MRCA: SDSR, Typhoons and Hawks

Typhoon and the moon

SHAH ALAM: THE publication of the UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) on Nov 23, has confirmed the availability of Eurofighter Typhoon for Malaysia – on day One – if and when the government choose the fighter aircraft for the MRCA programme.

Industry sources told Malaysian Defence the plan which called among others, the extension of the Typhoon out-of-service date (OSD) from 2030 to 2040 and 24 aircraft being retained to form two new front-line squadrons. The UK had earlier planned to retire the 24 aircraft – the so-called Tranche 1 Typhoon – between 2015 and 2019.

 A CGI of a Typhoon carrying a load of Spear 3 bombs complete with air-to-air missiles and extra fuel tanks
A CGI of a Typhoon carrying a load of Spear 3 bombs complete with air-to-air missiles and extra fuel tanks

If the UK had retired the Tranche 1 Typhoons, we would probably end up paying the In-Service Support (ISS) costs if we were to opt to lease them until we get the new build aircraft under the lease and buy offer. It is likely the UK will get more Tranche 3 Typhoons, if the Malaysian deal goes through.

Under the deal, Malaysia can expect to lease around 18 fully-serviceable Typhoons and more importantly the full ordnance and support package as an interim measure until the new build aircraft could be delivered – usually within 24 months time after the contract signing.

RAF Typhoon at Butterworth airbase in 2011.
RAF Typhoon at Butterworth airbase in 2011.

Furthermore, with the UK and Saudi Arabia paying for the latest upgrades of the Typhoons, RMAF can expect to get one of the best fighter aircraft for the next 20 years.

RMAF Hawk 208 M40-34 taking off during Eks Paradise 2/2015 at Labuan airbase.
RMAF Hawk 208 M40-34 taking off during Eks Paradise 2/2015 at Labuan airbase.

And the offer does not end there apparently. If we choose the Typhoon, RMAF could also choose either upgrading its Hawk fleet or opt for the Hawk AJT after the new MRCA squadron is declared fully operational.

The cost free upgrading will allow RMAF’s Hawk fleet to operate for at least another 10 years. Among others with the upgrade, the Hawks will be able to fire a variety of guided missiles from air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles.

Hawk AJT training capabilities.
Hawk AJT training capabilities.

Opting for the Hawk AJT will be more costly however, though it is expected the UK government will offer large discounts for it. As it is the AJT is also capable of conducting close support, reconnaissance, surveillance and air defence – just like the current 108/208 fleet and more.

RMAF Hawk 208s tail number 36 and 34 in the dispersal shed at Labuan airbase.
RMAF Hawk 208s tail number 36 and 34 in the dispersal shed at Labuan airbase.

Industry sources told Malaysian Defence that although the Hawk upgrades have been approved for RMK11, funding for the programme remains uncertain with the current situation.

If the package route sounds familiar what about the other MRCA contenders then? Well I have written about the Saab package previously while the Rafale will be in the next post.

Gripen and 340 combo?
Gripen and 340 combo?

As for Boeing, I am not sure yet. Perhaps they are also packaging the Super Hornets with the Poseidon Lite (the Boeing MSA) which may not be surprising at all.

All of this sounds wonderful, but when will the government funds the MRCA programme then? Have they even agreed for the special funding needed for the programme to become official? Your guess is as good as mine.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Typhoon is the best Choice for RMAF Because It has a Storm Shadow,Long Range AAM And Good Quality.Buy 40 Typhoon than ASH.

  2. i heard that typhoon is pampered and 2nd place after jsf in operating cost..
    with small budget and high tempo operation,better we choose jas gripen..they offer cheap prices and additional package include Mpa n Aew..its good offers..what makes our fighters powerful its avionic..we could choose what we want to install….

    single engine its not a problem..US fleet also might to jsf in future… i hope that najib n hisamudin read my commment.. tq

  3. Marhalim,

    Did you read the sdsr 2015 documents?

    I even watched the presentation in the British parliament live on Monday.

    So sorry to break your enthusiasm. The sdsr 2015 has seen a lot of increases in the raf fleet. Those tranche 1 typhoons are to be used as QRA ready aircraft to equip extra 2 squadrons in RAF. No additional new typhoons for raf, as they has just reaffirmed their commitment of 138 f-35 fighters. So there is no way that we could get an instant lease of tranche 1 typhoons from the raf.

    Yes I did. I spoke to the guy who will approved the deal, if the deal goes through and he literally said “on Day One.”

  4. Theat package offer is meaningless if there is no price attached to it.

    Do realise that for Oman, a package of 12 typhoons and 8 hawk ajt cost them usd 4 billion. To understand how freaking expensive that is, you could get 10 gowind sgpv frigate, or 80 (yes 80, not a typo) su-30mkm with that money. So the next question is, are we so flash to burn that much money for so few aircraft?

  5. And why do you want a super expensive and poor performing hawk ajt nowadays when better and cheaper alternatives are available? (hint, look at what singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines are buying, and it isn’t the hawk)

    Wait for the next MRCA installment…

  6. And why do you want a super expensive and poor performing (as a fighter as well as a trainer, no radar, weak airframe, and non supersonic) hawk ajt nowadays when better and cheaper alternatives are available? (hint, look at what singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines are buying, and it isn’t the hawk)

  7. One of the reasons to go European could be the Meteor BVRAAM. Is it really that much better compared to the AIM-120/AMRAAM?

    In theory yes

  8. Pushing aside its sketchy performance record, just the purchasing and operating cost of the Typhoon alone make it the worst choice for Malaysia, imho. I’m not against RMAF’s likely top choice, the Typhoon but from a financial standpoint, at USD140 million a pop, Malaysia simply cannot afford it, at least for any meaningful time span into the future and I believe most Malaysian will be against more GST/tax increase or cut in public/infrastructure spending to fund the military… Plus in who is the intended “enemy” of the Typhoon anyway?

  9. …,

    40 Typhoon Is For MRCA Program.Causing You Talk Weired.No Leasing Typhoon.


    Which One Is The Lowest Cost.ASH,Gripen or Rafale

  10. No money to have all this fancy and freaking expensive fighters, just stick to the cheapest, couple with best quality one that can do the job as required by our air force. The most appropriate is still lingering between the SH and the Gripen. SU30 is out of the competition and list and the air force know better on why they don’t want to add anymore of this thing. 24 “cheapo” best quality couple with some AEW & MPA will do justice for our airforce long overdue requirement.

  11. @ izzudin

    Do you even know the price of a single typhoon, not to mention 40? Kerajaan ada ke duit nak beli 40 typhoon yang hang cadang pakai sembang style ahmad maslan tu?

    Suggestions without facts and figures just waste precious bandwidth.

  12. The time of the Hawk is over. The newer crop of LIFT like the M-346 or the T-50 has shown the limitations on the 1970’s aerodynamics.

    I know the Brits are in charge of selling the Typhoon to us but why not ask the Italians? They have started assembling the F-35s in Italy which means the Italians will be pressured to purchase their full lot of F35s. With their budgetary problems they might be tempted to let go of some of their early Typhoons because of their commitment to the F-35.

    A typhoon/ aermacchi M346 combo doesn’t sound too bad.

  13. @ gonggok

    Are you suggesting tudm to buy used typhoons?

    Well currently Spain, Italy and Germany have used tranche 1 typhoons for sale.

    But the downside of used tranche 1 typhoons are there would be no further upgrades to the platform (no possibility of aesa radar, avionics upgrades), unlike legacy hornets (planned upgrades up till 2030) or even f-16s

  14. Issues with the mrca

    1) cost

    2) Gripen – if you want datalinks, aesa etc, spend money on datalinks systems and aesa on all your current fighters, not add them to a low performance platform like the Gripen (and leave the majority of your fighters still without those technology).

    3) typhoon – even their current users does not want any more of them, why do we? Simple upgrades on other fighters like aesa, new weapon integration etc is such a big deal and expense on the typhoon it is just a stupid joke to pry money from current typhoon users.

    4) rafale – something the size of hornet but capable of carrying weapon loads as much as the flanker? Of course its maneuverbility suffers and no way it could perform “omnirole” as a air superiority fighter with all those loads.

    5) super hornets – the “super” only in name. Only advantage over legacy hornets is about 20% more range. Even the maximum weapon load is more, but in real life same as legacy hornets due to wierd canting if the super hornet weapon pylons in the wing. Legacy hornets have better air to air performance than the super hornets (us navy pilots prefer the legacy hornet for dogfights) In us navy, and royal Australian airforce both legacy and super hornets have no difference in operational taskings.

  15. The used typhoon from Italy only applies if the decision to get used typhoons are made. A typhoon/M346 combo is better than a typhoon/Hawk one.
    TUDM’s reluctance to accept any compromise in terms of new airframes vs used ones is understandable since once the settled for any ‘interim’ solution, the REAL solution will be pushed even further back.
    I feel it is better to hold off the MRCA buy and wait for a next gen solution. In a few years we can get a better idea of proper next gen options like the F-35, ‘KFX, Turkish or even Japanese solution. Meanwhile a SLEP of the Hawks are a much easier sell to the public in the current political climate. TUDM next big ticket items should be AEW imho.

  16. The way I see it, just for the sake of comonality, purchase more new MKM’s and more pre-owned F-18’s, Hawks, 339’s or even F-5E/F’s.

    Or maybe go an all new route with all new latest F-15’s and F-16’s plus maybe some Super Tucano’s. But then again, where’s the money?

  17. Ah yes, and an added note, if the F-15’s,
    F-16’s or Gripen is the same like your neighbours, no problem, just paint them in a diffferent shade of air superiority gray.

  18. Looking forward to Dassault and Boeing “MRCA Strike Package” as we’re now have been awareness raised on Saab and Eurofighter package.

    What I read over here have no much info on offset package or “sweeter” related to tech transfer for MY defense industry. Dassault got guts with offer of MY own assembly line of Rafale.

    Its too early to talk about off-set package now, a firm intention to buy will probably get them on the table to talk about it.

  19. The issue with used typhoons is that we cannot upgrade them with aesa or new weapons with acceptable cost, unlike easy upgrades on legacy hornets or even the f-16. So you are left with highly expensive fighter with less future capability than upgraded older fighters like the f-16 and legacy hornets.

  20. Im also advocating to defer the mrca buy when other more modern affordable solutions like the kfx, tfx, j31 and f-35 are available. In the meantime it is better for tudm to get the numbers and buy hawk replacements.

  21. Recently the indian air force sent their Su for an exercise to the uk. Reportedly the SU’s beat tge typhoons hands down in a dogfight. So do we want such a platform.
    Actually we can continue to acquire the latest SU 35. The indons have gone this way. Indon also investing more than US1.8billiin into the korean kfx programme too.
    Actually we can look at the latest f 16 viper. It carries the latest weapons, aesa radar too. But against russian jamming system its reported that the aesa is not a great help either

    Such reports have been debunked even by the Indian Air Force.

  22. Sorry, but can somebody tell me the real reason why we cannot (or don’t want to) buy more Sukhois?

  23. It looks like our friend… Trying so hard to explain his thoughts on this issue hehe… Anyhoo, there is no super fighter in the world or you want our government to begging abg Obama to sell the raptor to us? Hehe.. Oh what? Hawk replacement? I believe marhalim have something to post about the replacement on the next issue. I know … Want the korean made F/A – 50 as the replacement of hawk… But it still hard to understand our military think thank on this mrca fiasco aside from the budget constraints

  24. TUDM needs AEW like yesterday, both our neighbors north and south got AEW. We also urgently need MPA’s at least 6 nos. The MH 370 and the piracy problems showed we are lacking in this area..

  25. Just ask BOEING for everything that MAF needed, F/A-18E/F for MRCA, Boeing MSA for MPA, Boeing 737 AEW&C for AEW and AH-64E Apache for attack helicopter. Let PM ask POTUS to “hibah” some of their military equipment. I know some will beg to be different, but there is no harm to give opinion here. And yes, Budget also a problem within current administration (usual excuse given every time). I just want to keep dreaming.

    Unfortunately, Obama unlike the previous US president, is not so keen to sell arms. He usually left it to the manufacturers themselves.

  26. Buying is one thing ..maintaining and operating will need a lot of money..but F-18F packaged with Boeing new MSA with a few used Hawkeyes and Chinooks thrown in is very interesting idea..

  27. I think our gov should now listen to “suara rakyat” and take it seriously. We’re not in 60s, 70s, or 80s anymore, Malaysian people very concerned about safety and the impact, if this security issue the gov take it like “lepas batuk di tangga”. Anything can happen and rakyat will be the victim of the gov stupidity and arrogant. MRCA will be the top priority and if the budget was the issue, I think our Pak-pak menteri should stop habis kan duit rakyat kembali buat, stop all the mega project which is not so important to rakyat. Pls concentrate to rakyat needs like security, edu and health, learn from our southern neighbour not only compare their oil price which make Pak-pak menteri nampak Sgt bodoh lagi jahil.

  28. Actually, the public does not have an appetite for any kind of big defence spending at this time.

    There is a great insecurity among the people, and to some extent the economic insecurity does contribute to a sense of physical insecurity. That said, people do not wish to see MRCAs, future soldier systems or platforms for high intensity conflict, simply because they don’t anticipate war with another state.

    Considering recent events, the most I can say is people will approve of platforms for border security such as patrol vessels. And to an extent, some will sincerely believe that items like attack helicopters or main battle tanks are among the most cost effective ways to deal with infiltrators.

  29. Dear AM,

    I may differ on your view..I believe you are right when saying people not wish to see MRCA and more concern about economic security but i tend to believe that will be the view of the urbanites and the middle upper income level. Cost of petrol, utilities, transport and housing going at least 3 times faster than their income growth. For these groups, they are more concerns on domestic security issues.

    However if we spend a bit of time in sub-urban and rural areas, where food cost still generally cheaper than town and some lived in their own land (kampung), the talk in the coffee shops can also cover why the government did not update/upgrade our armed forces when our nearest neighbours already armed to the tooth with the the latest technology.However they do oftenly also complained that sawit and rubber price drop.

  30. That’s true. My whole point was that the more people are squeezed by the rising cost of living, the less tolerant they are of big purchases, especially of high end warfighting systems.

    If rural people are less squeezed, they are more likely to approve. But only because they believe country can well afford it, not because they feel any insecurity. They are also more obedient and used to going along with authority.

    Whether urban or rural, awareness of how our armed forces compare to our neighbours, and the usefulness of any equipment to our problems is pretty low. The same goes for many countries, even developed ones.

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