VLADIVOSTOK: Malaysia is wary of spending too much money on replacing old Russian Su (Sukhoi Su-30MKM) and MiG fighter planes with newer models, but it has been looking into possibly getting new aircraft from Russia, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Sputnik news agency in an interview.
“We may find that they (jets that are currently used by Malaysia) are too old and maybe not performing just as well as the new versions.
“But, on the other hand, money is of great concern to us. Spending money on expensive fighter planes is not very productive for us.
“We are not going to war with anyone,” the prime minister said when asked if Malaysia was interested in replacing the old Russian planes it had with Su-35 or Su-57.
“These are very expensive toys,” the prime minister said of the latest models.
However, Malaysia has to keep the level of technology in its defence forces up to date, Mahathir said.
“We are looking into the possibility of getting new planes from Russia, maybe, and we are also looking at other planes,” the prime minister said.
Mahathir said Malaysia is studying Russia’s offer to take back the previously delivered MiG fighters and replace them with the new MiG-35, but this is a question of money, while the country does not spend much on defence.
Mahathir noted that Malaysia had to consider the offer to take back older planes “seriously,” since it would be difficult to sell them. The offer could be beneficial, as the country wants to keep up its defence forces at a high level without spending much money.
“We are actually studying their proposal about taking back the old MiGs and providing us with the new version, MiG-35, I think.
“But, of course, even then we would have to pay quite a large sum of money. And Malaysia is not a country that spends too much money on defence.
“Only 2% of our budget is spent on defence. We spend 25% of our budget on education,” Mahathir said.
The Malaysian leader is currently in Russia’s Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), which will run through Friday.
Military drills are ‘provocative’
Earlier, Mahathir Mohamad told Sputnik news agency in an interview that he did not like military drills in the country’s waters, qualifying them as provocative and stressing the need to scale down exercises for the sake of global peace.
“On the whole, we are not very keen on exercises. They are usually very provocative. We have recently participated (in the joint exercise) with the Asean group, with the US, but I have made my views known about this.
“I don’t like military drills in our waters because it tends to provoke other countries.
“I think we should scale down military activities if you want to have peace,” said Mahathir on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) when asked whether the country had plans to hold any new joint drills.
He had previously slammed the Asean-US Maritime Exercise, which started on Sept 2, as meaningless, expressing concerns that it could make China feel threatened and therefore boost its naval forces. He also said that the United States should hold such drills in its own territory.