5 Desember 2009
EC-725 Cougar (photo : g4sp)
LANGKAWI -- Malaysia still finds the Eurocopter EC725 helicopter as the best choice to replace the ageing Nuri but the issue of affordability is delaying the acquisition.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had cleared the whole inquiry process regarding the proposed purchase of Eurocopter Cougar helicopters.
"There's no doubt that the Defence Ministry and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) want that particular aircraft and the government is satisfied. The integrity of the whole process cannot be questioned, so now, it is a question of affordability," he told a news conference Wednesday after visiting exhibition booths at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre, here.
Najib also witnessed the signing of several memoranda and contracts between the government and defence industry companies in conjunction with the 2009 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima 2009) exhibition, which started yesterday until Saturday.
He said this when responding to a question on when the RMAF would actually seal the Eurocopter deal.
Last September, the Defence Ministry had agreed to purchase 12 Eurocopter EC 725 helicopters worth RM1.6 billion but the deal had yet to be finalised by the government.
Last December, the PAC conducted an inquiry and found that the whole process had followed all procedures in the international tender and suggested that an independent review panel be set up to advise the government on the Eurocopter deal.
Najib said the government would work out in terms of financing capability and affordability.
"We will have to work out in terms of the financing capability and affordability. It is a very high performance helicopter.
"It is the best performing helicopter of its class so let's not get involved in this (argument on the choice). Whatever happened in the past, it was all politically motivated," said the prime minister.