Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eurocopter Cougar deal - Malaysiakini's pre-emptive 'clawing'?

This evening Malaysiakini publishes Letter questions 'shady' chopper deal, with PKR and pro PKR bloggers happily swarming the blogosphere with accusations that Najib had signed a shady deal ... again?

Needless to say, G.A.N would be ecstatic!

And the chief accuser of the alleged 'shady' deal has been Capt (rtd) Zahar Hashim, chairperson of Mentari Services Sdn Bhd, the company which didn’t succeed in its bid to supply TUDM with the replacement aircraft for the Nuris.

Needless to say, as the loser in the bid, he has cause plus the legitimate reason to challenge the Defence Ministry’s decision to opt for the Eurocopter’s Cougar. In the USA and Europe, aircraft companies which lost aircraft bids would raise Cain because the loss would be quantified in terms of billions of dollars.

When South Korea selected the American F-15E, Dassault, the French company which had offered the ultra modern Rafale was livid with anger, and threatened to take the S Korean government to court for biased (politically influenced) preference.

Again, when the Singapore Air Force picked the same F-15E type (with rumours that the SAF actually preferred the new generation Rafale) the French hinted at possible court actions but the fuss fizzled out eventually.

I wonder whether it was because Dassault realized no one could successfully challenge the Singapore government in court, or the numbers of aircraft involved was too small to bother, or the French has other items to offer to the Singaporeans and wouldn't want to upset a potential customer?

When the USAF selected Airbus A-330 as its new air-to-air tanker, loser Boeing, which offered the B767 (which lost out because it has less fuel carrying capacity as well as less cargo payload) protested like blaze.

Reuters photo

It would have been a humongously profitable deal, amounting to some US$40 billion over two decades. Airbus in partnership with local US company, Northrop-Grumman, would supply the USAF with, as well as support the maintenance of 179 Airbus-330 tankers to replace the aging Boeing-built KC-135 aeroplanes.

The tanker is now re-tendered because the US General Accounting Office found some procedural errors in the process. But experts commented that the tender will be won again by Airbus as the USAF requirements would be best met by the more capable European tanker.

One of the considerations we need to bear in mind is that in such purchase, price is only one of several factors to be considered by the Defence Minsitry. A cheaper bid is not necessarily the best.

Some of the considerations should be the aircraft’s (i) ability to meet the TUDM’s operational requirement, (ii) technical reliability and maintenance costs, (iii) manufacturer’s reputation and reliability, (iv) political and strategic considerations, (v) number of countries buying the type (to ensure the availability of long term spare part supplies), (vi) of course price, (vii) TUDM’s familiarity with and acceptance of the manufacturing nation’s or company's aircraft development philosophy, etc etc etc.

wikipedia photo

The EC-725 is the long range multi-purpose version of the more well known Cougar AS 532, both of which are and will be operated by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, China, Democratic Rep of Congo, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, UAE, Venezuela.

Now, how many countries were we informed that operate the Kelowna Kazan-M172?

The French aircraft industry has for many decades been foremost in helicopter technology, innovation and development. The TUDM can easily confirm this after having squeezed sterling services out of the vintage Sud-Aviation Alouette III helicopter since Day 1.

I believe the TUDM had once operated the Aérospatiale Puma which, though assembled by Indonesia for us, was of French design. The Puma and its more powerful civilian variant the Super Puma are renown for their effectiveness and reliability throughout the helicopter world. The Cougar is a modernised development of the Super Puma.

We need to ask, would one prefer to be flown by the Russian Kazan 172 or the Eurocopter Cougar?

While kaytee has his opinions, why don’t you guys ask the TUDM officers, not the chairperson of the company which has been unsuccessful in its bid, which is the better aircraft, and which do the TUDM pilots want?

I believe that Malaysiakini has been too quick to describe the purchase of the Eurocopter Cougar with words and phrases like ‘shady’ and ‘another scandal appears to be hovering over the Defence Ministry’, based on just the complaints of the chairperson of the losing company.

No doubt Mentari Services Sdn Bhd has a legitimate business reason to voice its grouses, but nonetheless they have been the complaints of an unsuccessful bidder to supply the TUDM with the Kazan 172, a Russian designed helicopter.

I believe Malaysiakini ought to have cross checked with (no, not the Malaysian Defence Ministry) but the winning company, Eurocopter, before it had published the news article Letter questions 'shady' chopper deal with pre-emptive accusatory words and phrases.

Insofar as the 'pre-emptive accusatory words and phrases' against Najib Razak need to be published, I am confident PKR could and would do that ;-)


  1. The basic question here is,

    Was there a transparent open tender for the choppers with a cost of that magnitude???

  2. anon, good question - I cannot answer that as available information thus far has been based only on Capt Zahar Hashim's side of the story.

    I can only comment on the more technical/operational aspects which Capt Zahar has stated as follows:

    "(With) the price offered by Eurocopter for 12 units of Cougar EC-725 worth (an estimated of) RM2.3I7 billion, the government could purchase 30 Kazan-M172 (from Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd) which fulfills almost all the specifications required by the armed forces."

    "The difference in the price offered by Eurocopter and the price offered by Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd is RM1.419 billion."

    If I were a TUDM helicopter pilot I would know which I want ;-)

  3. You love defending Najib, don't you ?

  4. maybe I love ensuring Malaysia's defence needs are served by the best possible equipment it can afford?

  5. Defend against who with the addition of a miserable one dozen helicopters.

    Your hate for Anwar knows no raeson. F88king hypocrit.

  6. Ktemoc,
    Please do your homework before you climb on the high pedestal.

    The MI-172 is a variant using the airframe (but larger engines) of the MI-17 (Nato codeword "Hip"), which has had a production run of over 12,000 units, easily comparable to the Cougar.

    Combat proven, including heavy battlefield usage in perhaps the toughest helicopter terrain in the world - Afghanistan.

    60 countries operate the MI-17.

    By the way , the EC-725 version has ONE customer with 125 units in the whole wide world - the French Airforce, for obvious political reasons, because the French government is part owner of the manufacturer, EADS.

    For what its worth, I think the Eurocopter is overall a superior craft, but I do have the unfortunate tendency to rate Western capitalist technology as "superior" to Russian stuff.

  7. dear ktemoc,
    your detractors will label you anti this person or that, pro this and that.
    Me, I don't really care. But what I like about reading you is because you do teach us to be not so fast on the trigger... hey, wait a minute. Analyse it.
    For that, salute
    sincere well-wisher

  8. In the current economical climate, do you think it's justifiable to spend EXTRA 1 BILLION ringgit on 12 HELICOPTERS??? Seriously??? Do you not think the money is better spent on building hospitals or schools or public transport? And yes, no doubt we want the best things in life but it always not affordable. Please respond to this ktemoc, sometimes your pro-government bias is really amazing...

  9. Few more points you have conveniently overlooked:
    1. The Defence Dept didn't even bother to test the other models. For a purchase this expensive, shouldn't we AT LEAST try out the other models before making the purchase?

    2. USAF chose Airbus model over Boeing because it's CHEAPER as well...

    3. You said you know what TUDM officers would prefer - really? Are you a TUDM officer? Do you maintain a hotline for TUDM officers?

    4. We all want the best things in life, no doubt. Unfortunately, the best always means the most expensive. I know what nice things I want: a Lamborghini, a super yacth, a posh condo, a holiday home in Nice - BUT I COULD NOT AFFORD THEM. By the same token, do you think Malaysia could RM 1 billion EXTRA for 12 helicopters??? Are the 12 HELICOPTERS essential for Malaysia's defence??? Please.

  10. RM 1 BILLION !!!!! NOT 1 MILLION!!!
    TAXPAYERS MONEY !!!! How can you possibly defend this ktemoc? WTF?

  11. kk46, as I mentioned, the EC-725 has been developed from a distinguish pedigree. Those countries I mentioned operate the AS 532, from which the EC-725 is the longer range multi purpose (can play more roles) version. Besides France and Malaysia, Brazil also has ordered the EC-725 so perhaps you may wish to re-check your own fact book.

    sohchium, in an ideal world, no one should be selling or buying arms but alas ...

    Whether a nation requires a certain defence equipment will depend on its operational and civil needs, like search & rescue, servicing the people during floods or national disasters, but you can bet when it involves aircraft it will be very expensive, regardless of whether it's the Eurocopter Cougar or the Russian designed Kazan.

    At least no one is now currently GAMBLING on the taxpayers' money as once someone did.

    anon of 9:48 pm - now, how did Anwar Ibrahim creep into this post??? ;-)

  12. Hi Ktemoc

    Take a look at YB Lim Kit Siang's latest comments on our irresponsible, "head in the sand" economic policy-makers:


    Phua Kai Lit

  13. Ktemoc,
    I needed to point out that the MI-172 is also developed from a very distinguished pedigree - the MI-17, while your article implied it was an unknown dark-horse.

    As I understand it, the Americans have a lot of respect for the MI-17 as a rather basic but rugged and reliable platform.
    Western equipment tend to have a lot more sophistication built in, but the added complexity demands a higher degree of discipline, training and maintenance.

    RMAF's record with operating the Sikorsky Sea King (Nuri), another highly respected helicopter worldwide, does not give a lot of confidence for its maintenance culture.

    You correctly pointed out the MI-172 variant on offer is relatively unknown outside the Russian block, but I also needed to point out the EC-725 variant has a very limited existing operator base of ONE...

    Do I detect a Najibista in the making, huh ? I hope I'm wrong.....

  14. You may be hostile, as usual, to PKR or Anwar Ibrahim's critique (the usual messenger vs. message problem) but you ought to read Lim Kit Siang's take on the Eurocopter issue.

    Pretty level headed and valid arguments...unless you are well and trully transformed into a Najibist...

  15. KT,
    This deal stinks from the start.Whoever wants to supply to the Min.of Def knows what is happening.It has been ages since the Brits were here and things dont change
    Everybody knows it and one example is Razak Baginda.What does he knows of submarines?
    Look nobody gives a shit about specs except what is in it for greasing the palm.What open tenders we are talking about.?
    Najib is no saint and he must be an idiot if he cannot enrich himself.That is the fact that most umnoputeras praticed in their everyday life.
    If you are free i can give you a course in Helicopter design and engeering and can quote all types.You only specc what you read in aircraft magazines.

  16. kk46, please don't descend into the silly gutter by assigning UMNO affiliation to DAP supporters who just don't agree with you PKR supporters, and who had made views based on their independent-minded opinions - wakakaka

    You are also being unkind to the TUDM for alluding to their shoddy maintenance culture - the RMAF has operated the Nuri since 1968, for 40 years. Do you think the air force would have been able to maintain that helicopter that long without competency?

    The sadly political biased thing to do in the last Nuri crash was to blame Najib, no doubt as part of the orchestrated G.A.N campaign during a period when 'someone' still had high hopes of returning to the 'bosom' of the old company wakakaka.

    I had both posted in my blog as well as a letter to MKINI published, disproving the argument that Najib was directly responsible (or irresponsible) for allowing the TUDM to continue operating a helicopter which those anti-Najib "aviation experts" wakakaka believe shouldn't be flying.

    Now, the same "experts" are saying Najib shouldn't have bought the Cougars ;-)

    Incidentally in the aviation world, it has been established that 75% of aircraft accidents were caused by human errors. Though I haven't read the released accident findings of that Nuri crash I would not be at all surprised if they point (or have already pointed) to pilot error, a case of CFIT (controlled flight into terrain, an American term meaning the pilot flew a perfectly serviceable aircraft into the hills or grounds because he/she was oblivious to the terrain, or was situationally 'lost', whilst in clouds and denied visual reference to the ground and surrounding terrain).

    The Nuri accident scenario (as I read from the local media) showed the settings for CFIT, eg. high grounds (hills) around the Bentong Gap, low clouds and the helicopter pilot's natural inclination to fly at a height much below a non visual safe altitude which in clouds or mist would have ensured a safe clearance from high terrain for the helicopter.

    kk46, sadly you just want the EC 725 operator to be only one, as you've so stubbornly insisted in your comments, but I disagree with you because apart from France there is also Brazil, and of course now Malaysia. But if you understand aircraft, you would have acknowledged that the EC 725 is a new long range multi purpose version of the AS 532, which means that many of those 38 countries (including most of ASEAN military forces) may be expected to upgrade their AS 532 or Super Puma to the far more versatile EC 725.

    And finally but not least to Anon of 9:46 am, get use to the fact that, while I may be a supporter of the DAP, it doesn't mean I'm automatically toeing the party line. I make my own judgement, and it's people like me who can ever give Malaysia the chance of a 2-party system.

  17. Ktemoc,
    The EC-725 has only ONE existing operator base. On Order (Brazil and Malaysia) does not amount to an operational track record.

    A number of the Nuris crashed in clear daylight in good weather...blaming pilot error everytime is a slur on the aircrew.

  18. Dear KT,

    Allow me to enlighten to you the Procedure of Kementerian Kewangan. Basically Mentari Services complained that
    1. How come the LOI issued by Kementerian Pertahanan to Eurocopter before the Lembaga Tender of Kementerian Pertahanan compeleted its dFinal Decision (a. Company that offers the best Technical Proposal (1.Eurocopter 2.Agusta Westland 3. Sikorsky and 4. The so called Canadian Mi 17).
    b. The Company that offers the best Commercial Proposal (Again the 4 mentioned abover Tenderer)
    2. The LOI issued by the Setiausaha Bahagian (Being JUSA C) Perolehan Kementerian Pertahanan where procedure states that only KSU and TKSU of the Kementerian Pertahanan for this type of Contract worth RM 2 billion Plus. I maybe wrong because LOI as far as the Government is concerned is revoccable or can be rescinded as Compared to LOA.
    3. The procedure also states that once the Lembaga Tender finalized the Results is to be submitted to KK for Kelulusan.) (Fund to be Channel for this Project) So Surat kelulusan from the Treasury must be there for the SB to sign. No Verbal Instructions. Everything needs to be documented.
    4. Funny thing never in the History of Procurement of the Government especially Defence that the Prime Minister Happily announced the winner. The announcement was made during Press Conference on his First Day of taking office even prior briefing by the Secretary General of Defense, Chief of Defence Forces, and the Services Chief. Again according to Dato' Kapt Zahar (The Canadian Mi 17 and the Kazan Helicopter Plant Agent) two days prior of the swap of the Defense Minister and the Finance Minister 1 post the LOI was issued and the Prime Minister mentioned that the Negotiation between MINDEF and Eurocopter has been going on. Wooooiiii...
    Thus as you may well know that Dato' Najib has no control on this Kementerian Kewangan at that time. Only special instructions bypassing the Normal Channel can this thing happen especially through the Former Minister of Finance 1 network.
    Sad to say this CSAR helicopter Tender was the Second International Tender for Helicopter, the first one was the A109 Agusta Westland for the Army LOH, and if what Dato' Kapt Zahar mentioned is true then this LOI needs to be cancelled and the CSAR to be re-tender.
    I also like to highlight that the specifications of the CSAR Helicopter by the RMAF for this tender initially called for the helicopter to be fitted with rear Ramp Door. Thus the EC 725 Cougar was out. Special Appeal was forwarded and the specifications was changed during LIMA 2007 therefore Eurocopter was eligible. Proven CSAR Helicopter the Blackhawk was not contested by the Sikorsky.
    Also Dato Kapt Zahar of Mentari Services supplied the two Mi17 Firefighting Helicopter for Bomba which was supposed to be equipped with effective fluid spray system but ....

    I hope the Government postponed this acquisition due to the uncertainty in the World Economy and concentrate and use the money for our own betterment.

    Roughly the Contract is being rushed for the issuance of Letter of Award so that once the 15% Bank Guarantee is lodged for the benefit of the Government of Malaysia the MINDEF will release the initial payment of 30% of Contract value which means more than RM 600 million. With the 10% commission that would make somebody to retire very happily......

  19. kk46, I can see that you choose to ignore certain facts - the EC 725 was only first introduced in 2005. It is by aircraft production standard a very new modernised model. Even France doesn't have her desired full complement of this modern type.

    You've been obdurately splitting hairs about Brazil, which is producing under licence 50 aircraft, expected to be operational in 2010.

    It takes time to introduce aircraft into operational status and the practice is to choose and buy aircraft well ahead of the time desired for its introduction, whether this be the EC 725 or 225 helicopters or even the Airbus 380. The operational base of its earlier model, the AS 532, is extensive.

    Eurocopter also has produced the civilian version called the EC 225 where currently the model is operated by companies in China, USA, Japan, Algeria and Canada.

    Finally on your shameful part where you attempted to twist my words to suggest that I had blamed every Nuri crash on the TUDM pilots. Please re-read my earlier narration with less blinkered prejudice, some modicum of intelligence, common decency and less of the puerile mentality of 'must win at all cost and to fucks with the claimed spirit of your owned embraced reformasi' - I await your unreserved apology.

  20. Shjahf Tech, as I had commented earlier to another anon, I am unable to comment on the provenance in the tendering process as I don't have sufficient information to do so. I have only ventured into and limit my comments to the operational/technical areas as I am more comfortable with these. But thanks for yor information - I'll KIV (keep in view)

  21. Interesting topic and discussion..

    shahf tech points are interesting. But since AAB already announce his departure, those G.A.N. try so hard to blame this on Najib.

    kittykat sound so much anti-Cougar (i dun think she care about the best copter for our RMAF anyway). The defense equipment spec shouldn't be made public, some big purchase can even be made through direct nego (no open tender) because of safety factors. It will be very unwise to lay out all ur defense equipment.

    whatever there is, i love the sentiment Ktemoc brings : ALWAYS RECONSIDER ALL FACT. A complain from a loser, that will definitely be biased but not necessarily totally untrue. This matter should be look into more thoroughly from every angle posibble with no politic involved. I kinda agree with Shahf Tech to hold this purchase. In the mean time, i'd love to read more healthy discussion bout this. Please remember, it's our own boys and girls in RMAF that will fly this copter to protect OUR sovereignity. This should be our priority.

    Price is never a first factor in defense purchase!! owh dun get into that sentiment why-not-use-the-taxpayer-money-for-charity. Puhleaseee.

  22. What's so special about Najib that he is "beyond criticism" ? and anyone who criticises him gets tarred as G.A.N !

  23. price is never a factor in defence procurement? now wonder, hundreds of millions are beign paid as commission. and you have the Authorities from the defence Ministry sanctionning such payments on the basis that it is being paid by the seller.
    With such track record, isnt it normal for us to smell something fishy in this deal ( bar the technical aspects) with the RUSHED issuance of the LOI?
    Oh, btw KT, our PM in waiting did not even deny that the SMS exchange is a hoax. Well, it was just a private matter anyway.

  24. SMS transcript? wrong post for this issue, but yes, I haven't heard anyone suggest it was a hoax.

    But do read my post one the SMS - http://ktemoc.blogspot.com/2008/10/another-gan-attack-against-najib.html

  25. I believe all the negative reactions againts the procurement of the heli are hatred based . Come on, sometime we must be sensible enough to understand the benefit of the Cougar project. As for a military enthusiast I believe the benefit of Cougar purchase :

    1) EUROCOPTER plant in Subang would be fully utilized - this is some sort of TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER which is directly offered to us, just same as MEKO 100, JEBAT BATCH 2, ACV 300 project. It creates high skill employment. At least Malaysian after this have the skill the build their own transport HELI. (I bet the rusky & american would not dare to transfer the technology to non ally countries.
    2. It creates a lot of supporting industries - which will produces parts locally. more business to malaysian. Malaysian have an untapped potential in Electronic sector.
    3. Create continuous logistics requirement - benefiting the local logistics company.
    4. The cost of operating - some might argue that the cost would be higher - in what sense? provide the statistics.
    What we can see that the cougar would perform better, have massive future upgrade, and can be operated by a single pilot (mil mi 172 requires min 3 person).
    the personnel resources of TUDM can be utilized elsewhere.

    Come on...all of you are grown enough to analyse all the data.

    COugar is the best choice as EADS would given soo many value added - technology, employment, equipment supply potential,
    In my opinion - all the agreement with European Countries have been expensive, but worth it - MEKO 100 (German), proposed Jebat Batch 2 (BAE), ACV 300 (FNSS Turkey)and few minor supplier as all these companies are willing to share the technology.

    AMERICAN? our F18 cannot fire a missile w/out their permission
    RUSSIAN? sell only, no transfer of technology w/out significant purchase volume.

  26. 'Eurocopter Cougar Deal - Malaysiakini's pre-emptive 'clawing'?
    Referring to the above article, the author has overlooked key issues raised by Capt (Rtd) Zahar Hashim's letter, namely:
    1. EC 725 appears to have been 'selected' by a pre-determined 'gimmick' of a Tender process that lacks transparency.
    2. No aircraft selection can be considered comprehensive without proper flight trials and OEM visits etc.
    3. Any unsuccessful Tenderer (and this is surely not limited to only Capt. (Rtd) Zahar Hashim's company but also Sikorsky and others) would surely be displeased when it is abundantly clear that no attempt at either a proper evaluation or following of correct procedures regarding the tender process was carried out?
    4. EC 725 is the latest generation 'Super Puma', itself a development of the original 'Puma' helicopter first flown in April 1965. In terms of being an 'evolved' product, EC725 is no different from the Mi-172 offered under the Tender which is an evolution of the original Mi-8 helicopter, also originally developed in the 1960s. There is no ‘magic’ about either EC 725 or Mi-172 helicopter types offered; they are simply a development of what has gone before, albeit a very comprehensive development. In other words, they are by no means the same as previous aircraft types but they are not completely different either. It is to be recognized that a proven helicopter product only comes with tested performance over time and under all conditions.
    5. Examples of other Tenders in other countries where unsuccessful Bidders have complained are irrelevant and do nothing to condone the poor Tender procedure and lack of transparency in this case as evidenced by Capt. (Rtd) Zhar Hashim' letter.
    6. You are right in saying that a cheaper bid is not necessarily the best but given the various criteria you then mention, Eurocopter's EC 725 would find it hard to surpass Kazan's Mi-172.
    TUDM's operational requirement was for a logistic (not CSAR) helicopter, so what is a better equipped 'logistic' helicopter, one with a cargo-ramp door (Mi-172) or one without (EC 725)? One that can seat 35 troops in a cabin of 22.50 cubic meters (Mi-172), or one that claims to seat 29 in a 16.05 cubic mtr cabin (EC 725)?
    Technical Reliability & Maintenance Costs:
    It is no secret as to why the UN has predominantly used the Mi-17 helicopter type in every disaster around the World for the past 20 years or more. The reason is its ruggedness, reliability and ability to perform the tasks required of a top-class logistic helicopter. Eurocopter aircraft, by comparison, are well known for being ‘high-maintenance’; this is part of the European manufacturing philosophy. Maintenance costs for EC 725 are higher than for Mi-172 because western maintenance regimes are far more labour and manhour intensive than Russian.
    Manufacturer's Reputation & Reliability: Both Eurocopter and Kazan Helicopters are well regarded Worldwide. They are both excellent, reliable companies making good aircraft and deserve their respective reputations.
    Number of Countries Buying the Type: It is misleading to refer only to either EC 725 (only one customer country at present being France) or Mi-172, in assessing the countries using the different types. It is more informative and representative to refer to the overall medium-lift helicopter types produced by the respective manufacturers. In this regard, Eurocopter have produced approx. 730 Puma, Super Pumas and Cougars etc. since 1965, while Kazan Helicopters have produced in excess of 15,000 Mi-8 & Mi-17 types. If numbers are the proof of design success, then the Mi-8/17 family of medium-lift helicopters must be regarded as the most successful helicopters of their class ever built.
    Availability of Long-Term Spares: Given the volumes of Mi-17 still under production (both Kazan Helicopters and Ulan Ude Aviation Plant have full order books for the next 4 years producing Mi-17 variants), and the number still in operation Worldwide, the long term availability of Mi-17 spares is not in any doubt. Doubtless Eurocopter can also provide the same level of product support guarantees even though the numbers of EC 725s will never match that of Mi-17s being manufactured.
    Price: EC725 apparently costs significantly more than Mi-172 but a proper evaluation would need to be carried out to understand the full implications of the respective manufacturers' technical and financial packages. Is the lack of a proper evaluation an attempt to prevent the Taxpayer from finding out the true cost of the Eurocopter package before the Contract has been signed?
    TUDM's familiarity with & acceptance of the manufacturing nation's or company's aircraft development philosophy: 38 countries have bought the Puma family of helicopters since 1965 while over 80 countries have bought the Mi-8/17 family of helicopters over the same period so what could TUDM find so difficult about the respective ‘development philosophies’ of either Eurocopter or Kazan Helicopters? It should be noted that RMAF pilots and engineers seconded to BOMBA have already gained 10 years experience with Mi-17-V5. However, they have no experience yet of working with a medium-lift helicopter produced by Eurocopter.
    Your comment about the French aircraft industry being foremost in helicopter technology, innovation and development is entirely subjective and the British, Italians, Americans and Russians would claim otherwise. Most companies within the aviation industry readily recognise the respective strengths and weaknesses of their peers.
    Your question about asking one's preference for being flown in either Eurocopter’s Cougar or Kazan’s Mi-172 implies that the Russian Mi-172 is inferior; this is an assumption based upon your personal preference and not upon either the technical facts or detailed knowledge of the respective types. The author of this blog has spent numerous hours on both aircraft types; however, if I was an infantry soldier awaiting a pick-up together with the rest of my platoon (30 odd soldiers in total) in a hostile area, then I would rather fly in a Mi-172 (more room and rapid loading via the cargo-ramp door). Similarly, if I was tasked to drop food supplies into a disaster area then I would prefer a Mi-172 because as a logistic medium-lift helicopter it has significant advantages over the EC 725. Your comment about preference is thus unqualified.
    It is surely the task of MOD to ensure that TUDM officers evaluate each and every Tender Bid in accordance with the same selected criteria, and not to go by any subjective opinions about what they would prefer/want to fly (as mentioned in your article)? Indeed, TUDM Officers may be the first to admit that there is a significant basis of truth in Capt (Rtd) Zahar Hashim's letter alleging that the Tender procedure fell well short of a proper evaluation.
    The various points contained within the Captain's letter appear sound to this Author and it is surely now for the Government to demonstrate to the Public that their selection of the EC 725 has been made with the best interests of the Taxpayer, the Armed Forces, and the Country in mind? The Captain doubts whether this has been the case, and the way in which the Tender was conducted appears to support his opinion.

  27. OK, so maybe this Russky designed chopper is better n cheaper. But anybody care to check out who is te supplier? Everheard of Kelowena Flightcraft Ltd.? Check out its website "www.flightcraft.ca". More or less comparable to our local Airod I think. BTW, Kazan as company no longer exists too. If DSAI were PM he would have bought the Blackhawks.

    Even Blakchawks Go Down

  28. If people want to buy the M-172 or the Mi-17 helicopter, would you get from this Kelowena company? Capt. Zahar (just Captain?) just sakit hati he lost chance to become new multi-millionaire.

    Jawa Kelowena

  29. Don't now if you'll approve this. But interersting read nevertheless.

    As a comparision 12 Kelowana Mis will costs us USD 264.00. This will translate to USD 22.00 per heli.

    A report from Wired Blog said:

    " ...One company is offering on the Internet to sell new production Mi-17s for $5 million each, and India just a couple months ago bought 80 Mi-17 helicopters converted for military use for $662 million, which comes out to a unit price of a little over $8 million (and less, if the contract included sustainment costs and spares). According to the contract terms confirmed by the Pentagon, the Iraqis are paying a unit price of nearly $15 million, which would appear to be well above the norm."


  30. " As a comparision 12 Kelowana Mis will costs us USD 264.00. This will translate to USD 22.00 per heli.

    er. I mean million. sorry.

  31. is "kantoi" the correct word.

    (sorry for triple posting. Couldn't help it)

  32. Brother Ubat65,

    Points to ponder.

    Mi 17 Kelowna is only about avionic upgrade. The change is more on the aircraft instrumentation, radios and navigation equipment.

    The Kelowna Mi17 retains the original airframe, such as the same mechanical controls and linkages, the same gearbox, the same main rotor baldes, the tail rotor blades, the same engines, and auxiliary powerplant unit. No improvement with the one designed from the 1960. Tak percaya pergi tengok helicopter Bomba kat AIROD. Ada 4 biji kat sana.

    As compared to the EC 725 brother macam langit dengan bumi......

    By the way Specification for the RMAF for this International Tender is Combat, Search and Rescue plus Utility......bukan Logistic. Jangan tembak saja.

  33. I'm a retired corporate executive who has made and had to defend tough questioning on many multi-million riggit purchasing decisions in my day...so here's my 2 sen worth.

    In a complex system, purchase price is often not the most important criteria. Performance, fit for use, reliability (both the equipment and the supplier company), support, track record etc. are often just as important if not more.

    But here's the real world fact - if you decide to buy the most expensive system on offer, you better be ready to explain convincingly to your shareholders.

    As some other commentators have correctly pointed out here, there are other alternative helicopters on offer which are also respected, widely used systems, not just dodgy options.

    Najib's principal shareholders are the people of Malaysia - and he better be able to justify the queries, not just brush them off as irritating barbs from Anwar Ibrahim or Lim Kit Siang.

  34. and dont forget the so called avionic upgrade costs almost four times the original price.

    better we upgrade all the old birds than getting the Mis at a ridiculous price.

  35. there's a lot of interesting view. just read the captain's letter, the letter itself is written in shady manner without proper chronology and supportive figures. maybe there are attachment but dun see it mentioned anywhere. I'm very much hope in the letter there will be technical data, financial analysis or anything 'academic' worth to give us some idea. But there's alot of petikan akhbar, 'kami difahamkan', 'menurut sumber-sumber yang sama' (who?), 'menurut bekas ksu and tksu' (who again? someone in or outside mentari services?),'kalau difikir secara logik', 'alangkah ironisnya'. I personally think a company which can supply heli should done much better. Anyway we should look carefully of all the allegation made by the captain.

    He mentioned that Nuri was used for utility and sometimes for SAR. That's why he thought MI-172 KF is more than enough. Probs is, if we want to purchase something new, why dun we go for something better? and this Cougar have combat ability (sorry, i dun know bout other proposed heli). No wonder la the price is much higher. those of u who knows a lot about strategic military, is that adviseable to use the same old models that've been use by ather country around the world? kalo kreta, i tau ler (senang cari spare part, murah.. ye la massive production, cost cheaper). i believe the price can be explained in short term and long term prospective.

    The captain state that MOD only compare the documents of the tenders without demonstration. This is allegation by his part only and i wish MOD can explain to us the reasons. Kalau beli kreta, is another story (ambil contoh dalam surat kapten), tp for military equipment i'm not so sure. it's not everyday shopping. Agree with what observer said, the this queries must be able to be justified. would love to hear the answer.
    anyone out there can explain to us bout procurement process about special purchase like this? esp one that involve military stuff. tq

  36. Whether ECs or Mis or another set of Nuris, the most important thing is to get rid of the leeching agents. Shoot them, burn them i don't care. We might even afford the AW101 after that.

  37. I think it may be worthwhile at this stage to explain what is CSAR or Combat Search & Rescue, and why it is expensive.

    Search and Rescue or SAR is straight forward. Usually the Search component is done by a fast aeroplane like a TUDM C130 or even a B737 in some other air forces. The aim is to get to the location real pronto, and locate the missing aircraft, ship or persons, or to confirm that those missing are where they had reported going down (or have been reported as going down).

    In smaller countries like Peninsula Malaysia, a helicopter may also carry out the search as the distance to fly to the search area won't be too extensive.

    Searches may be by visual means (eyeball sighting) but with the search aircraft flying a certain track pattern, depending on the circumstances of the missing case and whether the area to be search is at sea, on land or around mountains.

    It may also be by electronic means, hunting for and homing on to a distress signal transmitted automatically by the downed aircraft or by a survivor (crew or passenger). Today there are satellites monitoring any distress signals on an internationally agreed frequency around the globe.

    Once the search has confirmed the location of the downed aircraft or ship in distress or missing person, the rescue is activated, and usually carried out by helicopters because of their versatility in landing at various challenging terrain. In some rare cases, at sea, an amphibious aeroplane may land to pick up survivors.

    But combat SAR (CSAR) is quite different, where (especially) the rescue part is conducted in hostile terrain. The helicopter has to be suitably equipped with an array of defensive equipment, including armaments to ‘neutralize’ hostile forces at the location of the rescue (usually to pick up a fighter-strike pilot who has been forced to eject over hostile territory).

    The CSAR helicopter must also be equipped with electronic counter-measures (ECM), which could range from decoy flares, electronically disruptive chaff, electronic jamming, perhaps even anti-radiation missile which will home in on the enemy’s radar (which are used for aircraft detection or antiaircraft radar guidance) – these missiles are known as shrikes.

    Needless to say, encryptic communication with all sorts of authentication codes (even of coloured smoke flares to be used by the downed pilot) would be vital to ensure the CSAR helicopter isn't lured into landing right smack in the 'welcoming arms' of an enemy reception.

    The sophisticated complement of electronic equipment costs the world and sometimes may even be more than the helicopter itself. Both (some of) the AS 532 and its latest improved model the EC-725 are CSAR capable.

    In any language, regardless of aircraft type, ECM capable aircraft like strike fighters/bombers, AWAC (airborne early warning radar aircraft), dedicated ECM aircraft (to disrupt enemy air defence systems), Wild Weasels (fighter aircraft dedicated to hunting down and destroying enemy radar and antiaircraft batteries), and CSAR helicopters are damn bloody expensive, costing perhaps 2, 3 or even 4, 5 times more than the non-combat version.

  38. Ya-lah, 10% Consulting Fees, another 10% Special Handling Fees sure adds up to a lot of money...

  39. pakas, you said "...get rid of the leeching agents, shoot them, burn them..." most of us are commissioned agents earning hard working normal profits. arn't you also 'pakas' in susan/shiv aroor blog where 'anonymous' said "..he is known for copying info from various brochures and writing articles and claiming them to be his original work.." arn't you prasun k sengupta, an indian citizen and a free lance defence writer ? who are you representing this time ? no need to guess, payment in Euros, i mean payment by Eurocopter ? arn't you also a foreign agent earning extraordinary commissions. pls stay away from malaysian business/politics and dont try to inpress us.

  40. Can you differentiate between a comment and a quote. If i'm a plagiarist, do you think i care to put each link with my post. Please use your brain.If i'm hurting your precious little feeling with my post I'm sorry. i It is a little bit harsh, I agree.

    I'm not an agent. I won't get a cent of anything.

  41. The question essentially boils down to the price of the helicopters. Like you said Brazil also ordered 50 Eurocopter Cougar EC-725. The difference my friend is in the price of acquisition.

    The Brazilians paid US$1.2 billion for 50 helicopters. US$1.2 billion is roughly RM4 billion which makes each helicopter costing RM82 million per helicopter.

    Contrast with Malaysia's price of RM2.317 billion for 12 helicopters. Each helicopter costs RM193 million, making the difference between Brazil and Malaysia's acquisition price total RM111 million per helicopter.

    Times 12 helicopters and you have RM1 billion+ price differential. That is a very big price difference my friend. Damn Malaysian commissions sure cost a bomb. Where can I sign up to be a Malaysian Weapons Acquisition Consultant?

  42. For reference on Brazil's acquisition price of Cougars refer here http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/Brazil-Signs-1B-Production-Deal-for-Cougar-Helicopters-04959/

  43. Ask BOMBA pilot that fly the Mi-17, from same family that been flying since long time ago. Better option like Eurocopter NH-90 or Agusta Westland AW-101.

  44. ec725 is better than kazan mi17 , compare to spec modernization safety and equipment.for those civilian here who select mi17 ...you know nothing about military ops and the need of future csar.

    maybe merlin is too expensive for us but ec725 is good enough we can afford.

    but if you all still want the mi17, i think dont bother to buy new heli, lets just maintain the nuri...same je, ada faham!

  45. KT, stop behaving you know everything. Just investigate. There is definitely some hidden thing. I believe the captain is telling the truth on the procurement issues.
    In the RMAF, words going around that the project team were asked to sit together with Eurocopter people to decide on the specification paper, so more or less is predetermined. For that an investigation must be conducted just to get to the bottom of it. Let it be, then we find the truth and its all taxpayers money.

  46. Bro Ktemoc,

    You mentioned about RMAF used to have an Indonesian assembled Super Puma. What happened to that helicopter?

    Sebelum dia crash, sapa dia bawa?


  47. I notice that recently, the price of the choppers have been nerfed to RM1.602 billion. All I can say is, brilliant damage control by our govt!

    KT, I've been lurking round your site for a long while, and I think I prefer this blog to RPK since you seem to analyse the situation more thoroughly.

    Analyse this, then. What in heaven's name do we need a Scorpene sub in the Straits for? Being one of the most high-traffic straits in the world, sonar conditions will be absolute hell. And our 'brilliant' MINDEF intends to use it as anti-illegal-immigrant deterrent.

    Whoop-dee-doo. Tell me, how is the sub going to find 'em? Sonar? Hydrophones? Its gonna use SONAR to pick ONE Yamaha outboard motor (used by illegals) out of HOW MANY (legitimate) boats plying the Straits? Can it even operate well in the shallow water with so many cargo ships around screwing up (pun intended) the sonar conditions?

    What happens when they find the boat? Sink it? Use a torpedo? How about... CALL IN SUPPORT from RMN patrol craft? Hmm, let's see, if the patrol boats are going to do all the legwork anyway, what if we'd bought a big load of patrol ships instead of ONE bloody big submarine...

    I really want to know your views on this matter.