Last week, one of the aircraft vying for a Malaysian trainer contract debuted at the Singapore Airshow, performing static and flying displays.

While the other opponents chose to keep a low profile, three Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-built Tejas from the No. 18 “Flying Bullets” Squadron in Sulur demonstrated their capabilities. During the air show, which took place at the Changi Exhibition Centre from Feb. 15 to 18, two of the aircraft performed aerial displays.

Malaysia is seeking 18 jets to replace its fleet of BAE Systems-made Hawk 108 trainers and Hawk 208 light-attack jets, which were introduced in 1994 and have suffered from increasing attrition. Korean Aerospace Industries is also competing for Malaysia’s Fighter Lead In Trainer-Light Combat Aircraft program, pitching its FA-50 Golden Eagle multirole jet.

The South Korean company’s booth at the air show included models of the FA-50, the KF-21 Boramae fighter, the Surion helicopter and the Light Armed Helicopter. Its KT-1B turboprop trainers were flown by Indonesia’s Jupiter aerobatics team during an aerial display.

A possible sticking point for the FA-50 could be its Israeli-origin Elta Systems ELM-2032 multimode radar, as Malaysia is adamant in refusing to use Israeli systems over the country’s treatment of Palestinians.

The FA-50 and its predecessor, the T-50 trainer, are regional export success stories, with Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand joining South Korea in operating the type. Outside of the region, Iraq operates the Golden Eagle.

However, KAI’s regional manager, Lee Chang Jae, told Defence News that the FA-50 could be fitted with several other radars based on customer requirements, including an active electronically scanned array set under development by Hanwha for the KF-21 Boramae.

Turkish Aerospace Industries, which also hosted a booth at the air show, is proposing its Hurjet aircraft for Malaysia’s FLIT-LCA program. TAI is offering a strategic partnership with Malaysia to build a supersonic jet trainer for the Royal Malaysian Air Force, in which three would be produced in Turkey and 15 made in Malaysia under license, the company’s CEO, Temel Kotil, said during a Feb. 12 television interview.