PUTATAN: The Defence Ministry has announced that two McDonnell Douglas (MD) helicopters will be based at the Lahad Datu Forward Operating Base by April.

Its minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the air defence asset was a light combat type helicopter used in security surveillance.

He added that the total assets to be kept at the base would be announced later but for a start, there would be the two helicopters.

"If we look at the MD helicopter, it is not the same as combat helicopters such as the Apache and Tiger but for now this asset is adequate for the threat we are facing in Sabah," he told reporters during his visit at the army Lok kawi camp here.

Also present were deputy chief minister Datuk Yahya Hussin, Army chief Tan Sri Zulkiple Kassim and Defence ministry Director-General Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Mohd Radzi.

Hishammuddin added that the ministry was looking at another four or five aircraft for patrolling purposes along the east coast of Sabah.

"The decision on the asset was made based on technical and financial aspects and the packages offered."

Meanwhile, Hishammudin said the Trilateral Maritime Patrol (TMP) between Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines will continue to be strengthened.

He added that a visit involving armed forces from three countries will be held at Tarakan in Indonesia next month as the follow up from last visit in Tawi-Tawi Philippines.

"The navy from both countries has implemented seven Rendezvous (RV) at Sulu sea since TMP was launched last June. "

On other development, Hishammuddin asked the relevant industries to channel some of their profits for Corporate Social responsibility for the army and retired personnel.

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Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (middle) with Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) officers during his visit at the army Lok kawi camp here. (NSTP/KHAIRULL AZRY BIDIN)

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