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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sukhoi Service Center to Open in Asia

APVisitors to Malaysia's Langkawi Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition admiring a model of the Su-30MK on Wednesday.
LANGKAWI, Malaysia -- Seeking to strengthen their presence in Southeast Asia and promote sales, Russia's leading defense companies will establish a base in Malaysia to help maintain fighter jets, officials said Wednesday.

Aircraft makers Sukhoi and Irkut and arms exporter Rosoboronexport will undertake a joint venture with Malaysian companies to set up a center to ensure the combat readiness of Russian-built fighters, said Irkut's president, Alexei Fyodorov. Officials did not say when it will be built or how much it would cost.

The proposed facility would service a fleet of 18 Su-30 fighters that Malaysia agreed last month to buy for about $900 million, Fyodorov said on the sidelines of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition, one of Asia's largest arms shows.

The Su-30 fighters are to be delivered in batches of six in 2006-07, bolstering Malaysia's existing fleet of Russian MiG-29s, American F/A-18D Hornets and British Hawks.

There were no immediate plans for the center to handle Russian aircraft bought by other Southeast Asian countries, though analysts said the project was part of the Russian defense industry's broader aim of expanding ties with the region.

Moscow has been aggressively pursuing defense contracts in Southeast Asia. In April, Indonesia agreed to buy two Su-30s, two Su-27s and two Mi-35 assault helicopters through a countertrade deal worth $192.6 million.

Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev told reporters that Russia would remain "persistent" in boosting defense relations with Southeast Asia, citing Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam as key customers.

At a separate news conference, Sukhoi director Mikhail Pegosyan said his company expects Indonesia to buy more aircraft.

Ghazemy Mahmud, editor of the Asian Defense Journal, said Russia hopes the proposed center could eventually be used to service Russian aircraft in other countries, encouraging them to make more purchases.