Monday, December 21, 2009

Two F-5E Tiger II fighter jet engines were stolen from RMAF

Alang Bendahara

 Not one but two jet-fighter engines, each worth RM50 million, were stolen from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Sungai Besi. Both engines served as powerplants to the F-5E Tiger II fighter and RF-5E Tigereye reconnaissance jets.Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said the two engines were discovered stolen in May last year. RMAF had lodged a report with the police on Aug 4 last year.

Gani, speaking to the New Straits Times, said police investigation papers would be returned to the Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department today with additional directives.“They will now focus their investigations into government procedures with regard to the transportation of the engines, the private defence contractor handling it and several other individuals, including Malaysian armed forces personnel.” The A-G’s Chambers had received the investigation papers last month.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said there would be no cover-up of the theft, adding that the Defence Ministry had lodged a police report in August last year.Police had sent Gani a note on the case in May this year. He had given the nod to proceed with investigations in June.Gani will also ask police to furnish more details on the stolen General Electric J85-21A turbojet engines.

He said the first engine was transported out of RMAF’s Butterworth base to the Sungai Besi base in June 2007 while the second engine was moved out five months later in November.Both engines were to be kept in a warehouse at the Sungai Besi base before being taken out for maintenance.The engines were taken out of the Butterworth base by the same private defence contractor handling its maintenance.

Both engines were only discovered stolen along with their maintenance records when RMAF officers wanted to service them in May last year.RMAF lodged a report with the police in August last year after searching for the engines at all its airbases.The case was later handled by the Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department in Bukit Aman.The New Straits Times fir st highlighted the case of the stolen jet engine on Saturday.It was learnt that the eng ines were sold to arms dealers on the black market.

Intelligence reports suggested the engines were later transported to a US-sanctioned Middle Eastern country that was keen on developing its own fighter jet.Armed forces chief Tan Sri Azizan Ariffin, in confirming the case, had also said that the case was the “tip of the iceberg”.An audit launched after the case also showed that equipment worth several millions of ringgit were missing.

The Jakarta Post


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