Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is expected to respond to the Request for Proposal issued by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) for an affordable light fighter aircraft, according to an Indian military source quoted by Financial Express.
The Malaysian government posted an international tender on June 22, 2021, for a Light Combat Aircraft/Fighter Lead-In-Trainer (LCA/FLIT) program. It intends to acquire 18 aircraft with the proportion being 8 trainers for 10 light combat aircraft, according to an industry source quoted by Janes.
They will support the Boeing F/A-18D Hornet and Sukhoi Su-30MKM in service with the RMAF by replacing several aging aircraft, such as the BAe Hawk Mk 108 and Mk 208. As for the trainers, they will replace the Aermacchi MB-339CM trainer jets that are currently grounded.
Situated on the southwestern side of the tumultuous South China Sea, the modernization of its fighter fleet is crucial for Malaysia. On May 31, 2021, the RMAF Hawks from the Labuan Air Base intercepted a tactical formation of no less than 16 Chinese transport aircraft that came within 110 kilometers (60 nautical miles) from Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo.
HAL will likely offer its Tejas fighter jet, currently in development. The aircraft would be offered at $41 million apiece, according to the Indian media. The Tejas is defined by its manufacturer as a light fighter of 4+ Generation. It is equipped with an AESA radar, BVR (beyond visual range) missiles, and an electronic warfare suite.
India is reportedly about to acquire 100 General Electric F404 engines for $700 million in order to power 83 HAL Tejas ordered by the Air Force in January 2020.