The US Navy has successfully converted and delivered the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) first of three CN-235 transport aircraft into a maritime patrol aircraft.

Delivery of this aircraft comes three-and-a-half years after the signing of a letter of offer and acceptance between the US and Malaysia to enhance interoperability and capabilities of both forces.

This work was facilitated under the US Navy’s Building Partner Capacity programme and is in alignment with the US Government’s maritime security effort.

The initiative aims to support the Malaysian Government in boosting maritime security and domain awareness within the Malaysian Exclusive Economic Zone.

The project was undertaken by the Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Security Cooperation Office and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) AIRWorks in collaboration with the RMAF.

It primarily involved integration of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) upgrade into the aircraft.

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The upgrades also involved installation of maritime surveillance radar, maritime surveillance mission suite, an electro-optical infrared turret, a roll-on/roll-off mission system operator station and a line-of-sight datalink.

Additionally, the project included delivery of compatible fixed and mobile ground stations.

NAVAIR Security Cooperation Office director Ron Weinberger said: “Building Partner Capacity programmes represent highest level of return on engagement to the US.

“The Malaysian CN-235 programme will be a significant force multiplier to an indigenous Malaysian ISR capability and will directly support joint Malaysian and US efforts to ensure global security in Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.”

Work on the two remaining CN-235 aircraft and ground stations is currently underway and is expected to conclude later this year.

The medium-range twin-engine CN-235 transport aircraft is originally manufactured by an Indonesian aerospace firm Perseroan Terbatas Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) and Spain’s Construcciones Aeronáuticas.