(AFP) Malaysia may revive a plan to buy a fleet of Sukhoi SU-30MK Russian fighter aircraft after shelving it four years ago, Defence Minister Najib Razak said today.
The government has sent an air force team to Russia to evaluate the planes, which cost RM133 million each, but has not made any concrete decision, Najib said.
"The offer (from Russia) needs studying not only from the commercial aspect but also from the aircraft's combat capability," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.
The Malaysian air force would have to identify areas for possible technology transfer before deciding on the deal, he added.
Najib said a final decision was not expected until after an international maritime and aerospace fair to be held in Malaysia's resort island of Langkawi from Oct 9 to 14.
Visit to Russia
The defence minister, who is accompanying Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to Russia next week, said he would get more details on the Sukhoi offer in Moscow.
Mahathir leaves on Tuesday for a 10-day visit to Britain, Russia and Germany where he is expected to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
The Business Times said the arms deal, Malaysia's second with Russia, was shelved in 1997 due to the Asian economic crisis and Malaysia was likely to pursue it now via a barter trade arrangement using palm oil.