Malaysia Wants ATFLIR Targeting Pods for its F/A-18D Hornets
Malaysia has an unusual air fleet, which includes Russian MiG-29s and very advanced SU-30MKMs, alongside Boeing’s F/A-18D Hornets. The MiG-29s are declining in numbers, and Malaysia had hoped to phase them out, but it expects the Hornets to soldier on for a little while longer.
Part of their efforts in that regard involve upgrades, to give their Hornets the same advanced surveillance and targeting pod capabilities enjoyed by advanced air forces around the world.
Work will be performed in McKinney, TX (90%); El Segundo, CA (8%); Midland, Ontario, Canada (1%), and the Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom (1%) and is expected to be completed in July 2017. Contract funds in the amount of $24,289,029 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-G-0006).
May 12/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Malaysia’s official request to buy a Mid Life Upgrade to its existing F/A-18D aircraft. The announced upgrades would include 6 AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR Pods, plus full integration efforts involving software development, system integration and testing, test sets, aircrew and maintenance training, support equipment, spares and repair parts, publications, technical documentation, and other U.S. Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $72 million, but that will depend on contract negotiations if Congress does not black the sale.
The change “will upgrade the current FLIR pod to a current configuration… aligning the Malaysian Navy with functionality similar to the U.S. Navy.” USMC Hornets actually use Northrop Grumman/ RAFAEL’s LITENING pod, as do F/A-18s flown by customers like Australia and Finland. Malaysia faithfully backs Islamic boycotts of the Jewish state, however, leaving its to choose between the ATFLIR pod that’s standard on US Navy Hornets and Super Hornets, or Lockheed Martin’s Sniper pod. Sniper ATP often equips international F-16s, but it has been integrated on Canada’s upgraded F/A-18s as well.
Raytheon makes the ATFLIR pod, but the principal contractor would be Boeing if a deal is signed, as they’re the Hornet’s manufacturer and lead integrator. Implementation of this sale will require the temporary travel of approximately 8 contractor representatives to Malaysia for installation, system validation, and verification of this system and the other upgrade capabilities.