5/30/2012 By Robbin Laird
I had a chance to meet and talk with M. Ghazemy Mahmud, the editor of the Malaysian based Asian Defence Journal about his impressions of the recently completed A400M tour of Asia and perceptions of how the A400M would fit into Asian plans and thinking about airlift.
The broad questions posed to Mahmud were as follows:
What are your reactions to the A400M tour in Asia?
How will the A400M fit in with the existing fleet of C-130s in the region?
And how significant is the inclusion of Malaysia in the core customer base for the launch of the A400M?
What was the broad reaction to the A400M tour?
The tour was clearly a success. The countries visited are either customers or potential customers, such as Thailand.
Malaysia has started with an order of 4 but will buy more as financial conditions permit.
The tour also coincided with a major Air Show as well, the Defence Services Asia or DSA show. The show was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
During the Air Show, the Airbus Military people were able to do some tests in the local conditions. They were able to fly the aircraft in a hot and humid situation. And our country is basically is mountainous which allowed for those tests as well.
The Malaysian Air Force seemed very pleased with the visit, the tests and the coming of the aircraft into the operational inventory.
It was a new experience for several of the Malaysian Air Force pilots, although some have already been trained in Seville, Spain at the Airbus Military training facility.
How important is it for Malaysia to be on the ground floor for the launch of this new European aircraft program?
Very important. And both ways, for the European program to operate in Asian conditions and for us to be part of a new global program.
Airbus is certainly not new to us. We are buying the A380 and other planes on the commercial side with Airbus.
What is the impact of the residual C-130 fleet?
A core reality is that the A400M will be used with our C-235s and C-130s for a long time. In effect, a task force approach will be put in place.
Malaysia has C-130Hs which is relevantly new airlifter and the Air Force is very pleased with this aircraft. It will be upgraded over time, but the C-130J will not be bought because of the availability of the A400M.
Although the Malaysian Air Force likes the C-17, it is too expensive to buy and to operate for them. The A400M is a better choice for them, and will shape a new approach to the use of the overall fleet.