Changes to Special Operations Vehicle

Cendana Auto SF-21X Special Operations Vehicle displayed at DSA 2022.

SHAH ALAM: In the recent post on equipment delivered to the Army, Malaysian Defence stated that the Cendana Auto SF-21X Special Operations Vehicle (SOV) looked slightly different from the one that was displayed at DSA 2022. I was told this by people who attended the show as I did not attend it due to Covid 19.

Well, anyhow, the biggest differences were the rear gunner position which in the DSA 2022 vehicle had the spare tyre behind it. On the production vehicle, the spare tyre was move to the port side, allowing the rear gunner to be equipped with a machine gun as well.

The left front gunner position also had its gun mount moved inside the cabin allowing to fire it forward, left and right. On the SOV at DSA 2022, the gun is mounted on the left of the front crew, allowing it to be fired to the left.

Cendana Auto SF-21X SOV.

The rear gunner position of the Cendana Auto SOV.

A model of the Cendana Auto SOV. BTDM

The business end of the SOV. TD

The machine gun of the front crew is inside the cabin in the production vehicle.

Pictures from DSA 2022.

At the SOV displayed at DSA 2022, the front crew machine gun is placed to the left. DM

A peek into the front cabin of the SOV displayed at DSA 2022.

The SOV displayed at DSA 2022. Note the rear tyre at the back.

It must be noted that SOV displayed at DSA 2022 had just been redelivered to Cendana Auto after trials with the GGK, the intended operator. The changes on the production vehicle had taken into account the feedback from the operator. Some of changes sought however, cannot be fulfilled as they were beyond the funds allocated for the project.

The GGK Glover Webb LSV at 2015 Army demonstration at Port Dickson. Note the front crew machine gun is set up inside the cabin to give front, forward and left firing position. This was the previous GGK assault vehicle

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

37 Comments

  1. Should have chosen a platform with rear coils rather than leaf spring…like the land rovers. Less bouncy and less body roll.

    Dunno if you can shoot and hit at anything from the back of that sov if you are on the move.

  2. Hasnan – “Dunno if you can shoot and hit at anything from the back of that sov if you are on the move”

    Only if the vehicle is moving very slowly and engaging targets at close distances and which are as large as barn doors. Also helps if the target is not returning fire.

    For me the question is whether the vehicles are merely to enable a form of transport when conducting recce [e.g. the Para Regiment’s Pathfinders and its vehicles] or to engage targets from within whilst performing “hit and run” raids [e.g. Popski’s Private Army and LRDG and SAS ops in North Africa and Europe]. I believe the primary purpose of these vehicles is the former.

    Three questions arise; 1. Which is more ideal; a smaller less protected and visible 4×4 or a larger but better protected vehicle with better mobility; like the JLTV 4×4 or Supacat 6×6? 2. Is it fitted with muffled exhausts? 3. Shouldn’t 10 Para’s Pathfinders also be equipped with such vehicles?

  3. @Hasnan
    Ultimately this is based upon Hilux chassis, nothing much that Cendana can do unless Toyota has a coil spring version of their pickup. The only truck I know using rear coil overs are Nissan Navara.

  4. You are right Jo…these truck are based on Hilux. They dismantled those Hilux and re-built it at their factory in Semenyih.

  5. As GGK will normally operate deep behind enemy lines, i would prefer their ride to look as stock and as civilian as possible from 20-50m away. A full custom rig like the cendana auto will automatically scream GGK by anyone who looks at it.

    As for rear coils, there are plenty of aftermarket conversions available for the Hilux chassis.

  6. … – “GGK will normally operate deep behind enemy lines, i would prefer their ride to look as stock and as civilian as possible from 20-50m away”

    Yes but ”deep behind enemy lines” the likelihood of civilians driving around in civilian vehicles in the midst of an active war
    is slim. Also I think it’s more realistic to assume that the unit will be operating in the enemy’s operational rather than strategic depth.

  7. P.S.

    Not to mention that the enemy might be on the lookout for the possibility of enemy troops in the rear and might have introduced a no go area for civilians or a curfew.

    Again the question arises : are such vehicles primarily to enable a form of transport for troops conducting deep recce or for troops to fight from whilst conducting raids? It will be safe to say or assume it’s a combination of both; depending on the operational requirement. Also safe to assume that like other similar units the unit has plans in place to operate civilian transport. Another interesting question is does the unit maintain stocks of foreign camo to be worn above national camo for certain roles?

  8. @hulubalang
    “plenty of aftermarket conversions available for the Hilux chassis.”
    Indeed but these are not OEM tested & certified to car making standards hence reliability, durability & guarantee of parts availability will be questionable. From the Govt POV they are buying OEM vehicles so warranty & support is a must, any aftermarket parts issue will be upon the vendor but moreso any unreliability issues will be faced by the endusers.

    “driving around in civilian vehicles in the midst of an active war”
    Haha yup. Unless we are in Africa and combatants travel around in Hiluxes too.

  9. Hulubalang – “GGK will normally operate deep behind enemy lines, i would prefer their ride to look as stock and as civilian as possible from 20-50m away”.

    LOL! You watch too much war movies and assume GGK’s M.O is like Sayeret Duvdevan or SAS where the enemy is just in the next district or state within Malaysia.

  10. Melayu Ketinggalan,

    Actually as the army’s only Special Forces unit; the roles the 11th Special Service Regiment is intended to perform roles similar to Sayaret Matkal and the SAS; i.e. recce/raids behind enemy lines. The question however is whether in a future war; the unit would be able to operate behind enemy lines using its vehicles.

  11. Azlan – I apologise for not elaborating on my earlier points. Yes I concur with you, I should have mentioned that using the vehicles and posing as civvies to operate behind enemy lines seems irrelevant moving forward unless Lahad Datu and Sg. Golok has become a “hot zone” and GGK needs to recce under cover and be stationed there permanently so to speak ala Duvdevan in West Bank and in Northern Ireland.

    You reckon the 6 Little Birds can do its job to transport the GGK ala the Night Serpents?

    Joe – “Haha yup. Unless we are in Africa and combatants travel around in Hiluxes too.”

    Africa is a continent. Which African country specifically?

  12. So what is the relevant mission for those SOV in context of malaysian SOF doctrine? SOF operating behind enemy line are irrelevant? SOF is supposed to operate discretely, while riding the SOV would immediately tell the enemy who they exactly are.

  13. “Chad–Libya border specifically”

    In the 1980’s Chadian rebels – way before the Taliban or anyone else – made use of Hiluxs against the Libyans. They even mounted Milan on them.

    … – So what is the relevant mission for those SOV in context of malaysian SOF doctrine“

    Asking a rhetorical question or making a statement?
    As I asked before : “Again the question arises : are such vehicles primarily to enable a form of transport for troops conducting deep recce or for troops to fight from whilst conducting raids? It will be safe to say or assume it’s a combination of both; depending on the operational requirement“

    … – “ SOF operating behind enemy line are irrelevant”

    Of course not and it’s silly to suggest so but whether or not the unit can actually operate behind enemy lines in vehicles is the question and the unit on paper is trained to operate behind enemy lines in a variety of ways depending on the operational context.

    … – “ while riding the SOV would immediately tell the enemy who they exactly are”

    The problem is that we may have a situation where it matters not what they’re riding because no civilians might be in the area and even if they were; might not driving around.

  14. What do people think SOF’s primary missions are? Fight like infantry (e.g. assault) or conduct special missions (e.g. DA, reconnaissance, intelligence, subversion, rescue, CT, etc). And what type of SOF do people consider GGK is?

  15. “The problem is that we may have a situation where it matters not what they’re riding because no civilians might be in the area”

    Malaysia is not like desert areas where there are no humans for hundreds of km’s around you. There are plenty of kampungs, tamans, estates, dusuns, paddy fields all that have people in them. Also unlike deserts, most vehicles will stick to roads and dirt tracks that is already there.

  16. … – ”Malaysia is not like desert areas where there are no humans for hundreds of km’s around you.”

    Yes but still; there could be instances – especially during wartime – where the presence of civilians would be noticed or not allowed …

  17. … – – ”Malaysia is not like desert areas where there are no humans for hundreds of km’s around you.”

    If you’ve been to the really rural parts of East Malaysia you’d know that in certain places the population density is low.

    kel – ”What do people think SOF’s primary missions are?”

    You going to tell us aren’t you? Well I may not be a practitioner or an expert but I [and most of us but I can’t speak for yourself] have a pretty good idea what roles the
    11th Special Service Regiment is intended to perform… Also is the unit a ”special operations” or a ”special forces” unit?

    Melayu – ”You reckon the 6 Little Birds can do its job to transport the GGK ala the Night Serpents?”

    Depends on the tasking doesn’t it? If a larger force is required and if certain enablers are needed to work in parallel with the 6 Little Birds then things become somewhat more complicated.

  18. Do people equate GGK as US Army Green Berets, USN SEALs, USN Devgru, US Army Delta, Germany KSK, UK SAS, UK Royal Marine Commandos, USMC Force Recon, Russia Spetsnaz, RMN Paskal or even US Army Rangers? Each are different but collectively fall within the special operations umbrella. Each have different specialisation and missions. Most will have specialisation in a specific domain. Thus operate their vehicles differently. So what is GGK? Just to avoid being wishy washy and non-committal hedging bets, I will say in my opinion, even if wrong because its ok to be wrong, GGK is closer to USMC Force Recon and UK Royal Marine Commandos in their role within the overall force structure. Not expected to operate deep beyond enemy lines independently, but expect to support the missions of adjacent or attached conventional forces. So make what you will of what vehicles is considered appropriate. The SOV GGK gets is not the best but certainly the type of vehicle based on their role and mission sets. Nomenclature of special forces or special operafions is up to the country. What constitutes SF in Malaysia might be deemed merely special operations in another and vice versa, but the mission set description is the same across countries.

  19. … – “Also unlike deserts, most vehicles will stick to roads and dirt tracks that is already there”

    Have you actually been in a desert? You can’t just drive where you want; you’d get bogged down. At times you have to follow tracks or trails.

  20. Melayu – “I should have mentioned that using the vehicles and posing as civvies to operate behind enemy lines seems”

    In a counter insurgency campaign or a low intensity one maybe.
    In a full blown one the lines would have to be pretty static and porous; not too mention a rear area not well safeguarded; to enable a SF unit in vehicles to freely operate.

    Ultimately; behind the lines recce and raids are one of the various roles the unit trains for and vehicles are one of the means they would do it. Could be on foot; by river or a helicopter insertion; depending on operational conditions. It would also be at a tactical/operational rather than strategic level.

    To me the idea that they would be less conspicuous if using civilian vehicles is overblown. The enemy might be expecting foreign troops to be using foreign vehicles and in time of war there might be a curfew in place. If that’s the case; civilian vehicles; they might as well wear foreign camo on top of their uniforms [anyone seen “The Eagle Has Landed?” Great film].

  21. kel – “Do people equate GGK as US Army Green Berets, USN SEALs, USN Devgru, US Army Delta, Germany KSK, UK SAS, UK Royal Marine Commandos, USMC Force Recon, Russia Spetsnaz, RMN Paskal or even US Army Rangers?”

    You need to know the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 SP. It’s as different like F1 and F3.

    “So what is GGK? Just to avoid being wishy washy and non-committal hedging bets, I will say in my opinion, even if wrong because its ok to be wrong, GGK is closer to USMC Force Recon and UK Royal Marine Commandos in their role within the overall force structure.”

    Again, you’re confused with Tier 1 and Tier 2 SP. Those 2 you’d mentioned are Tier 2 so yes it’s far off.

    To simplify for you, GGK is the Army equivalent of VAT 69 commandos (jungle warfare experts) but operates as Azlan mentioned behind enemy lines (overseas). Granted, GGK isn’t as well rounded as what CAG, DEVGRU, SAS and SBS can do however don’t assume they can’t operate similar roles when duty calls for it.

  22. On the subject of SF units I’d really recommend “Kopassus” [Conboy] and “The Little Iban” [Lungsong].
    Osprey many years ago did a book [easily available] on regional SF units; a very good read with lots of background.

  23. Melayu – “don’t assume they can’t operate similar roles when duty calls for it“

    They don’t have the skill sets for certain things. Example; at short notice a SAS squadron can deploy and operate in the desert because desert training is regularly carried out and all the regiment’s squadrons conduct jungle training. Our units tend – to be expected – to only train for roles we expect to perform.

  24. The pair of “commando” [note their designation] units are based on the Royal Marines and are essentially specialised light infantry [an equivalent would be the U.S. Rangers] but the 11th Special Services Regiment is a “special forces” unit; our equivalent of the SAS or Delta Force.

    There is a distinction between “special forces” and “special operations” units; wholly different from “corvettes” or “frigates” which is up to individual users.

  25. One of the main roles of the 11th Special Services Regiment is “to operate deep beyond enemy lines independently” at an operational level. That was its reason for being during the 2nd Emergency and the reason it was raised.

  26. They were mainly conducting foot patrols, dropped by parachute or helicopters. I believed the SOV was added following the end of the insurgency.

  27. There was a 2nd Special Services Regiment but funding and manpower issues led to it being dissolved. At one point the HQ was along Jalan Ampang; near where the Great Eastern mall is now.

  28. Hence why we start with defining the mission of GGK. Tiering is a function of skill and ability. I see GGK as more like USMC Force Recon. GGK primarily support the main Army. Find new routes. Probe. Recon. Raid (i.e. disruption). Missions supporting the main Army movements. Which means the SOV type vehicles is what they need, not massive high profile MRAP or heavy armour type vehicles. Able to travel faster than the main force. Low profile enough to move discreetly. Light enough to traverse different terrain. I dont start with tier for Malaysia becauase I dont think its possible for Malaysia to claim GGK as Tier 1, equivalent to Delta or Devgru or SAS. Maybe Tier 1 in the context of Malaysia but wouldnt Paskal be considered Malaysia’s Tier 1?

  29. Since we’re sharing reading materials. I do recommend The Only Thing Worth Dying For. Shows the type of missions Green Berets do. How Delta is secretive even within the SF community. The complexity of joint operations but also what could be accomplished by having jointness at the operational level.

  30. Kel – “Do people equate GGK as US Army Green Berets, USN SEALs, USN Devgru, US Army Delta, Germany KSK, UK SAS, UK Royal Marine Commandos, USMC Force Recon, Russia Spetsnaz, RMN Paskal or even US Army Rangers”

    Are you one of those “people”? That’s the question.

    1. US Army Green Berets. Raised primarily to operate behind enemy lines and to train and operate alongside indigenous forces. In WW2 there were the Jedbergs.
    2. SEALs, USN Devgru. Naval units which also are trained to operate on land and whose roles can also be performed by other units.
    3. US Army Delta. Formed following the Iran rescue disaster. Based on the SAS by its commander who was seconded to the SAS and served whilst on secondment in Malaya. Charlie Beckworth; read his book. Lent mine to someone in the 1990’s; never got it back.
    4. Germany KSK. The Bundersmarine’s equivalent of the SEALs and SBS.
    5. USMC Force Recon. There is a difference between “Marine Recon” and “Force Recon”. Tell me; are either units considered SF?
    6. Spetsnaz. A term loosely applied. There are naval, army and GRU Spetsnaz; trained for a variety of roles; under different command structures. In the past the MVD [now National Guard] also had its own Spetsnaz.
    7. U.S. Rangers. A light infantry unit. The raid on Mullah Omar’s compound in Kandahar is typical of the types of roles it’s performs; roles which incidentally can all be performed by Delta or the Green Berets; just like how both units could also have performed the raid on Osama’s house; done by SEALS.
    If interested read up on Roger’s Rangers.

    It’s really not complicated; the pair of Gerak Khas’s commando battalions are the rough equivalents of the U.S. Rangers or Royal Marines. The 11th Special Services Regiment is a special forces unit; the equivalent of the SAS or Delta. The Gerak Khas’s commando battalions and the 11th Special Services Regiment perform roles under the “special operations” orbit or category

  31. Melayu – “To simplify for you, GGK is the Army equivalent of VAT 69 commandos”

    It was raised on SAS lines and created with SAS [first Brit and later Kiwi] assistance. What I don’t get is the circumstances the unit would be used. In the event of a hostage situation would it be UTK or VAT 69? Like the SAS the unit has a hostage rescue and anti terrorism role.

    In the event of a hijack it would be either UTK or VAT 69
    but both Gerak Khas and PASKAU also have a hostage rescue and and anti terrorism role. Under what circumstances would either military unit be called in? In the U.K. unlike during the Princess Gate period the police now has a hostage rescue unit but there is provision for the police to “request” army [read SAS] involvement/assistance.

    On the term “komando” it signifies an elite unit; images of men with blackened faces and daggers in their teeth. It was first used by the Boers during the Boer war and in WW2 the Brits has “commando” battalion size large units. It also has a non SF/SOF angle; the Germans and Dutch use it for commands or a formation; e.g. the German High Command in WW2 was “Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”. There were also non “commando”/SF units which received the “Sonderkommando”. “sonder” meaning “special”.

  32. Kel – “ I see GGK as more like USMC Force Recon”

    No. Read up on what has been explained to you.

    Kel – “ I dont think its possible for Malaysia to claim GGK as Tier 1, equivalent to Delta or Devgru or SAS”

    “I don’t think” you realise what has been explained to you; that in the Malaysian army the 11th Special Services Regiment is the only “special forces” unit and is considered the “Top Tier”.

    Kel – “Which means the SOV type vehicles is what they need, not massive high profile MRAP or heavy armour type vehicles”

    No… Depends on the mission set; the terrain; type of opposition expected; number of people to be carried; etc.

    Kel – “The complexity of joint operations but also what could be accomplished by having jointness at the operational level”

    Glad you’ve gotten it because in the past you went off tangent with some “jointness” remarks and I reminded you that our lack of resources is exactly why we need “jointness” and issues with achieving it.

    Read “Not A Good Day To Die” : The Untold Story Of Operation Anaconda [Naylor] on “jointness” issues faced.

    Kel – “recommend The Only Thing Worth Dying For@

    Interesting. BTW does the author use paragraphs?

  33. kel – ”I do recommend The Only Thing Worth Dying For. ”

    I only have a few. My area of interests is mainly elsewhere.

    1. ”Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan” [Stanton]
    2. Green Berets At War [Stanton]
    3. ”Special Forces” [Clancy and Grisham]
    4. ”The Quiet Professional: Major Richard J. Meadows of the U.S. Army Special Forces” [Hoe]

    kel – ”Shows the type of missions Green Berets do.”

    We kind of had a rough idea from their Vietnam experience and why they were really formed; at the height of the Cold War when there was a need for a unit to deal with counter insurgency and training friendly indigenous forces.

  34. Hopefully all those reads and knowledge will enable all of you to really know and understand what is the actual mission of GGK, and could then know what kind of vehicle would be the best fit for GGK to do its mission within the terrain and situation that it regularly operates. With all that knowledge I would look forward to seeing more of those theories being used to propose better outcomes for our defence, as a knowledge that cannot be translated into real world use is pretty useless right?

    As for the cendana auto SOV, it is a very good design and i hope that they will promote it to users in africa, as i feel that it is much better design than even those being built by manufacturers in UAE for example.

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