Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Fighters for RMAF


No ‘bias’ in air force fighter jet tender process, govt has final say

Defence experts say that the issue of bias in the tender process for the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme does not arise.

This is because although the RMAF is the end user, the final say on which aircraft is ultimately selected, lies with the Malaysian government.

“The RMAF’s role is purely to lay out the technical and operational requirements for the aircraft they need to meet current and projected threats,” a source familiar with defence procurement processes told Twentytwo13.

“They can make their recommendations as to the platform that best suits their needs, but that’s as far as it goes. The final decision lies with the government, which will take into consideration other ‘non-technical’ and ‘non-operational’ factors,” said the source.

“One, is of course, financing. The government would want a deal that offers flexible payment options – with cash and commodities. Another would be geo-political considerations.”

Also crucial are ‘offsets’. This involves the transfer of technology and work-sharing, ostensibly to spur Malaysia’s burgeoning high-technology sector. Two of the more successful examples are the work undertaken by SME Aerospace in building weapons pylons for the BAE Systems’ Hawk advanced trainer and light combat aircraft, and CTRM’s aerostructures work for Airbus Industries’ family of jetliners.

“These are clearly areas that the air force has zero say in. So, how can they be accused of stacking the deck in a particular manufacturer’s favour?”

The source added that the Korean Aerospace Industry’s (KAI) FA-50 seemed to be the crowd favourite because it offers several advantages.

“It already has several export successes. South Korea, the Philippines, Iraq, Thailand, and Indonesia already operate the type. So, the spares and support infrastructure are already established,” said the source.

“Another factor is commonality. The FA-50 is powered by the same engine that is used on the RMAF’s F/A-18D Hornets.”

A defence analyst Twentytwo13 spoke to, said that of the six candidates vying for the contract, only the FA-50 and Italy’s Leonardo, with its M-346, have enjoyed export success.

“Turkey Aerospace Industries’ Hürjet exists only in mock-up form, while China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp’s (Catic) L-15 has only three users – the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and the air force of Zambia.

“India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, is offering the Tejas, which has seen a troubled and protracted development that goes back to the late 80s. The only user right now is the Indian Air Force, and with a small production run.

“I think the only other serious contender is Leonardo’s M-346 advanced trainer. The type is already in service with the Italian Air Force, the Heyl Ha’Avir (Israeli Air Force), the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), and Poland, with a number on order by several other nations. The sixth contender, the MiG-35 Fulcrum F, is in service with the Russian Air Force, but only in limited quantities.”

“Again, all the recommendations by the RMAF can be overruled by the government at any point, and for whatever reason,” he added.

It is believed that the FA-50 being offered to the RMAF, is the latest Block 20 version, with air-to-air refuelling capability, via a fixed ‘probe and drogue’ system. The type features a ‘glass’ cockpit, dominated by three primary multi-function displays (MFDs), and a large, collimated Heads-Up Display (HUD) that provides the pilot with all the primary flight information.

The three MFDs can be swapped with a single, large-format integrated display with configurable ‘pages’, similar to the displays in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block III. This would be based on the customer’s preference.

Control is via a side-stick controller on the right side, with full HOTAS, or hands-on-throttle-and-stick capability. The flight control system uses a triplex-redundant digital ‘fly-by-wire’ technology, while the powerplant, a General Electric F-404-102 afterburning turbofan engine, has a Full-Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system, which means the pilot can ‘bang’ on the throttle without stalling the engine.

The Block 20 has also been cleared for use with the current generation of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) and the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, giving the type a pinpoint, precision strike capability. The RMAF requirement also calls for beyond-visual-range (BVR),s air-to-air capability.

The contract for the RMAF’s LCA fleet is for a total of 36 aircraft, in two tranches. The first order for 18 aircraft is valued at RM4 billion. Half of the amount, or RM2 billion, is to be paid via counter trade, involving crude palm oil or palm oil products.

Deliveries for the first two jets are expected to be in 2025. The first tranche of 18 airframes should be in Malaysia before 2027.

The tender was announced in August, and the initial closing date of Sept 22 was extended to Oct 6. The winning bidder could be announced as early as late March, or early April, next year.

Main image by Iwan Shafiee / Aircraft Photography


Defense News:

Malaysia keen on buying Kuwait’s Hornet fighter jets

By Mike Yeo
Friday, Dec 24

A Royal Malaysian Air Force F/A-18D Hornet is pictured following a mission during Exercise Pitch Black 2018 in Darwin, Australia. (Mike Yeo/Staff)

MELBOURNE, Australia – Malaysia is hoping to buy Kuwait’s entire fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighter jets, although discussions between both governments over the sale have yet to begin.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session in Malaysia’s parliament, the country’s deputy defense minister Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz said the southeast Asian country is seeking to purchase the Kuwaiti Air Force’s fleet of 33 jets “lock, stock and barrel.”

He noted the Kuwaiti Hornets are still in good condition with relatively low flight hours and adding them to the Royal Malaysian Air Force, or RMAF, inventory “will definitely increase the level of preparedness and capability of the RMAF in safeguarding the country’s [air]space.”

He also added the country is planning on operating the type till 2035.

Malaysia currently operates a fleet of eight F/A-18D twin-seat fighters in the air defense and strike role, serving alongside 18 Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flanker-H jets. The Hornets were acquired in 1997 and have been upgraded over the past decade.

The incremental improvements include the integration of the Joint Helmet Cueing System, AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile and satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions as well as the addition of the Link 16 datalink.

Kuwait is seeking to dispose of its fleet of F/A-18C single-seaters and F/A-18Ds, 40 of which were acquired in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The small Persian Gulf emirate is currently taking delivery of 28 Eurofighter Typhoons and a similar number of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters.

Malaysia has evaluated the Super Hornet and Typhoon alongside the French Dassault Rafale as it flirted with the procurement of a new multi-role combat aircraft. However, budget problems have meant the country’s Russian-built MiG-29 Fulcrum interceptors have been quietly withdrawn from service without a replacement.

The country has instead put its emphasis on acquiring a new light combat aircraft to replace the RMAF’s fleet of Hawk 108 jet trainers and Hawk 208 light combat aircraft, which also date back to the late 1990s and have suffered from a series of crashes and accidents.

Acquiring the Kuwaiti Hornets would allow the RMAF to beef up its existing, albeit understrength, inventory of the type with eight aircraft being short of a typical fighter jet squadron’s strength of at least 12 aircraft.

However, should Malaysia be successful in acquiring the Kuwaiti jets, it’s likely to need to refurbish the Kuwaiti jets to bring them in line with its existing fleet of Hornets to ensure fleet commonality.

The desire to boost Malaysia’s air defenses have added impetus with the widely publicized flight of 16 Chinese transport aircraft over a disputed South China Sea shoal in late May. The Chinese jets approached to within 60 miles of Malaysia’s coast and prompted the RMAF to scramble Hawks in response.

The country would likely face competition for the Kuwait Hornets from other interested parties, however, as Tunisia is also reportedly keen on buying the jets. Any potential buyer will also need U.S. government permission to complete the sale.


kt comments:

The two news article could be related to TWO separate/different RMAF requirements, where the first, the RMAF Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, refers to light fighter-bomber-trainer such as the Korean KAI FA50, Leonardo M-346, BAE Systems’ Hawk, India's Tejas (thge Indian trainer/light fighter is a bit of a joke), whilst the second article would be on heavier main fighter, eg. FA-18D, Rafale, SU-30, SU-35 etc.

However, in the first article, the author has been correct in saying the RMAF as the operator has very little say in what will actually be purchased other than laying out what it wants, namely the operational-technical requirements. But it's the politicians and civilian civil servants (who control the money bags) who will actually decide and then purchase.

Once there was a PM who decided the RMAF should fly a couple of WWII seaplane he set his eyes and desire upon, much to the RMAF's horrors, but then WTF could the RMAF do when the PM of the day OKs their purchases? They were planes that our then more-aero-primitive neighbour in the South had written off.

Grumman HU-16 Albatross

Since that day, the RMAF prays that the PM or Defence Minister of the day does not have any personal interests in any particular plane, wakakaka. Too eff-ing clever by half.



  1. Malaysia has had an unhappy history with the Migs and Sukhois.

    Excellent paper planes, but in real practice, they have been exceedingly difficult to maintain operational functionality.

    Maybe RMAF and its contractors are just piss poor at maintenance, who knows ?

  2. Wakakakakaka…

    What a fart!

    "Also crucial are ‘offsets’. This involves the transfer of technology and work-sharing, ostensibly to spur Malaysia’s burgeoning high-technology sector. Two of the more successful examples are the work undertaken by SME Aerospace in building weapons pylons for the BAE Systems’ Hawk advanced trainer and light combat aircraft, and CTRM’s aerostructures work for Airbus Industries’ family of jetliners."

    Haven't the same MOD's controversial littoral combat ships (LCS), first awarded to Amin Shah & then cancelled due to non contractual performance & rewarded to Boustead holding?

    "The Ministry of Defence intends to salvage at least two of six littoral combat ships (LCS) construction that was awarded to a unit of Boustead Holdings Bhd in 2011, having paid RM6 billion out of the contract value of RM9 billion.

    The ministry is considering allocating the contract balance of up to RM3 billion to either instruct Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNSSB) — a unit of Boustead Holdings — to complete two of six vessels, or to have two vessels completed by vessel designer France’s Naval Group, via a deed of assignment with BNSSB."

    First, using 'successes' in parts manufacturing to justify a possible success in whole boat/plane completion is truly a f*cking trick to pull hair over the eyes of the commoners.

    Second, the most important consideration of any govt contract in bolihland is UNDERTABLING. All else, offsets included, r just pure fart!