Malaysia seeks light combat aircraft, Korean FA-50 is a favorite

KUALA LUMPUR ($1=4.45 Malaysian Ringgits) — Malaysia wants to buy 36 light combat aircraft, including training aircraft for the Royal Malaysian Air Force program. The participants in the competition are the South Korean FA-50 Golden Eagle [as a favorite], the Indian Tejas, the Turkish Hurjet, the Russian MiG-35, and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17.

Malaysia seeks light combat aircraft, Korean F-50 is a favorite
Photo credit: KAI

Malaysian sources say Kuala Lumpur will most likely prefer South Korea’s FA-50 Golden Eagle, Global Business Press. A positive statement about the FA-50 was made by the head of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, describing Seoul’s aircraft as a reliable, affordable, and effective platform for light combat aircraft compared to other participants.

However, the announced tender is in the middle of the procedure and there are many unknowns. Firstly, in Malaysia, they claim that of all the participants, the planes of India, Turkey, and South Korea are the ones chosen to go ahead. Second, Malaysia is gearing up for elections, with a government expected to be elected in 2023. I.e. if the current government continues to govern after the elections, the auction will continue from where it has reached with the participants who have passed the first screening.

The FA-50 negotiations

Global Business Press says that since the beginning of the year, negotiations have been held between the manufacturer of the FA-50 Golden Eagle, the South Korean company Korea Aerospace Industries, and representatives of the authorities in Malaysia. The potential deal was also discussed in April between the defense ministers of Malaysia and South Korea. However, details are not disclosed.

Korea Aerospace Industries says talks between the two governments are at an advanced stage. According to them, the acquisition of the FA-50 by the Royal Malaysian Air Force “can become a symbol of mutual trust and a stable strategic partnership.”

India and Turkey

There is more clarity about what the other two producing countries are willing to offer. India, for example, promises Malaysia not only to sell and technically service its flagship Tejas but also to guarantee the maintenance of the Russian Su-30 fighter jets that Malaysia has in service. A business move that could prove decisive in choosing a winner.

Turkey offers Malaysia to produce TAI Hürjet light combat aircraft
Photo creit: Anadolu Agency

Turkey, for its part, announced back in February this year that it could offer Malaysia the creation of new jobs and the granting of a production license. I.e. the offer at the beginning of the year was for at least 15 aircraft to be manufactured in Malaysia. “I hope our offer to our Malaysian friends will be positive. There is a tender procedure and we are participating in it by offering – three aircraft to be produced in Turkey and 15 to be manufactured in Malaysia under license,” Prof. Dr. Temel Kotil the General Manager of Turkish Aerospace Industries said during a television interview.

Unofficial information based on Malaysian sources says Kuala Lampur is ready to spend close to US$1 billion to purchase the necessary equipment subject to this tender.


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