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Kuala Lumpur, 21 October 2008: The status of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) project has been upgraded to a national project with immediate effect.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the decision was made in view of the commercial potential of the technology, initially commissioned by the Defence Ministry in 2006.

“This technology was initially developed for security purposes and we are very pleased with the results. Eventually we are looking at exporting this technology, but of course we will have to use it first,” he said after chairing the 5th National Aerospace Council meeting yesterday.

Abdullah, who is also the defence minister, noted that the government would wait for recommendations from all stakeholders in the project for consideration.

The UAV is jointly developed by three local companies – Composites Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM), Ikramatic Systems and Systems Consultancy Services.

The three companies put in RM15 million collectively through a joint-venture company, Unmanned Systems Technology Sdn Bhd, on top of a RM5 million grants from the Defence Ministry, to develop the surveillance aircraft.

On the national aerospace industry, Abdullah said the government would review the current set of incentives offered in a bid to increase foreign investment in the industry.

“We have made a very good progress in the industry, which is now worth around RM23 billion and it will develop even more. We consider this a strategic industry, hence we are taking steps to review the incentives offered so we can attract more foreign investment”.

Abdullah said the industry had contributed 3.65 per cent to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year, and had provided 53,000 jobs, of which 99 per cent were taken up by Malaysians.

He added the industry had also experience around 11 per cent growth over the past two years with total capital investment of RM300 million last year, half of it came from foreign direct investment.

(Source: New Straits Times)

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