Major fighter manufacturers displayed their wares this week at the 2013 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition in Malaysia in anticipation of that country’s pending requirement for new fighters. Five aircraft considered contenders for the program–the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18F and Sukhoi Su-30MKM–participated in the aerial display.
The Eurofighter consortium, led by BAE Systems, expects a request for proposals will be issued later this year for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) requirement for 18 fighters to replace its MiG-29s in 2015 and 2016. During its press briefing at LIMA, the consortium said it also hopes to add Korea and Denmark to its list of customers. It believes the Libyan deployment in 2011 reflects positively on the Typhoon. The fighter performed about 600 combat missions that year for a total of 3,000 flight hours, with some missions lasting as long as nine hours. Reliability averaged 97 percent.
Of the 200 Eurofighter suppliers, there are two in Malaysia, CTRM and SMCA, and they are also partners on the RMAF’s BAE Hawk advanced jet trainers. The Malaysian companies had orders for 3.5 billion Ringgit ($1.1 billion) during the past five years, and they expect 6 billion Ringgit more over the next five years “regardless of whether Typhoon is selected or not for the Malaysian air force,” said Andy Wilson, BAE’s Typhoon business development director. Mark Kane, combat air division managing director, added, “We are keen to expand our cooperation with Malaysia.”
BAE said that more than 350 Typhoons have been delivered; orders stand at 571. Export sales now stand at 99, including 72 ordered by Saudi Arabia and 12 by Oman. The type has logged 170,000 flight hours.
Eurofighter insists that the Typhoon differs from the competing jets in dynamics through the entire flight envelope. The Typhoon accelerates from a stationary position on the ground to 45,000 feet and Mach 1 in 90 seconds. The UK Royal Air Force declared the Typhoon a multi-role fighter in 2008, and in 2011 the type flew strike missions in Libya, typically with four AMRAAM, two ASRAAM and four Paveway 2 guided bombs (or other 1,000-pound-class bombs). The MBDA Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile will be integrated on the Typhoon soon, according to BAE, followed by the Brimstone missile in 2017.
The RAF aircraft currently do not have anti-ship missiles, but a number of those can be integrated, including the AGM-84 Harpoon used by the RMAF. There is a “complex” weapons program in place that aims to ease the adaptation of additional weapons to the Typhoon package. The UK is considering the addition of the Spear-3 missile in the future, which would equip RAF Typhoons to engage small vessels. This enables the Eurofighter consortium to consider the Typhoon “fully compliant” with Malaysian specifications, executives said.