Malaysian air force goes multirole with new Su-30s

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Malaysia has accepted its first two of 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKM multirole fighters at NPK Irkut's aviation plant in Irkutsk, Siberia. Six aircraft will be shipped to the country during June and July, says Irkut president Oleg Demchenko, with another six to follow in October and November and the final batch to be delivered in the second half of 2008.

Acquired under a $900 million-plus deal, the aircraft are based on the Indian air force's Su-30MKI, but use French and Russian-sourced avionics, targeting and electronic warfare equipment in place of Indian and Israeli technology. Malaysia is considering buying Thales's TopSight helmet-mounted display and MBDA's Mica medium-range air-to-air missile to equip its new aircraft, but will initially use Russian-supplied equipment.