KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Boeing's continuing partnership with Malaysia will have substantial spin-offs in the transformation of the domestic economy, particularly in the aerospace sector, if the government opts for the Super Hornet, as the choice for its multi-role combat aircraft.
Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet
Among other things, benefits would come via increased industrial participation and transfer of specialised aerospace technology from Boeing itself and its other partners, Michael K. Gibbons, the Vice-President of F/A-18 & EA Programs for Boeing Military Aircraft, told Bernama in an interview.
Boeing has a strong presence jointly with Malaysian firms producing composite materials for aircraft parts.
Gibbons also said there would be economic benefits in areas such as employment opportunities, increased aerospace-related projects, as well as training of local aerospace and defence personnel.
This includes training Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) pilots to fly the Super Hornets, which he said would be an easy transition, given their long experience in flying the current Hornets.
"It is fortunate that Malaysia has the kind of industry that we find easy to partner with," he added.
Partners which Boeing works closely with in the Super Hornet programme include Northrop Grumman, the defence technology company, Raytheon, an innovation leader in avionics, defence and homeland security, as well as multinational company General Electric, which powers the Super Hornet engines.
Gibbons said Malaysia's relations with the United States would also be further improved with increased trade and economic linkages and military cooperation.
Even during an economic downturn, the acquisition of the Super Hornets would be helpful in transferring specialised aerospace-related defence technology to Malaysia through its partners.
Gibbons has been in Malaysia over the past few days in conjunction with the maiden call of the USS George Washington -- the nuclear-powered super aircraft carrier -- to the country and which showcased almost 50 Super Hornets on its flight deck.
The US Navy is also the primary customer of the Super Hornets while Australia recently acquired 24 of the aircraft.
During the visit to the aircraft carrier at Port Klang, Gibbons said he managed to meet top defence officials, with many able to view first hand the Super Hornets on the vessel.
Malaysia had proposed in 2002 to buy 18 Super Hornets with the government still considering the matter, while several other global military aircraft firms are also vying to supply their own aircraft.
"The Super Hornets are a good value proposition based on its capabilities, affordability, availability and easy operability," he said.
Besides the Boeing F/A-16E/F Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and Sukhoi Su-30/35 are also competing to supply multi-role combat aircraft to Malaysia.
"We believe that Boeing's industrial participation in the Malaysian economy is very crucial in the overall package. We have the superior product and obviously in a great position to provide a great offset package," Gibbons said.