New Trucks for The Army?

PETALING JAYA: After the heady and sometimes heaty discussions into the MRCA, its time get back into the ground, literally.

Yes, the Army is finally in the final stages of issuing the tender for the replacement on the Pinzgauer fleet. If you say, its about time, think again. The Pinzgauers were only put into service, in stages between 1995 to 1999.

So, the oldest are almost 15 years-old now while the youngest is around 12. So by the time, the first new trucks goes into service, the oldest Pinzgauers will be around for 20 years or so. Of course since the Army fleet is around 330 or so, technically they will be much younger, based on their individual usages of course. I am not sure about the mileage but they will be much lower than a commercial truck of the same year registration.

Despite this we have seen various Pinzgauers in junkyards, up for sale or in civilian hands already. The Pinzgauers were sold by Deftech (yes, the people behind AV8) some of which were imported directly from Steyr and some assembled in the Pekan plant.

If you say this sound similar to the AV8 programme, you are exactly on the button. They even said that they would market the Pinzgauers for the Asia-Pacific market. As far as I know that did not happen and production, oops, assembly, soon stop after the last vehicle was handed over.

The not-so-funny thing about the so-call export project was that when Steyr Daimler Puch when belly up in 2000, Deftech did not buy the rights for the vehicles which instead went to a UK based company.

We all know that the Army had trouble maintaining the Pinzgauers in service, both the 4X4 and 6X6 variants although most vehicles seen in civilian hands are mostly the former. Deftech officials, privately, blamed the Army for not giving them the contract to provide service and support for the trucks and instead rely a host of suppliers for parts and support. The Malay Mail carried a report about this last year.

Enough about the back ground already! What about the new tender? Industry insiders says that the tender programme to replace the Pinzgauers is expected to be issued within the next 12 month. It is expected that the Army will be looking to procure up to 300 trucks in the 2.5 tonne to 3 tonne category.

Pesaka Astana, which assembled trucks locally under the brand name Amdac has fired the first salvo signalling its attention to bid for the programme. It launched the Adiwira truck recently. The truck is the locally assembled version of the French company Acmat VLRA truck. The truck is available in both the 4X4 and 6X6 versions.

Apart from Pesaka Astana, who will be the other competitors? Unimog, courtesy of Deftech and a host of other vehicles from local companies like Weststar and SERT (the current supplier of Vamtac. SERT has announced recently that it is the sole distributor for Iveco Defence vehicles in Malaysia.

It appears that the Humvee-type vehicle would be excluded as does up-armoured variant of any of the above. That is the reason I believe SERT tie-up with Iveco. There will be others of course, many countries also manufacture similar trucks .

But as usual those with local assembly programme will probably selected as the Defence Minister had said all future defence deals must have local content. But apparently its ok to source parts and spares from overseas during its service in the armed forces.

Apart from the Pinzgauers, the Hicom Handalan, again another Deftech product from a Isuzu commercial truck, will also probably be started to replace during the same time period. The Army has had less problems with the Handalan although Deftech was also not given the contract to support. Being a COTS solution, the Handalan fared better than its stable.

It also scored in the export market, a dozen or so were exported to Brunei and about the same numbers were donated to Timor Leste FOC, including the spares and support.

To me the Unimog is the best vehicle for the job but I reserved my support due to the Deftech connection and the mandatory local assembly deal. Yes I know it will be difficult to proof that its cheaper to buy the Unimog directly from Germany than local assembly. Nonetheless I will state here, ditch the middleman and spare the armed forces budget.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2205 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Hopefully, the army will do some soul searching and ask itself why so many Pinzgauers have ended up in ”besi buruk” yards. Even some of our new Defender 101’s, which have interior fittings not approved by Land Rover, are not in the best of condition, judging by the black smoke blowing out from the exhausts. What is needed is a totally new maintainance culture to ensure our soft skin vehicles are properly looked after. The problem with the Pinzgauers is that we didn’t know how to maintain the suspension system, consisting of a drive train with a tube type chassis. The Brits and Kiwis are having no such problems with their 4×4 and 6×6 Pinzgaeurs.

  2. ATM should learn how TNI still
    able to operate 30-40 years military
    equipment asset with good condition..good maintenance culture must be developed inside ATM..
    dont simply waste malaysian tax payers money

  3. ‘Nonetheless I will state here, ditch the middleman and spare the armed forces budget.’

    I echo your last point. Malaysia is simply too small and its defence expenditures too low, to justify an arms industry. It may be possible to focus on one or so areas, but it is wishful thinking to imagine a South Korea-like arms industry. If the army needs new uniforms, then I would expect “local content”, but no so for 90% of what the armed forces need. Better to go with COTS. But as you noted, how to prove ‘that its cheaper to buy the Unimog directly from Germany than local assembly’.

    As far as what to replace the Pinzagauers with, I’m not partial to any particular truck. It should be noted, however, that most “light” trucks available are seriously overweight, if the army limits itself to the 2.5t to 3t category. Are the new trucks expected to fulfill the same roles as the Pinzgauers? Gun tractors and mortar transporters?


  4. Pi mai pi mai tang tu jugak.
    Brother, you can go round and round from 1st floor to 19th floor. There will be same story with all the sok sek sok sek but the authority just simply play ignorant as long as money coming.
    Just hope for a Change over of government than everyone of them will shiver.
    The air, the sea and the ground sama sahaja besar angan angan but not knowing what they want except for either they just follow the politicians to curry favor for personal glory or they are part of the conspirators.
    National interest, and national security who cares after all anyone who can tell the rakyat when is the next war in Malaysia?

    Lets produce more of the laughing general with birds’ brain and did nothing hahahahahahhaaaa! what a waste!
    Pesaka Astana looks good and sound familiar- don’t you think so brother?

    Yes, its the same broken record…

  5. funny fact about engineering development is when the same branch of the industry cant even make a basic truck, they want to skip the foundation to mess with state of art AFV.

  6. Well, a change of government is one thing. Despite offering an alternative plan for almost everything, from tax rebates, education, oil prices, etc, – the opposition has yet to take the trouble to inform the rakyat what their approach will be with regards to defence. I’m very curious s to why the haven’t?? A change of government will indeed ‘make them shiver’, but will it result in a more holistic and efficient defence policy? Will it ensure the MAF is sufficiently funded to meet its operational requirements and is provided with stuff that is really needed, as opposed to sexy items that look great on Merdeka Day but have little peacetime utility?


    The industry it is quite proficient in licensed assembling various vehicles, that’s not the question. The question is whether they can go beyond that…

    Since national security issues are not discussed openly not even in closed door briefings in Parliament its hard for the opposition to make any counter proposals about it. Hence some loud mouths suggesting defence spending is wasteful due to alleged payment to Razak Baginda and others.
    I am sure DSAI knows pretty much since he was the Finance Minister a decade ago so he was purview to the discussions that led to the procurement of the Scorpenes, NGPV and the Flankers. Mind you our strategic outlook remained the same despite all the time and maybe had even grown much worse due to the shrinking of natural resources. On why he is keeping quiet on the issue is of course the one million dollar question. I will try to speak to him on this issue.

  7. This is our version of Juche! (North Korean policy of self reliance that pretty much wrecked the country) writ somewhat smaller.
    Trucks are not so simple, well, good trucks anyway.
    Worse, Malaysian Army truck drivers are specially trained to destroy gearboxes, the only one that could tahan the brutal changes was the legendary 911 (LA911) which was very under powered but had a gearbox the drivers could not defeat. Every other truck is destroyed by this Kuasa Ajaib.

    My limited experience with Army drivers showed that these guys never had proper training on how to drive their vehicles. You expect them to be trained on cross-country driving, nope.

  8. Azlan,
    To go beyond is what I am talking about. When they are no able to master the tech to design a truck, they should not think about tech beyond that.

  9. Come to think of it, during the second emergency times the defence bang for the buck seems to be better utilised.

    The maintenance of the trucks seems to be better.Not only the trucks but also the land rovers, the planes, the ships-all were maintained better as compared to now. Is it because these items have become more sophisticated or its just that our technology to maintain them has not grown since the second emergency times?.

    If the ministry wants to break the monopoly of Deftech to both assemble and maintain these vehicles then a good programme for Deftech to appoint properly trained service agents-ala proton authorised service centres should be established. This will in turn maintain the standards and also make things more efficient. A central parts depot should also be set up so that part supply can be efficiently maintained and dispatched.

    By good maintenance the life of the assets can be prolonged and made use of more efficiently.If the drivers trash the trucks, then come up with a discouraging policy for such method to treat their vehicle.

    Each and every driver must be made responsible for their own trucks and if their trucks suffers more than a certain number of breakdowns or maintenance lapses then they should be sent for refresher training and maybe during their downtime made to do hard training like log exercises which would both toughen them up and make such downtime hard for the drivers.

    Yes, both procurement and operational issues started to go South in the late 80s, as a certain Tun policies started to bite in. Its a leadership issue, Lee, punishing rank and file soldiers or junior leaders will not solve anything apart from causing more people to leave service.

  10. A number of LA911s are still used as towing vehicles. As long as there is no total revamp in our maintenance culture and the ‘kuasa ajaib’ still exists, we have to continue operating stuff like our supped up Isuzus. Forget more maintenance intensive stuff like Okoshs, Macs and Leylands.

    Ym Lee,

    Simple really.

    1. We had a clear and present threat then.

    2. The quality of our overall manpower just took a dip, starting in the early 80’s.

    3. We had a military leadership who actually spoke up for the needs of their men.

    In Bosnia, MALBATT as a whole had a good reputation, first under the UN and later under NATO. Apart from the problems our people had with the cold, which is understandable, our drivers also had a notorious reputation for being ‘risky’ drivers, even during non-wintertime.

    Thats why I said buy the Unimogs and Zetros. But direct from Mercedes Germany.

  11. According the Malaysian Army wikipedia entry the current fleet of trucks consists of:

    3 Ton 4×4 GS Cargo HICOM Handalan, 3 ton 4×4 GS Cargo HICOM Handalan, 2 ton 4×4 Pinzgauer Gun Tractors, 2 ton 6×6 Pinzgauer Mortar Transporters with 144 ammunition trailers, 3 ton 4×4 URO VAMTAC High Mobility Tactical Vehicle, 13 – 6 ton 4×4 Light Recovery Isuzu FTS33H Light Recovery Vehicles, 5 ton 4×4 Isuzu FSS32G Communication Shelters, 19 – 2 ton 4×4 IVECO M4010 Field Ambulances, 2 ton 4×4 IVECO M4012 Satellite Communications Vehicles, 33 – Gomba Stonefield Field Ambulances, 4×4 Land Rover Defender, 4×4 Mercedes Benz G-wagon, Mercedes Benz 911 3 ton (retired), TATA 1613 3 ton truck, Bedford RL 3 ton (retired), Volvo C303 (retired).

    Is this anywhere near accurate? I notice that the AV-VBLs, part of the ASTROS system are not included. What about the wikipedia listings for other wheeled vehicles? I thought the Panhard M3s were retired. Just trying to get a feel for what current inventory is, before making any comments without knowing the facts.

    Some swear by Wiki, some dont, make your own decisions….just be ready to agree to disagree and when you are wrong say sorry, and if you are right, Alhamdulillah…

  12. Actually some of the mercedeses are still in use in many non-front line batallions like the wataniahs. They are still serviceable and running well inspite of some times having to resort to human power to push start them!

  13. The Gomba Stonefields are retired. Don’t forget the MAN 8x8s used for the TRS-3D and BR Bridge,
    and the Sangyongs, Ford Rangers and Pajeros. Some LA911s still used as towing vehicles. We got some Leylands, courtesy of HMs government, for use in Bosnia.

    The Panhards were retired years ago. Some V-150s could still be in use for training.

  14. And don’t forget the 200 odd G-Wagons that were bought as weapons carriers. Someone in their wisdom then decided on the VaMTAC as a weapons carriers, and in true tradition, without any ballistic protection. What was the rational behind the VAMTAC, does it have better off road performance than a G-Wagon or a better load capability or simply because it looks canggih on Merdeka Day?

    Wikipedia entries are only as accurate as their contributors are.

  15. i dont think many of us making wiki as their main reference…. so many grey info there

  16. I NEVER use wikipedia as my “end all, say all”, only as a starting point for further research.

    I’ve been looking into several off-road truck possibilities. In addition to the Unimogs, I believe Tatra trucks should also be considered. If one looks at the major off-road truck brands out there, Kamaz and Tatra have dominated the Paris-Dakar Rally for the last 20 years.

  17. There is no point in arguing which is the better truck.The best is for the politicians to let the users specify their needs and then goes for a competitive drive off and extended usage testing to determine the best fit of being user friendly,tough, maintainability and cost of maintenance.Politicians hands off and you will get the most suitable truck for the use of our armed forces
    Trust the guys but not the politicians to make a decision. They use them everyday and they know many times, their lives depends on it

  18. What’s the likelihood of that happening? As for the VAMTAC, it is being pimped by the same cat that sold the G-Wagens when he was working at Deftech. Awesome kan?

  19. Ym Lee,

    I’m just throwing more ‘food for thought’ out there. Being defence-minded, I’m sure we all spend time surfing defence sites, checking out specs and so on. I agree 100% (with one small caveat). Take caution with “Trust the guys but not the politicians to make a decision”. In a ‘democracy’ it is the people, through their elected representatives, who decide all matters. So, even defence, decisions are ultimately political ones. So be it Unimog, Renault Trucks, Tatra or other, in a perfect world the ‘guys’ would get what they need, the politicians and bean counters would make wise decisions and the nation’s defence would be better served.

    In a perfect world there is no for defence…

  20. Off topic but hopefully this latest stuff about airspace violations does not lead to strained tries again. The Singaporean government has denied any violations of Malaysian airspace, but then it would, wouldn’t it?? The only time Singapore has actually admitted to anything was when 4 NS men crossed the Tebrau Straits to buy fish from a village. Whether it was over the water issue or over Tanjung Pagar, Singapore has routinely painted Malaysia as being the guilty party, whilst absolving itself of any blame and claiming a monopoly on truth. Given the small size of its airspace and the close proximity between both countries, it is not inconceivable that RSAF aircraft may have un-intentionally strayed for a brief period into our airspace….. As for allegations that the question posed by Rembau was due to the coming elections, I find this unlikely – Malaysian voters have many pressing issues they are concerned about, Singapore is not one of them.

    of course they have to deny it completely. if its one or two they can always claimed the small size of airspace but more than 10 its tantamount to a dare…

  21. Azlan,

    Malaysian fighters should reciprocate by ‘straying’ into Singapore’s airspace. And if Singaporean fighters stray into Malaysian airspace again they should be challenged. Inaction sends the wrong message. How much longer before they start practicing bombing runs over Johor?

    Thats not a good idea.

  22. Forgot to add this…

    Also on another topic… Aviation Week reports: “Lockheed Martin could re-enter India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition with its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, if nascent congressional action in Washington is any indication.”

  23. Fareed LHS,

    Not much targets in Johore apart from Kem Iskandar in Mersing and Kem Majidee in JB. I assure you, they started practising/rehearsing strike packages on Lumut, Kuantan, Butterworth, MINDEF, etc, a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for improved relations with our ‘friendly’ ever vigilant neighbour. And I’ll be the first to admit that our politicans in the past have made their share of cockups! But we are not solely responsible for all that’s gone wrong in the past. In fact, Singapore is a natural ally and it can be argued that a strategic partnership between both countries would be most beneficial to meet any threats that are likely to prop up in the coming decades. Any threat to Singapore is a threat to us, there’s no way around it. What annoys me however is how Singapore tends to put the blame on us for everything! We are expected to believe that MINDEF has got it totally wrong and that all the reported radar tracks are not what they seem and are, as the RSAF spokesman said, ‘baseless’?? And that only the Sings have the right picture and not us? As I said, given the size of the island’s airspace and the close proximity between both countries, it is not inconceivable that RSAF fighters on their way to the South China Sea for training or on routine patrols, may have ‘strayed’ by accident, for very brief periods.
    To my best knowledge, no one is infallible or holds a monopoly on truth. I’m no fan of Khairy, but I’m very convinced that him asking the question was not part of any grand plan to demonise Singapore or to divert attention way from pressing issues, due to the coming elections, as some would believe…

  24. Re: “Thats not a good idea.”

    First statement was half joke. Second statement did not imply challenge with force (although that should never be ruled out, particular if an incursion is aggressive in nature). An official government to government letter demanding an explanation for violating Malaysia’s airspace would be sufficient, at least at first. Repeated violations could be referred to a 3rd party (ASEAN?). Again, inaction sends the wrong message

  25. “What annoys me however is how Singapore tends to put the blame on us for everything! We are expected to believe that MINDEF has got it totally wrong and that all the reported radar tracks are not what they seem and are, as the RSAF spokesman said, ‘baseless’?”

    Azlan … let’s just say the viewpoint south of the causeway is vice versa and leave it at that. Certainly the Malaysian Govt’s liberty with the “truth” on the water issue and Pedra Branca does not really give them the moral high ground does it?

    The curious thing about this flight incursion issue is that a show of the recorded ATC radar tracks should bring the whole I’m-right-you’re-wrong issue to to a stop. Shouldn’t the onus be on the accuser to provide proof/evidence?

    Thats the reason some are claiming that its all wayang kulit….

  26. After thousands of violations, there were only exchange of diplomatic notes? Why no higher escalation?

    Just wondering how many of these violation are actually due to Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

    No idea

  27. We are stupid. We should just charge them toll.
    Wanna fly….? Pay. Simple. No need to hug along the Selat Tebrau….just punch the throttle and go baby. Want to go supersonic? No problem, bayar aje. After all, Uncle Lee Jr., money got lot lot.
    Don’t get upset, get paid!

    Good idea but then there will be trouble when it was revealed the money was used to pay…..(take your pick)

  28. hahahaha I like the pay toll idea.Might as well set a sum and ask singapore to py-upfront first and after a certain number of such overflights the charges will escalate upwards.Then we can use the money earned to buy a special radar set to track and record all such overflights!
    But it will give the Singapore oppositions a field day and next GE in Singapore you may see a new government!

    The question is why pay Malaysia when you can do it for free in Indonesia..

  29. The toll idea is great though. We should set an agreement to charge them entry time they fly pass johor, but need to set certain limits like no armaments and only certain types of aircraft allowed. Then again the JB people will not like it to have the Sings above their heads…

  30. Maybe this all this fuss is about nothing.
    As Singapore has denied that these flight were theirs [and we know they and only they are always right], it is possible the flights were:

    1. Alien craft probing our airspace for a future colonisation.

    2. Aircraft from the Jamaican Defence Force or the Armenian Air Force.

    3. Japanese army and navy aircraft from WW2 coming back from the past due to some freak anomaly.

    Or our radar operators were smoking pot and they simply imagined everything.

  31. Ean100,

    It takes 2 to Tango. As to why the flight tracks haven’t been presented, I have no idea, as they should. But to suggest that ALL of the 2000 odd flights since 2008 never occurred and is a total fabrication, is stretching it a too far.

    P.S. Surely you meant ‘Batu Putih’…


    For what plausible reason could this be a wayang kulit? If it was politicaly motivated, other parties would be taking up the issue and it would be on the front page of every daily.
    Malaysian voters are very concerned about a lot of issues facing the country but Singapore is not on the list. As we all know, the average Malaysian does not roll in bed at night, unable to sleep, due to worries that Leopards 2 are going to conduct Thunder Runs in JB and Mersing.

  32. On the A400M… “EPI Still Assessing A400M Gearbox Issue – Europrop International (EPI) is set to build the initial powerplants for the first A400M production version, even as it continues to examine the inflight failure of a gearbox on the TP400-D6 turboprop powering the EADS Airbus Military airlifter. The mishap prevented the A400M from taking part in flight displays at the Paris air show.”


    “In fact, Singapore is a natural ally and it can be argued that a strategic partnership between both countries would be most beneficial to meet any threats that are likely to prop up in the coming decades. Any threat to Singapore is a threat to us, there’s no way around it.” If only Singapore saw it that way too.

  33. Azlan, Tango? One wishes that they were both dancing to the same tune. Singapore prefers to settle issues via diplomatic channels. Malaysia seems to prefer to settle issues through the press. And n’er the twain shall meet 🙁

    Or perhaps you mean “where there’s smoke there’s fire”? Well, show us the smoke first then.

    Re: Pedra Branca. I know you guys got stiffed on that one, but surely the leadership is not regretting magnanimously going to the ICJ now are they? But since you guys stiffed Indonesia on basically the same principles … live by the sword, die by the sword lah 😉

  34. EAN100,

    I intentionally referred to it as Batu Putih to bait you, and indeed, you took the bait. We lost Batu Putih, so be it. Do you see us complaining? I suppose for you, having Batu Putih [oooopps sorry, I meant Pedro Branca off course], is a great psychological boost, given Singapore’s land mass.

    You are a perfect example of how many Singaporeans feel that they’re above scrutiny and beyond reproach. The way you responded to my posts, which was in no way overly critical of Singapore, proves my point. You guys can do no wrong can you? I suppose it simplifies things a lot when one can put all the blame solely on ones neighbours and claim a monopoly on truth…..

  35. Azlan, that’s fine if you wish to carry on with caricatures and stereotypes. I don’t need to indulge in ad hominem attacks to try to carry a lightweight argument.

    Likewise, P.B doesn’t quite have the effect on my ego that you seem to think it does. I know we stiffed you guys on that one, nothing to be proud of, but … do we see you guys complaining? Gee, stop living in denial. Post ICJ verdict, the rancour, the bitterness, the clamour for an appeal based on some unseen evidence. Sounds familiar?

    Let’s just state the obvious that both sides of the causeway believe they are in the right … but the critical issue that seems not obvious to some, and being avoided by the same some – where is the evidence?

    This is the last comment on an off-topic. I have no problems with off-topic discussions but its obvious that this is going no-where.

  36. “As we all know, the average Malaysian does not roll in bed at night, unable to sleep, due to worries that Leopards 2 are going to conduct Thunder Runs in JB and Mersing.”

    I am an average Malaysia, and I do roll in bed at night thinking about the Leopards…

    I also do dream of Leopards, but those to be sold by the Dutch wondering whether I can buy one of them, so I can go cruising on the weekends…

  37. Marhalim,

    There are a number of Leopard 1s in private hands in England. Not sure about Leopard 2s.


    You should worry more about a clash in the South China Sea or in the Ambalat area leading into something more serious. Or about a terrorist attack……….

  38. From Aviation Week

    “U.S. Military Truck Makers Look Abroad”

    Here’s an excerpt:

    “There’s a consensus among the three (BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense and Navistar) that some of the biggest markets for new military vehicles are Saudi Arabia, which is constantly upgrading its fleet; Canada, which is in the middle of the selection process for three different variants numbering several thousand vehicles; plus Brazil, Chile, India and Malaysia. All the countries have open vehicle programs, and have partnered with U.S.-based companies to produce some trucks and/or parts domestically.”

    Yes the FMTV 2.5 tonne fits the bill exactly for the Pinzgauer replacement programme. But the FMTV is currently manufactured by Oshkosh. Its probable that Weststar will be its local partner.

  39. IF weststar is selected, then again it adds up another logictics/MRO for that a good decision in long term? Now have deftech and amdac…

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