By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Malaysia is considering five competing bids, including a reported RM12 billion deal with UK-based BAE Systems, to replace its 10 Russian-made MiG fighter jets delivered 17 years ago.
BAE was reported in March to be “bullish” about securing the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) replacement deal, but Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi today said, “Everyone says they are bullish.”
“It is still under evaluation. There are four other bids but there is no deadline for the decision,” he told a press conference.
BAE suffered a setback when India rejected its Eurofighters in February while Malaysia also signed a RM110-million deal with Russia in April to supply missiles for its 16 MiGs and 18 Su-30MKM fighters, the last of the latter only having arrived in Malaysia last year.
Irkut Corp, which manufactures the Su-30MKM planes, is also in talks for the MRCA deal. Zahid had visited the Russian state-owned firm at the end of last year.
Zahid also said last October the government will not proceed with plans to jointly develop navy ships with BAE due to “financial constraints.”
British newspaper The Times reported in September that Malaysia was considering a number of defence joint ventures with the UK including the development of warships with BAE.
The UK paper reported, however, that the Malaysian government would want assurances that it would be protected from the type of budget overruns that had hit previous BAE projects.
BAE, together with Turkey’s Nurol, had also won a contract in 2010 to supply 250 armoured vehicles to Malaysia, in a deal reportedly worth RM1.72 billion.
BAE is considered Europe’s largest defence contractor and had sales of about RM111 billion in 2010.