According to the MAF Chief, there is no plan to dispose of the remaining 28 Sikorsky S-61A-4 Nuri helicopters which have served the RMAF starting from 1968. Hence, it would be more economical and practical to refurbish the US-made helicopters to assist the recently acquired EC-725 Cougar helicopters.
He said Nuri services were still needed by the RMAF, particularly in utility tasks and aid missions despite taking delivery of 12 French-made EC-725 Cougar helicopters by early next year.
“The Nuri helicopters are still good condition and they can beef up Cougar EC-725 helicopters in utility operations. However, we need to upgrade their systems like the cockpit and several other parts,” he told
Two of the Cougar EC-725 helicopters, which were delivered on December 3 last year, were placed at the Kuantan AFB, serving as training aircraft besides discharging their main functions – strengthening SAR, transportation and utility operations.
“Some of the Nuri helicopters will be deployed for the army,” he added.
Zulkifeli said the procurement of EC-725 Cougar helicopters was aimed at enhancing air surveillance and aid missions.
The Malaysian Army Aviation Unit (Pasukan Udara Tentera Darat -PUTD) has been operating 11 AgustaWestland A-109LUH since 2006 to replace 10 ageing Allouette Mk IIIB light utility helicopters which had served the unit since its creation in 1995. During LIMA 2003, it has been revealed that the Army would be procuring 10 Mi-171 Hip utility helicopter from Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant (UUAP). Nevertheless, that plan has failed to materialise.
The Malaysian Army however did send some of its pilot to RMAF’s helicopter squadron to obtain experience and gain knowledge in terms of operating transport helicopters such as the Nuri.
With most of global air force who operates the SH-3 Sea King have started to phased out their respective fleet from service, some of them have found new lease of life with the United States Department of States Air Wing (US DOSAW). An upgrade program for SH-3 has resulted a new variant known as the S-61T Triton. By using existing airframes including those of former RDAF Sea Kings, as well as introducing composite blade and other avionic upgrades, some of these Tritons have found their way in Afghanistan and many other countries in the world.