USS Louisville (SSN 724) arrived at RMN’s Teluk Sepanggar Naval Base near kota Kinabalu for a visit as part of its Western Pacific deployment. The Los Angeles class attack submarine moored alongside submarine tender, USS Emory S.Land in order to receive support from the vessel. (here, here, here and here)
The submarine along with its 145 sailors was at the RMN’s Submarine Force base for about a week starting from April 3. On April 8, the RMN and USN conduct joint diving exercise at naval base which was also known as the Markas Wilayah Laut 2 (MAWILLA 2) or Naval Region Command 2 (NAVCOM 2).
Over the years, NAVCOM 2 has become very important in order to support RMN’s operation over the South China Sea as well as the Celebes Sea with emphasis on the hotly disputed Spratly, where RMN’s offshore stations are based as well as at Ambalat region, where there has been naval standoff between the RMN and TNI-AL.
With the induction of the Perdana Menteri class submarines as well as better equipped combat ships optimised for three dimensional warfare in this region, another missing element for the submarine force is the absent of ASuW maritime helicopter.
The RMN has a requirement for six maritime helicopter optimised for anti submarine operations in which the AW 159 Wildcat and MH-60R Romeo Seahawk are shortlisted as possible candidate. These helicopter will complement the existing six AgustaWestland Super Lynx Mk 300 helicopter currently in service with CUT’s No 502 Skn.
The RMN Super Lynx has proven its mettle during the Sea Skua test firing which has clearly shown its lethality against surface target.
Air International magazine reports that during LIMA 2011, the UK is offering the AW 159 Wildcat to fill the need, and sources within the UK Trade and Investment delegation at LIMA predicted tender for six helicopter will be released in 2012. Nevertheless, no official announcement has been made to confirm such prediction though.
The AW 159, previously known as Future Lynx and Lynx Wildcat is a further development of the Super Lynx which embodies bigger and stronger airframes, powerful engine as well as wide range of weaponry. The Army Air Copr and Fleet Air Arm are set to receive their respective Wildcats on 2014 and 2015. Compared to the Romeo Seahawk, the Wildcat is seen as a natural and seamless progression from RMN’s Super Lynx. This will ease training, maintenance and logistical support for these helicopters should the Wildcat was chosen to fill the requirement.
Beside the powerful Seaspray 7000 radar, the Wildcat will be fitted with Active Dipping Sonar or ADS to detect submarines. These would be very useful to the RMN as bid to boost its ASuW capabilities.