SHAH ALAM: THE publication of the UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) on Nov 23, has confirmed the availability of Eurofighter Typhoon for Malaysia – on day One – if and when the government choose the fighter aircraft for the MRCA programme.
Industry sources told Malaysian Defence the plan which called among others, the extension of the Typhoon out-of-service date (OSD) from 2030 to 2040 and 24 aircraft being retained to form two new front-line squadrons. The UK had earlier planned to retire the 24 aircraft – the so-called Tranche 1 Typhoon – between 2015 and 2019.
If the UK had retired the Tranche 1 Typhoons, we would probably end up paying the In-Service Support (ISS) costs if we were to opt to lease them until we get the new build aircraft under the lease and buy offer. It is likely the UK will get more Tranche 3 Typhoons, if the Malaysian deal goes through.
Under the deal, Malaysia can expect to lease around 18 fully-serviceable Typhoons and more importantly the full ordnance and support package as an interim measure until the new build aircraft could be delivered – usually within 24 months time after the contract signing.
Furthermore, with the UK and Saudi Arabia paying for the latest upgrades of the Typhoons, RMAF can expect to get one of the best fighter aircraft for the next 20 years.
And the offer does not end there apparently. If we choose the Typhoon, RMAF could also choose either upgrading its Hawk fleet or opt for the Hawk AJT after the new MRCA squadron is declared fully operational.
The cost free upgrading will allow RMAF’s Hawk fleet to operate for at least another 10 years. Among others with the upgrade, the Hawks will be able to fire a variety of guided missiles from air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles.
Opting for the Hawk AJT will be more costly however, though it is expected the UK government will offer large discounts for it. As it is the AJT is also capable of conducting close support, reconnaissance, surveillance and air defence – just like the current 108/208 fleet and more.
Industry sources told Malaysian Defence that although the Hawk upgrades have been approved for RMK11, funding for the programme remains uncertain with the current situation.
If the package route sounds familiar what about the other MRCA contenders then? Well I have written about the Saab package previously while the Rafale will be in the next post.
As for Boeing, I am not sure yet. Perhaps they are also packaging the Super Hornets with the Poseidon Lite (the Boeing MSA) which may not be surprising at all.
All of this sounds wonderful, but when will the government funds the MRCA programme then? Have they even agreed for the special funding needed for the programme to become official? Your guess is as good as mine.
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