The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has received its first CN-235-220M (number M44-05) medium tactical transport aircraft that was converted as a Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA). The program to convert the CN-235 transport aircraft to MSA variants were financed by the US Government under its Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) Program, which aims to improve the maritime surveillance capabilities of partner nations. Indonesian aviation company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) worked in cooperation with US company Integrated Surveillance and Defense Inc. (ISD), which supplied and integrated the Mission Management System for the three aircraft.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force 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. The conversions PTDI previously performed for the Indonesian Air Force and Navy.
Among those installed as part of the MSA conversion include a new surface search radar installed at the bottom of the aircraft fuselage, and is capable of detecting small tagets up to 200 nautical miles. The aircraft also has a new Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) under its nose, and was also integrated with a new Automatic Identification System (AIS), and an automatic tracking system to identify ships. 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.
The CASA CN-235 is a medium-range twin-engined transport aircraft that was jointly developed by CASA (now Airbus) of Spain and Indonesian manufacturer IPTN (now PT Dirgantara Indonesia ), as a regional airliner and military transport. The partnership applied only to the Series 10 and Series 100/110, with later versions being developed independently. Its primary military roles include maritime patrol, surveillance, and air transport. Its largest user is Turkey, which has 59 aircraft. The Royal Malaysian Air Force ordered eight CN-235s in 1998 and deliveries were completed in 2001. One aircraft was written off after it ditched in the sea in February 2016.