The current political climate and government austerity measures in Malaysia mean that a number of programs for the Malaysian armed forces look likely to be postponed until the time frame of the 11th Malaysia Plan, which covers government spending for the period of 2016-2020. A combination of public dissatisfaction over the cutting of government subsidies and the government’s need to balance an increasing deficit has made spending on military procurement politically unviable at the moment.
Royal Malaysian Air Force
The events in Sabah, Malaysia, this past March, when local forces conducted Operation Daulat used combat jets to quell the resistance of the Filipino gunmen on the island of Borneo, may have prompted a spate of arms sales to that country and her closest neighbors. The armed forces do have a big wish list for weapons, but procurement processes for the most expensive and longest-lead items are likely to be launched properly only after the general elections in Malaysia later this year.
The Airbus Military A400M is spreading its wings, as the once-troubled program makes progress toward first delivery early next year. The airlifter went to South America last month and Southeast Asia this week, for viewing by potential customers. The company said last November that it hopes to sell about 300 A400Ms over the next 20 years, and that the first production slots for new customers are available in 2016-17.
All three services of the Malaysian armed forces have received significant cuts to their procurement budget requests for 2012. The political context for this is the build up to a general election, which must be held by 2013. With defense spending being a contentious issue in Malaysia and the need to reduce state spending, the current government has opted for sizable cutbacks.
Making a welcome first appearance in Singapore skies, the Smokey Bandits display team is showcasing “Malaysia’s MiGs”–five MiG-29N fighters that are performing an eight-minute routine here at the show.
Malaysia’s requirement for a new multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) was a key feature of this week’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition. Although no formal request for proposals (RFP) has been issued, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen were all on flying or static display in pairs.
Alenia Aermacchi expects to soon ink an order for 18 SF-260 primary trainers from the Philippines National Defence Department as part of a package aimed at modernizing the Asian nation’s armed forces. The Philippines armed forces have been using SF-260 trainers since the early 1970s, when they took the first of an order for 46 piston-powered aircraft, replaced in 1991 by 18 SF-260TP turboprops.
The ninth Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace (LIMA) show, held in December, gave the Malaysian air force the opportunity to showcase its newly received Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighters. Three of the six Su-30s delivered to date were on display at the show and one, flown by a Malaysian crew, participated in the daily flying routine.
The Malaysian government’s decision to ground a fleet of helicopters belonging
to state-owned operator Hornbill Skyways has disrupted life in Sarawak, Borneo. The Malaysian government issued the order at the beginning of last month, after Sarawak’s second helicopter accident in two months claimed the lives of four people on board a Hornbill Bell 206 JetRanger.