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Lima 2023: Malaysia orders two ATR 72 maritime patrol aircraft

An Italian Air Force ATR 72 maritime surveillance aircraft takes off from Malaysia in 2017. In Italian service, this aircraft is known as the P-72A. (Leonardo)

The Malaysian government has ordered two Leonardo ATR 72-600 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).

In an announcement during the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition 2023, on 25 May, the Malaysian Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) said that the two aircraft represented “Phase 1” of the aircraft's acquisition.

According to MINDEF, the contract has a value of MYR789.6 million (USD171.9 million). The contract partly fulfils a long-standing Malaysian requirement to improve its manned maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.

According to Leonardo, the contract follows the selection of a proposal offered by the company and announced in October 2022. The selection covers “the supply of two ATR Special Mission aircraft in maritime patrol configuration plus the related integrated logistic support and training services”, Leonardo said in a press statement.

The ATR 72 MPA is a twin-turboprop aircraft that is the latest specialised variant of the ATR regional transport aircraft. According to Leonardo, the aircraft is capable of missions including maritime surveillance, ASW, anti-surface warfare (AsuW), search and rescue, environmental monitoring, medical evacuation, and transport of personnel and materials.

MINDEF could not be reached for comment about the specialist equipment it has chosen for the ATR 72s.

ATR 72 MPAs in service around the world have between two to four multifunctional consoles of Leonardo's Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance (ATOS) system.

Janes assesses that much of the avionics and mission support equipment is from Leonardo. However, the aircraft is likely to have some off-the-shelf systems.

Speaking generally about the ATR 72 MPA's capabilities at LIMA 2023, Homy Masud,

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