More Tactical Radio Section Sets for the Army

A training exercise with a manpack radio. It may look small but apart from the radio, a signal man will have to carry his personal pack and weapon while on patrol.

SHAH ALAM: Back in January this year, Malaysian Defence reported that the Defence Ministry issued an infographic that the Army had taken delivery of 1,000 VHF section radio set for tactical communications operations. The infographic had a picture of the VHF section radio without naming the make.

Based on the infographic, one can identify it as a Harris tactical radio, and it is likely the Falcon III AN/PRC-152A handheld radios. The graphic also showed that the soldier using the radio being equipped with a tablet as well.

A close up of the Defence Ministry infographic which clearly showed that its a Harris Falcon III hand held radio.

We now know that Mindmatics Sdn Bhd won the tender to supply, deliver, test and commissioned 1,000 VHF section radio beating the incumbent, Sapura Thales Electronics Sdn Bhd (STE). STE was touted as a success story for the Industry Collaboration Programme (ICP) which is part of the government policy to transfer technology to local companies through procurement contracts. It delivered the section radios from 2011 to 2014.
The then PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad testing the new STE TRC 5200 VHF radio at Lima 2019.

Anyhow, the Defence Ministry has published a tender for the supply, deliver, test and commissioned 555 section tactical radio set for the Army. The tender is valid from today – October 12 to November 2. There are no detailed specifications for the radio sets apart from the number being sought.
Paskal operators conducting a demonstration for the visit. Note the personal radios on their back.

The Eperolehan website did published the Army estimates for the tender which is RM49.95 million. Based on the estimate, I am assuming that the cost for the 1,000 section radios awarded to Mindmatics was around RM90 million to RM110 million. I stand to be corrected of course.
The Defence Ministry infographic.

With 1,000 Harris radios already delivered, it make sense to order more of them, of course. Especially if they are found to reliable and fuss free in service. The tender, however, will of course reveal what the Army wants though.
A Special Forces officer talks on his radio with his signaller. RSD picture.

Anyhow at LIMA 2023, the Army announced the contracts for the vehicular and manpack radios as well, for the regular units and GGK as well. The radios for the regulars are from Thales while the GGK ones are from Harris.

— Malaysian Defence

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33 Comments

  1. there is about 36-48 sections in an infantry battalion

    1500 sets of radio will be enough for 31 battalions, basically all of the army infantry battalions will have brand new radios.

    As for radios for GGK, adding BLOS SATCOM systems such as the Slingshot should be looked at
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FhCRHUmaMAM6Cul.jpg

  2. This company is interesting. It was reported to have delivered a handful of UASs; has come up with a ESM system and has been awarded a number of cyber security contracts to the MAF. Nice for a change to see a local company offering tangible value rather than just the traditional ”middle man” or ”agent” services.

  3. Nice for a change to see a local company offering tangible value rather than just the traditional ”middle man” or ”agent” services. – Azlan

    Now this is where the folly will set. Because after this, this company will just be another traditional middle man. Nothing will change.

  4. Akmal – ”Because after this, this company will just be another traditional middle man. Nothing will change.”

    Do you know anything about the company? As you said in a previous post: you don’t have a crystal ball. BTW I can actually name a few local companies who actually offer added value.

  5. … – ”there is about 36-48 sections in an infantry battalion”

    The authorised composition is 4 Companies; each comprising 3 platoons; each in turn comprising 3 sections. Then there’s also the Support Company which is organised differently; i.e. Mortar and AT Platoons. I haven’t included HQ and other elements.

    … – ”basically all of the army infantry battalions will have brand new radios.”

    In reality – as opposed to on paper – I have no idea. The Thales/Sapura handled/manpack Section/platoon/company net radios might be replaced partially or supplemented by these new ones.

  6. … – ”As for radios for GGK, adding BLOS SATCOM systems such as the Slingshot should be looked at”

    Why only Gerak Khas per see? Other units also have SATCOM; albeit HQ and other elements as opposed to field units.

  7. I’m not familiar with the military radios. Can someone using a Harris radio speak to someone using a Thales radio?

  8. I singled out GGK for manpack BLOS SATCOM suggestion as that is the unit this article mentions.

    Slingshot is currently one of the smallest individual BLOS SATCOM system available.

    Of course all other units such as PASKAL or PASKAU will have a benefit using this for communications far behind enemy lines. This system would also be a good fitment on RIBs so there is no LOS communication issues.
    https://images.slideplayer.com/13/3971779/slides/slide_3.jpg

  9. … – “Of course all other units such as PASKAL or PASKAU will have a benefit using this for communications far behind enemy lines”

    Even when not “far behind enemy lines”. Due to terrain and other issues there are various places in the country which has “gaps” so to speak; radio coverage is an issue. SATCOM is also used in the Spratlys to communicate with Labuan/Sepanggar and also at times carried by RMAF air crew.

  10. “The radios for the regulars are from Thales”
    So Sapura wasnt totally cut off after all, tho depending on how many orders they got it might still not be in a secured position just yet.

    “local company offering tangible value”
    Sapura Thales also offered tangible value when they supplied the radio packs yet they got complacent, its just a matter of time if Mindmatics will follow the same path but from historical precedence, I’d side with Akmal.

  11. No, Sapura did not get the contract. The regular radios are now Harris, the new manpack/vehicular radios are from Thales but they are sourced fromm Traumland. Traumland is also doing the servicing for the old Sapura/Thales radios.

  12. “they supplied the radio packs yet they got complacent”

    How did they get complacent?

    “, I’d side with Akmal”

    Ok. Didn’t know they was an element of taking sides here.

    Also, as it stands there is difference. Sapura was very connected from the start and where it is now also has a political angle. Mindmatics wasn’t and unlike Sapura which licensed produced stuff and rebranded it; Mindmatixs actual did it’s own R/D and came out with various things by itself.

    That’s how I look at it and BTW there are s few local outfits which didn’t “ follow the same path”; if Akmal and you are aware.

  13. We bought some handheld radios from Harris some years ago; a small batch for Gerak Khas but it wasn’t from Mindmatics.

  14. “No, Sapura did not get the contract.”
    Oh I see. I thought Thales was still working partnership with Sapura. So even for Thales stuff, Sapura is basically PNG…

  15. “How did they get complacent?”
    The radio buys had always been direct nego and its always been with Sapura Thales. When the new administration took over, they did not change to compete and was thus ousted from their secured position. That was their complacency.

  16. “Sapura was very connected from the start”
    Indeed but IINM some of the radios were self developed with Thales support (or unless it was just a glorified license produce, I dunno) which did create tangible value… job creation and such. Like all things that are nationalised and not directly bought off the shelf, we shall see but precedence have been a track records of failings. My stance with local companies and nationalisation have always been clear, it should work for the enduser but also be economically viable.

  17. “BTW there are s few local outfits which didn’t follow the same path”
    And how are they doing now and can they crow their ICP achievements? Okay okay Jakel seem to have done well but their Jakel Mall hype looks to have tapered off…

  18. It was Thales radios built locally. The radio which they introduced at LIMA 2019 was supposed to be developed locally with their engineers and Thales. We do not have the economic means to build tactical radios from the ground up.

  19. “LIMA 2019 was supposed to be developed locally”
    Yea yea, I recalled that one! But Im not sure if these were managed to be produced and sold to the Armed Forces or whatnot…

  20. It is likely the one that was proposed for the tender. I was told that they did not lose the tender due to technical reasons but a slip up in the documents.

  21. “. My stance with local companies and nationalisation have always been clear, it should work for the enduser but also be economically viable”

    My stance is that local companies have to make the tradition from merely being “agents” or “facilitators” to offering added vute and tangible benefits.

    Sapura was highly connected and it received a monopoly. I don’t exactly know we’re it went wrong and I won’t assume based on what I don’t know. If indeed you actually know it was because of “complacency” please by all means share the details with me because I’m in the dark.

    Over the years I’ve come across many companies from the time I was active in the circuit and dabbled – in a very insignificant way – I n the market so to speak; thus I may not be a subject matter expert but I know a wee bit of what I’m talk about.

    All I know about Mindmatics is that it was not formed by ex MAF people and that unlike other companies it was not “connected”.
    I do know however that they’ve done their own R/D fir various things and the company looks promising. I can’t see in the future if his I will not assume that the company will turn out like many others. As a side note I know of local outfits which have/have offered the armed services and taxpayer added value.

  22. “over, they did not change to compete and was thus ousted from their secured position. That was their complacency”

    Actually I heard it was a bit more than that. A bit more creative convoluted.

  23. It was launched at DSA and Mahathir was at the launch.
    Yes what Sapura sells is Thales produced locally; prior to that Thomson CSF which we used since the 1970’s. The other brand we used a lot was Racal.

  24. Nobody could lose an entrenched position unless it was due to politics or complacency.
    Could it be the former? Maybe. But if the Army was still satisfied with Thales radios, they would have stuck to a known supplier if their bid was competitive.

    “due to technical reasons but a slip up in the documents”
    Like they forgot to remove a certain exPM son as their shareholder from the documents? Haha.

  25. “But if the Army was still satisfied with Thales radios, they would have stuck to a known supplier if their bid was competitive.”

    No because it also depends on the decision makers. If the army actually had a choice or free hand as to which suppliers it wanted to stick to; there would be far less problems.

  26. “there would be far less problems.”
    It works both ways. If TDM would have specced in the capabilities that chosen few radios can perform, the decision makers have less room to waver in that sense unless their chosen one doesnt meet the technical requirements and TDM are forced to accept it. But from SPH fiasco, it would seem that TDM indeed does have some say.

  27. “ If TDM would have specced in the capabilities that chosen few radios can perform, the decision makers have less room to waver in that sense unless their chosen one”

    Let’s keep it simple instead of going in circles.

    Sapura lost out and it wasn’t because of “complacency” per see as you assumed and the army does not have the authority to decide which suppliers it wants to work with. If only …

    “ But from SPH fiasco”

    Not exactly. You might insist but no. Whether or not the army wanted to keep the M-109s a political decision was made to to scrap the programme. The government drives policy; not the arm services. Yes the armed services are asked for their opinions bit when did it count? If you know of other “fiascos” apart from the M-109 one you’ll know what I’m referring to.

  28. “TDM would have specced in the capabilities that chosen few radios can perform”

    Not as clear cut as that; rarely is. Tell me; are requirements written first or technical specifications? Sapura was there the right place at the right time. It had backing and we had to replace our Thomson CSFs and Racals.

  29. “wasn’t because of “complacency” per see as you assumed”
    Alright if indeed you know better then “please by all means share the details with me”

    “The government drives policy; not the arm services.”
    If you insist the Armed Forces has absolutely no say then I disagree and the SPH fiasco has proven that.

  30. “Alright if indeed you know better then “please by all means share the details with me”

    What would I have to share with someone so informed. I also also did not claim I know “better than you” but was aware of of things which have happened. Big difference but if you need to have the last say; no issues.

    “If you insist the Armed Forces has absolutely no say then I disagree and the SPH fiasco has proven ”

    Stick to the plot. I never said it had ‘no” say, only that it matters little once the politicians make up their minds – clear examples of this but you’ll know that as you’re well acquitted with things.
    Also, no matter what the army said a decision has already been made at a political level to scrap the deal.

  31. “I also also did not claim”
    But you have something to dispute then please share, otherwise…

    “a decision has already been made at a political level to scrap the deal.”
    A decision the TDM was all to happy to go with, so you claimed, or else they would have rather stuck to whatever gotten instead of.. well.. nothing, til today.

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