Completion of MSA Conversion Programme for RMAF Transporters

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KUALA LUMPUR: The United States and the Royal Malaysian Air Force today formalised the completion of MSA programme for the service at Subang airbase near here.

Ambassador Edgard D Kagan joined Air Force chief General Mohd Asghar Khan Goriman Khan, to commemorate the conversion of three CN235 transport aircraft into Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA). The conversion programme, which began in 2018 and totaled approximately US $60 million under the Maritime Security Initiative, served as the first major US security grant programme in Malaysia.

The CN-235s are now enhanced with maritime surveillance radars, electro-optical infrared turrets, beyond line-of sight communications and roll-on/roll-off system operator stations.  The aircraft are attached to Squadron 1 at Kuching Airbase in Sarawak.

In his remarks, Kagan said: “With all three aircraft converted and incorporated into Malaysia’s overall maritime domain awareness architecture, we know that Malaysia is better able to maintain vigilant watch over activities within its Exclusive Economic Zones, and better postured to secure the maritime environment.“

US-Malaysia security cooperation includes eleven bilateral and five multilateral defense exercises, the most Malaysia has with any country, which enhance Malaysian defense readiness, strengthen multinational relationships, and demonstrate US resolve to support a free and open Indo-Pacific, an embassy statement said. Between 2019-2023, the US provided more than $240 million in total security assistance, a US Embassy Embassy said.

It was earlier reported that the effort was facilitated by the US Navy’s Building Partner Capacity programme, aligned with the US government’s Maritime Security Initiative.

“The Malaysian CN-235 programme will be a significant force multiplier to an indigenous Malaysian intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability,” its Security Cooperation Office at the Naval Air Systems Command, director, Ron Weinberger said.

He said this will directly support joint Malaysian and the United States’ efforts to ensure global security in the Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.

Under the programme, the twin-engine CN-235s were flown to Indonesian aircraft maker PTDI Persero for completion and testing in September 2020 amid Covid-19 restrictions, and the first flight took place in October 2021. –adj/shp/mgm (pix: US Embassy)