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Senior US Air Force Officials Inspects RMAF’s CN235-220M MSA Aircraft, Long-Range Radar

Recently, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) received a working visit from Brigadier General Gent Welsh, Commander of the Washington Air National Guard, United States Air Force (USAF).

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Recently, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) received a working visit from Brigadier General Gent Welsh, Commander of the Washington Air National Guard, United States Air Force (USAF).

His visit to Malaysia was announced through statements on the RMAF’s social media platforms as well as the Commander, Washington Air National Guard, accompanied by several images from his visit.

Among the sites visited by the senior USAF officer were the Kuching and Labuan Air Bases.

“Visits to Labuan and Kuching Air Bases really highlighted the effectiveness of our foreign military sales programs on the RMAF’s capability to ensure air and maritime domain awareness in a strategically contested part of the world,” according to post by Facebook account “Commander, Washington Air National Guard”.

At Kuching Air Base, Brig Gen Gent Welsh visited Squadron No 1 to review the operations of the upgraded CN235-220M aircraft, now serving as Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) under the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) program.

Credit TUDM/Washington Air National Guard.


The operation of the RMAF’s CN235-220M aircraft, upgraded to the MSA variant, drew his attention as the MSI program is funded by the United States government.

The MSI aims to assist the Malaysian government in enhancing security and monitoring of the maritime domain within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

P.T. Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) is the main contractor for the modification program of three RMAF CN235 aircraft to the MSA variant.

PTDI collaborated with Integrated Surveillance and Defense, Inc (ISD), based in Wilsonville, Oregon, USA, in supplying and integrating the Mission Management Systems (MMS) for the three CN235-220 aircraft owned by the RMAF.

The equipment for the Mission Management Systems installed on all three CN235-220 RMAF aircraft includes FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) and a Belly Radome equipped with a 360-degree Search Radar capable of detecting small targets up to 200 Nautical Miles away.

Additionally, the aircraft will be equipped with the Automatic Identification System (AIS), an automatic tracking system for identifying ships, allowing it to pinpoint the positions of suspicious objects.

Credit TUDM/Washington Air National Guard.


The upgrade program will enable the CN-235 aircraft to perform Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) tasks.

In addition to visiting Kuching Air Base, Brig Gen Gent Welsh also visited Labuan Air Base to closely examine another United States government-sponsored program aimed at enhancing the capabilities of the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) in monitoring and surveying the South China Sea.

In 2021, Defence Security Asia reported that the United States Department of Defense had awarded a contract worth $25.1 million (approximately RM103 million) to Lockheed Martin to supply a long-range air defense radar to Malaysia.

The cost of supplying the long-range radar to the Malaysian government was financed through the United States government’s “Building Partner Capacity Funds” program.

The AN/TPS-77 long-range radar developed by Lockheed Martin has been operational in Labuan since last December, replacing the Alenia-manufactured radar that had been phased out for not obtaining Full Mission Capability (FMC) optimally.

Kredit TUDM/Washington Air National Guard.
Lockheed Martin-Developed TPS-77 Radar to be Deployed in Labuan


The radar is operated by the 340th Squadron of the RMAF.

Last August, General Ken Wilsbach, Commander of the United States Pacific Air Forces (US PACAF), made an official working visit to Malaysia and also visited the AN/TPS-77 radar site located at the 340th Squadron in Bukit Kubong, Labuan.

The coverage of the AN/TPS-77 radar is about 470km or 250 Nautical Miles, and it is a mobile radar capable of being relocated to other areas by C-130 Hercules aircraft, trucks, or trains. -DSA