Deftech AV4, Blackhawks In; Mark V SOC Out

Deftech AV4 at DSA 2014. Malaysian Defence.

SHAH ALAM: ITS now confirmed, the Armed Forces are getting the Deftech AV4 and the Blackhawks for use by units operating in ESSCOM AOR. Unfortunately, the procurement of the ex-US Navy Mark V Special Operations Craft (SOC) also for ESSCOM has been shelved.

Armed Forces chief Tan Sri Zulkifeli Zin today confirmed reports that the Deftech Av4 was being procured for units operating in ESSCOM. He did not specify numbers but it was reported recently that Deftech will be supplying the 20 of the MRAP-like 4X4 vehicle to the Army.

Deftech AV4 as seen at the Deftech plant in Pekan late 2014. Malaysian Defence
Deftech AV4 as seen at the Deftech plant in Pekan late 2014. Malaysian Defence

Five will be completed by its Thai partner, Chaiseri Metal and Rubber Co. Ltd while the rest will be assembled at the Deftech plant in Pekan, Pahang. The Thai-built vehicles will be delivered to the Army in the first quarter of 2016.

It is likely that the AV4 will replaced the 18 KIFVs for patrol duties.

In my original report, I called the vehicle as the Deftech MRAP (the name which was used during the visit to the Gempita unveiling ceremony) but checks at the company’s website showed that it had been renamed the AV4 (like the old vehicle of the same name)

The original Deftech AV4
The original Deftech AV4

Meanwhile, Zulkifeli said the first S-70A Blackhawk gifted by Brunei was expected to be handed-over to Malaysia by year end. It was expected the transfer will be completed by April, with one Blackhawk to be transferred every month.

RBAF S-70A Blackhawk helicopter.  USAF photo
RBAF S-70A Blackhawk helicopter. USAF photo

Asked whether the United States had given permission for the transfer, Zulkifeli said there was no difficulty in getting the approval as the helicopters will be used “to hunt terrorists”. He said the Blackhawks will also be made available to Brunei in emergencies.

Asked who will be operating the Blackhawks, Zulkifeli said it will be operated jointly by the RMAF and the Army. Asked on talks that the VIP Blackhawks will also be converted for non-VIP use, Zulkifeli replied in the negative.

Meanwhile, Joint Force Commander Lt Jen Datuk Baharum Hamzah said the planned procurement of the Mark V Special Operation Craft (SOC) had been shelved. In fact, the offer from the US under its Excess Defence Articles (EDA) programme had lapsed in September. The offer from the US was made on Jan 12, 2014, according to the EDA database accessed yesterday by Malaysian Defence.

A Mark V SOC launching a ScanEagle UAV. US Navy picture
A Mark V SOC launching a ScanEagle UAV. US Navy picture

Asked about the Mark V SOC, RMN chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar said that the project had been shelved. He, however, declined to say why the offer was declined.

It must be noted that since the offer was made, RMN’s Paskal had been re-equipped with the P-38 and Silver Breeze interceptor boats. The P-38 was procured from an Oman based shipyard while I am not sure where the silver Breeze boats were manufactured.

A close up view of the PASKAL P38 which was procured from a shipbuilder from Oman. Joint Force Command picture.
A close up view of the PASKAL P38 which was procured from a shipbuilder from Oman. Joint Force Command picture.

If procured the Mark V SOC would have been operated by PASKAL units as these boats were operated by US Navy SEALs while in service. Industry sources told Malaysian Defence that the navy was initially supportive of the planned procurement but later had serious misgivings about it as the cost of the In-Service Support (ISS) was deemed to be excessive. These boats are equipped with two MTU diesel engines and water jets.

The procurement of the Mark V SOC was highlighted by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein earlier in his RMk11 winding up speech at Parliament. It was also among the items highlighted in the info-graphics of defence equipment for Sabah during his recent visit to Tawau.

The infographic on the list of defence equipment for Sabah. Note the Mark V SOC picture. Twitter
The infographic on the list of defence equipment for Sabah. Note the Mark V SOC picture. Twitter

Malaysia was supposed to get 14 of the Mark V SOC and support equipment for around US$9 million (RM37 million), according to the EDA database. The 14 boats originally cost more than US$74.6 million (RM305 million) while the support equipment cost more than US$13 million (RM53 million).

The new Combat Craft Medium Mk 1 which replaced by the Mark V SOC. Oregon Iron Works picture.
The new Combat Craft Medium Mk 1 which replaced by the Mark V SOC. Oregon Iron Works picture.

The majority of the Mark V SOC fleet (20 built) has been retired as experience had shown that personnel on board could suffer serious injuries as the boats are capable of generating up to 20 Gs of force while slamming across waves. These boats are now being replaced by the Combat Craft Medium (CCM) Mark I.

— Malaysian Defence

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11 Comments

  1. I think if not wrong, our local shipyard got license/joinventure to construct ONUK MRTP 33, so esscom can consider getting MRTP22/33 to replace those soc mark 5.

  2. It is really puzzling that we still get our small operation crafts from foreign builder. Surely there are many local builders in the country that are capable of building similar or better craft.

  3. I wonder why we want to get patrol boats from other countries. Express what we need in a defence white paper, then open up a tender for Malaysians to design the boats.

    I believe there are many talents out there capable of designing a decent boat which is suitable for patrol at places such as ESSCOM. As for building the boat, don’t say we don’t have a shipyard in Malaysia incapable of doing that.

  4. People wanting us to behave like a rich country is exactly why we are in trouble. We will only build a small number of boats- are we to set up a production line just for that?

  5. Looking at the p38 it is very similar to my yp design 27 feet fibreglass boat. With a 225 hp suzuki engine i dont know how fast it goes but the speed is enough to make ur eyes water.. and the boat is from oman u say? Oh my.. im sure that malaysian can make a better desgn more suited 4 our waters.

  6. If the money is there, I would prefer tldm to get a dozen additional cb90hex as a substitute of the mkv soc.

    Additional Mmea buy of the BYO mrtp16 boats for esscom would also be a good substitute for the mkv soc.

  7. ……..,

    That’s true. To me at least, there is no reason why CB-90s can’t perform the roles the Mk Vs would have performed had they been ordered. I have no idea if the RMN has a requirement for additional CB-90s though; there are about 21 Hs and HEXs; most of which are based in East Malaysia, including several at the reefs we claim in the Spratlys.

    As far as I know the only issues with the CB-90s are garbage getting sucked into the water jets and hull damage when moving at high speed and hitting drift wood (both can be a regular occurrence in East Malaysian waters). Have no idea about their operating and support costs.

    Reply
    The Mark V SOC is different as it was designed to operate in open waters with support of course unlike the CB90s which were designed to operate in rivers and fjords in Sweden. We of course send CB90s to Spratlys on their own although escorted. The CB90s are relegated to waters near the coastline and river in US service as its name imply, Riverine Command Boat

  8. If they just want a fast patrol boat the size of mkv soc, MSET shipyard can build more of the “bintang” class ships of the Mmea (25m fast patrol boat). Or the polis marin px25 boat that the perlis marine built.

    But imo, cb90 would be more than adequate for patrol duties from the 2 pengkalan laut. Its big enough for comfortable 1 day out for patrol, but small enough to be lifted out of the water by cranes on board the 2 pengkalan laut. If getting new cb90, armor kit such as on the us navy riverine combat boats would be desirable.

  9. The CB-90 is adequate for patrolling unless there is a storm or the waters get rough (beyond a certain Sea State); which doesn’t happen often and will also prevent other kinds of small craft from operating.

    It would be nice if the RMN managed to get ballistic panels for the various small craft it operates. There are lightweight add on ballistic panels on the market: the RN has fitted some of its small craft with ballistic protection and also on ships, to protect GPMG and mini-gun operators

    Reply
    It’s likely that the Mark V SOC are fitted with armour. The latest CB 90 especially the US version is fitted with armour as well

  10. Because of the likelihood of small arms firefight, most of Philippines navy patrol boats have armor panels on all of their portholes/windows.

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