PETALING JAYA: The prospect is mouth watering, two of the most modern western fighters against two of the arguably, the best in South East Asia.
That prospect might just become a reality (or not) this October or November when the latest Five Power Defence Arrangement (PFDA) multi-national exercise is held. It remained a tantalising prospect at the moment as while the Typhoon from RAF and the Super Hornets from RAAF are almost confirmed, whether or not the Flankers (RMAF) and Super Eagles of RSAF will take part remained to be seen.
If both do not take part, at least our Flanker boys will get the chance to spar with the Typhoons or fly on them (if they bring in the two seaters) as the RAF contingent was supposed to stay in country or at least regionally until December, for the Lima show.
The latest FPDA will be hosted by the Singaporeans and it remained to be seen whether or not our Flankers will take part. The last exercise was hosted by the RMAF, which saw a contingent of Super Hornets operating from Butterworth. During that event, our Flankers reportedly did not turn up but the prospect of having two contenders for the MRCA programme in country for an extended period will probably get someone at Jalan Padang Tembak to order a duel among the three fighters even if it is held outside FPDA.
I know the French and the Swedes will be livid! And even the Indians will want to see the results if the fur-ball really took place. Edited: I forgot to add that our fighter boys will get a chance to go head to head against the Rafale or fly in a two seater when the French contingent arrives here in December for Lima.
Yes, the Defence Minister had already announced that the MRCA programme had been put on hold for the time being. Read Here .
His statement caused a flurry phone calls to Europe and Washington, I am told. Of course there are more to story than just that. I had written before that the original timeline for the MRCA programme was supposed to be in 2014 and that apparently had not changed.
The only change is that Boeing reportedly had upped the ante and had asked that decision to be made ASAP as the US Navy’s Super Hornet Multi-year Programme will be shuttered by 2015 if no new orders is made within the next two years. We know now that is not the case as the F-35 programme is experiencing further delays.
To make it point further Boeing is also proposing to Malaysia the same deal as it has with the US Navy, that is to purchase the Super Hornets for around US60 million to USD70 million per plane. This is of of course without the engines, support and training and ordnance. With the engines, support and training and ordnance, we may end up paying some US120 million or more for each plane. And this will be a strictly a FMS deal so definitely no offset deal at all.
I am told the Finance Ministry had a hard look at the numbers and they are biting. So before the deal is signed, one need to get it off the table for now……
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