So the Tejas Mk1A (which AFAIK is the type to be offered based on the timelines for when RMAF wants to induct the type) will be competing against M-346 which has a light fighter variant with a radar, JF-17, FA-50 and the Yak-130 which doesn't yet have a radar equipped variant. A lot will depend on the performance that the RMAF wants from its LCA. The Tejas Mk1 and JF-17 will trump all the rest in flight envelope, performance of weapons, radar, etc. But there will be advantages for the M-346 and FA-50 in their larger customer base and the fact that they're established advanced or even LIFT trainers.
Since the Hawks are to be replaced along with the MB-339CM over 10-15 years, that timeline is the one factor that gives me comfort. In another 5-6 years (by when I would expect the Malaysians to make a decision) the Tejas Mk1A will be in squadron service with 24 fighters being assembled per year and the LCA SPORT version should have been rolled out as well.
Malaysia- Maritime Surveillance, UAV, radars and LCA are priority
After years of seeking a multi-role fighter, the RMAF has now pushed the LCA program to the top. The LCA is to replace the RMAF’s multi-type light aircraft fleet, consisting of the BAE Hawk 108/208 and the Aermacchi MB-339CM, which is having logistics and maintenance issues. He noted that a modern LCA has multi-role capability close to a full-fledged fighter, but has lower capital and operating costs.
Affendi acknowledged that the RMAF has received information on the Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 Golden Eagle, Leonardo M346, HAL Tejas, PAC JF-17, and the Yakovlev Yak-130 and is expecting more proposals. “Starting the RFI now gives us the lead time to make feasibility studies as we await government approval to start the project. As we are also seeking a Fighter Lead-In Trainer (FLIT), the aircraft must complement both roles,” he said. “We are working under realistic financial capability, hence the LCA has to come ahead of the MRCA program unless the government has the budget to allow us to go ahead with both at the same time.”
Affendi commented that the Hawk 108/208 is in its 25th year of service and is approaching its "shelf-life," and maintenance costs are rising. It will be gradually replaced along with the MB-339CM over 10 to 15 years. He added that the RMAF is still open to operate a mix of Eastern- and Western-bloc aircraft, as the air arm wants to have the best balance of capability. “After 20 years of mixed platforms, we have learned quite a bit and are aware what are the things we want and what are the issues to look out for.”