Next Change, New Army Assault Rifles?

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: Abu Dhabi headquartered, Edge Group on May 24 announced that it had signed an agreement with Malaysian-company Ketech Asia Sdn Bhd for the production and resale of Caracal CAR 816 assault rifle in Malaysia. Although the signing was conducted at LIMA 2023, Edge announced the signing through its headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

The release stated that under the agreement, 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, in support of the Royal Malaysia Armed Forces requirements.

The biggest user of the CAR 816 is the UAE Armed Forces.

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 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.

Two soldiers carrying ammo cans with their M4 carbines sling on the shoulders. BTDM

Anyhow, some of the M4 Carbine procured were locally assembled by SMEO Sdn Bhd in Batu Arang< Selangor after the Army decided it will become the standard rifle in 2006. RMN and RMAF later adopted the M4 Carbine as their standard assault rifle as well. The Army will also buy the CMP9 submachinegun and the CSA 338 semi-automatic sniper rifle, also manufactured by Caracal, Malaysian Defence was told. All three firearms were featured prominently at the Edge booth which were also dominated by drones, aerial bombs, and missiles. The submachine gun will be used by units other than the GGK and 10th Para Brigade. The GGK is getting the Sig-Sauer MPX submachine gun and the Paras Berretta PMX.
Caracal CSA 338 sniper rifle, next to it is the CAR 817 7.62mm rifle. Malaysian Defence picture,

The contract for the guns is expected next year and all of them including the CAR 816 are to be equipped with optics. The release by Edge:
Ketech Asia CEO Mohd Nahar Mohd Nasir (left) and Caracal CEO Hamad Al Ameri, after signing the agreement on May 24. Edge.

Abu Dhabi, UAE: 24 May, 2023 – CARACAL, an EDGE Group (“EDGE”) Company and a leading small arms manufacturer, today announced signing an agreement with Ketech Asia, an advanced ammunition producer and small arms solutions provider, for the production and resale of CARACAL’s CAR 816 in Malaysia. The agreement was signed by Hamad Al Ameri, CEO of CARACAL, and Mohd Nahar Mohd Nasir, CEO of Ketech Asia, at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA 2023), being held in Langkawi, Malaysia, until 27 May.
Under the agreement, 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, in support of the Royal Malaysia Armed Forces requirements. Cooperation will also take place to review the potential of co-developing new firearms, and Ketech Asia will become an official reseller of the rifle, underscoring EDGE’s confidence in developing valuable and mutually beneficial industry partnerships in Malaysia, with the aim of increasing sales of regionally manufactured advanced products and solutions in markets across Southeast Asia. The agreement with Ketech will also aid EDGE to explore other opportunities in Malaysia for the full range of CARACAL small arms.

— Malaysian Defence

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  1. Last year Marhalim reported on LTAT signing MoU with Edge group with the then Defence Minister picture holding the CAR 816. Never thought that the entire Army would replace the M4 as their main assault rifle.

    What interest me is that all these new rifles will come with optics. Although one could still add optics but the A2 siht rail is not as customizable as a picatiny rail would be. Another interesting thing is that its a piston operated gun, which is more reliable in more extreme environments and follows the trend of western countries (US and France) moving away from gas impingement. We do have gas piston guns (Steyr AUG, HK416 and XM8) so it could probably the experience of using this gun also a factor to using the gas piston for the M4 replacement

  2. Any idea whether the FN Minimi will be replaced too? Perhaps with the lighter weapon such as the Colt IAR?

  3. They plan to wipe out SMEO? Not sure how is the rifle but something cannot believe is UAE produce own rifle.

  4. No, lah, but it’s unlikely SMEO will be selling new rifles or upgrading the M4 and even the M16A1. They have been promoting the upgrading programme for the last few years.

  5. Well it is what it is..If it is up to me i will go for Sig Spear ..But ofcourse we cant really afford them.

  6. Luqman – “We do have gas piston guns (Steyr AUG, HK416 and XM8”

    PASKAL was provided with a mere handful for the evaluation but that’s it.

    Michael – “ but something cannot believe is UAE produce own rifle”

    As of a decade and a half ago people would have laughed if someone suggested we might end up operating South Korean fighters. Things evolve …

    To me something we should be looking at in the long term is not replacing the M-4 but the possibility of adopting a new calibre.

  7. “The principal firearms engineers for the CAR 816 were Robert Hirt and Chris Sirois. Hirt was instrumental in the development of the HK416” quoted Wiki.

    So, guess its just another knockdown version of HK416. Maybe cheaper.
    Interesting to see that they want to equip optics on all the rifles. A step in the right direction.

  8. So less than 20 years after, yet another change. I wonder if its something pushed by TDm or was pushed to the TDM, considering they had fought hard to replace the AUGs with M4 and they finally got it. Or was it a case of wishing for something but the reality was far from expected?

  9. @luqman
    “so it could probably the experience of using this gun”
    TDM long had experience with DI system on M16 yet after switching out to AUG they still insist to return back via M4. Even if the system was terrible it was still a drawback they were willing to stomach going to the M4.

  10. @luqman
    “A2 rail is not as customizable”
    Can be replaced with a upper receiver change. That’s the beauty of AR platform, everything is modular and replaceable, changeable, upgradeable and there are thousands of suppliers & makers worldwide.

  11. We have been using piston rifles . The most famous rifle n LMG thats piston powered ate the SLR n Bren. Built like tanks. If fouled by gas can open the gas adjuster to 10 to let all gas through and gun works again. HK 33 was has delayed blowback with rollers stopping backward movement until gas has teached a max pressure. The M16 family are all gas blowback like the Sterling sub mag

  12. Any idea why the army want to replace the M4? Have quality problem likes the AUG?

  13. The AR15/M16 family is a direct impingement gas operated rifle. Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons says it is piston driven as well as it is hidden inside.
    Only pistol calibre small arms use the blowback arrangement

  14. Why a new calibre? The 5.56 round is good enough for our needs and a bigger round may well increase the weight of the rifle and ammo.

  15. “the possibility of adopting a new calibre.”
    It depends on the US Armed Forces in particular and NATO in general. If the M7 gets widely adopted and the 6.8x51mm round becomes official NATO ammo, quite sure we would follow suit eventually.

    “5.56 round is good enough for our needs”
    Quite frankly evolution of warfare has obsoleted it, much like AK round, changes in combat tactics and body armour improvements meant its no longer as effective before.

  16. “, considering they had fought hard to replace the AUGs with”

    They didn’t “fight hard”. It had to do with issues at SME and the relationship between SME and Steyr going sour after EME acquired production rights.

    “drawback they were willing to stomach going to the M4.”

    Unlike the case with the A1 replacement there was no actual evaluation done nor actual tenders placed; was a political decision because Colt was wiling to allow local production (it didn’t years previously with the A2 which was the army’s preferred choice). Thus the army had no choice because there was no alternative. The then Defence Minister was very gungho (like he was with Typhoon) about the prospect of exports.

    Haiqal – “Have quality problem likes the AUG”

    The AUG was not replaced because of quality issues.

  17. Why the need for a new rifle? Can’t we just upgrade the current M4A1s instead and achieve similar results?

    Also, why all the talk about adopting a new caliber, 5.56 is still good enough for our needs, its not like theres an overwhelming amount of threats that have access to level 3 or 4 armor plates that can stop rifle rounds.

  18. ubi kentang – ”Why the need for a new rifle?”

    Why was the M-4 selected to replace the M-4? Why was SME unable to deliver AUGA3s; one of which was displayed at DSA? Why do we do many of the things we do? Since when has actual needs driven many of the things we do?

    ubi kentang – ”Also, why all the talk about adopting a new caliber,”

    I was the one who broached the subject…

    There is a need to explore options and conduct feasibility studies on certain things so we’re not left totally in the dark so to speak. It’s not as if we’re shifting to a new calibre in 2025 or are awarding a contract for a local entity to develop laser blasters…

    ubi kentang – ” 5.56 is still good enough for our needs”

    You actually know what out needs are? Will our needs evolve in the coming years as the past 2 decades or so? How will we know if ”5.56 is still good enough for our needs” if we don’t look into it and explore options?

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