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Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) last month got the contract to supply 18 FA-50 Golden Eagle Trainer/Combat aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) where India’s very own LCA-Tejas Mk1A jet was a distant second in the race during the final selection process as per latest Malaysian media reports.

Malaysian then-defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein praised the FA-50 Golden Eagle last year as a ‘reliable platform based on good reputation’, it was probably was first signs why it was picked.

This Week Present Defense Minister Mohamad Hasan said in parliament that the FA-50 decision was based on the platform’s ‘service record’, adding that Malaysia does not want its military personnel to be involved in a ‘laboratory test’. FA-50 and JF-17 both had higher production rates and units has export success which might have gone against India’s LCA-Tejas.

India has inducted only 40 odd Tejas Mk1 fighter jets, but IAF has placed further orders for 83 more jets with 50 more additional units to be procured in the pipeline, but it seems it was not impressive for the Malaysian Military Planners since KAI has manufactured nearly 200 units of T-50/FA-50 variants in last 15 years and the jet is flown by Air forces of the Indonesia, Iraq, Philippines, Poland, Thailand and host country South Korea.

Malaysia did acknowledge that Tejas could have been a much cheaper option than FA-50 and was much more capable but RMAF faced several issues with its now retired Russian-supplied Mig-29 and continues to face service and spare issues with its Su-30MKM fleet and clearly, they didn’t want to bet on LCA-Tejas due to several delays first in induction of this jets in IAF and low rate of production .

Tejas fleet in IAF will expand and the rate of production will pick up in the next few years as IAF is set to induct the first batch of upgraded Tejas Mk1A fighter jets from 2024 onwards.

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