Malaysia has published the tender for the supply of eighteen Fighter Lead In Trainer-Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT/LCA) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) on June 22. Closing date for the tender is Sept. 22. The RMAF Capability Development Plan 2055 (CAP55), the service plans to procure 36 FLIT/LCA aircraft in two steps. The RMAF has asked the government for a budget for the acquisition of 18 aircraft in phase 1 through the submission of the new projects 2021 and another 18 aircraft in phase 2, under the 13th Malaysia Plan (RMK-13).
The RMAF currently operates two variants of the BAE Systems Hawk in the FLIT/LCA roles, as well as some Aermacchi MB339 trainers. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has 18 Hawk aircraft, consisting of 4 Hawk 108 export versions as training aircraft and 14 Hawk 208 as combat aircraft. On 5 March 2013, during the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff, five Hawk 208 together with three American-made Boeing F/A-18D Hornets were employed in airstrikes on hideouts of the terrorist group Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
Half of the fleet is nearing the end of its operational life and needs to be replaced within 10 years at the latest. Light Combat Aircraft play a major role in the security of the nation, such as the counter-terrorism operations carried out by the Hawk in the eastern state of Sabah, bordering the southern Philippines. After the suspension of RMAF’s MRCA (Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) purchase program, the need for this type has become more pressing. The new Light Combat Aircraft will provide support to the current Boeing F/A-18D Hornet and Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighter aircraft.
For the Fighter Lead In Trainer-Light Combat Aircraft (FLIT/LCA) requirement, the types under consideration are the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) FA-50 Fighting Eagle; the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas; the Leonardo M-346; the Aero Vodochody L-39NG; the CAC L-15A/B; the CAC/PAC JF-17; the Saab Gripen; and the Yakovlev Yak-130. It is reported that the Leonardo M346 Master and the Yakolev YAK-130 Mitten have since been cut from the competition.