Malaysia considering Russian offer on new MiG fighter jets, says PM

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meets Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok September 5, 2019. ― Bernama pic
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meets Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok September 5, 2019. ― Bernama pic

VLADIVOSTOK, Sept 5 — Malaysia is wary of spending too much money on replacing old Russian Su and MiG fighter planes with newer models, but it has been looking into possibly getting new aircraft from Russia, the country’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Sputnik news agency in an interview.

“We may find that they (jets that are currently used by Malaysia) are too old and maybe not performing just as well as the new versions. But, on the other hand, money is of great concern to us. Spending money on expensive fighter planes is not very productive for us. We are not going to war with anyone,” the prime minister said when asked if Malaysia was interested in replacing the old Russian planes it had with Su-35 or Su-57.

“These are very expensive toys,” the prime minister said of the latest models.

However, Malaysia has to keep the level of technology in its defence forces up to date, Dr Mahathir said.

“We are looking into the possibility of getting new planes from Russia, maybe, and we are also looking at other planes,” the prime minister said.

Commenting on the same issue, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia is studying Russia’s offer to take back the previously delivered MiG fighters and replace them with the new MiG-35, but this is a question of money, while the country does not spend much on defence.

Dr Mahathir noted that Malaysia had to consider the offer to take back older planes “seriously,” since it would be difficult to sell them. The offer could be beneficial, as the country wants to keep up its defence forces at a high level without spending much money.

“We are actually studying their proposal about taking back the old MiGs and providing us with the new version, MiG-35, I think. But, of course, even then we would have to pay quite a large sum of money. And Malaysia is not a country that spends too much money on defence. Only 2 per cent of our budget is spent on defence. We spend 25 per cent of our budget on education,” Dr Mahathir said.

The Malaysian leader is currently in Russia’s Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), which will run through tomorrow. — Bernama