LANGKAWI: BAE Systems, a UK-based global defence and aerospace company, has expressed interest in participating in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) MiG-29N retirement programme.
The RMAF, which is currently finalising details of the programme, will stop using 10 of the MiG-29N fighter jets from January while the remaining six would be phased out by the end of next year.
BAE Systems, which at present supports the RMAF through its Hawk programme, is proposing the Typhoon fighter jet as replacement for the MiG-29N, its Regional Director-Business Development Dave Potter, said.
Potter, who is also responsible for the Hawk project in the Asian region, said the Typhoon is a suitable aircraft to replace the MiG-29N fighter jet due to its multi-role combat ability.
"We certainly have an interest in the MiG-29N replacement programme. We would expect that the Malaysian airforce would consider every aircraft available in the market," he told Bernama in an interview on the sidelines of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition here.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had earlier indicated that phasing out the MiG-29N fighter jets would save the government RM260 million a year.
To replace the MiG-29N, the government has planned to purchase multi-role combat aircraft that can be used as a fighter jet as well as for ground attack.
Malaysia bought 18 of the MiG-29N fighter jets in June 1994 at a cost of US$380 million (RM1.3 billion).
Developed by Europe's leading aerospace companies, the Typhoon is highly agile in terms of air superiority with an air-to-surface, multi-role/swing-role weapons system, making it among the capable front-line combat aircraft available.
"Once the formal requirements are set, we can obviously see if the Typhoon meets the needs of the RMAF," Potter said.
When asked how many jet fighters might be needed by the RMAF to replace the MiG's, he said: "There's a requirement for 18 new fighter jets as replacement."
Potter, who is also an expert on aircraft business deals, said normally it would take around 90 days from the issuance of the formal requirement to the first response and two to three years for the tender process before candidates are shortlisted. - Bernama
NBB AS 02/12/2009 12-01ST