SHAH ALAM: The Super Hornet remained in contention for the RMAF MRCA programme – officially. But it appears that even Boeing is not highly optimistic of its chances based on reports coming out from the US.
In a press briefing in Florida on June 10, Boeing among others stated it was confident of extending the production line of the Super Hornet based on an anticipated US Navy requirements and strong international interests. And the strong international interest does not include Malaysia.
“Speaking at Boeing’s Global Sustainment and Support (GS&S) site at Cecil Field in northern Florida, Dan Gillian, Vice President of the F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes, said that, with the USN burning through airframe hours at a far higher rate than originally intended and with additional exports expected in the near term, the company is confident of extending production from the current mid-2018 cut-off point through into the next decade.
“On the international front, Gillian noted that a deal with Kuwait is currently going through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process with the US government and should be finalised in the not-too-distant future. Current legacy Hornet operator Finland has issued a request for proposals (RfP) that Boeing is preparing its response to, as has Belgium. Spain, which also now flies the Hornet, is in the early stages of a fighter procurement project for which Boeing will bid the Super Hornet, while India and Canada are being offered the platform to fulfil their respective requirements also.”
I was not at the press conference so I am not sure what really happened there. However, a slide presentation at the press conference, entitled ‘2016 International Super Hornet Opportunities’ clearly left out Malaysia.
Malaysian Defence has reported that the MRCA programme is down to either the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale. However according to RMAF chief Jen Roslan Saad, the Super Hornet and Gripen are also being considered with the two European contenders.
Perhaps I am reading too much from a single press conference and in fact Boeing will come back strongly to Malaysia in 2017. Just in time for LIMA!
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