KUALA LUMPUR: Since Mar 19, US and Nato forces have been involved in Operation Odyssey Dawn. From that time, three of the candidates for the RMAF MRCA programme have been involved in the operations.
They are the Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale. Now it seems that the fourth candidate the JAS 39 Gripen is also to be involved. Read Here.. This will be the first time the Gripen will see action as the Super Hornet has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan while the Typhoons and Rafale have been used in anger in Afghanistan only.
Why I am writing this? Well apparently, the discussions on the MRCA programme is getting serious and I am told that a Request For Quotation has been issued to the four manufacturers. A RFQ is indeed a key stage that may led to a decision probably by the end of the year. Or it could be a good way to get all four manufacturers to show off their planes during Lima by year end. But if the European planes does show up in Langkawi it clearly meant that they feel that we are really serious looking for a replacement for the Fulcrums.
And the numbers? It hovers from 24 to 54! To be honest, I am more convinced that a 24-plane buy is more likely than a 54-plane deal. Nonetheless, based on the Aussie experience, a 24-plsne deal is likely to cost around RM6 billion (airframes plus engines only). Of course it will take two Rancangan Malaysia to pay for them and another to pay for the weapons and other stuff!
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