Friday, March 29, 2013

Malaysia Wants to Buy 18 Fighter Aircraft by 2015

Malaysia is looking to buy 18 new fighter aircraft by 2015 to replace the Mikoyan MiG-29 aircraft it currently has in service. It has short listed the following 5 candidates:
  • the Russian Su-30 from Sukhoi
  • the Swedish Jas-39 Gripen from Saab
  • the American F/A-18E/F Super Hornet from Boeing
  • the French Rafale from Dassault
  • the European Eurofighter Typhoon from EADS, BAE and Alenia Aeronautica
The Su-30 and F/A-18 are already in service with the Malaysian Air Force.

The exact cost of the contract for the new fighter aircraft has yet to be determined, but is certain to run into the billions. The competition for the contract is expected to be intense with extensive lobbying for the contract by manufacturers.

Some of the competitors, such as Sweden and France, are in dire need of an export contract. Winning the contract would greatly help the Gripen E/F and Rafale program with the addition of a second buyer.

Despite having been selected as the winner of India's MMRCA competition, France has yet to score an export contract for the Rafale. Sweden has recently ordered the Gripen E/F, but Switzerland has yet to decide on a proposal for 22 Gripen E/F.

Malaysia now has a fighter aircraft fleet of 18 Su-30MKM, 8 F/A-18D and 18 MiG-29N, of which only 10 are operational. All of the MiG-29N aircraft are to be retired by 2014.

The MiG-29N and F/A-18 had been ordered at the same time in 1993 in a split order. They were delivered in 1995 and 1997 respectively. The MiG-29N reportedly proved less than satisfactorily in service.

The MiG Corporation own internal problems starting in the nineties meant that is was unable to provide adequate after sales service and the aircraft suffered from a chronic lack of spares.

In 2003, Malaysia ordered the 18 Su-30MKM in a $900 million contract with Russia. The Su-30MKM is similar to India's Su-30MKI with some changes in avionics. It has canards and thrust-vectoring engines.

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