The MRCA Tender Is On, Boeing Says So….

PETALING JAYA: No one at Kementah will say the MRCA tender is on but from the Press release below Boeing is confirming that it is on!

“Boeing is on contract to deliver 24 two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornets to the Royal Australian Air Force. The Super Hornet also is a competitor in ongoing fighter competitions in Brazil, India, Malaysia and Japan.”

Read it here and here.

The confirmation is interesting as there is no new announcement had been made on DSCA on a Super Hornet buy from Malaysia, does that mean that they will be relying on 2002 announcement? That was for 18 aircraft of Block 1 (USD1.5 billion) and not the Block II, the current version with the AESA radar. The Australian Hornet purchase of 24 Hornets with the AESA radar and other black boxes, cost US$3.1 billion (the whole deal with ordnance, training and basing) cost up to US$6 billion.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
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  1. Interestingly, today I read in one of the nation mainstream newspaper, it is stated that the RMN is studying the need for hovercraft.

  2. AFAIK it is just a generalize description saying they are having or had a chance in doing business with the country involved. Take an example Japan on the list. F-35 is the prim, F-2 will be upgraded for new and existing airframe.

  3. The RMN Chief has confirmed that NGV Tech will build the 2 training ships which nobody seems to know much about. He also said they will be completed in 2 years!

  4. All eyes on LIMA 2011! Bet the Super Bug will be there this year. But i doubt that a contract will be signed. The rumors could just be stunts to attract big name exhibitors to the island.

    I am more interested in the SGPVs and the AV8 revelations on their models, weapons and EW suites that should be revealed more in LIMA 2011. I hope there will be no delays on those two…

    With Boeing confirmation, its no longer a rumour. Whether or not we are seriously considering other alternatives than the Super Bug is the billion dollar question.The flight line at Lima will be the judge….

  5. Has a tender really been – RFI – issued by MINDEF? Or is Boeing just saying that it is in competition with other companies for a requirement for MRCA, which technically does exist, even though a ROI or RFP hasn’t been issued.

    Marhalim,have you heard anything about the 2 75 metre training vessels for the RMN?
    CAE Electronics, the same people who developed the Fulcrum simulator, has teamed up with a Malaysian company, to develop a simulator for the RMAF’s C-130H’s. Wonder if the RMAF has actually issued a requirement? Marshall aerospace has also pitched a bid to upgrade the C-130H’s.

    The official word from Boeing: “We continue to engage in dialog with the government of Malaysia about the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as it relates to Malaysia’s Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) requirement.  Please contact the RMAF regarding specific acquisition requirements or numbers involved.  Since it is still in the competitive phase, it is premature for Congressional notification.”
    My sources are saying that the MRCA programme is already in the RFQ stage. Thats why I wrote recently about the numbers. The RFQ is for one squadron, 12 (24?) plane plus another squadron. The smart money is saying that 12 planes is the limit they can finance for RMK10 and the next one in RMK10.

    The British I am told that knowing that their plane is way too expensive, will proposed 12 Tranche 1 (ex-RAF) and 12 brand new Tranche 3. The Tranche 1 will probably be given cheap as it is not an MRCA but a dog fighter. Since RMAF wants MRCA, the Brits will be hard pressed to give us a good deal for the Tranche 1.

    Once they figure out the prices, they can issue a tender already, yes I know its terbalik but its our way to get the budget first. It will be a waste of time to issue the tender when the budget is not available.

    Apparently they want to select the MRCA before the Fulcrum is retired by 2014 ( or earlier).

    It goes the same for the simulator programme you are mentioned. If one knows the wish list one can put in a proposal and if its square with the budget, they will issue a tender for it. Yes, the one who first broached the subject will have an advantage but it does not meant that it will get the job….

    I have no information on the training ships.

  6. if any of u try to surf NGV Tech website(the company who claim secure 2 units 75 metre training vessels for the RMN) personally i dont think they are serious about doing business. not even 1 word mentions about that training vessels, in fact their website was outdated. the last news in their post was early 2008 about paklah officiated NGV Tech’s shipyard in Sijangkang ( to me more to kiss ass news). Products folder got nothing inside and track records only till 2006

    Most of their products are sold overseas for Coast Guard forces. A lot of people however are convinced they are good for their word, three PMs had been to their Sinjangkang base. They also got an MOU with a Korean firm to purchase a ship-yard and also the Bagan Datoh yard. I am guessing that the training boats are bridging contracts before the MRSS as they had been rumoured to be the preferred local contractor for the project. Yes their website had not been updated

  7. assuming all in all, the proposed 24 SH will cost say USD 3 billion and will only be received say by 2015 earliest, might as well we wait for the JSF post 2020 or even the russian pak 50. I bet for 24 new MRCA of the two mentioned version it gonna cost us maybe 20%-30% more but we have a relative new design, enhanced capabilities and more stealthy.

    In the meantime it would cost at least USd15 million to upgrade the 10 mig 29 to SMT standard and last till 2020 and another USd5 million a piece per year to maintain them. That would entail an expenditure of around US$650 million till 2020.

    just saying, might as well wait for the JSF if that is the case as the offer for SH or others seems to be as expensive as the JSF and partially upgrade the mig to last till 2020.

    Apart from the spratlys tension with china, what other potential conflict that we have that the existing airforce inventory cant handle now? We should spend more on quality training, proper maintenance, more surveilance assets and transport assets especially heli

  8. Kamal, the RMAF does not want anymore ”Made In Russia”……

    And who’s to say that the PAK programme will not be delayed by years and be plagued by cost overruns? There has been frequents calls here to but the PAK but I can’t understand how anyone can propose buying something that has not completed development, and we don’t know what it will cost.

    With the JSF, even assuming we can afford it and wait for it, priority will be given to nations that are part of the programme. We will be the last in line. Besides, apart from being more stealthy and more advanced in many areas than the Super Hornet, how much of a better aircraft is the JSF over the Super Hornet? For that matter, despite it being a 4th gen aircraft and more stealthy, how much better overall is the Typhoon over the SH Block 2?

  9. Might as well go for the SH Block 3,that has super cruise ability with the GE414 engine that will be enhanced and improved. More thrust, increase in acceleration, less fuel consume and comes with the CFT for longer range. Another plus point will be the ease of conversion from the current F-18D pilot to SH. RMAF could be the first export customer for the SH Block 3.

    Yes, most probably we will be getting the International version of the SH.

  10. Well, just to be fair to the RMAF.
    Why not we just let the air force chaps do their job?.I am sure they would have weighed the pro’s and con’s regarding each buy and how they need these planes to perform.
    Let us just trust their professionalism.
    On their own they can make pretty good decisions.
    The issue comes about when politicians intervene.
    But what we need is to insists that we get the latest version and the latest weaponry plus targetting/recce or counter electronic pods required for the jobs to be done. We should not accept something less.

    Yes this time around the politicians are supposed to back away but it will also meant that the air force lost almost ten years already for accepting an aircraft it does not want. How much resources have been wasted for that decision is immeasurable.

  11. azlan,
    i m also cant understand why malaysia government buy A400M. its already delayed by years, still not completed and still dont have final cost.
    maybe they also want to buy PAK after this because the situation is more likely same.

    i saw a documentary in astro around 5/6 months ago regarding JSF, in a training exercise a JSF plane shoot down 4 F15 planes without being track. SH is more capable than F15 in AA fight? lucky US dont want to sell us F15 and only give it to Singapore.

    The A400M purchase was purely for industrial collaboration between EADS and CTRM in the hope of advancing the Malaysian aviation industry. Whether or not it has done so is subject to debate. A poster recently said I don’t understand the issue and therefore I tend to make the wrong conclusions. That’s fair. But since this is a military blog I always looked it from the perspective whether or not the procurement enhanced the Armed Forces capabilities.
    From that perspective I believe the A400M is big red herring.
    Yes you may argue we have trained 1000 aeronautic engineers because of the project and maybe you are right but what the MAF got from it?
    So far nothing. No future operational budget for the A400M have been discussed so far, in public, and looks like it won’t be in the near future.
    So by 2020 the RMAF will probably have three transport aircraft type but most probably the budget will remain the same.

    The same goes for PAK-50. The air force don’t want a Russian aircraft anymore unless it is forced down their throat.

    Read, Read and Read. Watch TV for entertainment.

  12. YM Lee, totally agreed!! And we all know the RMAF’s main choice in 93, 2002 and at present is still the Hornet. They have made it very clear. On paper the Super Hornet is a much better choice, unlike our beloved MKM’s the Super Hornet is combat proven, as is almost all it’s air and ground ordnance. And unlike the MKM it is actually operated by the country it comes from.

    Scorpion, we got the A400M so CTRM would have it’s off-set deal, which would supposedly improve this country’s knowledge in the aerospace sector. We LOVE offsets and transfer of technology even if in the end, they don’t add to much. If Boeing in 2002 had been able to offer us a place for our ”astronaut” in a NASA space shuttle, the Super Hornet might stood a better chance. The good news is that despite being plague with delays and cost over runs, like many other projects, the A400M will probably turn out to be success.

    In today’s STAR the Defence Minister has said that with the ”state of the art” MKM simulator, ”Malaysia will be at the forefront of such technology ahead of other countries in the region with similar aircraft”. As other countries also have simulators and the only aircraft similar in class to the MKM is the F-15, I’m very unsure of what the meant??
    Perhaps we should ask the Defence minister why after 30 years as a C-130 operator, we still don’t have a C-130 simulator.

    There is no similar aircraft in the region. The Flankers in Vietnam and Indonesia and even those in India and China are not like our MKM. The Indian MKI is the nearest but if you asked the Indians they will say that theirs is the best

  13. Part of the IAF MKI fleet I believe will shortly or has already been sent to Russia to receive the AESA radar and for structural modifications to accept the Brahmos. The MKI unlike the MKM has an HMS and a data link.

  14. Judging from the flying assets that RMAF has now, we are on par or better than most air force in this region. Our planes still have lots of life in them. The emphasis should be on maintenance, pilot training and better air defense systems. Yeah so MRCA sound glamorous but with that number they are no match against China or even Singapore. But what we need badly are very effective radar/IAD system and long range SAM systems for total air defense. Do we have them? Remember the bloodhound system back during the confrontation? If we really need to add to our flying assets, helicopters should be the top priority. We need modern transporter, anti-ship and sub. Certainly with the budget we have, we can get more of these than just a few MRCA.

  15. Marhalim,
    Since you brought up the A400M matter, I would like to exchange some further thought. A broad picture looking at the growth and prosperity of a nation civil development is the prime. Military investment protects these precious, acting as the counter weight on the other side of the spending balance. Nonetheless our armed force is under equipped. However we spent an average of 2.5% of the GDP for the past decade which includes all special allocations roughly sums up $4bil a year which is not below standard for a decent shopping experience in the arms market. Utilizing idle capital such as the armed force to generate income from related aspect is definitely a positive move.
    The A400M project represent the future in terms of both civil development and military capacity. As a non core member of the program, delay shouldn’t had hurt us and stop gap solution should have planned and applied. The root of the problem is what you described as “spent for a merc-benz got a mitsu”. Other reason which shall not be spoken is the allocation funding for alternative is either not planned from the beginning or deficit by the primary expenditure. In conclusion it is the execution part that when wrong.

    Hell is paved with good intentions. There was no need for plans as such as there was no plans for the A400M by the RMAF in the first place. They were pretty happy with the Charlies…..

  16. Buying the A400M was a stupid move and another prime example of politicians not acting in the best interests of the RMAF or the country. The next logical step after upgrading our H’s would have been to get J’s, this would have simplified flight/maintenance training and spares commonality.

    The reason the Europeans are buying the A400M is because their C-130’a and C-160’s are old and are over-worked. The RMAF is not in a similar situation, it’s oldest Charlie’s still have a lot of hours left and are not over-worked.

    fird, what kept the AURI [now TNI-AU] at bay during the Confrontation was not the Bloodhound’s but the RAF’s Hunters and Lightnings at Butterworth and Tengah. Save for some gaps due to terrain we have a pretty comprehensive and networked radar net over West Malaysia.

  17. Talking about the A400M , if we had wanted it it should have been either the C17 globemaster which is proven, in service and all problems sorted out. There is actually a need for this plane due to our need to support long range un missions, the need to transport troops to East Malaysia in an emergency.So its ok to have large transporters but then buy what is ready and available.

    Lee, the Globemaster is about RM1.6 billion a piece, yes its a good piece of kit and yes we do UN missions but its better to hitch a ride with the US Air Force, RAF or RAAF

  18. The message I want to deliver is, the money we spent should had cover the current needs, ie, to loan/buy 2nd C-130s and at the same time a smooth transition to the A400Ms. Also at a bigger picture, the project benefits both civil and military interest. On the civil side, A400M is the key to break the barrier and becomes part of the real happening in the aerospace world. Aerospace world is relatively self contained. A party that wants to be a serious member first need a chance where the reputation build upon. FYI, CTRM is now 1 step beyond OEM, contributing genuine structural design to the latest program. On the Military side, A400 provides both higher baseline capacity and greater growth in the next 30 years in compare to c-130J. Bottom line, if the money we spent were not mysteriously depreciated, the armed force should have the money they need to operate without complain.

  19. Our MKI no HMS? From what i read in few overseas the helmet mounted sight is standard for the SU and was part of the MKM. Plus Perajurit (not best of source) stated that MKM have the TIDLS data link system …but then again all of these could be pure speculation only

    I am with Fird by saying that apart from SG and PRC, our airforce are on par with the rest of ASEAN Region. But i am more for more money to be put in better training, maintenance, surveilance assets and transport assets rather than Long Range SAM

  20. Kamal, I meant not Helmet Mounted Sight [HMS]but Health Usage and Monitoring System [HUMS]. As for a HMS they have the Ukrainian Shura Helmet Mounted Sight.

    With the entry into service of the Erieye, the RTAF has way better network centric and surveillance capability than the RMAF.

  21. Not to forget good intel. Sometimes the enemy we thought they are are actually not the enemy. We are in the 5 defense pack with SG and PRC would really have to think twice before putting an offensive as they are aware another big power is our defense ally. A country can only be captured by foot soldiers. In this region TNI has the largest. What does our TDM has, only the basic.

  22. We have absolutely no need of a transport the size of the C-17 as we are not engaged in ops worldwide, we don’t have to support training detachment abroad and we do not have the need to move heavy equipment abroad. Even if we did, like others we can always charter AN-124’s. In the very,very unlikely chance that the RMAF got the C-17, given our requirements, more than half the time it would be flying half empty. Given our present requirements, the size of the transport fleet – 13 or 14 C-130’s and 6 CN-235’s, is probably sufficient.

  23. Azlan,
    Yes we are very very short on surveilance and it has always been our archiles heel. We only have 4 small super beechcrafts for maritime patrolling. We should have bought up the retired RAF maritine jets which until retirement had been continously upgraded or but the P3 Orion for maritme surveilance and for air, get either the Wedgetail or the Hawkeye. There is in fact an urgent need for this force multiplier. We also need to upgarade our weapons and weapons systems with new targetting pods for all the mig29, hawks and even the F-5’s

    What maritime RAF aircraft you talking about Lee? The Nimrods were an expensive failures.

  24. The thai has always been ahead in ISR compared to us, even before the erieye in the picture. I would bet that we are no 4 behind Indon, Thai and SG on this matter.

    It was rumoured that SG plan to obtain ex US P3C to beef up their MP. I think we should do the same or buy new cn235 and equipped with search radar.

    However I am divided about AEWAC, is it cost effective?

  25. Enough talk about the MRCA… What the RMAF should be doing is rebuilding from the bottom up. An MRCA is the last component that one should add to a comprehensive well-rounded force. Whether Super Hornets, Gripens, Eurofighters, etc., what good are fighters against China without long-range ISR assets, tankers, etc.? The RMAF should be focusing on building strong education and training, doctrine, and so on first. The RMAF could buy 100+ fighters, but who would pilot them (only 8 modern MB-339s and 19 PC-7 Mk.IIs purchased in the past 10 years and 10 Hawks in the 10 years prior to that)? And would they be used as part of a networked force (not 1 ISR platform in the inventory)? And would they be able to put their weapons on target and return to base safely (not 1 long-range tanker in the inventory)?

    An AEW has been a requirement since RMK8 but no money was forthcoming. Its in the RMK10 wish-list and there is a buzz on the ground but it seemed to be behind the pecking order compared to the MRCA.
    Nothing on the tanker however. I am guessing they will rely on buddy tanking and the two Hercules tankers for now.

  26. I guess the politicians prefer big shiny new MRCAs that bring down the rains and dogfighting in the air rather than some ugly looking “hunchbacks” AWACS that we need the most. I agreed with the fact that the we should focus on surveillance (AWACS), logistics (more tankers plz, 4 C130T is just not enough), and trainings(more MB339CMs).

    Even if we are interested in buying MRCAs, we should have considers upgrading what we have(MiG29N upgraded to SMT standard & upgrading the Hawks for dogfighting and precision strikes) and reduces the numbers of aircraft types in inventory(i hope Typhoon, Gripens and Rafale will go down the drain. Go Super Bug!).

  27. Farred LHS, let’s not bring China in the equation shall we? No matter how networked we are or how big our defence budget is, or how many ISR assets and tankers we have,we can’t touch China, nor do we have a reason to. And why do we need long range tankers? Are we planning on launching strike packages to the Straits of Formosa or to provide a CAP over the Straits of Lombok? For our operational requirements the C-130’s are sufficient, all our areas on interests are well within distance of land bases.

    Ym Lee, the RMAF received an offer about 5 years ago for surplus USN P-3’s. Until and if the Hawk 200’s get an upgrade that enable them to use a stand-off LGB, there is no need for a targeting pod.

  28. Dear Azlan,
    Targeting pods and precision strike weapons are for force multiplication-making the plane more effective.The Hawks are being used for ground strike and they need the precision. We are a poor country.Thus we must maximise the capabilities of all our assets first.

    Lee, the Hawks need to be upgraded first, the wings need to be re-wired for smart bombs as well as it is mission computers and other avionics before it can be integrated with a targeting pod. The Hawks was supposed to be up-graded in RMK9 but only money for the refurbishing of the engines were available…

  29. i think the main issue for any topic regarding malaysia defence especially for army, navy and air force is budget.
    we all know that the allocation budget for them is quite same annually (% from national GDP)and this is the first sector that will lost some of the allocation when we are in economic crisis, i also dont think we will see any drastic increase in the near future. this is the way how the government do from long time ago till now.
    the problem is why the wishlist from the tri armed not suited at all with the budget. is the people who create the ‘wishlist’ is optimist or dreamer who think government will print out more money to purchase the wishlist as planned?
    thats why when ppl insist for jet fighter government give mig, when ppl really push for MBT, government give PT. politician and government cannot be blame 100% on this bcoz they have to think other sectors. we are not north korea, myanmar or pakistan who give defence sector a big portion of national budget.
    most of our tri armed asset are under utilised and if upgraded, only for some part and not all as schedule. all of this cause by the optimist wishlist.
    of course the annual budget for armed forces can be increase but it will take portion from most probably subsidy pie and not even 1 person wants education and health subsidies reduced or taken out.

  30. Well the defence budget can be increased without slashing the education and healthcare subsidies. The solution, do away with the fuel subsidy and be prepared to pay RM3.50 a litre of Ron 95.

    I doubt most of us want that……

    Another method is to right size the army, we have about 80K full time army and about 50k reserve, pay and remuneration easily cost us about RM4-RM5 billion annually, almost half of the budget. I was more thinking 50k professional army and 50k reserve. savings if any could be used to upgrade the weaponry, training etc.

  31. YM Kee,

    I’m aware of what tatgetting/navigation pods are for. Thw Hawks at the moment, like all Hawks worlwide, can only use dumb bombs, unguided rockets and in our case, M-20 clusters. Adding a pod without an upgrade at this point is pointless.

  32. Speaking of MRCA, I wonder what will happen to our Mig-29Ns once RMAF put them out of service? I think it is a waste just to scrap them. I seriously doubt that there are other countries that are stupid enough to buy our Migs. If we can’t afford the maintenance cost, I don’t think other 3rd countries could. By the time Migs retired, they would be just a pile of junk. What a waste!

    I heard that Rosoboronexport of Russia offered to trade-in our remaining Migs with 6 Su-30MKM plus we pay them additional money. I’m not sure what amount of money we that talk here. But I bet it will be less than 300 US millions (still a lot of money but better than throw away for nothing). Thus, I proposed we take the deal.

    In my opinion, RMAF could benefits from extra Sukhois. Su-30MKM as a heavy fighter (thus heavy payload and greater range) would suit deep strike mission and long range anti-ship mission, which I think would be crucial in future conflicts (eg. with China or Indonesia).

    As Malaysia is divided by the South China Sea, and since the peninsula is of better importance than East Malaysia for various reasons such as administration, economic and social value, plus greater threat from Singapore, we can’t afford to station our best jet fighters in Sabah or Sarawak.

    Therefore, Sabah and Sarawak are open for air-borne assaults. This is especially true if our strained relationship with Indonesia escalates to war (with all due respects to our neighbors, this is just hypothetical and no harm intended). In the war against Singapore, hypothetically the SAF would focus their might to defeat the peninsular and won’t target East Malaysia, as they would not risk dividing their might. Simply say if we lose peninsular we still have Sabah Sarawak. If they lose, they will lose entire Singapore. But the same cannot be said to Indonesia. TNI would focus on capturing Sabah Sarawak, as it would be easier to do so than conquering the peninsular. Then they would focus on defending the newly acquired land and the war of attrition would continue, until either side give up. By that time, Indonesia would have Sabah Sarawak as their bargaining chip for peace negotiation (Again, this is hypothetical and no harm intended. Peace).

    As you can see, this is why I stressed the importance of long range fighters. And of course, this is just hypothetical and in real war, numerous factors would contribute to the outcome of the war. But still, as I wrote earlier, RMAF could benefits from extra Su-30MKM. Besides, our retired Mig wont be wasted.

    I am aware of RMAF’s fondness to the 18 jets per squadron philosophy. But I think 24 (18 Su-30MKM plus additional 6) would fit nicely in RMAF doctrine. I think that since our military is expanding (at least in quality), we can afford 24 per squadron. In fact, many countries nowadays adopt larger squadron. It gives better numerical strength, ease of procurement & maintenance, better understanding between members of squadron, and better management. I give you an example. If RMAF need to conduct an operation, say 18 is the suitable strength, we can rest another 6 or serve them as backup in case anything goes wrong. What would happen if 2 out 18 is grounded for unsheduled maintenance? Then RMAF has to cope with just 16, or call another 2 from different squadron. If the 2 jets are of the same type, then it would be great, but what happen if they don’t. Even with software and hardware integration, different type of aircraft could not work together as effectively as the aircraft of the same type. Nor even with extensive training, pilots from another squadron could read his new buddy as the same with his very own teammate. Therefore, I think 24 Su-30MKM plus 24 MRCA would make a great addition to RMAF. Of course, it depends on our economical situation.


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