Dr M: Turkey willing to go all-in to aid Malaysia's foray into defence industry

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Malaysian delegates visit Turkish Aerospace Industries at the outskirts of Ankara July 25, 2019. — Bernama pic
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Malaysian delegates visit Turkish Aerospace Industries at the outskirts of Ankara July 25, 2019. — Bernama pic

ISTANBUL, July 27 — Turkey has pledged to offer Malaysia whatever it needs in order to develop a defence industry, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed yesterday amid his official visit here. 

Speaking at a hi-tea event with the Malaysian diaspora here, the prime minister however said that Putrajaya still needs to consider the jump into the field as it would cost money. 

“Not many countries are willing to transfer technologies to us,” he told the audience. 

“But Turkey has promised to give whatever we want when it comes to technology, manufacturing, and so on. 

“Turkey is ready to collaborate,” he added. 

A Malaysian engineer with a defence firm here had asked the prime minister if Putrajaya had discussed the purchase of Turkey’s planned fifth-generation multi-role fighter jet TF-X.

The Malaysian delegation had visited the jet’s manufacturer Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) on Thursday. 

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will never be sovereign as long as it needs to depend on foreign powers for its military supplies.

But while that may currently be difficult, Malaysian can kick start its efforts through a technological transfer with Turkey.

“That is why we are studying for a collaboration with Turkey, and finally we would be able to manufacture our own defence

“But it needs some time, because we need money,” he added.

Aircraft are seen when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Malaysian delegates visit the Turkish Aerospace Industries at the outskirts of Ankara July 25, 2019. — Bernama pic
Aircraft are seen when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Malaysian delegates visit the Turkish Aerospace Industries at the outskirts of Ankara July 25, 2019. — Bernama pic

On Thursday, the Malaysian delegates were given a tour of the sprawling TAI complex, before an air show featuring its T129 Atak attack and reconnaissance helicopter, Hurkus trainer combat aircraft, and the Anka medium-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle.

Other crafts on display included the TF multirole fighter jet, and Hurjet, a trainer and light attack aircraft.

The show will likely whet Putrajaya’s appetite, as Malaysia looks for more affordable choices for aerial defence following spending cuts.

This comes amid Turkish’s growing ambition to ramp up its defence industry and exports, with UAV production reportedly a key focus of its plan.

TAI’s majority shareholder is the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, and was established under its Ministry of Industry and Technology in a bid to reduce foreign dependency in its defence industry.

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