Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense has selected U.S.-based aircraft maker MD Helicopters to supply six MD 530G scout attack helicopters to the Army Aviation branch, Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat (PUTD), of the Malaysian Army, according to a MD Helicopters press release.
Delivery of the helicopters is slated to begin at the end of this year with the full fleet scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2017, the press release states. The contract is the biggest U.S.-Malaysian arms deal since Kuala Lumpur placed an order for eight F/A-18DS fighter aircraft in June 1993.
“We are honored that the MD 530G—our next generation light scout attack helicopter—was selected by the Malaysian prime minister, minister of defense and the chief of defense force (CDF) to be the newest addition to the Malaysian Armed Forces,” said Lynn Tilton, chief executive officer for MD Helicopters.
The MD 530G gunship was first revealed to the Malaysian public at the March 2015 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition. According to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, the helicopter is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C30 turbine engine, has a top cruising speed of 130 knots (240 kilometers), and can carry a load of 862 kilograms (1,900 pounds) over a range of 519 kilometers (322 miles).
“The Malaysian Army’s fleet of MD 530G helicopters will include a custom weapons package, advanced communications capabilities, and state of the art EO/IR to detect, identify, and engage a wide range of threats,” according to the press release. Likely weapon systems will include the Dillon Aero 134H-D mini-gun, the Talon 70 millimeter laser-guided rockets and the FN Herstal HMP400 12.7 millimeter gun pods.
While the helicopter is capable of carrying up to four Hellfire missiles, it is unlikely that the missiles will be included in the custom weapons package, since the purchase would need to be made through United States’ Foreign Military Sales Program. As of now, no Hellfire sale to Malaysia has been approved by the U.S. State Department.
The new helicopters will be deployed in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), an area that covers 1,400 kilometers of coastline in Malaysia’s easternmost state of Sabah between the towns of Kudat and Tawau, where it will perform attack, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and security missions in support of the Malaysian Army’s operations.
We are extremely proud that our innovative aircraft will play an integral role in the PUTD’s mission to be a critical force multiplier for the Malaysian Army,” said Tilton. “We are confident our record of early delivery will continue with this contract and will allow the Malaysian Army to achieve significant operational successes in early 2017.”