The insect like, diminutive, short ranged but effective Westland Wasp HAS Mk.I Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopter takes centre place in the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum (Muzium TLDM) in Malacca. This is part of the Maritime Museum complex. Despite its relatively small size (perfect for ship borne flying), the Wasp had a crew of 2 pilots and 1 technician.
6 of these 1960’s era, former Royal Navy ASW helicopters, were in Malaysian service from 1988 to 2001 but did not become fully operational until May 1990. They came on the scene late in Malaysia, which would have made them the last operator of the type – The Netherlands retired their examples in 1981 and surplus helicopters went on to serve with the Indonesian Navy. Other nations: UK, Brazil, Indonesia, New Zealand and South Africa had retired them by the early to late 1990’s.
The Wasp was essentially a stepping stone in fleet helicopter operations for Malaysia and conducted a training, transport and anti submarine helicopter role – tasks included surface surveillance, load lifting, transporting personnel and MEDEVAC missions. The type could be armed with 2 x Mk.44 torpedoes (or 1 x Mk.46) or 2 x Mk.44 depth charges for ASW operations. Eventually the cost of maintaining the ageing helicopters and obtaining parts resulted in the fleet retirement in December 2001.
The museum example, M499-07 was originally in Royal Navy service as XT426 from 1965 to 1992 before becoming operational with the Malaysian Navy. It was donated by the navy on December 24th, 2002.
Today the Royal Malaysian Navy operate Westland Super Lynx 300 ASW and Eurocopter AS.555SN Fennec 2 combat capable surveillance helicopters. The latter was used in action against Somali pirates when they hijacked a Malaysian chemical tanker and its crew in 2011. They provided aerial surveillance and covering fire whilst Malaysian Navy PASKAL commandos retook the ship.