More Time To Lobby…

AVIC/PAC JF-17. YouTube

SHAH ALAM: More time to lobby. IT appears that the FLIT/LCA deal is not going to be decided next month. This is based on the written answer to a question posed by the Hang Tuah Jaya MP in Parliament today . Note the written answer is not same as the one given during the open Parliamentary session. The MP asked for an update on the international open tender for the procurement of fighter jets for the RMAF.

RMAF chief Gen Asghar Khan Goriman Khan in the cockpit of a Leonardo M346 displayed at 2022 Farnborough Airshow. With him is the King. Istana Negara

Senior Defence Minister DS Hishammuddin in his reply stated:

Mengenai status terkini Tender Terbuka Antarabangsa bag perolehan pesawat tempur Fighter Lead In Trainer – Light Combat Aircraft
(FLIT-LCA), tender ini telah diiklankan pada 22 Jun 2021 dan telah ditutup pada 6 Oktober 2021. Pada masa ini, Kementerian Pertahanan telah melengkapkan semua peringkat penilaian tender The Supply, Delivery And Commissioning Of Eighteen Units Of Fighter Lead In Trainer – Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT-LCA) And Associated Equipment To The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) And The Government Of Malaysia.
Lembaga Perolehan Kementerian Pertahanan pada 17 Mac 2022 juga telah memutuskan petender yang disenarai pendek. Sehubungan dengan itu, surat permohonan untuk mengadakan pemeriksaan fizikal dan rundingan harga dengan petender yang disenarai pendek telah dikemukakan kepada Kementerian Kewangan Malaysia pada 15 April 2022 untuk kelulusan. Peringkat yang seterusnya adalah pemeriksaan fizikal kepada petender yang telah disenarai pendek untuk proses rundingan harga sebelum dimuktamadkan oleh Kementerian Kewangan bag pemilihan pembida yang berjaya.
Secara kesimpulannya, Kementerian Pertahanan dan ATM akan memberikan komitmen sepenuhnya untuk memastikan projek-projek semasa dan yang akan datang berada pada landasan yang tepat agar
masalah-masalah berkaitan perolehan tidak berulang.

HAL Tejas MK 1 LCA. Indian Air Force

Malaysian Defence had reported previously that the physical inspection of the winning bidder is to be done this month and the contract to be signed next month. But the second last (bold) paragraph seemed to indicate that the contract signing remained the purview of the Finance Ministry. Therefore the contract signing may not happened next month.
PM Ismail Sabri checking out the Hurjet first prototype during his official visit to Turkiye in July 2022. PMO

That said it has happened before that a contract signing had went ahead seemingly without further review of the Finance Ministry.
Korean Aerospace Industries FA-50PH. KAI

Anyhow, any delays will allow further lobbying. And will also lead the contract to be put under scrutiny under the government austerity drive.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

29 Comments

  1. The gov is going to continue beating round the bush until one day Sabah ends up in the hands of pinyos

  2. For FLIT/LCA deal, so many has been going on at Mindef. Biweekly presentation, high level discussions with ministers and suppliers, etc. Turkish and Indian jets are in highest consideration this time. Lets say we get Tejas (currently the no. 1 favorite according to few top level staffs I know at mindef), is this really a wise decision?

  3. Kecewa sungguh laa.. politician punya perangai kesian dekat end user.. ancaman dah nampak tapi dok tangguh2.. alasan bajet n so on.. time ekonomi kukuh dan ok, dok berbasa basi.. tengah down macam sekarang even ancaman tu dah nampak akan datang dari mana.. sori Tuan Marhalim, saya tak pandai nak tulis dalam bahasa inggeris tapi saya yakin yang sebahagian besar pembaca adalah boleh berbahasa Melayu… kecewa,, kecewa..

  4. One thing about getting a popular product, you get more upgrades paid for by somebody else. Since we also use our asset for such a long time, we get longer support due to longer end of life for the product.

    Buying a new to the world product like Tejas is such a high risk. It might suffer the same fate as the MIG29s

  5. Like I said before, unfortunately Malaysia is a failing state that is not even capable of making a rather straightforward decision. Malaysia will be like Sri Lanka in 20 years if all this incessant bickering and child like behaviour by politicians continue.

  6. Kamal – “is this really a wise decision”

    Let me explain the reality to you : a lot of What we do isn’t “wise”; driven by political imperatives.

    Until Tejas is actually ordered I won’t say it’s a done deal. Whether it’s Tejas or anything else we need numbers; the platform has to have some level of commonality; it has to have growth potential; it has to be integrated with the needed ordnance and sensors and it has to be operated at a systems centric level.

    Tom Tom – “that is not even capable of making a rather straightforward decision”

    Incorrect.. It is “capable of making a rather straightforward decision” but whether it’s the right decision is the question.

    James – “The gov is going to continue beating round the bush until one day Sabah ends up in the hands of pinyos”

    It’s “pinoys” and in case you haven’t noticed a claim and the actual ability to physically take something is profoundly different. Not only that but you may or not be aware but the Philippines has other pressing matters at hand. Rhetoric driven by politics and actual intent can differ somewhat.

  7. @James
    If between losing our poorest state that constantly faces external threats vs losing a USD $17Bil case thanks to a certain someone AG, I guess might as well just give it.

    @Kamal
    It is a political decision, one that Im guessing includes tradeoff for palm oil now that prices had suddenly crashed plus purchasing in RM denominative perhaps. It’ll probably boil down to get either these or not buying at all, so if TUDM wants to play hardball they could do a TDM to spurn the buy and not have anything until they get what they wanted. Whether they can still operate effectively or not is another story.

    @Hasnan
    Ironically Mig29 is far more popular than any of these candidates and some users have far longer track record whom still using them compared to us.. So global popularity is not indicative that we will share in its good longevity. It all comes down to money & commitment, neither of these even an M4 rifle will breakdown and unreliable usage.

    @TomTom
    Your idea of a failing state is quite different from an economist POV but this is not an economic forum so I digress. You can read on Economist Intelligence Unit reportage.

    @Azlan
    There is no ‘right’ decision per se but the right decision is having enough money to fix all the screwups bound to happen just to make it work and keep it running.

  8. Incorrect. The “right” decision based on requirements, affordability, commonality and practicality. That’s whAt I meant.

  9. Hasnan – “It might suffer the same fate as the MIG29s”

    The only reason we retired the Fulcrums early is because we did not want to overhaul the RD-33s. From the onset the low MBTF/TBO of the engines, gearbox, etc, was a problem for us – soaking up scarce resources. With others it was less of a problem because they were willing to meet the penalties or in some cases could or would not get Western platforms. They wanted to keep their Fulcrums flying; unlike us.

    An initial problem was that we bought it at a time when the Russian industry was in a chaotic disorganised state. We were used to dealing in a more transparent and reliable fashion with Western companies and we did not deal directly with the OEM but the Russian state arms export agency via the local rep with assistance from the Defence Attache. At times we’d sent a fax to Russia but an answer would take days because of language and bureaucratic issues – even the Indians which had decades of experience with the Russians encountered issues. During that period I did some minor brief work for the Russian Attache; the Russians were eager for business with us but their way of doing things was very different.

  10. It might not be a popular product but the Tejas is a big ticket item for the Indian defence industry. I don’t think they will want it to be a big embarrassment to the country. That said I don’t think it really meets the requirements of the air force

  11. Tejas mk1a is a great product . It has the same engine as South Korean T50 , once it gets uttam radar ,meteor missiles can be integrated on it apart from russian ,indian & other European armaments. India is betting big on this fighter( 120 in total have been ordered by indian air force ) , in 2026,a new bigger ,more powerful
    Tejas mk2 will enter production,which is to be followed by India’s own stealth fighter AMCA so the long term prospects of indian fighters is great.
    Only thing in favour of Korean fighter is that it has been around for more time . Tejas too has to its credit not a single crash till date from the day it started taking flight.

  12. Once again its going yo be a political decision rather than a users tequirement. What the RMAF chooses is never taken into consideration by civil servants n politicians

  13. I’m guessing any decision on this will probably be made after the next GE. Rationally, the KAI Fa-50 seems to be the best option we have. I think the Tejas will be problematic for us later on. Their government at the moment is giving out all sort of anti-muslim sentiment. Will they use it as a leverage in the future if any disagreement arise with us though. They sure did with the palm oil fiasco.

  14. Priyal – “Tejas mk1a is a great product”

    It’s a sound platform but to date only has a single user [why should the RMAF be the first export user?] and various things in it will have to be replaced if it’s selected for the RMAF. When viewed in totality and objectively the F/A-50 [a more mature platform with a wider user base] is a far more ideal cost effective long term solution. I’m not into platform comparisons as we live in the age where it’s the systems and not the platform itself which makes the difference but on a platform level I hope we end up with the F/A-50.

  15. “contract signing remained the purview of the Finance Ministry”
    Indeed it is interesting to note that Mindef is involved, its Procurement Dept is involved, Finance Ministry is involved, but TUDM itself is NOT involved in the decisionmaking.

    “contract signing without the Finance Ministry”
    Not surprising as PM Najib was the PM and ALSO the FinMin back then, and the procurement process pre-PH was opaque with direct nego the norm then. Things of course have changed since with such open tenders the way forward.

    “contract to be put under scrutiny”
    If it can be justified as political expedient, it will go thru.

  16. “based on requirements, affordability, commonality and practicality”
    Even with all those met, and the user gets what they wanted, anything can be rendered useless without commitment on taking care and servicing them. The worst weapon with good service could still outperform the best weapon that lacks service. It is about commitment & money.

    “why should the RMAF be the first export user?”
    It is riskier but not to say it is all bad. Really depends on the reputation of that OEM make. ie We were first export customer of A400M and so far it has been a dependable workhorse.

    “platform with a wider user base”
    As I pointed out with Mig29, global popularity is not indicative we will share its good fortunes elsewhere. The Skyhawks for example.

  17. “It is about commitment & money”

    It about abouts having the will to adequately fund something over a period but in this case I was talking about the jet issues that go into determining the choice we make when selecting a platform which comes closest to meeting our needs

    “We were first export customer of A400M”

    We were the “first” customer outside of the circle of countries involved in the .programme .. A whole list of countries had already ordered it. With Tejas we will might be the “first” customer apart from India.

    “As I pointed out with Mig29, global popularity is not indicative we will share its good fortunes elsewhere”

    Well notwithstanding what you “pointed out” the issue with the Fulcrums from our perspective was that it was incompatible with our operating philosophies; problems dealing with the Russians and problems inherent with t be actual platform. As for a wide user base it made no difference as the many Fulcrum users basically did their one thing. With the F/A-50 a wider user base means that that there are more parts stored by KAI or parts which are in production instead of being made to order. . Like what Saab has done with the so called “Gripen Club” and BAE slide with the Hawk “Working Group”;KAI is/was looking at something similar to enable the various users to share input. No I’m not suggesting that being the first export customer is not [neither is “glibal popularity” as you put it] is indicative of or guarantees anything but the fact does remain operating a platform which has a wider user base has obvious payoffs.

    “The Skyhawks for example”

    A Board Of Inquiry recommended we change the engine, amongst other things but we decided not to as we had already started looking at a new platform. Like with the Fulcrums; the RMAF and pen pushers both decided that spending any more cash of the Skyhawk and Fulcrum wasn’t a sound long term ROI.

  18. @Azlan ,i agree that systems that a platform carries matters more in today’s scenario of BVR warfare . Just to inform you,Malaysia will be getting UTTAM Aesa radar & therefore meteor BVR missiles with it .these are the best BVR missiles in the world . No one even comes closer to this . Also, Malaysia will have the choice of tejas mk1a carrying weapons of indian , Europeanor Russian origin .

  19. I’m more interested in the numbers, not the plane. I think everyone agrees that while the LCA program started as a LIFT\LCA (i.e. Hawk replacement), it morphed into a Hawk\Mig-29 replacement. If only 6 to 8 is bought, which version will be prioritised? LIFT or LCA\MRCA? If all 6 or 8 are LIFT versions, it will truly be a bizarre purchase, since the Aeramacchi MB-339 didn’t make the shortlist and its the RMAF’s previous LIFT plane.

  20. Kel – “I’m more interested in the numbers, not the plane”

    I’m interested in the systems: whether the RMAF can operate it at a systems instead of a platform centric level and whether in addition to its combat capabilities whether it will be an ideal LIFT. As for numbers the RMAF unfortunately will just have to do what it’s long been forced to due to the politicians : juggle.

    Kel – ” it morphed into a Hawk\Mig-29 replacement”

    Did it really now? As far as I aware from Day One the LCA/LIFT requirement was supposed to enable a LIFT capability as well as to replace the Hawk 200 by having an all weather BVR and anti maritime strike role [as stated by the RMAF]. This is the first I’m hearing about it having “morphed” into something else; just like the claim made by someone else that the specs of the LMS Batch 2s have evolved to mitigate the delays with the LCS..

    Kel – “Aeramacchi MB-339 didn’t make the shortlist and its the RMAF’s previous LIFT plane”

    The MBB-3389CM was is an “intermediate” trainer not a “LIFT” per see which is why it was not even a contender [not offered or even considered] and why various air arms are ordering various other designs to meet their LIFT requirements. The RMAF has never had a LIFT platform per see; what it has had were basic trainers like the Bulldog, Provost and PC-7; intermediate/advance trainers like the MBB339 and type specific ones like the TA-4PTM, Hawk 100 and MiG-29UB.

  21. My mistake not the MFF339, the M-346. For the LCA, based on what happened during the MRCA program up to its cancellation in 2016/2017 (before the CAP55), and the shift towards a lighter Combat Aircraft as an indication of attempting to incorporate some of the MRCA specs into the more likely to be funded light combat aircraft requirement. The way I rad the pre-CAP55 days was MRCA to replace Mig-29, a Light Combat Aircraft to replace the Hawks, in which case the T-50 and TA-50 would suffice (no need for FA-50). I could be wrong, maybe the Multi-role requirement has been in place even during the LCA requirements when the MRCA program was still alive, and pre-CAP55 days. And the LMS Batch 2 claim, for one I don’t see the LMS Batch 2 as having modular payloads and being a low cost, surface combatant. Also batch 2 moved from 700 tonnes in Batch 1 to more than 1500 in Batch 2. Of course the final order could very well be back to the under 1000 tonne of Batch 1. It feels more like a NGPV under the CAP15to5. Lastly, LCA numbers is important because of the rumours that only 6 to 8 Light Combat Aircraft is to be acquired. If its true, is if 8 LIFTS? Or 4 LIFTS and 4 LCA? or 2 LIFTS and 6 LCA? If its 8, is the government then planning to defer deliveries until 2026 – 8 planes from 2026, meaning no provision to get the remainder 11 (or 29 if counting Batch 2)? Or is it all 18 but deferred deliveries – assuming the Tejas is chosen, to wait for Mk1A for the LCA component. So initial batch are LIFT variants. If small numbers, does it mean the intention is to keep flying the Hawks?

  22. Kel -“as an indication of attempting to incorporate some of the MRCA specs”

    The intention was always to replace the Hawk with a patform which could perform a number of roles. The “MRCA” designation implies not only a platform which has a number of roles but one that can switch roles easily.

    Kel – “pre-CAP55 days was MRCA to replace Mig-29”

    For which Gripen was the political favourite at one time.

    Kel – “Lastly, LCA numbers is important because of the rumours that only”

    It is important but that’s not a point of contention here is it? Ultimately the RMAF [like its sister services] will have to.make do with what it has.

    Kel – “does it mean the intention is to keep flying the Hawks”

    Obviously… It’s not that the RMAF basis choice – our of sheer necessity.

    Kel -“I don’t see the LMS Batch 2 as having modular payloads and being a low cost, surface combatant. Also batch 2 moved from 700 tonnes in Batch 1 to more than 1500 in Batch 2”

    The intention is still to fit it to have a modular payload and the reason the displacement has gone up has to do with operational reasons.

  23. @kel
    The more likely numbers we’ll get is 6 units (if we get at all) as said by TUDM Chief.
    https://www.malaysiandefence.com/fa-50-tejas-and-jf-17-for-flit-lca/

    It appears the priority will be on LCA function then LIFT so I guess it might be a mix 3LCA/3LIFT or 4LCA/2LIFT split or if indeed the Hawks are still pulling duty as trainer, then the entire initial 6units will be for LCA duty.

    Logistics will be a nightmare as we’ll have to induct yet another plane platform in the mix while supposedly retiring the Hawks but now cannot be done.

    Regardless, we are still gonna lack in either way with just 6units (if indeed we get at all) but that is what TUDM will have to work with. This gives even more impetus for us to get those Kuwaiti Hornets b4 they are gone. Dahlah xde duit, tapi masih angkuh nak beli brand new konon, in the end we get nothing.

  24. 6 in stages beginning 2025. My goodness that’s slow and disappointing. Hopefully if its the Tejas it is the Mk1A – only the Mk1A has maritime strike and I recall it won’t enter serial production until 2023, become operational until 2024. If its the KA-50, not sure if its the Block 20 since there is no timeline for Block 20 upgrades to complete – only the Block 20 has maritime strike. On the flip side, if its Tejas and India solves the SU-30 readiness issue, then technically RMAF is getting more than 6 “new” jets (6 Tejas + “X” SU-30). Silver lining or desperation?

  25. loong,

    Cut the dramatics, this isn’t a fanboy forum.

    Most of us prefer the F/A-50 because it has clear advantageous and poses less risks but Tejas isn’t a bad platform. HAL has devoted a lot of time, energy and effort in producing and maturing it. If it’s selected it doesn’t mean it’s “SUICIDE” as you put it. What makes the difference is how we employ it [at a platform or systems centric level]; plus a host of other factors.

  26. On the flip side, the longer we delay LCA procurement, the later we will get MRCA so by waiting longer, more 5th/6th gen planes would have been inservice, would be cheaper to buy than for those initial buyers, and we can evaluate which system is better. And for that to happen, we need those Kuwaiti Hornets to fill the gaps.

  27. Well not really if getting a mere 6 LCA already this hard imagine our odds of getting MRCA before or post 2035..I’d say pretty close to 0 percent..Heck the govt cant even get that used hornet for our AF which if anything only require small amout of fund and determination to get them..Dont even get me started on that MPA/UAV tender and Nuris replacement

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