Malaysian FLIT/LCA purchase programme still running

Within Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Capability Development Plan 2055 (CAP55) the force is looking for a new Fighter Lead‐In Trainer/Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT/LCA) within the the next three years.

The RMAF wants to purchase 36 dual purpose aircraft in a two phases acquirement plan: eighteen aircraft in phase 1 through the submission of the new projects 2021, and another eighteen in phase 2, under the thirteenth Malaysia Plan (RMK-13).

The RMAF is using the AleniaAermacchi MB339CM (assigned to Pulatibang 3 (3 Flying Training Center) at Kuantan air base, Malaysia) and the the BAe Systems Hawk Mk108 and Mk208 (with 15 Skn at Butterworth air base, Malaysia) fulfuilling the FLIT/LCA mission. Within ten years these aircraft must be replaced as some 50% of this fleet is currently reaching the end of their operational service time. The RMAF light attack mission, mainly assigned to the Hawk, is heavily tasks by security of Malaysia. These aircraft play a vital role in the counter-terrorism operations in the eastern state of Sabah, bordering the southern Philippines.

It is widely known that Malaysia is struggling with their defense budgets in which acquisition plans often strand. But early December 2020, the Malaysian government approved a budget of RM15,86 billion (USD 3,9 billion) to be allocated to defense for 2021. This is an increase of 1,8% compared to the 2020 budget.

Already three years ago, the Malaysian CAP55 plan was launched and since that time, a FLIT/LCA and a Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) is discussed. The new LCA will provide support to the current Boeing F/A-18D Hornet and Sukhoi Su-30MKM fleet while the FLIT must replace the MB339. To save money, the RMAF is now focussing on a dual role type.

In 2018, eight FLIT/LCA's types were potential candidates, this has most probably not changed: Leonardo M346 Master, Boeing T-7 Red Hawk, Aero Vodochody L-39NG, KAI FA-50 Golden Eagle, HAL Tejas, PAC/Chengdu JF-17 Thunder, Yakolev YAK-130 MITTEN and the Hongdu L-15B (China).

Photo by RMAF

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