Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), India’s indigenous single-engine supersonic fighter and one of the flying machines in the Indian Air Force (IAF) arsenal, is likely to be one of the jets which Malaysia is keen to evaluate as part of the defence modernisation programme. Malaysia will call for bids from global defence majors in early 2020 for the supply of up to 36 aircraft for the Royal Air Force and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which manufactures Tejas jets, will most probably be one of the contenders.
According to Jane’s 360 and Nikkei Asian Review, the aircraft which the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) are keen to test include Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle, HAL Tejas, Italian Alenia Aermacchi Master Leonardo M-346, the Czech Aero Vodochody L-39NG; China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) L-15A/B, the Chine-Pakistan co-developed JF-17, Sweden’s Saab Gripen, and Russia’s Yakovlev Yak-130.
However, the HAL will need clearance from the Central government before it submits its bid for the Royal Malaysian Air Force acquisition programme.
Two IAF Tejas fighter jet had taken part in the 15th edition of Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA-2019) in Malaysia in March 2019. It was the first time that IAF took part in LIMA even though the aero show was first organised in 1991.
Royal Malaysian Air Force chief General Affendi Buang has stated that 40% of the fighters in service need to be upgraded or replaced immediately. Jane’s 360 also reported that an RMAF official had on November 14, 2019, stated that while the initial request by Malaysia would be for 36 LCAs, the deal will also have the option of procuring 26 more jets later.
The official also gave a presentation about the likely aircraft under consideration to replace the RMAF’s BAE Systems Hawk, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 and Aermacchi MB339 jets.