Malaysia plans to acquire at least six helicopters for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) duties after revising the projected role of an initial batch of offshore patrol vessels (OPV) for delivery from next year.

The German-built Meko A100 OPVs were initially to be used for anti-surface warfare (ASuW), but the Malaysian navy now wants to use them for ASW, say industry sources.

AgustaWestland is expected to offer a dipping sonar-equipped version of the Super Lynx 300 for the ASW requirement. The companys old six Super Lynx 300s to Malaysia in 1999 to equip UK-designed Leiku-class frigates in the ASuW role. Five will be delivered next year and the sixth in 2004.

Other ASW requirement contenders are likely to be the Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprite, Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk and the Eurocopter AS565 Panther.

Achieving an ASW capability has moved up Kuala Lumpur's list of priorities as it seeks to monitor submarine operations by several countries in the region including China,India and Singapore. No timescale, however, has been set for acquiring the helicopters.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government is expected to choose between the AgustaWestland A109 Power and Eurocopter EC635 by the end of November to meet an army requirement for 11 scout helicopters.

Malaysia is also looking at reviving long-standing plans to buy Denel Rooivalk attack helicopters and could send a team to South Africa to conduct a fresh evaluation next year, says Malayasia's deputy defence minister Shafie Apdal.

Source: Flight International