MRCA Programme, Its Official…

PETALING JAYA: BAE Systems on Tuesday hold a presentation for the media on the Eurofighter Typhoon. As expected not much was revealed about the exact specifications of the proposed RMAF Typhoon but according to its Typhoon director Malaysia Ian Malin, the aircraft for RMAF will have the same specifications as for RAF planes.

The Typhoon for RMAF will be primarily single seaters as the developers insisted that it had been designed from the scratch to be a world beater.

The Eurofighter consortium, according to Ian will continue to develop the Typhoon to ensure its relevance well into the future. Ian is the Head of Export for Typhoon for BAE Systems operating out of Warton in the UK but he will be here for 3 weeks every month to manage the programme for Malaysia.

More on this later, as more information become available. BTW, the Rafales will be definitely be here for LIMA although BAE Systems has yet to confirm the same for Typhoon. They are working hard on it so I guess you will be able to see them in action over Langkawi this December.

Now we will wait for the response from then folks from Seattle and St Louis.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2191 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. By defining the proposed RMAF Typhoons as a single-seater, I think Eurofighter is constraining its chances. The RMAF will continue its two-seat, two-engined preference: the Rafale and Super Hornet will thus have an inherent edge.

    BTW, though, the two-seat Typhoon is not as attractive as the Rafale and SH two-seaters…

    I don’t think they want to develop a full-fledged two seater as the four nation never specified such a plane. To develop one now for RMAF is uneconomical.

  2. Marhalim,
    My point exactly. Whereas the Rafale B and “F” SH have readily developed two-seat, fully missionised versions as witnessed the AdlA for the former and RAAF for the latter.

  3. Although the game for MRCA is getting hotter nowadays, I still believe that the Super Hornet will most likely be the air force favourite contender. Yes, we all know that the RMAF always prefer two-seaters fighter and the typhoon doesn’t seem can fulfill this requirement as Marhalim already said, it is uneconomical for them.

  4. GhostriderWan,

    The RMAF already has 26 twin seaters – 8 Hornets and 18 Flankers – I seriously doubt if it can scrape together enough crews to operate another twin seater.

    At a reported USD 200 milliion each, just how many can we afford? If we do get the Typhoon, which will replace the Fulcrum and Tigers, we will still have to support another type, in addition to the Flankers, Hornets and Hawks. The beauty of the Super Hornet is that whatever training and support infrastructure we already have in place for the D’s can be used and the 30% of the parts are common. And the million dollar or sterling question is what is the operating cost of the Typhoon for every hour flown compared to the Super Hornet? Another plus point is that we train much more regularly with the RAAF and the USN, rather than the RAF, so interoperability is another plus-point.

  5. Maybe BAE@Brits will win this time,for the past few years GOM have no major purchases from Brits (Ruskies, Frenchies, AttaTurks and Yank have their shares). So politically speaking, now it is “time we pay our dues to the Brits”. It fit nicely into the concept of satisfying major world arms producers. How about ease of support, training,interoperability issues? Nah, TUDM had been into that kind of issues before, so what?Hehe later we will see a brand new defense company coming up to serve the Typhoon (GE13 is near what?) and funds going elsewhere ala Kedah Incident.

    Aah its samo, samo…

  6. To be fair for gov and RMAF… takes 12 T3 because of offset programme and 8 Super Hornet because of political relations… and it’s will taken RM 10 billion… hehehe…

  7. It does not matter which plane is chosen as long as the politicians don’t meddle into the pool to muddy the water.
    Just give the boys their choice after having made sure that the planes is the best that our limited resources can buy, the most reliable-flying instead of sitting in the shelter waiting for repairs/maintenance and can do every job given well.

    Yes RMAF get cracking!

  8. Lets just say that most of RMAF top brass are not impressed with Russian stuff. Also the American is taking this deal more seriously than usual. Believed it or not, except for the occasional shot on our own foot; we are in their good book nowadays (translation – we may get a favorable FMS deal and as for the weapon/electronic fit, just ask and we’ll see).

  9. Ym Lee,

    And we can hope that one day pigs will fly.
    The Super Hornet being the RMAF’s favourite aside, a deal the size of the MRCA deal will inevitably be very political and will involve a whole host of factors. For the life of me, I just can’t see how many Typhoons we can afford, at USD200 million each. Our joke of a defence minister has publicly said that outstanding requirements might be put on hold [again]to pay for the Typhoon. Looks like the RMN will have to wait another decade for its 2 MPSS’s….

    Some good news for a change….

    The story about OtoMelara getting the MMEA job was announced two months back but they never announced the price. 7 million euros for 18 30mm guns thats RM30 million!

  10. The Bundesmarine paid 10 million Euros for 20 Hitroles [12.7mm version] and 5 training models. Ours is 7 million Euros for the 30mm version, both of which have an IR and laser rangefinder as standard fit.

    Funny enough on the Oto Melara site the Hitrole is under the ‘land’ category.

    We also ordered the Vigy 10 for the MMEa.

    So the MMEA has a new OWS, a new eletro-optical sight, new helicopters and new amphibians – all it needs now are new ships…

    Based on the release, its 12.7mm.

  11. My pet shortlist of MRCA’s for the RMAF has always been Rafale B, F/A-18F, Gripen and, yes, F-16C/D and even MiG-35, in that order. Somehow Typhoon was never on it! But I agree with Azlan: the Super Hornet is our best bet given our solid experience with the F/A-18D and the opportunity to build on that experience with the SH and I do suspect the RMAF have been wanting to fly it in their colours. Given the numbers that have been and are being produced, its unit price is also in its favour, not to mention the support and development it will receive.

  12. GhostriderWan,

    An RFP was issued for 18 F/A-18Cs in 1997 but then the Economic Crisis came along. The original plan in 1993 was only to get the Fulcrums, it was only intense lobbying which led to the 8 D’s being ordered – which turned out to be be a blessing in disguise. I think Typhoon was never on anyone’s list because it was no open secret that the Typhoon has a higher unit cost than the Super Hornet. After all this talk, speculation and media reports about the Typhoon it will be funny if cost considerations forces us to choose the Gripen.

  13. Ironically funny… and we can do a lot worse than the Gripen. If obtained intelligently i.e. in sufficient numbers and with appropriate equipment and weapons for a viable force it will serve the RMAF’s purposes well. If I know Saab/Gripen International they will renew their proposal once they sense we are serious as regards the MRCA and that the heavier fighters are beyond our means.

  14. The positives and negatives of the MMRCAs (and by that I mean the 5-7 advanced multi-role aircraft on the market today) can be debated endlessly. The truth is that all of them are highly capable aircraft. It’s a bit like arguing over which F1 car is better while ignoring the face that they are all fast! For me, the larger question is how many aircraft will the RMAF get? Think about it this way. What is better? 1 squadron of Typhoons or 3 squadrons of Gripens?

  15. I would choose the 3 squadrons of Gripens as its noit just the quality but also quantity.

  16. While they are all capable, not every type will readily fit a given air arm’s operational requirements and its nation’s strategic, geopolitical and socio economic imperatives. Why and how the proposed type or types can best satisfy those requirements and imperatives should be the subject of careful consideration in the procurement process. I am afraid in Malaysia’s case non-imperatives and spurious factors tend to intervene fuelled by dubious interests and misinformation.

  17. FareedLHs, all of them are very capable indeed but which suits our operational and budgetary requirements and has the smallest logistical footprint? Certain types will require additional investments to meet operational costs and will need specific facilities established, unique to its needs. Of the Gripen, Super Hornet and Typhoon, which is more mantainance intensive and requires more hours of mantainance for every hour flown?
    And bear in mind that when a new aircraft is inducted into service, thousands of spares have to be stored and our ground personnel have to be trained.

    As to how many aircraft will or can be bought, apart from the financial considerations, the answer kies in –

    1. How many fast jets pilots can be churned out by FTC3?

    2. What percentage of our yearly intake of new pilots are streamed for fast jests at FTC1?

    3. Are the 2 F-5Fs, 8 MBB-339CMs and 4-5 Hawk 100s sufficient to meet our LIFT needs?

  18. Azlan,

    All of your points are well taken. As noted, I feel that the “larger” question is one of quantity. The RMAF needs aircraft in sufficient number to meet its needs. The last thing that I’d like to see is for the RMAF to get stuck with another MiG-29 and F/A-18 situation. That would definitely go against all common sense, not to mention the negative effects it would have on training, operations, logistics, and the other issues you refer to. Of all the MMRCAs available, I believe (for a variety of sound reasons) that the only real options are either the F/A-18F or the Gripen. The Rafale and Typhoon are too expensive, both their initial and operational costs. The F-16 is nearing the end of its production and is more of a legacy fighter than an MMRCA. The F-35 is definitely beyond reach. The MiG-35 is out for obvious reasons. And so on…

    Lastly, as far training goes, it would make sense to procure the F/A-18F, as it would necessitate the least amount of changes in training from all angles. It might also be possible to train pilots with either the Australians or the US Navy. As for the LIFT needs, I’ve mentioned it before, but what ever happened to purchasing New Zealand’s MB-339s? If that is not an option, then training pilots elsewhere as noted above, would make the most sense at this point in time.

    On the personnel issue it must be noted that only a small number of cadets joined the air force or the atm for that matter. So from the start we already have a small pool of people to choose from…with attrition the number gets smaller…

  19. Marhalim,

    Re: personnel issue

    What is needed is a professional recruitment and retention effort. If the RSAF can find enough pilots, ground crews and other associated personnel, to operate 100+ combat aircraft, what is wrong with the RMAF?! With x5 the population what exactly are the problems?!

    I have some insight into the pilots’ problems, as I happen to know a well-placed officer in the RMAF who works directly with most of the pilots. But, what are your thoughts?

    Singapore got theirs by conscription, they select their top scholars and achievers as top tier pick for non-military duties including grooming as politicians, strategist and other important jobs. High achievers who are not selected as mandarins are then trained as officers, those who fulfil the right criteria (army, air force, navy) will have the right career chosen for them.
    Our top scholars are sent overseas and tend to stay there. Those who may be inclined to become pilots do not do so as there is no compulsion; furthermore you make more money flying to Bali, and of course there are the other perks. That’s the reason we have more PPL without a job nowdays. That’s the reason I advocate conscription (I know it will cost a bomb) so that talents can be identified and guided to the correct path, although I readily admit its not a sure fire solution to the armed forces but I know at least we will get the numbers.

  20. Fareed LHS,

    Apart from the reasons Marhalim mentioned, it all boils down to threat perceptions – Singapore simply takes its defence much, much more seriously than we do and they have valid reasons for doing so, given the size of the island and their vurlnerability.

    I’ve mentioned all the reasons why the SH remains the sound choice – from training, interoperability, to sharing common parts and traning – but it all boils down to the pen pushers at MINDEF and the MOF, and the political leadership. Would be very interesting to find out how the RMAF feels about the Typhoon and whether it changes their position on the SH.

  21. Sorry, an off topic question Marhalim maybe you can shed some light for me..:-)

    IS Tempur Magazine having some sort of disruption/distraction? Their website is suspended and calls to their landlines remained unanswered

    Fuad the editor of Tempur was at the briefing. I guess he is busy with other things…

  22. Okay… let’s consolidate by having the following in the RMAF fighter/LIFT inventory:

    24x Su-30MKM (2 sqn)
    24x F/A-18F and F/A-18D (2 composite sqns with 8x F and 4x D each)
    16x Hawk 208 (1 sqn)
    16x MB-339CM and Hawk 108 (1 LIFT sqn with 12x 339CM and 4x 108)

    Additional acquisition: 6x MKM; 16x F; 4x CM.

    In place by 2014-2016. If we are serious about defence we can find the funds as we have found funds for less imperative things. I simply would not believe we absolutely cannot do this!

  23. Selamat hari raya to all. On the MRCA issue, although the FA18 F seems the logical choice, with estimated price around USD80 mln to USd130 mln a piece and due to host of other factors such as training,logistic and parts commonality with legacy hornet D, we have to keep in view that the GOM may spring a surprise in terms of more SU 30 MKM. Yes some say the jets are useless and a white elephant. Even wikipedia in its comments on the SU30 mkm saying only few are running as spare parts problems and even saying that we are buying j11 parts from china to cover for the shortfall.

    But remenber this, logistic for the matter is already inplace, parts now atleast we can assume China or even india can provide in case the ruskies goes loco plus the unit price minus maintenance contract is quoted between USD40 mln to USd70 mln a piece. If we are to replace 10 F5 and 16 Mig 29 on one on one basis (best case scenario) it will cause us almost USD4 billion in total, while for the SU it will cost us only USD1.9 billion at most but with out maintenance support. Assuming another 50% for maintenance support that would be about USd3 billion, still 25% cheaper and we can get to maintain 52 fighting a/cs. But yes we will trade off the capability of SH when we choose SU30. Question is at the time where GOM practically kering in the kitty, and what our tendency of more deterrent force only, would that trade off be worth it.

  24. kamal,

    India is not in a position yet to provide all the spares for the MKM. For stuff like overhauling the engines and other vital components, it can only be done in Russia.
    Any parts made by China for export will be illegal as it violate the terms of agreement established between the PRC and Russia and no warranty will be provide by Sukhoi for any parts from China. I would also tread very carefully in believing what’s in wikipedia, anyone , as you know, can post whatever they want on it.

    Indeed the story about RMAF using Chinese spare parts came from a Bernama report quoting the PTU himself. One wonders what things are similar enough for RMAF to risk using them. There’s an update on the Flanker servicing issue but I am supposed to get an official confirmation before running the story.

  25. Why are we still intent on buying this desired but not required items?

    IF someone lets us to test drive a ferrari, of course it is nice. But do we need to buy it? Do we have a requirement for it? Isn’t what we already have is good enough? I think that happened when TUDM pilots got to fly the Caracal. Of course it got super gizmos and automatic everything, but come to think about it, isn’t something more basic is good enough to haul ppl and stuff around, along with the occasional SAR mission? Thats why Thai and Indo (and USA in the Afghanistan) made the sensible choice and bought Mi-171 helo’s.

    TUDM already got 18 new MKM’s, which is IMO one of the most potent fighter in SEA other than the F-15 of RSAF. Why do we need to buy something more expensive but similar or lower performance than the MKM? Is the timing right, or IMO should we wait 5-10more years to buy a new fighter when more advanced options become available? If we need extra fighters, is buying additional current aircraft in the inventory (hawk200, F/A-18D, MKM) either 2ndhand or new is good enough? Should the money used to fund other aircraft requirements? ( CN-235/C-130 MPA for south china sea/spratlys, CN-235 AEW, NewZealand MB-339CB, additional PC-7MkII, Cessna 402 replacement, fighter/transport/heli upgrades)

    Its chicken and egg issue. IMO the first priority is to boost the budget so we will have enough money not only to give higher pay to our servicemen but to also to fully “operationalise” all of our current assets. An annual budget of around RM15 to 18 billion should be the main target and any extra of around RM5 billion be utilised for recapitalisation programme. I do not expect much more though due to the tough economic conditions.
    I am afraid however that the 2012 budget will see further reductions to the annual budget due to the economic outlook.

  26. GhostriderWan,

    A more ‘reasonable’ fighter orbat would be:

    18-24 Su-30MKM
    24-36 MMRCA (F/A-18, Gripen or other)

    The MiG-29s should be sold or traded back to Russia for 6 Su-30MKMs, if possible.

    The F/A-18Ds should be sold or traded back to the US as part of any F/A-18F deal, if possible. If Gripen or other is chosen for the MMRCA, then the 8 should remain in service.

    The Hawks (Mk. 208 and Mk. 108) should be put into a ‘reserve’ squadron, until attrition ends their usefulness.

    The RMAF can not afford, in my view, to operate more than 2 types of fighter aircraft. Ideally, even that should be pared down to 1 type, as soon as the Su-30MKMs are gone.

    As for a LIFT orbat:

    8 MB-339CM
    17 MB-339CBs (ex-RNZAF)

    The RMAF should aggressively pursue the procurement of the RNZAF’s MB-339CBs. Barring that, additional MB-339CMs should be bought.

    As noted above, all Hawks should be put into a ‘reserve’ squadron.

  27. Just being a devil advocate here, what if the whole point of the new interest in MRCA is so that we can have something that is on par with China? well when china embark on the j10,j11,su 30 program in the nineties and early 2000, GOM response was to take on the SU30 mkm, so that we can have sort of a moral boost during diplomatic negotiation coz i seriously doubt that we will go punch to punch with China. The issue of Spratlys has been a major headache, coz we want the oil and gas reserve there just as bad as the chinese want it. Petronas with its RM70 billion PAT a year, is valued at least RM1 trillion, selling 30% of Petronas to EPF will wipe out almost all GOM debt but still maintain control of the entity. So survival of our petronas depends also on Spratly.

    What is the game changer now with China? I simply assumes 2 things, the aircraft carrier and j20. The RMN responded to the aircraft carrier with requirement of 6 LCS with proposed ESSM and NSM. To handle the J20, the su 30mkm with its 70s design but with muscle up avionics may not deemed a match to the J20. if my simplistic view is being accepted for the moment, the RMAF would need at least a 90’s design jets so that it can bring back the equilibrium to the table. Using this simplistic logic, this would rule out Super Hornet or F15 eagle or even Gripen. The only choce left are 4 actually, F35, Rafale, Typhoon and F50 (russia). We know that we are already late to get the F35 and the F50 is still in experimental/development stage so the obvious choice are rafale and typhoon. But dont take this seriously. i admit my reasonings are very flawed

    Unless we get up to 100 or more Typhoons or Rafale we will still not be able to match China as they have more fighters (1 for 1 kill). We need to work with a coalition to win a war with China and one of them need to have nuclear weapons to balance the fight.
    So what’s the alternative then? Not to go war of course. And the Spratlys? A joint production of all the countries claiming it.

  28. Mr.Kamal,the SU’s are not of 70’s design but of late 80’s or early 90’s as Su-30 MK series is new plane than the standard 27’s.I think we should wait for a while until the US developed the 4.75 gen SH and for the economy to recover.IMO,the time taken may allow the economy to recover a bit but until then we should just trade the MiG’s with 6 SU’s as that is the most feasible option in the current economic situation.Just my two cents though

  29. kamal,

    Proper investments need to be made to ensure the MAF is adequately equipped and funded to meet any peacetime or otherwise, threats that this country is most likely to face – and being engaged in s shooting war with the PRC is not one of them. The idea is that having better equipment will – 1. deter the PRC from ‘misbehaving’ the way it has with the Philippines and Vietnam 2. maintain parity with our neighbours. I’m more worried about another incident at the Ambalat area and the possibility that another incident might rapidly spiral out of control before the politicans can engage in damage control. The J10 and carrier [which anyhow is intended
    to ensure chinese shipping in the Indian Ocean is not interdicted]hardly changes anything as most people forget or not realise that the whole of SEA is already well within the range of Chinese ballistic missiles.


    All the fighters that are contenders for the MRCA requirement – Gripen, Super Hornet, Typhoon and Rafale – have superior network centric capabilities than the MKMs and are integrated with standoff guided ordnance of the kind that is not available yet with the MKM, so in actual fact all have better performance than the MKM. All also have engines and components with a higher TBO and MTBF than the MKM – which results in lower operating costs compared to the MKM.

  30. “…on par with China?”

    Not a chance! The only credible option that Malaysia has in a major conflict with China is relying on the direct intervention and support of the USA. In that, there should be no doubt!

  31. My suggestion to “consolidate” the RMAF fighter/LIFT inventory is just that: to consolidate which is to say to strengthen with additional assets and to sustain assets already in place. This of course does not include retaining assets that no longer fully contribute to the RMAF’s strategic/tactical needs while constituting a drain on resources due to issues connected with logistics and aging. The MiG-29N/NUB force is a case in point but not the Hawk108/208 force. The F/A-18Ds, however, can be dispensed with if they can sweeten a F/A-18F deal.

    The RNZAF 339CBs are still awaiting disposal.

    Its takes balls to correct past mistakes.

  32. Another option for disposing of the MiG-29s…

    Transfer them to India in exchange for support with the Su-30s. Support could extend from parts and servicing to LIFT and other training.

  33. China is a superpower. Forget about matching her. No one can. Engage and manage the relationship. Dont fight outright.

    In other news, Wikileaks reveal that Singapore wants Globalhawks.

  34. Today’s NST (Saturday) reported that the MRCA “replacement programme” is “reaching its final stages”. Remarkably it included amongst the contenders the Su-35. Just looking at the reported unit costs the more viable options are the Gripen, Su-35 and Super Hornet. But I cannot see why the Su-35 is in the running.
    I suppose there will be more news before and at LIMA in December. Or is it simply a ploy to get “the big boys” to include their aircraft in the flying/static displays. Curiously the Typhoon will appear merely in mock-up pending Eurofighter/BAES’s decision that GOM “is truly interested”!

    Better late than never! The Russians want to come to Lima, the more the merrier!

  35. Austria: EADS desperately sought Euro fighter deal

    Interesting tweet Blog owner. I think this is even more reason for MINDEF to stay away from TYPHOON.

    But then again some politician might look at this as an opportunity.

  36. Has there been any thought put toward purchasing some of the approximately 200 F/A-18Ds out there? I’m sure that it would be difficult to convince the Finns, the Swiss or the Kuwaitis to part with their Ds without taking their Cs, but this shouldn’t be a problem for the USN/USMC. After all, with significant budget cuts likely in the US defence budget over the next 10 years, it is probable that most of the USN/USMC F/A-18s will be retired. I recognize that the aircraft would come with significant usage, but the positives would outweigh the negatives in my view. Any thoughts?

    Indeed there was a proposal to get more Ds, brand new ones which later converted to Fs, before we end up buying the Flankers…

  37. Hi.

    I have been following this thread and find the comments interesting & informative. I noticed that most of the comments are generally focused on new MRCAs and I am interested to find out if the following suggestion makes sense.

    Here is my 2 pennies worth of opinion. The US are replacing or already replaced their F/A18C/Ds with the more capable F18E/Fs. Should RMAF consider buying these earlier F/A18 models and upgrade it? I believe the cost will be within our means and we could get something like 30-40 planes. Of course its capabilities will be rather limited in terms of range/reach but it can be resolved with enough numbers and forward bases.

    Any thoughts on this?

  38. Sorry didn\’t notice FareedLHS\’s comments on this. But its an interesting prospect and hopefully RMAF has actually consider this.

  39. Despite Fareed’s second thoughts, acquiring used F/A-18Ds should be viable PROVIDED it is a well thought-out plan and not a half-baked effort. We do not want a repeat of the A-4PTM/TA-4PTM episode.
    But, really, have we gone down to that? I think it is a matter of political will and sensibility rather than affordability.

    Not many D’s available out there but there are plenty of low mileage A’s…

  40. Canada has a few (30-40?) stored, low hours A and B models. A few RAAF hornets could be available if they buy 2nd batch of the SH. Kuwait might replace their C and D with F-15’s but no latest news has been heard about this.

    The Canucks jets are probably the best of the lot but need to spend quiet a lot also upgrade them to C/D standard. Of course it will be cheaper than buying new airframes…

  41. 18 two seaters SU30mkm’s??Are you sure? last time i went to Gong kedak, I saw single seater SU30MKM ? with covered (probally for hiding their avionics) and i think demo-su30mkm currently have different avionic compare to the ‘hiding’ flankers.

    Yes our Flankers are all two seaters…

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