelopment, RMAF and other units based at the airport have to move out.
And almost seven years after that story, it appears that the end is near for the airport as the RMAF today held a ceremony to mark the departure of the 3rd Squadron VIP detachment to the Subang air base. The detachment, consisting of the two Agusta AS-61N and two Sikorsky Blackhawks, from today will operate from Subang. With their departure, only a small number of units remained at the airbase though its difficult to identify the exact ones
The RMAF has not announced the date of the official closure of the airbase as the facilities to replace them are still under construction, at Subang, Kuantan and Sendayan. The delays are caused by the problems with 1MDB, the former developer of the airport land. So despite the departure of the VIP helicopters from Sg. Besi, its likely it will operate past the new year. As part of the deal to vacate the airbase. RMAF was assured that it will not have to do so until the new facilities are ready for occupation.
From my observation, it is likely that PDRM’s Air Wing and the 31 Rejimen Artileri Di Raja would be the first units to get their new facilities. The air wing facility at Subang is almost ready and its inauguration is expected by mid-2017 together with the new camp for the 31 RAD, located in Kajang. The completion of these facilities were also delayed by the problems with 1MDB.
The first and probably the last time I flew from KL airbase was back in April, 2015. I went there to hitch a ride on the H225M to get to the Rejimen TUDM camp in Jugra, Banting for the graduation ceremony of the RMAF Special Forces. The same helicopter also flew me back to the air base following the ceremony.
As you can see from the video there were other guests as well.
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Which means there will be no more white helicopters flying across the KL skies huh? I always saw those guys flying across the skies in the early morning while on the way to the college. Really love it.
New facilities and other modern infrastructures as substitution
It seems that the positive sides outweight the negative one.
Better to close this base to reduce overheads. Less base CO guards etc. Se laying off would be good to make the armed forces more frontline than backroom.