The Royal Malaysian Air Force has taken delivery of its fourth and final Airbus Defence & Space A400M transport aircraft, as the European firms eyes other regional opportunities.
At a ceremony at the Langkawi Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (LIMA), defence minister Hishamuddin Hussein recieved a plaque from the European firm’s chief executive, Fernando Alonso.
“With this delivery, the RMAF now has a fleet of four aircraft, and can start to fully benefit from the A400M’s unique capabilities,” says Alonso.
“We look forward to seeing the aircraft in action in the region, and will provide our full support as the RMAF expands its use of the A400M. The clear vision shown by the RMAF and Malaysia to be part of the A400M programme will start to bear fruit in the coming years, and I am convinced that they will be an example for the whole region.”
At a subsequent briefing, Airbus discussed opportunities in the region.
One area of significant interest, says Ioannis Papachristofilou, head of corporate marketing at Airbus Defence & Space, is regional requirements for maritime patrol aircraft. The company is promoting its C295 MPA at this year’s show.
Papachristofilou would not discuss details about Malaysia’s apparent need for this type of aircraft, but says that there is strong interest in MPAs around Southeast Asia.
Malaysia appears to have two separate MPA requirements: a shorter-range aircraft operated by a private entity used for basic patrol and other domestic duties, and a long-range MPA aircraft for military applications, possibly including anti-submarine warfare. Airbus’s C295 would be pitched at the latter role.
Papachristofilou says that apart from Airbus’s strengths as a systems integrator, the C295 airframe offers several advantages, one being its ramp. This allows crews to quickly change payloads depending on mission requirements.
Papachristofilou also touched on Airbus Defence & Space’s industrial partnership with Malaysia. Malaysian companies are involved with the supply chain for several types, producing wing parts for the A380, composites for the A400M and A320. Malaysian companies also have work packages on the A350.