Malaysia and France have solidified their agreement with the signing of a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) on December 8 for the procurement of a Ground Master 400 Alpha (GM400) long-range air defense radar system.
The radar, developed by Thales France, will play a crucial role as Malaysia's surveillance mechanism in monitoring the South China Sea.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will oversee the deployment of the GM400 radar in Bintulu, Sarawak, according to the LOA signed by the Ministry of Defense and Thales. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and his French counterpart, Sebastian Lecornu.
The contract is valued at approximately RM200 million.
Thales reported enhancements to the GM400's 3D radar system, citing a 10% improvement in detection capability, reaching approximately 515 km (278 nautical miles). The radar system also boasts improved cybersecurity features and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.
The GM400 radar is designed to track high-speed fighter aircraft, guided missiles, helicopters, and unmanned aerial systems. Notably, it possesses a unique capability to simultaneously detect and track tactical drones flying at low altitudes (Nap-of-the-Earth) and high-altitude targets, such as bomber aircraft, at a range of 515 km.
The French-made GM400 radar in Bintulu will complement another long-range air defense radar, the AN/TPS-77, manufactured by Lockheed Martin and stationed in Labuan. The AN/TPS-77, a contribution from the United States government, was part of a $25.1 million contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2021.
The U.S. Department of Defense's statement dated September 24, 2021, revealed that Lockheed Martin's branch in Liverpool, New York, was granted the contract for the "Malaysia Ground Based Radar System." The funding for the radar system was provided through the "Fiscal 2021 Building Partner Capacity Funds" allocated by the U.S. government.
The AN/TPS-77 radar, with a coverage of approximately 470 km or 250 nautical miles, is a mobile radar that can be transported to different areas using C-130 Hercules aircraft, trucks, or trains. Together, both the GM400 and AN/TPS-77 radars will collectively serve as Malaysia's "eyes and ears," ensuring continuous surveillance of sovereignty and national interests in the South China Sea.