Coming Home

Condors of Malbatt lined up for an inspection. Note the two with long barrel 20mm cannon.

SHAH ALAM: Condors Coming Home. Six Condors which had served in Lebanon since early 2007 are coming home. The six vehicles are currently stored at the Beirut port awaiting shipment back to Malaysia as soon as the Defence Ministry can find the logistics company to arrange for their ride.

The tender to find the multi-modal operator to arrange the shipment of the six Condors armed with the twin GPMG turret was published on Oct. 15 and closes on Oct. 22. According to the eperolehan website the six vehicles need to be transported from Beirut, Lebanon to their final destination at the Batu Kantomen Camp at Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur.

A RAD Condor in service with the UNIFIL mission. Joint Force picture

I have no idea what will happened next to these Condors after their return from Lebanon. As previously reported the Army had plans to upgrade them to extend their services lives further but nothing had been finalised so far.
The 1st pattern vehicle for the Condor upgrade, ZA 9474 which took part in the 2017 Merdeka parade. It features new air intakes, beefier suspension and new larger, weapon shield for its 7.62mm GPMG.

With the expected draw down of the defense budget I am of the opinion that the Army should concentrate on its already delayed Gempita program instead of embarking of the Condor remanufacturing project. Yes the upgrading the Condor may yet gave it a new lease of life but to what extent especially in this trying times?
Gempita AFV30 ATGW

Several years back I noted that the Army could not afford the AV8/Gempita as its budget were not even big enough for cheaper items including weapons sights and other stuff.
A GGK trooper carrying a LAW apart from his pack at the Merdeka parade rehersal.

Anyhow with the drawdown of the six Condors it appears the Defence Ministry is getting comfortable with the performance of the nine IAG Guardians ordered for the Malaysian contingent in Lebanon, currently Malbat 850-06. Whether or not it will soon order more Guardians is beyond me at the moment, though it seems likely.
IAG Guardians of the Malaysian contingent in Lebanon.

As the UN will reimburse the cost of buying and operating the vehicles in its peacekeeping operations it is likely that the Defence Ministry will be able to justify buying new vehicles for the mission, whether more Guardians or other vehicles. With the government saying that it will only be involved in UN missions these seems likely even with the current tough fiscal environment.

— Malaysian Defence

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22 Comments

  1. Hopefully one of them can be preserved in their original UNIFIL condition for the army museum.

    IMO the issue about the Condor remanufacturing by Deftech is its huge cost.

    ” DEFTECH Chief Executive Officer, Lt Col Datuk Amril Samsudin, said the Armour Directorate of the Malaysian Army has indicated that a total of 316 units of RPZ CONDORs needed to be refurbished and upgraded in stages to meet the Royal Armoured Corp’s order of battle and would cost about RM10 million per unit. ”

    RM10 million per unit is more than able to buy a brand new MRAP, something like Singapore’s Belrex aka Paramount Marauder costs about 1/2 of that. If that remanufacturing to cost RM10 million per unit, 316 units would push past Rm3 billion, and that is not a prudent thing to spend on something used. I believe a 2nd batch of Gempita of about 200 units can be had for less than USD1 billion as most of the set up costs should have been sunk in the 1st batch. The Gempita 2nd batch while not affordable now, probably can be started in RMK12 (2021-2025)

    Some of my opinions on this
    http://www.malaysiandefence.com/standard-firearm-the-colt-m4-carbine/#comment-324111

  2. They have no choice but to buy more Guardians, budget from UN willing.

    Eventually when they return to Malaysia, having only 9 trucks with an unfamiliar drivetrain would make maintaining them difficult & costly. The OEM might not provide such support with such low quantities or we may have to ship them to IAG service centers. More units would justify local maintenance, repair and overhaul.

  3. @…
    For 10mil I expect it to withstand up to STANAG 3 with applique armour and comes with 50 cal RWS!

    DRB’s proposal is just too much for things that are bought off the shelf. Considering the large numbers of Condors we can re-life, the cost can easily be brought down, but then one would ask what’s the purpose of light armoured Condors in today’s battlefield.

    Perhaps the answer lies in its original role as a battle taxi and not the IFV that we pressed it into TDM service. An update in doctrine can place Gempitas as the motorised offensive spearhead and Condors in the supporting role to ferry troops rapidly from the rear. A quick, lightly armed & armoured battle taxi would only require new engines, suspensions and com gear. Hardly worth 10mil each.

  4. On the condor remanufacturing.

    I have quoted a wrong info. The correct price for remanufacturing the condors by deftech was RM5 million per unit. Compare that to the cost of lipanbara which is RM7 million per unit, or the new american J-LTV (USD400 thousand, around RM1.68 million) or the Paramount Marauder (USD700-900 thousand, around RM3-3.8 million).

  5. @joe
    Yeah not worth 10m
    But DRB will charge 10m

    Therein lies the problem of Msia and Defence…

    Anyway better to get more Gempita. Nothing wrong with letting the other battalions hoof it on trucks. Any remaining dollars can go to buying more support weapons and weapons carriers.

  6. Geez, I was to say 10 m MYR per unit is very steep. Seriously, do they still need more than 300 considering there are also 250 Adnans?

  7. My take on it is that we can modernise the Condors. But just do a minimum upgrade.
    Most important is give it a new engine n change its suspensions.
    Can still use it for ESSCOM n border patrols. No need to use brand new vehicles for routine n low intensity conflicts

  8. @Chua
    I’m all for more Gempitas but we have to consider the safety of troops coming from rear in support. No matter what, Condors are at least still better protected than softskin trucks or “Humvees” for ferrying troops. An update to their drivetrain & suspensions to keep them running & cost-efficiently serviceable, can extend the useful life of our numerable Condor fleet.

    This shouldn’t take more that 3mil per vehicle since there is potential discounts if we’re to update all 400+ Condors.

    Reply
    I believe we are down to some 200++ Condors now

  9. Chua – ”Nothing wrong with letting the other battalions hoof it on trucks.”

    True but there are 2 factors to consider : we can’t afford the have the Gempita numbers we need and not all roles call for a Gempita; especially in places where patrolling is done mostly on foot or areas where roads are very narrow; where something smaller is more practical. Thus; there appears to be only 2 solutions : either go ahead with the Condor upgrade or buy an off the shelf MRAP [like what has been done for ESSCOM].

    The fact remains we still have lots of Condors hulls and these hulls have lots of life left. The question [like always when looking at upgrading/refurbishing aged equipment, is deciding on exactly how much should be spent and whether the amount will provide good return in investment [given the age of the vehicle and its limitations even after an upgrade] or whether buying new is the answer.

    joe – ”For 10mil I expect it to withstand up to STANAG 3 with applique armour and comes with 50 cal RWS!”

    At the very least, full/all round protection from 7.62mm AP and splinters.Given weight issues [not just stress on the hull but also on the engine and transmission]; there is a limit on how heavily armed and protected a Condor can be. There is also the question of how well protected it should be given the type of roles it’s intended to perform. A 12.7mm mount would be useful against light vehicles but a 7.62mm/AGL combo might be more practical; providing direct fire support for dismounted troops.

    joe – ”Perhaps the answer lies in its original role as a battle taxi and not the IFV that we pressed it into TDM service.”

    Under PERISTA the Condor fulfilled a requirement for a relatively ‘cheap’ armoured platform to be used in a low threat environment. Not only was finance an issue but we didn’t see an urgent need for a better armed and protected vehicle.

    joe – ”An update in doctrine can place Gempitas as the motorised offensive spearhead and Condors in the supporting role to ferry troops rapidly from the rear.”

    Condors should be used in scenarios that don’t call for a Gempita. The main value a Gempita has over a Condor is not only better protection, weapons with a longer reach, better sensors, etc, but also mobility. In many areas where Gempita operates, the Condors will be unable to.

  10. Tom e – ”Seriously, do they still need more than 300 considering there are also 250 Adnans?”

    It’s like saying ”do we need another 4,000 M-4s when we have 300 GPMGs”? The Adnan and Condor are different types of vehicles, intended for different purposes. There will be scenarios where it’s more practical to use a Condor rather than an Adnan and vice versa.

  11. @Marhalim
    Thanks for the figures. I got that from Wiki so it might not be current. But if we can re-life the drivetrain & suspension, could we bring it back up to 300~400 units for use? I believe many are down due to aging drivetrain and such.

    @Zaidi
    It would be nice if all our troops can enter a battlefield safe and sound in Gempitas but we realistically don’t have the necessary budget to equipped all units with Gempitas as transporters. But if compared to softskin Hicom trucks, I would rather prefer they travel in Condors (after re-life them).

    @Azlan
    I do understand that we bought the Condors under the context of low threat environment but as we can see from Bakara Market, that threat environment can turn very deadly all of a sudden yet they were the “best protected” asset that we have deployed there. Like it or not, they were used in environments far exceed their capabilities. Their frontline usage must be scaled back and replaced with better protected Gempitas and others, while the remaining Condors should be redeployed in the secondary role as battle taxis instead of the Hicom trucks.

  12. joe – ”But if compared to softskin Hicom trucks, I would rather prefer they travel in Condors (after re-life them).”

    It depends on the circumstances. If troops have to be transported within an operational area where there is a threat, then yes a Condor is better than a softskin but if they’re moving from Point A to Point B, in a benign environment or away from the operational zone, then lorries would suffice.

    joe – ” as we can see from Bakara Market, that threat environment can turn very deadly all of a sudden yet they were the “best protected” asset that we have deployed there”

    We deployed to Somalia ona peacekeeping mission, not a peace enforcement one. We never expected or hoped; that we wouldn’t be on the receiving end of RPGs. In fact, if we look at the AFVs deployed by the various UNOSOM contingents; most were as vulnerable to RPGs and HMGs as our Condors.

    joe – ”their frontline usage must be scaled back and replaced with better protected Gempitas and others, while the remaining Condors should be redeployed in the secondary role as battle taxis instead of the Hicom trucks.”

    The whole idea of keeping them in service is for them to perform secondary/low threats roles that don’t call for a AV-8 or Adnan. Nobody [in this thread or elsewhere] has suggested we use them in a high threat environment or in a ”frontline” role. Unless the
    AV-8 is fitted with ”chicken wire” it can still [like the Condor] be penetrated by a RPG.

  13. @Azlan
    “moving from Point A to Point B”
    I fully agree on that, if traveling from base to base or locations via highways. Trucks still has their uses but not in operational theatres. In this situation, its better to bring troops in from rear via Condors and not softskin trucks.

    “We deployed to Somalia ona peacekeeping mission”
    I am well aware of that, the Malaysian peacekeeping force were well aware of that, but so is the Pakistani peacekeepers and they brought M48 MBTs along for UNOSOM. I am not saying anyone was wrong because nobody in UN peacekeeping would expect to be in battle but knowing potential enemies and having the right equipment to deal with them is a constant handicap of ATM. We were lucky the Commies that our Condors had to face didn’t have RPGs or antitank mines, but Lebanon & such is a different ballgame which Condors are no longer suited.

    “The whole idea of keeping them in service is for them to perform secondary/low threats roles”
    As troop transport to bring up the rearguard reinforcements, I would fully agree. But in Lebanon, much like in Somalia, we are deploying them there as our primary armour assets (until the advent of Guardians). If shit happens again, the Condors would have been our “best” assets in the theatre. Not such a good idea, would you agree?

  14. @joe
    “We were lucky the Commies that our Condors had to face didn’t have RPGs or antitank mines, ….”

    one of our v-150 ZA744 destroyed by commies antitank/RPG in an ambushed, 3 killed.

  15. The point against the Condors is that they have been found deficient and that is why we are acquiring Guardians. Same story as the K200s – we found our existing equipment is incapable and so had to buy something quick.

    That’s a pretty silly way to run things, don’t you think?

    I don’t know how the ATM buys and assigns vehicles, and after a few days of reading I give up, because nothing makes sense… It’s even more rojak than the other 2 arms.

    But the crux of the matter here is that Rm10mil per Condor is ridiculously expensive for what it delivers. If low intensity conflict patrolling is what it’s for, there are capable MRAPs out there for 5 times less. Heck, the Guardians can’t possibly have cost more than this Condor upgrade, and we could always operate a fleet of those… unless that is more “technology transfer” and “consulting” fees were involved, AGAIN.

  16. joe – ”Trucks still has their uses but not in operational theatres.”

    By and large yes but ultimately it depends on the threat level.

    joe – ”because nobody in UN peacekeeping would expect to be in battle”

    Actually they did. Even prior to Bakara Market various contingents including the Pakistanis had been involved in fire fights in which RPGs and HMGs were used. A major problem was the ROE as laid down by the UN and the Somali fighters mixing amongst civilians. It didn’t help that many Somali gunmen were often under the influence of khat.

    joe – ”they brought M48 MBTs along for UNOSOM.”

    And fear of barricades with mines and RPGs led to them deciding not to follow the QRF column into Bakara.

    joe – ”If shit happens again, the Condors would have been our “best” assets in the theatre. Not such a good idea, would you agree?”

    Even if we deployed Adnans or AV-8s they would still be vulnerable to shoulder fired weapons and IEDs.

    joe – ”We were lucky the Commies that our Condors had to face didn’t have RPGs or antitank mines”

    Various AFVs including a Ferret suffered damage from M-79s. Small numbers of RPG-2s/7s started making their way here from Vietnam via dealers in Thailand starting from the late 1960’s. Lucky for us they came in small numbers.

  17. joe – ”But in Lebanon, much like in Somalia”

    We took whatever precautions we could but if we expect to be in major combat [as opposed to firing in self defence or being caught in a crossfire]; we shouldn’t deploy there. There will also be cases where politics plays a part in what we deploy. The former CO of MALBATT in UNTAC told me we planned on deploying Condors but the UN decided against it. If I’m not mistaken, the way we armed our Guardians was also intended to avoid being to aggressive or to allay any fears the locals may have.

    joe – ”As troop transport to bring up the rearguard reinforcements, I would fully agree.”

    No …… If one needs a transport ”to bring up the rearguard reinforcements”, one does not necessarily need an AFV for that.
    Depends on various factors : are there enemy troops in the rear who are threatening the lines of communications or are placing it under direct fire, what is the threat level, are troops being transported directly to the front line or will they be dropped off from some distance away and make their way forwards on foot or other means and are they in danger of coming under direct or indirect fire whilst moving to their location? Yes the Condor only provides protection up to 7.62mm but against anything heavier than 14.5mm and the MIFVs will be in trouble and a shoulder fired weapon will penetrate a AV-8.The Guardians have better mobility than the Condor but which are still vulnerable to shoulder fired weapons.

    If the Condors are upgraded they will provide units with some level of protection and will be able to provide direct fire support. Sure they are ‘lightly’ armoured but ‘lightly’ armoured is still better than zero armour or protection. The idea is to deploy them in low threat areas, areas in which they won’t be exposed to serious threats.
    Sure, things unfortunately happen but we can’t plan or be equipped for every contingency. If you take into account the number of infantry battalions we have and the number of AV-8s, Adnans, MIFVs and Condors we have [and the fact that not all are intended to carry infantry]; it’s obvious that a sizeable portion of the units are moved by lorries. As such, the Condors still have a role to play.

  18. @pian
    Thanks for the info, but I believe there weren’t as well equipped with such weapons like the Somali rebels and Lebanese factions. Hence my point still stands, the Condors are no longer suited for today’s warfare scenarios.

  19. I believe we can all agree that each vehicle has its roles to play in ATM, only that we disagree on what those roles are.

    I do concur that Condors still has some role in them but they need to be relifed for this role and certainly Rm10mil per unit is outrageous which is probably why ATM wasn’t biting (yet!).

    If this deal does goes thru, then we can make our own inference what happened.

  20. joe – ”I believe there weren’t as well equipped with such weapons like the Somali rebels and Lebanese factions.”

    The bulk of contingents serving currently serving with UNIFIL and with UNSOM/UNITAF in the past are/were equipped the way they are/were for the very simple reason that they are/were deployed on a peacekeeping/humanitarian/peace monitoring mission [a fact you’re aware of]. If they deployed with the intention or mandate to physically enforce peace then they either have no business being there or should be equipped for full scale combat. Even then, deploying better equipped platforms than the Condors doesn’t mean they won’t still be vulnerable to shoulder fired weapons or HMGs.

    joe – ” Hence my point still stands, the Condors are no longer suited for today’s warfare scenarios”

    What exactly is your point and how do you define ” today’s warfare scenarios”? ”Today’s warfare scenarios” could include a MBT firing KE rounds or small groups of men armed with nothing heavier than a 7.62mm GPMG. Nothing is ”suited” to deal with all kinds of threats and the Condors are intended to be deployed in low threat/secondary roles that don’t call for a better armed or armoured platform : full stop/period.

    If we have a scenario where the Condors have to operate as part of a combined arms formation against a state actor which is armed with a variety of weapons then obviously it’s the wrong tool for the job but if the Condor is intended to provide protection, mobility and fire support to troops engaged in a low threat environment then the Condor is doing what is was originally designed to do.

    joe – ” only that we disagree on what those roles are.”

    For me at least, there is nothing to disagree. The army intends to deploy the Condors in roles that don’t require a MIFV/Adnan or AV-8. Also, it’s not as if the MIFV/Adnan or AV-8 can withstand everything a Condor can’t. If we want to keep harping on the Condor’s limitations we must as well say that the MMEA’s OPV’s shouldn’t be armed with a 30mm gun in case they have to engage a PLAN frigate armed with a 76mm gun; when the fact remains that the 30mm gun on the OPV is for self-defence [to be used as a last resort when there is absolutely no alternative] and a MMEA ship shouldn’t be in a situation which calls for a RMN ship.

  21. @joe
    “I believe we can all agree that each vehicle has its roles to play in ATM, only that we disagree on what those roles are.

    I do concur that Condors still has some role in them but they need to be relifed for this role and certainly Rm10mil per unit is outrageous which is probably why ATM wasn’t biting (yet!).”

    Actually, no, I don’t agree. I don’t see what the Condors bring to the party. They’re outdated and it’s time to move on.

    There are loads of MRAPs out there, proof against 7.62mm, 10kg TNT, equipped with RWSs and capacities of 8-10 men, and they range from Rm2.5 to Rm5m per unit. If the Condors can’t be re-lifed for under Rm3m apiece, I say dump them and get say 300 MRAPs for our COIN patrolling needs.

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