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Malaysia buys South Korea fighter jets as ASEAN arms market grows

Southeast Asian countries turn to Asia for affordable high-tech military supplies

A South Korean FA-50 fighter jet purchased by the Philippines. Malaysia has also ordered 18 of the fighter jets.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Korean Aerospace Industries late last month confirmed that Malaysia had signed off on a 4.08 billion ringgit ($910 million) purchase of 18 FA-50 fighter jets, beating out other manufacturers like Indian-based Tejas and Pakistan-China's JF-17.

While Malaysia remains one of the lowest spenders on arms among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations based on gross domestic product, the bloc is becoming the biggest customer of South Korean armaments, purchasing nearly $2 billion of military equipment between 2017 to 2021, according to a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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