Even as Malaysia is expected to announce its decision to buy Light Combat Aircraft from India soon, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Contingent is leaving for Malaysia to participate in a bilateral exercise named ‘Udarashakti’.
The mega deal of LCA fighter jets and Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facility for Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) Su-30 MKM is expected to be closed in September. There were five contenders including India, FA- 50 of Korean Aerospace Industries, and JF-17 of China. According to sources, in September a large delegation from Malaysia is expected which is expected to be led by one of the top leaders of that country to finalise the deal.
In 2021, RMAF issued a Request for Proposal (RfP) to five countries: Italy, Russia, China, South Korea, and India to procure fighter jets.
Air Force Drill
The four-day bilateral drill between Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will take place at the RMAF base of Kuantan. There will be different aerial combat exercises between the two air forces to augment security in the region and help in strengthening defence cooperation between the two countries.
According to the IAF, in this drill between the two sides, Su-30 MKI ( made in India at the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics under license from Russia) and the American C-17 aircraft. The contingent departed directly from their bases for the drill in Malaysia. From RMAF, Su 30 MKM aircraft will be deployed which will be located at their base of Kuantan.
Enhancing combat capabilities
Both countries are flying Su-30 fighter jets and this will give a chance to both sides to share and learn best practices and will be an opportunity for both to discuss mutual combat capabilities.
Malaysia looking at LCA
Financial Express Online reported earlier that Malaysia is expected to announce its decision to buy Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) `Tejas’ in September.
Since RMFA is also flying Su-30 Russian-origin fighters, India has offered to set up an MRO facility in the ASEAN member country. In view of the US-led sanctions on Russia because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Malaysia has been facing difficulties in procuring spares for its fleet.
Meanwhile: Pitch Black Air Combat Exercise
India and Malaysia are both participating in a multilateral air combat exercise Pitch Black which is conducted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). This drill is starting next week and there are 17 countries participating and 100 aircraft will be engaged in Defensive Counter Air (DCA) and Offensive Counter Air (OCA) combat drills. This will further enhance interoperability and relationships among the nations including Asean region and India.
Countries including Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea are among the 17 countries participating.