In its bid to win the Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia/TUDM)’s Fighter Lead-In Trainer/Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT/LCA) program, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) also proposed to build a final assembly facility for its FA-50 Block 20 light fighter at Kuantan.
The facility requires an investment of between MYR440 million to MYR560 million (about USD100.3 million to USD127.7 million at the current exchange rate) and takes at least one year to build. Depending on both Malaysia’s decision and KAI’s on-site study, it will have either one or two final assembly line(s) with a maximum combined output of two aircraft per three to six months.
It has been projected that each line will provide jobs for between 40 to 50 Malaysian workers and engineers and will be supervised by around 18 experts from KAI.
KAI is currently competing with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the TUDM’s FLIT/LCA program. Its FA-50 Block 20 light fighter is being considered against HAL’s Tejas to win a contract valued at MYR4 billion (about USD992 million) for 18 aircraft with an option for the second batch of 18 additional aircraft.
TUDM FLIT/LCA program is meant to replace the service’s aging Hawk 108/208 trainer/light attack aircraft that have been in service since the 1990s. It is also meant to replace TUDM’s seven Aermacchi MB-339CM advanced trainer aircraft, in service since 2009, and to replace its fleet of 16 MiG-29 fighters that have been grounded since 2017.
The program calls for the acquisition of supersonic light fighter aircraft with aerial refueling capability, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat capability, and containing at least 30% of parts produced in Malaysia. It also requires the manufacturer to start delivery within 36 months of the contract signing.
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