Coming Soon Or Next Change?

SHAH ALAM: Coming soon or next change? It appears that the local defence industry and wannabes are gearing up for an Army tender for the 155mm SPH. The tender was supposed to be open for bidding last June and earlier this month but were never published.

I was told that the RFB will be published soon though no one could be certain of the exact date. Coming soon or next change…as they say. Anyhow even though there is no general specifications being bandied about, it is likely involved up to 36 truck-mounted 155mm SPH, which have been the numbers talked about for the last 10 years or so. We would have gotten 29 M109 tracked SPH already but it was cancelled by the government in 2019.

Nexter Systems Caesar 155mm SPH

The Nexter Caesar 155mm SPH will likely start as the favourite as its been the most tested in country compared to the other contenders – like the Bae Systems Archer SPH and YugoImport Nora B-52 M-21 SPH. Of course they are other truck-mounted SPH like the Turkish MKE Yavuz 155mm SPH.

Nexter Caesar during its demonstration in Malaysia back in 1995.

One local company even signed an MOU in Turkey last week likely as precursor to act as the local agent for the 155mm SPH tender. It even managed to get call “local defence company” by sending a press release to the MSM which lapped it all up. A quick Google search showed that it has no track record of being a defence company apart from aspiration of course. It must be noted here that the Turkish Army has yet to induct into service a truck mounted SPH.

Bae Systems Archer SPH.

The tender for the 155mm SPH came at an opportune time for the Army as the US Army is conducting a shoot-out of the same truck mounted systems, mentioned above apart from the Turkish one – plus the American-made AM General Brutus SPH and the Israeli-made Elbit AMOS SPH. Perhaps we can get some information on the shoot-out to help the Army in making the decision for the 155mm SPH tender – despite the differing specifications and other issues.

The business end of the Nexter Systems Caesar 155mm/52 SPH.

Otherwise, simply order the Caesar 155m SPH already.

Nexter 105mm LG1 howitzer of the 10th Para Brigade at the Eksesais Para Predator 1/2021. BTDM

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Even with all the brouhaha about buying something chinese, I still think that the PCL-181 aka SH-15 would be a good fit for tentera darat. Cheap, lightweight and with NATO ammo and charge compatibility.

  2. High time; the Royal Artillery Corps is in urgent need of attention. Towed guns simply don’t cut it in this day and age and tracked platforms have a larger footprint and are more expensive to buy and run. Makes sense to go for a wheeled platform. The Chinese make decent arty but the political environment is such that a Chinese but is extremely unlikely.

    Hopefully we also get UASs (even short range ones) as it’ll be pointless to be able to hit up to 40km or do if we can’t sport targets. Fire direction centres at regimental level are also highly essential.

  3. Still long way to go as the tender is not issued yet..could probably take 2 3 years still to materialize but we can only hope..Caesar will undoubtly will be the main contenders as i understand that the army will order additional lg1 in the future..But theres also yavuz 155mm..So the army will now only focus on sph not additional 155mm towed? Panter 155mm from mkek also looking quite good with their auxialiary power unit (APU)..or just buy additional g5 if army need more towed howitzers..

    Theres also denel’s T5-52 Sph,which using G5 gun on truck chassis..

  4. G5 is no longer manufactured.

    We cannot ignore china. We are not a country far away in europe or south america.

    Buying chinese is okay or even politically needed, As long as nothing sensitive like fighter jets, UAVs and the like, that could compromise the defence of our EEZ.

    Buying something chinese will signal that we are not against china. Chinese howitzers with NATO ammo does not endanger our defence readiness in any way, as the ammo is the current one we are using and can be had from other countries. The PCL-181 unit cost of just 2.1 million dollars is also much more cheaper than the Caesar.

    By the way just a few days ago Vietnam explicitly say that they won’t be joining USA against China, something the US vice president was not expected to hear. Malaysia will be in the same situation too, and getting some chinese howitzers will clearly bring this point out.

    In the meantime, we will still need to push back chinese intrusion into our EEZ. Something we need to balance very carefully.

  5. fadinan – “Anything as long not chinese or isreal..”

    – The political environment makes a Chinese buy unlikely. Do note however that when it comes to arty and missiles the Chinese have long reach a certain level of “maturity” so to speak.

    – If Israel is mentioned; must as well include Togo because no chance of us buying from either.

  6. Most unlikely we will even consider Elbit ATMOS so the US Army evaluation is moot.

    Anyways the cast have been set for truck SPH so whatever the choice is it better be a good one; something with 52cal, rapid setup & dismount for shoot & scoot, semi-auto or full auto loading, fast FCS with MRSI ability, able to fire ERFB & RAP & smart guided rounds in the future, and A400M portable.

  7. Its not just the make, performance, range but also spare parts n maintenance. Barrel life is important too. The canon bore needs relining etc. So the winner must be one where the supply of spare parts n maintenance is reliable.
    The offers differs from fully auto – the Caeser to manual loading. Of course price differs too.
    Plenty of choices not just from France, Turkey n China but also Eastern Europe too

  8. gonggok – “We cannot ignore china”

    Plainly obvious we can’t ignore China. How can we? China is the biggest FDI here and were are ASEAN’s largest trading trading partner with China …

    Doesn’t mean we have to or should buy Chinese … The political climate is simply not conducive and there are various reasons why despite the Chinese making sound arty; makes far more sense to buy Western.

    gonggok – “d, As long as nothing sensitive like fighter jets, UAVs and the like, that could compromise the defence of our EEZ”

    Buying that stuff does not “compromise” anything ….It really makes no difference…

    gonggok – “The PCL-181 unit cost of just 2.1 million dollars is also much more cheaper than the Caesar”

    You are quoting paper prices without taking into account various other factors.

  9. gonggok – “By the way just a few days ago Vietnam explicitly say that they won’t be joining USA against China”

    You expected differently? Vietnam has a land border with China, has a history of strife with China spanning centuries and has an economy tied to China’s.

    The fact remains that in the coming years more USN and not PLAN ships will visit Vietnam; Vietnamese officers will go to the U.S. and not China for courses and there will be more political
    and military exchanges with the U.S. rather than China.

    Same with is; we can say we’re neutral all we want, don’t take sides and China is a chum but the countries we have the most regular and extensive military contacts/exchanges with will remain the U.S. and Australia.

  10. Firdaus – “So the army will now only focus on sph not additional 155mm towed”

    Given the inherent limitations with towed 155mm arty going for additional ones would be a huge step backwards.

    Firdaus – “Theres also denel’s T5-52 Sph,which using G5 gun on truck chassis..”

    It’s time to start looking beyond the actual hardware; i.e. we can buy this gun or that; this gun is fitted with this; this gun goes for ‘x’ million, this gun has ‘x’ range, etc.

    -One area in which the Royal Artillery Corps should look at is organisation : smaller but easier to command and more accurate batteries?
    -If indeed we get an initial batch of 36 how do we distribute them : I’d rather group them in a single division to enable mass and concentration.
    -If we don’t get UASs what will be our main means of detecting and observing targets?
    – How can we coordinate the use of arty with MLRSs?
    – With the introduction of SPHs it’s changes things; will it require deep changes in doctrine and CONOPs?

  11. Denel is in big financial difficulties, that is the reason they are not involved in the US Army SPH shoot-out. If they offer us their guns, it will be wise to reject them at the start as we will not know whether they can support the guns beyond the next few years.

  12. The Caesar is the most numerous truck mounted SPH in service today so its stand to reason, all the support issues are already sorted out. With more guns in service, spare parts will also be readily available. Apart from Caesar, the only other truck mounted SPH already in service – apart from the Atmos – is the Swedish Archer, though only with Sweden. Of course there are the China ones but again only with the PLA. On the automatic loading, yes, its good thing to have but I believed the semi automatic loading is the better option for us.

  13. Marhalim,

    Question on the new mortars. The requirement is for it to be mounted on a trailer to be towed but also to be fired from the trailer itself correct?

    The good news is that we also ordered “networked sensor-to-shooter and C2 systems” from a Spanish company.

    Not from the trailer but from the mortar carrier itself but it needs to be demountable and to be fired from the ground.

  14. “not know whether they can support the guns”
    Curious but does it mean our G5s will be EOL soon due to this? Unlike many of Denel’s indigenous weapons, the G5 was a true market success with users around the world, my guess is at least this gun will continue to get spares either from Denel stocks or other makers. Or its patents/ manufacturing rights would be gobbled up by another and continue production.

    “spare parts will also be readily available”
    Safe to say as long as get from reputable brand and ones that are in use by other armed forces will have less issues of spare parts & servicing.

    I think G5s will be in service until 2030 if they can still get the spare parts but again it depends on whether Denel surviving the current issues. I am not to worry about the G5s really they’re are near 30 year old already. Worry about the turrets and missiles of the Gempita fleet which are brand new. If Denel collapses forget about new Gempitas, we may need to buy new turrets for the ones we have in service within the next five years.

  15. Whether it’s jets, fighters or frigates I’m not really into the actual platform itself as we’re in 2021 not the 1960’s anymore : it’s things at a systems not platform level which determines things.

    Having said that; Caesar has a lot going for it; wide user base; mature platform, etc, etc. The latest version is mounted on a Tatra and has various improvements.

    Irrelevant to us but a German company has come with another – much more expensive – solution; a 155mm turret mounted on a Boxer. Something with a lighter footprint than a track platform (one reason the army ditched the M-109s which wasn’t its decision to buy in the very first place) but with full protection for the crew.

    On Chinese gear; with regards to arty and missiles the Chinese have long reached a certain level of maturity they have yet to with other stuff. No issues with Chinese arty but before one recommends we consider Chinese arty (nothing wrong) simply because it’s cheaper to buy; first look at other aspects; namely barrel life; how compatible the FCS and INS is with others we already operate; the shelf like of ammo and charges (when stored both in and out of conditions specified by the OEM; etc, in comparison with Western equivalents.

  16. The Ingwes might have a chance to be relifed since SANDF & Algerian Army have a whole lot more stocks. Those Denel turrets otoh are a problem as we’re the only user afaik. Perhaps FNSS PARS turrets could be a drop in replacement. Better than having a IFV with nonfunctional turrets.

  17. @Tom Tom
    Depends on which Caesar, the 6×6 is portable by C130 upwards but if we go for the 8×8 version its only air portable via A400M and above. The thing about Caesar is its adaptability to various truck chassis so if we do go for it, hopefully we will spec in those brands we have in service; Unimog, Volvo.

  18. Tom Tom,

    “Air transportable” is a marketing gimmick which looks great on marketing literature. You realise how many sorties it would take just to lift a single battery plus men, ammo and equipment? That’s predicated on the need for the needed transports to be ready and available.

    We got fixated on the “air transportable” need due to fact that we wanted the ability to rapidly reinforce Sabah. Times have changed; thanks to ESSCOM we now have a greater military presence in Sabah.

  19. @Marhalim
    They do share pretty much the same engine & transmission plus some of the systems but not all. Renault trucks still keep some of the French quirks not seen on a Volvo. And unlike Volvo which are very international and everything available in English, Renault’s support system is highly suspect and one of the reason why it is not sold in this region when in other markets, it typically coexist with Volvo being the big brother.

  20. It is likely that since Volvo already has a strong presence in Southeast Asia, there was no need for them to bring in Renault trucks here. As the readiness for manual and support documents in English, do note that the Caesar is already operational in Thailand and Indonesia so there is a high chance the documents are already available in English which may also been translated into Thai and Indonesia.

  21. Hopefully whichever we buy will not have difficulties for servicing & spares, not just the gun platform but the truck as well.
    A left fielder would be Tatra as despite not having significant civvie presence, it is well known and well used in the military trucking.

  22. Unless we’re buying from a small company in Eastern Europe or the Balkans; spares is not the issue …

    The issue is cash for spares being allocated on time and released in a timely manner. In most cases; for various things we buy; getting spares is not an issue but getting the funding on time is … Another problem is when we authorise a local company to be the sole agent but that company faces issues (a very common occurrence)…

  23. So the way forward is to go with sph? Nice..meaning the army will not replace the g5 when they are at their eol stage..that also mean that the army need to get sph in huge and significant numbers..but ofcourse they still need the additional lg1 right

  24. Firdaus – “So the way forward is to go with sph”

    Obviously ….

    Towed guns are vulnerable, lack mobility and require more time to lay. Why do you think many armies have done away with them?

    Firdaus – “ofcourse they still need the additional lg1 right”

    Not necessarily. It’s possible to use 120mm mortars in place of a 105mm gun. Not a direct substitute as it isn’t artillery but possible.

  25. Naturally it will cost more and it can only be airlifted in a A400M (I’m not a believer of the “air mobility hype anyway, in our context) but for the mobility offered we should go for the 8×8 variant; if we get Caesar.

    Sone night point out that the 8×8 can’t go into many places due to its size (some are also still under the illusion that MBTs can’t be successfully operated in local terrain) but I would counter this by saying a 4×4 jeep can’t operate on the top of a mountain; does this mean we shouldn’t have 4×4 jeeps? Force planning should be based on where things can operate and not just where they can’t …

    We’ve had a requirement for SPHs since the 1990’s and in line with getting them the Artillery Directorate will have to formulate the appropriate doctrine and CONOPs. Buying the guns is the easy part.

  26. @Firdaus
    Logically with sufficient SPH we can make do without towed arty, there aren’t that many areas of strategic interest to an adversary that an SPH could not go to.
    But there are still value with towed arty don’t forget that it has a smaller footprint and far more easier to transport undetected and concealed. Tho no context to our own forces, towed arty can be underslung to a heavy chopper and transported to any part of the map even atop mountains if need be. There are pros & cons of each and both types do complement each other, most forces that has SPH continues to keep towed arty in service.

  27. Pros and cons of towed arty.

    – Cheaper (obviously) than a SPH.
    – Towed arty takes longer to get in and out of position and longer to lay.
    – They (obviously) have less mobility in certain types of terrain and can’t (if needed) keep pace with manoeuvre units in order to provide timely support.
    – Crews of towed arty are without any protection unlike those of SPHs which can get into their vehicle; assuming there’s time and the vehicle has a certain level of protection.

    Certain armies (namely Russia, India and China) still maintain large stocks of towed arty but these are mostly leftovers from an era where doctrine, CONOPs and threat perceptions were different. All 3 armies are moving more and more towards mechanisation.

    Even if we get 35 SPHs and retain the G-5s as well as some 105mm guns; the number of arty we have is still small in comparison to the number of combat units we have. Which is why we have to take things to a new level by developing tertiary capabilities. It’s not just how big a bang a gun makes, ROE, it’s maximum effective range, etc.

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