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Wednesday February 24, 2010

Extended term for MiGs

KUANTAN: The MiG-29N jet fighters will not be grounded but will be used for at least another five years.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Government had shelved the plan after taking into consideration the current economic situation.

“The earlier plan was to decommission the jets and sell them to Third World countries.

“But we have decided to continue using 10 of the 16 MiG-29N jet fighters after they are repaired and upgraded.

“We will call the experts from the Aerospace Technology System Corp to do the necessary repairs and overhaul the engines so that they will be safe to hit the sky again,” he told reporters after test-flying the BAE Hawk 108 at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base here yesterday.

Well done: Dr Ahmad Zahid and Lt Kol Azhari Md Yusof congratulating each other after test-flying the BAE Hawk 108 at the RMAF base in Kuantan yesterday.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the plan to purchase new multi-role combat aircraft had to be put on hold because of the present unfavourable economic climate.

He said the ministry’s decision also took into account the views of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his blog, who felt that the MiG jet fighters should be retained.

“Maybe, over the next five years, if the global economy is better, we may be able to proceed with the plan,” he added.

Last June, the ministry announced a plan to decommission the MiG jets because of their costly maintenance and repairs which amounted to some RM260mil annually.

The MiG jet fighters came into service in April 1995 at a cost of RM1.3bil but they required regular maintenance amounting to RM10mil each in addition to engine overhaul at a cost of RM7mil every year.

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