SHAH ALAM: The Joneses. Polish media is reporting that the government has signed contracts for the procurement of various arms from South Korea including 1000 K2PL main battle tanks; 679 K9 Self Propelled Howitzers and interestingly for us, 48 Korean Aerospace KAI FA-50 PL light fighters.
The FA-50 order is divided in two batches; 12 in the current Block 10 version and supposedly to be delivered by 2023 and the other 36 in the Block 20 version. The Block 20 version supposedly will be equipped with the Northrop Grumman SABR AESA radar; Sniper EO; AIM-9X and AIM-120 missiles and Link 16 data link.
The Block 20 configuration sure seemed to fit RMAF requirements for its future LCA. The big order from Poland – the biggest so far – however does put our supposedly delivery deadline – in 2025 – under a big question mark. Will KAI be bothered with us or will spend more time on its bigger customer, one which might pay in cash instead of haggling over the barter payment? Or we will be buying a completely different aircraft?
Another thing to highlight of the Polish deal for the FA-50 – so far – does not include any transfer or technology or even local assembly (apart from the planned upgrade work for the 12 Block 10 will be upgraded to Block 20 in Poland). Local assembly is part of the deal for the K2 and K9 procurement though after the initial batch are procured directly from South Korea.
With a large land based defence industry and the large number of hulls procured, it make sense for Poland to local assemble the K2s and K9s.
But here in Malaysia with an even smaller defence industrial footprint, lower numbers and even lower budget, the mantra is always been TOT and local assembly. It is like we are planning to fail even though the last 30 years had shown that it is not in the national interest to link arms procurement with economic development.
— Malaysian Defence