8 Things We are Not Getting for RMK11, Part II

Airbus Helicopters Tiger. Airbus Helicopters.

SHAH ALAM: This is the second installment of the Things We Are Not Getting for RMK11. If you did not read the first part go Here.

Again I am not saying that is the official list, far from it. However it is unlikely we will see the items below procured in the next five years or so. Lets hope I am wrong though…

5) Attack Helicopters

Attack helicopters have been in the Army’s procurement sights since the early 90s. Infact back in 1997 we signed on for six Denel Rooivalk attack helicopters. But the deal was scuttled less than a year later due to regional economic crisis.

Two SAAF Rooivalk Attack Helicopters serving as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade escorting a UN delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MONUSCO/Clara Padovan
Two SAAF Rooivalk Attack Helicopters serving as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade escorting a UN delegation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MONUSCO/Clara Padovan

Since then the AH requirement stayed in the wings even as the Army’s Air Wing, the PUTD, started sending pilots to France for hands-on training on the Airbus Helicopter Tiger. Following the Lahad Datu incursion, the AH requirement were dusted off and it was generally believed it was just a matter of time before the helicopters are procured.

Airbus Helicopters Tiger. Airbus Helicopters.
Airbus Helicopters Tiger. Airbus Helicopters.

Unfortunately, although it was announced in Parliament that the Army had requested funding for six AH in RMK11, no allocation was approved. Instead a light scout attack helicopter in the class of the Little Birds was approved.

The MD530G that was displayed at LIMA 2015. Note the weapons fit.
The MD530G that was displayed at LIMA 2015. Note the weapons fit.

6) AEW
Like many of the items listed, the AEW requirement has been in the books for sometime now. However it had failed to be listed or funded during successive RMKs. For RMK11, I was informed that the AEW programme had not been approved.

Royal Thai Air Force Saab 340 AEW seen at Korat air base in June, 2015
Royal Thai Air Force Saab 340 AEW seen at Korat air base in June, 2015

RSAF G550 CAEW. The ugliest bird at the Singapore Airshow 2012.
RSAF G550 CAEW. The ugliest bird at the Singapore Airshow 2012.

It was expected as I had reported industry sources before as saying that the AEW programme will be funded ahead of the MRCA. With the MRCA’s KIVed so did the AEW.

7) SPH
It was supposed to be the high-noon whether wheeled or tracked will prevail in the Army’s long standing requirement for a SPH battalion. In the end neither won as yet again the requirement remained unfunded.

Caesar on the Unimog chassis.
Caesar on the Unimog chassis.

The wheel SPH is of course the Nexter Caesar which is already in service with the Indonesian and Thai armies and the tracked SPH is the Samsung Techwin K9 Thunder.

K9 Thunder and the K10 ARV.
K9 Thunder and the K10 ARV.

Both have their merits of course, the wheeled Caesar is more mobile of the two. However, the Thunder is better suited to be part of the Army’s Armour brigade which is probably the reason for the SPH requirement in the first place. Personally I prefer the BAE Systems Archer SPH. I am not sure whether the system was offered for the Army’s requirement though.

8) more Cougars

Since entry into service, RMAF Airbus Helicopters H225M Cougars have seen sterling service from flood relief operations to special forces support. Although more Cougars were expected to be procured in RMK11, it was left of the RMAF wish list.

RMAF H225M conducting flood relief operations in late 2014.
RMAF H225M conducting flood relief operations in late 2014.

According to RMAF Jen Tan Sri Roslan Saad that due to the tight budget situation the request for more Cougars had been dropped from its RMK11 list (From Malaysian Defence RMAF 57th anniversary). For RMK11, Cougars based in Labuan will be armed with FN MAG machine guns.

A FN MAG pintle mounted on  an Airbus Helicopter H225M Cougar.
A FN MAG pintle mounted on an Airbus Helicopter H225M Cougar.

However as reported previously, industry sources told Malaysian Defence that for RMK11 funding for a number of heavy lift helicopters had been approved. According to them it will either be the Sikorsky MH-53E or the Boeing CH-47 Chinook. Both are expected to be second hand birds from the US.

In the meantime enjoy a video of a A400M which made Tom Cruise Mission Impposible

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2225 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Perhaps some of these may come later in RM 11, so they can be dragged into RM 12.

  2. The whole idea of having a tracked SPH is so it can keep up with armoured formations is supposed to support. In our context, given that MBTs will operate in places such as urban areas, estates and cleared land; a wheeled SPH would be a better bet. It is not as if our MBT regiments will be conducting flanking operations over long distances in open unrestricted terrain like in the Sinai or the Mongolian steppes. Sure, the crew will have zero protection but operating a wheel based platform will be cheaper than a tracked one and in restrictive terrain such as estates where the roads are narrow and vehicles can’t deploy in formation; Caeser makes more sense.

    SAAB never seriously pushed Archer as it knew our requirement calls for a platform that can fit in a Charlie. Now the question is whether Archer can fit in an A400M? If the answer is yes, then the next question is how rapidly can we move a battery of Archers and it’s ammo given the limited number of A400Ms we have? We also have to assume that all the A400Ms are available for the tasking at that given time. However, the ultimate question is whether – given the threat environment – we actually need more arty when the cash can be used for other stuff that is actually needed?

    The Archer is under Bae Systems

  3. sad, our Gov not buy anythink for army next 5 year, even can’t bug proper Attack helicopter,shame to Gov, not buy so many weapon very needed.
    Better mindef save money no need buy Ah-6i, just use 30% of Ah-6i budget to equips out Aw109LUH which weapon (gun, rocket) than much better than Ah-6i.
    SPH also very cheap also can’t afford, we no need alot, just 12-24 unit should be enough for first phase.

  4. Those heavylift rotary wings are approved under the army or the airforce budget? It would be a great add to the nuri and the cougar for the country’s rotary wing capability.

  5. Just wondering, what happen to the mmea ngpc project?

    An update coming up soon

  6. Main battle tabks canbot be operatwd effectively n in fact would be suicidal to operate in urban combat. All recent n second world war conflicts shows the vulnerabilty of tanks to ambush n be destroyed by barrages of rpg or molotov cocktails. Maybe only exception is the uk main battle tank that was hit 17 times without so much as a scratch.
    we do need both tracked n wheelwd spg’s. Wheeled guns can be used to support infantry breaking through n the tracked to support the tanks. Artillery is important in any armwd forces. Its the queen of the battle field. There is no doubt about this. Proven over n over again both in attaxk n in defence. An accurate artillery barrage can basically be used to prevent troops from gatherung for an attack or break up an attack too. So numbers are important too

  7. Lee,

    Do we still need wheeled SPH considering we already have the Astros?

    Won’t it do?

  8. Azlan ….

    Acher can transport via A400M. altough we only have 4 unit A400M, is no issue on that, peninsular to Sarawak with in 1-3 hrs, no problem to fly 2/3 trip, also got C130 can carry 20 tons ammo too.
    24-32 unit Archer SPH should be enough,
    12-16 unit for Peninsular, Kluang regiment get 6-8 unit, north regiment 6-8 unit, other 6-8 for sabah, 6-8 for sarawak.
    Basically we still need transportation ship LPD. which speed 18 knot, we can send from kuantan navy base to Kuching with in 30 hours, 60 hours reach KK sepanggar base. so we no need charted cargo ship

    There is always a need to charter civil ships…

  9. ….. heavylift sure under Army budget, bcos they use for troop transportation.

  10. Lee,

    You are mistaken. Sadly, it is a common misconception that MBTs can’t be used effectively in urban areas. MBTs can and have been operated very effectively in an urban environment and have been since WW2. The key is to have adequate infantry and engineering support. There have been numerous instances of MBTs operating successfully in an urban environment since 1945, e.g. Iran/Iraq war, Beirut in 1982, the Thunder Runs, etc. The Russian experience in Grozny was a prime example of how not to do it and was a result of poor planning and poor quality troops.

    No one’s dismissing the value of arty. If you read again what I wrote; I said that in the present threat environment; we need other gear more urgently than we do arty – I did not say we do not need arty. The problem is we need a lot of things, the trick is to ensure we get what we need to meet current requirements. At present, we need helicopters and surveillance assets more than we need arty wouldn’t you agree?


    Not sure what your definition of cheap is but bear in mind that apart from buying SPHs; we also need to raise or convert an artillery regiment and to train it. The unit will also have to train alongside units it has to support. All this will also cost ringgit.

  11. Indeed the Syrian Army, or rather their Republic Guard (Saraya) have shown how armor is effectively used in dense urban areas. This was specifically developed in the 70s and 80s as a response to their experience in Lebanon, in Beirut in particular. The crews are trained to operate in close cooperation with IFVs, infantry and supporting heavy weapons, under the close control of dismounted commanders. This is very well covered by the ANNA videos which is attached to a Saraya elements operating in Jobar, Deraa and other critical fronts.

    Indeed operating without armor support in MOUT is going to result in much higher infantry casualties.

  12. I would like to see ASTROS being called Close, let alone Danger Close. Tell me how you register an unguided rocket…..

  13. Buying Archer is Most Heaviest SPH Than K9 Thunder.I Prefer We Buying M109A1 Paladin And K9 Thunder.Better Buying

  14. With a tight budget, the MAF will just have to go into ‘consolidation mode’, but I’m glad to see, if true, that the RMN/maritime sector is getting a big chunk of the procurements viz LCS, ASW helis and MPA. Looking at the big picture, I believe the RMN is going to be called upon more often and play a bigger role in Malaysia’s defence in the near term — say next 5 years or the life of RMK 11.

    The CIW situation in Sabah is more an intelligence war than anything else and at any rate we have enough air assets — rotary or fixed wing — to deal with it.

    As regards Arty, I’ve always raised an eye brow when people mention TD and SP arty in the same breath. For one, the TD doesn’t have an armoured bde. It only has a single tank regt. Yes, it has a mechanised bde but do we need SP arty to support what is essentially infantry on wheels/tracks? Towed arty can the job. Besides, towed arty is mechanically simpler and cheaper and, also important, the gun is not tied to the carrier. Lose a carrier with SP arty, and you lose the gun.

    Second, people have a mental picture that SP arty move in line with the tanks. They don’t. Just like towed arty, they’re about 20 km behind the FEBA. SP arty came about post WW 2, from the Wehrmacht’s example, when NATO faced Warsaw Pact forces across the plains of Germany and tank battles were envisaged — vast distances across open country, not in a mainly closed or semi-closed country like ours.

    I’ll go for more MLRS instead of SP arty.

  15. SavvyKL,

    You are assuming that should there be a need to lift Archer, that all 4
    A-400Ms will be available for the tasking and that all 4 will be operational at that given time, as in not undergoing depot level work at AIROD or routine maintenance at base.

    Buying the SPHs and equipping several units with it is the easy part; requiring only cash. The hard part is raising new regiments to operate the SPHs and training them. Raising a new unit is never easy, even assuming that manpower and funding is there. The best we can realistically hope for is enough guns to equip a regiment, for which an existing regiment can be selected. But here were are focusing on the hardware – again – when we should really be looking at stuff like organisational patterns, how to ensure rounds fall on target in time, ISR assets to work with arty regiments, the need for a new arty simulator, improving ways to call in fire and minimising the various layers that exists, etc.

    We need an MPSS no doubt but what is often overlooked is that commercial shipping can also be used. When it comes to delivering heavy loads from port to a port, as opposed to a beachhead, commercial shipping can do the job just as well as any LST or LPD. If we’re ever faced with a need to rapidly ferry men or heavy gear to East Malaysia; chances are it will to places like Labuan, Miri, Sepanggar and Bintulu (all of which have facilities for the job); rather than a beach without any docking or lifting facilities. Yes the RMN has a requirement for 4 MPSSs but it also has long standing plans in place to utilise commercial shipping should there ever be a need. Off course if there’s a danger of these ships bring interdicted they will be escorted and when possible naval hulls will be used.

    Even the U.S. and other countries routinely use commercial shipping. I know of a Malaysian guy who worked for Maersk Shipping and whose ship ferried Patriots to Dahran during the Gulf War.

  16. Ferret,

    You’re absolutely right; SPHs don’t always have to keep in line, per say, with the units they’re supporting but they have to be able to go the same places and to keep pace when needed. If they didn’t ever have to keep pace, they wouldn’t be mounted on vehicles.

    Our army wants SPHs not so much to keep pace with the MBTs but so they can operate from the same terrain and move in and out faster when compared to a towed gun. Towed artillery can do the job but it really depends on the terrain (if moving in restricted terrain with thick vegetation and narrow roads, a lorry towing a G-6 will face problems) and how rapidly the units being supported are moving. Off course we can argue that MBTs or units operating in estates or secondary jungle can be supported by arty operating from other areas but this will not always be possible. I know of instances during exercises here when towed arty couldn’t relocate fast enough – due to terrain – to support mobile units they were assigned to support.

    I believe that SPHs really came about during WW2 : Wespe, Hummel and Priest being examples. Arty and MLRS are best used – as you’re aware – when complementing each other as each is best used for different kinds of targets. A problem with MLRS is that unless one has ISR assets, gaining maximum potential from the range offered by MLRS can’t be achieved.

  17. The trouble is our bombs can be tracked by enemies with radars. Even mortar shells can be tracked n counter barrages fired. The problem with our current field artillery is that all our 105 mm guns have shorter ranges compared to other guns of similar calibers. N we have only a limited number of 155mm guns. Astros?. Wow thats an area weapon meant to saturate an area. Not for precision fire. For one, battle field sergeants n lts cannot call for a salvo of astris like they can call on the guns. Astros request must go through the channels before it can be made ready for firing if ever it is approved. By then thete would be no need for the support as the time lapse may mran the place has been overrun
    yes tabks must be supported by infantry. But combat in urban centres is not easy due to the debris in the street which can act as tabk traps. Tabk fighting in urban areas is very dangerous for the tabk

  18. “Our army wants SPHs so they can operate from the same terrain and move in and out faster when compared to a towed gun. I know of instances during exercises here when towed arty couldn’t relocate fast enough – due to terrain – to support mobile units they were assigned to support.”

    Question is how often such roadless terrain will be the venue of conflict. More often than not, if it is not militarily useful, it will not be sought by us or the enemy. Especially in Malaysia where there are many alternative road routes.

  19. MRLs and artillery are complementary. MRLs are for area fire, unless you have guided rockets like the GMLRS for M270 and HIMARS.

  20. Azlan,

    Just to be clear, I’m for SP arty when (and if) we have an armoured bde.

    But armd ops aside, arty doesn’t need to go to the same places or indeed even be on the same ground as the infantry. In close support work, they could be in a Felda scheme among the oil palm while the pongos are advancing 10 km ahead of them in peat soil (like in the peninsular west coast area or Sabah, for eg); be among the coconut grove while the mechanised infantry advance in the rice fields (like in Kedah) or be in the bush while the bloody infantry advance up or down the coast on the east near Kuantan.

    “I know of instances during exercises here when towed arty couldn’t relocate fast enough – due to terrain – to support mobile units they were assigned to support.”

    I suggest that both the Blue Force (usually) cdr and his gunner cdr be hauled up in this case. Haven’t they heard of ops planning, which includes a good map recce and air/gnd recce of the area, and reviewed the arty support plan prior to commencement? Additionally, the force gnd cdr ought to skewered! Which gnd commander would move his troops out of arty cover whilst in contact with the enemy? If he moves without arty cover, that means either the move was not anticipated at the O group meeting which implies poor planning, or the gnd cdr is stupid. If the move was anticipated but arty could not cover when the time came, that means an incompetent gunner cdr. Of course it could also mean they’ve weighed the situation up and decided to take a calculated risk ie advance without arty cover. I do hope the exercise you witnessed was at battalion level and not higher.

  21. Hi Azlan…

    what you said i fully understand, what i means,for planing cargo use commercial shipping is no issue, but than need wait schedule and time, also for same emergency case, we no have time to wait, like incident at sabah intrusion, we take 9-10 days ship Adman/K-200 to sabah. if we have MRSS/LPD/JSS, it can be done in 4-5 day. or any incident/SAR happens in sea need bigger support ship. we ho have time wait for charter.

  22. WarMarine …

    Archer only 30 tons compare K9 with 46 tons. if want K9 better take Singapore Primus just less than 30 tons.

  23. Lee,

    As I’ve mentioned before, what use is there of longer range guns if we can’t
    locate targets at “long” ranges? Even if we had UAVs and other assets to work with our arty, in most cases we would not be firing at long ranges as there will be many instances when “long range” fire is not needed. The problem with our arty is not the “short” range offered by the M1 round but other issues; issues that can be solved simply by acquiring hardware.


    There will be instances where arty will have to operate in the same kind of terrain as the units they are supporting and will might not be often) have to keep pace : if this wasn’t the case armies wouldn’t go through the trouble of mounting guns on vehicles and we wouldn’t have a requirement for them. As far as I’m concerned, there is a place for both towed and self-propelled arty; they complement each other. The question is whether to go for a tracked or wheeled solution: both have their merits. If up to me however, the requirement for SPHs will have to wait as there are other stuff that we need more urgently.

  24. One of the way to solve the issue of bringing equipments back and forth to east malaysia is by having prepositioned stocks of equipment in place in East malaysia. At least a company’s worth of mechanised equipment would do.

  25. …..,

    Apart from fighters; we hardly bring stuff to and fro East Malaysia. What goes there usually stays there. Interestingly, although 1 Squadron is now based at Kuching, which is also home to the CN-235 simulator; the bulk of the fleet is still mainly based at Subang.

    Some years ago I corresponded with someone who served on board KD Langkawi (former HMS Counterguard). Following the end of the Confrontation we were in a rush to move men and gear to Sabah as the Brits were drawing drawn. KD Langkawi delivered lorries, generators and other heavy stuff to a beach on Labuan.

  26. ST Kinetic has new wheeled 52 cal 155mm self propel arty..function like Archer. Wait for news from SAF…if you don’t see the FH2000 in this parade..tat is da sign. It will work with Primus.

    Ter is also reason for recent enhance cooperation with Italian. It apparently got do with F35 Bravo at sea and arty shell.

  27. Having longer ranged guns does not always mean longer ranged strikes which requires more ISR capability.

    It could simply mean fewer guns cover a wider sector of the front, which saves manpower and logistics.

    You are right, four 155 mm guns would be able to outgun four or even eight 105mm guns. That is why I prefer the Archer, the gun carries four soldiers while another four sits in the resupply vehicle. A Caesar needs at least six personnel and another six for the resupply vehicle. A towed 155 gun needs at least 12 personnel while another eight for the resupply vehicle. A 105 mm gun has around six soldiers with another four with the resupply vehicle.

  28. AM,

    You’re right.

    The vast majority of shots are not taken at “long” ranges but at times they will, and when they do, there must be a way of finding targets and ensuring the targets aimed at are the ones hit. No point having the ability to hit targets at 35km or more using base bleed, if we can’t “see” the targets.

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