Air force sets up new squadron to fly drones

The MQ-9 unmanned aircraft is one of several models believed to be in contention for the RMAF. (General Atomics pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Malaysian Air Force will set up a squadron for operating unmanned aircraft systems in the near future, air force chief General Ackbal Abdul Samad said today.

The UAS squadron would take over 11 Squadron, which currently operates the Su-30MKM fighter aircraft. The fighter jets will be reassigned as 12 Squadron.

He said this in a special message to mark the RMAF’s 62nd anniversary today.

Earlier this month, the Malaysian navy recently received six ScanEagle unmanned aircraft from the United States. The RMAF is believed to be seeking the purchase of up to four multipurpose patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, and six long-endurance unmanned aircraft.

The unmanned aircraft in contention are believed to be machines from China, the US, Turkey and Italy.

Ackbal said the RMAF had carried out 42 missions carrying 270 tonnes of essentials, including medical items, additional clinical specimens and PPE for frontliners in Sabah and Sarawak.

The air force had also been able to track down several foreign boats in the Straits of Melaka carrying hundreds of immigrants.

He said the air force would begin a new strategic plan, called the RMAF Capability Development Plan 2055 (CAP55), in January.

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