, ANOTHER defence industry heavy-weight has entered the race to supply attack helicopters for the Army Air Wing. European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) has offered the Government the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter.
Previously, only two companies had shown interest in supplying the helicopters to Malaysia.
Boeing's Apache is a battle-proven helicopter while the Rooivalk by Denel of South Africa has only been tested by the South African Army.
“We felt that this was the right time to offer the Tiger to the Malaysian Government,” said EADS Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Pierre Jaffre.
About 160 Tigers are currently in service with the French and German armed forces.
However EADS, a consortium of German, French, Spanish and British companies, recently received or-ders from Australia and Spain for 22 and 24 Tigers respectively.
The Malaysian Government recently signed a deal for the procurement of 11 Agusta A109M light observation helicopters which are capable of carrying light ammunition and performing a variety of roles.
It is unclear whether these helicopters would be used in an attack role, thus negating the need for attack helicopters.
It is understood, however, that the Government is keeping its options open regarding the attack helicopters.
The Tiger, however, is not the only aircraft that EADS is offering to Malaysia.
“We also brought up the possibility of Malaysia joining the Airbus A400M (military transport aircraft) programme at some point,” said Jaffre.
The aircraft already has orders for 180 throughout the world and EADS, he said, hoped to incorporate new partnerships in the programme.
Another EADS company looking for Malaysian partners is Casa of Spain.
Casa's partnership with IPTN of Indonesia saw the production of the company's CN-235 military transport aircraft by the Indonesians, several of which made their way into the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Now the company is looking for Malaysian partners to develop a maritime surveillance system for the aircraft and the larger C-295.
Jaffre said this was timely considering the plan for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
EADS Malaysia's plans for development will focus on exchange of technology and Malaysian partners.
The company already has a solid Malaysian partner in Composites Technology Research Malaysia Bhd which has contracts with Airbus for its A300 family of commercial jetliners, including the new A380. CTRM also has an agreement with Eurocopter, another EADS company, to refurbish BO-105 helicopters and modify them to suit the region's light helicopter needs.