France is offering Malaysia the possibility of locally manufacturing the Rafale fighter aircraft if the country selects Dassault as the winner of the MRCA competition.
"We are considering an assembly line in Malaysia," said Eric Trappier, chief executive of the Rafale's builder Dassault Aviation was quoted as saying.
Malaysia is looking to replace its ageing Russian MiG 29 aircraft with 18 new combat jets. 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.
Competitors for the MRCA contract include Saab’s Gripen, the Eurofighter, and Boeing's F-18 all of whom are showcasing their aircraft at LIMA 2013 in an effort to sway the competition in their favor.
In 2011, Malaysia had issued an initial request for proposal with an envisaged operational entry-service date of 2015-2016.
The Rafale is a multi-role aircraft capable of carrying carry out air-ground or air-sea attacks, reconnaissance, aerial interception or nuclear strike missions. Since it entered service in the French military in 2001 it has struggled to find buyers and is all too keen to make a foreign sale.
In 2012, India selected the Rafale to fulfill its MMRCA contract for 126 fighter jets most of which they expect to build locally once the final contract is signed this year.