Malaysia has made it clear that it is not interested in buying the Mistral helicopter carriers but only the Dassault Rafale fighter jets.
Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein today said, “Malaysia is reviewing a proposal from France to buy Rafale fighter jets but any decision would depend on how affordable the aircraft are.”
Hishammuddin also asserted that he had no discussions with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on the procurement of the Mistral helicopter carriers. Opposition parties in Malaysia are already up in arms over the talk of Kuala Lumpur buying the Mistral stating that their country does not need such a ship.
"It's too soon to announce anything about it. Its part and parcel of the industry and it's a proposal we look at and I have been very transparent with the Malaysian public that it's a question of affordability," Hishammuddin told during a joint news conference with Le Drian in Kuala Lumpur.
Defenseworld.net reported last week that the purpose of French defense minister’s visit to Malaysia was to discuss about Rafale fighter jets and not Mistral.
Malaysia is looking to replace its Russian MiG-29 fighter fleet. Boeing F/A-18, Saab’s Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon are other possible aircrafts Malaysia might select from.
French manufacturer Dassault Aviation, which builds the Rafale, is said to be in talks with Malaysia to supply 16 of the multi-role combat jets.
A Malaysian decision had been expected this year, but aviation industry executives have warned that fiscal troubles stemming from lower prices for oil and commodities could lead to delays in placing the order.
Dassault had offered a 10 year 50 per cent financial package to Malaysia from a French bank guaranteed by the government of France for procurement of its Rafale fighter jet at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition earlier this year.