FA-50, ATR-72MP, UH-60, Anca ..: Malaysian Air Force modernizes at LIMA show

Like its neighbours, Kuala Lumpur had until recently not made equipping the Malaysian air force a priority, despite regional tensions, its population of 33 million and of its 330.000 km² to be protected.

After the withdrawal of the MIG-29 and F-5 in service for several decades, the Malaysian air force can now only rely on a small fleet made up of 8 F/A-18 D Hornets acquired in 2008, and that 18 Su-30MKM negotiated with Moscow a few years earlier.

Although these aircraft are still relatively modern and efficient, it was nevertheless essential for Kuala Lumpur to strengthen their format and, more generally, to modernize all of its air forces.

Indeed, while relations with Beijing were relatively good until the middle of the previous decade, they have deteriorated significantly in recent years after Beijing has considerably hardened its territorial claims in the South China Sea with the famous rule of 9 lines, depriving several countries of an exclusive economic zone often rich in fishery and mineral resources.

In fact, Malaysia, like many of its neighbours, is now called upon to modernize and expand its armies, particularly in the naval and air domain.

Malaysian Air Force Su-30MKM
Malaysian Air Force implements 18 Su-30MKM heavy fighters

It is therefore on the occasion of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace or LIMA exhibition, a defense exhibition which is held, oh surprise, in Malaysia, that the country's air forces have decided to announce a series of contracts for a total amount of $2,2 billion. Among the 40 contracts signed in this context, four deserve special attention.

Firstly, Kuala Lumpur has officially ordered 18 FA-50 training and attack aircraft from South Korea, KAI, intended to replace the Hawks still in service, both as advanced training aircraft and as light fighter.

This announcement is not in itself a surprise, since Kuala Lumpur announced in February that it had selected the South Korean aircraft against the Russian MIG-35 and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17, after the Indian Tejas was eliminated from the competition a few weeks earlier.


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