“Malaysia is one of the two biggest export customers for FNSS, the other being Saudi Arabia, and until now we achieved sales in excess of one billion US$ in each,” Nail Kurt, General Manager and CEO of FNSS, tells EDR Magazine in the afternoon of the third day of the DSA exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. “Of course our aim is to reinforce our position in this country, and possibly taking it to the next level.” The single vehicle exhibited in real at the FNSS stand is the Pars Scout in 6×6 configuration. “Looking at future needs in this country, the 6×6 should be one of them, although it is not yet determined, however it is considered seriously,” he adds. Compared to the Pars III, the Scout 6×6 is lighter; “We also developed a Pars Scout in 8×8 version,” he says, underlining that this vehicle is approximately 20% lighter than the Pars III 8×8.
The other major programme running in Malaysa is the AV-8 8×8 vehicle, in which the prime contractor is Malaysian DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies (Deftech), FNSS being one of the OEM as that vehicle is a derivative of the company’s Pars 8×8. “The second batch of vehicles is part of Malaysian long term procurement plans and we hope that it will link up with Phase 1,” Kurt explains. This would mean 2020, and considering that the first contract was signed in 2011 some changes might be expected, due to technology insertion as well as to a possible changing in tactical use, dictated by lessons learned. “Deftech has become a long standing partner for FNSS, the first cooperation dating back to 1996 and the first contract to 2000,” the FNSS CEO explains, “and we are still partners, we are happy to work with them, although as always we could find margins for imprevements from both sides,” he concludes.
Looking at the geographic area, Mr. Kurt starts from Indonesia, that country having a programme that fully involves FNSS. “The Kaplan MT light tank development programme was a major challenge, but things have progressed beyond everybody’s expectations,” says with unconcealed satisfaction FNSS’ CEO. “We delivered our prototype, while PT Pindad is about to complete the second one, and tests are planned for 2018 to be completed by year end,” he explains. These will include mobility, firing and mine resistance tests. “If, as I am convinced, we will succeed, we will then await the budget allocation for the production programme, in which PT Pindad will be the prime.” However the success story of the Kaplan MT might go beyond the Indonesian borders: “the interest from neighbouring nations has started earlier than we thought, and two countries already expressed a serious interest in that vehicle.” Nail Kurt concludes, looking forward to the first participation of FNSS in Eurosatory, which has become the benchmark exhibition for land forces equipment: “We now have a wide portfolio of products, and we cannot miss the opportunity to show it in such an event.”