KUALA LUMPUR --- Malaysia is expected to have its very own combat aircraft by 2030, said Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing Faculty senior lecturer Dr Mohd Roshdi Hassan.
He said he was now embarking on a study which involved various technical aspects, including the design and capability of the engine, for the aircraft.
"We already have the design of the aircraft body according to its functions. Basically, it is the design of a two-engine multi-role combat aircraft or MRCA.
"(In fact,) the design can be modified into a single-engine light combat aircraft (LCA). It is up to the government to determine which type of design to be developed into the real aircraft," he told Bernama when met at the Defence Services Asia (DSA) and National Security (NatSec) Asia 2018 exhibitions here.
Mohd Roshdi said the aircraft would take at least 10 years to be built if it was given the go-ahead by the Defence Ministry and there were interested parties from defence companies to work together in developing the design.
This was because the process would involve various developments of the aircraft and weapons prototypes before it could be fully operational or marketed to the regional and international markets, he said.
The academician explained that the size of the aircraft was similar to the Russian\'s MiG-29 and also categorised as fifth generation, at par with other fighter aircraft produced by developed nations that were now entering the sixth generation.
Asked on the aircraft specifications, Mohd Roshdi said among them were high-performance radars, electronic warfare system and stealth technology to make the jet invisible to enemy radar.
"The thing about this aircraft is that it will be covered by a special type of paint, namely the Hydrophobic Radar Absortion Material Coating which serves to strengthen the stealth technology. It can also be used in any kind of situation and climate.
"Compared to United States' technology, they use the Hydophilic Radar Absortion Material Coating. Although this material has the same effect in terms of stealth technology, the downside is when the aircraft is flying in rain or wet weather as this kind of paint absorbs water and is feared will disrupt the aircraft's systems," he said.
Mohd Roshdi, who is also the founder of the Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC), said the idea of building a Malaysian-made fighter aircraft started back in 2007 when he worked at the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre, University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.
"Upon returning to Malaysia in 2008, I began gathering a group of experts to conduct research in every area such as weaponry, aerospace, radar and navigation system.
"We are only ready to discuss this with the Defence Ministry more seriously after 10 years," he said.
The four-day exhibition at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Center (MITEC) which started Monday brought together about 1,500 defense-related companies and 350 foreign delegates from 45 countries.