Malaysia’s defence minister Hishamuddin Hussain has squashed reports that the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon had been shortlisted for the Malaysian air force’s multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) requirement.
Asked if the ministry would settle for Eurofighter Typhoon by BAE Systems or the Rafale by Dassault Aviation, he said the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Saab Gripen “are still in the running”.
The defence minister was quoted by a Malaysian publication, Star as having made the comments during the concluding press conference of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) show.
The minister’s statement comes amidst wild speculation that the four year old competition had been narrowed down to French and European choices.
The presence of Saab and Boeing at the LIMA show where they spoke about the relative merits of their respective aircraft further consolidated the view that they were still in the running.
Dassault and BAE Systems, the companies leading the Rafale and Eurofighter competitions respectively were most active in terms of PR and visibility. The former more so.
Representatives of Dassault were seen handing over Rafale gift packages to anybody in a Malaysian military uniform. Rafale also took Malaysian government’s Treasury secretary-general Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah on a joy ride in the two-seater aircraft. Abdullah later told the media, “This is the first time I have ever been on board a jet fighter and it is such a fun experience.”
Endorsing the aircraft, he said that the Dassault Rafale was a quality modern jet fighter, which was fitted with the latest technologies that make it a highly capable platform on the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles.
“I hope the Defence Ministry will seriously consider obtaining the aircraft in the future,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.
Eurofighter on the other hand had an aircraft on static display and an audio visual and simulator presentation at its stand where its representatives thanked the British government for taking up Typhoon’s procurement case with Kuala Lumpur.