Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia and India will step up defence cooperation, particularly in the training of crew and the maintenance of Russian Su-30MKM fighter jets, recently acquired by Malaysia.
Under the programme, India would provide training to 55 military personnel -- 15 officers and 40 technicians, who are currently in India for a three-month stint till March, deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, said today.
The second phase of the training programme would involve 47 officers and technicians from March till June, he told a joint press conference in the company of visiting Indian defence minister, AK Anthony.
Earlier, Anthony, accompanied by a high-level defence delegation, met Najib, who is also the country's defence minister, for talks. Both countries had agreed to bilateral collaboration in defence training when Najib had visited India in June 2006.
Najib said following the signing of a protocol between the Malaysian and Indian defence ministries at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition 2007 last month, the Indian government and the Indian Air Force agreed to send a team to the air force base in Gong Kedak in Terengganu to train Sukhoi pilots and technicians.
He said the team comprised of seven officers, (four pilots, two engineering officers, a weapon sensor officer) and 24 other ranks would arrive in the middle of next month. They will be stationed at the airbase for two years, he said.
Malaysia bought 18 Sukhoi jet fighters for RM3.42 billion from Russia in 2003, with the first two jets delivered in May last year, and the rest in stages by June this year.
The Indian Air Force first deployed the Sukhoi fighter in 2002.
Najib also mentioned that Malaysia and India have agreed to cooperate in the deployment and maintenance of Scorpene submarines, which both countries have bought. This matter, he said would be further discussed by the Malaysian and Indian navies.
Malaysia's Scorpene submarine, the KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, is due for delivery to the Malaysian navy in January 2009, even as India is due to deploy six Scorpenes by 2011.
Najib said Malaysia and India also agreed to have an exchange programme for army trainers between the Army Training Centre (Pulada) and Counter Insurgency Warfare Centre and also to expand other existing training arrangements in the form of short courses.
He said the joint committees headed by the secretaries of the defence ministry of the two countries would discuss the matter further.
Currently, naval exercises between Malaysia and Indian navies were limited as they were held only when Indian navy ships arrived in Malaysia. On the issue of the security of the Straits of Melaka, Najib said Anthony agreed that the primary responsibility of the straits was with the littoral states and that India respected the principle.
Anthony said he held in-depth discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interests. He also said that he had invited minister Najib to India.