KUALA LUMPUR: It is plain obvious isnt it? I am against the AV8, the national 8X8 Armoured Combat Vehicle project.
Why? Its not that there are cheaper solutions, which there are of course. The main reason? Its the money of course, or the lack of it.
There are other valid reasons for going against the AV8 project. The past failures of national interest programmes were to first things that come to mind.
The latest failure is the Aludra UAV project which had not benefited the armed forces at all in terms of capability and capacity. It is such failure that Mindef do not even have the stomach to sign a production contract nor the instinct to kill it off for good measure.
As usual the thing will drag on for a few years more before it will die natural death, leaving the armed forces so behind the technology curve when it comes to UAV even when other nations in the region are contemplating UCAVs!
Furthermore, the Army, as we all know, has other numerous project which are as important as the 8X8 but the lack of funds has caused these projects to be shelved.
Of course we could argue until the moon turned blue which projects are more important and necessary to the Army but one cannot deny the fact that we cannot afford the AV8 project as it stands now.
I would even argue we cannot even afford to purchase 200++ 8X8 ACV off-the shelf now as it would also cost us at least RM3 billion to get the whole lot with another RM2 billion thrown in to maintain them for the next 20 years or so.
Yes, the Menhan had said that the project may or may not cost RM8 billion but certainly we dont have the luxury to spend even half of that amount. And we are supposed to spend RM1 billion annually to develop the AV8?
Yes the unit price could go much lower if we replace the Sibmas and Condor on one to one basis. But how do we know whether the unit price will go down even if we add another 200 vehicles to the original order?
So what next? Do we really need to replace the Condors and Sibmas? Of course we do and at the same time we must also helped our defence industry. How are we going to do it then? My solution is for us to embark an upgrade programme for the KIFV fleet bought for the Bosnian mission to the Adnan ACV standard. Done by Deftech in Pekan of course.
Since the UN paid for the KIFV, we already save almost RM1 billion in procurement costs and perhaps we need to spent only RM1 billion to upgrade these Korean imports and another RM1 billion to keep them working for at least another 15 years. I know the estimates above could be wrong but I believe this is a far fairer and cheaper solution to our needs considering our defence budget and ambitions.
Is there a way to keep the AV8 project and the other projects in the Armed Forces wish list? Of course there is. More money of course. Show me money!
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