France submits Rafale purchase proposal to Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - France has submitted a proposal to Malaysia for the purchase of 18 Rafale fighter jets, its defence minister said during a visit to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

"We provided a full offer to the Malaysian authorities," Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a news conference with his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein.

"This offer will be studied by the authorities." He added: "This proposal marks the beginning of formal discussions with Malaysia over the acquisition of 18 Rafale planes." Malaysia has said it intends to replace its ageing fleet of Russian-made MiG aircraft, and along with the Rafale, the American F-18, Sweden's Gripen and the Eurofighter have been mooted as potential replacements.

But Hussein warned that Malaysia would have to judge whether any short-term plans to replace the fleet were affordable, with the country grappling with an economic slowdown and a sharp fall in its currency.