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Malaysia to Buy Drones, Helicopters From Turkey

The Malaysian government has expressed its intent to procure defense equipment from Turkey to upgrade its air defense capabilities.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said his country is considering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters, which are Ankara’s “area of specialization.”

However, he clarified that the final choice would be decided by the Malaysian Armed Forces Council.

“I will leave it to the armed forces on what is best,” Anwar said after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York. “My policy, as I told the joint chief of staff, is we don’t want any interference on what to procure, what to acquire.”

The prime minister said he would ask the defense ministry to hold negotiations with the finance ministry and the Turkish government to finalize the procurement.

He further revealed that Erdogan has agreed to visit Kuala Lumpur in December.

Most Recent Acquisition

Malaysia’s planned procurement from Ankara was announced a few months after it signed a deal with South Korea to buy 18 FA-50 fighter jets.

Korea Aerospace Industries bested India’s Tejas light combat aircraft and China’s JF-17 for the $910-million purchase.

According to reports, the acquisition would replace obsolete Malaysian Armed Forces aircraft.

It would also bolster the country’s air defense capabilities, considering that the FA-50 can support combat, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Budget Hurdles

Despite the recent acquisitions, Malaysia remains one of the lowest spenders on arms among countries in Southeast Asia.

In 2019, Reuters reported that a cut in the nation’s defense budget had derailed its efforts to modernize its military.

Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu reportedly initiated discussions with several countries to use palm oil to help pay for defense equipment.

“If they are prepared to accept a palm barter trade, we are very willing to go in that direction,” he told the outlet.

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