A combination of capability and flexibility over countertrade appears to have made India one of the frontrunners for Malaysia's Fighter Lead-in-Trainer (FLIT) program.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said on 18 August that the Tejas has a “fair chance” of winning the bid as it has met “all the parameters sought by RMAF [Royal Malaysian Air Force] ”. The company added that “the final winner of the tender is expected to be declared soon by Malaysian authorities”.

Malaysia's FLIT program intends to acquire an initial batch of 18 light combat aircraft as part of the RMAF's Capability Development 2055 plan.


The plan, which was launched in 2018, seeks to replace the RMAF's force of seven Aermacchi MB-339CM jet trainers. Malaysia is also seeking to replace 18 BAE Systems Hawk Mk 108 twin-seat and Mk 208 single-seat light combat aircraft that are in service.

Malaysia announced its FLIT tender in July 2021. By October, six bidders were said to have submitted their proposals to the Malaysian Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) is offering its FA-50 Block 20, HAL is offering its Tejas Mk 1, China's National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) is offering the L-15, and Italy's Leonardo is offering its M-346. Russia's Rosoboronexport is offering the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35, and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is offering its in-development H├╝rjet.