ALTHOUGH NOT publicised at the time, the June/July 2004 issue of Eurocopter’s Rotor Journul has confirmed that the last of six AS 555 SN Fennecs for the Royal Malaysian Navy, M502-6, was handed over on March 4 at the Marignane factory. Plans for the acquisition were first announced by Malaysian Defence Minister Najib Razak on April 15, 2001, when he revealed that government approval had been given to purchase them as replacements for the four remaining Westland Wasp HAS.1s operated by 499 Skn at Lumut. Formal contract signature took place on October 13, 2001, at the LIMA 2001 International Air Show in Langkawi. Although armed, the helicopters are largely to be used for training, monitoring and surveillance roles.
Over a 27-month period, a Malaysian Navy team was at Marignane to oversee the manufacturing process and undergo aircrew and maintenance personnel training. Initially the helicopters will be used to train Malaysian Navy pilots in the use of the Fennec’s special on-board equipment, which includes a Honeywell RDR-1500B 360° chin-mounted search radar, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, encoded data transmission system and a hoist. Pilot training will also cover search-and-rescue (SAR) missions, coastal surveillance, ship support, over-the-horizon target designation and customs operations.
Eurocopter will provide a pilot and technician who will spend periods of four months and one year, respectively, in Malaysia to assist with entry into service. The helicopters will be based at Lumut.