With the verdict on Malaysia’s its multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) program expected this year; aircraft makers are rallying for the contract by presenting their jets at this year’s LIMA.
The Malaysian armed forces are replacing their existing fleet of Russian MiG-29 aircraft and have additional plans to phase out its remaining eight operational MiG-29s by 2015. According to reports, the RMAF originally had 18 MiG-29s but lost a pair of them in training accidents, while the other eight have been phased out and cannibalized to support the remaining eight.
In 2011, Malaysia had issued an initial request for proposal with an envisaged operational entry-service date of 2015-2016. Four aircraft are in the running: Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault’s Rafale and the Saab Gripen.
Both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Super Hornet are set to showcase their prowess at LIMA 2013 in an effort to sway the competition. Boeing, in particular, hopes to cinch the contract.
"By the time LIMA occurs, the RMAF will have done a thorough evaluation of the major competitors," the company said in a statement. "The RMAF and the minister of defence should be in a position to make a recommendation to the prime minister for the MRCA [multi-role combat aircraft] programme."
Boeing also points out that Malaysia has bought and paid for US-built weapons, which can be easily integrated with the Super Hornet platform.
However, Eurofighter continues to lead the competition after Malaysian defence minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying that the Eurofighter was the best aircraft for the country.
His comments, according to reports, may have been politically motivated and not based on an objective assessment of the aircraft.
Unlike other Asian countries such as Singapore, India and Indonesia, Malaysia is moving slow on defense procurement if the countrys military leadership is to be believed. Malaysias navy chief Admiral Aziz Jaafar, in January, said that his country will not undertake any significant procurement programs in 2014
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