RFI for LCA and UAVs

MQ-9B Sea Guardian

SHAH ALAM: RFI for LCA and UAVs. On Feb 1, I wrote for Aviation Week,

Malaysia has begun a quest to purchase light combat aircraft (LCA) and unmanned surveillance and attack aircraft, issuing requests for information (RFIs) from selected manufacturers despite uncertainty about when funding will be available.

In a written reply, Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Gen. Affendi Buang said the service issued the RFIs in January.

For the LCAs, RFIs were issued for the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Tejas and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17; for the latter, the RFI was addressed to the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex.

All are single-engine aircraft. The FA-50, available only as a two-seater, is designed for light attack, while the Tejas and JF-17 are fighters with single-seat versions.

As for the unmanned aircraft, RFIs were issued for the General Atomics MQ-9B Sea Guardian, Avic Wing Loong II and the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) Anka.


Yes one could be cynical about the RFI with LIMA 2019 about to start on March 26. Anyhow so far only the Tejas, Reaper and the Wing Loong II have been confirmed for the show.

MQ-9B Sea Guardian

Despite lacking funds, both the LCA and UAV are mentioned in RMAF CAP 55 though I have been told that no funding have been approved yet. I guess we will have to wait until the Defense White Paper is published this July to see what things are being funded by the government.

A full size mock-up of the Anka at TAI’s booth at DSA 2018

Although the Defense Minister and deputy had stated that the defense white paper will be modelled after the ones by Australia and others, I am not convinced that it will also specifically stated the funding for the programs approved; the Australian one clearly included the funding. The industry is hoping that the white paper will include funding provisions for green lighted programme as it will bind the government to fund them as it will a parliamentary document.

Wing Loong II. Copyright to the picture owner.

I am not convinced it will be the case however as I have been told that the government will not commit itself. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2205 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Why do they need awhite paper? The way i see it is as another way not to committ to anything

  2. A cynical way of looking at it is that the RFI is intended to draw in participation for LIMA or is an attempt by the armed services to get some level of commitment by the government with regards to funding. In the recent past we issued various RFIs for MRCAs and other gear but none resulted in a firm contract being signed.

    As many will know, an RFI doesn’t necessarily mean that “x” is actually an immediate priority, (things can and do change. Similarly a RFI requested from company “x” doesn’t necessarily mean there is actual interest in its product. The Pakistanis will be eager to devote resources towards meeting a Malaysian requirement but whether there is actually serious government or end user interest is a completely different matter. The RFI could be also intended to pressure another company to offer a better deal for its product.

    Personally I feel priority should be on MPAs and UASs. The problem is that the government might think differently as to what the armed services should receive. Another problem is that we’ll end getting something not based on pricing and actual effectiveness (based on our specific requirements) but on politics. A company with a product not suited for our needs may gain a contract because it offered a better off-set deal or maybe because of better bilateral relations

  3. Putra,

    The main value of a White Paper is to give indication as to the direction a particular government is taking towards defence, including its priorities and concerns/threats; based on geo political conditions. In our case it is also needed as not only do many in the general public remain clueless but many in the government as well; including those holding senior positions. A White Paper is long overdue.

  4. For lack of anything better to do white paper it is then. Actually throw in some bases closure. (Reduce overheads). And sort out what kind of an air force we wannabe. A vip transporter or a low to mid range air power , air superiority. We dont.have the financial means to be all of everything.

    I am guessing with a such tight deadline, July , Mindef will not go down the route of down or right sizing or any other radical transformation of the Armed Forces. It may say something to that effect but will kick the can down the road. I could be wrong of course.

  5. No RFI to for BAE, Yakovlev and Aermacchi??? Mean KAI solution is RMAF wanted??

    Yes none to BAE confirmed, I did not speak to Yak or Aermacchi people. Not sure it’s done deal yet on KAI but if they fund the LIFT or FLIT – the RMAF term for it, the South Koreans will walk away with both.

  6. Hopefully the white paper will make it more clear the shape of armed forces we will have. Whether we realise it, the period between 2013 to 2020 has been concentrating more on naval security by virtue the building of 6 Maharajalela class missile frigate, 3 MMEA OPV, 6 Bagan Datoh patrol vessels, 4 LMS and 3 new Heli for MMEA. Hopefully 2021 onwards the white paper can focus more on the air security aspect

  7. Kamal,

    As I pointed out in the past, the government sees our maritime domain as the most vulnerable; thus its attention is there and it’s easier for the RMN to make a case for what it needs, compared to its sister services.

    The case for MRCAs is harder as we don’t foresee any near term state on state threats and the investment is high. The benefits for the local industry is also not as high (minimal local content and participation plus no jobs created) as it would be for naval procurement. The bad news (from a financial angle) is that even if we buy MRCAs, we’ll still need an AEW platform to get the best of the capabilities the MRCA can offer.

  8. Your point Azlan is correct, but can’t help but wish there will be effort to replenish TUDM asset in the next 10 years. Actually Army, Navy and MMEA got good development allocation during 2013 to 2020 Army around RM10 billion (for Gempita, 6 little bird, 18 LG1, Starstreak and 29 M109A5 Sph) while navy and MMEA around RM12 billion. TUDM I can’t recall any major allocation during the period.

    However the way I see it TUDM is in the most danger to have its capability significantly reduced due to the retirement of the Migs and servicibility issue of Su30 coupled potential CAATSA repercussion associated with Russian origin equipment. To add to the burden the Hawks 200 would need urgent upgrades or replacement in order to supplement the 8 ever reliable Hornet.

    Thus hope atleast 8 to 12 Mrca can be funded during the next 10 years as potential replacement not just the Migs but even Maybe the Su30 if in the event we find it impossible to tackle the servicibility issue.

    You forgot about the A400Ms

  9. Another daydreaming wish that the total development budget of Around RM25 billion (based on open source from 2013)woukd still be maintained for the period of 2021 to 2030. Program such as the Bagan Datoh class vessels and MMEA OPV should still be continued for at least another 6 vessels of each class.

    For the navy hope that budget for at least 2 anti submarine heli and 2 MPA would be approved together with the budget to upgrade the lekiu class. Maybe another two Maharaja lela frigates to replace the kasturi perhaps

  10. You guys reading it too much. RFI is a RFI. Simply put, the AF does not know how exactly are these relatively new gadget work nor the value per dollar they should be expecting. While the LCA is a bit murky, the UAV RFI clearly shown their intention by picking a top of the shelf vs knock-offs.

  11. Our potential regional adversaries also welcomes our White Paper, so that they can plan to counter efficiently. Bravo!

  12. @ joe

    So you would rather have the malaysian military having no cohesive direction, clear objectives and funding, not to mention that the politicians and the public right now having no clear perspective on why we need to spend on our defence?

    Indonesia and even the philippines have a national defence paper (the MEF plan and the Horizon plan respectively). Does it compromise their defence? Absolutely no.

  13. @joe

    please lah bro, stop saying stupid things. Every comment section your “brilliant” mind reveals itself, like US kill-codes a la terminator style and now this. How old are you Joseph?

  14. I hope the White Paper gives more emphasis on HANRUH.Get the citizens to be actively involved in the defence of the country.Make HANRUH to be the principal policy of the White Paper.

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