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SAAB offers to lease Gripen fighters to Malaysia

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The Gripen multi-role fighter. A SAAB photo

KUALA LUMPUR (BNS): Even as Malaysia is prolonging a decision on buying new warplanes to replace the aging fleet of MiG-29N fighters of its Air Force, Swedish firm SAAB has offered to lease its Gripen multi-role combat aircraft to the country.

The company has offered to lease the Gripens along with its Erieye Airborne Early Warning aircraft which is similar to a deal with Thailand.

"Last year we submitted proposals to the Malaysian government. We always have dialogues with the government on leasing combat jets.

"However, it is up to them to decide," Saab Ab President and Chief Executive Officer Hakan Buskhe was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama during the ongoing Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition being held in Kuala Lumpur.

Since 2009, Malaysia has been intending to buy new multi-role combat aircraft for its Air Force which is currently operating the F/A-18 D and Sukhoi Su-30 as its frontline fighters besides the aging MiG-29s.

France's Dassault Aviation, Russia's Sukhoi, US's Boeing and Europe's Eurofighter have offered their advanced fighters -- Rafale, SU-35E Flanker, F/A-18EF Super Hornet and Typhoon -- respectively in this regard, but no decision has been made by the Malaysian Government yet.

SAAB has already leased its Gripen fighters to the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Recently, the Czech Government also renewed its lease agreement with the company for another 14 years to use the JAS 39 Gripen fighters till 2027.

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