GKN Westland is hoping to capitalise on Malaysia's recent order for six Super Lynx maritime helicopters by offering the aircraft as support for future Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) programmes.
The RMN ordered six Super Lynx last year and its modernisation plans include establishing a fleet of offshore patrol vessels (OPV) which are likely to need airborne support.
Phase one of the programme, involving the construction of six vessels, is already under way, although the total number of OPVs is likely to be about 16. They will become operational over the next 20 years.
"We know there will be a requirement," says GKN's Marc Holloran, "but at this stage the numbers are unclear. From our standpoint, Malaysia will have Super Lynx in service and we believe it makes sense for them to remain with a single type.
"In the meantime we'll continue our support for their Wasps and keep talking to them about the OPV programme."
Westland will also seek to take advantage of parent company GKN's success with joint ventures in the Far East. GKN employs more than 3,500 people in the region, the majority in the automotive industry and any deal with Malaysia on the patrol vessel front is likely to involve considerable offset arrangements.
"Offsets will be important, there's no doubt about that," says Holloran. "We have a good track record in this region and what everyone in the industry is finding more and more is that countries don't simply want to buy aircraft any more, they want involvement.
"Whether it's logistics, training or maintenance, governments are aiming to develop their own skills and facilities."
Source: Flight Daily News