Malaysian Air Force's MiG-29N will not be Grounded as Planned

The MiG-29N jet fighters will not be grounded as initially planned but will be used for at least another five years.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the earlier plan was to decommission the aircraft and sell them to Third World countries.

However, after taking into consideration the current economic situation, the Government decided to shelve that plan, he said.

”We have decided to continue using 10 of the 16 MiG-29N jet fighters after sending them for repairs and upgrading,” he said.

Six of the aircraft have already been decommissioned, Bernama reported.

”We will call in experts from Aerospace Technology System Corp to do the necessary repairs and overhaul of the engines so that it would be safe for them to fly again,” he told reporters during a visit to the Royal Malaysian Air Force base here on Tuesday.

Zahid said the plan to purchase new “multi-role combat aircraft” had to be put on hold because of the unfavourable economic climate presently.

He said the ministry’s decision also took into account the views of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who in his blog said he felt that the MiG jet fighters should be retained.

”Initially, our plan was to ground the jets and sell them to Third World countries. However, we must also study our financial position.

”Perhaps over the next five years, after the global economy shows signs of recovery, we may be able to proceed with the plan,” he said.

Last June, the ministry had announced a plan to decommission the MiG jets because of costly maintainence and repairs which amounted to some RM260mil annually.

They were supposed to be replaced by 18 newly-acquired Sukhoi jets.

The MiG jet fighters came into service in April 1995 at a cost of RM1.3bil but required regular maintenance amounting RM10mil each, in addition to engine overhauls at a cost of RM7mil every year.


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