Malaysia’s Defense Ministry will purchase 18 fighter jets from Korea Aerospace Industries Co (KAI), South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer, for 1.2 trillion won (USD 920 million). KAI will export 18 FA-50 light attack aircraft jets to the Royal Malaysian Air Force, with the first delivery scheduled for 2026.
Malaysia is looking to improve its air combat and training capabilities as it seeks to replace its fleet of BAE Systems-made Hawk trainers and light combat aircraft, which has seen high attrition. KAI won the contract over competitors, including India’s Tejas, Pakistan’s JF-17, Russia’s MIG-35, and Turkey’s Hurizet. After Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, this is KAI’s fourth aircraft contract with a Southeast Asian country. KAI has exported 68 KT-1 basic and T-50 advanced trainer jets, as well as FA-50 aircraft, to Southeast Asian markets with the latest agreement.
Malaysia previously stated that it required 36 fighter jets, implying that it will continue to seek an additional 18 aircraft. KAI also expects to win the contract to supply another 18 FA-50s to Malaysia as the country expands its aircraft fleet. Malaysia also intends to replace 16 MiG-29 interceptors that were retired in 2017 due to insufficient funding for maintenance. However, due to budget constraints, a planned multirole combat aircraft program to replace the aircraft has been halted.
(Sources: Defense News; Janes)