Coming Soon, New Army Assault Rifles, Part 3

The Caracal 816 assault rifle, with the 14.5 inch barrel selected for the Malaysian Army. Malaysian Defence.

SHAH ALAM: Back in June, last year, Malaysian Defence wrote two posts – here here– on the possibility of the Army buying a new assault rifles to replace/augment the Colt M4A1, the standard assault rifle of the Armed Forces.

At DSA 2024, I was told that the deal to procure Abu Dhabi-made the Caracal CAR 816 assault has been firmed up though the contract has not been signed yet.

Two versions of the gas operated Caracal CAR 816 assault rifles, the top is with the 16 inch barrel and below is the 14.5 inch barrel, the one selected for the Malaysian Army. Malaysian Defence.

The number of the CAR 816 A1 assault rifle – with 14.5 inch barrel – is apparently the sticking point. Asked whether the initial number for purchase was for 30,000 rifles, a high-ranking Army officer said it was still subject to change.

The Caracal 816 assault rifle, with the 14.5 inch barrel selected for the Malaysian Army. Malaysian Defence.

The contract for the assault rifles will involve local company, Ketech Asia Sdn Bhd which signed an MOU with Abu Dhabi Edge Group for the production and resale of Caracal assault rifle in Malaysia.

The company scored its first defence contract as it was awarded the RM44.5 million Letter of Acceptance for the supply and delivery of the Karaok ATGW-MR for the Malaysian Army.

Changing documents for the ammunition factory between PKNP and Ketech Asia. PKNP.

The ammunition factory built by Ketech Asia at Kuala Lipis, Pahang, according to its official was on the verge of completion. Another facility to manufacture firearms will also be built next to the ammunition factory, the same official confirmed.

It is likely both facilities will satisfy the Industrial Collaboration Programme (ICP) mandated by the contract for the Caracals. The ICP is mandatory for all contracts above RM100 million for local companies and RM50 million for foreign companies.

That is the reason Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) opened its office and other facilities.

Mildef booth at DSA 2024. Already painted in UN colours is the HMLTV and the right is the Tarantula HMAV.

It is interesting to note that Mildef Technologies Sdn Bhd is also opening a new factory adjacent to the Ketech Asia ammo and rifle plant in Kuala Lipis. This is also likely to satisfy the ICP portion of the HMAV and HMLTV contracts.

— Malaysian Defence

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31 Comments

  1. There is not much battle advantage to be had in replacing the M4 with the Caracal 816.

    It is just to give contracts to someone (………)

    At least if you want to spend money, at least make sure it will increase the capability of the army, like getting a capability the army does not have at the moment.

    Also if SMEO has problems with getting constant contract from the government (with salary issues to workers etc.), how would this be any different?

  2. I wonder, in the accounting sense would the award of this contract subtracts from the total funds available for other programs? If the answer is yes, the subsequent question would be would the purchase of new rifles really be a wise use of funds considering the army has more programs that could use the money like the 4×4/6×6, SPH etc?

  3. More factories?

    I i am the government, I will ask any new players that wants to enter the playing field, including Ketech Asia, to take over existing infrastructure first (like taking over SMEO), rather than building yet another rifle and ammo factory.

    If Pahang is the place, then buy SMEO and relocate the infrastructure to Pahang.

  4. With current procurement problem involving local companies. My opinion is let them supply Karaok first with out any delay or problem. After that give them tender tu supply…let say 1 million round ammunition. If they can do that without any problem…then yes.

  5. Marhalim, is the army not happy with the M4? I heard there are reliability issues with the Colt, hence the Caracal which is essentially a HK.

  6. Soon we will have men carrying Caracal rifles inside Caracal choppers (a bit of humour LOL)

    Ketech is another crop of new players but this managed to scoop a big orders from the start. But looking at complex the Karaoke missile, its likely the Caracal will see service beforehand even if it gotten the order later. And whats the deal with neighbouring Mildef, are they related perhaps?

    @Jack
    “not much battle advantage to be had in replacing the M4 with the Caracal 816”
    Significant difference? Nope. But 816 has modern features that puts it functionally ahead of M4; better reliability via shortstroke piston, free float barrel, inside a full length modular handguard that can mount a variety of addons. I just wish the finishing is electroplated rather than painted, the M4s I seen in use some looks shabby & worn.

    “how would this be any different?”
    If previously its losing money in right pocket, well this time it will likely be losing money from left pocket. What do you expect from a not-so-big army with limited purchasing budget, and even consumable things like ammo is not in high demand?

    @hulu
    “to take over existing infrastructure first (like taking over SMEO)”
    Getting a company to privatise the public sector and hoping to make it profitable… hmm where did I heard that from again?
    Let the private company setup as they see fit if they want to be in this business. Defence jobs are usually vote buyers, there are reasons why such setups are in marginalised constituents or else in the area of the decisionmakers.

  7. Anon – ”very good lets focus our defense industry now”

    Indeed. Soon we’ll be the envy of the world and will have major bragging rights.

    … – ”to take over existing infrastructure first (like taking over SMEO),”

    To actually ask the pertinent questions : given that we lack economics of scale and have to import all the stuff needed for the production of ammo and explosives; why even bother to talk about local production? Some hard apolitical questions need to be addressed. What we should never do is to pay more merely to support the local industry. We’ve reached the ludicrous stage where we have a company able to produce ammo but we find it cheaper and faster to order it from abroad.

  8. it would cheaper to build from zero with many incentives offered by state and central government. The plant equipment itself is from Turkey and should be comparatively affordable i/o buying used equipment from current supplier. Furthermore in case of emergency (war economy), higher capacity of production can be achieved locally.

  9. Nothing wrong with the M-4 at all. We can make the Guinness Book of Records. In a span of several decades a small under resourced army belonging to a small country with a small economy has changed its service rifle more times [SLR, HK33, M-16A1, Steyr, M-4, etc]
    than the likes of the U.S, British and Soviet/Russian armies.

  10. As you know we bought the HK33 as an interim measure as we were not allowed to buy the M-16s, not even the ones manufactured in SG. The SLR was a bug bear in the jungle.

  11. And we got a small batch of AR70s which were never popular. Singapore faced delays in gaining export approval for its M-16s. Then again it has a history of doing things quietly; reexporting RBS 70s to the Middle East [the Swedes were not happy]; Ultimaxs to Croatia, used M-016s to Myanmar.

  12. @ azlan

    ” We’ve reached the ludicrous stage where we have a company able to produce ammo but we find it cheaper and faster to order it from abroad ”

    Which is why I propose any newcomers to be told to buy existing companies 1st, rather than build another factory chasing for the same small volume contract that cannot be cheaply done by local manufacturing.

    @ pengguna proton kecewa

    ” he plant equipment itself is from Turkey and should be comparatively affordable ”

    Why is caracal equipment from Turkiye, not UAE? Anyway the reason my idea to force any new player to takeover existing ones is that we don’t want 2-3 local ammunition and rifle manufacturer chasing for 1 contract. As a small country we cannot afford that. Unless you only think about 1 shot profit and be gone after that, something that will destroy our defense preparedness.

  13. this has got to be the stupidest decision this fucking government made, to replace a perfection cromulent rifle with zero issue, not even a fabricated one. we could replace M4 furniture with ones using picatinny rails and there’s plenty of way to mount an optic on regular M4, ones with or without carry handle delete

  14. SMEO proposed for an upgrade of the current M4s, replace the furniture and some barrel replacements, but the Army has not say anything.

  15. I was told the original plan was for UAE to take over the SMEO plant in Batu Arang and replace the machinery so ammunition could be ordered again from them.

    The ammo plant machinery of the Ketech plant will come from a Turkish firm.

    The Home Ministry has approved 11 ammo manufacturing license. Why that many is beyond me.

  16. Those were in even smaller numbers. SG was denied the approval as Colt wanted to sell the M16s to MY directly which it did in the early 80s.

  17. …. – “Which is why I propose any newcomers”

    What you “proposed” aside it still does not solve the main issue: unless there is economics of scale it will be faster and cheaper to buy from abroad …. I’m also flatly against the notion that we should pay higher prices merely to support the local industry; something you mentioned a long time again. It’s precisely that mindset which led us to where we are.

    As for “one shot profit” as I said; everyone wants a sort of the slice, to be part of the patronage system. Companies appear out of nowhere; then disappear. The end user has to pick up the pieces and along with the taxpayer gets truly buggered.

  18. Given that of all the Arab countries the one with which we’ve traditionally been the closest with is UAE; the deal could be be driven by the need to further improve ties and hope the Emirates reciprocate with investments in other areas. Religion also plays a part; we’ve publicly said that as far as possible we would like to but stuff from Muslim countries. As a former Armoured Corps Colonel who as part of Deftech was involved in the Adnan programme told me; the fact that Turkey’s Muslim [unlike us though secular] played a very big part in Adnan being selected. Like it or not arms sales/purchases are go in line with foreign policy/relations.

    The whole exercise is downright silly though. We don’t need a new rifle and I’d be interested to know what the army really feels. If an opposition MPs or any MP asks in parliament what the justification is; I’d like to see what answer the Defence Minster or rather his people; come up with.

  19. @Hulu
    “why I propose any newcomers to be told to buy existing companies 1st”
    Not so easy or straightforward as you think. SMEO is Govt owned and to privatise a Govt entity via buyout needs go lot of hoops, just look at how complex the sold out of Proton from Khazanah to DRB to Geely. Then there is the staffing which, if are civil servants, their jobs are kinda well protected so a move to private sector may be opposed/delayed which can muddle such buyout. In Govt, nothing is handled LSB so such a deal will have to handle separately; the transfer administration redtape, the land & property ownership, the infra & building ownership, the equipment & assets, the staffing & manpower. Each has to go thru different Govt bodies unlike a corporate entity. If Ketech sees the need to setup a new factory, then the risk & downfall will be onto them and not bear by the Govt unlike SMEO.

    @dundun
    “to replace a perfection cromulent rifle with zero issue”
    The M4 is not infallible and it has many of the inherent issues from its M16 ancestor. For one the DI system has always been AR15 platforms Achilles heel.

  20. “we would like to but stuff from Muslim countries”
    Indeed because halal bullets fired from halal armoured vehicles are 10x more deadly while it helps to absolves ones conscious/sins about killing people because everything is halal. (sarcasm)

  21. @ joe

    SMEO is privately owned, with its shareholders hailing from Sarawak.

  22. It is also partially owned by the government, 49 per cent, if I am not mistaken. That is why the Army chief and deputy IGP (previously it was the IGP) are on the board, together with a representative from mindef/MOF. It is the same with Airod

  23. @ marhalim

    Previously yes, but isn’t the SMEO shares now 100% owned by NADI?

    Can you confirm?

  24. Im very seriously making fun of our politicians and what motivates their actions.

  25. I think Islamic countries buying from each other is a brilliant idea. Western countries look after each other all the time. Who knows, maybe it’s UAE help that’s getting us the LMS B2?

  26. Tom – ”I think Islamic countries buying from each other is a brilliant idea.”

    Only if it meets requirements …. If it met our requirements we should buy from Satan for all I care.

    Tom – ”Western countries look after each other all the time. ”

    So? The last time the Muslim world had anything resembling unity was during the Crusades and even then they were fighting/plotting against each other. Western countries ”look out for each” other because they have reached a certain level of development both politically and socially; are united by virtue of being EU or NATO members; have the shared experience of WW2 and face a common threat. The Islamic world in sharp contrast is not united and has spent a lot of their time fighting/plotting against each other.

  27. ”while it helps to absolves ones conscious/sins about killing people because everything is halal.”

    Since we’re on the subject. With the exception of the Gulf states the others are secular and religion; although a good rallying cry; came second to self interests.

    – Syria intervened in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Christians in order to avoid giving Israel a pretext to intervene.
    – A lot of what the Arabs do with regards to arms purchases have little to do with Israel but are driven against other Arab states.
    – In Libya Qatar and Turkey are backing the UN recognised government whilst the other side is backed by the UAE.
    – Anti Assad rebel factions were backed by different Arab states who were in competition with each other for influence in the region.

  28. @Tomtom
    “I think Islamic countries buying from each other is a brilliant idea.”
    What does it matter where our weapon supplies comes from? If its inferior & more expensive is it our duty to subsidise the ‘Islamic nations defence industry’ to our own detriment? Real progress is from competition, not looking after each other.

    “although a good rallying cry; came second to self interests.”
    As we all know, the 1st is their external reason, a PR exercise. The 2nd is their real reason, which is why we have a crony filled industry. But voters buys the 1st you see.

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