THE Defence Ministry is expected to make some crucial updates on the status of 18 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) procurement in the upcoming Defence Services Asia (DSA) Exhibition & Conference next week that will be held from March 28-31.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) opened a tender in October last year to modernise its combat fleet that saw participation of five foreign defence companies that submitted bids.
According to one defence industry analyst, although a decision on the tender is imminent, it could take another year before the government makes the announcement.
“The reason being is that the government will have to finalise a date for the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) that was cancelled last year due to overwhelming resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
“If the government were to announce the winner of the LCA programme soon then other world-renowned defence companies and the already bidding defence companies might not turn up for the LIMA exhibition and this will be a huge loss of tourism and trade revenue for the country,” the analyst told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.
LIMA, which is held every two years, was last organised in 2019.
“We are expecting the government to update the defence industry players on the dates of LIMA in the upcoming DSA next week. That will keep the ball rolling for all the interested parties looking to formalise and sign procurement contracts,” he added.
He said something would be tabled regarding the LCA upgrades in the four-day DSA event.
The analyst said the government usually sets aside a big budget for international events such as LIMA, and that fewer participants to such events will provide poor return of investment.
The analyst believed the government has shortlisted four bids and that Russia’s Sukhoi bid may not be in that list due to poor servicing and maintenance issues including difficulty in getting parts and replacement components in the past.
Last December, Indonesian Air Force confirmed that its government has dropped a plan to purchase 11 Russian Su-35 jets in favour of the French-made Rafale and American F-15s.