India is among the five contenders competing for the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) intended purchase of 30 light combat aircraft over the next 10 years. New Delhi has put forth its indigenously developed Tejas fighter jet for the RM (Malaysian Ringgit) 36 billion (~ $8.7 billion) deal.
Other aircraft that are on offer are believed to be the F-50 of Korea Aerospace Industries (South Korea), YAK-130 by Irkut Aerospace (Russia), JF-17 Thunder (Pakistan) and Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master (Italy), reports Free Malaysia Today.
According to the report, the political consideration will be the main factor behind Malaysia’s purchase of the aircraft.
Despite heavy lobbying from Pakistan, Malaysia is unlikely to buy the JF-17 as the Kuala Lumpur reportedly intends to link the deal to purchases of palm oil.
India, which is one of the largest buyer of Malaysian palm oil, could easily meet the country’s demand. Besides, New Delhi, in a bid to boost its chances for the deal, has also offered to buy the retired MiG-29 jets from Malaysia.
According to the report, the RMAF currently operates a mixed fleet of supersonic fighters and multi-role combat aircraft, comprising 13 Russian-made MiG-29s (now retired) and 18 Sukhoi SU-30MKM “Flanker”, and eight American Boeing F/A-18D Hornet.