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Tuesday July 18, 2006

Government wants to buy British frigates and Italian planes

LONDON: Malaysia plans to buy two British frigates and eight Italian training aircraft as part of the long-term programme to beef up its defence system, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. 

He said discussions were under way with BAE Systems to build the two vessels in Labuan under the Government’s programme to help the Malaysian shipbuilding industry and provide jobs to locals. 

He said the frigates would complement the existing two, KD Lekiu and KD Jebat

“The two new vessels will be the most-advanced warships to be constructed in Malaysia,” he said after meeting British Defence Procurement Minister Lord Paul Drayson at the Farnborough International Air Show 2006 at Hampshire yesterday.  

CORDIAL MEETING: Najib shaking hands with Drayson after their meeting at Farnborough in Britain yesterday.
Najib, who is also Defence Minister, said the Royal Malaysian Navy had to operate at least four frigates to ensure that two were available at any one time. 

He said talks were being held with an Italian company to buy eight Aermacchi aircraft to complement the existing 10 used by the Royal Malaysian Air Force for training.  

He declined to state the cost for the frigate and aircraft, saying they were still under discussion. 

Touted as the world’s largest aerospace event, the weeklong air show in Farnborough, which began yesterday, attracted exhibitors from more than 30 countries. 

Najib, who arrived on Sunday for a weeklong working visit to Britain, attended a reception hosted by the Society of British Aerospace Companies, followed by a private dinner hosted by Prince Andrew, who is the Duke of York, and Defence Secretary Desmond Browne.  

Today, Najib will hold discussions with Browne before attending a signing ceremony on landing rights between Malaysia and Italy.  


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