Assault Boats For The Army

Soldiers on two assault boat conducting a beach landing. BTDM

SHAH ALAM: Assault boats for the Army. In his new year message, Defence Minister DS Ismail Sabri announced the procurement of 15 assets for the military during the year. Among them are the Army land and water mobility programmes, light combat aircraft, aviation ground support vehicles and equipment, fire engines, firepower and special forces equipment and air defence radars.

Soldiers from 4th Mek Brigade putting an assault boat into a three tonne truck for a flood relief mission in January 2021. BTDM

It appears that the water mobility programme is the first among the items to be funded and procured this year as a tender for 98 assault boats was published on EPerolehan website on April 5. The tender closes on April 27. The basic specifications of the assault boats are as listed below. For the full specifications go to the EPerolehan website

Soldiers putting an outboard motor of an assault boat in a three tonne truck for a flood relief mission in January, 2021

There is a requirement for Assault Boat to transport a fully equipped Infantry Section with a crew. The boat shall be of ‘Vee’bottom type and suitable for high speed performance, has excellent maneuverability and stability characteristics.

Mobility. It shall be able to operate in all navigable rivers and waterways and coastal area.
Portability. It shall be easy carried by 6 men and transported by any 3 ton truck, boat trailer and transport aircraft.

It shall be operate by 2 men crew, maneuverable and stable both in the river and coastal areas.
Compatibility. It can be powered by in service OBM. Robustness. It shall be robustly built to withstand repeated grounding, scrapping and rough handling by troops.

Soldiers training moving the assault boat in March 2019. BTDM

Based on the specifications, we can assumed that the Army is looking to replace the current inventory of assault boats already in service. As the new boats are supposed to have a service life of 10 years it it likely that the current ones are at least that old.

Soldiers undergoing training at Pulada in Ulu Tiram, Johor worked together to carry an assault boat. BTDM

Apart from taking soldiers to cross – rivers, lakes and even the sea – these boats are also used by the Army for flood relief duties whenever they are needed hence the specifications for its to be not only portable but also robust for repeated usage in all sorts of situation and also during training cycles.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Just talking out loud. With Assault boats , in any real assault, merely having the boats ferrying in the troops against a defended beach or river stretch i.e opposed landings or contacted while on the way via riverside ambush are real possibilities. Experience in Sarawak where whole sections were almost wiped out are lessons we should not forget.
    To protect any waterborne assault, there should be at least 4 force protection riverine craft like those used by special forces armed with GPMGs, 50 cal n grenade launchers . Better if armed with a gatling gun

  2. Sound logical,but sad to say some even suggested a small armoured vehicle is enough maybe sampan or bum boat will be suffice…creature comfort take the back seat.. so does safety….

  3. Many many years ago I was at Temengor dam. It was TA unit based there. Riding their assault boats was very uncomfortable when moving fast – as to be expected. There’s no greeting around the fact that by large military vehicles/boats are uncomfortable.

    The main use of the assault boats were for patrols, moving light stuff and fishing. They had fibre glass and aluminium ones. The fibre glass boats were prone to damage and the surfaces of both could get very hot in sunlight.

    In the old days boat coxswains were issued Sterlings. A main problem is that unless silenced outboard motors are used (beyond sacks wrapped around the engine); these boats can be heard a mile away.

  4. During the second Sarawak insurgency, the RMN had 4 riverine armoured landing crafts to patrol the rivers due to the Communist Ambush along the Rejang river

  5. Lee,

    There were also about 12 Aussie transferred RCP that were active in RASCOM along the Rejang. We even moved arty pieces on them.

    As of about 15 years ago one of those locally constructed riverine craft was tied up at Lumut.

  6. @Lee Yoke Meng
    We must understand the context of usage for such boats. Are they to transport TDM boys via rivers to staging points away from hostile territory or are they for direct amphib assaults into hostile shores.

  7. The main use of these “assault” boats (despite the designation) is not to “assault” defended shores but for general transport, search & rescue, disaster relief, etc. As for arming them; hitting anything with a pintle mounted MG from a moving boat is highly problematic.

    Even with the MPSSs there’s common confusion amongst some. Yes one of the roles for them is amphibious ops but it’s “amphibious movement” (from Point A to B) not “amphibious assault” (from Point A to a defended beachhead).

  8. Joe, the assault boats are plain n simple transport crafts. We dont have special/ dedicated assault landing crafts which we should get. But it can be seen in exercises that seaborne n riverine assaults made use of these aluminium assault crafts for their assault and these crafts need protection even if they play a pure transport role or for patrols. In the Rejang such boats n long boats have been the subject of regular ambush n our casualties were high due to absolutely no protection. During those days, MINDEF ordered 4 units of purpose built Armoured crafts from Hong Leong Lursen for riverine patrols n or escort for soldiers in assault boats.

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