Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Should There Be A Controversy?

Curious as to why the AV-8 LOI cost of RM8 Billion has become a flogging point for some commentators, I did a little digging just to get a simple understanding of what this whole project is about. Well based on the announcements made at the time of signing, the whole project is about "Deftech is to build 12 variants from the base vehicle, including personnel carrier, anti-tank weapon carrier, command and control and anti-aircraft weapon vehicles", based on this newspaper report.

Photo from KLSR

Adding further details from a defence magazine article and this photo from a defence e-magazine, we can conclude that the 12 variants of the modified version of FNSS PARS 8x8 would be as follows :

A. Battle Trucks

1. Armoured Fire Support Vehicle with a customised Denel LCT30 two-man turret fitted with a 30 mm cannon.

2. Infantry Fighting Vehicle with a presumed FNSS Sharpshooter one-man turret fitted with a 25 mm cannon, similar to those mounted on FNSS supplied ADNAN tracked IFV.

3. Armoured Personnel Carrier with a 7.62-mm machine gun in an overhead remote-control station.

B. Weapons Platform

4. ATGW Carrier with a two man turret fitted supposedly with a DENEL INGWE missile system.

5. Mortar Carrier with 120mm mortar, most probably the TDA 2R2M that is already mounted on the Adnan IFV.

C. Battlefield Management Platform

6. Command Vehicle

7. Signals Vehicle

8. Surveillance Vehicle, believed to be a type of Fire Support Team Vehicle.

9. Armoured Engineer Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle (Remember the truck monitoring the nuclear blast in the movie Independence Day)

D. Field Support Platform

10. Engineering or Fitter Vehicle.

11. Recovery Vehicle or Kembalik in Malay.

12. Ambulance.

Mind you that Deftech CEO Abdul Harith Abdullah, in a separate Press conference, said the cost of the contract includes the manufacturing and other costs associated with the production of a new combat vehicle. And this reportedly will include the cost for Thales who will act as the electronic integrator, using its OICS vehicle electronics architecture and will provide mission system integration on specific AV-8 variants, while the communication fit for the AV-8 will be supplied by Sapura Thales Electronic.

And why all this electronics talk is important to be considered in evaluating the cost? Well if you couple the fact that AV-8 would be fully loaded electronically and that there is a specific Battlefield Management platform class consisting of four variants, then you would realise that these AV-8's are networked as in Network Centric Warfare ready, not just dumb battle taxis.

And the fact that the Defence Minister has clearly stated that said the value of the LOI was the ceiling price fixed by the government for the project. He said the actual unit price of the vehicle, designated AV8, could only be determined when the government signs the contract and also admitted that the unit price would be cheaper if the ministry decided to procure more AV8s after 10 years. And this is highly probable since 257 units barely replace the 500 odd Sibmas and Condor units still in the Army inventory, notwithstanding actual requirements.

And if the LOI also includes maintenance and support that includes the purchase of mechanical and electronic spare parts multiplied for each vehicle over a period of time, then it begins to look more and more a bargain to me. Especially since the project is designated as a national project to transform the local defence industry from "mere agents to developing a sustainable industry capable of developing and manufacturing world-class arms”, what is there to question about the project other than for petty or mischevous reasons.

Finally the only question I have still is, where is the anti-aircraft weapon platform mentioned in the Malay Mail articles, as that surely is one platform that the Army sorely needs.


Nazri Razali said...

sticker shock?

mumuchi said...

only if you don't look at the bells and whistles ;0)

Wan said...

I wonder why there is no anti tank gun variant platform to replace the Sibmas with 90mm Cockerill?

mumuchi said...

yup me too. i guess bushmater dan atgm would have to do the job..