BAE Systems did not send a Typhoon this year, preferring to exhibit a full scale replica (FSR) outside the exhibition hall with the weapons that could be available if the Royal Malaysian Air Force opted for it. The requirement for a multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) to replace the F-5s and MiG-29Ns has been rolling along for many years now. From my discussions at the event, the MRCA has dropped down the pecking order, after the need for a maritime surveillance aircraft.
Mind you, that didn’t stop the other big companies sending fighters – Saab sent two Royal Thai Air Force Gripens, Dassault, two French Air Force Rafales, Boeing, two US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets plus the RMAF flew a F/A-18D in the display and the Russian Knights aerobatic team made their international debut with six Su-30SMs although only four flew in the displays. All the types are competing for the RMAF’s MRCA requirement.
If Malaysia still wants a new aircraft, my money would go on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a fighter that has been at war continuously since 2001 and which has many different configurations. With the new RMAF Chief wanting to consolidate his inventory, reducing the different number of types he is flying in a bid to reduce the costs, the Super Hornet could work well alongside the RMAF’s F/A-18Ds they have had over 20 years now.
Or alternatively, the RMAF could opt to take on some of the Kuwait Air Force F/A-18C/D Hornets which they have been offered, that will become surplus when Arab state receive their 40 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Alan Warnes