Turkey’s Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) race to offer the most attractive choice as Malaysia’s fighter jet tender heats up. 

The Malaysian government recently confirmed the six participants in the tender, as well as the requirements that the contenders have to meet.  

The material has been published by the country’s media recently, but remained unconfirmed. 

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The Malaysian press reports that six jets are participating in the country's light combat aircraft tender – and the Pakistani-Chinese JF-17 is not among them.
 

The six companies that submitted their bids to produce a light fighter jet and an advanced trainer aircraft are HAL with the Tejas, Aerospace Technology Systems with the MiG-35, Catic with the L-15, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) with the FA-50, Leonardo with the M-346 and TAI with the Hurjet. Chinese-Pakistanian JF-17, Russian Yak-130 and American T7A are no longer considered. 

One of the requirements is that 30% of the production has to be located in Malaysia, by collaborating with local companies on either manufacturing or assembly, MalaysiaKini reports 

This requirement spurred at least two manufacturers to initiate ties with Malaysia’s aviation industry, in an attempt to secure a position that would put them on favorable terms with the government. 

Turkey’s TAI has opened an office in Cyberjaya, and a science park in Malaysia’s Putrajaya city on November 24, 2021, seeking to strengthen ties and have a firm footprint in the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony, CEO of TAI, Temel Kotil, said that should the company win the tender, it is ready to manufacture 15 of the ordered Hurjets in Malaysia, as an addition to 13 manufacturing projects of Turkish origin that are already ongoing in Malaysia.  

Meanwhile, at Dubai airshow HAL staged an aerobatic display explicitly aiming at Malaysian audience. At the airshow, the company’s managing director Shri R. Madhavan said they are ready to modify the jet to meet the requirements put forward by Malaysia, pointing out flaws in competing aircraft. Additionally, India was quick to remind its intention to open a host of logistics bases in the region, now with the intent of supporting the deployment of Tejas.  

So far there have been no similar pledges from other competing companies, although South Korea’s KAI has been pushing its offer at diplomatic meetings since at least 2019. 

Malaysia is looking to buy 18 aircraft, with a possibility to add further 18. The tender was officially announced in June 2021 and closed on October 6 of the same year.