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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First MiGs Arrive in Malaysia

KUANTAN, Malaysia -- Malaysia on Friday took delivery of four Russian MiG-29s as part of a $1.6 billion jet fighter deal which military analysts said was likely to fuel a regional arms race.

The deal, involving the delivery of 18 MiGs, is the first major Russian arms purchase by a Southeast Asian nation, they said, and Moscow was now planning to sell more arms to the rapidly growing Southeast Asian market.

Defense Minister Najib Abdul Razak accepted the MiGs for the air force, which has also bought eight United States F/A-18 jet fighters and 28 British-made Hawk attack aircraft.

"The acquisition of the Russian jet fighters, which we have named MiG-29Ns, will contribute positively to regional peace and security," Najib told reporters at Kuantan air base, 350 kilometers east of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.

Russian officials said Thailand was also considering buying MiG-29s, as are Indonesia and the Philippines.

The analysts said Malaysia's purchase will fuel an arms race among Southeast Asian nations and expand the region's suppliers of arms, which have long been dominated by Western nations. The deal is the first for a Southeast Asian nation involving MiG-29 fighters.

"It will definitely fuel an arms race. Other countries here will have to beef up to Malaysia's level now," military analyst Rosli Jumaat said in Kuala Lumpur.

But Najib said the fighters were not part of an arms race.

Rosli said the MiG-29s were value for money for developing countries and could tempt countries in the region as costs of Western jet fighters increase.

Malaysia's purchase of the eight F/A-18 jet fighters comes to nearly $1.6 billion, officials said.

Najib said Russian plane maker Moscow Aircraft Production Organization has sent 10 MiG-29s and would deliver the rest by July. Malaysia signed the deal on June 7, 1994.

Kuala Lumpur is buying the aircraft with a cash payment of $381 million and the balance in palm oil, officials said.