Surveillance plane scheduled for delivery by end of 2018

Hamden Mohammad

KUCHING, July 14: The country’s first ever multi-purpose surveillance plane will be delivered to Sarawak by the end of 2018 as it is now still undergoing technical evaluations by the Malaysian authorities.

Forest Department Sarawak (FDS) director Hamden Mohammad said, once the four-seater model DA42M-NG Diamond special mission aircraft has passed through the technical evaluations, it will be deployed in Kuching as its main base but its operations will be for the whole country.

According to Hamden, Diamond Aircraft Industries which manufactures the aircraft and integrates the entire mission equipment has indicated to the Government of Malaysia on the readiness of the airborne system to be delivered to Kuching.

He added that the procurement stage is still pending the aircraft’s registration with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).

File photo of the four-seater model DA42M-NG Diamond special mission aircraft which will be delivered to the Sarawak government by the end of the year. Picture courtesy of Diamond Aircraft Industries, Austria.

Hamden told this to reporters after launching the 18th Malaysia Forestry Conference (MFC) at Wisma Sumber Alam here yesterday.

He reiterated a statement made by Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh on June 10 on the cost of the aircraft which is based on a five-year programme.

RM35 million is the total cost of the project which includes the airborne platform (DA42M-NG aircraft) cost of about RM5 million that concurred with Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How’s statement.

“But what we are talking about is the overall project which consists of the aircraft itself, equipment, spare parts, warranty, technical support, training and implementation for a period of five years,” he explained.

The airborne system is considered sophisticated that it could differentiate between the types (species) of trees below it. Able to fly up to nine hours without refuelling, it would be ideal for Sarawak with its vast geographical land mass.

The airborne system is procured through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Development Fund and once it is delivered Sarawak, it will be tasked to the FDS as the implementing agency.

“But the aircraft can also be deployed to Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah as well because the system is not just for forest management but could also be extended for disaster management such as forest fires and flood monitoring.

“So, in short, it’s a multi-purpose airborne system that could be shared between various government agencies for the whole country,” he stressed. — DayakDaily