KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has sealed a deal worth RM1.4bil partly through contra trade to acquire battle tanks and for defence technology transfer from Poland yesterday.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the purchase of the 48 units of the PT-91M tanks would enhance the armoured brigades capability while increasing trade opportunities with Poland.
This is a historic moment. It involves years of preparation to equip the army with main battle tanks to establish a truly efficient armoured brigade.
The contract includes 30% of direct off-set in the form of training and technology transfer and 30% of indirect off-set in commodities like palm oil and rubber.
Apart from lifting the standard of our Combined Arms Division (which include the capacities of attack, mobility, communications and surveillance), the deal would also enhance ties and collaboration with Poland on the economic front, he said after the contract singing ceremony held at Mutiara Hotel yesterday.
The contract also includes the purchase of six units of armoured recovery vehicles, five units of armoured vehicle-launched bridge, three armoured engineering vehicles, defence technology transfer and training courses lasting between three weeks and six months for 128 army personnel in Poland.
Also present yesterday were Polands Defence Minister Yezi Shmaijinski, National Treasury first deputy minister Andre Sharawarski, Bumar FTE Limited (the tanks developer) president Roman Bachinski and Malaysia Defence Ministrys secretary general Tan Sri Hashim Meon.
The importance of the contract to Poland was reflected in the presence of a team of Polish media from the public television network PTV.
Najib said the off-set purchase scheme would not strain the countrys finances which has a payment period stretching into the Ninth Malaysia Plan in year 2010.
He said the tanks would be delivered in batches between February 2006 and February 2007.
Asked for the relevance of tanks in modern-day warfare where ground weapons could easily be destroyed by air strikes as seen in the Iraq war, Najib replied:
Tanks remain an important army inventory and its value lies in short-range treatment and fire power. For every weapon system, there is an antidote to it and we just have to be prepared.
The tanks features include fire control, automotive, weapon, navigation, laser warning, NBC protection, battlefield management and advanced communications systems.
Shmaijinski said This is a very important deal and we assured the Malaysian Government that we will deliver our best technology, he said.