European ECAs may loose out to Russian and/or Chinese sales of fighter jets to Malaysia

(Deutsche Welle, Bonn, 29 May 2019) Financial troubles may force Malaysia to drop its plans to buy highly capable multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) and settle for cheaper, less capable fighter jets to replace its current fleet of Russian MiG 29s that are mostly grounded. Europe's MRCA makers Eurofighter and Dassault Aviation have been wooing Malaysia for almost a decade for a deal. Kuala Lumpur has threatened to boycott EU goods, if the 28-nation bloc goes ahead with its plan to phase out palm oil from transport fuel after the European Commission concluded that palm oil cultivation, with some exceptions, caused deforestation and that its use in transport fuels could not be counted toward its renewable energy goals. Malaysia has said China, Russia and Pakistan have expressed their willingness to be partly paid in palm oil for their fighter jets. This is likely to complicate matters for the RMAF, which has traditionally preferred using Western equipment, including on its Russian Sukhoi jets. Malaysia's latest attempt at barter trade could be beneficial for Russia, which has seen China walk away with many defense deals in the region and undercut Moscow's arm supplies. Russia has a long track record of swapping weapons for commodities in the region, including as part of its fighter jet deals with Indonesia and Vietnam.