The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will likely pick the South Korean FA-50 Golden Eagle fighter jet over the Indian Tejas for its light combat aircraft program, Global Business Press revealed, citing sources.
RMAF chief Gen. Asghar Khan Goriman Khan has “evinced” interest in the “affordable and efficient supersonic advanced light attack platform” over other aircraft in contention, the Singapore-based outlet wrote, quoting an unnamed official. He added that the deal is expected to proceed if the current government returns to power after the general elections in 2023.
The RMAF is looking to add a fleet of 36 light combat aircraft and lead-in fighter trainer aircraft in two to three installments.
Apart from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) Tejas, China-Pakistan’s JF-17, Russia’s Mig-35 and Yak-130, and Turkish Aerospace’s Hurjet were in the race.
The competition has reportedly narrowed down to the Korean, Indian, and Turkish jets.
The revelation comes a few weeks after HAL chairman and managing director earlier remarked that Malaysia had zeroed in on the Tejas for the program.
“I am very confident about it unless some political shift takes place,” HAL’s R Madhavan said when asked about the chances of Tejas clinching the deal.
Madhavan added that India is the only country offering maintenance for the RMAF Russian-origin Su-30 aircraft fleet.
“It (the negotiation) is almost in the final stages. We are the only country which is offering them the support for their Su-30 aircraft as other than Russia, we are the only one who can support them to the extent that they require for the Sukhoi fleet.”
Korean-Malaysian Officials in ‘Advanced Talks’
Meanwhile, Global Business Press quoted a Korea Aerospace Industries official, the manufacturer of FA-50, as saying, “Malaysia is in advanced talks with us. The two countries believe that bilateral cooperation in the defense industry can become a symbol of mutual trust and a robust strategic partnership.”
The outlet added that South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook discussed the deal with Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Bin Tun Hussein during their meeting in April.
The outlet wrote that Bin Tun Hussein seemed to have been impressed with the Korean aircraft, calling it a “reliable platform based on good reputation.”