KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) is scouting for a mix of maritime surveillance assets to monitor the nation’s waters, said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.
"Some say that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have their advantages while maritime surveillance aircraft also have theirs.
"We are looking at a combination of both," he said when replying to a question raised by Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad (BN-Mersing) in Parliament on Thursday (Aug 9).
Mohamad said it was crucial that the RMAF is equipped with maritime surveillance assets owing to the importance of the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea as maritime trade routes.
"Some 70% to 80% of global trade passes through the straits and we need multi-role air capabilities," he added.
To a supplementary question by Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah (PH-Port Dickson), the Defence Minister said that high cost of maintenance was the reason behind the grounding of 14 out of 18 Russian made advanced Sukhoi Su-30MKM jet fighters.
He cited the example where the ministry had only received 62% or RM1.1bil out of a request for RM1.8bil budget for maintenance of armed forces equipment.
Mohamad noted that the Malaysian armed forces was currently lagging behind its neighbours.
"We were once ranked as the best armed forces (in the region) in the 1970s.
"However, today we are lagging behind Indonesia which ranks top and Vietnam," he said.
Mohamad said he was committed to "making Malaysia great again", drawing cheers from the floor.
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