Malaysia’s Bermana News reports that Eurocopter has received a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from the Malaysian Defence Ministry for 12 EC725 Cougar medium search and rescue (SAR) helicopters. Negotiations for the EC725s had been suspended in October 2008, in the wake of the financial crisis; at the time, they were not supposed to resume until 2011. At the April 2010 Defence Services Asia (DSA) show in Kuala Lumpur, however, Defence minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reportedly signed a letter-of-acceptance. Eurocopter is now working with the government to finalize the contract, which is expected to happen when Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak returns from overseas and the cabinet has a chance to meet and sign off on the deal.
The EC725s would replace the existing fleet of about 20 aged S-61 Sea King/”Nuris”, and are expected to arrive in 2012-2013. The reported deal figure is MYR 1.6 billion ($500 million). EC725s, and their civilian EC225 counterparts, are used by several countries in the region for SAR work. China operates a couple, as does the Japanese Coast Guard. Indonesia has ordered 2, and Taiwan is believed to have ordered 3 EC225s, with an option for 17 more.
Malaysia is also reportedly shopping for attack helicopters. Contenders mentioned so far include Eurocopter’s dedicated Tiger scout/attack helicopter, which also serves in Australia, and versatile S-70 Black Hawk utility helicopters than can be armed with advanced “Battlehawk” kits. Malaysia’s Bernama News | Defense World | Flight International | Singapore’s Straits Times.
Contracts and Events
June 3/19: Replacing S-61? Malaysia plans to replace its S-61 helicopter. Royal Malaysian Air Force chief General, Affendi Buang said that the service is looking at a range of helicopters including the EC725. However, Buang recently visited Russia to have a closer look at the Yak-130, which is another possible procurement for Malaysia. However, the acquisition of the lightweight aircraft is still not certain. Malaysia received the first S-61 in 1967. The Eurocopter EC725 is a long-range tactical transport helicopter specially developed to meet a French Air Force requirement for a helicopter for combat search and rescue operations. It made its maiden flight in 2000. The chopper can carry 28 troops or 12 stretchers. Alternatively it can carry 5,670 kg of payload internally. External payload capacity is around 4,500 kg.