HAVING worked with the Malaysian armed forces and supported the development of the local defence industry for decades, BAE Systems is hoping to take things further.
For the past 50 years, BAE Systems and its subsidiary companies have been supplying all three of the armed forces’ services with equipment, while supporting the defence industry for 20 of those years.
The relationship continues till today, and the company would like to see it grow even further by providing the Royal Malaysian Air Force the much-vaunted Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.
The Typhoon is one of two aircraft said to be in the shortlist for the RMAF’s multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) replacement programme, and BAE Systems, which builds the aircraft in consortium with two European companies, believes it is the perfect fit for Malaysian needs.
“BAE Systems has worked with the Malaysian armed forces for over 50 years and supported the development of the Malaysian defence industry for more than 20 years, gaining a unique understanding of Malaysia’s requirements and aspirations. BAE Systems can assure Malaysia that a procurement of Typhoon will deliver benefits well beyond the defence capability that the aircraft brings to the RMAF,” BAE Systems regional sales director Steve Osborne told the New Straits Times.
Much like the deal for the supply of Hawk advanced jet trainers year ago, the procurement of the Typhoon would come with various offset initiatives that will deliver over 21,500 Malaysian jobs.
Osborne said it was expected that the economy would benefit to the tune of RM54 billion over the operational life of the aircraft.
He said the MRCA programme required an aircraft that can address the ever-changing threats in the region and the Typhoon would deliver on this by having a clear strategy which upgrades the aircraft capability in regular phases to maintain combat advantages.
“With 599 aircraft on order with eight nations, more than double that of our competitor, Typhoon’s capability is the product of a global understanding of the operational environment. RMAF can have confidence that Typhoon will arrive ready to fight, have the highest interoperability with its (Five Power Defence Arrangement) and other international partners, and remain at the peak of capability throughout its life.”
MRCA need to be available for operations round-the-clock and must deliver this with the best use of operational expenditure, and BAE Systems guarantees that the Typhoon is just such an aircraft.
“The Typhoon is proven to consistently deliver the highest levels of availability in all operational environments, significantly higher than similar aircraft in its class. (It) was designed at the outset for maintainability and reliability across all of its systems.
“From the ultra-reliable EJ200 engine with a (mean time between failures) beyond 1,200 hours to the combat-proven weapons systems and Helmet Mounted Sighting System and sensor fusion, Typhoon will provide RMAF with the highest level of readiness.”
Another advantage, the company said, would come in terms of the FPDA.
Since the 1970s, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have had an understanding under the FPDA to work together in times of conflict.
To this end, the five nations take part in a series of annual exercises where interoperability development across the air domain is a goal.
“Shortly, the UK and Australia will introduce the F-35 Lightning II into operation and it is possible that Singapore may look at the F-35 in the future. With Malaysia and Australia operating variants of the F/A-18, and Singapore operating the F-15SE and F-16, Typhoon offers a clear advantage for Malaysia in regards to current and future combat interoperability with these platforms.
“Further, with the UK developing their doctrine for Typhoon and F-35 interoperability, FPDA will provide the means for valuable experience sharing for operating with this fifth-generation fighter. Typhoon will provide RMAF with the best platform to continue to play a lead role in FPDA for the future,” said Osborne.
BAE Systems, in association with its training partners, also intends to provide Malaysia with “enduring, world-class skills and knowledge in aerospace technical training”.
BAE Systems Southeast Asia managing director John Brosnan said doing so would allow Malaysia the opportunity to significantly increase its share of the regional civil Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) market.
This, he said, would go some way towards the government’s target of gaining five per cent of the global MRO market.
“Such a development could also provide opportunities for current and past members of the RMAF to align their technical skills and experience with the civil market, resulting in effective and efficient aircraft operations,” he said.
The early basic foundation training and elementary qualifications for aerospace maintenance operations are largely the same as those for aerospace manufacturing.
BAE Systems, said Brosnan, proposes to provide Malaysia with the capability to train students in a way that will benefit the aerospace MRO and manufacturing sectors by providing options to follow careers in either sector at an early stage.
“BAE Systems recognises that first-class training is the essential foundation for a well-developed safety culture, contributing to product reliability, operational availability as well as reducing accidents due to maintenance error. While BAE Systems has trained a significant number of personnel from overseas air forces, it also trains its own workforce to support fifth-generation products, such as the F35, and the Royal Air Force in the maintenance of its Typhoon fleet at its Coningsby and Lossiemouth main operating bases.”
The company recently invested in a new Maintenance Training Academy and an Advanced Skills and Knowledge Academy in the UK to serve these training requirements, said Brosnan.