Malaysia has kicked off its light fighter jet procurement by issuing request for information (RFI) to five manufacturers including Russian Yak-130, Indian Tejas, Pakistani-Chinese JF-17, Italian Aermacchi MB-339 and South Korean T-50.
Confirming the receipt of the RFI, Rosoboronexport’s Sergey Gorbenko told journalists today that the Malaysian air force had sought information to procure 18 fighter jets with an option for 18 more. “We are ready to licence-manufacture the jet if the customer (Malaysia) so wishes it,” Gorbenko said at the ongoing Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) show.
He said the Yak-130 was in service with the Russian Air Force and had been sold to Myanmar in Asia. Asked about a possible conflict of interest in competing with India which is Russia’s biggest arms buyer, Gorbenko said “we welcome competition and wish our Indian colleagues all the best.”
The Yak-130 and the Indian Tejas are the only two aircraft which are participating in the flying displays at LIMA.
The Malaysian government has moved ahead with its light fighter procurement plans ahead of a multi-role combat aircraft procurement plan which had begun in 2011. The contenders for that procurement are Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing and Super Hornet.
There is no word when that procurement would kick off. If anything, it might get delayed or put off altogether as Malaysia has embarked on program to refurbish its 18 Su-30MKM aircraft and may take up the refurbishment of its MiG-29 jets later.
The Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohammed said yesterday, “if funds permit, we would like to buy 100s of aircraft but that is not the case and we have to make the most of our limited resources.”