When September Ends

Going, Going, Gone

SHAH ALAM: When September Comes, thats when the Blackhawks will be delivered to us, says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein when asked about the Brunei helicopters  last April.

Malaysian Defence report on Apr 16, 2016. DSA 2016 Day 2.

Hishammudin was asked about the Blackhawks after the contracts signing ceremony at the DSA 2016 show at PWTC here. The four Blackhawks according to him would be delivered in September instead.

I have to report however, even When September Ends, the Blackhawks will not be with us as the deal to purchase the helicopters from Brunei has been cancelled by the Finance Ministry, inexplicably as the cost was too high.

Army Air Wing and US Army pilots and crew posed for a photo with a Blackhawk helicopter. US Army picture.
Army Air Wing and US Army pilots and crew posed for a photo with a Blackhawk helicopter during Keris Strike 2016. US Army picture.

As no one will comment on record  on the cancellation of the deal – it was made by the PM so it will be up to him to announce it had been nixed – I will have to rely on what various industry sources are telling me.

The sources however cannot give the exact cost of the proposed purchase of the Blackhawks so I cannot be sure how it became too costly. As I had reported before, the asking price of the Blackhawks was only some RM58 million.

Asked whether the amount was for USD15 million (RM58.3 million) Rothiah said the amount was correct but it had not been finalised yet

Perhaps too many things had been proposed for the Blackhawks as add-ons, that in the end it became too costly to buy. 

It had happened before with the proposed purchase of Mark V SOC boats from the US.

PUTD Nuri helicopter lands next to a US Army Blackhawk during Keris Strike 2016. US Army picture
PUTD Nuri helicopter lands next to a US Army Blackhawk during Keris Strike 2016. US Army picture

As Brunei was taking out some of things installed in the Blackhawks, there were things that needed to be replaced.

Whether or not this was the reason the purchase price got higher, is beyond me.

With the cancellation of the Brunei Blackhawks, it is likely the plan to convert RMAF VIP Whitehawks into utility helicopters has also been delayed or cancelled altogether. 

The Army Air Wing also has to rely on the mini-gun equipped AW109s in Sabah until the MD-530Gs are delivered next year. Four of the AW109s are already stationed in the ESSCOM AOR.

— Malaysian Defence


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About Marhalim Abas 2192 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Some says we r already in recession…just not publicly announced..save your money guys..just buy what you needed not wanted…

  2. Our economy is already in a downward spiral, that is without a doubt (from 5.6% GDP growth in 2015, to expected around 4.3% in 2016 and sub 4% in 2017).it is just whether it will be a hard landing or gentle braking. Petronas already downsized 1,000+ people with more to come, waiting how maybank will response (whether people realised or not, CIMB and RHB had already VSSed nearly 3,000 people in 2015).

    On the blackhawks, well it is ashamed actually..it would be a great addition to PUTD..But I would not be too worry about it. This is malaysia, sometimes people ditched great decision as it would not benefit them (or their cronies) to go for more ridiculous decision. Just my own deduction here (no proof whatso ever)..The blackhawks 2nd purchase would bear no or little benefits to the hundreds of middleman here in Malaysia..I would not be surprise if somewhere along the line the cost of owning/upgrading the blackhawks have been jacked up so high, it would now make more sense to buy something more brand new eg. AH1z for example or even the Tiger..just saying

  3. For USD 15mil you could get a brand new Mi-171/172 or AW-139. Probably a much better deal than having to buy 2nd hand helos that were supposedly given for free

  4. Marhalim,

    If I’m not mistaken, the costs quoted to overhaul/refurbish the Mark Vs was the reason the deal was canceled. We felt that the quoted figure just wasn’t worth it. With the S-70s I suspect that the budget allocated by the Finance Ministry was not enough when taken into account that certain stuff will be uninstalled by Brunei and will have to be replaced. Sure the budget can be increased but perhaps there are too many bureaucratic delays or it was felt the cash could be used elsewhere; who knows?


    Additional Cougars would make more sense, rather than AH1s or Tigers.

  5. Who is going to foot the bills for all the electronic items taken out of the RBAF Blackhawks and putting it back,since that we are not going to buy from the Bruneians?.
    So, orang Brunei ada Blackhawks yang tak boleh terbang ke tanpa peralatan yang mahal?
    Jgn main-main, ini bukan bahan ketawa!
    Gelak ketawa, he!he!he!.
    Do we have to pay compensations to the Brunei since we are not buying from them?

    I don’t think they would have taken out the items unless it was required for the new Blackhawks they are getting. In that’s the case it will have to be done even if they do not have a buyer for the old Blackhawks so we will not be charged for it.

  6. What about SP Howitzer M109A5? Any update about it or already face same fate as the Blackhawk? TQVM…

  7. Okay, no ex-Brunei heli. What’s next to be axed? SPG Paladin? Samudera-class training ships?

  8. I presume the army have requirements for new medium utility helicopters? As replacements of the nuris.

    How many years of life are left in our nuris by the way?

    Does the offer from bell-deftech of ah-1z plus uh-1y still stands?

    Sorry for the many questions.

    The Nuris can be expected to fly until 2030 with the digital cockpit upgrade. Yes the Deftech offer still stands.

  9. It’s quite common for a user to uninstall certain stuff on aircraft that are going to be retired or sold. The may be stuff that can be reused and stuff that can’t be provided to a 3rd party [this doesn’t apply to the S-70s off course]. Had we sold our Fulcrums, the U.S. stuff [IFF,TACAN, etc] would have had to be taken off unless specific permission was provided.

  10. May not be our problem, remember Brunei is also hurting because of low oil prices. They may have increased the price or changed their minds.

    Maybe the PM decided that for the same money, more Nuris could be upgraded.

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