05 November 2015
Philippines will take delivery of a left-hand-drive version First Win next year (photo : Shephard)
Chaiseri Metal and Rubber Company, the Thai developer and manufacturer of the First Win 4x4 mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle, is accumulating its first overseas sales.
Next year the Philippines will take delivery of a left-hand-drive version of the 11t First Win, with this unit to be dedicated to airport security usage at Clark Airport north of Manila, Chaiseri representative Daniel Ilagan told Shephard.
This left-hand-drive vehicle was exhibited at Defence & Security 2015 in Bangkok, as was a version for the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF). Although manufactured in Thailand by Chaiseri, the latter will wear a Deftech badge, with the Malaysian partner responsible for maintenance and support of the fleet.
DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies (Deftech) is calling the vehicle AV4, and the rebadging appears to be an attempt to deflect adverse public reaction to Malaysia purchasing a vehicle built in neighbouring Thailand. Chaiseri modified the body of the AV4 to give it a 2+1 door configuration instead of the First Win’s usual 4+1 doors.
Malaysian MRAP vehicles have a roof-mounted turret featuring a Gatling gun. The Malaysian chief of defence Gen Zulkifeli Mohammed Zin confirmed last month that the 12t AV4 will deploy to the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) area of operations, a tense area where Filipino insurgents infiltrated in 2013.
While the Malaysian Army has a long-standing requirement to replace elderly Radpanzer Condor 4x4 vehicles, the AV4 will not fulfil this function, Zulkifei revealed.
Although Chaiseri was not permitted to disclose details about the MAF acquisition, Shephard understands that 20 vehicles are being acquired. First deliveries will occur next year, with the last units to be handed over in 2017. Deftech will locally assemble around three quarters of the vehicles.
The First Win family, which includes the slightly smaller First Win E that is being marketed as a reconnaissance or security vehicle, is continually being modified. For example, last year the original semi-leaf spring suspension was replaced with parabolic leaf springs from Germany to give a more comfortable ride and heavier-duty performance.
The armour now offers a higher level of protection too, while a thermal coating reduces heat transfer in hot climates. Seats inside the cab have also been improved with better cushioning.
The addition of a left-hand-drive First Win will bolster the export appeal of the MRAP to regions such as the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe that Chaiseri is targeting as potential markets alongside Southeast Asia. Exports will be extremely valuable to the First Win’s success.
Chaiseri views both military and paramilitary/police as potential customers. The Royal Thai Army has ordered 21 vehicles and the Department of Special Investigation (Thailand’s equivalent of the FBI) ordered 18 First Wins for operations in the insurgency-plagued south of Thailand.