Malaysia’s Ministry of Defense announced that the Italian company Leonardo was chosen by the government as its preferred supplier for a maritime patrol aircraft program (MPA). The government has agreed to procure two MPAs from the company.
Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that as part of the program, Leonardo would supply the ATR 72MP, which is based on the ATR 72 turboprop regional airliner and can perform maritime patrol, search and rescue, and electronic intelligence gathering missions using its suite of onboard systems, including radar, electro-optical sensors, and satellite communication technology. Additionally, the ATR 72Mp is capable of carrying small torpedoes for anti-submarine operations.
The maintenance of Malaysia’s F/A-18D Hornet fleet will continue to be a top priority for the ministry. Due to border closures caused by the COVID-19 epidemic and Australia’s decision to retire its Hornets, the eight aircraft that were scheduled for delivery to Australia for refurbishment work by Boeing were unable to be delivered as planned. Instead, the aircraft are undergoing local overhauls, with the first Hornet reportedly already receiving improvements. With financing from the US Maritime Security Initiative, the Royal Malaysian Air Force is also modifying three CN-235 transport aircraft that were built in Indonesia to perform maritime surveillance tasks. Malaysia received the second plane from the Indonesian company PTDI in October 2022.
(Sources: Defense News; Janes)