KUALA LUMPUR: The economic crisis has again found another victim. Although it was the reason given, every one in the industry had for months knew that the wheeled armoured vehicle programme had floundered when it was announced that the Ninth Malaysian Plan budget was under review. The announcement today only confirmed the long-held belief albeit with a much better excuse.
Anyhow, on the issue of body armour, although the army chief says that an allocation has been made for the equipment, the fact that soldiers patrolling our borders not so equipped made his argument elementary. Of course those on UN duties are equipped with body armour…
PORT DICKSON, Nov 7 (Bernama) — The global economic crisis has forced the replacement of the Malaysian army’s Condor and Sibmas armoured vehicles with new ones to be postponed to the Tenth Malaysia Plan.
Army chief General Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin said the vehicles, used since the 1980’s, were no longer economical for refurbishment as they were too old.
“I have already issued a directive….however, we can still bring these armoured vehicles to the level of operational readiness up to a certain year,” he said at the ground-breaking ceremony for the army college complex at the Segenting Camp, here, today.
Under that directive, only some of the 184 six-wheel-drive Sibmas armoured vehicles and 460 four-wheel-drive Condor vehicles will be refurbished while the rest will be turned into spare parts.
The army plans to replace these vehicles with new 8×8 armoured vehicles.
The purchase of the Sibmas armoured vehicles under the PERISTA programme had been controversial then because their usage as support artillery vehicles was found to be not that practical.
Malaysia is the only country using the Belgium-made Sibmas.
The Condor, meanwhile, is found to be increasingly unsuitable in today’s modern war as the armour is thin and will not be able to withstand the RPG rockets as what happened during the armed conflict in Bakaara, Somalia in October 1993. In that incident at the Bakaara marketplace, a number of Malaysia’s Condor vehicles were destroyed and one of the drivers killed.
On an article which has appeared in a defence journal which says that the Malaysian army has not equipped its infantry soldiers with bullet-proof jackets, which is a standard requirement, Muhammad Ismail said:
“The allegation is unfounded as the logistics division had made an allocation for the purchase of suitable body protective wear for our soldiers.
“For security reasons, we cannot disclose what kind of bullet-proof jackets we are purchasing but definitely of no lesser quality than the 3A type (able to stop ammunition of 9mm calibre and shots from small arms).
He said for now, not all units were supplied with the protective jackets but only given to the combat troops and those serving under the United Nations peacekeeping forces like in Lebanon.
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