Game On, FLIT-LCA Tender Out

ROKAF Black Eagles T-50s with their display at Lima 2017. Malaysian Defence

SHAH ALAM: Game on FLIT-LCA tender out. The Defence Ministry today published the request for bids for the supply and delivery of 18 Fighter-Lead In Trainer and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for RMAF. The international tender closes on September 22.

As usual not much details were made public apart from the tender notice on the Defence Ministry website.

ROKAF Black Eagles in formation at LIMA 2017

The notice:


Leonardo M346FA. Leonardo

As there is a typo on the notice (FLIR-LCA) it might be updated later to be fix.
Tejas LCA MK 1. Wikipedia Commons

Anyhow we know that the FLIT/LCA is to replace the currently grounded Aermacchi MB-339CM jet trainers and the in-service BAe System Hawk light jets – twin seat Mk108 and twin-seater Mk-208.
Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten performing a display at LIMA 2019. Zaq Sayuti.

Malaysian Defence has on various occasions had reported on the FLIT/LCA saga already so I think I wont spend to much time on this. However for those wanting to read them please go here here and here
AVIC/PAC JF-17. YouTube

As for the favourite candidate as I had written previously the one to beat is still the Korean Aerospace KAI T-50/F-50 combo.

Anyhow, the ministry today also issued a RFB for the supply of one Aviation Forward Repair Team (AFRT) vehicle under the Army Mobility Phase III programme. Based on the specifications published it appears that they are looking for a 4X4 three-tonne truck. The truck will be used to support helicopters of the Army Air Wing out in the field.
MD530 which was supposed to be delivered for the Malaysian Army on display at the HAI Heli-Expo in Las Vegas in 2018. The helicopters are supposed to be delivered this August.

There is a requirement for a suitable Aviation Forward Repair Team(AFRT) vehicle to carry out not least four (4) Aircraft Technicians, thenecessary tools and equipment for effective field deployment to carryout repairs in-situ up to first line servicing. The vehicle shall be able to provide support maintenance, inspections and crane operations in the field.

— Malaysian Defence

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  1. This will be the first phase, right? 2nd phase will be another 18 air frames, to fulfill 3 squadrons as plan CAP55. A dream for 3rd phase of another 16 air frames. Make up staggering number of: 1st squadron of FA-50. 18 air frames. 2nd squadron of FA50. 18 air frames. 3rd squadron of T50. 16 air frames. Max requirement of RMAF wish. Get this done and let\’s focus solely on this and complete it before 2030 before we proceed to AWACS or even MRCA 5th Gen. AWACS will be on 2030-2035. MRCA 5th Gen will be on 2035-2040. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Azlan: What is your pick so far (as a standalone platform)? Korean, Chinese or Indian?

  3. The way the tender termed it “FIGHTER LEAD IN TRAINER-LIGHT COMBAT AIRCRAFT (FLIR-LCA)”, does it mean the said planes must have a dual role purpose, rather than, say, a dedicated T-50 fleet for FLIT and F-50 fleet for LCA?

    As for TDM, I ought to think this new requirement should have be part of the 3 tonner truck tender recently.

  4. Kamal,

    , Overall, Korean. If however the requirement was for a LIFT only; Italian. Going for a single type is great from a commonality/support perspective but leads to various issues.

    Q – “This will be the first phase, right”

    Yes and we’re unfortunately going to have to wait for several more years for the follow on 18. In the meantime the RMAF will have to juggle its resources; meeting its LCA and LIFT needs with just 18 airframes.

    Bear in mind that the decision to focus on LCAs/LIFTs first is driven by financial considerations. In the unlikely event we are suddenly faced with a state threat; the LCAs might not be useful and we’ll regret not investing in MRCAs. Like everything in life it’s a gamble or compromise. Hoping the decisions we make are sound.

  5. FA-50 is the best choice for me.
    M346FA is good too.

    Why can’t US resurrect the F20 Tigershark and market it as low cost solution for the third world countries? Bruhh…

  6. A dedicated fleet of FLIT and LCA squadrons. The other 3-tonner is a general services cargo truck this one is even equipped with a crane, so it need to be tender out separately

  7. With new MRCA acquisition wouldn’t take place within next decade, I really hope that we would be lucky enough to obtain the Kuwaiti’s used Hornets as per TUDM stop gap measure/plan.

  8. I have misgivings about that FLIT-LCA requirement. If that’s what we’re looking for, it’s a ‘forced compromise’ of a Lead-In’ and LCA fighter. Neither here nor there. On a personal note, I’d rather have the Leonardo M346FA like what Nigeria AF has done. It has no Israeli content to be replaced (removed) with EU/SA/Brazilian parts. Unlike the FA50 or HAL Tejas.
    OTOH, the FA50 provides the best option with quite a bit of development that can be extended for years to come. And it has been exhaustively touched before too, retrofitting electronic systems onboard to rid the ‘selected’ aircraft of say, Israeli radar bits incur costs, that may add to the price of the said aircraft. That’s how we ended up with the SU30 MKM.

    No lah we didn’t end up with the Flankers due to the equipment infact we had to modify them to get rid of the Israeli equipment. It was Tun M who decided to give the deal to Russia to give a finger to the US which was embarking on GWOT and that point of time was going invade Iraq. He had to keep quiet when Bush says either you join us or not, after 9/11. He had to toned down his rethoric because of GWOT. Buying the Flankers was the only way for him to do otherwise. It also helped when Russia cut the price of the planes to US$900 million which was almost some US$500 million cheaper than the same number of Super Hornets. That said the full amount of the Flankers buy inclusive of the French equipment and Russian ordnance have never been revealed. I suspect it could be the same as the price of the SH package

  9. welcoming news indeed. i just hope a new batch of MRCA wont be a hopefull wish after this purchase.

  10. The M346/346FA and the KAI T/TA/FA-50 should be the main contenders.. Both are formidable choices. Hopefully the KAI T-50 family due to its supersonic capability and GE-F404 engine which I believe is common to our F-18D’s. However the ELTA radar it is designed with may be an issue politically. (I believe Indonesia bought them with the Elta though?). Hopefully KAI can also offer the APG67 as alternative without further cost escalation.
    In addition, the KAI-50 family seems to have been qualified on wider range of armaments.
    Keeping fingers crossed that these 2 will be front runners rather than Indian and Chinese options.

  11. I heard Mindef and RMAF tried to obtains ex-kuwaiti F/A-18? it’s right?

    Since 2018 really but nothing is confirmed yet. What is confirmed is that Kuwaiti is delaying the deliveries of the Super Hornets and Typhoons so whether or not they can let go off the Hornets by 2025 is a big question mark. So even if Kuwait decide to sell them to us, and even if our government wants them, if the Hornets are only available by 2026 or 2027 it will be problematic for RMAF. The best time is for them to release them now or next year. After 2025 it will be problematic

  12. Taib,

    The Nigeria M346FA buy is fake news. Nigeria is getting the JF-17 so they dont need the M346FA.


    900 mil price of MKM is inclusive of the french avionics. Domestic/close ally (like kazakhstan) price of the SU-30SM with full russian parts is just 35 million. It could have been higher if more french stuff planned for it was taken up, like the MICA.


    The radar would be okay if it is bulit/assembled in Korea. We already use the JHMCS and TALD on our Hornets, both are of Israeli tech. With the recent chinese airborne invasion practice run on malaysia, we can safely rule out the JF-17 for the LCA.

  13. Khai
    The Redhawks are facing wing problems at high angle of attack flights. Boeing says problem resolved with siftware by limiting flight envelope. But production has been delayed by USAF due to this issue

  14. So if the Hawks have to remain in service because too few LCAs are bought, it does nothing for the aim of saving money and headache from having fewer types in service.

    RMAF thinks it will get all of the FLIT LCA it wants so it can retire them in 2025-2027 period

  15. Taib – “Neither here nor there”

    Why? A decision was made to adopt a single airframe for both roles. The problem is that a platform which is ideal as a LIFT might be less ideal as a LCA and vice versa. This like everything else; it boils down to the trade offs one is willing to make.

    On the MKM’s we also had to get stuff which was simply not available from the Russians : a targeting pod, MAWS, etc.

    Just to add further to Marhalim’s comments on 11th September 2001; despite Mahathir’s rhetoric we cooperated fully. The number of U.S. flights allowed to cross our airspace increased and we handed over captured people; as well as shared intel.


    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. A MRCA but is years away ….

    We’re not even buying the LCA/LIFT in the numbers we need – a mere 18 as LIFTs and to partly replace the Hawks. The other 18 are years away and might not even come on time. Another case of our long standing “a bit of everything but not enough of anything”

  16. Yes, M346 and the FA-50 will be the front runner and follow by YAK-130 or Gripen if they come to participate. APG67 radar consider outdated, if we need keep these jets for 25-30 years, we need something new. If Gripen C/D come to contest, it will be the heaviest LCA and i think it will be good for country security but not so good for pilot training.

  17. @NAT
    Commonality is a simplistic & overused term, There is at least a 20 year development gap in between our Hornet engines and those KAIs. Any commonality are only limited to whatever mechanical parts not changed since and I doubt their engines are easily interchangeable between these two.

    Supersonic is not a panache as the KAIs are barely there (Mach 1.5) and potential supersonic adversary would have far higher than that, heck our Migs could go Mach 2.3!

  18. Whatever….it will all get canceled again when there is a new General Election after the Pandemic. It’s just a con😬.

    It won’t be cancelled but probably delayed. It is not we are buying things which are considered a luxury

  19. It’s a great mystery to me why Gripen is even part of the narrative. It’s neither a LCA or a LIFT ….

    The LIFT/LCA should be something that comes close to meeting operational requirements (after the needed trade odds have been made); has growth potential; requires minimal integration/certification, something we can afford to run; has some level of commonality with what we already operate and something we can equip to operate at a 0systems” rather than a “platform” level (that is far more important than technical specs like speed, thrust to weight ratio, turning radius, etc).

  20. joe,

    F404 of Hornet and Golden Eagle might not be interchangeable, but most of its maintenance, consumable and spare parts are. The same technicians could take care of both engines with just minimal of differentiation trainings.

    Also about speed, so you say Mach 1.5 is barely there? Also from your previous comments you say that M346 is better?

    Mach 1.0 is 1234.8 Kph. Mach 1.5 is 1852.2 kph

    Boeing 777 cruise speed is 892 kph

    Airbus A320 NEO cruise speed is 833 kph

    M346 maximum speed is 1090 kph (not even Mach 1)

  21. At least we are taking action to modernize our arsenal.

    We might not need to buy new LCA. Why not increase the number of what we have: F/A18E/F, SU-30MK. In longer term, we can streamline the maintenance operations for sure.

  22. Gonggok – “ With the recent chinese airborne invasion practice run”

    It wasn’t a “practice invasion run”. It was clearly done with political intent and the use of transports and not fighters or long range bombers is telling. Also, even before that incident there was little chance of JF17 being selected. The RMAF would have fought tooth and nail and the present government (unlike a previous one) is not inclined to buy Chinese.

    As for the aerial incident; it was widely reported; the first time (in recent memory) the RMAF has publicised such and incident: with many getting excited but it wasn’t the first case of foreign military aircraft coming close to entering our airspace. Which begs the question of how many times a similar thing happened.

  23. @gonggok
    If our boys can service Western as well Russian engines, there is no problem for them to learn how to maintain the M346s lah.

    Which is why my point that M346 not having supersonic isn’t a handicap as supersonic isn’t a panache when assets are placed strategically, able to “see” better with land radars & AWACS, and having effective interdiction playbook.

    The M346 is designed with 5th gen in mind, electronics & such, and more biased to EU & US weaponry as compared to KAIs more limited to Korean & US load out. We don’t have to spend lotsa money for integration if we want access to the larger pool of ordnances from EU & USA.

  24. Tom Tom – there is a new General Election after”

    So you know for certain when the pandemic will be over and whether the election will take place before a contact is finalised?

    Tom Tom – “ lIt’s just a con”

    For what end and who benefits?

  25. @TomTom
    It would take a miracle for tender to be selected and contract signed so soon after it just got released. Where’s the red tape bureaucracy and contemplation fun in that?

    But anyway, its more likely a new management would upturn the table and perhaps redo the tender process or maybe going back to direct nego stylo again. That will delay few more years and before signing it then the *next one* that replaces it will upturn everything and start over again.

  26. Mr M..any further update regarding the tenders for both MPA and UAS that issued last year? Any early heads up?

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