SHAH ALAM: Typhoons, F-35 or Super Hornets. Actually one could add legacy Hornets as well but that’s a mouthful for a headline. As you are aware the French Air Force (FAF) is sending three Dassault Rafales for a tour of Southeast Asia in mid August or early September.
Apart from Indonesia and Singapore, these Rafales will also make a stop in Malaysia together with their escorts. The fighters are flying back to Middle East via the region after taking part in Exercise Pitch Black being hosted by Australia.
What you did not know is that a group of enterprising Malaysians have ingrained themselves into the Rafale campaign to meet the RMAF long outstanding MRCA requirements. But didn’t the Rafale team already got their local agents? Yes, they did and they are probably still there but the new campaigners are said to be part of a second front for the Rafale. And they are supposedly to be close with the current government.
Why are they doing these one may ask, didn’t the government says it has no money? Of course but didn’t we signed for the NGPV just a year after 1998 financial crisis? The Scorpenes were contracted for in 2002, for that matter.
By the way, I was told that the Najib administration had apparently selected the Rafale for the MRCA back in 2013. However before the details could be finalised, whether to buy eight or twelve for the first batch and subsequent batches, the fall in oil prices in late 2014 scuppered the deal.
Through-out the last three years, they tried everything to justify the deal but the low price of commodities including oil made the calculations rather tricky. The government I was told need the crude oil price to remain steady at US$70 dollar per barrel or higher for at least six months before it could fund the program. The dithering continue well into LIMA 2017 where the FAF sent two Rafales in the hope of finally securing the deal.
The French even send the then President Francois Hollande to Putrajaya to meet with Najib shortly after LIMA 17 hoping to persuade the former to sign the Rafale deal. It was not good enough apparently.
So what’s does that got to do with the current campaign then? Ah, didn’t you read recently that the French is cooperating with the Scorpene investigation.
As for the RMAF, it’s current priority is for the LCA. If the MRCA is funded instead it will be a quite juggling act to absorb a new fighter type as well as preparing the people for it. And the rojak cometh…
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