Next Change? New Army Assault Rifles, Part 2

Three variants of the Caracal CAR 816 with a single CMP-9 submachinegun in the bottom, at the Edge booth at LIMA 2023. Malaysian Defence picture.

SHAH ALAM: At LIMA 2023, Malaysian company Ketech Asia Sdn Bhd signed a MOU with Abu Dhabi Edge Group for the production and resale of Caracal CAR 816 assault rifle in Malaysia.

The release stated that the two companies will conduct a transfer of technology that enables Ketech Asia to assemble the highly-reliable, mission-proven CAR 816 tactical assault rifle at its new facilities in Pahang.

For the record, at DSA 2022, Ketech Asia signed an agreement with a Turkish firm Atesci for a project of small arms ammunition production factory in Malaysia.

Changing documents for the ammunition factory between PKNP and Ketech Asia. PKNP.

Ketech followed-up the agreement some eight months later when it signed a leasing agreement with the Pahang State Development Corporation (PSDC). The agreement paves the way for Ketech Asia to build an ammunition factory at Kechau Taui, a small settlement some 35km from Kuala Lipis town. PKNP release at that point stated that the project will involve an investment of RM120 million.

It is likely that ammunition factory will be the site for the local assembly of the Caracal assault rifles if and when Ketech Asia got the contract to supply the firearm to the army.

5.56mm Ball M193 rounds. Malaysian Defence picture.

The signing was interesting as Malaysian Defence was told at LIMA 2023 (on the same day, several hours before the release was published) that the Army was planning to replace its Colt M4A1 Carbine with the the Edge Caracal CAR 816 assault rifles. The CAR 816 uses the short-stroke gas piston like the ones fitted on H&K 416 assault rifles unlike the direct gas impingement of the M4.

Yes, Malaysian Defence has reported that the Army wants to make the CAR 816 as its standard assault rifle but I was told many are also interested in the project. With some 100,000 rifles to be supplied and another 50,000 more for the second batch, it will be a tough fight.

Caliber 5.56mm M855/SS109 steel core rounds. Malaysian Defence picture

It must be noted that in April, another company, Myaltech Sdn Bhd announced it was also setting up an ammunition factory in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan. The project is said to cost RM80 million.
Nine-millimetre calibre ball ammunition. Malaysian Defence picture.

One has to wonder whether the company is also eyeing the M4 Carbine replacement programme as the huge investment for an ammo factory does not correspond with the current procurement scenario. The biggest procurement for ammo in recent times was in 2022, for 12.5 million rounds of 5.56mm ammo. The contract awarded to Traumland Sdn Bhd was for RM30.6 million. The other one was for 10 million rounds of 9mm ammo for the police. Unfortunately, the cost was not announced.

For both deals, the ammunition contracted is imported.

— Malaysian Defence

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10 Comments

  1. any ideas what will happen to the m4’s in service if they do go on with the change?

  2. Pity SMEO. Once a premier supplier of ammos n guna for our armed forces. I read somewhere that SMEO only getting small contracts for 9mm only

  3. If the opposition and mainstream media were in the business of asking the right defence related questions; both would ask what’s the justification in replacing the M-4s? Are there issues with the M-4s or will a replacement be more effective in killing people? Alas it won’t happen; the right questions won’t be asked; the first reason is that they are clueless on what to ask and the second is that the average voter is indifferent.

    Same case with the AUG; neither the then opposition or mainstream media asked why a decision was suddenly made to replace the AUG and why the M-4 was selected despite no tender or placed or evaluation done on other designs. The story of why the AUG had to be replaced is another example of how screwed up things can be as far as defence goes.

  4. Kamal- “Pity SMEO”

    The shite SMEO faces is similar to that faced by other local companies – no need economics or scale/insufficient orders. A problem with SME but one not necessarily related to its current predicament is that it never offered any tangible benefits. All it did was produce ammo and other stuff but nothing else. After so many years producing the AUG did it actually do any R&D on how to improve/upgrade it? After decades of producing ammo/explosives did SME perform any improvements on anything? Why did the agreement with Steyr go ratshit?

    There’s more I can share on SME but this is a public forum.

  5. Just keep the M4s. Use the money saved to buy red dot sights such as the Aimpoint CompM4 for every soldier. Maybe give a telescopic sight such as the Trijicon ACOG to 1 or 2 soldiers per section to act as designated marksmen.

  6. What a waste of procurement when other criticial capability are lacking of fund. Sounds like another ploy. watch this space!!

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