The defence ministry has inked a RM 700 million ($ 231 million) deal with the US to purchase 130,000 new weapons for the armed forces and police, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced.
The purchase includes the 5.56mm Colt M4 carbine, which can accommodate the M203 grenade launcher, to replace the Austrian-made Steyr AUG assault rifle.
Malaysian arms manufacturer SME Ordnance Sdn Bhd (SMEO), which began local production of the Steyr in 1991, had in 2007 undertaken the deal with American firm Colt Defence LLC to initially acquire 14,000 carbines, which were all delivered by June 2008.
The company followed it up with a second contract with the same firm in February this year for the supply of 116,000 carbines over a seven-year period.
Once the technology transfer comes into effect, Malaysia would also be given the rights to market the locally produced carbines to Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia and other countries using them.
“This will enable SMEO to become a centre of excellence for the manufacture of small-bore firearms in Asia,” the New Straits Times quoted the minister as saying.