SHAH ALAM: The final curtain. It appears that the end is near for RMAF Bae Systems Hawk fleet. RMAF chief Gen Ackbal Mohd Samad told a press conference today that the Hawk fleet will not be upgraded.
Based on this it appears that the Hawks – the 108s and 208s – will be retired once the RMAF got its new light combat aircraft (LCA)/fighter-lead-in trainer (FLIT) within the next five years. Initial funding for the LCA/FLIT, according to Ackbal had been approved by the government for next year.
It had been RMAF plan to withdraw the Hawks once the LCA/FLIT are introduced into service. This is inevitable once the new aircraft enter service as the LCA/FLIT are meant to do the same jobs as the Hawks.
Ackbal did not reveal the number of LCA/FLIT to be funded but RMAF has proposed that 18 aircraft be procured from 2021 (RMK12) with another 18 to be bought in RMK13, for a total of 36 as envisaged under the Cap 55 plan.
He said the procurement for the LCA/FLIT will be further discussed with Defence Ministry officials and it will likely go through an open or a qualified tender. I am assuming that it will be a qualified tender as RMAF is likely to have identified the candidates from the eight aircraft submitted by the manufacturers from the RFI issued in December 2018.
As for the other upgrades, Ackbal confirmed that the C-130H fleet will be upgraded though he did not reveal whether it will be the same one as contracted out in 2014 but never started. As for the Nuri replacement, a tender (likely a qualified tender also) to lease its replacement was issued in 15 October and closed on 17 December. He declined to give the basic specifications for the helicopters being sought for lease apart from saying that it will be used for utility purposes only to reduce the cost.
Ackbal said RM60 million allocated for the maintenance and support of the Nuri will be used to lease the replacements.
— Malaysian Defence