F-35 vs PAK-FA or Both?

KUALA LUMPUR: Its not official but the recent announcement that the replacement of the Fulcrum will be delayed at least until 2015 (as I had said before), it most probably means that Malaysia will be the “battleground” for the F35 or the PAK-FA.

However it may not even turn into a zero sum game as our historic vacillations may even see the unthinkable, both the F35 and PAK-FA in RMAF roundels!

Further reading

And I had even considered that the present government may be replaced by another one! The truth is that our politicians may not see eye-to-eye politically but in the matters of foreign relations, ties between the US and Russia, both will likely seek the middle ground and will try to please both sides.

It may not be the best thing for RMAF and the Malaysian Armed Forces but who can stand up say that they have a better option? Not buying fighter planes, by the way is not a very argument however. I know we dont have the money but our infantry needs fighter cover very badly.

I know the Gripen supporters will say that their plane is the best compromise but if money is only available around 2015 (as I had said many times before), the first planes they ordered would probably be in our shores by 2020, hence only the F35 and PAK-FA, which is supposed to be operational in 2015 will be the only game in town.

I know this is confusing but I also lacked the gray matter to think through this predicament. What about China? What if they come out with their own fifth-generation fighter? There are none at the moment but they could be in the works but if that really happens and our politicians think its a good idea to buy the plane, we may even end up doing so!

We will be the only country in the world with 3 types of fifth-generation fighters!

–Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

About Marhalim Abas 2191 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. I doubt Malaysia will buy any of these two types come 2015. We might end up buying Malaysian made 5th gen stealth fighters instead. Of course with the assistance and cooperation of the Russians and Chinese….

  2. Before the government decides to purchase a new toy, please straighten Malaysia Defense Policy.
    You don’t simply buy without knowing what is it for. What kind of defense strategy that the country wants to impress around this region? What sort of defense posture that is relevant to Malaysia.
    The defense planners and the politicians!!! – do you know what the country needs?. Truly fools are unwilling to learn from others and ignorant always think they know everything.
    Seeking middle ground and trying to please both side is not an option for the decision makers-please don’t be “lalang” but what we need is to really look at the opportunity costs rather than be in the middle and truly confuse like the gold fish that you keep in your aquarium at home.
    So forget about the new purchase but get cracking of how to make good of the present asset that is in the defense inventory or.. they have lost count?!!! sorry mate!!!

  3. PAK FA for me. If We tend to follow Indian Air Force procurement route, the additional MKM and maybe 18 PAK FA by 2020

  4. 5th gen fighters for Malaysia any time before 2020 seems to be too good to be true. For now I am very unsure whether to say yay or nay because I am not that very confident of Malaysia’s buying power for all these. Unless there’s someone out there who can flat-out prove that we can afford at least a squadron of 5th gen fighters it’ll be very hard to figure out even the possibilities of them.

  5. Same with Azlan, I would rather prefer the PAK FA project for the govt to invest in for the MRCA procurement project than other 5th Gen fighter program especially the F-35.

    As a fan of the Gripen, I would prefer it if the govt have extra budget for the armed forces (mimpi je..), they should procure the Gripen aswell to enhance our air defence capability asides from the Sukhoi.

    Recently, Malaysian Army has established an attack helicopter divison in the army. In an interview with the Malaysian Army General after the Joint Chiefs Committee’s Meeting, he stated that they have decided to give the Nuri replacement program the top priority in the 10th MP. Secondly, if the have extra allocation or if the govt may afford it, they will procure around 6-8 or even 12 attack helicopter for the army.

    Besides that, the Five Cavalry and Mechanised Regiments will be equipped with 8×8 APC that are equipped with long-range ATGM. For the MALCON, 20 6×6 APC will be procure for them to maintain their combat readiness.

  6. If we are going the PAK-FA route, i would prefer getting it around 2020, getting 24 of them with 1/3 of the cost covered by trading in the MKM’s. As for the MiG’s, maybe after 2015 replace them along with the hawks with 1 type of aircraft (preferably low cost ie YAK-130’s or if it is any good, JF-17’s).

  7. Given that a much much more important requirement with a peacetime utility such as a Nuri replacement or an upgrade remains unfunded,
    all this talk about a ”Unit Tempur Helikopter” by the army’s top brass is ludicrous. The army should stop dreaming, realise its priorities and concentrate on stuff like scopes for the M-4, a Condor replacement and something to replace the 40 year old Model 56s. Why spend cash on attack helicopters when in a few years, the Aloutte 111s will need replacing???

    The problem with an F-35 RMAF order is that the waiting list is already a long one, and priority will be given to countries that are in the F-35 prgramme. After the Fulcrums and the integration challenges with the MKM’s I think this time the RMAF will give a firm no for anything Russia.

    Marhalim: I have seen the QA with the Army chief and the Unit Tempur Helikopter was the only thing that stand out, but for old hands like me it was a non-issue of course, its the same thing that had been said for the 20 years!

  8. Yes, the ”Helicopter Tempur” news has been around for a while. The only difference now is the inter service rivalry as to who operates them appears to have been resolved. At least the Rooivalk deal in 97 didn’t go through.

  9. If MINDEF/RMAF want to acquired PAK FA by 2020, they should joint the project like India and Brazil. Beside FX-2 programme are till in progress, Brazil was recruited to participate in the development of the Sukhoi PAK FA for eventual induction into the Brazilian air force but as of 2009 it is unknown what the status of Brazils place in the program is. Can we do the same?

    Marhalim: Of course we can, we can even do so for the JSF programme but since there is no commercial aspect (basically it will be the same deal like the A400M project) every body is staying in the trenches. The Brazilian involvement in the PAK-FA is gone, the Sukhoi Su-35 did not make it to the last hurdle. The Brazilian is to choose among the Rafale, Gripen and the Super Hornet for its FX programme with Rafale reputedly the politicians favourite due to the transfer of technology with France, Gripen reportedly is the Air Force choice.

  10. Nil for both. Both aircraft will not be ready for delivery to Malaysia by 2020.

    Marhalim: I am not suggesting it must be delivered by 2020. If they finally got the budget in 2015, it will take them three years to negotiate the deal and delivery will start after 2020. Remember they signed the Sukhoi deal in 1999 but the first batch only arrived here in 2007…which makes it more important that they go for either the JSF or PAK-20

  11. Fadiman, no we can’t do the same. Large scale participation in any fighter project requires a lot of up front investment and in the RMAF’s case is pointless as there is no economics of scale. For Brazil and India, both of which require large numbers of fighters compared to the RMAF, participation makes sense.

  12. We can’t sign for the F-35 or the Pak-fa just yet becuse no one can give us a firm price on them.

    Can you see the govt signing a deal like that? In todays parliament? That’s a great way to get slaughtered.

    Maybe in 2015 someone can quote us a firm price contract. Which means we get a new fighter in 2020…

    I guess the mig will have to soldier on for a lot more years than anyone thought. That is unless the Gripen is chosen.

    The whole thing depends on the RMAF. In 2-3 years maybe there’s money for ONE PRESTIGE purchase. Will they got for the Gripen or AEW?

  13. Actually our infantry needs helicopters to haul them into the deep jungle, UAVs to gather intelligence and training budgets to give them trigger time and get them out of the camp.
    The minute we stop trying to keep up with the Lees is when we address OUR national defence priorities and stop failing to counter Singapore’s. It’s futile to try and match someone who has 10x your budget and a fraction of the commitment demands. if anything describes the inferiority complex that is pervasive in ‘defence’ thinking, this is it.

  14. And more MPA’s to patrol our waters for piracy, terrorism, etc. And quality webbing, boots, night vision, body armour, etc. The list of basic items is long but the army’s top brass in all their wisdom, after a gap of some years, are now dreaming of a ”Unit Helikopter Tempur”….

  15. My opinion RMAF consider Gripen or Typhoon for new fighter requirement in future may be cost and add on package with AEWC aircraft, beside BAe and Saab joint together for they marketing.

  16. If money not an issue, of course all of us want the best for RMAF. But meester t and azlan got a strong point there. Before we look in to this fighter jet replacement,we should get our basic right first.

  17. bang, pagi ni radio ada kata Zahid Hamidi said about RM10.4 billion worth of contract will be signed on DSA. Besar tu …last time only about Rm2-3 billion je in 2008. Apa yang dah di plan?

    Marhalim: No one knows bro I will update ASAP tomorrow…

  18. I think what the Air Force should do is split the order and get six 5th generation fighter (I prefer PAK FA) and form a new “Stealth Squadren” flown by Elite pilots(if there are any) .And eight 4th generation (F-18 Super Hornets or Typhoon) to replace the remainder Mig-29N.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.