MALAYSIA HAS BEEN offered the results of the UK's attack-helicopter procurement evaluation in support of its own helicopter programme, which is strongly tipped for inclusion in Malaysia's next five-year plan, starting in 1996 (Flight International, 5-11 April, P19).

Type evaluation is provisionally targeted for 1996, with a procurement decision by 1997.

In 1994, the UK Government is understood to have offered a copy of the results of its helicopter evaluation to former Malaysian defence minister Najib Tun Razak. Competing against the winning Westland/McDonnell Douglas AH-64D for the British Army order were Eurocopter, with the Tiger, and Bell, offering the Cobra Venom.

The AH-64 faces strong competition in Malaysia from Denel, bidding with the CSH-2 Rooivalk, which was also briefly offered as a contender for the UK requirement. The South African Company is understood to be offering an attractive co-production deal, while the AH-64 has still to be officially released for sale in Southeast Asia.

Other types likely to be on offer include the Mil Mi-28 Havoc and the Bell AH-1W SuperCobra. Russian arms sales in the region were boosted by Malaysia's purchase in 1994 of 18 Mikoyan MiG-29MS fighters, and any follow-on helicopter deal would be made financially attractive by the inclusion of barter trade.

Bell, one of the losers in the UK competition, is still looking for a buyer to launch its improved four-blade SuperCobra. The Malaysia requirement, however, is considered too small to kick-start the programme without a larger commitment, such as from the US Marine Corps or Japan's Ground Self-Defence Force.

Malaysia is understood to want to purchase a total of 12-20 helicopters in two batches. The machines, will initially be operated by the air force, rather than the recently established, Army Air Corps. The army operates ex-air force Aerospatiale Alouette IIIs, but has only just begun training its own pilots.

Source: Flight International