SHAH ALAM: At LIMA 2023, Malaysian company Ketech Asia Sdn Bhd signed a MOU with Abu Dhabi Edge Group for the production and resale of Caracal CAR 816 assault rifle in Malaysia.
The release stated that the two companies will conduct a transfer of technology that enables Ketech Asia to assemble the highly-reliable, mission-proven CAR 816 tactical assault rifle at its new facilities in Pahang.
For the record, at DSA 2022, Ketech Asia signed an agreement with a Turkish firm Atesci for a project of small arms ammunition production factory in Malaysia.
Ketech followed-up the agreement some eight months later when it signed a leasing agreement with the Pahang State Development Corporation (PSDC). The agreement paves the way for Ketech Asia to build an ammunition factory at Kechau Taui, a small settlement some 35km from Kuala Lipis town. PKNP release at that point stated that the project will involve an investment of RM120 million.
It is likely that ammunition factory will be the site for the local assembly of the Caracal assault rifles if and when Ketech Asia got the contract to supply the firearm to the army.
The signing was interesting as Malaysian Defence was told at LIMA 2023 (on the same day, several hours before the release was published) that the Army was planning to replace its Colt M4A1 Carbine with the the Edge Caracal CAR 816 assault rifles. The CAR 816 uses the short-stroke gas piston like the ones fitted on H&K 416 assault rifles unlike the direct gas impingement of the M4.
Yes, Malaysian Defence has reported that the Army wants to make the CAR 816 as its standard assault rifle but I was told many are also interested in the project. With some 100,000 rifles to be supplied and another 50,000 more for the second batch, it will be a tough fight.
It must be noted that in April, another company, Myaltech Sdn Bhd announced it was also setting up an ammunition factory in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan. The project is said to cost RM80 million.
One has to wonder whether the company is also eyeing the M4 Carbine replacement programme as the huge investment for an ammo factory does not correspond with the current procurement scenario. The biggest procurement for ammo in recent times was in 2022, for 12.5 million rounds of 5.56mm ammo. The contract awarded to Traumland Sdn Bhd was for RM30.6 million. The other one was for 10 million rounds of 9mm ammo for the police. Unfortunately, the cost was not announced.
For both deals, the ammunition contracted is imported.
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