Transfer of technology can help us produce high-skilled workers
02 Dec 2021
The advancement in allied weaponry, military operations, battlefield preparations and defence budget must be carefully planned.
For the sake of security, these settlements need to be based on meticulous and solid judgments that are divided between military technological invention and innovation.
Such rapidly improving technologies may warrant huge investment and provide new opportunities, especially in building our defence trust.
However, strong research and development policies will contribute to the securing of our national defence programme or any military-related project.
For illustration, any selected contractor appointed through an open tender would obtain most government budget military assets.
For example, the latest closed tender, 18 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), to be acquired by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), would contribute to another milestone in this country.
As the normal practice, Malaysia would offer our resources, such as palm oil products, as the payment method once the deal is set.
If we look into this purchase, the cost of one LCA would be around RM222.22 million, and the total acquisition would cost RM4 billion, where half of the sale will be paid according to the stated trade.
A similar situation is presumed with weaponry systems, such as missiles, rocket launchers and armaments.
On the other hand, sophisticated weaponry systems demand a tremendous level of automation or autonomy that can deliver intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance duties to endure in any circumstance, be it in air, land or sea.
Several stealth combination features, such as network-enabled capability, electronic attachment, countermeasures, weapon systems with self-protection, speed and manoeuvrability, would be established to fulfil these requirements.
For the record, in the 2020 Budget, the Defence Ministry was allocated RM15.6 billion, while in the 2021 Budget the ministry was allocated about RM16 billion.
In comparison, the allocation for the 2022 Budget should be higher, but there was not much increment with a total allocation of RM16.14 billion, even with RMAF’s Capability Development 2055 initiative and the Royal Malaysian Navy’s 15-to-5 transformation programme.
Looking at ancient history, the Islamic Army, in its early stage, did not have the mechanism or tools to break down city walls or fences. These tools are only owned by the armies of the great empires of the era, namely Rome and Persia.
Thus, Prophet Muhammad sent two people, ‘Urwah bin Mas’ud and Ghailan bin Salamah to Jarasy (a city in Damascus under Byzantine rule), to discover the methods of manufacturing a trebuchet.
Here, the prophet taught us that acquiring new military tactics and strategies through the technology transfer process is inherent in expanding knowledge to improve the military for defence programmes.
Malaysia should use this example to enhance our capabilities in producing high-skilled workers, such as professional engineers and technical labourers, via the transfer-of-technology setup.
Technology transfer would hasten the development of skilled workers and complex types of machinery.
If this interest is to be realised, the programme itself will be an offset programme, where half of the planned quantity will be readied by the manufacturer.
At the same time, the remaining quanitity would be manufactured in Malaysia to train the country’s industry experts.
It must be noted that building the aircraft industry is not easy due to the separate manufacturing processes of aircraft components, such as the wing, fuselage, control surfaces, landing gears, engine and others.
From that perspective, the government should make an investment by providing a special allocation from the annual budget to build in-house assembly facilities through the collaboration of military organisations, defence military contractors and industries, as well as universities, and technical colleges in Malaysia.
Consequently, our technical and vocational education and training programmes would benefit greatly and become a new game-changer, instead of just a one-off deal contract between the higher authorities of this country and could relinquish the level of apprenticeship.
By Dr Nur Azam Abdullah – The writer is assistant professor at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)