Plans for new multirole combat aircraft destined for the Malaysian Air Force have been put on hold until the economic situation improves.

Defence Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government had shelved the plan after taking into consideration the current economic situation, according to The Star Online.

Instead, the air force will continue to use MiG-29N jet fighters for another five years.

“We have decided to continue using ten of the 16 MiG-29N jet fighters after they are repaired and upgraded,” Hamidi said.

“We will call the experts from the Aerospace Technology System Corp to do the necessary repairs and overhaul the engines so that they will be safe to hit the sky again.”

In June 2009, the Malaysian Government announced that the MiG-29N jets would be decommissioned at the end of 2010, and sold to developing countries.

The decommissioning of the MiG jets was considered due to costly maintenance and repair works, amounting to nearly RM260m ($76m) a year.