To drive the economy to greater heights, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is directing Malaysian companies to improve its capabilities and technologies in developing and manufacturing defence weapons and arms.
“We need to learn if we want to become a developed country, we need to have command of this knowledge,” he told a press conference at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2019 (LIMA’19).
After his visited the Malaysian booths during the five-day international event at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC), the Prime Minister expressed his elation and said that he was impressed with the technological capabilities of the companies that he witnessed in LIMA’19.
He said this edition of LIMA is among the best in terms of investments and collaborations involving international and local companies.
“Now we have sophisticated technology and we can even produce defence products that can be exported,” Dr. Mahathir said.
Historical Glimpses of Malaysia’s Defence Industry
For several years, the country’s domestic defense industry was principally disregarded, relying primarily on foreign sources for its military equipment.
Some of the Armed Forces facilities were privatised. The objective was primarily to create an indigenous defence industry in line with the nation’s aspiration to embark on a self-reliance defence posture. Such strategy supports the national agenda to develop capability in high technology sectors like aerospace. Malaysia began by privatising the Armed Forces Depot, maintenance and overhaul facilities known today as AIROD. This was followed by privatisation of the PSD Naval Dorkyard in Navy Base Lumut, currently known as Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn. Bhd.
A Task Force was created to manage the details of setting up domestic production of assault rifles; the decision toward domestic production was for military rather than economic reasons. Rifles can be purchased at a cheaper rate on the international market than be made locally, but for national security purposes, it was necessary to guarantee a continuous flow of supply.
Malaysia had a small domestic arms production capacity sufficient to meet much of the armed forces requirements for small arms, ordnance, and ammunition. During this time, Italian M. B. 339 aircraft were locally assembled, and the air force was capable of performing major overhauls of up to fourth-echelon maintenance.
Malaysia’s defense industry produced mainly small arms ammunition and AUG Styer assault rifles under license. The country also ventured into the aircraft industry with Lockheed in a joint-production of digital flight data equipment for export. Another joint venture is with Aerospatiale of France for aircraft production including the transfer of technology. Additionally, joint-ventures were being undertaken with Russia, Germany, UK and Australia in both the shipbuilding and aerospace industries.
The Malaysia Defence Industry Council [MDIC] was formed in 1999 to coordinate the orderly development of the Malaysia Defence Industry Sector.
While Malaysia gives priority to the defence segment, the worldwide economic slump compelled the government to take financially-cautious measures and far-sighted initiatives in its national spending. Thus, the necessity of making the government’s ambitions a reality sooner than later is given emphasis more strongly now.
Considering the Malaysian government’s determination to make headway in the country’s defence industry, will nuclear weapons be next?
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