File photo of DRB-HICOM Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer Datuk Amril Samsudin. [NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD]

KUALA LUMPUR: DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd (Deftech) expects to finalise its talks with the Saudi Arabian government for the sale of its AV8 8x8 armoured vehicle by the year-end.

Deftech group chief executive officer Datuk Amril Samsudin is anticipating a good outcome from the talks.

“Last year, we were shortlisted as one of the two companies that have passed the trials and tests on the vehicle set by the Saudi Arabian government.

“There were six companies that participated in the testing in Saudi Arabia but we managed to finish as one of the two companies that passed the tests and trials.

“We are in the midst of negotiations but it should be able to conclude by the end of this year and if there are no more changes in the country’s leadership, we hope for a good outcome,” he told NSTP Business and Bernama TV yesterday.

The company sent two variants of the armoured vehicle equipped with 25-millimetre (mm) and 30mm canons to Saudi Arabia in August 2017 for a performance test and assessment by the Saudi Arabian armed forces.

Six companies participated in the testing for the Saudi Arabia contract. The four countries were from China, United States, Turkey as well as two from United Arab Emirates and European countries.

He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Defence Services Asia 2018 (DSA 2018) conference and exhibition yesterday.

Citing the company as “late-bloomers” especially in the development of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Amril said it is now not the question of catching up but rather the question of being able to produce UAVs that can withstand the country’s weather and meets the specifications required.

“Military vehicle is country-specific and should be customised due to factors such as weather and humidity, factors which are country-specific.

“Different weather has different specifications that need to be tailor-made to which has to be catered to which has to be carefully considered when developing it,” added Amril.

Deftech was awarded a RM7.55 billion contract in February 2011 to supply 257 units of AV-8 armoured wheeled vehicles to the Malaysian Army from 2014 to 2020.

However, Amril said R&D investments in defence should be also chipped in by the government as it involves a huge capital ensure that the industry is protected and the economy is spurred with the creation of jobs and own technology.

“It is crucial that we are self-reliant when it comes to defence industry as it also involves the security of the technology itself.

“We believe in a 100 per cent local manpower and we are proud of it. We have many of our skilled manpower who have managed to work abroad in major companies,” he said.

Amril said Deftech’s three-year plan include the delivery of AV8 on time by November 2020 and to embark into UAV systems development.

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