Malaysian Defense Minister Sabu called Ex-PM Najib Razak “A Stupid” For Buying Su-30MKM Fighter Jets

The RMAF's 11 Squadron received 18 Su-30MKMs between 2007 and 2009. (photo: Chen Chuanren)

Malaysia, which has purchased Russian Su-30MKM fighters for its Royal Malaysian Air Force, is complaining of a number of issues that have emerged with the planes. The aircraft are difficult to service, and it is more difficult to send them to Russia for servicing than it would be for aircraft purchased from the US.

With Russia, cooperation between manufacturer and client has been hampered by bureaucratic delays, a high-ranking official familiar with the situation in the Royal Malaysian Air Force told Malaysian FMT News.

Meanwhile, the RMAF reported that 14 Su-30MKMs have reached the said 10-year lifespan, and pointed out that finding alternative solutions to OEM support takes time and funds. This has resulted in only four Su-30MKMs being available to defend the eastern Malaysian peninsula.

Malaysian defense Minister Mohamad Sabu called former Prime Minister Nazib Razak “a stupid” for buying Su-30MKM. Mr Sabu also accused Mr Razak for receiving facilitator payments worth $73 million to buy Su-30MKM, reported Malaysian newspaper Finance Times.

In 2009, Malaysia received 18 su-30MKM (multirole, commercial, Malaysian) fighters, which is a development of the serial Su-30MKI, standing on the arms of the Indian air force. The part of the deal was paid by Malaysian palm oil. The Indian equivalents Su-30MKI have also raised many complaints, with eight of the planes being lost to crashes since delivery and only 45 percent the aircraft available for service.

“The problem with the Russian planes is the Russian way of doing business. They were supposed to support us for a certain time after we bought the planes, but they don’t disclose everything. In the midst of the purchases, we were not informed of the necessity to have certain types of technical maintenance done 10 years later, which only they [the Russians] are capable of doing,” the official said.

The cumbersome Russian system of purchases and maintenance cannot be compared to the American one, he remarked.

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“Ultimately this means that everything that was bought from America, including the subsequent servicing, was very reliable,” he added.

The source also observed that the fact that Russian fighters were purchased, instead of equivalent, cheaper and more reliable planes from the US or EU, appears to indicate the extent of corruption involved in the deal.

“The problem with buying military products is that Malaysian officials do not like buying from the US or UK, because with them everything is ‘over the table’. National security is frequently used as a pretext for corruption,” he explained.

At the end of July, Malaysian Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu revealed the poor outcome: only four of the 28 Russian fighters in the Royal Malaysian Air Force are ready to fly. The remaining 24 are undergoing long-term repairs. Officials have proposed to meet the need for fighters by purchasing second-hand F/A-18C/D Hornets from the US.

In July, Malaysian defense Minister Mohamad Sabu said that only 4 of the 28 Russian fighters in the Royal Malaysian Air Force, able to rise into the sky, while the rest are under repair. The need for fighters was proposed to close the purchase of used F/A-18C/D Hornet.

Brigadier-General (Retired) Mohamed Arshad Raji, president of the National Patriots Association said – “We don’t have to say that only four of our Sukhois can fly. These are vital military assets. It is important that the public feels confident and reassured that our skies can be protected. Nations around the world maintain a certain level of preparedness, even in times of peace, to counter external threats, so we wouldn’t want others to know our level of preparedness.”

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