KUALA LUMPUR: A fleet of Russian-made fighter jets - Sukhoi SU-30MKM - worth US$900mil (RM3.4bil) will boost the inventory of the Malaysian air force once the technical details of the deal are finalised.
The details, as well as the legal and formality issues surrounding the purchase are still under negotiations, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. The agreement would be finalised by year-end.
He said Malaysia had, in principle, agreed to buy 18 of the multi-role combat aircraft, scheduled to be delivered in stages beginning mid-2006.
The purchase is a result of our defence modernisation programme. We recognise the need to have combat aircraft, especially multi-role combat aircraft, he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from his Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov, here yesterday. Ivanov, who is leading a 26-member delegation, comprising senior defence officials here was present at the press conference at the invitation of Malaysia
We have decided that the Sukhoi model is the most suitable and the aircraft have modified technical specifications to meet our requirements, said Najib.
On his discussions with Ivanov, he said bilateral defence co-operation, regional security and anti-terrorism collaborations were brought up during the one-hour meeting.
We recognise terrorism is a global problem and has to be tackled at international level. Some of the areas for bilateral collaborations include exchange of intelligent information and joint anti-terrorist mission.
Ivanov pledged Russias willingness and readiness to hold joint military and combat training with Malaysia.
For example, we have a pacific fleet of vessels stationed in the India Ocean and patrol the international waters. We can arrange for joint naval exercises to be held in the region, he said.
Asked how Russia would evaluate the safety level in Malaysia when Washington had listed the country as a possible target of attack by terrorists, Ivanov said his country was confident that Malaysia was a stable country.
We believe Malaysia has many advantages, including having good relationships with the Arab States and always staying vigilant in dealing with security matters.
The country is safe and there is no restriction or warning for Russian tourists against visiting the country, he said.