Malaysia is resuming its efforts to buy maritime patrol aircraft, but this time with a greatly reduced budget, say industry sources.

In 2005, Fokker Services and Malaysian maintenance, repair and overhaul firm Airod won a pitch to supply Fokker 50 maritime patrol aircraft to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). But the deal never went through because the agency failed to get the funding.

This time, the Royal Malaysian Air Force is spearheading the campaign, and is initially seeking four aircraft, say industry sources.

Malaysia has been relying largely on four Beechcraft Super King Air aircraft that it received in 1994 for maritime patrol duties, while the MMEA ordered two Bombardier 415 multipurpose amphibious aircraft last year.

The air force is seeking an MPA fleet because it wants to eventually phase out the King Airs, widen its operations and have an aircraft with better payload performance, the industry sources say.

Malaysia is likely to issue a request for proposals in next year's first quarter, and finalise a deal in time for delivery in 2010-12, says one source.

Aircraft-makers that may look to pitch for the business include Alenia Aeronautica, with its ATR 42 Surveyor MP, Indonesian Aerospace, with its CN-235 MPA, Fokker Services again, with the Fokker 50, and Saab with its Saab 340 or Saab 2000.

Source: Flight International