Cendana Auto – the New Defence Player?

A CGI of the Cendana Auto Rover FFR. vehicle. Cendana Auto.

SHAH ALAM: Cendana Auto – the new defence player? Some six years ago I wrote about the Weststar GK-M1 4X4 vehicles replacing the Land Rovers and Mercedes G-Wagens in Army service. Although a large number of GK-M1 vehicles have entered Army service since then, it appears that they have yet to replace the Landys and G-Wagens completely.

And now it appears even the Weststar vehicles will not completely replaced the Landys and G-Wagens as a new player, Cendana Auto Sdn Bhd claimed on its website that it will be delivering 148 4X4 vehicles in four different configurations until 2024, starting this year. The website where the company’s claim was made, was alive in December, 2020 and the first week of January. But it went off line since the second week of January until today, February 1, 2021. I wrote a story on the Cendana Auto claim in Janes in the first week of January.

A CGI of the Cendana Auto Rover FFR. vehicle. Cendana Auto.

Malaysian Defence has reported previously that the Army was looking for new Fitted For Radio (FFR) vehicles, Special Operations Vehicles (SOV) and Weapon Carriers (three variants to carry machine guns, grenade launcher and Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW), as part of its mobility programme. The Army was also looking to buy an 81mm mortar system complete with a mortar transporter vehicle.

Another CGI of the Cendana Auto Rover FFR. Cendana Auto

Although the tenders for these items were issued in 2019 no official announcement have been made on them apart from what Cendana Auto has claimed on its own website. Cendana Auto announced its attention to build such vehicles when it displayed prototype vehicles at DSA 2018.

Cendana Auto SOV prototype displayed at DSA 2018.

As for the deliveries, Cendana Auto said it will deliver two 4X4 vehicle prototypes – one FFR and one SOV to the Army this year. The prototype FFR is the vehicle in the viral picture circulated in social media in the last week of 2020. Those who circulated the picture claimed it was a mortar carrier vehicle.

A Land Rover Defender FFR and another Landy out on patrol in Lebanon. JFC

According to Cendana Auto apart from the prototype FFR and SOV vehicles, it will also supply 20 FFR vehicles to the Joint Force Command (presumably for use in Lebanon) and 21 for the Army this year. It will also supply 24 mortar transporters and 12 ATGW carriers, both to the Army.

Firing the METIS-M ATGM from the G-Wagen during a demonstration at PULADA in November, 2020. BTDM

Next year, it will supply the Army with 19 FFRs, eight SOVs and 48 mortar transporters. In 2024 it will supply 10 FFR vehicles to the JFC.

An Army Land Rover Defender FFR in UN colours. JFC picture

I was told the vehicle in the viral picture was the FFR prototype being readied for Army testing. A close inspection of the picture also revealed that it is a FFR vehicle as it has five doors – four in the cabin and one at the back just like the FFR Land Rover Defender and the Weststar GK-M1 FFR vehicles. The Cendana Auto mortar carrier – which it claimed it was also supplying to the Army has three doors – two in the cabin and one at the back.

Weststar GK-MK1 SOV

It must be noted that following the appearance of the photograph, Cendana Auto had deleted most of the images of the FFR undergoing manufacturing though I have managed to download them earlier. And now the whole website is down. I have no idea whether the website went off line due to technical reasons or they were instructed to do so. The Army has not announced which company won the contracts and in fact for the mortar tender, a check on the ePerolehan website showed that it was still under evaluation.

The latest Army FFR vehicle is the GK-M1 from Weststar. RSD picture

It must be noted that no announcement on the purchase of the GK-M1 vehicles, of any variants have ever been made though the Defence Minister had announced that the Army land and water mobility programmes will be carried out in the near future.

Weststar GK-M1 Fitted for For Radio at the Army alert battalion parade in February 2017. The first vehicle in the lineup carry the ZC 4062.

The GK-M1s in the last five years, have replaced or supplemented the Defender FFR vehicles or G-Wagen weapon carriers, though no numbers have ever been made public.

Army and GOF joint patrol in ESSCOM AOR. Note the GK-M1 weapon carriers. The left one is fitted with a 12.7mm machine gun while the other is fitted with an automatic grenade launcher.

I am of the opinion that the Cendana Auto delivery schedule are highly optimistic for a company with little experience in mass manufacturing though I am willing to admit that I may well be wrong. As for delivering the two prototypes this year, I am assuming that these were delayed due to coronavirus pandemic.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2223 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. I read somewhere claimed that there is more than 100 Weststar GK-M1 in army service. Is that true?

    Not sure about the numbers it may well be more than that

  2. BTW, congrats army for this new 148 4×4 vehicles especially that weapon carriers. It is important to add more fire power in the service.

  3. From Googling they look no more than a vehicles “workshop”.


    A press reported Cendana make over RM10 million a year servicing government vehicles back in 2018.

    Even TS Syed Mokthar is featured in their facebook page.

    Good find Mr. Marhalim. 😁

  4. The cynic in me questions whether in a few years time; will another player emerge to offer the army yet another design (to add to the mix); how much say the army actually has in selection and why (despite all the clear lessons learnt by others) there is still no urgency to equip some 4x4s with lightweight protection against small rounds/splinters (carriers with direct fire weapons leave crews exposed to return fire).

    The Land Rover is not cheap; requires skilled maintenance crews to keep them running and can’t fulfil various roles but it’s durable and lasts.

  5. We know Westar’s GK-M1 is a rebadge Thairung built on Hilux powertrain but what about this Cendana Auto Rover? Do you know what its real origins are from?

    No idea, but it is likely they are also using the Hilux power train as it is readily available and cheap

  6. @Azlan
    Today Landies are no longer the paramount of reliability, durability and ruggedness of the earlier generations. Nowadays, current Landies are well known for their electrical gremlins and lotsa TLC to keep them in running state.

    Hilux & Land Cruiser are the new standard for 4X4.

  7. Talking about ATGM carriers, is there any news about the new medium range ATGMs?

    Its likely they will buy new missiles for the METIS-M

  8. “Land rover durable and lasts”
    Maybe that was true back then, prior to them being bought over by Tata. Nowadays they’re anything but durable.

  9. Ooh so 1 tonnes gs cargo hilux to replace the general purpose landies and this cendana auto 4×4 to replace ffr landies and g wagons..Look alright for me but yes i also wanna know this 4×4 based on what vehicles?..So for atgm carrier, Cendana auto will supply the vehicles and the army will mount/integrate atgm system on them and not buying purposed built atgm carrier like gaz tigr kornet d or pars 4×4 atgm..meaning old and existing atgm will be use?

  10. Hafiz – “owadays they’re anything but durable.”

    I have no idea but I’ll take your word for it. I anyhow was referring to to older Defender 110 series which like the models we operated prior to that were made to last. A disadvantage with the Land Rover is that it’s very uncomfortable when off road; compared to Japanese equivalents.

    It’s expected that we’d eventually cease operating Land Rovers; it’s price precludes it from being bought in numbers, it’s harder to maintain compared to what we’re buying now and spares are also not cheap.

    For me it doesn’t matter if we’ve decided to take the cheaper route but the army must have the final say and by going cheaper; we should stick to one type in quantities rather than buying a bit if various things to perform the same roles.

    They stopped building the Defenders a few years back already

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