Shine A Light

Yakovlev Yak-130 Mitten performing a display at LIMA 2019. Zaq Sayuti.

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

The Yak-130 under cover next to the LIMA airshow site. Alert 5

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.
Tun Mahathir receiving a model of a JF-17 Thunder fighter jet after being briefed about the aircraft during his visit to Pakistan in 2019. Internet

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.
AVIC/PAC JF-17. Internet

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.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. whether it is YAK-130 or MiG-35 is irrelevant anyway because of CAATSA. The LCA requirement for a supersonic platform is probably why the MiG was offered instead of the YAK. Also how naive ATSC/AIROD to think that the MiG-35, which has no takers whatsoever (except for 24 forced onto Russian AF) will even be considered for LCA/FLIT?

    Also another interesting MIA is the Gripen C/D. The Boeing T-7 redhawk non-entry is to be expected, as it is still in development stage, but the inclusion of TAI Hurjet is at best a desperate attempt by TAI to get money to make sure the project even survives.

    M-346FA, realistically is a gone case as it has no supersonic capability like its twin the YAK-130.

    L-15B has supersonic capability, but other than a direct order from CCP-friendly H20 to take the chinese plane, i don’t think RMAF would be happy to fly that to intercept Y-20 transporters over SCS.

  2. More Migs? LOL I don’t think so.

    But as I said before, I highly doubt there will be a decision made or at least announced, until after GE15.

  3. Of course any MiGs dont stand a chance, CAATSA and the RAMF bad experience with them.

    Actually, if the current government want to look credible for GE15, they really need to buy those LCA/FLIT now, and the best one. That LCA/FLIT buy can never be spin as a wasteful buy by any opposition as RMAF is really desperate for those new fighters.

  4. Gripen C/D would have been a great choice…and a great segway towards ramping up capability with Gripen E/F when the time comes for MRCA. *sigh*

    What will it take for decisions to be made? This story is getting really stale, and our current platforms are not getting any younger.

  5. Look at it this way. If the tender is stretched beyond 2025, for whatever reason, then the Turk Hurjet has a slim chance of making the fit.
    I agree. The MiG35 is an overkill for the LCA/FLIT requirement.
    Strangely enough, I am pleased there’s another forummer who likewise thinks the best time to ink the LCA/FLIT deal is here and now! There isn’t any reason for the Opposition to criticize the tender. The urgency is there, and criticizing that will put the Opposition in an uncomfortable spot. It’s not like we’re buying Rafales or F35s!
    H²O must quickly get the Cabinet to seal the deal ASAP and yes, before GE15.

  6. @Taib
    No Government near GE will be seen to be spending lotsa money that is not economic or rakyat oriented. You think the man on the streets care about our defence of the realm when he struggles to put food on the table?

  7. joe

    Not buying anything will make H20 a cannon fodder for the opposition in GE15. As the opposition can paint him as a weak ‘No Action Talk Only’ minister.

    Right now in the opposition ammo to kill H20
    – GOWIND project no decision/solution
    – Just rent helicopters when neighbors sign for multiple fighter jets
    – China coast guard harrasment in malaysian EEZ, looks to prioritise china interest more than his own country interest.

  8. Defence matters will never be a major factor when it comes to votes for the simple reason that the average voter does not care. If he/she did both the government and opposition would focus more on defence matters but they don’t because the average voter is indifferent and clueless about the LCS cocku,the fact that the RMN only has 4 SSM armed ships or that the RMAF is still a largely platform centric air arm…. Its ask beyond the ability of the opposition to raise or articulate the right issues in the right manner.

    On the Minister himself, he’s only as effective as the government he’s part of and its defence policy. Even if he personally was intent on improving things he can only work within the policy and the existing procurement budget. He can make recommendations and lobby for things but ultimately he can’t make certain decisions.

  9. @Taib
    To whom can they project this ‘NATO’ minister image to? If talk about LCS, PH had 22 months of inaction isn’t that worse? If talk about rental choppers, he can be seen to do something when money is tight so isn’t that a plus for him? If talk about CCG threats, many will point out China is far bigger and more important to us than us to them, so can we afford to antagonise them? To handle a far larger power, we usually go thru diplomatic channels and not a direct confrontation, even if MMEA does have to chase/shadow them. Like some politicians said; we aren’t at war with anyone so why spent billions.

    OTOH it is easy peasy for Opposition to play up the plight of the rakyat daily sufferings, questions of; is it better to spend RM 5bil on buying LCA or giving extra BR1M to all. Rakyat won’t care if China is knocking our door if they are struggling to feed themselves. Playing up their ire to garner their votes in such a situation is so easy for seasoned politicians they can do it eyes closed.

  10. @joe
    I disagree. The Opposition and the man-in-the-street aren’t accustomed to asking the Right Questions about defence. We aren’t a West where almost every one reads the national news first and entertainment/sports news a distant second! If H²O doesn’t work hard now to persuade the PM and Cabinet an LCA/FLIT decision is imperative, he’d have lost the opportunity to get the tender realised before the GE. There’s too little meat for the Opposition to attack the government regarding the LCA/FLIT tender.

  11. @Taib
    Exactly. Do you know what happens when people aren’t asking the Right Questions? They ask the Wrong Questions! And when Opposition takes over the narrative, it is all over.

  12. Ok, any new Mig,sukhoi, yak, mi deal will no longer happen for the coming 5 years since US going to apply bigger sactions to Russia. I think politics wise will not against US decision.

  13. Michael,

    Even if there is no CAATSA the RMAF does not want Russian [for reasons which have been discussed extensively here] and a politician who for national interests was keen on buying Russian is no longer in power ..

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