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MPA and MALE UAVs Out For Tender

Defense News, MELBOURNE, Australia — Malaysia is moving ahead with its plans to acquire much-needed maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial systems to enhance maritime security, with the Southeast Asian country announcing that it will be issuing separate tenders for each type.

The Aug. 25 announcement comes in the wake of its coast guard killing a Vietnamese fisherman following a confrontation off the Malaysian coast. And both countries along with China were recently involved in a three-way standoff over oil exploration in a part of the South China Sea claimed by all three nations.

According to the tender announcement, Malaysia is seeking two maritime patrol aircraft and three medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems.

READ: Royal Malaysian Navy Receives 6 Insitu ScanEagle UAVs

The announcement was sent to “selected embassies” and published in two of Malaysia’s national newspapers as well as the government’s online tender portal. The government said the full tender documents will be available Sept. 3 and that interested parties must submit bids no later than Nov. 26.

This announcement confirms earlier reports that Malaysia will split its requirement for maritime patrol aircraft and maritime UAS into two tranches, with this first tranche coming under the country’s 2021-2025 five-year spending plan.

Under its Capability 55 plan, the Royal Malaysian Air Force has an eventual requirement for four maritime patrol aircraft and six UAS to improve maritime domain awareness.

Potential manned aircraft in the running include Leonardo’s ATR 72MP, Airbus’ C-295, PTDI’s CN-235, Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon and Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ P-1. However, it’s unlikely P-8A or P-1 will be chosen due to their respective costs.

The drone requirement is likely to attract interest from General Atomics with its MQ-9 Reaper; Aviation Industry Corporation of China with its Wing Loong family of systems; Leonardo with the Falco; and Turkish Aerospace Industries’ Anka series.

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