KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s top armored vehicle manufacturer, Deftech, has begun the qualification stage for its eight-wheel-drive AV-8 armored wheeled vehicle and will produce 257 units with 12 variants for the country’s Army when tests are concluded, said Deftech CEO Amril Samsudin this week at the Defence Services Asia exhibition here.
The AV-8 program is part of a manufacturing partnership agreement with Turkey’s FNSS Defense Systems and is based on the FNSS-designed PARS (Leopard) multimission wheeled vehicle, an FNSS source said.
Deftech and FNSS began discussions in 2008 and came to an agreement in 2010, Amril said. “We will deliver the first of 12 units to the Army by the end of this year, … and expect the final delivery by the end of 2018.”
Amril said there are export opportunities for the AV-8 and “several countries” have approached Deftech, but the company will not market the vehicle until the Army can “verify its capabilities.”
Amril said Malaysia is in discussions with FNSS to supply the six-wheel-drive PARS for the Malaysian United Nations contingent in Lebanon. He said Deftech might pass on a manufacturing option for the vehicle if the Army orders less than 100 because the cost of tooling would be prohibitive.
Amril said the company is finalizing a contract with the Cambodian government for a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) program for 500 T-54/T-55 tanks.
“We will give it a 15- to 20-year life extension,” he said.
The MRO program will include exterior and interior refurbishment, and this is a long-term project, Amril said.
Dzulkefli Zainol, senior manager of the AV-8 project, said Deftech and the Malaysian Army have learned a great deal from its overseas UN deployments, including in Somalia in 1993, when the Army sent a battalion of four-wheel-drive Panzer Condor vehicles to rescue US Army troops during the Battle of Mogadishu.
He said Malaysians were disappointed to see the movie “Black Hawk Down” depicting the Pakistan Army as rescuing US Army Rangers and Delta Force members.
“We had one soldier killed in action,” he said. ■