Mortar Gempita In The Wild

On the Way. Gempita Mortar carrier firing a 120mm round. Likely a Gempita from 1 KAD. 12th RMR

SHAH ALAM: Mortar Gempita in the Wild. The mortar variant of the Gempita or IFV Mortar Carrier – has been shown in public – via the Facebook page of the 12th RMR (Mechanised), of course. The Gempita Mortar carrier attached with the 19 RMR (Mechanised) took part in a live firing exercise at the Gemas range together with the 12th RMR in preparations for the Army Firing Exercise scheduled in late September, according to the post.

Gempita Mortar Carrier firing a mortar at the Gemas range. 12th RMR.

It is unclear whether the Gempita mortar carrier was conducting post-delivery trials as the post did not mentioned this. From the pictures from the post it is clear that the Gempita mortar carrier is fitted with the Thales 120mm 2R2M semi automatic mortar, the same one as fitted on the six-wheeled Adnan ACV-S variant, also in service with 12th RMR.

On the Way. Gempita Mortar carrier firing a 120mm round. 12th RMR

The first public firing of the ACV-S was conducted in 2017. Adnans from 12th RMR fitted with the 81mm mortar also took part at the exercise.It must be noted that both the mortar carrier and ambulance version were displayed for the first time locally when Defence Minister Mohammad Sabu visited the Deftech plant in Kuantan earlier this year. The official visit was not open to the media. It was unclear whether the vehicles had been delivered to the Army at that point or were still with the company when they were displayed for the minister.

12th RMR Adnan ACV-S variant also fired its weapon at the exercise. 12th RMR.

It is also unclear how many Gempita Mortar carrier has been delivered to the Army, from the eight ordered. It is likely 19th RMR, the first user of the 8X8 is also the first operator of this variant.

12th RMR Adnan mortar carriers at the Gemas range firing line. 12th RMR.

With the NBC variant already shown publicly, I believed there are only two variants left to be put into service with the Army. They are the fitter and recovery variants though I admit they could already be in service with the Army or under trials, as the service seemed to be media-shy off late.

Gempita NBCR vehicle

The recovery Gempita, I was told some time back, will be the last one to be put into service as the Army had already ordered two Volvo wrecker vehicles instead.

One of the two Volvo FMX heavy recovery truck

Anyhow it must be noted that there is only eight ACV-S variant of the Adnan in service with the Army so the Gempita mortar carrier is in good company. Will the Army more Gempita in the near future? Or even buy the South Korean version which could fit into the standard variant of the Adnan to replace the current version?

The South Korean 120mm mortar on board a KIFV. DAPA

As the South Korean one had just completed development, even if the Army is interested, it will take several years before it could start ordering it. And that is a big if.

— Malaysian Defence

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122 Comments

  1. How many tubes are there in 1 mortar platoon?

    For our mechanized battalions we have

    8x MIFV 81mm mortar
    10x adnan 81mm mortar
    8x adnan 120mm mortar
    8x gempita 120mm mortar

    So probably each battalion has 4x of mortar carriers each.

    BTW is there an official list of battalions/regiments to receive the current batch of the gempitas?

    What we do know for now
    19 RAMD Sg Petani
    3 KAD Sg Petani
    1 KAD Kuantan
    2 KAD Port Dickson is going to get its own gempita soon, new garages done and trainings for gempita has started.

    I believe for Kor Armor Diraja, the gempita will only replace the Sibmas, with its regiments to have both gempita and condor for now.

    I really hope there will be a 2nd batch of gempita in the future.

  2. “Or even buy the South Korean version”
    The question is (if we are buying more that is), are we going to buy more MIFV/KIFVs, or continue to get Adnans instead? If its the latter, we already have the 120mm mortar variant so adding more numbers/ replacing old units are not an issue. Having one weapon system instead of 2 will greatly simplify spares, maintenance, training, & familiarity during use.

    Reply
    The issue here is that the South Korean one is designed to be fitted on a standard MIFV or Adnan. The Thales one is only suitable on the six wheel Adnan.

  3. I hope so too because if there are no follow on orders and no economics of scale; we shouldn’t have licensed produced them in the first place.

    I also hope that Deftech will look at ways to add whether improvements are needed to subsequent AV-8 batches. Despite all the acceptance tests I’m sure there are certain aspects with it that the army isn’t happy about – the AV-8 wasn’t selected because of its technical specs or because it outperformed its competitors during local trials.

    More than a decade after the Adnan entered service, it is unknown if Deftech actually has made any plans to upgrade or improve them in the near future. Unless and until Deftech can offer some improvements and conduct R&D on ways at offering an improved Adnan or its eventual successor; it will essentially be a company that licenses produces foreign designed stuff without offering the end user and the tax payer any added value; nothing to shout about. To be fair, the government shares a large part of the blame.

  4. I see. Is there any reason for your disapproval of the 6 wheeled Adnans? I would assume mechanically they are 99% similar to the standard versions so maintenance, et al, will be similar as well. Or logistical? But the extra road wheel length won’t make much of a difference.

    Reply
    I am not dissing the six wheel Adnan just the fact that we only bought 8 of them for the Thales mortar. The rest of the MIFV/Adnan are all the five wheel versions

  5. @Azlan
    “the AV-8 wasn’t selected because of its technical specs or because it outperformed its competitors during local trials”
    Are you sure about that? AFAIK at that time it was one of the first 8×8 that came factory fitted for STANAG 4569 Level 4 protection. Another could be the OEM willingness to fulfill the various versions that TDM required. Also being from a Muslim country helped boost its credentials (where there’s less likely chance for spareparts to be embargoed).

  6. There are many ways into mortar carrier vehicle. We have the quick and dirty, ghetto-tier solution like cutting a hull off an armored vehicle and put a 81mm mortar on it (because 120mm is gonna wreck the whole suspension without some kind of hydraulic recoil system) to the turreted mortar system like nemo or atmos

    Actually I like the ghetto mortar solution because of how simple it is and other than the Adnans, we could also apply such system to radpanzer condor and sibmas, which is a cost effective solution and a good alternative uses for both sibmas and condor.

  7. As a matter for consideration is that we should procure more 120mm mortars for the infantry battalions. We should not just allocate 1 or two tubes per battalion but issue at least 4 tybes of 120mm n 4 tubes of 80mm. Smaller 60mm mortars should also be issued down to platoon level

  8. joe – “Are you sure about tha”

    I’m very sure. The thing is, are you?

    Neither Adnan or the AV-8 were selected because of their technical performance or how they performed during local trials.
    Also a lot of the specs were not laid down by the end user but by the local industry. I’m not saying the AV-8 is a bad design; merely that had an objective/proper evaluation been carried out: it might not have been selected.

    joe – “Also being from a Muslim country”

    Turkey being Muslim and its willingness to allow license production were the key factors. No matter how one wants to spin it; Adnan and the AV-8 were not selected based on their merits but based on other factors : full stop/period. I’ve touched on this issue before; the same goes with many other things we bought: from the AUGs to Jernas to the PT-91. In the case of Adnan we never even trialed it in local conditions alongside other designs.

  9. dundun,

    One problem in employing the Sibmas and Condor as mortar carriers is that they might not have the mobility to keep pace with troops they are supporting, especially if those troops are moving in more agile and mobile AV-8s.

    Another issue is whether at this stage it’s a good return of investment to go through the trouble of converting the Sibmas and Condor. It can be done without breaking the piggy bank but whether it should is another matter.

    To me what platform is used as a mortar carrier is secondary. Of far more importance is how they’re distributed and how we go about locating targets and ensuring those in need of support get it on time with minimal delay.

  10. @ Lee Yoke Meng

    120mm mortars are really on the borderline of being a battalion fire support or a hardware that should reallg be under the command of the artillery regiment.

    I am someone who thinks that the 120mm mortar should really be under the artillery regiment.

    Right now the advantage of our adnan/gempita 120mm mortars is that it is more mobile compared to the towed 105mm howitzers. But if mobility is what we need for our mechanized forces, probably we can look at the hawkeye 105mm howitzer system.

    http://i.pinimg.com/736x/c3/f4/fa/c3f4fa05d41f82e2003319b2afe67212.jpg

  11. @ Lee Yoke Meng

    120mm mortars are really on the borderline of being a battalion fire support or a hardware that should really be under the command of the artillery regiment.

    I am someone who thinks that the 120mm mortar should really be under the artillery regiment.

    Right now the advantage of our adnan/gempita 120mm mortars is that it is more mobile compared to the towed 105mm howitzers. But if mobility is what we need for our mechanized forces, probably we can look at the hawkeye 105mm howitzer system.

    http://i.pinimg.com/736x/c3/f4/fa/c3f4fa05d41f82e2003319b2afe67212.jpg

  12. For me a 120mm mortar is useful in that is is organic to a brigade and on a “need to” basis, can be allocated to sub units. Whist a mortar can never take the place of artillery (it doesn’t have the penetrating power, range, reaction time or accuracy – smart rounds are expensive and will be used sparingly) it plays extremely vital/useful roles.

    I’m all for increasing the number of mortar carriers but the downside is that it also increases the logistical footprint. We also have to look at ways of ensuring we can restock our mortars and mustn’t assume that in any future conflict, ammo usage rates will be low.

  13. “I am someone who thinks that the 120mm mortar should really be under the artillery regiment.”

    We all long for the day when requests for inorganic fire support are 100% reliable and responsive, to the point that we don’t care where it comes from. Of course this will never happen no matter what progress we make in the field and as insurance, it’s good to have some form of fire support under one’s control.

    From a maneuver perspective, the idea is that the battalion commander knows better about the condition of his mortar company and knows better than his brigade commander or an artillery unit commander about the movements of his own maneuver elements, and as such knows better where to put the mortars to support his unit.

    By training regularly with his mortars, he gets to know their commanders and learns more about managing the abilities and limitations to get the most out of the asset.

    The’s also a standardisation advantage for artillery similar to when an all 155mm structure is adopted.

  14. @Azlan
    Well that’s a conundrum for any kinds of hardware, whether it be military or civilian, whether in Malaysia or even USA. Yes, they too share the same problem whereby outright superior hardware never does translate to outright wins. There are many factors at play and often those coming with the best balance of these factors and vehicle capability is the winner.

    If the Gempita can meet to TDM requirements, it really falls down to the said other factors that allows it to “outperform” the others. Like saying to pass that requirements it needs to score an A and to get that it has to achieve 90% rating, so if Gempita scored 90% it still passes despite other competitors maybe scoring 97-99% (FYI I am not privy to the evaluation scores of the 8×8 project so if you knew about it, then please share. Otherwise I stand that it had met those requirements).

  15. @…
    Would be a terrible idea to put an artillery piece onto a truck, even for a 105mm. The blast recoil will rapidly kill the suspensions. If we were to go that route, I would prefer Poly Tech’s Type 15P which mounts the lower recoil AH3 pack howitzer (Chinese copy of Mod 56 which we have).

  16. @…
    120mm mortars usually support a single battalion. They are not typically assigned to artillery because they are too short ranged to support more than 1 unit.

    We put ours where we do because we don’t have enough of them.

  17. The major advantage 120mm mortars have is that they are organic to the unit they’re supporting and can be more responsive by virtue of operating alongside those bring supported; enabled of course by their mobility.

    Artillery has to be able to keep pace with the units they’re supporting but depending on terrain and other circumstances; the lack of mobility of towed artillery may not be an issue. If anything it will probably be the range of 105mm guns (the standard M1 round has a maximum range of 20km but in reality guns will be firing at shorter ranges) that will be the limiting factor but this also depends on operational circumstances.

    Since we’re on the subject of mobility I wonder if the Artillery Directorate ever made up its mind whether it wanted a track or wheeled platform – trials were conducted on both. Interesting to speculate why we got the M109s : because they were available and inexpensive or mainly because it’s on tracks?

    If there’s still a requirement for wheeled platform that can be flown, this will result in 3 different 155mm guns operated.

  18. joe – “conundrum for any kinds of hardware, whether it be military or civilian, whether in Malaysia or even USA”

    There will always be a political angle when it comes to arms purchases but the situation here long became ridiculous. It’s one thing buying something that doesn’t completely meet one’s requirements and a completely different thing buying something that doesn’t at all meet one’s requirements …..

    The result is the end user not only failing to get the desired capability but also suffering numerous other problems in the process. Not to mention the taxpayer getting bugg****d. We have a long history of this and we haven’t or are unwilling to learn from our mistakes.

    joe – “not privy to the evaluation scores of the 8×8 project so if you knew about it, then please share. Otherwise I stand that it had met those requirements”

    They all met our requirements; whether the Rosomak, Pars or Piranha. They all performed reasonably well and each had their respective merits but that’s not the point as ultimately the
    AV-8 wasn’t selected based on its merits but based on political factors.

    The real question is which came closest to meeting our requirements (whether in mobility, maintenance, growth potential, etc) and which had advantages over the others that we felt would make a difference? Not only that but a lot of the specs – like the Adnan – were not laid didn’t by the army.

    Ultimately – just like with the Adnan, PT-91 and Jernas – if it had a choice the army would have gone for something else. In the case of the Adnan (which we never trialed alongside competing designs) we didn’t even seriously consider what the South Koreans could have offered as an alternative and in the case of the PT-91, the Armour Directorate recommended something else.

    AM – “We all long for the day when requests for inorganic fire support are 100% reliable and responsive”

    Yes and when people talk about the hardware most overlook the fact that to be effective artillery has to be structured properly and they have to be able to find targets and to hit what they fire at, on time – whether observed or unobserved.

  19. People put 155mm howitzers on a truck for decades and even use them to great effect. If theu could mount 155mm on a truck then 105mm is nothing

  20. Chua,

    120mm mortars support whoever they have too. Normally they are brigade level assets but are parcelled out when they are needed: whether in direct support of a battalion or a company.

    Placing them at battalion level makes sense but can significantly increase a battalion’s logistical footprint; especially if the battalion is not mechanised or lacks adequate transport.

    If mobility is needed and a IFV is seen as too expensive or something with a lighter footprint is desired, there are other ways apart from IFVs. The French have been towing their 120mms by VABs by decades and some fire 81mms from Bv206 trailer. The drawback of course is that crews are exposed but even in an IFV they still exposed due to the opened hatch.

    joe,

    I have no idea about the mechanics involved but armies have been mounting guns on lorries for ages. Current examples would include Archer and Caeser.

  21. @ joe

    Why do you comment when you dont even understand how the hawkeye 105mm technology works?

    @ chua

    105mm howitzers have the same max range as 120mm mortars. And it is assigned to royal artillery regiment. 105mm howitzer advantage is that it can be used for direct fire for targets as close as a few hundred meters. 120mm mortar advantage is that its shell is bigger.

    @ azlan

    The M106 it can be flown on the a400m

    http://i.imgur.com/rS2huMT.jpg

    If you are looking at lighter weight system that is maneuverable, probably something like the M777 or norinco AH4 replacing the G5 would fit the bill?

  22. Mounting any large recoil force on a truck is not a big issue provided there is adequate structural strengthening. Large impulse force must be channeled to the ground shunting the vehicle suspension via a separate hydraulically deployed mountings. This is not rocket science and trucks are only 5 percent price of the Gempita. As Stalin said… quantity is a quality by itself.

  23. There is insufficient 155 n 105 mm howitzers in our artillery organisations to support our armed forces. Its clearly insufficient to support all our forces thats in operations. And thats for counter insurgency warfare where the battery is split into individual guns to support an area.
    Thus our infantry had to depend on only 60mm mortars.
    So it makes sense to equip our troops organic mortars as support weapons maned by the support company. Currently the heaviest mortars used is the 81 mm. The firepower of a 81mm shell while powerful is not enough to break up enemies forming up for an attack. But 120mm shells is a different matter. Its the most frightening experience to go through a 120mm bombardment. Combined with the more vertical fall of the shell the blast radious of mortars are maximised.

  24. @ azlan

    To add to the french 120mm towed by VABs. The french puts the 120mm mortar and the 155mm howitzer mix in the same artillery battery.

    BTW if towed 120mm (rifled) mortar is what someone needs in the army, there are plenty of them discarded by USMC and can be had for free if you ask nicely.

  25. @ azlan

    To add to the french 120mm towed by VABs. The french puts the 120mm mortar and the 155mm howitzer mix in the same artillery battery.

    BTW if towed 120mm (rifled) mortar is what someone needs in the army, there are plenty of them discarded by USMC and can be had for free if you ask nicely.

  26. @…
    You do realised that Hawkeye is mounting a full size 105mm artillery on a Humvee which is no bigger than a civilian light truck (one size up from a pickup)? As compared to my comparison of mounting a lighter pack howitzer on the same platform?

    @Azlan
    Yes, I’m aware that Ceasar is based on a truck but albeit its on a heavy duty, reinforced truck. Comparison isn’t apples to apples.

  27. “They all met our requirements; AV-8 wasn’t selected based on its merits but based on political factors.”
    Well that’s the crux isn’t it? They all met those requirements some slightly better that others but did the best performer came with the best package? Perhaps it didn’t, I don’t know. It could be the AV-8 came with that said package so it won or like you said due to political factors.

    Ultimately as long it meets TDM requirements, I have no complaints if it wasn’t what they originally wanted. Its not like as if they required a Stanag 4569 L4 protected 8×8 and got shoved an Anoa 6×6.

  28. The main advantages of artillery is that they tend to be more accurate (guided mortar rounds will be used sparingly due to their price tags), their rounds arrive on target faster, have better “effective” (as opposed to “maximum”) range and have better penetrating performance (if the targets happen to be bunkers or other types of fortifications).

    It is for these reasons that some armies haven’t gone down the 120mm mortar route and for these reasons that arty and mortars can only complement but never replace one another. Apart from HE; one of the traditional roles for mortars is to lay smoke and illumination rounds – which our 60mms do; together with the Gustavs and Milkors.

    Mortars have the advantage of higher trajectory (more effective in certain types of terrain) and by virtue of having a much smaller footprint can be organic to units.

    In the late 1990’s we looked at towed 120mms for 10 Para but dropped the idea and got the Expals instead.. I’m surprised we bought what we did for Adnan as at one time the Bighorn was considered a leading contender. “Polis Hutan” had some 81mms, which like the ammo for the 90mms on their V-100/150s were never issued.

  29. @Azlan
    “Normally they are brigade level assets but are parcelled out when they are needed: whether in direct support of a battalion or a company.”

    120mm mortars are the biggest support weapon found organic to the infantry battalion. They are always employed in direct or close support of a battalion or under. Why? Mainly lack of range. That is why it’s not normal to have 120mm mortars in brigade-level general support missions, ie covering more than one battalion.

    @…
    “105mm howitzers have the same max range as 120mm mortars”

    Pack howitzers yes. Especially our 105mm Model 68s. But bear in mind they are obsolete and considered overly short ranged for a howitzer – which is the tradeoff they make for being more portable.

    Typically 105mm howitzers are 50%-100% longer ranged than 120mm mortars. Even so they are normally used in direct support rather than general support. However the differences of the 2 weapons are significant enough that 105mms are always Artillery branch, never infantry, unlike 120mm mortars.

    You will find that most (not all, there are notable exceptions) armies which employ the 120mm mortar, assigns them organically to the infantry battalion. Partly for the above functional reasons, also because they have lower logistics, training and manning requirements.

  30. @joe
    This is not new, whether in defence or in the whole of Malaysia. Nearly every level of Govt procurement in every sector has to run through Alibabas. I’m sure we all know this.

    @Zaidi
    Take a truck chassis. Add the stabilisation necessary to achieve the desired accuracy; add communications and fire-direction equipment – you are at 80% of the cost of a basic off-the-shelf mortar vehicle already. Add a little armour plating so the truck doesn’t die to machine-gun fire or a single shell fragments – that’s the rest of the cost.

    The Ukrainian or Arab militias try to fire mortars on makeshift mounts working out fire missions with pencil and paper. It’s barely as effective as playing with lastik.

  31. @ joe

    Hawkeye system is not “just” a normal full size 105mm howitzer!

    It is a howitzer with a new soft recoil technology. It is known as a “forward-recoiling” or “fire-out-of-battery” operating mechanism. What this means is that when the crew fires the gun, the barrel and breach move forward first. In principle, this momentum helps further cancel out the recoil, making the gun more accurate and otherwise suitable for mounting on lighter vehicles.

    US army is also currently doing reserch to incorporate the same technology for the 155mm howitzer.

    @ chua

    120mm mortars, if not partly automated like the 2r2m on the adnans and gempitas, are a little bit harder to load than the 105mm howitzer as it has to be loaded from the front of the tube (very high) instead of from a breech on the howitzer.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/M327_120mm_Mortar.jpg

    The french puts the 120mm mortars in the same artillery battery with its 155mm howitzers.

    There is also 2 types of 120mm mortar, one is smoothbore, another is rifled. Ours (as well as the USMC) is rifled.

  32. Then we need to discuss how we are going to use our artillery.

    What about our target aquisition, forward observers, command and control, use of handheld uavs?

    How can we use our artillery for counter-battery fire? Do we practice it? How is our own artillery avoid counter-battery fire?

    What about our artillery locating radars? Are we planning to recapitalise our ARTHURS? Have we practiced the use of radars to avoid being targetted by counter-battery fire or even anti-radiation missiles?

    How many types of scenario do we have in our use of artillery? I can see 2,
    1 with regional powers/neighbours with their own artillery, with the need to do counter-battery and our artillery to be always on the move.
    Another is fighting insurgents. The need to have accuracy, low colleteral damage, targets near to own troops.

    How about the logistics trail to feed the artillery units? Do we have special vehicles to follow our howitzers/mortars to supply the needed shells?

  33. Chua – “120mm mortars are the biggest support weapon found organic to the infantry battalion”

    They are normally the “largest” weapons organic to a brigade and are rarely organic to a battalion. Yes as indicated they are routinely used to support battalions (or even companies if there’s a need) but by and large they are brigade level assets; even if they’re allocated to battalions.

    joe – “Its not like as if they required a Stanag 4569 L4 protected 8×8 and got shoved an Anoa 6×6.”

    That’s not the point.

    The whole point of the discussion is the fact that our whole procurement system is highly flawed. Priority is not given to the end user but on national interests, including the local industry. The result is that the end user tends not to get the desired capability and the taxpayer’s ringgit is not put to optimum use.

    We can’t (maybe you can) go on the basis that it’s alright to select something based not on merits but in political factors, merely because it meets some of the requirements. What about the requirements it didn’t meet or the various features it has that the end user is not happy with? If we continue doing so we’ll never get out of the shit we’re in.

    joe – “aware that Ceasar is based on a truck but albeit its on a heavy duty. Comparison isn’t apples to apples.”

    ”Would be a terrible idea to put an
    artillery piece onto a truck“

    Well then do a better explaining what you mean: first you mentioned “trucks” and now you’ve clarified yourself with “heavy duty” ones. Not exactly an “apples to oranges” comparison but still not quite the same and sent out the wrong message to others

  34. ……

    The problem is we don’t know what direction the army is moving in and what progress it’s making in certain areas.

    I’ve voiced the opinion before that the Royal Artillery Corps structure hasn’t changed much since the 2nd Emergency and that perhaps (the hardware aside) hasn’t made the same level of progress other arms in the army have; with regards to modernisation.

    I’ve also stressed that having a howitzer is one thing; being able to acquire targets, to hit them on time and to integrate it with other elements are completely different things. Range and firepower is immaterial if we can’t hit what we aim at or if we’re unable to locate targets. How able are we in rapidly shifting fire? Can we have mass fire without having mass guns?

    I have no idea how many people in a platoon or section are qualified to call in artillery or how we go about assigning FOOs various units. Assumptions can never be made that any further conflict we’re faced with will be a low intensity one. If it was a high intensify one with high rates of ammo usage, are we up to the task of “feeding our hungry” howitzers and mortars? For that matter, how many firing ranges do we have that can take 155mm fire?

    Like all armies we cater for a variety of scenarios but are only able to focus on key ones. As it stands we do not foresee any state on state conflict in the near future but we still – as far as our financial resources allow – practice and have contingency plans to cater for the unexpected. For the various contingency plans we have – state on non state threat – arty has a role to play.

    No doubt if funding was sufficient there are various things the Royal Artillery Corps would like to do: as it stands the is a difference between what it would like to do and what it’s forced to do based on circumstances. Did we go for the M109s on the basis that they are cheap and available or because they were cheap, available and also tracked?

    Personally, with the exception of 10 Para, I’d equip the other arty units with only 155mms. Apart from costs, there are also logistic issues to factor however. I’m also of the opinion that the G-5s (like most other towed guns of that calibre)are too big and cumbersome; takes effort to lay and move them. Thus we should a look at something more “lightweight”. Others however claimed that the M777 was not robust enough. I’m not suggesting that a lighter gun would be able to be moved so fast as to avoid counter battery fire; no, merely that It would be easier to deploy. On ARTHUR, the fact that both are organic to an ASTROS regiment tells us something.

  35. @ azlan

    Yes there are so many variables in regard to our artillery regiments.

    ” Personally, with the exception of 10 Para, I’d equip the other arty units with only 155mms ”

    I am one who thinks we still need the 105mm as the 155mm is too much firepower for insurgency (like lahad dato or marawi) type of operations.

    I think we should have 1 105mm LG1 regiment for each division (1, 2, 4 and 5), with 1 more specifically for 10 para (total of 5 regiments)
    For 3rd division, 2 regiment of hawkeye 105mm (one for each brigade) plus 1 regiment M109A5+. 3rd division to be our fully mechanized formation.

    1 regiment of 155mm towed under western field army HQ, with another regiment under eastern field army HQ. I am also in favor of a lightweight towed 155mm gun to recapitalize the G5 rather than getting a wheeled SPH. The norinco AH4 looks very interesting.

  36. @Azlan
    “are rarely organic to a battalion”

    120mm mortars have been organic to the infantry battalion since WW2 until now. It was begun by Nazi Wehrmacht (ironically, using captured Soviet mortars) and popularised by Soviet doctrine – which means all the Soviet bloc and Soviet-trained armies followed suit.

    @…
    I did say there are notable exceptions.

    Heck, some armies have both – 120mm mortars assigned to the Artillery Corps and 120mm mortars assigned to the Infantry Corps. Sometimes the difference is due to the former being of self-propelled type.

    “Then we need to discuss how we are going to use our artillery.”

    Indeed. Herein lies the biggest difference between having the hardware; and training and practising every year with the people to operate it. And all the other support functions you mention.

  37. If lightweight and helicopter underslug capable 155mm howitzer is what we require, there is an even lighter special version of the Norinco AH4 has been offered.

    http://dingyue.nosdn.127.net/CG5woJs96e5E1evhyKrrQL4vLvZ8zbfD1lKe3hUUrbmc81489814879868compressflag.jpg

    This is the Norinco AHS-4, with an amazing 3.4 ton full combat weight. This can be underslung by the EC725, Nuri or Blackhawk. But of course with such a lightweight howitzer there must be some concessions compared to the 4.5 ton AH-4.

    Probably we could have 8 of the AHS-4, to be used for exceptional cases by the artillery regiment, as a complement to the AH-4.

  38. @Azlan
    “On ARTHUR, the fact that both are organic to an ASTROS regiment tells us something.”

    Excuse me if I’m mistaken, but isn’t ARTHUR assigned to its own regiment, 61st Artillery?

  39. @ chua

    The astros and ARTHUR regiments are now grouped under their own brigade, the Briged Artileri Rocket, RAD.

  40. @Azlan
    “What about the requirements it didn’t meet or the various features it has that the end user is not happy with?”
    Which was why I seek your clarification if AV-8 had met TDM requirements (when I say met, means to their needs of usage, mobility, protection, adaptability, lifespan, maintenance, cost, SLEP-pability). You said it did, but probably not in the context that I was thinking above. Anyways, if it didn’t meet the minimal level of these requirements then yes I agree that hardware we bought was unsuited and a waste of taxpayer money. But if it did meet the minimal levels of these requirements, then its not like it failed the evaluation. I fully agree that there are many more obvious examples of such lousy procurement lapses (I can think of NGPC), but I believe AV-8 is one of the better, more proper ones.

    “wrong message to others”
    Okay I admit that terminology I used was too general and open to different interpretation. Sorry about that. In my line of work, heavy duty trucks aren’t called trucks but prime movers, ‘trucks’ are more towards light to medium duty trucks, so my understanding for Ceasar platform is based on a prime mover.

  41. @…
    I see, thanks. I presume the brigade comprises 51, 52 and 61 regts?

    Re: 105mm

    Fantasizing here – although I do prefer 155mm myself, the advantage of the 105mm is that they can be carried by helicopter. If we are in the position to recapitalise and adopt the 155mm as standard for our artillery, it would still be useful to retain at least a regiment or three of 105mms, perhaps for use by the Paras.

    BTW, so what happened to the LG1s?

    Reply
    It’s coming after much storm over the tea cup

  42. …-“ use of handheld uavs“

    In an ideal world artillery regiments would have short to medium range UASs to provide an organic target acquisition capability at both a actual and operational level but when we’ve taken so long to get MALEs to safeguard our maritime domain (just a handful at that) to deal with present threats what hope is there that UASs will bought anytime soon for artillery units to deal with threats we’re not facing? Handheld ones would be more ideal for mortar crews and infantry given their shorter range and endurance.

    The irony of course is that that non state actors have long resorted to inexpensive off the shelf UASs (or drones if you’d rather) for target acquisition and surveillance whilst the combat arms of our army still haven’t any.

    …, – “How about the logistics trail to feed the artillery units?”

    I suspect we don’t and that ammo is shipped in standard soft skins as well as specially configured lorries fitted with cranes and such. To me that may not be such an issue; the main issue is having the required quantities of ammo and being able (by whatever means) to get it to those who need it in a timely manner, in wartime conditions.

    Another question that comes to mind is in the event of SME getting an emergency order; does it have some raw materials in stock to produce some quantity of ammo or will protection have to wait till raw materials are ordered and arrive from abroad?

    If I’m not mistaken we still have a requirement for a small number of lorry/truck mounted guns. The problem here is that we’ll have 3 different 155mms in service and that even transporting by air a single battery with crews and ammo will take “x” number of sorties which are in turn dependent on how many aircraft are available and required for the tasking.

    MIf the scenario is a limited threat one just requiring the lifting of a single battery or a troop of guns then fine but if it isn’t . Also, in the event of us assigning some 155mms to Sabah; there will be less of a need to air lift arty from West to East Malaysia.

  43. Chua,

    Useful to have but our context I’m not too sold on the underslung/air flown idea as it’s totally dependent on having adequate air lift at the right time.

    We should retain 105s for the Paras with the rest converting to 155s. Apart from higher procurements costs however; we also have to take into account that 155s require larger crews, larger towing vehicles (if towed) , uses more expensive ammo and are trickier to transport.

    The upside is the greater range (assuming we can locate and hit what we aim at), the greater flexibility offered by 155mm ammo, better penetrating power and larger blade radius.

    Another area we could look at is restructuring our arty regiments to make them more flexible and responsive.

  44. @ chua

    Yes the Briged Artilleri Rocket comprises of the 51,52 and 61 regiments. The brigade HQ is in KL though.

    IMO we should have probably 2 more 6x series regiment, one in each army field hq to support both east and west malaysian artillery units.

    On the 105mm. IMO the blast radius of the 105mm shell is just enough say to destroy a just a specific house in a village. A 155mm howitzer, in a scenario such as lahad dato or marawi is just too much. Not to say we dont need 155mm howtzers, but i think we dont need like 6 regiments of them. 2 towed 155mm regiments (1 in semenanjung, 1 in sabah/sarawak) plus 1 M-109A5+ regiment is ideal, along with the current 7 105mm regiments.

    I am thinking of the G5 replaced by the AH-4 (to equip 2 regiments), and if you really need your 155mm to be heli-lifted by our current helicopters, then a special stock of probably 6-8 AHS-4 to be kept for such special cases. The AHS-4 is a variant of the AH-4, so the operating procedures should be the same. Below is a photo gallery of the AH-4 (not AHS-4)

    http://m.imgur.com/gallery/SWu555r

    @ azlan

    Re: logistics trail

    There is no issue when we only practice static firing locations, where you have free time to just put your ammo creates beside your howitzer/mortar. But when you do shoot and scoot, where the adversary is actively hunting you down, a normal soft skin truck will be a liability. Each gempita/adnan 120mm mortar IMO need another gempita/adnan tagging along to carry extra rounds, to enable quick shoot and scoot operations.

    As for the PARA, i think we should try this setup for the LG-1 howitzer:

    http://pbs.twimg.com/media/D7RmeoEW4AEc8PC.jpg

  45. Most senior NCOs are trained to call un artillery support. There are two types of support. One is where the arty would DF certain points for bombardment. These spots would have zeroing shots fired n the point of impacts noted. A name would be given to each of the registered spots.
    Then there are the support needed in a firefight. This is very much easier now with GPS where ones position is given accurately. In my days our map reading has to be spot on. We need to give a GR in 8 number units to the artillery boys n they would then fire on that grid n the forward controller will call out corrections in 50 meter intervals. Once the fire is near enough or directly on the enemy the call for fire for effects would be given. On a good day the Arti would have a FFC following us n they would call in the fire n does the controlling

  46. joe – “but I believe AV-8 is one of the better, more proper ones”

    First we have to ask whether the AV-8 is being delivered on time, on budget and on spec before coming to any conclusions. With regards to “specs”, who in the first place wrote the specs and how much of the specs were actually written or specified by the end user?

    As to “meeting specs” and the results of trials conducted locally; if the army had its way the AV-8 would not have been selected; just like the case with the PT-91.

    Take note, the requirement or priority on the part of the government was not which design could offer the most ideal solution with regards to operational and financial considerations but which could meet some of the army”s requirements whilst also meeting other criteria’s.

    Real indications of how much of a success the AV-8 will be is if we order subsequent follow on batches with reduced prices and local content; and how able DEFTECH is in offering upgrades/ improvements in the coming years.

    We keep hearing about how capable the AV-8 is and the capabilities it offers by virtue of the different variants but has anyone bothered to ask or wonder what aspects of it that the end user is not happy with? Anyway, water under the bridge.

  47. @ azlan

    ” Anyway, water under the bridge ”

    Yes we have bought quite a massive number of the AV-8 Gempitas and like it or not, we should fully exploit its strengths and add more to fully equip our mechanized brigade. The same should be done with our PT-91M, Su-30MKM and Gowinds.

    As for the Gempita, IMO we should transform the 4 Briged Mekanize into a fully wheeled formation. That would maximise the speed and mobility of a wheeled platform. Another 2 infantry battalion worth of gempitas would complete the transformation with 1 cavalry and 3 infantry battalion all on gempitas. All of the tracked armour would then be concentrated in 1 armoured brigade, with 2 mbt regiments and 2 tracked infantry battalions. So the 3 Divisyen would be transformed into an all armoured formation, with 1 brigade of armour (tracked), 1 mechanized brigade (wheeled) and 1 motorized brigade (initially with condors, later with newer APC/MRAPs).

    On the various gempita variants, IMO we could convert all the gempita vingtaqs variant into a normal command variant. The vingtaqs IMO should be installed on a more smaller nimbler vehicle for recce.

    Off topic.

    India to buy 18 more new Su-30MKI

    MOSCOW, July 9. /TASS/. India’s Air Force will buy 18 Russian-made new Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov told reporters on Tuesday.

    “We have fully met our commitments on delivering all technological sets of Su-30MKI fighter jets and have received an additional bid for another 18 technological sets. The bid is being worked out,” Drozhzhov said.

  48. @Azlan
    “Real indications of how much of a success the AV-8”
    Agree on that although the large numbers in the first batch might meant this is all that we will get for now or any subsequent batches will not come anytime soon.

    “end user is not happy with?”
    Well nothing is perfect, not even US hardware. But is part of military strategy to maximise capability and minimise the weaknesses that ensures the best outcome.

  49. @…
    Agreed on your idea to have at least a rapid response fully mechanised brigade. With 400+ AV-8 and 300-400 remaining Condors (if we relife them), I see this is doable. One missing variant that Gempita sorely needs is a SHORAD version. Yes, there is the Weststar Rapid Rangers, but air defence personnel too needs adequate protection and the Weststar jeeps aren’t well protected enough for usage neither in a mechanised nor armoured brigade.

  50. joe- “Well nothing is perfect, not even US hardware”

    No but at least their hardware comes closer with regards to meeting end user requirements and at least the end user has a much greater say in determining what gets selected. At least the results of trials play a big part in the selection.

    ….,,

    No we should not get more
    PT-91s, at least not in the current form. We’ve had this discussion before. Any MBT we get in the future should have major improvements in terms of protection levels and a full “hunter killer” capability.

    As it stands the PT-91 is a pretty decent tank but it’s baseline protection level, reliance on older gen ERAs and the placement of rounds to feed the auto loader leaves it vulnerable and deficient when compared to others .

    Granted, we may not want a design as heavy as a Leo 2A6 (to use an example) but there are various ways we can go about it; depending on what we select. If we decide to stick with the Poles, one thing we should do is go for a bustle mounted loader.

    Yes we can fully upgrade the
    PT-91s but this will involve a lot of work and costs and might not be a good return of investment in the long run.

    ……. – “But when you do shoot and scoot, where the adversary is actively hunting you down, a normal soft skin truck will be a liability”

    Depending on the terrain also. If we’re operating in areas such as palm oil estates then yes but if we’re operating in urban areas or along the road network; then this will be less of an issue, with regards to ammo vehicles.

  51. Chua,,

    Not trying to be pedantic but at present 120mm mortars are mostly a brigade level asset and rarely organic to battalions.

    joe – “ air defence personnel too needs adequate protection“”

    Define “adequate” and in what context.

    The whole idea of placing AD systems on IFVs was for mobility, protection cane second. Some level of protection against splinters and small arms fire is great but AD units will never be placed in areas where they can be exposed to direct fire.

  52. P.S.

    ….,,

    On the resupply vehicles it would also depend on where we resupply the arty. Are we forced to do it under the threat of indirect fire or are we doing it some distance away? If we’re doing It with units that are in firing positions then there is always the possibility of danger but even then; the protection levels of whatever hard skin resupply vehicles we get will be (just like the M109s and mortar carriers) sufficient only against splinters.

    Better than nothing no doubt but the main value in armoured tracked resupply tracked vehicles will be in their mobility; their ability to go where combat units go and to keep pace.

  53. @Azlan

    “The irony of course is that that non state actors have long resorted to inexpensive off the shelf UASs (or drones if you’d rather) for target acquisition and surveillance whilst the combat arms of our army still haven’t any.”

    This. I always wondering why we not try to equip our troops with handheld UAS, even with just off-the-shelf models.
    Maybe when any actual conflict broke out, at that time only our military would resort to this.

    A question: Can our troops use personal drones that they bought in any operations at this time? I’m aware that usually professional military doesn’t allow their troops to personally record things during operations (exercise is different story), unless for propaganda, or evaluation purposes. Maybe they can ‘experiment’ with this, either personnel from a particular units bought it himself, or the unit sharing money and bought it for operational use; border patrol for example.

    “uses more expensive ammo and are trickier to transport.”

    What is the estimated cost for 155mm and 105mm ammo, if anyone know? Doesn’t have to be exact local price, even for other countries is fine(at least can know the price range). Always curious about this.

  54. I add my fantasy orbat too. Total recapitalisation to form a full armour division.

    150 new tanks, forming 3 regiments
    700 AV8s, forming 9 mech infantry battalions
    54 155mm SPHs,
    54 Astros 2020, forming total 6 artillery regiments

    Don’t worry, mixing tracks and wheels is acceptable. Everyone’s doing it.

    Budget: USD 5 billion.
    Timeline: 15-20 years.

  55. @Azlan
    I too am not being pedantic, but recognising what other armies are capable of and contrasting with ours. And no, it is more common than not to have 120mm mortars organic to the infantry battalion’s weapons/support company.

    Both the US and Russian armies operate 120mm mortars organic to the motorised and mechanised infantry battalions. That represents a large proportion of the firepower in the world. So does the PLA Army if I’m not wrong, which is natural as they began by following Soviet doctrine. So do many of the NATO and former Soviet-trained armies.

    And at least one of our neighbours…

  56. @Azlan
    “Define “adequate” and in what context.”
    Having an organic AD cover for the main brigade thrust meant the AD vehicles are just as susceptible to splinters, small arms fire, and even land mines as much as the ground combat AV-8s, so its important that our AD cover isn’t taken out first and leaving the main force open to air counterattacks. The Weststars are plentiful mobile but they won’t last very much long in an actively contested battlefield. Their role are better suited for rearguard AD cover, air protection for mobile bases, airfields & gathering points, possibly hunter-killer AD role but it takes a very skilled crew, with suitable terrain and a good window for targets of opportunity.

    The US Army have tried this with Avenger Humvees but they still see the need for Avenger Bradleys & now evaluating SHORAD Strykers.

  57. @ azlan

    ” No we should not get more
    PT-91s, at least not in the current form. We’ve had this discussion before ”

    Yes we had this discussion before.

    The issue is that we should look at the MBT requirement and funding within the overall army requirements. What is the order of importance of new developments? Some other needs

    1. Jernas replacement
    2. Smart soldier systems
    3. Condor reset/replacement
    4. 105mm howitzer replacement
    5. 155mm howitzer replacement
    6. ATGM (eryx, metis-m, bakhtar shikan) replacement
    7. Adnan reset/replacement
    8. MR SAM
    9. Gempita batch 2
    10. Others

    Budget is limited. What is the order of priority for the items above? Where does a new MBT sit in the order of priority?

    If money is unlimited, i would prioritise a new heavy IFV even if the adnan is still quite young. But we already have the adnan, and we probably need to use it at least for 20 more years before even thinking of a replacement.

    As for the MBT, the original preference was T-80UD. In the hindsight we are probably better off with the current PT-91M rather than the T-80UD. In the hindsight too, with the current emergence of medium tanks, IMO PT-91M is in a sweet spot between a heavy MBT and medium tanks. Light tanks, like the 35 ton pindad harimau, at most can just withstand 30mm cannon fire. Each of them cost more than usd6 million each. Getting more PT-91M, will be much cheaper than getting medium tanks.

    As the budget is limited, for RMK12, I forsee the biggest allocation for the army would be a 2nd batch for gempita. I dont see in 20 years time we will have the budget to have a new MBT, or new heavy IFVs.

  58. @ chua

    While having both wheeled and tracked vehicles is good, mixing both of them in 1 units usually is not. So best is to have 1 brigade of all tracked units, 1 brigade of mostly gempitas and 1 brigade of MRAP/APCs.

    My proposed orbat for 3rd Division (to be a fully mechanized division)

    3rd Division is based in West Malaysia.
    ?nd Royal Engineers Regiment
    3rd Division Workshop, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps
    3rd Division Artillery HQ
    2nd Royal Artillery Regiment (Kluang, Johor) Hawkeye 105mm J-LTV
    7th Royal Artillery Regiment (Kuantan, Pahang) Hawkeye 105mm J-LTV
    22nd Royal Artillery Regiment (Sikamat Camp, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan) M109A5+
    1st Armour Brigade (Sunggala Camp, Port Dickson)
    11th Royal Armour Corps (Syed Sirajuddin Camp, Gemas, Negeri Sembilan) 44 PT-91M 30 MIFV
    12th Royal Armour Corps (Sunggala Camp, Port Dickson) 44 PT-91M 30 MIFV
    14th Royal Malay Regiment (Syed Sirajuddin Camp, Gemas, Negeri Sembilan) 100 Adnan
    15th Royal Malay Regiment (Syed Sirajuddin Camp, Gemas, Negeri Sembilan) 100 Adnan
    4th Mechanised Brigade (Batu 10 Camp, Kuantan, Pahang)
    19th Royal Malay Regiment (Mech) (Lapangan Terbang Camp, Sungai Petani, Kedah) 70 AV8 28 J-LTV
    7th Royal Ranger Regiment (Mech) (Batu 5 Camp, Mentakab, Pahang) 70 AV8 28 J-LTV
    12th Royal Malay Regiment (Mech) (Daralockwood Camp, Kuantan,
    Pahang) 70 AV8 28 J-LTV
    505th Territorial Army Regiment (Mech) (Teluk Sisik Camp, Kuantan,
    Pahang)
    1st Royal Armour Corps (Batu 10 Camp, Kuantan, Pahang) 44 AV8 34 J-LTV
    7th Infantry Brigade (Mahkota Camp, Kluang, Johor)
    5th Royal Malay Regiment (Batu Tiga Camp, Kluang, Johor) 70 AM4 28 J-LTV
    10th Royal Malay Regiment (Bukit Banang Camp, Batu Pahat, Johor) 70 AM4 28 J-LTV
    6th Royal Ranger Regiment (Ulu Tiram Camp, Johor bharu, Johor) 70 AM4 28 J-LTV
    501st Territorial Army Regiment (Tebrau Camp, Johor Bharu, Johor)

    The AM4 is just a placeholder for condor replacement, to cost less than USD1 mil each.

    JLTVs to be the support vehicle for cavalry regiment and motorized battalions.

    Armoured regiment composition
    42+2 PT-91M
    24 MIFV (for recce upgraded with soucy rubber tracks)
    6 MIFV Ambulances

    My spending list for 15 years

    RMK12 2021-2025 USD1.1bil
    169 AV8 Gempita batch2 0.5
    225 J-LTV 0.1
    80 PT-91M batch2 0.2 refurbished used PT-91 include upgrade batch1
    12 UH-60 blackhawk used 0.1 replacement for nuri
    150 Polaris DAGOR A1 0.03 10PARA
    30 ZBD-03 IFV 0.06 10PARA
    20K SOLDIER SYSTEMS 0.1

    RMK13 2026-2030 USD1.1bil
    450 AM4 APC/MRAP 0.3
    225 J-LTV 0.1
    36 CAMM 0.25 (replacement for Jernas)
    20K SOLDIER SYSTEMS 0.1
    90 LG-1 105mm 0.1
    40 Hawkeye 105mm J-LTV 0.1
    4 Vera-NG ESM 0.05
    60 LIG Nex1 Chiron MANPAD 0.05 (replacement for IGLA)
    72 LIG Nex1 Raybolt ATGM 0.05 (replacement for ERYX, Metis-M)

    RMK14 2031-2035 USD1.1bil
    50 155mm AH-4 Towed Howitzer 0.2
    16 HQ-16 MR-SAM 0.3
    20K SOLDIER SYSTEMS 0.1
    ?? Electronic Warfare 0.2
    Others?

  59. ….., – “Where does a new MBT sit in the order of priority”

    Yes we’ve had this discussion before and the present discussion was based on the premise that we’re getting follow on MBTs.

    As it stands there is no likelihood of us actually doing so anytime soon but if we do in the coming years; logic would dictate that whatever we buy should have major improvements over the
    PT-91s; in terms of protection, growth potential and other areas.

    The original preference – based on performance and what KDMB could offer – was the T-84. KDMB also had on offer a 120mm variant with a bustle loader (meant for the Middle East market) but this was never offered to us. DEFTECH actually was pushing the T-84 first in the 2001-2002 period but the Poles has offered us T-72s as far back as the mid-90’s when they had a tie up with another local company.

    On Adnan, ideally DEFTECH with the army, should have started feasibility studies on adding improvements to Adnan before even thinking of a replacement.

  60. On light or medium tanks I really don’t see a need for them in our context. Granted some see a need for them because they can be air transportable or because of the need for a platform to operate in areas with very poor road infrastructure.

    The use of light/mediums tanks is based on the premise that they won’t come into contact with heavier tanks and that if they do, they can avoid contact (hit avoidance) and rely on supporting arms for support.

    We were offered the Vickers Mk3 in the 1990’s armed with a 105mm gun and fitted with ERA. As an alternative to a MBT we were offered Rooikat, Centauro and CV90 (armed with a 120); trialled here.

  61. @ azlan

    ” the present discussion was based on the premise that we’re getting follow on MBTs ”

    In your opinion, how can we afford a follow-on mbt and when? What type of MBT do you prefer as a follow-on to the PT-91M and why?

  62. For reference, recent cost of brand new MBTs

    Romania – Leopard 2A7

    Oman – K2 black panther

    Morroco – M1A1 refurbished

    Vietnam – T-90

    Thailand – VT-4

    Reply
    Sorry I have to delete the links apart from one as links do slow down my system. For others please use Google to search for the references.

  63. ……

    As long as it offers vast improvements over the PT-91 and it’s something that has growth potential; I’m not really bothered what we buy. What we buy will also depend on the time frame; at minimum 5-6 years away, if that.

    Sticking to Bumar Laberdy might make sense if they can offer us something with a bustle loader but even then we’ll have to look elsewhere for ERAs that are effective against KE rounds.

    A lot also depends on the Armour Directorate. Will it decide that a heavier design is a penalty it’s willing to pay, for higher level of protection? A slightly heavier design will not be a major issue as long as it has adequate engineering support. Or will the Armour Directorate decide that it wants something that doesn’t totally rely on ERA modules? The downside is there’s no alternative to APS but fitting every MBT with an APS will cost. Yes we can go for a cheaper non Western APS
    but will it perform? Will we even trial it?

    Prices aside (we are talking about this happening years from now) Turkey and South Korea are always a possibility. On paper there’s always the possibility of buying Chinese; under the present government this is unlikely but who knows what can change in a few years?

    Anon,

    Easy on paper, harder in reality. Not impossible of course but not easy either.

    First the level of power supply will have to be increased to cater for the APS. Mounting the APS will also mean that the ERA modules will have to be realigned. Thirdly, space will have to be found in the turret to mount the APS’s controls. There is hardly any space left as it is.

    Apart from a APS there are other areas in which the PT-91 can/ should be improved, including doing zone things originally wanted to but couldn’t due to costs. The question is whether it’s a good return of investment. Should we spend the cash to do so on a design that has reached the limit of its growth potential or should we just wait until the time comes when we can get a replacement? Whenever that is.

  64. @…
    “While having both wheeled and tracked vehicles is good, mixing both of them in 1 units usually is not. So best is to have 1 brigade of all tracked units, 1 brigade of mostly gempitas and 1 brigade of MRAP/APCs”

    Organisationally and strategically it’s neat, but operationally a mix of tracks and wheels is called for. The tank is merely a supporting arm to the wheels, and the brigade has flexibility in having a variety of assets. Which is why some countries (UK and Aus) are okay with the idea. Especially in the case where budget is a problem, unless you also spring for a Gempita-on-tracks AFV, this is what you have to live with.

    @…
    “For reference, recent cost of brand new MBTs”

    No more Leopards are available.
    Black Panther is a possibility.
    The remaining 3 depends on which superpower one wants to suck up to.

    Personally I feel the Russkies provide the best value for dollar. But of course there is the whole MH17 and sanctions issue.

    We could go Korean and I believe PH has been leaning that way in other trade areas, but not in defence that I know of. They have LOTS of defence equipment we could buy for Army, Air Force and Navy.

  65. joe – “ The Weststars are plentiful mobile but they won’t last“

    It depends entirely on the context.

    AD systems by and large are not meant to be placed in positions where they can be under fire. The main criteria when it came to motorising/mechanising AD systems was mobility. It also depends on whether you are talking about AD systems that are intended to accompany armoured/mechanised units in combat or AD systems that are intended to be placed slightly to the rear – different armies have different approaches.

    The Brit’s have Starstreak on Stormers but these are intended to be placed slightly in the rear, not on the edge of frontlines. Same approach was adopted with the Americans placing Stinger on HUMVEES but a different one was adopted for the cancelled Sergeant York; plus Gepard and Shilka. Also note that unlike MBTs and IFVs whose weapons are projected: AD missiles and their radars/alerting devices are often not; though their crews are.

    Do we have a need for a AV-8 AD variant? I’ve long thought so but this doesn’t entirely do away with the utility of AD systems mounted on a non armoured platform.

    As far as mobility goes, if a 4×4 has to accompany units in areas such as a palm oil estate then mobility will be an issue. If however it was deployed in areas with roads or urban areas then its lack of mobility compared to a tracked platform won’t be much of an issue.

    joe -“takes a very skilled crew, with suitable terrain and a good window for targets of opportunity”

    Actually it takes not only skills but early warning, i.e. alerting devices, whether passive or otherwise.

    Petra,

    I don’t have prices but at least double the price. Then you’d also have to add the prices for charges and things like that.

    With regards to handheld UASs, yes they’re many things we can do but it really depends on how much of a focus the army’s leaderships makes it.

    Chua – “Don’t worry, mixing tracks and wheels is acceptable. Everyone’s doing it”

    Having both is justifiable but armies rarely mix both in the same units given that both have different mobility levels. Having a wheeled recce AFV organic to a mechanised unit is fine as the recce platform operates independently but having wheeled IFVs to operate alongside tracked ones is not a good idea.

  66. @ marhalim.

    Sorry for the links.

    @ azlan

    On PT-91 upgrades.

    To have a bustle loader means a totally new turret, so far the only one is the ukrainian turret on the PT-17. IMO it will cost a lot, so would it be worthwhile?

    Currently the ERA is the 1st layer of protection for the pendekar. Adding APS means the ERA will be the 2nd layer after the APS. Leaving the ERA as is (probably rearranging a few tiles) while adding APS is not a bad thing in the overall scheme of things.

    I am interested with the chinese GL5 APS, as it has quite a good standoff distance and is available for sale. The most capable western APS is haram for us, turkey still have not made a capable one and just buys ukraine Zaslon-L for now, korea so far still havent designed one yet.

    Other items that could be improved
    – commander panoramic sight.
    – auxillary power unit
    – surround cameras
    – rear slat armor
    – 0.50cal RCWS
    – mine rollers

    @ chua

    Used leopard 2 are gone. Brand new ones are still available for sale. Those for romania are brand new.

  67. Chua -“Russkies provide the best value for dollar”

    Everything the Ruskkies can offer comes with a carousel loader. That is the main problem – the placement of unprotected rounds and charges on the turret floor and sides and the danger of those igniting in event of a turret penetration.

    After decades of near total reliance on ERAs the Russians have taken a different approach. Armata will still have ERAs but the baseline level of protection has been increased by use of appliqué/ceramic type armour.

    As it stands Armata will be bought in limited numbers and the T-90 will remain Russia’s main type for years to come. The Russians do produce very capable KE rounds – the ability of a shell to achieve penetration is dependent not only on the target’s level of protection but also the quality of the shell.

    Armies do indeed operate mix tracked/wheeled platforms but they tend to be grouped separately and operate separately; due to their different mobility levels.

  68. As long as russia still churns out the T-90, there will be spare parts and upgrades for all tanks based on the T-72 (that includes the PT-91M).

    The ability of the shell to achieve penetration also depends on how high the propellant explosion pressure the gun can withstand. I believe the 2A46MS gun of the Pendekar has a higher gun pressure than normal russian 125mm guns.

    Reply
    But did we buy the rounds to make use the advantage of the gun?

  69. Historically, tracked vehicles have exceeded wheeled vehicles in off-road mobility and protection levels, but recent wheeled vehicles have been getting very good at both.

    If your wheeled APCs have the desired protection levels and can keep up with your tracked vehicles in your operating environment, then there is no reason your unit must be all wheeled or all tracked.

  70. The koreans do have aps system. If i am not wrong, the turks have also developed one based on the korean design. Turks have also another aps based on ukranian design

  71. @…
    Not sure about the Leos. Since even the Bundeswehr had to buy back some old stock. Are you sure the Romanians got brand new Leo’s? Not remanufactured?

    @Azlan
    SEE Australian, French, UK brigades. Technology has advanced and changed what was formerly unacceptable. Modern wheeled AFVs have a different set of advantages and disadvantages that are competitive with tracked AFVs.

    The latest T-series tanks are still under 50 tons and quite effective. The T-90 ammo storage and autoloader is armoured, it may not be as vulnerable as the T-72s.

    Anyway just having fun here yeah.

  72. ……

    When we bought the PTs we got 1980’s era Soviet ammo produced in Bosnia that were intended to defeat the frontal arcs of tanks from the 1980’s. Our ability to penetrate the armour of current generation designs will depend largely on the quality of the shell. Which is why armies spend so much time and effort into developing and paying for them.

    Of course adding a bustle loader will require a new turret which is why I keep stressing that a full upgrade might not be a good return of investment. Be better off investing the funds towards a new design.

    As I said, if the Poles can offer us an improved or new design with a bustle loader as well as improvements in overall survivability, ergonomics, growth potential, etc, it’s something we could consider; especially if we want to remain in a certain weight category but will they be other takers for this design or will we be the only one? Will we still see the need to modify the tank with various components sources from various suppliers, resulting in a long supply chain? On paper, when it comes to long term R&D, the need for less modifications; as well as a larger user base; the Turks and South Koreans come out ahead of the Poles.

    Traditionally (before the advent of APSs) ERA was the “main” means of defence. Which is why the Soviets saw less of a need for designs with a higher level of protection. An APS provides protection against missiles and such but the thin levels of baseline protection of Soviet/Russian designs means that ERA is still the main means of protection against KE and chemical energy rounds.

    As such ERAs and a APS complement each other against different threats rather than being different layers of protection. The problem with ERA is that once modules have detonated, that area is unprotected; until replacement ones are fitted.

    The smoke discharges play a part but are not useful if an opponent has thermals. We can also add other stuff like Shotra (mainly useful against older gen SACLOS missiles) and others if we want to consider the means of protection a tank can have.

    There is no question that parts for the T-72 series are widely available and will be for a long time to come but then if we get a newer tank to replace the PT, it won’t be because of a lack of spares but for other reasons.

    Certain aspects of the T-72 which leaves it deficient in capabilities (even when upgraded) compared to others: were part and parcel of Soviet philosophy when it came to tank design during the Cold War : based on “hit avoidance” and something they calculated would have a very brief life span has the Cold War became “hot”. With the Arnata the Russians have gone on a different direction.

  73. @Azlan
    “It also depends on whether you are talking about AD systems that are intended to accompany armoured/mechanised units in combat”
    Well that depends on the function of a fully mechanised brigade (if it happens).
    My take is they would be the assault spearhead and likely would encounter hostile aircrafts/ choppers. The AD cover would be somewhat in the back but not by much to ensure earliest takedown of hostile airforce. Hence the battlefield they roll into would still be contested by remaining enemy infantry, subjected to long range arty fire, and landmines or IED not yet cleared. The SHORAD system that is trialing on Stryker is using a combi of Stingers, Hellfires, & 30mm gun with its own radar, so quite comprehensive armaments to cover all short AD aspects. When even the US Army is considering a tactical AD role, this is something to consider.

    “doesn’t entirely do away with non armoured platform.”
    No it doesn’t. I did mention they still have a role just not near an active battlefield. Well, at least not in my envisioned mechanised brigade role.

  74. Oh and another variant that AV-8 should have is mine clearing/battlefield engineer role. One with mine rollers/plow to clear mines and short range howitzer to clear obstacles.

  75. @ chua

    Yes Romania will get brand new leo 2a7, as is Hungary and probably a few other european countries.

    @ azlan

    The chinese GL5 is designed to also defeat KE rounds, as is the Trophy. APS, like ERA is also limited by its rounds, and need to be replaced/reloaded.

    Every tank has its weaknesses. The 60 ton weight of the Leo 2 can also be a weakness in asia pacific conditions. In most probability our tanks would be mostly used to support our infantry, there is low possibility that we would engage in a large scale tank warfare on our soil. Know when to use your tanks, know when to use your ATGM and RPG teams, know when to call for 155mm strike on massed armour formations, having “just” PT-91Ms can be workable.

    If having parity to our southern neighbour is your aim, it really can’t be done, with our misrable budget. Our MBT, our tracked IFV, our MRCA,it will need massive amounts of budget just to catch up. Even if we arguably do have something good, like gempita and Su-30MKM, we dont have them in the quantity that our southern neighbour has.

  76. @ chua

    ” SEE Australian, French, UK brigades”

    – aussies plan for an all tracked main force (M1 mbts and tracked ifvs), with the wheeled boxers as fast moving recce units.

    – the french are not mixing up their tracked and wheeled force.

    – UK is, and right now in many opinion is how not to do your orbat.

  77. At last found pictures of airdrop test of the J-LTV. At less than USD0.5 mil each, it would be a great addition to our cavalry and mechanized units, as a recce vehicle with VINGTAQs mast, fire support vehicle, ATGM, hawkeye 105mm howitzer, even as a new platform for the Starstreaks.

    http://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/army-jtti/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/03/15113309/JLTV_20180226_PM_CMO044.jpg

    http://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/army-jtti/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2019/03/15114229/JLTV_20180226_AM_JLF012.jpg

  78. ….. – “ IMO it will cost a lot, so would it be worthwhile”

    If it makes a difference between your tank suffering catastrophic damage with dead crewmen or a tank suffering damage but still able to operate; yes it is “worthwhile”. Given that it’s proven beyond doubt that the carousel loader (or rather the placement of rounds to feed it) leaves a tank very vulnerable and that even the Russians are moving in another direction with Armata; us in a few years buying a new gen tank with a carousel loader would be sheer folly.

    ….. – “Leaving the ERA as is (probably rearranging a few tiles) while adding APS is not a bad thing in the overall scheme of things”

    It’s indeed not a bad thing given that it’s the only thing that has a reasonable chance of stopping a top attack missile. Given that the top part of the turret is already cramped with the panoramic sight, fixed sight, MG mount, wind sensor and other things; adding an APA will almost certainly mean that rearranging of ERA modules and perhaps even removing some to make room.

    Chua – “Modern wheeled AFVs have a different set of advantages and disadvantages”

    Irrespective of how modern, wheeled platforms are, they are not as mobile as tracked ones and can’t maintain pace; which is why armies seldom operate them together in the same sub unit. They may exist as part of the same unit but are rarely organised in the same sub unit for the main reason that both have different mobility levels and that if needed both can’t maintain a certain pace. Not too mention the fact that wheeled platforms are less survivable. Even without engineering support there are very few places a 50 tonne tank can’t go; the same can’t be said of a wheeled platform, irrespective of how modern or mobile.

    Chua -“The T-90 ammo storage and autoloade is armoured, it may not be as vulnerable as the T-72s.

    No…….. Unlike Western designs in which all the ammo and charges are stored in armoured blow out panels, ammo and charges in the T-72/T-90 are placed on the turret sides and floors which is why we’ve seen pics of T-72s without their turrets in a number of conflicts, because they are vulnerable in the event of penetration in the turret.

    I’m not suggesting that Western tanks are invincible, far from it but they’re certainly far more survivable. Numerous cases exist of crews that still survived – in Iraq and Lebanon – even though their tank had been penetrated; because the ammo wasn’t unprotected. The loader BTW has a metal top plate to protect against spalling but the rounds that are not in the loader are placed on the sides and floor of the turret.

    In Iraq and Lebanon; most M1s and Merkavas that were knocked out were eventually placed back into service, only a few were a total loss and even that, it was mostly to massive IEDs. Compare that to the many T-72s in Iraq, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Georgia and Syria that were total write offs.

  79. @ azlan

    ” us in a few years buying a new gen tank with a carousel loader would be sheer folly ”

    Buying additional PT-91 is not “buying a new gen tank”. It is adding to what we already have. To buy a new gen tank, even to replace the current PT-91M 1 to 1 would cost at least USD600 million. If we want to raise a 2nd tank regiment, that is at least USD1.2 billion overall. Something IMO could be spent on other items for the army.

  80. …..

    All tanks have weaknesses, none are invincible but is that the point of the discussion?

    No I’m not talking about tanks in the context of Singapore; why even bring this up? Have I ever given any indication that we should do things based on the need to counter Singapore? You mentioned quantity. The Sings by the way not only have a numerical edge but also a qualitative one; in terms of how they’ve integrated all their assets to work as one.

    MBTs are untended to operate as part of combined arms units, to manoeuvre and deliver firepower;
    not merely to support infantry. Regardless of the possibility of meeting other tanks, regardless of what we plan and how “smart” we are; our tanks have to cater for the eventuality they might meet other tanks in combat….

    As it stands our PTs are deficient in several areas where compared to tanks operated by our neighbours. There’s a big question mark about their ability (using present ammo) to penetrate the frontal arcs of tanks which have been uparmoured, they have ERA designed in the 1980’s primarily against chemical energy rounds, they don’t have a 24 hour hunter killer capability, they have no protection against top attack munitions (unless you have faith in ERAWA), they have little growth potential left and they have a 70’s designed loader which is its Achilles heel (because of the placement of rounds not in the loader); which even Russia has ditched on Armata and is a reason why KDMB came up with a bustle loader in the early 2000’s.

    If you still feel otherwise or feel that when the time comes (in a few years or more) that we should still stick to PTs because they may be “workable” in our context; I’ll leave you to it.

    Again – yes tanks are not a priority and are years away from being bought but the discussion was on a successor for the PTs and what we may or may not get when the time comes.

    joe,

    I’ll stick to what I said : by and large AD systems are not meant to be in direct fire. If an AD system is mounted on a tracked platform which is armoured; the main reason is for the mobility provided. Protection comes second.

    Even with mechanised units; tracked AD systems are intended to accompany combat elements into combat, to provide an integral and responsive AD capability but they tend to still loiter or operate some distance back.

    Chua,

    On weight, I’ve never completely bought the argument that lower weight (ground pressure also plays a very vital part) should be a determining factor as history has clearly shown (whether in Vietnam, or Africa) that tanks can operate almost everywhere with proper engineering support.

    In our case, the rapid urbanisation that has taken place has resulted in much more tank “friendly” areas compared to the late 1990’s when a decision was made to adopt a Russian design because of its weight.

    To those who still insist otherwise : if “heavy” tanks can’t be operated in our conditions, the Sings would never have bought Leopards. Similarly, although based in Java, TNI-AD Leos are intended to be operated along the East Malaysian/Kalimantan border, an area with poor road infrastructure and restrictive terrain.

  81. … – “APS, like ERA is also limited by its rounds, and need to be replaced/reloaded”

    Yes but? The difference is that there’s currently no alternatives to APSs when it comes to dealing with top attack munitions. There are alternatives to ERAs: whether by going for a better protected tank or going for a tank that relies on both ERAs and a high level of baseline protection supplemented by add on armour.

    …., – Buying additional PT-91 is not “buying a new gen tank“

    Look at the context of what was written.

    “New generation” in the context that we’re buying something a decade or more after the PTs. Something that should offer improvements; even if it’s still based on T-72/PT-91.

    …. – “Something IMO could be spent on other items for the army”

    You are entitled to your opinion. The only reason tanks entered the equation is because of what you previously wrote –

    “add more to fully equip our mechanized brigade. The same should be done with our PT-91M, Su-30MKM and Gowinds.

    That is how this thread progressed from mortars to MBTs. As it stands a MBT buy is years and years ahead and the longer it takes; there is less of a possibility that we’ll get an improved PT variant or even go back to the Poles for some different design they may have.

  82. @ azlan

    ” There are alternatives to ERA ”
    When you add APS, why still talk about alternatives to ERA??

    ” Look at the context of what was written ”
    I have clearly said ” add more (gempita) to fully equip our mech brigade, same should be done to PT-91M ” It is you who are out of context, talking about getting new tanks when I am talking about adding PT-91 in very near future at costs that we can afford (USD200 mil)

  83. @ azlan

    When you talk about deficient, you are comparing with our neighbours. Isnt singapore our neighbour too?

    On the PT-91M deficiency

    ” There’s a big question mark about their ability (using present ammo) to penetrate the frontal arcs of tanks which have been uparmoured ”
    Buy new ammo then.

    ” they have ERA designed in the 1980’s primarily against chemical energy rounds”
    Why i suggest adding APS

    ” they don’t have a 24 hour hunter killer capability”
    Add panoramic commander sight.

    ” they have no protection against top attack munitions (unless you have faith in ERAWA)”
    I dont think any current tank armour can defeat top attack munitions, even LEO 2SG.

    ” they have little growth potential left”
    Russia is still upgrading and building theirs. Still plenty of upgrade paths available. New turrets with 120mm bustle loader is available, 125mm turret with bustle storage of extra rounds is also available (T-90MS tagil), plenty of powerpack options, add on armor etc etc

    ” they have a 70’s designed loader which is its Achilles heel (because of the placement of rounds not in the loader); which even Russia has ditched on Armata and is a reason why KDMB came up with a bustle loader in the early 2000’s ”
    Yes it is an achilles heel. But can be mitigated with the addition of APS and correct use of the tank in a conflict. Same can be said for the optics placement in Leo 2A4/2SG, which is the thinnest and most vulnerable part of its turret. The cost to build new turrets without the cutout for optic like 2A6s are very expensive even for a country like singapore, and they choose to live with it.

  84. @Azlan
    Well I guess we can agree to disagree. I still stand that if the US Army had see fit to develop Bradley & Stryker SHORAD platform, it is because its from their war experiences with using unarmoured Humvees in roles that brings it into conflict on the ground.

  85. Chua – “We could go Korean”

    Anything can happen but we can rule out certain options; we’ll never get Leopards, Britain and France can be ruled out; Russia (the sanctions and politics aside) can offer only T-90s and export derivatives (Armata won’t be exported for a long time yet) and Pakistan is unlikely (Khalid is a Chinese tank).

    So that leaves the Ukraine, China, Turkey, Poland and South Korea. The Ukraine in a few years will be in a better position to export; it traditionally has had an indigenous production and R&D capability and it had – on paper – a bustle loader (for customers who wouldn’t touch the carousel loader with a barge pole) and a 120mm option. China is an unknown quantity with regards to local politics. Its advantage is it can undercut everyone but high end Chinese stuff might not be that cheap and even if cheap; prices will go up if we add non standard stuff. It also produce decent ammo and all the various components from APSs to ERA.

    If it fails to get any exports in the next few years Bumar Laberdy’s status remains to be seen. They can offer us an improved PT variant or something else very different but there is always the political element. That leaves Turkey and South Korea. Both are in a better position to offer offsets; safe to also say that both will be more progressive with regards to R&D and what they offer will have a larger user base.

    What they offer us will also require less modifications compared to if we chose Polish again (with the PTs we got a small number of tanks, extensively modified with various components from various suppliers; resulting in a long supply chain). Prices will be a factor with the Turks and Koreans but we are after all talking about a few years time and there may be certain things we can do to bring down prices.

    Apart from politics and finances a lot will also depend on the Armour Directorate. Times have changed since we decided on a Russian design for its weight back in the late 1990’s. After operating the PTs (being aware of its limitations) and looking at the direction neighbouring countries have taken; the army’s position might change.

    Remains to be seen if it still wants a 125 gun, again limits it’s options by sticking to a certain weight category, wants to still rely on ERAs or goes for alternatives like employing just a mix of ERAs with the rest of the tank protected by add on armour or goes for something with a higher baseline level without ERA.

    What we buy should be something we can afford to buy in numbers (at least 2 battalions worth to equip a brigade), will be something contemporary incorporating all the latest advances in technology and design rather than something first originally designed in the 1960’s (driven by Soviet Cold War requirements and philosophy -which the Russians have now ditched) and will have growth potential to enable us to operate it for at least 20 years or more.

    Now that the army has got its IFVs, SPHs, 105mm guns and Starstreak; will be interesting to see what its priorities are next.

  86. @joe
    The timeline of the US Army’s interest in SP-SHORAD is important.

    Bradley Linebacker was developed to fight the USSR, but was replaced by Humvee Avenger. Stryker Avenger is only a proposed variant still, and part of the problem that it solves is that Humvee can’t keep up with Stryker over the same terrain.

    BTW anti-drone defence is now the big thing. Google “USMC CLaWS laser” for something very, very interesting.

    @…
    “the french are not mixing up their tracked and wheeled force.”

    The interim Aus, current French and USMC orbats mix wheels and tracks, with tanks as support for the wheels. Leclerc has been operating alongside VBCI since 2015 and will continue into the future. As I said, unless we shell out for a tracked IFV like other armies are doing, we’ll have to do the same. There’s no point relying on Adnan/KIFV just because we’re unwilling to be flexible.

    Which is where the choice boils down actually – Adnan or Gempita.

    @Azlan
    Modern wheeled IFVs have lower ground pressure and are much more versatile now. Yes, I know the previous paradigm was different; but things have changed.

    I cited T-90 specifically because it has an ammo bustle and the autoloader is reportedly armoured. So it is better protected than the 72-series. Is it as good as M1/Leo? I don’t know. But

    It’s good not to have tanks which are overly reliant on engineering support. But then as you say, the Singaporeans are confident of operating their Leos, so…
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Re: your last comment, agree with your political analysis as always.

    “will be interesting to see what its priorities are next.”

    If I were Army I’d want to focus on datalinks, more Gempita, and improving infantry capabilities – I’m sure you all know I think ATGMs are a critical requirement.

  87. ….. – “Isnt singapore our neighbour too?”

    You are cherry picking and going in another direction.

    Our PTs are inferior to Leos operated by Singapore but the context was not about going against Singapore per see. Which is why I questioned the reason you’d even bring it up.

    ….. – “Buy new ammo then”

    Somehow I knew you’d say that.
    Buying new ammo rectifies a problem but doesn’t rectify other issues with the PTs.

    …. – “Why i suggest adding APS”

    Firstly, it wasn’t you per see but also others who also saw a need for APSs. Secondly, there is a need for both APSs and ERA as both do slightly different things.

    ….. -“Add panoramic commander sight”

    There is already a panoramic sight and it’s not the lack of such a sight that prevents a full hunter killer capability. Also, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, merely adding stuff to the PT is not as simple as it sounds. Not impossible but not simple to the extent it might worth the effort. In the long run buying new would be a much better rerun of investment.

    ….., – “I dont think any current tank armour can defeat top attack munitions, even LEO 2SG”

    Please stick to the plot. Nobody suggested so and you’ve brought up the same thing before.

    The primary purpose of the APS is to defeat top attack munitions. Yes it can engage other threats but the primary purpose is against top attack stuff. Hardening the turret roof is done to protect against mortars rounds and such: which is why some hatches have been so armoured that they gave to be power operated. Nobody is suggesting we can hardened turret roofs to the extent that APSs are not needed.

    ….. – “Russia is still upgrading and building theirs. Still plenty of upgrade paths available. New turrets with 120mm bustle loader is available”

    You are stating the obvious. Still plenty of upgrade paths available but dependent on cost and effort and whether it’s worth to do so. The Russians are only upgrading theirs because they have them in numbers, they realise the T-90 might not be able to deal with Western tanks and they won’t have Armata in the numbers they need.

    If it was worthwhile to continue on the same path the Russians would not have adopted a whole new approach with Armata. A tank based on vehicle survivability rather than hit avoidance.

    If however you want to insist that the PT is sufficient for our needs and that we should get more (in lieu of not being able to afford better); then I’ll leave you to it. You obviously know best and I’m wasting your time and effort.

    joe,

    – Most users of MANPADs/V- SHORADs do not require their systems to be placed in areas where they can be exposed to direct fire. AD systems can be placed slightly to the rear and still be able to provide coverage. Obviously the shorter range of
    MANPADs/V-SHORADs require them to be closer to where combat is actually occurring to enable coverage to be provided but still not close enough to be able to be hit by direct fire.

    – The main purpose of mounting AD systems (same goes with SPHs) on tracked vehicles was so they could have the same mobility levels of those they were supporting. Protection came second and was only against small arms and splinters. Even then, the actual missiles, launchers and radars remain exposed.

  88. @ azlan

    ” If however you want to insist that the PT is sufficient for our needs and that we should get more (in lieu of not being able to afford better); then I’ll leave you to it ”

    There are plenty of other stuff right now we are not able to afford better high end stuff. Medium/heavy tracked IFV (Like singaporean Hunter), MRCA (that we need to focus on LCA for now), MPA (we cannot afford high end stuff), attack helicopters, air defence missiles for gowinds, etc.

    But it does not mean those stuff that we have is not worthwhile. You make do with what you can afford.

  89. Chua – “Modern wheeled IFVs have lower ground pressure and are much more versatile now”

    They still don’t have the same level of mobility and protection (essential if they’re going to operate alongside heavier armoured tracked vehicles).

    Chua – “I cited T-90 specifically because it has an ammo bustle and the autoloader is reportedly armoured”

    It had a top armoured plate to protect against spalling. Rounds that are not already loaded in the loader are still stored on the turret sides and floor. Rounds are not stored in armoured sections with blow out panels.

    The baseline protection level of the T-90 is slightly heavier than the T-72 but ultimately both are based on the same operating philosophy and requirements.

    Note that I’m not saying the T-72 or T-90 are bad tanks; merely their time has passed and they were developed specifically for Soviet/Russian requirements. Compared to Western tanks they also do not have a good record in conflicts; with regards to survivability With Armata the Russians have acknowledged this. .

    I actually like the PT; decent tank. Like other things however we got it based not on merits but due to politics. The fact also remains that it’s time has passed – when it comes to survivability, ergonomics, growth potential and other areas; it clearly falls short compared to other tanks.

    Chua – It’s good not to have tanks which are overly reliant on engineering support“

    It’s not good to have anything that is too reliant on anything but the fact remains that various conflicts over the decades have clearly shown that there are very few places tanks can’t operate without engineering support.

    Chua – “Singaporeans are confident of operating their Leos”

    If a conflict erupts Sing Leos will be operating mostly in urban areas and along a road network. If bridges with weight limitations are encountered that’s what their engineering assets are for. Granted there will be areas in which tanks can’t go but those are areas in which tanks have no reason to go to in the first place.

    TNI- AD Leopards in contrast are intended to operate along the common border. Poor roads there but if logging lorries can operate on the dirt tracks, so can Leos. We also have examples of the use of heavy armour by the Yanks and Australians in Vietnam: literally in jungle conditions.

    Chua – “Which is where the choice boils down actually – Adnan or Gempita ”

    No it doesn’t because both are intended to do different things. Both are good at different things. To say that we have to choose between either is like saying it’s either a Minimi or a GPMG.

    ATGMs are great to have but they can never supplement a tank – just like how having a strong ground based AD network can never do away with the need for fighters.

  90. Chua – “It’s good not to have tanks which are overly reliant on engineering support”

    Tanks are very reliant on infantry support, which can make the difference. In restricted terrain (engagement ranges are shorter and attacks can come from any quarter)it is infantry who will take the lead but in non restricted terrain it is tanks who will take the lead. Nonetheless, irrespective of the type of terrain, both rely on each other.

    A common misconception is that tanks will mainly be doing infantry support. The whole purpose of having a tank is to deliver mobile firepower; whether on the defence or on the offensive in manoeuvre type ops. If the primary purpose was infantry support, in areas where enemy ranks are not present, then tanks are not needed. IFVs can be used.

  91. @Chua
    You really should recheck at ur timeline. Humvee Avengers came in 1990 and Bradley M6 Linebacker/ Avenger came in 1997. Stryker SHORAD is the most recent mobile AD evolution, having the system selected in June 2018. Yes, drone takedown capability should be a consideration if we go for SHORAD AV-8.

    @Azlan
    “remaining enemy infantry, subjected to long range arty fire, and landmines or IED not yet cleared.”
    Again, I would like to clarify I never mentioned they would be in direct enemy fire.

  92. …… – “There are plenty of other stuff right now we are not able to afford better high end stuff”

    The discussion was a hypothetical one (like many others) based on the premise that at some future date (whether in 5, 8 or 10 years); the army will be getting additional tanks.

    If we want to limit ourselves to discussions on what we can actually afford at present or what we actually have a requirement for at present; then there’a lots of things we shouldn’t be discussing.

    ….. – “You make do with what you can afford.””

    You do but at the same time, if what you already have is something that doesn’t meet your future requirements or has had its day; you continue operating it until you can replace it : you don’t add to it simply because you can.

  93. joe,

    You never said anything about “direct fire” : I did. Nobody places their AD systems in areas where they expected to come under direct it indirect fire.

    Yes “ land mines” and “IEDs” not cleared. I did mention arty when I made reference to “splinters”; in that by and large, like SPHs, the protection offered to tracked mounted AD systems is mainly against splinters and small fire. You can and did add land mines and IEDs to the equation. If you want to be thorough you can also add NBC protection to the equation.

    I

  94. @joe
    All right, my mistake. Well anyway… I guess my point is that armour is not the driving capability behind the US Army’s SHORAD platform decisions. It’s mobility.

    @Azlan
    >”They still don’t have the same level of mobility and protection (essential…”

    Of course they don’t, but they come close enough that a willing compromise is considered acceptable by many nations who are embracing the 8×8 doctrine.

    >”It had a top armoured plate to protect against spalling. Rounds that are not already loaded in the loader are still stored on the turret sides and floor. Rounds are not stored in armoured sections with blow out panels.”

    I am very sorry, I was not clear; I was referring to the T-90MS variant specifically which has an armoured carousel and bustle with blow out sections. IMO a hypothetical new T-90 order would be based on this model with these additional features.

    >”Both are good at different things. To say that we have to choose between either is like saying it’s either a Minimi or a GPMG.”

    There’s very little reason to take an Adnan over a Gempita other than for mobility commonality with the PT-91Ms. It’s different for other nations’ IFV/tank combinations because their tracked IFVs are much heavier and more capable.

    >”ATGMs are great to have but they can never supplant a tank”

    Not offensively, but they are a great defensive weapon for infantry and a needed response to the AFV proliferation in the region.

    >”If the primary purpose was infantry support, in areas where enemy tanks are not present, then tanks are not needed. IFVs can be used.”

    IFVs are vulnerable to light caliber cannon fire and lighter ATGMs, tanks are more resistant. That’s why there’s value in having even just a platoon of tanks supporting an infantry battalion.

  95. ” There’s very little reason to take an Adnan over a Gempita other than for mobility commonality with the PT-91Ms. It’s different for other nations’ IFV/tank combinations because their tracked IFVs are much heavier and more capable ”

    Why IMO in the greater scheme of things getting totally new MBTs would be way down the priority list, a new better protected tracked IFV should be a more higher priority than a new MBT.

  96. @Azlan
    Indirect fire is highly unpredictable as it can come from anywhere. Being prepared for such scenarios is the best we can do and that’s by giving the AD guys proper protection. While highly unlikely any antagonist forces that we may encounter would resort to NBC warfare, AV-8 basic design provides for NBC protection.

    Normally, tanks do not work alone by themselves and not without infantry support. Tanks have terrible situational awareness and the commanders need the infantry to provide this awareness and support against tank killing infantry & the usual building searches.

  97. joe,

    Did I say otherwise – either in this thread or the other treads in which there have been detailed discussions on MBTs?

    There is no “normally”; tanks should never work alone; then again in this day and age, neither should anything.

    Indirect fire in the form of splinters and such is unpredictable and that’s why there are armoured, tracked AS systems, SPHs and engineering vehicles; all lightly projected against the possibility of small arms and splinters.

    Assuming the crews are inside and assuming those are the threats faced which is is why nobody places such vehicles in areas where they can be exposed to danger.

    We are going around in circles discussing the same thing over and over again but if you want to carry on; I’ll oblige.

  98. @…
    A top-tier tracked Western IFV would be just as expensive as an MBT, ranging from US$ 7.5 to 10 million each with APS and ATGM.

    At those prices I do not realistically see us buying either IFV or tank, by the way.

    But for the sake of fantasizing or exploring options, given the choice? 100 MBTs cost only 1 billion dollars and would present a totally different set of capabilities compared to 100 IFVs.

  99. Chua -“a platoon of tanks supporting an infantry battalion”

    There is value and of course a perfect scenario would be to deploy tanks against enemy units who don’t have tanks but the main purpose of tanks is not infantry support. Don’t necessarily need a tank for that. The primary purpose of placing a gun on a tank is to deliver mobile firepower; whether as part of maneuver type ops or defensively.

    If enemy IFVs are in the vicinity; that’s what the auto cannons on ones IFVs are for and whether its MBTs or IFVs; everything boils down to adequate infantry support.

    Chua – “Not offensively”

    Not offensively or defensively. ATGWs by themselves can never supplement a tank. Like everything else ATGWs don’t operate in a vacuum but alongside other assets; whether defensively or offensively. Name me a single conflict in which the use of ATGWs totally prevented an enemy’s tanks from going where they wanted to.

    Chua – hypothetical new
    T-90 order would be based on this model”.

    A bustle loader (new turret required) significantly increases its survivability but doesn’t rectify other limitations inherent with the T-72 design.

    Yes one can add a new ERAs, engine, gear, sights, add an OWS. increase the power supply, etc, but where does it stop? At what point does it stop being cost effective to keep on upgrading such a dated design (originally driven by requirements that even its main user has ditched) and makes more sense (from a financial and operational perspective) in the long term to go new?

    Also a full upgrade of a Soviet designed tank will not fully rectify the various with it; which is why there have been very few takers for the full upgrades offered and why the Russians come up with Armata; which shares the same philosophy vehicle/crew survivability as Western MBTs.

    Chua – “ willing compromise is considered acceptable by many.”

    Chua – “little reason to take an Adnan over a Gempita other than for mobility”

    You certainly think so because you’re enamoured with the idea but irrespective what compromises; the fact remains that most do not deploy both types in the same sub unit because of varying mobility and protection levels. No point having a MBT that can take 120mm hits, supported by a wheeled AFV much less protected. It’s for the same reason that armies have not replaced MBTs with “tank destroyers”.

    A penalty in mixing both is that support elements have to be able to maintain both track and wheeled platforms. Deployment is another issue – one’s wheeled IFVs can be flown and have a lighter footprint compared to MBTs and tracked IFVs.

    In terrain such as ours or in the African bush a wheeled vehicle may (the key word is “may”, dependent on where exactly) be able to keep up but would that be the case in the Ukrainian steppes or the deserts of Sinai? Do you see the Germans or Australians deciding to mix wheeled platforms with their MBTs? Will we see Adnans and AV-8s in the same sub unit – please don’t say it’s due to a lack of flexibility.

    Wheeled platforms are cheaper to buy, operate and maintain, they are more comfortable (less vibration) and are easier to deploy due to a smaller footprint. The proof is in the pudding. If indeed they have advanced to the extent that they’re better enabled to be deployed in mix formations; then more and more armies will be doing so in the coming years ..

  100. joe – “Tanks have terrible situational awareness and the commanders need the infantry to provide this awareness and support against tank killing infantry & the usual building searches”

    There will be times when infantry take the lead role and times when it’s the other way around – depending on the threat and terrain. Infantry/tank cooperation takes time to get right and lots of practice to maintain.

    Whilst basic drills at platoon level can be rehearsed at camp; what’s also needed are battalion and brigade level exercises in which the whole unit’s combat elements and supporting arms take to the field – unfortunately expensive to do.

    joe – “ AV-8 basic design provides for NBC protection””

    All our armoured vehicles provide NBC protection (by being airtight and having a higher air pressure inside the vehicle) but as the vehicles age; just like how vehicles can become less watertight, they can become less NBC resistant.

    Given that the bulk of our army (with the exception of the Royal Engineer’s NBC Wing) has no gas masks and NBC suits, as well as no ability to detect chemicals; vehicle crews have to be inside their vehicles to be afforded the protection.

    Unless the vehicle is moving and unless they are in the midst of combat or are expecting hostile fire; chances are crews will not be completely inside their vehicle or the hatches will be opened. Same thing goes with crews of SPHs and other vehicles, including AD ones.

    Never mind in our heat/humidity conditions; even in Europe ventilations systems are often not up to the task during summer and hatches have to be kept open. SOPs are one thing but having to “amend” SOPs due to operational realities is often done. On some of our vehicles, it’s not uncommon for ACs to be non functioning for weeks on end, same thing happens in other armies.

  101. @ chua

    ” But for the sake of fantasizing or exploring options, given the choice? 100 MBTs cost only 1 billion dollars and would present a totally different set of capabilities compared to 100 IFVs ”

    In regards to our terrain, there is little possibility of a major large scale tank on tank skirmish happening. There is no wide open spaces like desert or plains. Even with widespread road networks, MBTs travelling on them would be boxed in by buildings on both sides of the road. So those set of capabilities of the MBT is not as crucial as having IFVs which supports the infantry directly. In this case, I would prefer better tracked IFVs instead of better MBTs.

    @ azlan

    ” No point having a MBT that can take 120mm hits, supported by a wheeled AFV much less protected. ”
    It would also be the case with tracked IFV which is less protected. More soldiers will be killed in one IFV than those in one MBT.

  102. “Did I say otherwise”
    Well what you were saying gave me the impression that tanks should function independently from infantry and not mutually supporting each other. My PoV is, there’s no right or wrong whether its infantry taking the supporting role or tanks taking the supporting role. It should all boils down to strategy, resources at that time, geography, & enemy make up. But on a basis, they should be working in tandem with each other and mutually supporting each other in any situations.

    “which is is why nobody places such vehicles in areas where they can be exposed to danger.”
    Depends on tactics, and the effective range of the mobile AD defence umbrella. Anyways, you made your point, and I made mine. I only want what’s best for the men in green so take my concerns however you see fit.

  103. @…
    >” So those set of capabilities of the MBT is not as crucial as having IFVs which supports the infantry directly. In this case, I would prefer better tracked IFVs instead of better MBTs.”

    Yes, I know. The concept of operations I’m suggesting would not be for Soviet-style armoured offensives, but to support mechanised infantry, ideally defensively.

    @Azlan
    >”the main purpose of tanks is not infantry support. Don’t necessarily need a tank for that. The primary purpose of placing a gun on a tank is to deliver mobile firepower; whether as part of maneuver type ops or defensively”

    Actually your own statement demonstrates my point exactly.

    Besides Soviet style manoeuvre ops (which is not applicable to all terrain, especially ours), a tank is more of a defensive strongpoint. In the combined arms battle a tank is valued mainly for its thick armour, *not* mobile firepower which is the domain of the IFV or medium tank. Having even a few well-armoured tanks forces the opponent to invest in anti-tank capabilities – which, BTW, is exactly the predicament we are in now, relative to the neighbours.

    >”Name me a single conflict in which the use of ATGWs totally prevented an enemy’s tanks from going where they wanted to”

    Yom Kippur is the classic practical example, the Fulda Gap is the theoretical, and in current conflict the ATGM is one of the most prized weapons for insurgent infantry.

    >”a full upgrade of a Soviet designed tank will not fully rectify the various with it; which is why there have been very few takers for the full upgrades offered and why the Russians come up with Armata; which shares the same philosophy vehicle/crew survivability as Western MBTs”

    I believe there have been few takers because of fear of sanctions and the sudden glut of Leos (and arguably M1s) sometime back.

    But anyway, I don’t disagree with the general assessment of its effectiveness, just pointing out there are additional factors regarding mobility and cost. I know what you said about the operability of 60-ton tanks with engineering support, but a 45-ton tank would mean it needs X less support, wouldn’t it?

    > the fact remains that most do not deploy both types in the same sub unit because of varying mobility and protection levels. No point having a MBT that can take 120mm hits, supported by a wheeled AFV much less protected. It’s for the same reason that armies have not replaced MBTs with “tank destroyers”

    The reason armies don’t replace MBTs with tank destroyers goes back to what I said above in this comment, TDs don’t the advantages that MBTs contribute. And even so there has been renewed interest in the concept.

    The point is in the synergy of combined arms – a battalion commander would have access to a variety of arms, and can pick the right one for the job; tanks to take fire and give it back, wheels to move somewhere faster than tracks can. Look at the Marine MEU for a longstanding example of the concept. Also at British battlegroups in Afghanistan.

    Yes, there is additional strain on support elements. That’s one of the drawbacks. Deployment is an issue but it is not a major issue for us, furthermore the French solve this by acclimatising their unit commanders to work according to the situation, rather than be rigorously accustomed to having a specific asset all the time.

    >” but would that be the case in the Ukrainian steppes or the deserts of Sinai?”

    Wheels can now do well over quite rough terrain. Boxer for example is rated to operate in the Australian Outback which famously defeated their ASLAVs. Like I said upthread, modern wheeled AFVs have evolved with different capabilities now.

    Israel didn’t go wheels for a long time, and built their “super-IFVs” because theirs is a defensive doctrine and previously the major advantage of wheeled IFVs was air transportability. Even so they are now introducing the Eitan IFV in place of the M113s. Think about that.

    Yes the Germans and Aussies are opting for tracked IFVs. Again, that’s because they are willing to spend more money on the perfect solution.

    >” If indeed they have advanced to the extent that they’re better enabled to be deployed in mix formations; then more and more armies will be doing so in the coming years”

    I’m confident we will, because tracked IFVs are becoming expensive niche capabilities.

  104. joe – “only want what’s best for the men in green so take my concerns however you see fit”

    Rest assured I will and do take your comments as I “see fit”.

    You mentioned “tactics”. Whose “tactics” call for AD systems to be placed in the line of fire, as opposed to mounting them on tracks for mobility and affording then some form of protection against the likelihood they come under fire?

  105. Err, I am going to decline on delving into your other discussion about the benefits of tracks vs wheeled. My point, protection in whatever (tracks or wheeled) is paramount to the AD guys.

  106. …. – “In regards to our terrain, there is little possibility of a major large scale tank on tank skirmish happening”

    You mean “engagements” rather than skirmishes. Indeed but whether engagements will be “large” or otherwise; the fact still remains that there is always the possibility of tank engagements, irrespective of the scale or the intensity.

    ….. – “There is no wide open spaces like desert or plains. Even with widespread road networks, MBTs travelling on them would be boxed in by buildings on both sides of the road.”

    There are thousands of km of roads/highways; not all are “boxed in by buildings” – also in areas where tanks were “boxed” in by buildings the same would apply to IFVs – doesn’t mean both can’t operate effectively. History is ripe with examples, including recent ones (Syria and the “Thunder Runs” in Iraq) of tanks and supporting arms operating effectively in such conditions.

    Even if areas where one is “boxed” in, one plans accordingly. In a previous post you mentioned being smart and knowing when to use one’s assts at the right time and place. An advantage we have is that we’re operating on home ground: we know where tanks can be deployed, where they can be deployed effectively and where they can’t.

    There is also the fact that we have a neighbour with a large tank fleet. A neighbour well aware of terrain conditions here and one who bases practically everything it has on the need to operate away from home ground. No I’m certainly not suggesting we base what we do on Singapore (even if we could) or that it’s a threat but the MAF prepares for various types of threats irrespective of the likelihood and threat assessments are based not on intentions which can change rapidly but on actual capabilities.

    There is no question that we don’t have wide open spaces and this determines how tanks can be deployed tactically but it doesn’t totally do way with the ability of tanks to effectively (not saying you suggested as such) operate in such areas as long as there is proper infantry, engineering, etc, support.

    As a caveat it’s worth for me to mention again that I’m not suggesting that tanks should be a priority at this juncture; merely that there’s still misconceptions about the utility of tanks in our operating terrain and what they can contribute. I’m also not suggesting that we concentrate on tanks at the expense of other areas.

  107. @ bob

    It was the ukrainian T-80UD.

    @ marhalim

    On the recent transfer of 2nd Infantry Brigade to the 4th Division.

    Well it would be a bit ironic as the 2nd Division HQ is in ipoh and now it has no other units in Perak!

    Now the 2nd Division is left with
    – 6th Infantry Brigade, Kedah
    – 8th Infantry Brigade, Kelantan
    – 30th Brigade Rejimen Sempadan

    The 4th Division is now with
    – 2nd Infantry Brigade, Perak
    – 11th Infantry Brigade, Selangor
    – 12th Infantry Brigade (ceremonial), KL

    It would be great if the 4th Division to be a formation specialized in urban warfare as it is mainly tasked for the defence of klang valley. Unlike western military which trains to attack the enemy in urban settings, we instead need to train to defend our urban areas from external attacks.

    Things to ponder
    – equipments to maneuver between buildings, breaking walls, bridging gaps between buildings.
    – maneuver in underground confined spaces.
    – communication without using wireless systems. Using available land lines.
    – equipping all soldiers with suppressors/silencers
    – gunshot location systems
    – access to police surveillance cameras
    – ESM systems, electronic jamming, locating enemy units by their electronic emissions.
    – countermeasures to take out enemy unmanned armoured vehicles.

  108. Bob,

    In the 2002 period the Armour Directorate expressed a preference for the T-84. A decision to get a Soviet/Russian designed was actually made in the 1990’s.

  109. …., – “Unlike western military which trains to attack the enemy in urban settings, we instead need to train to defend our urban areas from external attacks”

    Actually we also have to train for the possibility that urban areas may be taken and have to be retaken. Whether it’s the Thai border, the eastern Sabah coast, the border with Kalimantan or along the Straits of Singapore; we have many urban areas that close to end coast or to shared land borders.

    – “– equipments to maneuver between buildings, breaking walls, bridging gaps between buildings”

    Which is why I’ve long advocated the raising of “combat engineering” units and for armoured/mechanised units to have a strong organic engineering capability.

    Other essentials would include stuff like jackhammers, loud speakers, foldable ladders; all stuff that can easily be bought and is essential for FIBUA but are not normally on issue to units.

  110. @ azlan

    Yes we have plenty of urban areas near our borders. But the 2nd Division in the north still needs to be proficient in conventional warfare, the 3rd Division in the south is mainly mechanized/armoured. With the 4th Division tasked to defend the Klang valley, probably it is the best to specialize in urban operations.

    On combat engineering

    There are distinct difference between combat engineering for mechanized formations, and what the french call as the combat pioneer for infantry formations. What the 4th Division needs is probably enbedded combat pioneer companies in every infantry battalion. Probably either a replacement of the support company, or as an additional company. Hardwares can be easily bought, but the important thing is for the unit to train for and be proficient in FIBUA engineering operations. For the 4th Division that probably means being well versed in and around buildings, bridges, underground and utility systems in the Klang valley.

  111. Probably a dedicated PR unit within 4th Division too to interact with and do hearts and minds to urban residents during conflict.

    On the combat pioneer.

    Some tasks that would be done by the combat pioneer
    – creating road blocks
    – hanging protective blinds between buildings to block enemy view.
    – creating sniper nests on unpredictable places.
    – creating pathways between buildings by knocking down walls.
    – creating walkways between building gaps with ladders/rapid walkway bridges.
    – creating underground pathways between buildings
    – making kill zones and traps for enemy armoured vehicles
    – setting booby traps/IEDs
    – creating confusion/diversion by remote explosives.

  112. The infantry battalion is our greatest strength (cheap manpower). They should be equipped and trained as well as possible. Turn our towns into Stalingrads.

    Reply
    Manpower are not cheap. They are the most expensive thing so much so that we cannot afford not much anything else.

  113. .. – “ But the 2nd Division in the north still needs to be proficient in conventional warfare”

    No …. All our units must have some level of FIBUA training given the rapid urbanisation taking place and the fact that the numerous urban areas we have are just a stone’s throw (often literally) from common borders. There is always the possibility that an urban area might be taken at short notice and we’ll have to take it back.

    As such, training must be centred on both defending and retaking cities/towns. This will entail not only retaking the city/ town but also controlling all the routes in and out of the area – a huge undertaking requiring large numbers of troops – as clearly demonstrated over the past few decades FIBUA is very manpower intensive.

    Never mind K.L, even a smaller city like Ipoh will require at minimum 2-3 brigades worth of infantry (at minimum) to not only retake the town but to control the surrounding areas leading in and out of the city.

    .. – “Hardwares can be easily bought, but the important thing is for the unit to train for and be proficient in FIBUA engineering operations”

    Obviously but given that the average peacetime infantry unit divides its time doing various things: the challenge is to ensure sufficient time can be allocated for FIBUA.

    Also, we must never take for granted that easily procured hardware will be available when needed; history is ripe with examples of armies that were prepared for almost everything but were found wanting for basic easily obtained stuff like maps in the proper scale in sufficient quantities, sledge hammers, explosive charges, loud speakers, rope, etc.

    Another thing to bear in mind is unlike urban ops conducted in Grozny, Marawi, Hue, Aleppo, Fallujah and Beirut; major urban areas here contain large numbers of high rise structures. Some of these structures will have to be taken floor by floor and supporting tanks and IFVs will not be able to elevate their weapons to floors beyond a certain height (this is where Vulcans mounted on M-113s and ZSUs mounted on lorries came in so handy in Beirut and places in Syria).

    – “What the 4th Division needs is probably enbedded combat pioneer companies in every infantry battalion”

    We have to be realistic. Our battalions are mostly under strength (this is a factor most people don’t take into account when discussing our battalions) as it is and adding another company size unit greatly adds to the battalion’s existing logistical:transport capabilities.
    A much more realistic option would be to start off placing such a unit under the administrative and operational control of a parent brigade and having it allocated to the various sub units when a need arises.

    The good news is that in bilateral exercises with the Aussies and Sings there is an increased emphasis on urban ops. Ex Stallion which Marhalim videoed saw us deploy MBTs in an urban setting.

    Reply
    Unfortunately, Eks Stallion was among the last exercise (where media was allowed to cover) Army done on urban warfare complete with mounted troops, it was after Marawi, training in FIBUA was back in the vogue but only for small unit action. Interesting anecdote, the 4th DIV commander who led Eks Stallion said he would propose to the Army leadership to buy the abandoned commercial area where the exercise was conducted so future training evolution could be held there. Of course that never happened but interestingly when the Army restarted urban warfare training after Marawi the same general was then the Training panglima…

  114. Chua – “Turn our towns into Stalingrad”

    Like many things. easily said but harder done.

    The Soviets committed army size formations to defend the city and the whole country was mobilised on a total war footing. Even a much smaller city than Stalingrad would be a major undertaking to defend or retake.

    Never mind Middle East conflicts or Vietnam. Closer to home Marawi was another reminder of how time consuming and resource intensive FIBUA is. Granted, the Filipinos had no urban experience (with exception of the Zamboanga siege in which only a small part of the city was taken) and were unprepared but even a prepared army would have found Marawi to be a huge and very challenging undertaking.

    I watched some of the testimonies in Congress given by troops who were there. They described in detail what they encountered: a situation made harder by the fact that the militants had time to entrench themselves and that closing the access routes into Marawi took time

    In our context imagine if the “Royal Sulu Army” has landed not in Sahabat Alam. a palm oil estate but in one of the many towns along Sabah’s eastern coast. What would our response have been?

    Through trial and error and lots of painful mistakes; the Syrians adapted to urban warfare. Like many others they took time to integrate armoured elements to work alongside infantry, in an environment where infantry took the lead role. An urban clash which remains largely unreported in the English press are the engagements fought between the Jordanians and Palestinians in 1971.

  115. @ azlan

    I did not say other units does not need to train in FIBUA. Of course all our units, from mechanized to PARA and Commando, needs to train in FIBUA. But FIBUA would not be the core competency of those units.

    But I am suggesting 4th Division units, to be specialized in FIBUA, like 3rd Division specialized in Mechanized.

    So I am looking at 3 of our divisions to be set up for conventional warfare, 1 division fully mechanized formation, and 1 division specialized FIBUA/ urban warfare.

    This would entail bespoke orbat tailored for FIBUA, like enbeded combat pioneers. Weapons tailored for room clearing, and also long range weapons such as designated marksman rifles. While PARAs need to be proficient in parachute jumping, for FIBUA troops must be proficient in rappelling and abseiling from tall buildings. Recce and observation by the use of UAVs, UGVs and urban surveillance cameras. Well you got what I mean? So basically a formation that has FIBUA as its main tasking and training.

  116. “Another thing to bear in mind is unlike urban ops conducted in Grozny, Marawi, Hue, Aleppo, Fallujah and Beirut; major urban areas here contain large numbers of high rise structures.”

    Indeed, no conflict has ever taken place in a “high rise rich” city such as KL. Partly because of resource constraints and partly because of the likelihood of such a fight as assessed by those armies, no army can be said to have prepared for one. To make the point, it would be such an immense undertaking that large formations would have to make it their number one training priority and no representative training area exists in the world to test any concepts and assumptions that remain largely theoretical.

    Considering all the other priorities, there is only so much that anyone can realistically do.

    Irrespective of any investments we can make, attrition in urban ops will be much greater than in other operating environments.

  117. AM – “army can be said to have prepared for one”

    A very big problem will be the civilian population. In an ideal world they would have been evacuated but the reality is that inhabitants will still be around and armies have to factor this in. There will come a point where operations will be dictated to a large extent by the presence of civilians, especially if one is operating on one own’s territory. .

    We can also argue that armies might not necessarily have to physically occupy a whole city; merely to seal it off from the outside and control its surroundings but the fact remains that there will be instances where smaller cities or towns will have to be physically controlled by virtue of their geographic location.

    AM – “so much that anyone can realistically do.”

    Even for larger armies with much more resources and even more so for a peacetime resourced strapped one like ours. A way around this would be to designate a couple of battalions; ensuring they spend more time conducting urban training. On a smaller scale we could have smaller sized units trained primarily for urban ops; which in turn could be employed as “training/demonstration” units which – in paper – could provide the needed training/ knowledge to other units.

    AM – “Irrespective of any investments we can make, attrition in urban ops will be much greater than in other operating environments.”

    Yes and units can only spend so much time conducting extended high intensity urban ops before they have to be pulled back for rest and replacements will be needed.

    Going by past experiences; taking a whole floor or a street could take time and if not adequately guarded; might be retaken by the enemy. Every alley, every corner and every room will have to be cleared. In our context all the high rise buildings will also present more challenges. Not only are urban ops very psychologically demanding and stressful; they are also very manpower intensive.

  118. Designating units for urban warfare can be a double edged sword.

    4th division, as it is a resident formation assigned to defend the Klang valley. Designating it to be a urban warfare unit can be a deterrance factor to potential adversary. High cost of warfare in urban landscape can make potential adversary think twice to enter Klang valley. So the presence of 4th division now with 3 brigades, with announced urban warfare specialization hopefully should discourage urban warfare from happening in Klang valley. As a defender, with some distance between our land borders and Klang valley, adequate time to prepare defensive positions in the city is possible.

    As for urban areas near border areas like JB, those IMO would be very difficult. As is if something like marawi to happen on our soil. In this case it would be forces trying to recapture urban areas overrun by adversary forces. This IMO is a different scenario from being on the defensive. In this case all of our army units would be involved, and lessons from syria, falujah and marawi need to be adopted.

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