SHAH ALAM: Pros and cons of the LCA/FLIT candidates. As reported previously, the RMAF is planning the procurement of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)/Fighter Lead-In Trainer (FLIT) within the next five years. RMAF had said that it had been given the go-ahead with the programme though it is still yet unclear when it will be green-lighted.
Anyhow we know that the details of eight aircraft had been submitted to RMAF following the issuance of an RFI in late 2018 which made LIMA 19 a more lively event than it should have been. The eight aircraft list (in alphabetical order) are:
Aero Vodochody L-39NG
Boeing T-7 Red Hawk
HAL Tejas LCA
Despite what has been said here or elsewhere, Malaysian Defence can surmised that – the L-39NG, T-7, L-15B, YAK-130 and the JF-17 – are ranked outsiders for the requirement for various reasons from being relatively new aircraft to subject to sanctions if purchased (CAATSA).
With five of the eight in the outsiders category we are now left with three most likely candidates, the T/FA-50s, M-346 and the Tejas. The Tejas is the dark horse as it will be the one having the highest national interest quotient.
On technical specifications, numbers in service and maturity, the T/FA-50 has the highest ranking with the M-346 coming in a distant second. It is ranked higher than the Tejas as it has been in service much longer and in more countries. Its LCA offering the FA, however, is the least mature of the three candidates though it ranked higher than the Tejas for FLIT as it was designed from the start as the South Korean candidate.
It must be noted that the Tejas will be part of the outsiders grouping if not for the fact that India may well offer barter trade for palm oil for the aircraft. That is good enough to put it in the favourites group.
I have no idea which aircraft will be selected for the LCA/LIFT programme though personally I am incline to the KAI aircraft. It may well be that RMAF has a pretty good idea of its preferred candidate as well but again it will not solely the one making decision.
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