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Malaysia continues to purchase light fighter/introduced trainer aircraft

The Ministry of Defense of Malaysia (MINDEF) announced on June 22 that it had issued a tender to purchase light combat aircraft/fighter pre-training aircraft (LCA/FLIT) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

MINDEF stated that the service is aimed at acquiring the first 18 aircraft, noting that the bid submission window will be closed on September 22.

The LCA/FLIT plan is part of RMAF’s Capability 55 plan, which requires the procurement of up to 36 LCA/FLIT platforms in two phases, of which 18 will be procured in 2021 and the rest will start in 2025. It is expected that the new aircraft will be put into service and consist of a LIFT and two LCA squadrons.

FLIT is designed to replace the service’s seven Aermacchi MB-339CM jet trainer fleet, while LCA will replace 18 BAE Systems Hawk Mk 108 two-seater and Mk 208 single-seater LCA fleets. RMAF’s goal is to receive the first 18 LCA/FLIT aircraft by 2024.

It is expected that 8 companies will respond to MINDEF’s Request for Information (RfI) in December 2018, namely Aero Vodochody Aerospace (L-39NG), Boeing (Texas, now T-7A Red Hawk), Air China- Technology Import & Export Corporation (Hongdu L-15B), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (Tejas), Irkut Corporation (Yak-130), Korea Aerospace Industries (T-50/FA-50), Leonardo (M-346) and Pakistan Airlines Body Kamra (JF-17).

RMAF is also seeking a new multirole fighter under the Multirole Fighter Aircraft (MRCA) program. Although MRCA was also part of the service modernization plan, it was postponed after the priority of the LCA/FLIT plan was determined.

Malaysia has expressed interest in purchasing the Boeing F/A-18C/D of the Kuwait Air Force, which will be phased out in 2023 as a temporary solution to the delayed MRCA plan, which is expected to be restarted in the 2030s.

In August 2020, the Ministry of Defense issued a separate tender for two maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and three medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Xiao Wu

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