SHAH ALAM: Hogging the headlines. A few years back we were informed that the RMAF was looking to purchase Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) as part of its recapitalization programme at a conference overseas. Earlier this year we were informed that the LCA programme has been approved by the government though funding was expected only in RMK12 starting in 2021.
At the Berlin International Fighter Conference 2019 on Thursday, the RMAF representative – as a rule the speakers are not identified – gave a speech on the LCA programme. Jane’s journalist Gareth Jennings posted this on his Twitter account.
His post stated that RMAF wanted 36 LCA plus 26 options. Apart from the numbers, what is interesting is that the presentation revealed that the Saab Gripen is being considered for the LCA programme. It replaced the Boeing T-X which was listed among the eight LCAs in the parliamentary reply which I reported here. Saab had said LIMA 19 that it had responded to the RFI for the LCA. Personally, I would just buy 62 Gripens – the 54 Es and 8 Fs for LIFT or FLIT – and be done with it.
Anyhow, I am told that the numbers of LCA to be funded by the government is indeed 36 – to be bought under three batches, 12 likely the LCA and six FLIT or LIFT in RMK12 with another 18 in RMK13. I believed the RMAF would prefer the same aircraft to be bought for the LCA and FLIT but with the decision to buy them in batches, things might change, of course.
As whether or not we are going to exercise the option to buy another 26 LCA, please check back in 2030, as I am told that is the current plan, buying 36 LCA in the next decade. And for those worried that we might end up buying a 4th generation MRCA, rest assured that I was told that the next multi-role fighter for RMAF will indeed be a fifth or sixth generation fighter. It is likely I will be retired or had passed on, by then, however.
The recapitalisation plan is of course guided by RMAF’s very own CAP 55.
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