The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) began conversion of existing CN235-220M (M44-05) tactical airlifter into maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA) under the U.S. Maritime Security Initiative (MSI). The aircraft was officially handed over to PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The aircraft arrived at Hussein Sastranegara Airport, Bandung, on September 2. The RMAF CN235-220M conversion into an MSA platform under the umbrella of the MSI, which aims at increasing maritime security and maritime domain awareness of foreign countries along the South China Sea and into South Asia.
Malaysia previously signed a $30 million sustainment and overhaul contract with PTDI that included an option for conversion of aircraft into maritime surveillance configuration, which it has now been taken up under this announcement. It also has a longstanding requirement for maritime patrol aircraft, with that need gaining more attention after the 2016 crash of one of its Beechcraft King Air 200 planes used for maritime surveillance.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force confirmed to Jane’s that they intend to convert two (2) of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) CN-235 transport aircraft into Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA). The RMAF’s No 1 Squadron currently has seven (7) PTDI CN-235M-220 used for air transport roles, which has been in service since 1998. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has an impending program to conduct service-life extension program for the CN-235 fleet with PTDI starting late this year, and the upgrade of two units into MPAs will be included in the contract.
No details of the proposed conversions are available, but it is expected that the CN-235s will be mostly, if not wholly similar to the conversions PTDI previously performed for the Indonesian Air Force and Navy. The Indonesian aircraft are fitted with the Merlin maritime surveillance mission suite developed by U.S. company Integrated Surveillance and Defense, based in Oregon. It also includes a maritime surveillance radar, an electro-optical turret and electronic support measures.