Malaysia Suspends Fighter Aircraft Competition, Will Secure New Surveillance Planes By 2020
Our Bureau
05:33 AM, July 14, 2017
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A pilot rests on Dassault Rafale fighter during LIMA exhibition in Langkawi, Malaysia in March this year (Photo: Staff)
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Malaysia has dropped plans to buy new multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) to replace its aging MiG-29 fighters and will look at upgrading its aerial surveillance capabilities to counter militancy threats.

Malaysia has shelved those plans for now as it looks to boost aerial surveillance that will be critical in its fight against militancy; Reuters reported quoting defense ministry sources as saying Friday.

Malaysia's jet fighter talks were only "temporarily suspended" and could resume in the future, but the priority was to secure new surveillance planes by 2020, the source said.

The defense ministry source said Kuala Lumpur was looking at acquiring four more surveillance planes that were larger and had a longer range than its existing assets, such as aircraft built by Lockheed Martin.

"We're looking at a commercial-based platform, which is more affordable, compared to a military specific platform," the source said.

Until recently, French aircraft maker, Dassault Aviation had confirmed that it is in talks with Malaysia for the sale of 18 Rafale fighter jets.

"Dassault is in talks with Malaysia for their 18 aircraft requirement. We are also looking for a second contract with India," Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation made the comments during an interview with a French regional newspaper, Sud-Ouest in May this year.

Malaysia had earlier denied that it has short-listed Dassault and Eurofighter for its multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) competition, keeping hopes alive for other contenders such as Gripen.

“We still are not ready for a decision, but we take note of Rafale’s success in other nations,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had said during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Kuala Lumpur in March this year.

“We still are not ready for a decision, but we take note of Rafale’s success in other nations,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had said during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Kuala Lumpur in March this year.

Malaysia’s defence minister Hishamuddin Hussain had squashed reports that the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon had been shortlisted for the Malaysian air force’s multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) requirement.

"However, due to the current situation, Malaysia is focusing more on maritime patrol aircraft rather than multi-role combat aircraft," Reuters reported quoting an unnamed source as saying Friday.

Malaysia was also eyeing to buy excess Saudi aeroplanes and helicopters in March this year.

"Malaysia is looking into the possibility buying “excess” Saudi aeroplanes and helicopters. We will need to talk further with his Saudi counterpart for the final details," Defence Minister DS Hishammuddin Hussein had said.

What they (Saudi Arabia) have in excess are F-15s, as they are getting new Strike Eagles as well as upgrading their old ones to the same standard. They also have around 70 Eurofighter Typhoons with the possibility of ordering 24 or 48 brand new ones.

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation had offered to modernize Malaysia’s MiG-29N fighter jets to MiG-29SM in March this year.

"We are ready to provide full repair for these fighter jets and modernize them to MiG-29SM. We have brought a MiG-29SM simulator to this exhibition," a representative of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) told Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, during his visit to the international aerospace and maritime exhibition LIMA-2017.

Hishamuddin had also asserted that the economic conditions meant that an MRCA order will only be made in 2020.

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