Malaysia interested in South Korea’s aerospace sector advancement

Malaysia is currently considering its option on LCA and is expected to formally launch a procurement effort

by TMR/ pic by BERNAMA

MALAYSIA is interested in the progress and development achieved by South Korea in the aerospace industry, said Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Speaking during his visit to Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd’s (KAI) facility in Sacheon, Bernama reported the PM as saying that South Korea has made great strides in the highly-technological field since the last time he visited the country.

His last visit to the country as a PM was in 2002.

“I have always been interested in fighter planes and indigenous planes. I want to see how it performs and the advancement of your aircraft industry,” he told KAI CEO Ahn Hyun-ho, who received him at the facility.

Ahn (left) escorting Dr Mahathir (centre) during his visit to KAI’s facility. The PM says the govt intends to develop Malaysia to be part of the IR4.0 and uses modern technology to its advantage

A qualified pilot and an avid follower of aero technology, the PM arrived at the aerospace and defence facility by helicopter around 10.30am local time.

Sacheon is located about 100km from Busan, the host city of Asean-South Korea Commemorative Summit 2019, which Dr Mahathir is scheduled to attend.

He spent more than two hours at the facility, which included attending a half an hour meeting with the company’s top officials.

Dr Mahathir later toured the facility, where he was briefed on KAI’s FA-50 Fighting Eagle light combat aircraft (LCA).

Also present during the visit were Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking, Malaysian Ambassador to Korea Datuk Mohd Ashri Muda and Malaysian Defence Attach in Seoul, Colonel Mohd Sobirin Mohd Yusof.

Malaysia is currently considering its option on LCA and is expected to formally launch a procurement effort to enable the air force to keep up with advanced technology and capability.

According to a defence publication Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) plans to procure up to 36 LCAs with an option for 26 more to complement its current batch of Hawks, Sukhoi SU-30MKM and FA-18D Hornets fighter jets.

Governmental approval is expected in the first quarter of 2020.

The LCA is expected to serve several roles in TUDM, including as LCA and lead-in fighter trainer.

Among other types of LCA under consideration by RMAF besides KAI’s FA-50 Fighting Eagle are Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) Tejas, Leonardo SpA’s M-346, the Aero Vodochody’s L-39NG, Chengdu Aircraft Corp’s (CAC) L-15A/B, CAC-Pakistan Aeronautical Complex’s JF-17, Saab AB’s Gripen, and Yakovlev’s Yak-130.

Separately, Dr Mahathir said the government intends to develop Malaysia to be part of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) and use modern technology to its advantage.

Speaking at the summit, Dr Mahathir said among the most promising industries in Malaysia is information technology and new technologies.

“We may be behind many others, but we intend to catch up.

“We need to educate from young, (at the age) where they are more familiar with new values, new strategy of doing things and new kinds of businesses,” he told a full house session moderated by Yoon Sung-woon of Bain and Co.

The local partner of the global management firm also asked Dr Mahathir on policy changes brought about by the new government and the country’s transformation plans.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia has always been welcoming towards foreign countries and investors, and this is still relevant despite the change in the government.

However, he said, the government is now strict about combating corruption and does not accept any discrepancies in financial management.

“We still welcome foreign investors,” he said, adding that the fastest way to develop is by inviting foreign investment and acquiring technology.

The CEO Dialogue session, organised by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is held in conjunction with the two-day summit which began yesterday with a leaders’ welcoming dinner.

Later, the PM visited the Malaysian Pavilion at the Invest Asean Exhibition held in conjunction with the summit.

Malaysian exhibitors participating at this event are Malaysian Investment Development Authority, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp, Invest Selangor Bhd, Halal Industry Development Corp Sdn Bhd, Usaha Strategik Sdn Bhd (USSB), We Build Easy Sdn Bhd and Tourism Malaysia Seoul.

The exhibition is expected to receive 10,000 visitors.

Dr Mahathir was briefed by USSB, which produces biomass pellet from oil palm empty fruit bunch.

Its ED Za’im Hadi Meskam said the PM was interested in the methods that the local company developed the product.

USSB initially collaborated with a German company to acquire technology to produce energy pellets from biowaste, but later switched to a technology partner from China.

“About 60% of the technology was developed locally, and our product is now used by an industrial boiler in Johor,“ he said.