Malaysia expects to formally launch a procurement effort for a light combat aircraft/fighter lead-in trainer (LCA/FLIT) to replace a number of its current platform types in the near future.
Speaking under the Chatham House Rule on 14 November, an official said that the Royal Malaysian Air Force's (RMAF's) plan to procure up to 36 LCAs with options for 26 more had been cleared at service level, and that governmental approval is now expected in the first quarter of 2020.
A briefing slide presented by the official showed eight candidate airframes to replace the RMAF's fleet of BAE Systems Hawk, MiG-29, and Aermacchi MB339 platforms, and to augment the current Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and Sukhoi Su-30 before those are eventually replaced by a different type also.
For the LCA requirement, the types under consideration are the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle; the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas; the Leonardo M-346; the Aero Vodochody L-39NG; the CAC L-15A/B; the CAC/PAC JF-17; the Saab Gripen; and the Yakovlev Yak-130.
In terms of the LCA requirement, the official noted that the selected platform must be able to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground missions effectively, with a future maritime strike capability; that it must be able to conduct counterinsurgency operations; that it be "economically viable"; and that enough be bought to be able to conduct operations in two theatres simultaneously, and at very short notice.
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