SHAH ALAM: Shine a light. The FLIT-LCA tender saga is not to end soon – I am told – but there is another issue that had perplexed me so far. This involved the participation of one aircraft type and the non-entry of two more.
If you aware either through my previous post on the FLIT-LCA candidates or from others, the YAk-130 Mitten and JF-17 Thunder, were among the aircraft that were supposed to take part in the tender which was published last year. The Yak-130 even took part in LIMA 19 to show how serious was the intent to take part in the tender
I have been told by a number of sources, however, the Mitten was not offered in the tender and in its place the Mig-35 was thrown in the hat. It is likely the backers of the modernised Fulcrum believed it was a shoe-in for the LCA requirement. And they did not think that the Yak-130 was good enough for it. This was in contrast with the requirement for the same type of aircraft to be able to meet the FLIT and LCA requirements in a single airframe.
The Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder was the other aircraft which was offered in response to the RFI but did not take part in the FLIT-LCA tender. It must be noted that the backers of the Thunder was so confident of her winning that they even got the then PM Tun Mahathir Mohamad to have a look at the aircraft before he left for home (below). The then PM was visiting Pakistan in 2019.
I was told that the Thunder was not offered for the FLIT-LCA tender as to make way for the CATIC L-15B Falcon attack/jet trainer. I was told that Falcon was more suitable for the FLIT-LCA as it is a multi-role aircraft and more over it needed another export customer. The Falcon has so far has only Zambia as its export customer compared to the Thunder which has also been sold to Myanmar, Nigeria and several other countries have shown interest in it.
It is likely that the decision to place the Falcon in the tender and not even allowed the Thunder to even participate, was taken by the top people in China’s aerospace industry. And as for the winner of the tender, I have no idea, really but I am told that it may well be that the first aircraft will only be in service beyond 2025, which is not good really.
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