Funny Feeling

A mock-up of the TAI Hurjet. Daily Sabah

SHAH ALAM: Funny Feeling. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has confirmed it participation in the RMAF FLIT/LCA tender which closed last month. The confirmation of the participation of the TAI Hurjet was made by its president Prof Temel Kotil on Nov. 24 to Malaysian media at the opening ceremony of TAI’s office in Cyber Jaya.

Kotil was quoted as saying that the company will jointly built the Hurjet locally if it won the tender. From Bernama

CYBERJAYA – Turkey plans to jointly manufacture the country’s home-made Light combat-trainer jet, “Hurjet”, with Malaysia should the tender process be successful, said the President and Chief Executive Officer of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Prof Temel Kotil.

He said this is an effort to strengthen the global aviation industry in their respective regions, and that 15 jets will be built in Malaysia and another three will be built in Turkey should the tender process be successful.

“We want to contribute to the capacity building of Malaysia to produce such aircraft as we see Malaysia as one of the best countries to collaborate with strategically in Asia-Pacific.” he told a press conference after attending the new Turkish Aerospace’s office opening ceremony officiated by Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, at Cyberview Futurise campus, here, Nov 24.

Hürjet is an Advanced Jet Trainer and Light Attack Aircraft. According to the company, it is a single engine, tandem-seat with modern avionics and high-performance features. The aircraft’s first flight is forecast for the last quarter of 2022.

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It is clear that TAI is hoping for a repeat of the Gempita which was still a prototype when the deal was signed back in 2012. That said unlike the Army, RMAF has its back on the wall with its training fleet, with only four Hawk Mk108s still surviving while the MB-339CMs have been stored since 2018.

RMAF BAE Systems Hawk Mk 208 M40-08 skimming the tree tops for the exercise finale in 2017. The aircraft is likely written off following a fatal crash on Nov. 16. 2021.

Stranger things has happened before of course, so no one should say it will not happened. Though it is likely the TAI gambit has made one of the other competitors stir crazy with a number of experts coming out of nowhere to say a lot hot air to support their plane.

A photo on RTAF FB page celebrating the delivery of the two T-50THs on Jan. 25, 2018.

These experts are claiming that the 30 per cent local content stipulated in the tender documents meant that local assembly of the FLIT/LCA is mandatory. It is not, the local content requirement has been in such tenders since ages ago but their implementation have been spotty to say the least. They also claimed it (local built/MRO) will be a boon to the local defense/aerospace industry but from what we have seen from the last 30 years or so, it never did. Again I am not being pessimistic but more like a realist, really.

— Malaysian Defence

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45 Comments

  1. Heard from his close aide that H20 is extremely keen for Turkish jets now. Most likely contender now is Turkish and Korean jets only.

  2. Not even reach prototype. It just paper and mockup. Now only Korean and Italian as the TUDM choice. If Indian and Russian get it, this will be politician decision.

  3. The Hurjet is good on paper, but it cannot be had on RMAF timeline as planned. Right now only the trainer variant is in development, and there is no news of the progress of the prototype build for sometime. The fighter version to be completed probably 2027 at best. We need the LCA/LIFT as soon as possible!

    I am against any local assembly of any of the LCA/LIFT contenders. It offers no value added things to our aerospace or defence sector.

    I would prefer the contenders giving aerospace manufacturing contracts to local companies to the 30% value within the LCA/LIFT contract timeline. So it can be manufacturing components for the LCA itself or for other aircraft in the winning contender current or future production.

    As for MRO, I would prefer the MRO facilities of the LCA/LIFT to be operated by RMAF themselves. But that would be to high of an ask, as it does not offer any incentives to politicians, their aides, contractors or retiring senior RMAF officers.

  4. Be real. First flight of prototype in last quaryer of 2022. Its unlike a Geely Proton. Its a plane thats complex. There will be delays n bugs. Always has been. Even America experiences problems with the computer designs. Even copy cat Chinas F20 experience 10 years of development. The M 346 also took several years of development to smooth the kinks. So what made the Turkish so sure first flight in 2022 third quarter can happen?. Also even after first flight problems can happen n need several years more to resolve all the kinks.
    Bad idea to buy a paper design.

  5. “I am against any local assembly of any of the LCA/LIFT contenders”

    For one it does not lead to any tangible long term benrfits. It requires the taxpayer to pay for the set up and we don’t have the economics of scale to recoup the outlay.

    ” I would prefer the MRO facilities of the LCA/LIFT to be operated by RMAF”

    That is the last thing the RMAF wants, a diversion. As long as funds are provided in time and as long as there is proper oversight, no reason why MRO can’t be continued to be performed by private entities.

    “It offers no value”

    Like a host of other things we’ve done. All thanks to our highly flawed poltically driven highly self defeating defence policy which has led us to where we are now.

  6. lee – ”Bad idea to buy a paper design.”

    By and large yes. There are exceptions however; the RAAF ordered the F-111 when it was still on the drawing board and the exercise was a successful one. We ordered the
    A-400M before it had even entered service anywhere and so far we’re happy with it.

    We should stick to the plan and not get distracted with this Turkish offer. Logic and prudence dictates we buy a platform already widely operated, mature and available.

  7. I am all out for the Korean plane. Get 36 of them direct from the manufacturer. This plane will serve our needs well enough.

  8. Azlan – “That is the last thing the RMAF wants, a diversion’

    Probably you are not aware of one of the main initiative by RMAF recently. One of its current priorities is to reacquire in-house aircraft maintenance capability.

    RMAF has recently managed to complete on its own 18 Year Structural Inspection program for one if its C-130H, a task formerly done by AIROD.

    Other current in-house maintenance initiative of RMAF are
    – Airbus A400M C1-H Heavy Maintenance
    – Beechcraft B200T Structural Corrosion Inspection Program (SCIP)
    – Eurocopter EC725 1200 Hours/3 Years Interval Maintenance

  9. “Probably you are not aware of one of the main initiative by RMAF recently”

    I was indeed not aware and thank you for pointing that out. I’m very surprised actually given the manpower and other resources needed.

  10. Select KAI T-50 TA-50 FA-50, please. Why take risks with TAI Hurjet? RMAF generals can brief minister what pros and cons of decisions to make. H2O must read our comments here for brainstorming.

  11. TAI really needs Malaysia to buy the Hurjet to even make the program viable, why it is understandable that TAI is going all out to woo Malaysia to pick up the Hurjet. I can say in this case that Turkey needs Malaysia more, rather than the other way round. We have plenty of other options for our LCA/LIFT (especially with the proven KAI FA-50), but for Turkey, it has little option other than to make the Hurjet work.

    To compare with other TAI projects, currently there is only about 18 of the ingenious Hurkus turboprop trainer built, compared to nearly 200 KAI KT-1 Wongbee built. Or the Anka UAV, only a few dozen were built compared to hundreds of Bayraktar TB2 flying. TAI really needs the Hurjet to be a better seller compared to the Hurkus or Anka. Our 36 aircraft LCA/FLIT requirement is the break that TAI really needs.

    So should we get the Hurjet? I would say no. We should be friendly to Turkey, but get proven stuff from them, especially those Bayraktar TB2s.

  12. Considering how cheap and reliable turkish
    Arms are, I’d say Malaysia should go for it. Sure the Hurjet ain’t operational yet and the prototype will fly in 2022 but lets be real here RMAF would probably pick a winner by 2023. The FNSS deal with gempita have been excellent so far and Malaysia have singed contracts for unoperational weapon systems like hurjets before and we’ve had no problems.

    With the pace of Turkish arms industry and their currect trend, Hurjet prototype would probably fly as sceduled and the serial units would come soon in a year and half, much like their UAVs, Naval Systems and SAM Systems, speaking of which, RMAF do require MALE UAVs and Medium Range SAM. Byraktar TB2 and TAI ANKA are hot on the market currently. HISAR missile systems seems capable as well so far and cheap enough for Malaysia

  13. Azlan- “We ordered the A-400M before it had even entered service anywhere and so far we’re happy with it.”

    Given that our Hercules are still going strong at the moment, the A400M project is a boost to our airlift capability, and we are not desperate for a replacement for the C-130Hs back then.

    The LCA/FLIT program is not the same case anymore as the RMAF wants mature and jets that can fly without issues straight out of their manufacturers.

  14. Edmund – “The LCA/FLIT program is not the same case”

    Clearly and I did not suggest so or that we buy a Turk platform which isn’t even operational yet.

  15. Azlan – “I’m very surprised actually given the manpower and other resources needed”

    RMAF has the manpower, and doing these maintenance/overhaul themselves saves money for RMAF and the government. Recently RMAF repaired on their own, with some technical help from Tenaga Nasional a few equipments for ground based radars, and it cost only about 20% of what the contractors are charging to do the same thing.

    Edmund T – “we are not desperate for a replacement for the C-130Hs back then”

    We are not desperate for a C-130H replacement now too. Our Herc fleet could probably still fly 20 more years to come. The A400M got plenty of teething issues, and RMAF A400M has quietly flown back to Spain quite a few times for upgrades under warranty. Which is why we still has not done any paradrops with the A400M to date.

  16. Prototype at land is much safer from the air. No point put another gambling on this. We had paid our price on our LCS. if based on CAP55, LCA is 3 squadron but I read a lot news say finally is get 36 units only. This mean 12 per squadron.
    Maybe get Tejas also much secure and safer than we get Hurjet.

  17. Given what’s being bandied here, there’s little to choose between a FA50, Tejas, M346 FA and,…a Hurjet. If the Koreans, the Indians or the Italians were to win the LCA/FLIT tender, we’re looking at the first planes touching down at a Malaysian air base sometime in 2025 (or 2027, given the inevitable delays).
    Interestingly, if the Hurjet prototype gets to serious flying by end of 2022, the trainer version may be certified by 2025, with the Hurjet ‘C'(fighter/attack) out by 2027.
    Now, given all that, then there is little to choose from all 4 manufacturers… since the dates for receiving the aircraft are really all quite close to each other.
    Perhaps KAI can be expected to deliver on schedule, but I doubt that’s the case for the other 3 manufacturers. Especially HAL.

  18. Michael “Prototype at land is much safer from the air. No point put another gambling on this. We had paid our price on our LCS”

    The LCS disaster is not due to it being a prototype. There is nothing revolutionary about the design or the systems within it. The issue is with our building it locally. Note that Egypt started on a locally built hull later than ours and that it is already in commission.

    “I read a lot news say finally is get 36 units only”

    If the RMAF gets 36 airframes, it would be beyond our wildest hopes.

  19. As of now, the Hurjet is the most risky choice, haven’t flown yet at all!!! Tejas, Gripen, FA50, M346 and JF17 are more realistic options. But given H20’s (relatively poor, at least IMO) track record, i.e. Abrams priced Gempita 8×8, unneeded MD530g and LCS, unfortunately the Hurjet is a possibility. What more stupid things can happen after this? I am sure RMAF will do whatever it can to reject it. But hey look at the LCS, a proven mature design successfully built for Egypt by Naval Group but was then heavily redesigned until it cost us delays and money.

    I am all in for FA50, Gripen and Tejas given if they were priced competitively. Local participants or not, there are much less risky option compared to Hurjet.

    TAI Anka for MALE UAS, yes, TAI Hurjet for FIT/LCA, no

  20. Taib – “there is little to choose from all 4 manufacturers”

    Actually there is a lot to choose from all 4 manufacturers. And there is only about 4 more months until a decision has to be made.

    We need an aircraft that can take up the task of our MiG-29. Quick Reaction Alerts. There is 1 contender, the M346FA that only have similar speed to our hawks, and cannot go supersonic, other than in a dive. Among the competitors, FA-50 and Tejas has the best radar performance, as both has the same radar.

    In service and operational platform. Tejas and Hurjet are basically still in development. The Tejas Mk1A is still not flown yet, those flying now are the Mk1 with many flaws. Hurjet prototype is still not yet completed. The risks of having to live with flawed, compromised platform is not worth it. Among the competitors, by far the FA-50 is the most matured platform, with more than 200 built and has the biggest user base.

    The best and most advanced training system. We need the platform as FLIT to develop the best possible future fighter pilots for RMAF. Among the competitors, M346 and FA-50 has the most comprehensive training solutions available along with the aircraft. full motion simulators, virtual reality simulators, embedded training system in the aircraft itself, mature training manuals. The Tejas has none of the above.

    Basically we need a best all rounder, not just the best in one field, but worse in the other. Theoretically the best possible platform for RMAF is the Korean one. If other platform wins, that will be because of “national interest” or whatever the excuse is right now.

  21. @Luqman
    I wouldn’t call a Hurjet buy a stupid thing (yet).
    @gonggok
    Am just stating an interesting development, that the eventual dates we’re looking to get the planes from any of the 4 manufacturers are more or less similar. Granted we’re currently struggling with adequate QRA capabilities, then the best ‘buy option’ that we’re looking at is still a good 5 years away. Maybe just 3 years for the FA50 buy. Are the Chinese boats or planes over our EEZ staying away whilst we’re waiting for our new planes? Or are there any urgent Stop-gap solutions for 2022/2023/2024/2025?
    BTW, I do like the FA50 as our best bet. And am not dismissing the TAI offerings yet.

  22. gonggok – ”We need an aircraft that can take up the task of our MiG-29. Quick Reaction Alerts.”

    But will the LCA actually be assigned a QRA role or will it, like The Hawk 200; be used for the purpose when there is a need?

    gonggok – ”Basically we need a best all rounder, not just the best in one field,”

    As I pointed out previously this presents a dilemma or a conundrum if you will; ‘Plane A’ might be better suited as a LIFT but not as a LCA; compared to vice versa ‘Plane B’.

    Michael – ”but I read a lot news say finally is get 36 units”

    Never mind what you read; look at the CAP 55 graphic; gives you an idea of what the RMAF is aiming for.

  23. gonggok – ”The best and most advanced training system.”

    Not exactly. on a platform level first the RMAF will determine which is the ”best” [a subjective word] and effective LIFT platform; then determine what actually is suitable in meeting its particular LIFT needs. What’s the ”best” or most effective LIFT platform can vary according to which air arm is asked and what they need in a LIFT platform.

  24. Azlan – “will the LCA actually be assigned a QRA role”

    From the mouth of the PTU himself, the LCA will take over MiG-29N tasks –

    Ackbal dalam pada itu berkata, pesawat pemintas MiG-29N kini dalam proses pelupusan setelah hampir tujuh tahun ia tidak diterbangkan.

    “Kita (TUDM) tidak ada perancangan untuk menerbangkan pesawat ini. Ia dalam proses dilupuskan dan kita telah pun diluluskan perolehan pesawat Fighter Lead-In Trainer/Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT/LCA) bagi menggantikan MiG-29N.

    “Sebanyak 18 pesawat diluluskan dalam Rancangan Malaysia Ke-12 (RMK-12) manakala 18 lagi dalam Rancangan Malaysia Ke-13 (RMK-13),” katanya.

    Beliau berkata, FLIT/LCA bukan sahaja akan menggantikan MiG-29N malah dua pesawat lain yang dimiliki TUDM iaitu Aermacchi M-346 dan Hawk yang juga dalam perancangan untuk dilupuskan.

    Azlan – “‘Plane A’ might be better suited as a LIFT but not as a LCA; compared to vice versa ‘Plane B’”

    But clearly among the contenders there is one that is good in both, the FA-50.

  25. Sebanyak 18 pesawat diluluskan dalam Rancangan Malaysia Ke-12 (RMK-12) manakala 18 lagi dalam Rancangan Malaysia Ke-13 (RMK-13),” katanya.

    Beliau berkata, FLIT/LCA bukan sahaja akan menggantikan MiG-29N malah dua pesawat lain yang dimiliki TUDM iaitu Aermacchi M-346 dan Hawk yang juga dalam perancangan untuk dilupuskan.

    If based on the above, to replace all the fleet will require 18 + 28 + 8 of the original numbers of respective type. That will be at least 54 LCA/FLIT to be divided into 3 squadrons. It makes sense if the original story to buy 36 + 26 options of the LCA//FLIT is exercised fully, hopefully., or will it forever remain as hope.

  26. Correct me if l’m wrong but if l’m not mistaken 1 of the requirement for this LIFT/LCA is the ability for in-flight-refueling?

  27. Firdaus – ”Hurjet prototype would probably fly as sceduled”

    ”Probably” is assumption. Do we know what radar, ordnance and targeting/navigation pod will be integrated to it? What will be the level of Turkish as opposed to Western content? What will it cost to operate per hour and on average how many hours of post maintenance flight will be required?

    Firdaus – ”FNSS deal with gempita have been excellent so far”

    You actually know so for a fact?

    Firdaus – ”I’d say Malaysia should go for it.”

    Why should the RMAF being the first export customer for the type when it can get something with a wider customer base. Something much more mature and which has more parts readily available.

    Firdaus – ”be real here RMAF would probably pick a winner by 2023.”

    What if technical or other reasons result in a delay? What if U.S. export approval is not forthcoming? Do we risk the LCA/LIFT requirement based on uncertainty?

  28. gonggok – ”RMAF has the manpower,”

    On paper of course it does but in reality it has a strength of only about 14,000 give and take and of that only a small percentage will be engineering personnel which have to be distributed to squadrons and elsewhere. For many of the things we need to do and in the future; manpower is always a concern.

    gonggok – ”it cost only about 20% of what the contractors are charging to do the same thing.”

    That’s great but like in other countries the whole premise behind private MRO facilities was so the air arm can focus on its core business of flying; whilst still performing squadron level checks but leaving the task of depot level maintenance and overhauls to private entities which could just focus on this. The idea also being that since militaries are inherently not efficient in the way they do many things; a private entity whose core business is MRO can do the job more efficiently.

  29. basically its for the LCA only though if its available on the FLIT with no extra cost, it will be a bonus point for the manufacturer. As the current LCA is equipped with a refueling probe, the Hawk 208, of course the RMAF wants its replacement to be equipped with one. The Fulcrums one of the aircraft being replace with the LCA are also equipped with a refueling probe.

  30. And while they’re at it, may l suggest they do a dedicated single seat version (smaller bubble canopy) with an internal 30mm DEFA and the IFR probe is a must. Would be available in austere and high-end versions. Who knows? It could be a best seller. Hopefully TAI is listening.

  31. zainal abidin – “may l suggest they do a dedicated single seat version”

    It is a complication that is not needed.

    The Hawk needs a dedicated single seat version because a bigger nose has to be designed to house a radar.

    Platform such as FA-50 already designed from the start to have a radar mounted in its nose, and already has a gatling gun built-in its wing roots.

    Having an all 2 seater fleet would also be advantageous in keeping the skills of the pilots current while keeping the operational costs low. RAAF for example choose to have all 2 seat super hornet fleet, and just leave the rear seat empty if needed.

  32. gonggok – “Having an all 2 seater fleet would also be advantageous in keeping the skills of the pilots current’

    Plus and minus points. There are advantages in that 2 pairs of Mk1 eyeballs are peferable to one and that the back seater can focus on certain things, lessening the workload for the pilot.

    The bad news is that it places more pressure on manpower resources, as well as the training infratructure, to have a platform requring a crew of two.

    gonggok – “RAAF for example choose to have all 2 seat super hornet fleet, and just leave the rear seat empty if needed”

    In our case only 4 have dual controls but in all 4 the job of operating AMRAAM and ground to air ordnance, as well as the pod is the job of the backseater.

  33. @Marhalim
    Haven’t drop by in a while, but no reporting on ARNEX 2021? Quite a big deal imho when it is the Russians coming to exercise.

  34. Azlan – “to have a platform requring a crew of two”

    I’ll take the FA-50 as an example, it does not require a rear seater to operate as LCA, even if it does have 2 seats.

    Azlan – “In our case only 4 have dual controls”

    I think you have the wrong understanding of how RMAF F/A-18D “night attack hornet” operates.

    Actually the 4 of RMAF hornets that have dual controls mainly used for training. Another 4 are with the WSO station at the rear, this is without aircraft controls. Those with WSO station, or the “wizzo” at the back, he is mainly controlling the ATFLIR targeting pods. In air-to-air mission, the pilot has full control of the missile release. The “wizzo” main tasks are during strike missions, concentrating to locate and engage ground targets while the pilot concentrates on flying the aircraft. Both configuration (a rear pilot seat or the WSO station) are interchangeable on every D version without major modifications. Actually the single seater C version of the hornet are capable of using ATFLIR too, just the workload of the pilot is much higher than the D version with dedicated WSO station.

  35. ” it does not require a rear seater to operate as LCA, even if it does have 2 seats.”

    Great and I didn’t imply it did ….

    ”n air-to-air mission, the pilot has full control of the missile release.”

    But n the D variant it is the back seater who controls/guides the missile until impact. Even with AMRAAM the missile has to be illuminated until the terminal phase when the missile goes truly into the ”fire forget” mode.

    ”Actually the 4 of RMAF hornets that have dual controls mainly used for training”

    Obviously they are used for training but there is an almost equal workload between them and the other 4 for various types of other roles.

    ”I think you have the wrong understanding of how RMAF F/A-18D ”

    If you say so but I’m aware of the fact that the D variant was intended to be operated by a crew of 2; both augmenting each other.

    ”“wizzo” main tasks are during strike missions, concentrating to locate and engage ground targets while the pilot concentrates on flying the aircraft.”

    This is what I previously said – “There are advantages in that 2 pairs of Mk1 eyeballs are peferable to one and that the back seater can focus on certain things, lessening the workload for the pilot.”

    In short the back seater eases the workload of the pilot not only or ”mainly” in air to ground engagements but in air to air as well; also operating various sensors and types of ordnance in addition to the air to ground ones…

    ”just the workload of the pilot is much higher than the D version with dedicated WSO station.”

    Hence the inclusion of a back seater in the D variant as well as numerous other types. The reasoning being that all the tasks can be too much for a single pilot and that having a back seater to augment him, by performing various types of tasks; is needed.

  36. Kamal – “One party monopoly is bad for any industry”

    Competition is always healthy but our market is too small. Our main problem is our poltically driven gaga cloud cuckoo land defence policy which puts priority on national interests, namely the local industry and the self sufficiency myth, rather than the end user and taxpayer, plus our inability to learn from our mistakes.

  37. Greeting, Gents.

    I read in some Brit forum, Hurjet will be developed into VTOL with Malaysia.
    There was somebody bragging to have developed the VTOL concept with a drone, in Malaysia?

    I have been Googling about it, but don’t find anything.

    As a retired Naval Pilot, if that was true, it would boost the military value of Hurjet LCA by 10 fold. – the next gen of Harrier Jump Jet?

  38. I think Hurjet can be a great opportunity for Malaysia to get into development of an aircraft in its class as early as possible. Being the most modern design, Hurjet will also be the most advanced one on avionics etc.

    I do not think it is a issue that the plane is in development. Turks are very fast and reliable in development. Do not be surprised that Hurjet is delivered no later than the Korean or Italian counterparts. I do not think anyone would consider Indian offer seriously.

    Another aspect is; there is huge gap in trade between Malaysia and Turkey in trade. Malaysia exports to Turkey something like 4-5 times more than Turks do to Malaysia. This may be an opportunity to help offset some of it, otherwise the current situation in trade imparity will be difficut to sustain and will hurt Malaysian exports to Turkey. Turkish officials will have hard time explain the imparity to their people in the medium to long term.

    Having said this, the Spanish-built A-400Ms are great in their class!

  39. Alphonso – ”I think Hurjet can be a great opportunity for Malaysia to get into development of an aircraft in its class as early as possible. Being the most modern design, Hurjet will also be the most advanced one on avionics etc.”

    It’s a great opportunity for Malaysia to be stuck in a resource consuming but politically expedient exercise which leads to no tangible long term benefits? Not only do we not have the economics of scale to justify getting involve; we have zero to offer and the statement that the Hurjet ”will also be the most advanced one on avionics etc” is a presumptuous assumption…

    Priority should be on getting the RMAF the LCAs/LIFTs it needs as soon as possible; one which suits its requirements and one already widely operated; not something which hasn’t even completed development.

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