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 DefenceIf you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment