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Editorial: Wars and inventions

POSTED BY Vishal Bhaskaran ON 22 April 2016

Kuala Lumpur hosted the most powerful show this week, the Defence Services Asia 2016 exhibition.

For those four days, the Putra World Trade Centre was packed with the latest army, navy and aviation gear. Cars with powerful number plates such as Z6 were seen parked along the roads.

High-ranking military commanders and officers with uniforms encrusted with badges and gold ribbon lusted over the latest in firepower and software.

There were also some interesting joint-venture projects.

Defence Services Asia 2016

The first one was a huge 4×4, the 11.5 tonne Lipan Bara. This is a Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle which is the result of a joint development between Malaysia and Thailand.

Formerly called the Deftech AV4, it was renamed the Lipan Bara by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he visited the Deftech pavilion after his official opening of the DSA 2016.

There is a history to the Lipan Bara. In preparation for Malaysia’s ascension to the Asean chair last year, the PM had earlier asked Deftech to develop a defence industry product in collaboration with an Asean country.

“We went to Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand to study the market and we decided that our best partner was from Thailand’s Chaiseri Metal and Rubber Company,” said Lt. Kol. (K) Datuk Amril Samsudin, Group CEO of Deftech.

“The Lipan Bara is the first military product that is produced jointly by two Asean countries.

“We’ve done a lot of software and modification for Malaysia and the most important is what’s inside the driver’s cabin. You can photograph the rear compartment where the soldiers sit but don’t show any photos of the systems within the driver’s cabin,” he warned.

Defence Services Asia 2016

“Chaiseri and Deftech share the intellectual property rights 50:50 and Deftech has the rights to market the Lipan Bara to Organisation of Islamic Countries while Chaiseri wants to focus on its domestic market,” he said.

Deftech was awarded the contract by the Malaysian government to supply 20 units of the Lipan Bara worth RM141 million to the army.

“We expect to deliver the first unit by middle this year,” said Amril.

The 4×4 has a Cummins 6.7 litre engine delivering 300hp through an Allison automatic transmission with part-time 4×4.

The maximum speed is 110 kph and the 200 litre fuel tank allows it a range of 600 km.

It is equipped with a M134D-H Gatling gun which is rated as about the best machine gun except that the 3,000 bullets that it spits out in seconds are also very heavy.

It has a 76 mm grenada launchers on both sides and a laser warning system.

The level of protection is up to NATO standards under the STANAG 4569 protocol, which means that the Lipan Bara can be used for UN services if required.

Defence Services Asia 2016

The second and more cerebral moment of the DSA was a signing ceremony on Wednesday between the French defence group and submarine maker, DCNS, and University Teknologi Malaysia’s Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion project.

The two parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to jointly study the feasibility of building an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion plant on the Malaysian island of Layang-Layang.

In the frame of this agreement, DCNS and UTM OTEC will put together their complementary expertise to define the technical and commercial feasibility of such a project.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion uses the difference of temperature that naturally exists in tropical waters between the surface water (about 25°C) and deep water (5°C at a depth of 1,000 meters) to create electricity.

It is a non-intermittent base load energy source that could represent medium-term green alternative to so-called “fossil” fuels (gas, diesel, coal), which are still used massively on isolated tropical sites (islands) that have no connection to continental electrical networks.

The island of Layang-Layang, situated off Sabah, is well positioned for the development of OTEC with a temperature difference above 20 degrees throughout the year.

UTM OTEC and DCNS will bring their complementary expertise to conduct a pre-feasibility study that will help to determine and define the possibilities to develop a pioneer OTEC plant on the island and reduce its dependency on coal-fired power plants.

Aware of the great potential of OTEC in Malaysia, UTM created in 2013 a research center UTM OTEC dedicated to the development of this technology, supported by the Malaysian Ministry for Energy.

abu Defence Services Asia 2016

UTM OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY CENTRE (UTM OTEC) has been tasked to research, develop and commercialise the best available Ocean Thermal Energy conversion technology.

OTEC aims to harvest the difference in temperatures and to turn this into electricity or hydrogen fuel.

UTM OTEC is headed by Prof Dr Md Nor Musa and co-chaired by Prof Dato’ Ir Dr A. Bakar Jaafar, FASc, and four other Research Fellows, and 8 Faculty members, and 13 Master and PhD students. The Centre also supports the research works of postgraduate students relating to OTEC.

DCNS

A leader in naval defense and a major actor in marine renewable energy, DCNS is committed to developing long-term partnership with Malaysia.

The Group already has a strong industrial commitment in the country through its partnership with Boustead Group and their Joint-Venture Boustead DCNS Naval Corporation (BDNC) for the In-Service Support of the Royal Malaysian Navy submarines.

DCNS is also working with Boustead Naval Shipyard on the LCS Program launched by the Royal Malaysian Navy to purchase six Littoral Combat Ships. Boustead is the Prime Contractor of this program based on the DCNS Gowind® design offered with a strong Transfer of Technology.