Dr M: New jet purchases on hold, current fleet can still perform well

While Malaysia remains interested, the decision is also pegged to its tight financial position, says PM

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

MALAYSIA is not in a hurry to acquire any new fighter jets as the current assets are still performing well, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

He said while the country remains interested to purchase new war planes, the decision is also pegged to the country’s current tight financial position.

Dr Mahathir says LIMA has become a regular international event and will remain so in the future

“We are interested to buy new fighter jets. But at this time, we have not reached the level of purchasing.

“We also find that the planes that we had bought long before can still perform very well,” Dr Mahathir said during a press conference at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) 2019.

Malaysia has been mulling over retiring and replacing the Russian MiG-29 fighters with 18 new jets — a potential acquisition worth US$2 billion (RM7.8 billion).

Typhoon, a British-made multi-role combat aircraft by BAE Systems plc, and Rafale by French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation SA, were among the frontrunners in the asset supply bid.

Dr Mahathir said the government is also considering to buy lower-priced fighter jets from China in the future which have the same level of performance compared to Western aircraft.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said there is no trade war between Malaysia and European countries, referring to the European Union’s move in proposing to ban palm oil mix in biofuels.

However, he said the country is making it clear that such a move to ban palm oil is grossly unfair.

“There is no trade war between Malaysia and European countries. The problem is when they take action against us…

“What I was doing is telling the world that it is grossly unfair for rich countries to prevent poor countries to get richer by not buying their products,” he said.

Dr Mahathir, who was the man behind the first edition of LIMA in 1991, said local companies today have advanced in the aerospace and maritime industry.

In this 15th edition of LIMA, he said all participating parties that he met with have expressed their interest to work with Malaysia in the industry, which could lead to the establishment of more aerospace manufacturing plants for aircraft and components.

The biennial trade show has raised the stature of Malaysia in the global aerospace and maritime industry with participants boasting their respective defence, engineering and naval prowess.

“LIMA has become a regular international event. It will remain so in the future,” Dr Mahathir added.