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Australian gift of Sabres to Malaysia



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FOR PRESS;

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Defence P. R. No. 322/69

■ EMBARGOED UNTIL 10.00a.m Malaysian Time ) 12.30p.m Australian Eastern Standard Time)

1st October, 1969

AUSTRALIAN GIFT OF SABRES TO MALAYSIA

(Text of Speech by the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon. Allen Fairhall, M.P., at the RAAF Base, Butterworth Malaysia, on October, 1st 1969)

May I first of all express my pleasure at being . here today on behalf of the Australian Government to make this presentation of Sabre Aircraft to Tun Razak.

This is not our first meeting.

In fact Tun Razak has become a valued friend in the course of our negotiations as Ministers of Defence.

He has carried on that office for more years than I care to contemplate and I am, therefore, very much his junior in experience and wisdom.

Then again, in the language of defence equipment, I am "phasing myself out" of Parliament at out coming election and I am therefore not able to challenge him for his enviable record of national service.

Much of the defence and development of my country, as of yours has, in the past, been influenced by the United ' Kingdom. ' ’

But now great historical changes are afoot, brought about by the departure of British power from our region.

Now and for the future we must muster our own strengt for our own security in our own region.

For that purpose we must learn to work together.

The first conference of the Five Powers held in Kuala Lumpur a year ago made a tremendous stride forward in. this direction. . . . .

Now we have had our second conference in Canberra and the work of our officials in consultation is steadily developing firm foundations for our continued association.

I express my firm confidence that success will attend our efforts.

Along the way, no doubt, there will be some difficulties and misunderstandings because we are travelling a road that is new to both of us.

But I see no problem that patience and goodwill cannot solve.

In addition, we will be driven on by a knowledge of the tremendous importance which regional security has for the aspirations of our peoples.

Today we are talking about air defence and air defence is peculiarly a regional business.

If it is to be successful, it cannot be for one country alone.

In today's context successful air defence demands the closest co-operation between Malaysia and Singapore.

We are delighted that both countries are moving so purposefully to strengthen their individual air forces and, in addition, contributing to the common effort.

From our own Australian military experience we have been able to contribute something towards meeting the particular problems of Singapore.

Equally we are happy to contribute to Malaysia as vse do today.

The gift of Sabres we offer today is substantial in money terms.

But more important than that are the by-products.

The cost of defence, particularly in the air, · · continues to mount.

In a developing country, like Malaysia, the cost of sophisticated aircraft could be a serious subtraction from resources which I know your Government is anxious to divert to the important nation-building programmes of social and

economic development.

. The gift of Sabres will assist you to keep those programmes going forward for a significant period.

As well, the Sabres will provide essential transitional training towards the operation of more sophisticated aircraft at .a later date.

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But not least is the satisfaction which I hope we. both will share in seeing men of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force working together at the common task of building strong defence for the security of Malaysia and of the region, security of which we ourselves

in Australia, will also be beneficiaries.

Happily we have been able to make a contribution in aid to the general development of Malaysian and Singaporean defence and, as part of the common security of the region, the Australian Government intends to keep forces of all arms in the area of Malaysia-Singapore after the British withdrawal in 1971, provided that our presence continues to be desired by the two countries concerned.

But our interests are not purely or even predominant!} military. ·

We place equal and even greater importance on active diplomatic and other measures aimed at assisting the continued growth of political stability and economic progress.

In this way we hope to create a climate of mutual understanding which will allow the independent countries of the region to proceed with their programmes of national development in an atmosphere of confidence. .

The Sabres represent only one aspect of Australia's contribution to the total air defence capability in the Malaysia/Singap ore region.

Our principal contribution will be the two . RAAF squadrons of supersonic Mirage aircraft in Malaysia, with a rotational detachment in Singapore, and our involvement in the management of Butterworth as a first class air base complex.

These two squadrons and their support represent a considerable investment in the area's security.

We are confident that, in the Mirage, we have one of the finest air defence weapons in the world today.

These Mirages, together with Malaysia's own contribution of aircraft, communications, radar and other facilities, as well as aircraft and facilities from Singapore, will go to make up the integrated air defence system which will operate after the British withdrawal in 1971, and in which Australia plans to play a constructive role.

It is particularly pleasing that the working-up phase of' the Sabres will provide an opportunity for close co-operation between tie Air Forces concerned.

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The handover training programme which actually began last month will continue until the EMAF personnel concerned . will have completed their detailed conversion training to the Sabre.

In making this formal presentation to your Government Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, I might mention that the gift comprises not only the ten aircraft, but also a large quantity of spare parts, includingSabre training simulator and,

importantly the technical knowledge and skills of the RAAF Sabre Advisory Flight which has been deployed here to provide training in both flying and ground support.

I think I can sum up my remarks in this way.

This gift is a practical sign of the friendship· and goodwill of the Australian Government and people to Malaysia.

It is an indication of our continuing friendly interest in the welfare and progress of Malaysia.

It underlines the common purposes we have to maintain and strengthen confidence and peaceful co-operation in the region, and it is an earnest example of our determination that, through such means of practical co-operation at the service level, we shall build upon and enhance that sense of confidence and trust essential to the region's peaceful and prosperous future.