The Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM) is establishing a new squadron for unmanned aircraft system (UAS). This was announced by the Chief of Air Force, General Ackbal Abdul Samad in a speech today to mark the 62nd anniversary of TUDM.
The new UAS squadron will be taking over the 11th Squadron which currently operates TUDM’s Sukhoi Su-30MKM aircraft. The Sukhois will be reassigned as the 12th Squadron and this decision was taken to preserve TUDM’s historical lineage.
TUDM’s intention to obtain UAS is not a secret as previous Chief of Air Force (now Chief of Defence Forces), General Affendi Buang has publicly talked about it in 2017. Furthermore, UAS has also been included in TUDM’s new development plan called CAP55 [pdf] that will take place from 2021 to 2055.
However, the actual type of UAS or specific unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) that TUDM will operate was not mentioned by General Ackbal during his speech today. No operational timeline was announced as well but nevertheless, the establishment of the squadron can be seen as the imminent inclusion of UAS as part of Malaysia’s air defence just like how Royal Malaysian Navy is using it for maritime surveillance.