MRSS and MPA, Really?

Leonardo ATR P-72 MSA. Leonardo

PENANG: It appears that the government had approved plans for the long delayed MRSS program for the navy and the MPA for air force.

With the approval, Defence Ministry can now finalise the technical requirements for both programs before it could proceed to decide whether to hold an open tender or not to select the respective contractors.

Leonardo ATR 72 MP. Leonardo

Once the decision to go ahead are green lighted and contractors chosen, the LOI could be signed after the government allocated the funding for the programs though the timelines remained hazy at the moment.

RMAF Beechcraft B200T from No 16 Squadron at the flypast rehearsal on Feb 25, 2016.

As posted yesterday, the government had allocated RM15.863 billion to the Defence Ministry for 2018. Most of the allocation is for the Operating Expenditure – RM12.566 billion – while the Development Expenditure is RM3.297 billion.

Damen LST 120 configured for other duties.

Defence Minister DS Hishammuddin Hussein today (28 Oct. 2017) said in Kluang, Johor

kerajaan meluluskan apa yang dipohon Tentera Darat Malaysia (TDM), Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia (TLDM) serta Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (TUDM).

“TDM bakal menerima perolehan aset baharu merangkumi enam Light Attack Helicopter (MD 530-G), meriam 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer, meriam 105mm Pack Howitzer dan peralatan khas bagi Gerup Gerak Khas (GGK).

“Perolehan aset dan kelengkapan latihan GGK ini penting bagi meningkatkan kesiapsiagaan dalam menangani ancaman keselamatan semasa terutamanya ancaman militan Daesh,” katanya.

Bagi TLDM ia membabitkan enam Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) dan empat Littoral Mission Ship (LMS) yang masing-masing masih dalam proses pembinaan selain merancang memperoleh kapal kelas kelima Multi Role Support Ship (MRSS) di bawah Program Transformasi 15-to-5.

Bagi TUDM, katanya, kerajaan meluluskan perolehan empat unit pesawat Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) yang akan digunakan untuk mengawasi perairan negara termasuk Laut China Selatan dan Selat Melaka di bawah program Malacca Straits Patrol.

It must be noted the funding approval is just that. The technical requirements must be met before the LOI and the full funding are green lighted. Let’s hope there will not be any economic shock within the next five years otherwise both programs could be shelved or even cancelled as what had happened in the past.

Taiwan Army M109A5 SPH. Wikipedia.

And yes, Hishammuddin did say the Army is getting its 155mm SPH and even new pack 105mm howitzers. The latter is news even to me. There was a tender for a multimodal transport operator to ship to Malaysia 105mm pack howitzer spare parts last month but that’s as far as I knew about the issue

* this post has been updated following further information. An earlier version stated funding have been approved. I have been informed that this was over optimistic.

-Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
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  1. 105mm pack howitzer?

    Probably spare parts to rebuild existing ones. Or surplus used ones from?? Only new build ones are those knock-off from china.

    For the MPA, i hope TUDM can convince the government it can get 6 platforms for the price of the 4 approved. 4 for the increased patrolling commitments are too few.

  2. 155mm SPH must be M109A6+ but What New 105mm Gun Marhalim. If LG1 or M119 should be good for us

  3. Not that I’m not appreciative of what DS Najib is doing, but 120mm mortar would’ve much more suitable for GGK than a 105mm gun

    I don’t think the howitzer is meant for the GGK. It’s must an addition to the pack howitzers already in service

  4. Note the word “pack howitzer”. It implies something like our oto melara.

    LG1 or L118 is not a “pack howitzer”

  5. No MRCA mentioned in this budget. Does that mean the Mig29 will be out of service without successor or the air force plan to prolong the service?

  6. @ dundun

    Yes, IMO there is no other current “pack howitzer” build other than the oto melara, as most lightweight short range artillery tasks are now relying on 120mm mortars. The oto melara weighs just 1200kg, while most other current generation 105mm howitzers (M119 for example) weigh more than 2000kg. Its lightweight build also means it is not as robust, and it would be difficult to maintain a long continuous rate of fire.

    That is why mortar is now more of a choice for lightweight fire support, low weight (500kg), few moving parts, and can support better continuous rate of fire compared to the pack howitzer.

  7. MPA

    This is my favourite platform.

    The Bombardier Challenger CL605. We have used this plane before (CL601 variant), and the current Global Express is also a variant of this challenger, so is familiar to TUDM. Currently Denmark and Australian maritime safety is using the platform as a maritime patrol aircraft.

    Small but with long range and patrol time, fast transit speed, in-flight openable door to drop sonobouys/rescue equipments.×477.jpg

  8. Not particularly important but this is the first time I’ve heard the prospective MRSS described as the “fifth class” in our service.

    Leads me to think the first four classes were the four ex USN LSTs, the Inderapura, the Mahawangsas and maybe the Bunga Mas 5 and 6 (though I’ve only heard them called auxiliary ships).

  9. If it’s indeed true that we’re getting ”pack howitzers’ I really doubt that there are plans for Gerak Khas to have an organic arty capability. True 10 Para has its own arty regiment but it performs different roles compared to Gerak Khas.

    If we go on the basis that Gerak Khas was modeled on the Royal Marines, was originally intended for the same role and that Gerak Khas’s 21st & 22nd Commando perform ”similar” roles to the Royal Marines’s 40, 32 and 45 Commando then – on paper – 21st & 22nd Commando need their own arty. The main issue however is that the 2 Gerak Khas Commando regiments perform slightly different roles than their Royal Marines equivalents. 3 Commando Brigade performs mainly an expeditionary role and has a sufficient integral logistical and lift capability; Gerak Khas doesn’t.

    As to whether a 105mm pack howitzer or a 120mmm mortar is more suitable; there are pros and cons. A 105mm gun will be more accurate, will arrive on target faster and has better penetrating capability when used on stuff like bunkers – there is a reason why some armies [including Australia] looked at but decided against 120mm mortars. At the end of the day both will need towing vehicles and it will take time to organise the unit and get the needed crews, staff and FOOs; not to mention the logistical aspect.


    There were 3 ex-USN LSTs [the former Hunterdon County, USS Henry County and USS Sedgewick County]. We did however have a former RN LST [the former HMS Counterguard].

  10. @ AM

    The 5th class mentioned is based on the Navy’s 15 to 5 plan.

    The 5 class
    1. LCS
    2. Submarine
    3. PV
    4. LMS
    5. MRSS

  11. Comment system = kapoot

    Sent one succesfully but its not appearing.

    It is working actually.

  12. Not sure if it’s still the case but several companies as of a few years ago were still offering Soviet/East European designed “pack” or mountain howitzers – all designed to be broken down for easy transport over rough terrain. Being able to dismantle a “pack” or mountain howitzer for ease of transport (with the Model 56 the heaviest component is the barrel) is great but there’s still the problem of carrying the needed ammo.

    Will be very interesting to see how this apparent procurement of “pack howitzers” pans out or whether the Defence Minister was misquoted ….. Given that our Model 56s still have barrels with lots of life left and that parts are still obtainable from the OEM and other sources; I find it strange that we would want additional “pack howitzers”.

  13. i wonder the pack 105mm howitzers is solely for Para / ESSCOM? With the budget amount, I dun think we will get a lot of it..

    I don’t think we are buying a lot more pack howitzer likely a battery or two more, if its not spare parts as the MTO tender. If really new, this could be enough for a new artillery battalion if the artillery battery in 10 Para is included, ie three batteries plus a command company. I would probably get the PTD to comment as there is a function at Pulada today. However I got some family matters to do tomorrow so I did not make the trip to Johor

  14. It could be we have a number of M56 pack howitzers in storage and they are simply bringing some back into service.

    But if we’re indeed getting a 155mm SPH, we can and should retire some M56.

  15. There are 120mm presison guided mortar round like xm395 and anti tank round like strix. And usualli the mortar is integrated wit platform so very mobile. High rate of fire too.

  16. I’m open to the possibility that “pack howitzer” is a misquote. But I’m also open to the possibility that it might mean new guns (or even M56) deployed in an air mobile concept with heli lift. As unlikely as it is, I can’t imagine how Mindef can misuse the term “pack howitzer” and how the media, stupid as it can be, can get hold of the “pack” term on its own.


    We were discussing 120mm mortars vs 105mm howitzers a while back but didn’t get very far. I was saying that 120mm mortar rounds come in more modern payload types including guided rounds and have a higher explosive content by weight. The basic projectiles are cheaper. Being a low pressure, low recoil system the mortar is the lighter and more easily put on vehicles.

    If 105mm is more lethal against bunkers the question is why. Why would artillery shells reach a higher velocity if all projectiles fall at the same rate of acceleration after reaching their apogee? How practical is it for gun or mortar to hit a bunker without a precision guided round? And is the trade off in cost, mobility and crew size worth it?

    It was a written statement. But the minister has been known to be over optimistic

  17. Oh if anti bunker one way is our nlos misel. Not sure why u r sticking wif pack howitzer.

  18. “Oh if anti bunker one way is our nlos misel. Not sure why u r sticking wif pack howitzer.”

    It would be great to have NLOS missiles or guided artillery rounds, but they need some form of target designation whether laser or GPS.

    Only with artillery can you suppress or destroy an area when precise targeting is not available, and can you lay smoke.

    As to why we have pack artillery and not many long range guns, it’s something we ought to fix. I’ve mentioned we could cover more frontage with fewer guns and men. We’ve worked on it since the days we got the FH70, G5 and increased the number of ASTROS batteries. Some here have said that it’s pointless having such assets if we won’t work on target acquisition and fires procedures.

  19. Based local news, 20 new asset will accept by ATM.
    I have a question, 20 type or 20 quantity? if 20 quantity and we just focus new toy – 6 x MD 530-G, 4 x MPA, 10 x 105mm Pack Howitzer? there is a requirement 1 MRSS as well.

    Hopefully MINDEF will share more and I think the coming DSA 2018 will have a lot big toys to be sign…

  20. Marhalim,
    I like your idea of the Damen LST120, but must admit this is the first time I’m seeing a ‘low cost Type 31 proposal’.

    Good idea though, maybe our RMN should have 5 of these as the new MRSS. Preferably with a length of 130m.

  21. Pleasantly surprised, RMAF just released a graphic saying the Hawk upgrade will include the radar.

  22. “The 5 class
    1. LCS
    2. Submarine
    3. PV
    4. LMS
    5. MRSS”

    I’d like to know for item 3, are we going to get more Meko 100? If that’s the case, then the ships that suppose to do the fighting are going to be the first 2 classes only since 3 and 4 are not better armed than FAC/G. Quite sad but have to accept the truth…

  23. Marhalim,
    This may sound silly , but how about the Britten Norman Maritime Defender as the RMAF’s MPA?

    If push comes to shove at least this aircraft can be armed on the 4 hardpoints. And this ‘low cost option’ means we can buy more of them.

    The British has been trying them here for ages, not even a wink of interest. One of the people I talked to says this is because those who looked at this things look at the platforms and not capabilities

  24. Rsn 7th lmv kneel laid. So far 5 lmv lunch this year. 1 more wil be lunch soon. Interesting idea or info frm fren. The 4 minesweeper will be replace by 4 more lmv. They will act as mothership to large usv dedicate to mine sweeping. These 4 lmv will have minesweeping iso module install full time but can still be swap wit other module.

  25. Tomahawk – ”There are 120mm presison guided mortar round like xm395 and anti tank round like strix.”

    Given the cost of these rounds all armies will use them sparingly and they need to be lased. In Iraq and Afghanistan the majority of rounds fire were not guided/smart.

    Tomahawk – ”Oh if anti bunker one way is our nlos misel.”

    And for us, our RPGs, LAWs, Carl Gustavs and other means; if

    AM – ”As to why we have pack artillery and not many long range guns,”

    It’s a legacy of the days when internal security was the main focus and we didn’t have a need for longer range guns; unlike the Thais who were worried about their Vietnamese moving west and the Sings worried about their larger neighbours. Yes we do/did have a number of Model 56s in storage : ”war reserves”. My gut feeling is that the Artillery Directorate has long had plans to replace the Model 56s [whether we should do away with 105mm and stick to 155mms is a matter of debate] but it just isn’t urgent given the threat environment, funding and how much life the barrels have; not to mention the availability of spares.

    Back in the 1990’s Amin Shah planned to have Light Guns assembled/licensed produced at Lumut but the deal fell through and a requirement for 120mm mortars first came about in the same period. Mortars can complement but never totally replace a howitzer; pros and cons involved. Which is why some armies have not gone for 120mm mortars. Personally I feel 120mm mortars [mounted on a platform] are great at battalion level [assuming we sort out the logistics] to give commanders a means of organic indirect fire support.

    AM – ” Some here have said that it’s pointless having such assets if we won’t work on target acquisition and fires procedures.”

    That was me in response to someone going on about ”firepower” and ”long range”. No point having ”long range” ”firepower” if we can’t hit [observed or not] what we aim at, if fire procedures are cumbersome, if we don’t have the right organisation, if we don;t have the means to ”see’ targets at distances, and if we don’t have the right doctrine to suit with the times and operate arty with other assets.

  26. Out of curiosity, has anyone work out an estimated cost for the said 20 new assets?

    Without an actual breakdown of the assets to be bought I will not hazard to guess the estimated cost. Feel free to do so anyway

  27. Unless full details are released it will be hard to get a truly accurate picture of exactly how much of what we’re getting will really cost. Some contracts might include a full training and support package and some [its happen before] might not. Take the contract for the Little Birds, yes the price includes the cost of the 6 platforms and associated training but will spares and ordnance be included?

  28. Is there a way to put a vote for which MPA should TUDM buy in the poll below? I’ve tried to put my vote on one of them but couldn’t find any.

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