Malaysian Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu confirmed that an offer has been received from Russia to replace the monarchy’s fighter aircraft with newer models.
Sabu reportedly told Malaysia’s parliament that it is extremely important for the country’s Air Force to have fighters and aircraft for aerial observation.
However, Sabu noted that Malaysia will not consider purchasing new combat aircraft “from scratch” before 2030. The Air Force is focusing on upgrading the aircraft in use. However, the minister said that the country could consider swapping older models for newer ones.
At present, the Malaysian Air Force is operating 18 Russian-produced Su-30MKM fighters which it started acquiring in 2007. Numerous French-produced systems have been added to these fighters, including instrument landing systems, infrared sensors, and more.
Malaysia’s fleet also includes 10 MiG-29 fighters. Kuala Lumpur has already said that these fighters’ service life has expired and that they need to be replaced.
Parliamentarians asked the minister whether the defense department intended to replace all 28 Russian aircraft for newer models also produced in Russia? The minister responded that the ministry is considering replacing several Su-30MKMs with Su-30s and Mig-29s with MiG-35s, but not all of them, and only if the payment could be made in Malaysian palm oil.
Sabu also pointed out that the country needs a sea patrol aircraft and flight simulators for training pilots.
There is not yet any information on whether Russia would be willing to accept payment in palm oil for the upgraded fighters.