Pendekar SLEP Still Up In the Air

Pendekar MBT tearing (not really) Persiaran Putrajaya at the Merdeka parade rehearsal in 2018.

SHAH ALAM: The Army is still in the planning phase on the service life extension programme (SLEP) on the Pendekar PT-91M main battle tank, Defence Minister DS Khaled Nordin told Parliament. Once the decision is made the funding for the programme is expected to registered in current RMK (2021-2025) or the next one.

He said the Army is currently undertaking a study on two Pendekar to determine the critical issues involving the transmission , the gunner Laser Range Finder (GLRF) and the Fire Control systems. Only the transmission manufacturer was identified as Renk of Germany. The study started in June 2023 and is expected to be completed this month.

A Pendekar firing on the move in 2018.

“Only once the study has been completed and the final outcome is determine, the Army can proceed with the funding for the SLEP,” he said in a written response to a question by Tanah Merah MP DS Ikmal Hisham Aziz on the Pendekar. Ikmal asked what was the plan by the ministry on the future of the PT-91Ms as Bumar Laberdy – the Polish OEM – has stopped manufacturing spare parts for the tanks and the seemingly low performance of the T-series tanks in the Russia- Ukraine war.

Khaled said as to avoid dependence on the OEM, the ministry has signed a maintenance and supply contract with local companies. The contract is to expire this September and it is expected to be extended until September next year.

11 KAD PT-91M Pendekar on the firing range in 2020.

Wikipedia entry on PT-91M:

PT-91M Pendekar
(M for Malaysia) Production export variant for Malaysia with a Sagem Savan-15 fire control system, a new 1,000 hp powerpack, and a Renk automatic transmission, bringing its top speed to 70 km/h. Its main gun has been changed to a ZTS 2A46MS 125 mm gun, along with a 7.62 mm FN MAG coaxial machine gun and a 12.7 mm FN Browning M2 HB AA machine gun. This variant is equipped with a Sagem panoramic sight, a Sagem laser gyro inertial navigation system, turret stabilisation system, Obra-3 laser-warning system, and is integrated with 81 mm smoke grenade launchers, CBRN warning and protection system, and Thales communication system. It also features ERAWA 2 Explosive Reactive Armour, and German-made tank tracks (Diehl Defence). Two prototypes were made (renamed PT-91E and PT-91Ex), then 48 serial PT-91M Pendekar vehicles were produced from 2007 to 2009.

Comments by Malaysian Defence

It must be noted that registered for funding does not guarantee that the allocation will be given during the five-year Malaysian plan. The Adnan SLEP, for example, which is registered for current RMK, has not been funded yet. It must be noted that as we are already in 2024 meant that the funding for the Pendekar SLEP will surely not be done during this RMK12.

One of the Pendekar MBT taking part in the parade in 2018. Note the white markings on the tracks.

The full written answer below:

Kereta Kebal PENDEKAR ini merupakan aset bersifat ofensif
berdaya musnah yang penting untuk pertahanan negara dan juga
merupakan elemen deterrence pertahanan daratan. Penerimaan Kereta
Kebal ini telah dilaksanakan secara berfasa mulai tahun 2007 hingga
2011. Aset ini diletakkan di bawah pengoperasian Rejimen Ke-11 Kor
Armor Diraja yang berpengkalan di Kem Syed Sirajuddin, Gemas, Negeri
Sembilan.
2. Bagi menentukan Kereta Kebal PENDEKAR dapat diaturgerakkan
untuk penugasan operasi dan latihan, Kerajaan Malaysia telah
mewujudkan Kontrak Perkhidmatan Senggaraan dan Pembekalan Alat
SOALAN NO: 72
2
Ganti Kereta Kebal PENDEKAR yang dilaksanakan menggunakan
kepakaran tempatan bagi mengurangkan kebergantungan kepada
Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM) dan juga masalah ‘no more
production’ pada sesetengah komponen utama pada kereta kebal
tersebut. Kontrak senggaraan dan pembekalan alat ganti ini akan tamat
pada September 2024 dan akan dilanjutkan sehingga September 2025.

Sebagai inisiatif lain, satu kajian bersama melibatkan pengguna,
pasukan teknikal dan pemegang Kontrak Perkhidmatan Senggaraan dan
Pembekalan Alat Ganti sedang dilaksanakan. Pelaksanaan kajian ini
dibuat ke atas 2 buah Main Battle Tank (MBT) bagi mengenalpasti
permasalahan kritikal melibatkan Transmisi RENK, Komponen Elektronik
Gunner Laser Range Finder (GLRF) dan Sistem Sokongan Kawalan
Tembakan (Fire Control System). Kajian telah dilaksanakan mulai Jun
2023 dan dijangka siap sepenuhnya pada Mac 2024.
4. Dengan adanya kajian ini, isu melibatkan permasalahan OEM
kepada aset yang berstatus Obsolete dan tiada pengeluaran bakal diatasi
dengan kewajaran kajian yang sedang dilaksanakan di peringkat Tentera
Darat. Selain itu, pihak Tentera Darat Malaysia juga sedang merancang
untuk melaksanakan Life Extension Programme (LEP) ke atas Kereta
Kebal PENDEKAR dan dijangka akan didaftarkan dalam RMK-12
atau RMK-13.

— Malaysian Defence

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102 Comments

  1. Interestingly the issue is explicitly said to be with the transmission, not the whole powerpack. So there is no issues with the PZL-Wola S-1000R diesel engine, but instead with the RENK ESM-350M gearbox, which is said to be the most advanced gearbox available for the T-72 series. A few years ago (2018) RENK lobbied the army to change the powerpack to the RENK Powerpack 350S, combining the ESM-350M gearbox with the Scania D16 diesel engine.

    THe GLRF and FCS is a part of the SAGEM SAVAN-15 / VIGY-15 system. Options are to modernise the existing system (if possible) or to replace them with current available systems.

    If possible, getting additional used PT-91 (20-30 units) should be included in the SLEP program. Not to increase the size of the tank regiment or to stand up new units, but as attrition reserves or as prepositioned stocks in East Malaysia. Poland still has a handful of PT-91s, with the majority of the fleet now donated to Ukraine.

    Is the PT-91M a tank that is still on par with Leo2 or Abrams?

    Probably not. But it is much better protected and armed than any light tanks like the Harimau, while costing so much less.

    The Turkiye T-72 upgrade with the new MZK turret (while retaining the original ammo carousel) looks interesting.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FnYkxOUXgAALX4m.jpg

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FnYkyo0XEAAXg81.jpg

  2. Interestingly, the MZK turret weight is put at 5 tons lighter than the original T-72 cast turret.

    The current PT-91M weighs about 48.5 tons, with the new turret it could be down to just 43.5 tons.

    Compare that to light tanks such as Pindad Harimau of 35 tons or the M10 Booker of about 42 tons.

    If the cost of SLEP is low, less than even the cost of a light tank then why not?

    Latest costs of tanks

    Pindad Harimau for Indonesia
    USD135 million for 18 tanks (USD7.5 million each)

    Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 for Bahrain
    USD2.2 billion for 50 tanks+28 support vehicles (assault breacher, recovery, bridge)
    https://www.dsca.mil/press-media/major-arms-sales/bahrain-m1a2-abrams-main-battle-tanks

  3. Time to look and learn from the experience of Ukrain n Russia war as both parties ises the T72. Learn from their problem n advantages n modify our Pendekars based on these lessons.

  4. lessons from Ukraine?

    If we go for the MZK turret + RWS, I would equip the RWS with a coaxial self-reloading shotgun. Making the RWS as some sort of hardkill APS to destroy FPV killer drones.

    Sensors? Can a gunshot locator microphone array be used to detect the buzzing noise (acoustic signature) of the FPV killer drone?

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/F-o1kheaYAA0XQf.jpg

  5. We need enough numbers to sustain a local workshop or two. Otherwise just a simple upgrade the costing would be big sum.

    Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia seem able to maintain their old assets.

  6. … – “ Is the PT-91M a tank that is still on par with Leo2 or Abrams?”

    The rhetoric aside that’s not even a question.

    Western tanks have better ergonomics, are more comfortable; have a higher baseline protection level and have ammo stored in blow out compartments. One only has to look at crew casualty rates in Russian/Soviet tanks and contrast that with rates in Western equivalents. No tank is invulnerable but some are more survivable then others. Also note that direct comparisons wharfs anything is on “par” is silly and misleading as design was driven by different philosophies/requirements., The T-72 was supposed to be a tank of a certain weight, height, ground pressure and one able to be mass produced and operated by conscripts.

    … – “lessons”

    Experiences in the Ukraine didn’t teach us much we didn’t already know. MBTs have to be employed properly as part of combined arms formations and require effective engineering support. In the Ukraine they have been misused as mobile artillery rather than as a breakthrough or manoeuvre element and have been employed in oenny packets.

    … – “weight”

    More concerned about ground pressure.

    Lee,

    This has been done to death. “Modifying” it is not cost effective. Buying new as opposed to spending a lot on a date design based on Soviet requirements is not added value.

    Now we can do what “…” and look at things from a paper perspective – new transmission; improved power supply; new ERA, APS, new turret with a bustle loader; overuse for the commander ; 24 hours hunter/killer capability; etc, etc. Great on paper but in reality simply not a good return of investment

  7. P.S. ”overide” for the commander; not ”overuse”.

    … – ”If possible, getting additional used PT-91 (20-30 units) should be included in the SLEP program. Not to increase the size of the tank regiment or to stand up new units, but as attrition reserves or as prepositioned stocks in East Malaysia. ”

    No we shouldn’t. Looks and sounds great on paper but in reality it’s not sound. Upgrading a T-72M1 to PT-91 standard costs money; as does maintaining those extra tanks in East Malaysia; as well as creating the support infrastructure. Having a few tanks in East Malaysia doesn’t add much value and would be a continuation of our penny packet or a ”bit of everything but never enough of anything” predicament.

    We should continue doing what we’re doing : keeping the fleet operational and combat ready until such as time as they an be replaced by a new generation tank; as is the intention of the Armour Directorate.

  8. … – ”But it is much better protected and armed than any light tanks like the Harimau, while costing so much less.”

    One is a ”MBT” and the other a ”light tank” – something would be profoundly wrong if the PT-91 was not ”much better protected and armed”… To be a devil’s advocate the Harimau has a FCS and other components a generation ahead of the PT-91 and better ergonomics.

  9. Lee – “Time to look and learn from the experience of Ukrain n Russia war as both parties ises the T72”

    Well no surprises but they have found their Western tanks to be far superior to their Soviet/Russian ones. Better survivability, better sensors and SA, better ergonomics, more comfortable and quieter.

    The downside is that Western tanks require more maintenance and can’t be trashed the way one would a Soviet/Russian tank or IFV. In the 1990’s when Executive Outcomes in Angola received its BMP-1s it was found that the filtres had no been changed in years and various things had long been in need of replacing but they were still running. A Marder or Bradley would long have broken down but are far more survivable.

  10. Hasnan – “ Otherwise just a simple upgrade the costing would be big sum”

    Deftech was supposed to have upgraded Cambodia’s T-54/ T-55s with Maybank providing funding.

    Hasnan – “We need enough numbers to sustain a local workshop or two”

    In terms of economics of scale what about the F/A-50s? Even if we buy another 18 does it justify setting up a local assembly set up paid for by the Malaysian taxpayer? Does assembling a pair of subs – as “…” keeps proposing – actually provide any tangible benefits apart from bragging rights and adding to LNS’s coffers? By the time we get around to ordering another 2 whatever we learnt from assembling the first 2 would have been lost.

    Hasnan – “Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia seem able to maintain their old assets”

    Granted but if they had issues would we know about it? The Viets have T-54s/55s and the Thais have M-47s, M-48s and M-60s [all close or exceeding the 60 year mark] but they’re mostly analogue and not that challenging to keep running provided spares are available. The Iranians are still running their Chieftains and the Philippines Marine Corps still has LVTH-6s. Up until the late 1990’s the Bulgarians still had T-43/85s.

    We also “seem able to maintain old assets”; Model 56s way older than their crews and PCs and FACs which were only recently reworked on. The Giraffes are close to 40 odd years old. The GDFs and Skyguards 30 odd years old.

  11. … – “If the cost of SLEP is low, less than even the cost of a light tank then why not”

    It’s not as simplistic a you make it out to be as you tend to.
    If one has a requirement for a light tank it’s highly immaterial if subjecting a MBT to an upgrade is cheaper.

    Also any upgrade has to be viewed in terms of long term cost effectiveness and return of investment. As it stands if we upgrade the fleet it would be a selective not a comprehensive one as subjecting the fleet to a comprehensive upgrade is pointless given their inherent limitations and the fact that in the coming years we plan to replace them. The RMN faced the same dilemma and it was explained why the Laksamanas and FACs would receive what they needed to keep them operational for another decade or so but nothing more. As it is the services have said that the cost of some comprehensive upgrades are almost as much as buying new and is just isn’t worth it.

  12. … – “self-reloading shotgun. Making the RWS as some sort of hardkill APS to destroy FPV killer drones”

    Would this shot gun have the needed range; not just against FPV drones but also against UASs: to engage them before they get close. A far more effective solution would be for armoured units to have an organic counter UAS capability; just like how in a perfect world they would always be accompanied by a vehicle mounted V-SHORADs as protection against attack helicopters.

  13. … – “The Turkiye T-72 upgrade with the new MZK turret (while retaining the original ammo carousel) looks interesting”

    It may look “interesting” but the placement of unprotected ammo and charges along the turret wall and hull is still a major issue as proven in various wars. Any new turret would have to have a bustle loader to be taken seriously.

  14. Lee Yoke Meng “Learn from their problem n advantages n modify our Pendekars based on these lessons.”

    The likely lessons is likely the same as the MKM. Either continue using it as it is as an upgrade is unlikely going to worth the money or go buy/ ask for donasi western tanks.

  15. I find it interesting that Turkey found out it could retrofit a similar MKZ? turret for the T72s which it was working on for it’s M60s. If the SLEP costs can accommodate the said upgrades including a new FCS etc, I’d say it’s a good bargain. And yes, an MBT should perform like one and not a light or medium tank.

  16. As i wrote in another topic, i believe MBTs should not be a high priority for TDM, as our main security challenges for now are maritime-based and there are many fundamental capabilities like medium lift transport helicopters (not CSAR), long range artillery precision fires and medium range air defence is still not yet acquired in the minimum numbers that we need. Can we even afford to buy a new MBT? I cannot see how we can afford to when most of the brand new MBTs out there costs around USD15-25 million a piece. Poland recent contract for 180 units of K2GF(gap filler configuration) is for USD3.4 billion, which puts each K2GF costs at USD18.88 million. Even the Pindad Harimau light tank costs USD7.5 million each.

    As of the Pendekar SLEP, i am of the opinion that this should not take a higher precedence compared to buying SPH, getting more used Blackhawks for PUTD, and getting MERAD to replace JERNAS for GAPU. We should get those first before even thinking of the Pendekar SLEP. The SLEP costs shouldn’t be more than even getting brand new light tanks, I would say the SLEP budget should be probably USD4 million max per tank. For the transmission, as far as i know there is no more better option out there for T-72 family type other than the RENK ESM-350M. If we are going to replace the ESM-350M, it will be with much more inferior gearboxes. Either we need to modify/upgrade the ESM-350M to eliminate the deficiencies, or just have to live with it. So if we go for the Turkiye SLEP solution it will be
    – no changes to the current hull, engine and gearboxes
    – totally new welded turret (Roketsan MZK) that is 5 tons lighter than current, but incorporating existing 125mm gun and loading mechanisms. If we want a bustle loader, we need to downgrade to a 105mm gun.
    – Brand new FCR systems in the turret, 7.62mm RWS system added to replace manual 12.7mm M2 gun.
    – new applique passive and ERA armor to the hull

    ” Experiences in the Ukraine didn’t teach us much we didn’t already know ”
    Experiences in Ukraine are teaching us that tank on tank battles will be the least likely reason for a tank to be killed, even for a terrain like Ukraine that is suited to tank battles. 1980s cold war MBT tactics of 40 years ago is not applicable anymore in a scenario filled with long range precision missiles/artilleries and cheap but precise FPV killer drones. Very heavy frontal protection is nothing if the majority of current kills is from the top or the sides. The most cost effective way of hunting and killing tanks is with the use of FPV killer drones.

    ” ground pressure ”
    Weight is critical too, which is why NATO vehicles have weight tactical markings on them. A 65 ton tank does not have 33% more track contact patch compared to a 45 ton tank to have the same ground pressure. Most light tank of 35-40 tons does not have the same armor protection as PT-91M.

    ” Upgrading a T-72M1 to PT-91 standard costs money ”
    I am saying to take up some among the existing PT-91 (the 92 newbuild examples that is built to PT-91 spec), not the T-72M1. Almost all of the T-72M1 and PT-91MA1 (T-72M1 converted to PT-91 spec) has been donated to Ukraine.

    ” as is the intention of the as is the intention of the Armour Directorate ”
    This SLEP is actually the request of the Armour Directorate

    ” To be a devil’s advocate the Harimau has a FCS and other components a generation ahead of the PT-91 and better ergonomics”
    Which is what the SLEP with a new turret and FCS will give to the PT-91M Pendekar.

  17. ” Any new turret would have to have a bustle loader to be taken seriously ”

    Theoretically I totally agree that will be the best solution.

    Realistically considering the cost and availability? There is no production-ready or even tested prototypes of a 125mm bustle loader. The Roketsan MKZ turret is designed with 2 options, porting over all the 125mm gun and loader from the original turret, or use the 105mm gun with bustle loader similar to the MKZ M60 tank upgrade.

    If turret change is deemed too much cost/hassle for too little improvement, then a new FCS is probably the minimum item for a SLEP other than overhauling all existing systems and replacing obsolete parts.

  18. >Pendekar
    Our Pendekar is one of them most capable production T-72 variant, surpassing Russia’s T-72B2 (despite it being fielded a decade later) and maybe even T-90 (T-90 do have better base armor though Pendekar is better overall) except the newest T-90MS version

    One of the few upgrades I’d like to have to our Pendekar is the CITV as well FCS upgrade that includes the ability to fire new generation APFSDS and GLATGM. RWS is a nice feature but I don’t really want don’t see the advantage of using smaller 7.62mm RWS whilst using bigger RWS that could accomodate the M2 HMG might be prohibitively expensive

    >More Pendekar
    We missed the boats ages ago. Even getting more PT-91 from polish stocks would be a tall order considering they’re pretty much being shipped off or committed to Ukraine.

    Right now we have 2 options
    -buy a more modern western MBT (like Leoppard 2A6+) and send Pendekar to S&S
    or
    -Keep Pendekar and acquire light tank fof S&S. This new tank programme could be bundled together with new tracked IFV as MIFV (and eventually adnan) replacement

    honestly I prefer the first option. Since Germoney is getting newer 2A7 and looking for a brand new tank programme I’d wager they’ll willing to sell their older 2A6 at cheaper price. We can ask them to upgrade the tank to 2A6+ which could give us Parity with Singapore (who probably have merkava at their stocks) and even have the advantage compared to thailand’s T-84 and Haider tank and indonesian 2A4 tank

  19. @ dundun

    ” Right now we have 2 options
    -buy a more modern western MBT (like Leoppard 2A6+) and send Pendekar to S&S
    or
    -Keep Pendekar and acquire light tank fof S&S. This new tank programme could be bundled together with new tracked IFV as MIFV (and eventually adnan) replacement ”

    Both options will mean 2 different tanks in small quantities.

    Replacements for Adnan will be far off, considering the current Development Expenditure allocation to Tentera Darat (just USD276 million this year for example), and the need to acquire fundamental capabilities that we still do not possess, like long range precision artillery and missile capability.

    We also has missed the boat when the time of cheap used Leopard 2 are abundant. Right now any surplus Leo2 will head to Ukraine, and even if it is available, the prices would be high.

    As for additional PT-91M as attrition reserve/prepositioned stocks, i am looking at 20-30 at most, and there are still some PT-91 remaining in Polish use. We have to be quick though, as it would not be there long before they too would be sent to Ukraine.

  20. … – ”Experiences in Ukraine are teaching us that tank on tank battles will be the least likely reason for a tank to be killed,”

    Heard the cliche about armies mistakenly planning to fight the last war? Don’t make the assumption or mistake that in the next war there will also be a lack of tank to tank battles. There are specific reasons why things turned out the way they did but doesn’t meant they will be replicated in another war.

    … – ”his SLEP is actually the request of the Armour Directorate”

    Who said otherwise? In simple to understand terms I stated that the intention is not a comprehensive upgrade but merely what’s needed to keep the fleet operational/combat ready until it can be replaced.

    … – ”Which is what the SLEP with a new turret and FCS will give to the PT-91M Pendekar.”

    You look at paper options and customary links. Your call. I make the distinction between what can be performed on paper and what’s likely to be performed due to various factors.
    Simply no a good return of investment to spend more than what’s absolutely needed.

    … – ” believe MBTs should not be a high priority for TDM, as our main security challenges for now are maritime-based and there are many fundamental capabilities like”

    ”Believe” what you want. I ”believe” that things don’t turn out as expected, planned or hoped. Prior to 2013 did your crystal ball tell you non state actors would land in Sabah and would entail a response comprising thousands of troops backed by armour, artillery and air strikes? Amidst all the gaganess about China and the Spratlys; an unexpected threat could emanate from a another direction.

    … – ” I am saying to take up some among the existing PT-91 (the 92 newbuild examples that is built to PT-91 spec),”

    ”I’m saying” that bringing T-72M1 hulls to PT-91 standard cost money which is lacking and could possibly be better diverted elsewhere.

    As for a RWS we’ve – like other things – been through this before. It’s an issue because there is a lack of internal space for the controls[have you personally seen the inside of a T-72 – the PT-91 is even more cramped because of what we added]; power supply is an issue and stuff on the turret roof would have to be realigned. As for getting more T-72 this is regressive as well as buffoonery. As of 2024 why in heaven white roses should we get a 1970’s design intended for Soviet requirements; one which has reach the end of its growth potential and has an inherent weakness.

    … – ”Weight is critical too”

    Well thanks Grandmaster but didn’t say otherwise. What I implied is that ground pressure is just as critical.

  21. … – ”If turret change is deemed too much cost/hassle for too little improvement, then a new FCS is probably the minimum item for a SLEP other than overhauling all existing systems and replacing obsolete parts.”

    Really? Does this statement sound remotely accurate or reasonable? What’s the point of having a new FCS if other less sexy but equally vital things are not functioning?

  22. … – ”cold war MBT tactics of 40 years ago is not applicable anymore in a scenario filled with long range precision missiles/artilleries and cheap but precise FPV killer drones.”

    Bollocks. Reminds me of claims made in the 1960’s that the FAC and ASM had made large ships obsolete and claims that the ATGM had made tanks obsolete because of events in 1973 [never mind that most kills were from tank guns]. In 2022 fanboys claimed the tank was obsolete due to UASs buy hey presto the Ukrainians cried for more tanks and a hundred years after it was introduced there is no substitute for a tank when it comes to mobile protected firepower …. You’re claiming that ”long range precision missiles/artilleries and cheap but precise FPV killer” has made the tank obsolete but in case you need a reminder others have made similar premature assessments which were flat wrong. The anti tank gun, anti tank rifle, ATGM, gunship and other things in the past supposedly did the same as your’re now claiming….

  23. Nowhere did i write “tank is obsolete”

    That is YOUR assumption

    I am inferring that tank on tank warfare is no longer the case.

    Do tanks still needed n the battlefield? yes. But not as the main weapon to kill other tanks. but mainly as fire support to troops, and to hold ground. With these, the tanks protection will need to change too, to divert the protection focus more on drone defence rather than defending against conventional kinetic weapons.

  24. The current PT91M is more like a test vehicle to build out our armour doctrine before we get more advance heavy Western type tanks. Almost similar to getting a light tank prior to the high low mix

    The original PT91M was not the 1st choice then by the army but similar to MKM. The army was given the option to upgrade various subsystem on it making it one of the kind and unique T72 variants. Which indirectly also increase it maintenance cost due to various OEM part inside the tanks

    What SLEP should be bare minimal to keep in running for another decade or not obsolete in potential future conflict. The army is also not stupid and most likely have learn from the navy or air force, where u do a an expensive or comprehensive upgrade.. the bean counter would likely not approve the next big ticket items. Best to keep running but to the level that the money counter think we can use it for another 20 to 30 years

  25. – “tanks still needed n the battlefield? yes. But not as the main weapon to kill other tanks. but mainly as fire support to troops, and to hold ground. With these, the tanks protection will need to change too”

    There is opinion and there is fact. You are able to make the distinction are you not?

    No two wars are the same yet here you are making assumptions. You are assuming that what’s faced in the Ukraine will be replicated in other wars and that the days of “tank of tank” warfare are over – wishful thinking fantasy. Unless of course you have a crystal ball or oracle which enables a glimpse into the future.

    If we were to believe previous soothsayers the ATGM and ASM would have led to the end of the tank and frigate/ destroyer decades ago. If we are to believe the hype about UASs and loitering munitions they would have replaced arty, mortars and gun ships and they would have had a strategic affect; they haven’t in all counts.

    .As mentioned before there are reasons why things turned out the way they did; tanks being used mainly for infantry support and in penny packets rather than as a breakthrough element. Not carved in stone that the next was will be the same.

    As for the threat posed by UASs and loitering munitions they add to the long list of weapons which appeared and were supposed to have been the end of the tank but didn’t : AT rifle, AT gun, AT mine; medium calibre aircraft mounted guns; ATGM, gunship; etc. Nothing is static; they evolve and just like how the tank has managed to cope with other threats; it will cope with the threat posed by UASs and loitering munitions. At the sane time it will continue to be protected against traditional threats.

    BTW don’t do things in half measures. If you have to resort to upper case to make a point go all the way.

  26. Alex – ”The current PT91M is more like a test vehicle to build out our armour doctrine before we get more advance heavy Western type tanks. ”

    There was never an intention to later get ‘more advance heavy Western type tanks”.

    Alex – ”The original PT91M was not the 1st choice then by the army but similar to MKM. ”

    It actually was the T-84. Now people will now claim it was a blessing it wasn’t the T-84 but then the army in 2002 didn’t have a crystal ball which indicated that the Russians would invade Ukraine in 2022.

    Alex – ”What SLEP should be bare minimal to keep in running for another decade or not obsolete in potential future conflict.”

    Indeed and is exactly the intention. No comprehensive upgrade; same with the RMAF and the Su-30’s; irrespective of what can be done on paper.

    On ‘…”s missing the boat” with Leo 2s; when the requirement was drawn up in the 1990’s the army was dominated by people who were counter insurgent oriented. Zero experience and little knowledge of tanks. This was apparent to me when speaking to officers from that generation and can’t blame them as they came from a certain environment and service culture. They did not fully understand the value of MBTs [saw them mainly as a infantry support element which is WW1 thinking] and saw weight as an issue [never mind that MBTs have a history of operating in places with a much much poorer road infrastructure than here]. Until today many are still under the illusion that MBTs are too heavy to be operated effectively in our terrain which is heavily urbanised now.

    In short we limited ourselves to a certain weight category which in turn left only the T-72 series and spin offs as a contender and that is why at all the LIMAs and DSAs nobody bothered to bring a Western MBT. In the 1990’s however we were offered Leo 1 turrets fitted to T-72 hulls. The T-72 made its debut appearance at LIMA 1997 and it wasn’t under Deftech which later pushed the T-84.

    things don’t turn out the way we expect. Some might be convinced that ”tank on tank” warfare is over but a simple objective search would indicate that no two wars are the same and that what’s encountered in Ukraine might not be replicated elsewhere.

  27. Are there any MBTs in East Malaysia? Any tanks deployed in Johor or Kedah? In other words what is 48 MBT in the context of Army doctrine? Is the MBT a ceremonial unit used in firepower exercises and national day parades? Is it an elusive unit that is more akin to special forces deploying like ninjas and swimming to East Malaysia under darkness to suprise the enemy? Or is it a training unit perpetually still in “developing capabilities” mode for a decade and will continue to be in development mode for the next decade? Why spend money to upgrade 48 MBTs if there is no intention to buy more MBTs. One must surely be aware that given the limited numbers, MBTs cannot be factored by in theatre Army units strategies and tactics. Army units in East Malaysia cannot assume there will be a MBT when responding to enemy actions because there are no MBT to deploy with. So they don’t train with MBTs in mind. Similarly, incursion in Northern peninsular cannot include MBTs in the strategy and tactics because there are no MBTs nearby for immediate deployment. Similarly to the South, units responding to incursions cannot assume there will be MBTs. Why not take the upgrade money, opex savings from retiring Pendekars and get thousands of Javelin like weapons to be deployed down to platoon level. The one thing the Army will continue to have in numbers is transports and infantry. Even getting more SPHs that can be dispersed across the country is better than 48 upgraded MBTs centrally located in 1 location.

  28. “It actually was the T-84”

    Didnt know that, i thought it was the korean K1 tank

  29. err if costaffordability is an isuue, why not look at VT4 or Type 99A of the Chinese made fornPT91m replacement rather than light tanks. The pakistaini and thai bought around USD6 mil a piece back 5 year ago, taking into inflation, it would be around USD8 mil a piece now. But yeah there is a stigma on buying chinese made

  30. Haiqal,

    The K-1 was looked at in the 1990’s but was dropped. It had a 105mm gun which we didn’t want [like the MK4 offered] and export approval for the U.S FCS was an issue.

    Kel,

    – There is an intention and requirement for more MBTs but it’s in the longer term. If you’ve been following this and previous discussions you’d know that. Mahathir said so a year after the PTs were ordered and the sent said so too; mote recently in 2016. There is still a requirement.
    – Armour is ideally used in mass instead of in penny packets.
    – If you need to know how shore can hit the fan when stuff is used in penny packets and need actual examples; ask. Like many things a single regiment of tanks was suppose to give us a minimal ability; one that could be expanded on later. We don’t foresee the possibility of a large scale invasion; the type where an enemy intends on running a victory parade in Dataran Merdeka after seizing the whole country.
    – As fir your Javelin idea it provides a AT capability but the discussion is on armour. Unless of course you’re conflating things.
    – Rather than obfuscate things and ask rhetorical questions and make references to Ninjas why not take the effort to do some research of your own? In short; since you missed it the whole idea of having MBTs was to make the division the army’s first combined arms one. We know this because it’s obvious and the army has said so; so none of your nonsensical chains of “playing safe”.
    – As for “immediate deployment” firstly there’s such a thing as period of tensions in which prostrations can be made. Conflicts rarely break out suddenly without aunty indications. Secondly nobody is under the illusion [I can’t speak for you though] that we’ll actively face threats from all sides of the compass so to speak
    – Learn the art of paragraphs because it makes it easier for others to read rather than a large turd like lump.

  31. Azlan, when was the first MBT delivered? When was the unit activated? Keep saying eventually, so when is “eventual”? 2030, 2040? Sois it minimal for another 4 years or another 16 years? Is anything Army doing today suggests anything beyond minimal? Or is this more like its so cool to have tanks and be able to say we have tanks? Doesn’t matter if they are actually useful beyond national day parades and firepower exercises.

  32. @kel

    We have as much tanks as aussie got. I doubt the aussie got theirs just for national parade and firepower exercises.

  33. kel – ”Azlan, when was the first MBT delivered? When was the unit activated? Keep saying eventually, so when is “eventual”?

    I could tell you when the first prototype arrived and was at a Merdeka Day parade before flying back; when the others arrived at Klang; the local logistics company and when the unit was officially declared operational; their first exercise; but it’s best you do your own research. While you’re at it find out the role of MBTs and how they’re employed.

    kel – ”Or is this more like its so cool to have tanks and be able to say we have tanks? Doesn’t matter if they are actually useful beyond national day parades and firepower exercises.”

    You sound like Dr. Kua now – just as informed. Any suggestions that there for show or are merely “cool” is an insult to those who take great pride operating and maintaining them [have you actually met any of them?] and displays a certain level of cluelessness.

    kel – ”it minimal for another 4 years or another 16 years? Is anything Army doing today suggests anything beyond minimal?”

    Perhaps direct them to the decision makers. Various questions you’ve had over the months on policy and other things have been answered but if they don’t satisfy you or you have issues fathoming certain things; well. Since you keep missing it, another reminder : the policy makers do not foresee us being involved in an industrial scale protracted conflict. Agree or not that’s a fact and is widely known and understood. It drives what and how we do and our focus for a long time was to always have a minimal capability to deal with the low key threats we foresaw. This does not imply I agree with it; merely stating a fact and if you have further doubts ask Marhalim what our policy has long been. I can’t explain it in simpler terms and if you want to engage in rhetoric or obfuscation rather then adding anything useful that’s on you.

  34. Zaft, well the Australian will spent AUD3+ billion to increase the Abrams from 58 to 75 plus additional breacher vehicles, bridge, and recovery. They seem to have a long term target of between 90 and 120 tanks. In other words they have spent to buy new tanks and buy more tanks even though the new and additional Abrams tanks come nearly 20 years after the first tanks were delivered. Malaysia Army hasn’t even showed what plans they have with the MBTs. They want more? Or what bigger? Or want more and bigger?

    As for Azlan, it doesn’t matter what the policy makers say, just as RMAF and RMN demonstrated, if there is a clear and consistent plant, it will be difficult to deviate even if those plans are not sacrosant they are plans to keep things on track. Unfortunate for RMN to be saddled with black hole LCS but RMAF is getting their plans filled up. Has anyone seen Army’s equivalent plan? This constant deflecting responsibility to decision makers does not make the Army beyond reproach or blame. Just as discussed in other topics, the Armed Forces themselves have to bear some of the blame for the state of their own affairs. For the Army, the 4×4 armour is an example. Again prioritisation is not solely the responsibility of the government. There is no obsfucating. Army wants their tanks but are not prioritising acquisition of new tanks anytime – fact. Yet they want to upgrade the existing tanks but are not willing to reorg the tank formation to have 1 unit in EM and 1 unit in WM – fact. Such that EM units cannot include tanks in their tactics – fact. Could Army say if tanks is beyond Army’s budget or is not a good use of Army’s resources? Yes, Army can – fact. Are tanks currently a good use or Army’s resources, to me no, to some yes. Are there better options? To me yes, to others dont care. Like fix all the damaged Gempitas, or use the upgrade money for the tracked IFVs/APCs upgrade, or use the upgrade money to push more 2km+ ATGM weapons in greater numbers down the chain of command – up to platoon level, or buy more 4×4 or buy better weapons for the new 4×4. Again, the two things Army has in abundance is infantry and transports. Who determines whether tanks is needed? Army, not the government. Who determines the priority list? Army not the government. There is no obsfucation or lack of contribution. I’m still waiting and will be told to wait on what is the definition of low-intensity.

  35. Zaft,

    Why don’t you put some thought into what it is you want to say. The Australian army has a long history of operating tanks [including in Borneo in 1945] and is a much more matured army in terms of tertiary capabilities; assets and doctrinal development. There is also the fact that if the Australians do deploy armour in combat on the Asian land mass it will be alongside American units. As such direct comparisons are an apples to oranges thing.

    We bought the MBTs so that we could have our first combined arms divisions and like the 2 subs; the small number of fighters and various things which we take our time to acquire; all part of our long-standing policy to have some level of capability to deal with the low key threats we foresee and so we don’t get too left behind with regards to our neighbours. As a well known local defence writer once said; Mahathir was a pacifist. Anything we bought had to benefit the country first rather than the MAF [why we got a long list of things I’ll suited for our specific needs] as he also believed we’d never be faced with an all out war. Various statements he made during his two terms in office also gives us a strong indication as to
    his overall attitude towards defence spending [one only has to look].

    To add some background in the 1990’s we issued bids. Those who responded included Vickers with the Mark 3 [105mm gun and ERA];
    the Bumar Laberdy T-72; the Korean K-1 [105mm gun]; Slovakia with their T-72 and an offer for a T-72 turret on a Leo 1 hull. For reasons I’ve explained nobody took much effort to try sell us a Western tank because we had imposed a weight limitation; although we were offered surplus Leo 1s.

    Then a few years later we issued bids again and those who responded were KDMB with the T-84 and the Russians with the
    T-90. As an alternative the Rooikat and Centauro were offered; along with the CV-90 armed with a 120mm gun [it arrived late for DSA 2002 on the 2nd day].

    Those which underwent local trials were the T-90, T-84, Rooikat and Centauro. The T-84 under Deftech was the leading contender but somehow the PT-90 [upgraded T-72M1] got the contract. Polish stud technology played a part.

    The Russians were annoyed because to them anyone who got contracts to produce tanks during the Cold War period could only do so for domestic use and exports were only allowed with Soviet approval. As such the export of tanks by former Soviet Republics and forner Warsaw Pact countries were seen as a violation. During that period had we decided to get K-5 [the Poles could only offer Erawa which is mainly for chemical energy rounds and not kinetic] and say Shtora for our PT-91s the Russians would have made it hard.

  36. P.S.

    A visitor to this site who I use to roam the circuit with and who is sadly no longer with us offered the army an alternative. Former Swiss army Panzer 68s [with a 105mm] which would have received a minor upgrade; including the same sight as on the CV-90; which could be used as training vehicles for a few years. I still have the proposal he sent to the Armour Directorate. This same individual also wrote an article suggesting that surplus M-1 hulls be converted into engineering variants for the U.S. Army which published it in its “Armor” magazine.

    Oh and we were also offered the Khalid which is a rebranded Chinese design.

  37. There is only so much new upgrades or features that are in the market for a Russian tank unlike the West with a pletora of addons for Leo2. The question whether we should have gone with used Leos or brand new PT91 is moot since TDM preference for new stuff precludes such decision. Whether it was a right decision, well it depends who you ask (even SG has no qualms going for used Leo2, so was it really that bad? hmm…).

    TDMs preference for Western stuff is an open secret, if were to get a 2nd batch of tanks it would have been Western aka NATO design biased (that includes K2, Altay, etc) so im doubtful TDM would want to do extensive upgrades rather the SLEP their asking is just to keep them running at their current capability so no improvements got added, ie replacement of Western FCS gear which is sensitive to the harsher ride of Russki vs Western tanks so its likely we would go back to Sagem for these equipment.

    On an active tank, typically the gun barrel needs replacement 1st but it seems we move more than we fire as we arent replacing that (maybe we did in the past?).

    That RENK transmission is prolly the best gearbox that is available for T72 family so unless TDM has some dissatisfaction likely will go back to RENK again, might even see their booth come this DSA after being missing the last one.

    Basically this is a nothingburger, much like the Hornet & MKM SLEPs, these will just be replacement of worn/spoiled/obsoleted gear just to keep their current capabilities in use as TDM have other more important priorities with their money. Right now its the KJA rather than Pendekar replacements so even after SLEP it will be another 10-15 years before this question will be brought up.

  38. Indeed but you know as well its the HMAV and HMLTV that is upcoming. I just lazy to type all that

  39. Kel “well the Australian will spent AUD3+ billion to increase the Abrams from 58 to 75 plus additional breacher vehicles, bridge, and recovery. They seem to have a long term target of between 90 and 120 tanks.”

    They aren’t anymore. They don’t ordered enough IFV to support those tanks. Nor that 50 to 75 tanks are enough tanks for territorial self defence in a protracted settings. If anything it’s just enough tanks to fly the flag if you will alongside other military.

    The biggest difference between us and them among other things is they walk the talk. Ie the whole of gov messaging is consistent. Their military is designed to work with other military and their political bodies support such narrative. Over here we have a military thats are ill equipped for unilaterally military action, who seem want to work alongside other military but the politician are sayings different things entirely, while the procurement office is doing another.

  40. well the thing is we cant really keep using 80s/90s tank until the end of the time..and only for 48 units for that matter.Sure we dont want to compete in a arm races in this region but come on..even poland the manufacturer of pt91m already replacing their fleet of pt91m with k2 if im not mistaken..Im not suggesting we go for k2 also ofcourse we cant afford them..id go for leopard 2a6 though good enough maybe for another 48 or 58 units

  41. Doubt if the barrels ever needed to be changed given the number of rounds we’ve fired over the years. No idea also if we bought spare barrels as part of the contract or even if the army or Deftech is able to actually replace barrels; probably.

    The Sings have less of an issue with sustainment costs as they have a bigger budget. Tank to tank the Leo 2 would cost more to operate and would also be more of a challenge to maintain.

  42. Kel,

    There is no clear and holistic plan. None and there hasn’t been for years in contrast to the years when we had a cleat defined threat on the form of a internal threat. That’s the whole point. There is no clear assessment of what we want to achieve and what we can achieve given the resources we allocate. Making things worse is that we don’t get the best value for what we spend. The result is what we have now. A military we can adequately afford to sustain and equip and one whose capabilities don’t reflect al we’ve spent on it.

    You can wait till the next decade for all I care because it has been explained to you in clear easy to understand English several times.
    If you ‘re unable or unwilling to understand perhaps partake in some of your own research rather than expecting to be soon fed. If by now you’re still struggling to understand what “low intensity” means must as well ask the difference between a car and a bicycle. Unless of course you’re a troll or are unable to understand due to congenital issues.

    Also since you still haven’t grasped this fundamental fact : the services decide what they wants to be the priority but the government makes the actual decision as to what is the priority, what gets funded and when it gets funded. The government also often changes priorities.

    As for the non lack of “obfuscation and contribution” you’re blowing your on trumpet.

    Learn the art of paragraphs because it makes it easier for others to read rather than a large turd like lump.

  43. Firdaus,

    We can operate the tanning until it falls apart. Spares are aplenty. The fact that it has a lot of limitations is a. completely different matter.

    Ideally what we get in the future must have a growth pour brisk of at least 20 odds gets; must be something we can afford to buy and sustain without blowing a hole in the pocket; must have connectivity; must have a certain level of baseline protection as well as add on appliqué armour and must have a full 24 hour “hunter killer” capability. Last but not least a full simulator which we never got for the PTs and a APS with sufficient rounds and the ability to deal with threats coming from a steep angle; i.e. from above.

    A lot has been written on the PT-91 with the usual assumptions thrown in. It’s a decent tank but leaves a lot to be desired as far as survivability and ergonomics. It’s also a late 1960’s/ early 1970’s design based on Soviet requirements and fitted with very decent but 1990’s vintage electronics. As a back story it’s not the carousel loader which makes the tank vulnerable but the placement of unprotected rounds and charges in the hull and sides of turrets.

  44. Zaft,

    Simple. The difference between us and them is that unlike us they foresee the possibility that the ADF will be engaged in a major war; one of high intensity in highly non permissive environment against a powerful opponent.

    We on the other hand only foresee the MAF being able to deal with limited or low intensity threats; not a long drawn one in which the MAF has to operate in a highly non permissive environment. For those who bother to research; this has been our policy for decades and is reflected in the way we go about things. Buying arms was/is to end me a the MAF to heave some level of deterrence against the low key threats we foresee; to ensure we don’t get too far left behind and to build up the local industry [read connected Bumi companies]. I will also add that buying the hardware doesn’t automatically transform the MAF. Takes years of commitment; as well as the right mindet, doctrine, training and culture.

    As Michael Kofman often says in his talks/podcasts “show me one’s force structure and I’ll tell you who he plans to fight”. As I often say; the only military in the region structured, funded, trained and equipped to operate jointly and fully networked in a highly non permissive environment and to maintain a certain level of tempo is the SAF. Now people can be clueless as far as they want; to obfuscate and assume but it is what it is. A change would require a change in policy and it’s the government which sets policy and which prioritises what gets funded and when.

  45. “Leo 2 would cost more to operate and would also be more of a challenge to maintain”
    Therein lies the rub. We dont have enough money to buy new Western tanks in sufficient numbers nor do we have enough money to sustain higher maint cost of Russki new tanks nor enough money to sustain used Leo2s like SG. So where does that leave us actually? In such a scenario what was the best option we could have gone? As such the idea even seeking future retired Bundeswehr 2A6s will be problematic.

    “Ideally what we get in the future must have a growth pour brisk of at least 20 odds gets; must be something we can afford to buy and sustain without blowing a hole in the pocket; must have connectivity; must have a certain level of baseline protection as well as add on appliqué armour and must have a full 24 hour “hunter killer” capability. Last but not least a full simulator which we never got for the PTs and a APS with sufficient rounds and the ability to deal with threats coming from a steep angle; i.e. from above.”
    Wow! I wonder what tank that exist that could meet such wonder criteria, all at our level of affordability and not cost a brand new Abrams.

  46. No need to “wonder” too hard as all current gen MBTs meet or will meet the various criteria listed [hardly “wonder” criteria] whether of South Korean; Turkish [South Korean] or high end Chinese designs.
    Just like how all current gen rotary designs offer a NVG compatible cockpit and FLIR as a pretty standard for out.

    All also by virtue of having a higher level of electronics and computers are more expensive to operate compared to previous gen designs. Even the Armata if it ever enters widespread service and is exported will be unlike much simpler less sophisticated Soviet era designs in terms of complexity and sustainment costs.

    The M-1 is in a class of its own due its turbine engine and various thing led inherent to it. Note that the Ukrainians have found the M-1 more challenging to sustain and to train crews on compared to Leo 2s and Challengers. There is also an article out there in which a former M-1 operator goes into greet detail explaining why the Ukrainians will find it challenging to maintain their M-1s.

  47. I can’t think of any current gen MBT which does not have a “hunter killer” capability [whether 24 hour or not which is just a matter of having a pair of thermals]; a BMS, applique armour; a FCS with auto tracker and an over ride function for the commander and the ability to be fitted with a OWS; all of which are considered must haves or the basics in this day and age and are fitted on tanks which don’t cost the equivalent of a “brand new Abrams”. I also can’t think of any current gen MBT whose OEMs or users have not already integrated a APS or already plan to. The issue with most APSs is that they’re designed to hit incoming targets at certain angles
    but not necessarily steep angles as would be flown by a top attack missile or mortar or a munition fired from a UAS or a loitering munition. Another issue is the limited number of rounds. The good news is that as more of them enter service the prices of APSs will fall.

    When the time does come when we get a PT-91 replacement; unless a significant change occurs we can really rule out European designs [mainly due to cost issues]; Chinese designs [not politically palatable] and Russian designs [not just due to political reasons but also because it’s unlikely we’ll resort to the highly regressive move of getting more T-72s]. Just like how operating Fulcrums and Flankers put us off Russian aircraft; having operated a Soviet designed tank for years now we’d be put off by certain inherent limitations/deficiencies.

    That would leave Turkey and South Korea. Sure their designs aren’t “cheap” but in this day and age; nothing is “cheap”; not MRCAs, not IFVs and certainly not MBTs. It’s either we can afford them, or not and whether we can do away with the capability. Now anyone can point out that in lieu of not being able to afford a PT replacement we could go for a light tank; my only answer is that a light tank is not a substitute for a MBT in that it does not provide the same level of capability and I seriously doubt the army or rather the Armour Directorate would go down this route. In reply to the argument that a mere regiment’s worth of MBTs is insufficient to deal with a major threat; doing away with the capability would leave a serious gap; it would take lots of time effort and resources to regain the capability and that if faced with a land threat a lack of large numbers of MBTs might not necessarily be a major inhibiting factor.

    There is also the fact that for some years we had a requirement for another regiment’s worth of MBTs to supplement the existing one but realistically this has been changed to eventually replacing the current fleet and not in the foreseeable future at that. One could argue that MBTs are not needed or should be the lowest on the list because of threats being mainly in the maritime domain. Yes but we can’t completely overlook the needs of the army; MBTs provide a vital capability which no other asset can replace and the unexpected can occur. We don’t get to choose the threats we’d like to face; nobody does. Prior to 2013 who would have thought we’d have to resort to thousands of troops backed by armour, mortars, artillery, IFCs, APCs and air strikes to deal with a few hundred lightly armed militants/bandits/insurgents.

  48. “but in this day and age; nothing is “cheap”;”
    Thats why I said its a problem for us then, which is now compounded even bigger problem for us today since our currency (and thus international buying power) has shrunken a lot from back then.

    PT91 (and any other Russkis) were the ones affordable back then, so the big question how are we going to afford even pricier Western designed tanks (ie K2, Altay, etc)? Rather can we split into 2 RMKs and 24 units each tag along other production batch builds? However for that our TDM will have to stomach not doing any customisation or gold plating and therefore whatever they chosen has to maximum suit their needs.

  49. “As I said” – “That would leave Turkey and South Korea. Sure their designs aren’t “cheap” but in this day and age; nothing is “cheap”; not MRCAs, not IFVs and certainly not MBTs. It’s either we can afford them, or not and whether we can do away with the capability”

  50. Unless we get Russian [as likely as us getting Indian] what we get will not have to be “gold plated” because the fit out will be pretty standard and I would argue that nothing we’ve bought so far was “gold plated” per see; merely fitted out to enable certain requirements to be met; requirements which were not excessive or superfluous or nice to have but essential in this day and age; whether a FLIR or NVG compatible cockpit on a Cougar or a 24 hour hunter killer capability on a PT-91.

    Also bear in mind that certain things we bought upfront were “affordable” in the short term but not in the longer term.

  51. Still on this subject, Spain is selling it’s M60s. Perhaps the Army should just start looking up these 2nd hand items and upgrades that come with them. Turkey has upgraded their M60s to T standard with a new turret to boot. Just a thought 💭.

  52. Nope those M60s have been stored for a long time unlike the Turkish ones which are still being used though in smaller numbers,

  53. “It’s either we can afford them, or not”
    Well then going by this logic, and looking at our economic condition, the answer is obviously we cannot. Then what can we do?

    “nothing we’ve bought so far was “gold plated” per see”
    The Pendekars had Sagem FCS & rangefinders, Slovakian gun barrels, German tracks.
    The Gempitas came uparmoured variant of PARS (which we are the first user), there were a couple of variants specialised for us; armed with SA turret & ATGM, the NBCR carrier.
    I cannot predict if said ‘Western’ tank will fully suit TDM requirements or not but going by these precedence, we tend to change or make things peculiar to us so the line goes this will not change even with the above.

    “we bought upfront were “affordable” in the short term”
    Its either we can afford something now or we can afford it later. If we want to wait for the ‘later affordability’ it means we cant buy anything now. How is that better? Like saying its either I can buy a used car today which will cost me more later or I can choose a new car, but I cannot afford it. I only have enough money for that used car so what can I(TDM) do?

  54. Government sets the National Defence Policy – which is publicly available for reading but I suppose policy that is not consistent with one’s view is not sacrosant so why bother even tough it is a national policy. The government doesn’t determine the force structure – that is for MAF to determine based on the goals and intent of the government as articulated in the National Defence Policy and other national policies. As RMN and RMAF demonstrated, government doesn’t have exclusive ownership of prioritisation, in fact MAF has far greater influence on what is considered priority. Where the government has outsized influence is deciding who to buy from – the LCS, the Gempita, SU30, and the SPH – and deciding how many to buy (the money), and when to buy. Even if Army losses tank capabilities, it won’t be a big loss because as-is, its not even properly indoctrinated in Army warfighting given its limited availability – its not in EM, its not able to respond to Northern or East Peninsular quickly. The way tanks are organised means they are more strategic than tactical assets. Instead of hiding around low intensity, protracted, minimal capability, etc, the answer why Army wants its tanks is already known from my point of view. So I will make the argument for keeping tanks. For that we can make reference to RMN’s own plan as per the 15to5 Strategy Document – as it provides context as to what is a fighting force. Navy wants to be able to form a Task Group, which is the Navy’s equivalent of the Army’s Mechanised Brigade, which is the standard fighting force of Western armies. A Mech Brigade is a “heavy” Brigade that has Main Battle Tanks. You can have “light” Mech Brigades that doesn’t have MBTs. Until the SPH arrives, Army doesn’t actually have a fully functioning Mech Brigade – hence Army’s dedication to get the SPH. If the Army’s long-term plan is to have 1 Mech Brigade each in East and West Malaysia, then MBTs are absolutely essential to Army’s force structure. Flipping the argument against MBTs, Army is struggling to upgrade its existing IFV/APC, can’t get more 8×8/6×6 that it has to use 4×4, can’t fix damaged Gempitas, not investing in GAPU, only has 18 2km+ ATGW with 36 shots, and not investing in aviation (struggle even to get 4 leased Blackhawks). There is many other better ways to spent Army’s monies. No one is saying Army should copy the USMC Force Design 2030, only to learn from their thought process and assumptions, some of which makes sense for Malaysia’s Army. We also can learn from the Canadian, British and Australian armies on the challenges of owning MBTs, and see if there are better ways for the Army to achieve the “commander’s intent”. So there is the for and against tanks. No need to deflect with minimum capability, low intensity then taichi the issue to government. If Mech Brigade is the goal, keep tanks but take note that the British, Canadian, and Australian find it difficult to operate multiple Mech Brigades, and recognise tanks take money away from other programs. I personally would rather see all the IFV/APCs upgraded or the funds committed now then to split over 2 RMKs, buy more 2km+ ATGW to be pushed down the chain of command, and buy more 4x4s or equip the 4x4s with better armour and weapons.

  55. The examples you cited were not things being “gold plated” but modifications being made to fulfill set requirements. The Sagem FCS was needed to ensure a first hit capability [the Polish one performed poorly]; the rangefinder for obvious reasons and integral to the FCS; the Slovakian gun because the Polish one lacked the accuracy when paired with the French FCS [we belatedly discovered this during actual trials] and the German tracks because they last longer; are more durable and are less damaging to paved surfaces; as such these are hardly examples of things being “gold plated”.

    Thanks for the usual analogy but I merely pointed out that we bought things which appeared to be “affordable” in the short term but weren’t in the longer term. In short wherever short term savings we gained were squandered in the long term. Ask the RMAF.

    No we can’t predict anything but certain things we can predict with some element of certainty. With the PT-91 the modifications performed brought it to Western standard; for the simple reason that the PT-91 was found wanting in several keys areas. Had we not wanted a Western standard tank we could have bought T-72As or T-72M1s. As it stands we only have a history of modifying things which aren’t Western; no modifications on the Hawks or Hornets. With the AV-8 we did modify it but then we modified a Turkish IFV built to Western standards with components compatible to Western standards; either in calibre, STANAG level; wiring, data bus, etc.

    You spoke of “logic” well the “logic” is if we can’t afford it we don’t buy it or do it; AEW platform for which a requirement arose in the mid 80’s; upgrading Gong Kedahs which was originally intended to be funded under PERISTA and a sub capability which the RMN waited for over two decades [merely 3 of a long list of examples].

    Taib,

    Given a choice between an upgraded M-60 and an upgraded T-72 I’d go for the latter and I can explain why if you need me to. The next tanks we get should be a generation ahead over what we currently have and should have growth potential.

  56. ” Given a choice between an upgraded M-60 and an upgraded T-72 I’d go for the latter and I can explain why if you need me to. The next tanks we get should be a generation ahead over what we currently have and should have growth potential ”

    If we have a secure budget specifically for upgrades, I would prefer to upgrade the PT-91M, as per what i have written above, at the budget also as per what i have written above.

    If it is at the expense of other things, then i would skip/postpone the upgrade and get other more important priorities first such as Long Range Precision Artillery or Missile capability that the army currently does not have.

    As for the next tanks we should get, i don’t see Tentera Darat having the budget to buy any of the new or future MBTs in the next 10-15 years looking at the current prices. Nobody can be sure right now if MBTs at that time would have the same important place in the battlefield. Maybe after 2035 or so the situation would be clearer for the leaders at the time to decide whether it is still prudent to buy a new MBT or not.

  57. ” would prefer to upgrade the PT-91M, as per what i have written above, at the budget also as per what i have written above.”

    You have written many things and posted many links but there are also valid reasons why the army will not subject the fleet to a comprehensive upgrade. Same reason why it’s highly unlikely the Su-30 will get a comprehensive upgrade.

    … – ”get other more important priorities first such as Long Range Precision Artillery or Missile capability that the army currently does not have.”

    What’s really ”more important” depends on the context and is highly subjective. ”Long range precision” sounds great but is useless without the enablers which I’m nor confident we’ll get. Also, the enablers aside; ”long range precision” stuff are not silver bullets and have to be operated alongside other assets in order to have the desired affect.

    ”Nobody can be sure right now if MBTs at that time would have the same important place in the battlefield. ”

    Maybe but the same was said after WW1 due to AT rifles; the same during WW2 due to AT guns; AT cannons mounted on aircraft; the same after 1973 when Saggers supposedly sounded the death for tanks yet more than 100 years after they were introduced tanks are sill there and are still the most ideal means of deploying mobile, protected firepower.

    If anything; I’d have to question if UASs and loitering munitions will still occupy the position they hold at present given all the efforts made at countering them and the fact they remain largely slow and defenceless and are highly vulnerable to jamming and spoofing.

  58. “The examples you cited were not things being “gold plated” but modifications”
    Anything that is not the OEM options lists is gold plating in my books, because they have to be customised for that equipment, specially ordered, and has to pay for integration unless others have done so already. Otherwise what is your definition?

  59. And thanks for your usual going roundabout in circles. Indeed the TUDM, if they had waited for the SH, today we would have already retired the MIGS and had no heavyweight fighters to rely upon as we will only have 7 Hornets on the frontline.

  60. “PT-91 the modifications performed brought it to Western standard”
    Like the MKMs, gold plating Russki stuff to Western standards. Yes they were the most potent SU30 & T72 respectively but it wise to spend effort & money rather than getting outright Western stuff that no need to modify but ones that we could not afford.

    “well the “logic” is if we can’t afford it we don’t buy it”
    Well said! I rather to lose the capability if we cannot afford to maintain it or enhance it. We tried the route of having something using Russki gears but we still arent able to afford switching to Western stuff to maintain currency like having MBTS so by the time the PT91 becomes decrepit and still not being replaced, lets just lose having tank capability rather than getting another Russki replacement. Same goes with the fighters if we cannot afford the MRCA we want, lets just stick to an all LCA fighter fleet once the Hornets & MKMs no longer can fly.

  61. “ And thanks for your usual going roundabout in circles”

    Don’t mention it. Always welcome, always.

    BTW just because you don’t get the answers you’d like doesn’t mean that others “go around in circles”. Also, if you want to engage in sarcasm perhaps cone up with your own quotes.

    “Like the MKMs”

    Didn’t you just mention “going around in circles”? Just like how I explained there the so called “gold plating” you claimed with the PTs was essential the so called “ gold plating” on the MKMs was essential because without then we could not get something which suited our requirements. It’s nothing about making them “potent” but ensuring they could do what we required; which they were unable to without modifications; the Russians had no decent pod hence Damocles; they had no MAWS and their radios were not compatible; to give some examples.

    “logic”

    What was that about “going around in circles”. If we can’t afford to buy something or do something; we don’t and I’ve given examples. If we do decide we want to do something we do it in smaller numbers and with a scaled spec and yes at times we’d have to make a comprise in force structure and capabilities to get something which can perform part but not all of the roles of something we originally wanted to get.

    “definition”

    It’s obvious and not my definition pee see. “Gold plating” entails fitting gear superfluous to actual need; something we could have done without : all the modifications performed on the MKMs and PTs [examples were given] was to ensure we could do what we needed then to do. As for rotary platforms; in this day and age stuff like a FLIR, NVG compatible cockpit and winch are standard fit; unlike in the past when they were optional [look up ads in the 80’s and 90’s].

  62. The problem with losing the capability is that regaining it at another time entails a lot of effort and cost.

  63. “ just stick to an all LCA fighter fleet once the Hornets & MKMs no longer can fly

    Like I said in a previous post : some capabilities we”ll have to go without. As it stands however if you look back at our procurement history stretching back to the 1980’s we eventually come around to getting the capability; albeit after an extended delay. Look at how long it took to finally get the Hornets and Fulcrums and later the subs. How long did the army wait to get it’s FH-70s and MANPADs; both requirements approved 7/8 years prior.

    My worry is not us eventually getting the kit but us getting the right kit and in decent numbers which bar select examples rarely happens.

  64. “ We tried the route of having something using Russki gears but we still arent able to afford switching to Western stuff to maintain

    The irony is that the more expensive to buy Western stuff would have been far more cost effective in the long run. Whatever shirt terms savings we gained by going down the Fulcrum and Flanker route was squandered in the long term. The case with the PTs however is a different issue; had we conducted a refurbishment as we wanted sone years earlier quite a bit of the issues we have nor could have been avoided.

  65. “just because you don’t get the answers you’d like”
    No worries, cause you never gave a straight one anyways.

    “because without then we could not get something which suited our requirements”
    The SH would have suited what the MKMs could do but for the simple reason; we couldnt darn well afford for the numbers we want. So with the limited budget we tried to shoehorn extensive Western gear into a SU30, something never been done before. And many things that we have customised to our requirement which caused a lot of sustainability issues. Ask TDM, ask TUDM, ask TLDM.

    “What was that about “going around in circles”.”
    So agreeing with you is going around in circles? Hmm…. but then..

    “The problem with losing the capability.”
    Why going around in circles worrying about that. If its a capability we cannot to sustain why kill ourselves getting substandard equipment just to say ‘we still have them capabilities’? We gain tank capability with cheaper PT91 but we cannot sustain it by getting pricier Western tanks, so? I rather just lose it and focus efforts on something else we can afford to keep going & going.

    “The irony is that the more expensive to buy Western stuff”
    Yes no need to go around in circles. If we cant afford it, we cant afford it. Simple.

  66. Thats why i said before we should only buy things we can afford. Popular stuff built in great numbers like the T72s and M113s and then go customise them with popular systems and sensors too. Make sure we integrate them locally. Its akin to buying toyotas and souping them up. Don’t go get Citroens or Alfa Romeos which we can’t get spare parts later or the skills to maintain them.

    Then again the rent seekers love these locked in platforms. Great at generating secured income for 30-40 years.

  67. @Hasnan
    The problem is those Toyota your talking is about used 90s platform and constantly breakdown ever so often, & takes time to wait for spareparts. If we cannot afford brand new Citroens or Alfas and we cannot afford to keep maintaining old used Toyotas, might as well sell out and get cheaper kapcais. Which I mean is lets lose the tank when the PT91 eventually is too expensive to maintain and go with something else we can afford.

  68. Joe “The SH would have suited what the MKMs could do but for the simple reason; we couldnt darn well afford for the numbers we want. So with the limited budget we tried to shoehorn extensive Western gear into a SU30, something never been done before. And many things that we have customised to our requirement which caused a lot of sustainability issues. Ask TDM, ask TUDM, ask TLDM.”

    The most likely reason for MKM rather than a hornets is politics rather than affordability. We were then a de facto one party state with strongman de facto dictators as the top leaders while the US embarked on the highly unpopular domestically war on terror campaigns.

    Shoehorning western equipment on the MKM cost more money in the long run afterall. Not to mention the hornets deal comes not only with a lucrative commercial supplies contract to boeing at a time when US was the biggest source of FDI ie we are awash with dollar rather than rubbles.

  69. @Zaft
    Politics is one angle but cost factor was also a main reason as I understand, for the budget we had, realistically we could either get a fleet of MKM or a lower number of SH. There are many considerations to put into a buy thus to blame it solely on policy is fallacy.

  70. No worries, cause you never gave a straight one anyways“

    Correction. Not one you can accept or understand. So “no worries”.
    Also, if indeed I’m “going around in circles” them by asking me things of conveying on my “going around in circles” then you’re also partaking in what you chemical in doing.
    “circles”

    Who’s going around in circles? You? Who decides what constitute going around in circles? You?

    As for “damn well” not being able to afford it; who says we bought the MKM because we couldn’t afford a similar number of Suoer Hornets? It was not due to the price but a host of other reasons including fe the invasion of Iraq. As Dzirhan Mahadzir once said years ago ; if NASA had been able to train a local astronaut perhaps Boeing might have stood a better chance.

    As for “worrying about that and going “around in circles”.

    “Simple”

    Actually that’s what I said. If we can’t afford to replace it we accept losing the capability but seeing that you merely repeated the thing yet admonished someone for supposedly “going around in circles” the question which arises is who’s actually “going around in circles…

    I said that if we can’t afford to replace something then we have to accept losing the capability and the only person making repeated references to “going around in circles “ is you.

    Zaft,

    That’s right and it’s widely known : we didn’t not get Super Hornets in 2002 not because it was too expensive but for other reasons. It was a policy decision; just like how we got Fulcrums not because we could not afford F-16s. In the long run despite being cheaper to buy the MKMs were more resource intensive to sustain and that’s also a widely known fact.

  71. Zaft

    The Hornet deal would have been under FMS in which the USN acts as the agency to ensure Boeing meets all contextual obligations. It’s the USN not Boeing which accepts abd delivers the aircraft. Under FMS – like with the D deal – the USN would could have provided a combat and training syllabus because they operate what we ordered. With the MKMs the Russians could only provide a maintenance syllabus and not a combat one because they did not operate the MNM. As it turned out the help the Russians gave was lacking so we turned to the IAF who conveniently had also translated a host if manuals into English.

    The combat syllabus was formulated by ourselves through trial and error. Another issue was that with Super Hornets everything we needed had already been integrated and certified and paid for by Uncle Sam. This was not the case with the MKMs and the Russians couldn’t even provide a target/nav pod and simulator.

    Oh and here’s me “going around in circles” [which I’ll.
    make a point to do] but we could have afforded 18 SHs in 2002 but Mahathir decided national interests was more vital than the RMAF getting the desired capability and the taxpayers their money’s worth.

  72. Hasnan – ”Thats why i said before we should only buy things we can afford.”

    Ok but what happens if the stuff we need to meet our requirements are stuff we can’t afford? Do requirements drive procurement or is it the other way around? If something cheaper we buy does nor provide the needed capability; can the procurement be justified?

    Hanan – ”Great at generating secured income for 30-40 years.”

    But no so great for the taxpayer who has to pay more and the end user which is straddled with something ill suiterd for its requirements.

    ” So with the limited budget we tried to shoehorn extensive Western gear into a SU30, something never been done before. ”

    Because not doing so would have meant the MKMs not meeting our requirements. The Rohde & Schwarz radios were needed as the Russians ones weren’t compatible. Damocles was needed because the Russians did not have a decent attack/nav pod. We had to turn to Chobham because the Russians did not have a NATO compatible pod. Did the Russians even have a MAWS suite? No. Note that with stuff that provided the capability; we did not replace it.

    All this points to the fact that we should never have bought it and is why the RMAF fought against it but then politics took precedence. With a political decision having been made to acquire the MKM the RMAF had no choice but to modify it; unlike say the Vietnamese who have a long tradition of operating Russian and who had different requirements.

    Hasnan – ”Popular stuff built in great numbers like the T72s and M113s and then go customise them with popular systems and sensors”

    We did do that; i.e,. had we not modified the PTs [some would use the term ”gold plated”] they would not have been able to hit targets with the needed accuracy and range.
    The issue is that we modify things but do so in small numbers and we don’t upgrade them when we should. Has we upgraded or refurbished the PTs on time some of the problems faced now could have been avoided.

  73. “we could have afforded 18 SHs in 2002”
    We wanted partly barter trade palm oil for the heavyweight fighter buy to offset the price. It was obvious USA arent going to concede a single dollar thus we were unable to pay for 18 SH. Angkasawan program was just a gimmick tack on to placate the rakyat for such a pricey buy, we still couldnt afford 18 SH without some form of bartering. Ask the beancounters.

  74. Frankly, I don’t think its rocket science to integrate best of class sensors and systems to a T72 or M113. Same goes for upgrading the armour and installing anti atgm systems.

    Also, don’t see the point of being able to assemble the 200 odd gempitas but can’t even repair the one in Sabah. The ToT was just the assembly line. Same for the Adnans.

    For the Flankers, we should have done the integration of the western stuff ourselves. Those are the things that need to be upgraded periodically. The russians won’t touch them.

  75. ”We wanted partly barter trade palm oil for the heavyweight fighter buy to offset the price.”

    We never wanted barter trade with the U.S. as we knew they won’t and still don’t accept it.

    ” Angkasawan program was just a gimmick tack on to placate the rakyat for such a pricey buy”

    It may be so but having the Russians train an astronaut was a major reason why we went Russian; together with the fact that the invasion of Iraq made a major American buy unpalatable and Mahathir wanted to show his ”independence”.

    ”Ask the beancounters.”

    I haven’t but it was no open secret within industry and media circles during period that the reason we did not go for the SH wasn’t because they were too expensive. Ask Marhalim.
    I was active in the circuit then; I never heard anyone claim that the price tag was a reason the SHs were dropped. In fact a soon to be retired RMAF Colonel was predicting the issues we’d faced with the MKMs and how unhappy the RMAF was that political considerations took precedence.

    Only a few years before had it not been for the Asian Economic Crisis we were pretty close to signing a deal for 18 more Ds; a RFI was issued in 1995. Had we bought the 18 F/A-18Fs which included 3 spare F414-GE-400 engines; AN/ALR-67[V] 3 dispensers; 12 ALQ-214 [V] 2 ECM pods and 72 LAU-127B/A launchers the price tag was US$1.5 billion dollars. We know this because of a statement the U.S. Department of Defence released following Congressional approval in 2000; 2 years before we signed the MRCA contract.

  76. Hasnan – ”I don’t think its rocket science to integrate best of class sensors and systems to a T72 or M113. Same goes for upgrading the armour and installing anti atgm systems.”

    Such upgrades have been going on for decades but it’ll be wishful thinking that they actually bring things up to a certain standard. Does an upgraded M-113 produce a vehicle suitable for threats faced on the modern battlefield? As for the T-72; all the upgrades in the world will not result in a tank comparable to a Western design. No tank is invulnerable but Western tanks have proved to be clearly more survivable for their crews. Then there is the question of cost and cost effectiveness; if you’re going to add a bustle loader; a 24 hour hunter killer capability; a fast turret electric drive; mine protected seat for the driver; CCTVs all around; OWS, add on applique armour; BMS; APS and other things; do you have the needed economics of scale and is it worth going through all the expense and trouble on a tank first designed in the late 1960’s and catered for Soviet requirements?

    Whilst the Ukraine war has certainly not see much tank on tank combat; nothing’s to say the next war will be the same. Nothing to also say that in a next war UASs and loitering munitions will have such a major impact. No two wars are the same and the plain fact is that armies are buying more, not less tanks.

    Hasnan – ”don’t see the point of being able to assemble the 200 odd gempitas but can’t even repair the one in Sabah. ”

    ”Don’t see the point” in expending all the resources needed to locally assemble the AV-8; get the IP rights and perform modifications when we can’t even afford to buy a follow on batch. Then again since when are we interested in substance; as long as it looks good and makes the government and local industry look good.

    Hasnan – ”For the Flankers, we should have done the integration of the western stuff ourselves.”

    If you’re referring to the initial integration and certification the various non Russian OEMs have to cooperate with the Russians by providing the source/object codes to enable integration and both sides have to provide certification; not to mention the needed manuals.

    Hasnan – ”The russians won’t touch them.”

    Of course they will; because they get paid for it. There is also the fact that not doing anything certified by the OEM means that we’re on our own if things go wrong. As it stands the only entity apart from Rosoboronexport [which is non kosher for us due to the political climate] able to assist is HAL.

  77. Joe “We wanted partly barter trade palm oil for the heavyweight fighter buy to offset the price”

    Technically speaking barter trade is the only thing we can do since we done very little trade with Russia that’s we would never have enough rubbles to pay for MKM. Similarly while we have a lot of trade with SK, it’s in deficit which is probably why they kinda accepted barter trade.

    Meanwhile our trade with US is not just large but at a surplus. So in general we don’t have any problems paying for anything in dollars. And in general for most countries the higher the reliance on US military equipment would usually leads to more FDI, more preferential access and in general more money in the third party country economy.

    So technically we pays a high opportunity cost In term of economy to purchase the MKM. So all things considered the MKM are more ‘expensive’ overall. If affordability was the issues then the hornets would been picked.

  78. Hasnan – “rocket science”

    When it comes to redesigning the layout of a turret as part of an upgrade, making space for everything and making sure the ergonomics are right; it’s very challenging. Take the PT; it was already cramped with hardly any free space and the whole layout had to be designed to account for the monitors, thermal, wind sensor controls; panoramic sight controls, etc.

  79. zaft – ”Technically speaking barter trade is the only thing we can”

    By and large the U.S. and the Europeans don’t accept barter trade. Years ago the Thais offered sea food as part payment for the RN’s retired Se Harriers. Didn’t work out.

    zaft – ”So all things considered the MKM are more ‘expensive’ overall.”

    Like with the Fulcrums the Flankers turned out to be more expensive in the long run. More maintenance intensive and various parts/components with a shorter TBO/MTBF compared to Western ones.

    zaft – ”If affordability was the issues then the hornets would been picked.”

    ”If” the aim was ensuring the RMAF got the desired capability with long term cost effectiveness in mind and the taxpayer their cash’s worth.

  80. The astronaut thing was not a “gimmick”. Such things were taken very seriously by Mahathir [for the PTs we got stud breeding technology]. We made clear we wanted a astronaut in space and the Russians knew they had to make it happen.[it was an offset but one eventually paid for by the Malaysian taxpayer]. With the Scorpenes we made clear we would go with HDW if MAS was not granted additional landing rights to Charles De Gaulle. For the Laksamanas we wanted to help the Iraqis and the Italians were supposed to increase the level of their investments here. For me the most valuable offset we got was the EW School BAE Systems set up as part of the Jernas deal.

    We also didn’t have to “placate the rakyat’ because in 2002 before social media was widely available and before a number of scandals the “rakyat” didn’t have to be “placated”.

  81. Hasnan – ”I don’t think its rocket science to integrate best of class sensors and systems to a T72 or M113. Same goes for upgrading the armour and installing anti atgm systems.”

    Its not. But outside of hulubalang mind, upgrade are expensive. A good example is the FA50 block 20. Its took 2 country, a commited order of 84 jet at twice the purchasing prices of previous block 10 to make it a reality. The hunter class and CSC are 300% more expensive than the RN version.

    Upgrade are so expensive that the aussie had and the German is thinking of ditched the tiger for apache.

    So while it’s not rocket science, it’s not value for money either. One would be better off financially and operationally by ditching the Pendekars and MKM as soon as convenient.

  82. Upgrade costs depends on how big is the scope of the upgrade, also if the upgrade is only exist on PowerPoint presentations or already exists in metal.

    For the Roketsan upgrade for T72/PT91M, thr modular MZK turret has already been built and tested on M60 chassis.
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GKuBUNQbEAAeS4D.jpg

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/GKuBQcab0AA4vh5.jpg

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1669373913116160000

    The upgrade will not change a lot of items. The items changed would be
    – MZK turret (125mm gun and loaders are existing)
    – FCR system, EO, thermals.
    – RWS system on the turret
    – modular passive and active add-on armors

    It should not cost more than a light tank like the Harimau.

  83. zaft – ”upgrade are expensive. ”

    ”Expensive” is subjective. If an upgrade is performed on a platform which is operated in decent numbers; has growth potential and other things then it’s a good return of investment; worth doing. We should have upgraded the Flankers years ago not now when we there are political issues at play and on a platform which the RMAF wasn’t totally satisfied with in the 1st place. Any upgrade has to balanced with the costs involved and whether the funds would be better utilised buying new.

    zaft – ” One would be better off financially and operationally by ditching the Pendekars and MKM as soon as convenient.”

    Well as stated in previous discussions; the intention is to perform a minor or limited refurbishment in order to keep both in service and combat ready until they can be retired. Nothing more.

  84. Still don’t make sense when a K2 costs USD8m compared to a T72B3M costing only USD3m. For a short border skirmish with any of our neighbours, one regiment of PT91 and another regiment of T72B3M is much more manageable compared to a single regiment of expensive K2.

    If we don’t go the route of cost effective platforms, how on earth do we get funding for a second mechanised brigade in Medan Timur?

  85. – What’s there not to get? The K-2 has superior survivability; better SA, a better FCS, better crew comfort, growth potential, etc. You get what you pay for.

    – Quoting prices are great but brass tacks. If your cheaper MBT can’t penetrate the frontal armour of a better protected enemy MBT or does not have the capability to hit targets accurately then what good is it? Contrary to spurious claims the days of tank in tank are not necessarily over.

    – If you personally had to be in a MBT would you rather be in a MBT designed in the late 1960’s which has unprotected ammo and charges stored all over or would you rather be in one in which you have a good chance of surviving even in the event of a penetration in the turret? Do you need to see pics of T-72s, T-80s and T-90s whose turrets became flying saucers in Chechnya, Georgia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine? Have you been inside a T-72?

    – “Short skirmish”. As I keep reminding people; one does not necessarily fight the wars they hope of plan to fight. Prior to 2013 did you ever foresee we’d have to deploy thousands of troops backed by armour, arty, IFVs and air strikes to deal with a non state threat? Why do you assume that any future troubles on land will be a “short skirmish”? It’s not 1986 anymore; potential opponents are better equipped. Gone are the days when an upgraded T-72 can do they job; unless you’re facing an ill equipped opponent.

    – “Cost effective”. If something can’t do the job it’s not “cost effective” or “better than nothing” period/ full stop. Are you still under the assumption that a upgraded T -72 can do the job? Ever asked yourself why countries are moving away from T-72s

  86. Hasnan,

    Something is only “cost effective” if it does the job or if you never have to use it and find that it leaves a lot to be desired. Also, crews are in short supply and are expensive to train, it behooves us to do the most we can to ensure they have the needed protection.

    It’s easy to talk about “cost effectiveness” and getting T-72s when it’s not you who has to be in them whilst under fire. Suggesting we get T-72s is like saying in 2030 we should get upgraded Fulcrums or Su-27s to fulfil the MRCA requirement. No MBTs are not cheap and at the moment we can’t afford them but like I told someone years ago in this day and age nothing is cheap and it’s not as if we’re buying MBTs this year or the next.

    Now one can claim that we’re unlikely to face a land war; that any war will be in the maritime domain and that MBTs should be last in the order of priorities; for which my reply is does one have a crystal ball and that whether on the offensive or defensive MBTs form a crucial element of combined arms formations.

    I would also add that the people who actually do for real what we discuss in the cyber world have long come to the conclusion that anything to do with a T-72 for our next generation MBT is needed like we need a hole in the head.

  87. As a point of interest tRussian tanks are steered by a pair of tillers. The M-1 has a T-Bar and European tanks have steering wheels. From discussions on other forums and during visits to the Tank Museum at Bovington with people who have first hand experience; steering with tillers is apparently a bit more of an effort.

    It’s interesting to hear what Ukrainians who have served in Soviet era tanks have to say about them in comparison to their newly delivered Western ones. According to them Western tanks are quieter; more comfortable and have far superior SA due to better optics and panoramic sights and can shoot further and more accurately [we discovered this with the PT; hence the French FCS and Slovakian gun] – all this unsurprising as the Ukrainians operate a variety of Soviet era tanks; some upgraded; some not and Soviet era tanks have inherent issues which are widely known. The quality of the ammo also plays a big part in accuracy and penetration.

    There have been a few complaints about Western tanks but minor ones. I’ve seen the inside of a T-72A and it’s very cramped in contrast to a Challenger 1 and M-48 I’ve been in; both also having far better ergonomics. The Challenger 1 and M-48 are not as cramped not only because they’re larger but because of how the turrets are designed [without its appliqué armour it will be very surprising to most to see how small a Merkava’s turret is]. On the subject of comfort it’s important if crews are going to spend hours inside their vehicles.

    During the Cold War the Ukraine was a major producer of tanks and did a lot of R&D. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s KDMB came up with interesting concepts such as a bustle loader. When the victims of MH17 were moved from the crash site by rail they actually passed the KDMB plant at Kharkiv [a major producer of T-34s in WW2 and T-80s during the Cold War]. The Ukrainians akso produced K-5 and Shotra.

    A major disadvantage with Western tanks is they’re much more complex to maintain in contrast to Soviet era tanks which are more suitable/forgiving for troops with minimal level of training and poor maintenance standards/culture; we’ve seen this in Africa and the Middle East. Not a tank per see but a good example of how rugged Soviet era IFVs can be are the BMP 1s Executive Outcomes received in Angola. They hadn’t been overhauled in years and had filters which had nit been replaced in years but wee still running.

    The approach the Russians have taken after decades of insisting that their designs were the way to go is interesting. No idea if it will ever enter large scale service but Armata does not rely largely on ERAs for protection and has a totally different layout; a radical departure from the previous layout

  88. Came across this. Very interesting reading which puts things in context. Not one to post links unnecessarily but this is worth reading; with an objective mind; not one with preconceived erroneous notions.

    https://www.armyupress.army.mil/journals/military-review/online-exclusive/2023-ole/the-tank-is-dead/

    “With the ever-changing face of warfare, many armchair strategists believe that the advantages the employment of tanks bring to land warfare are outweighed by vulnerabilities that new technologies can exploit against them. Such critics envision a battlefield dominated by unmanned aerial systems, loitering munitions, missiles, and electromagnetic capabilities that marginalize the tank’s utility”
    “ the ability to place armored forces with tanks anywhere in the world signifies the strategic value they possess in terms of deterrence and offensive capability. Given these factors, it is imperative to not draw premature conclusions from recent conflicts on the efficacy of tanks and armored formations in future conflicts”
    “in their absence, commanders are left to rely upon lighter infantry organizations that lack the combination of firepower”
    “Recent technological developments do not stifle these traits. Instead, UAS, loitering munitions, and the ability to detect force concentrations via their electromagnetic signature and attack them with precision munitions necessitate adaptation rather than outright removal from the battlefield”.

  89. The risk of short border skirmishes between us and any of our immediate neighbours for the foreseeable future is extremely low. It’s is because Asean states are historically mostly have a export dependent economy and their livelihoods is at risk due to both excessive Chinese territorial claims as well as Anglo – sino ‘competition’. Most asean state see asean unity and intra trade as a necessary derisking and thus aren’t particularly interested in ‘one upping’ and pointing weapons at one another unlike decades prior.

    In the current perceived risk environments, the likelihood of the gov agreeing to the ‘proposed’ army4nex4g or whatever its called is low. Why would they bother spending money standing up another mechanised brigade when the money can be well spend on ships and plane.

    The most likely answers is not only there won’t be a second mechanised brigades, even the current numbers of armour too would likely be slashed on the future.

  90. @ hasnan

    ” If we don’t go the route of cost effective platforms, how on earth do we get funding for a second mechanised brigade in Medan Timur? ”

    Correct. There is many more priorities that IMO has higher precedence than the MBT upgrade, things such as long range precision fires, medium lift helicopters, mechanised elements in Medan Timur.

    As for current costs, Poland recent contract for 180 units of K2GF(gap filler configuration) is for USD3.4 billion, which puts each K2GF costs at USD18.88 million. Even the Pindad Harimau light tank costs USD7.5 million each.

  91. … – “Correct. There is many more priorities that IMO”

    No it’s not necessarily correct. There is fact and there is opinion and you gave your opinion. The fact is that we don’t get to choose the wars we want to plan to fight. The unexpected can and does happen.

  92. To put things into context it’s not that we’re buying a division’s worth of tanks; not they we’re cancelling various other things to do so and not that we’re signing the contract next month or year.

  93. If there is no risk of a short border skirmish with the neighbors , then why do we need 5 Divisions with a Combined Arms Division facing the small red dot? Kinda overkill just for an asymmetric war with non-state actors.

    Meanwhile out neighbours whenever we procure something in small numbers for a sort of a deterrent solution, would immediately go ape crazy and double up on what they have i.e. MBT. Pray tell why are all the neighbors upping their spending? Also remember that in the last war a neighbor let in the enemy through their country with an agreement that they occupy the northern states. With a looming regional war, you can’t dismiss the fact that we sit in the middle of the Malacca Straits and South China Sea…a confirmed target for the two competing superpower.

  94. Whether whatever cost effective or not, if we cannot afford it, it is never cost effective. One can convince themself a Mercedes is cost effective coz it has a bigger fuel tank thus can driver further but how many can afford to buy a Merc? In the end our Armed Forces is not based on cost efficient but cost affordability.

  95. Hasnan – “ If there is no risk of a short border skirmish with the neighbors”

    Can’t speak for Zaft but I didn’t say there was no possibility of a border clash. I said we cannot assume that any troubles on land will be limited to a border clash. Note the nuance. And yes chances are if there are troubles it will be along the maritime domain but we can’t – as much as it’s appealing to assume so – troubles on land.

    As for. “looming regional war” I can’t see in the future and if indeed there is one there’s nothing to say we’ll automatically be involved. Not only that but this thread was on a possible upgrade for the PTs and talks on MBTs in general but it has not gone in various directions. As for the neighbours; we can go into details if you desire but the short story is each of them have slightly different reasons why they do what they do.

  96. Zaft – “ n’. Most asean state see asean unity and intra trade as a necessary derisking and thus aren’t particularly interested in ‘one upping’ and pointing weapons at one another unlike decades prior”

    This may be news to you but despite all the concerns over China there are still lingering issues amongst various ASEAN states and quite a bit of what some of them do are not driven by China.

  97. One side favours long range (or stand off), precision, and mobility to enable a small budget Army to be able to redeploy assets to every part of Malaysia when needed, and deterrence through having longer range than the enemy. Also that the main threat is loss of EEZ control- maritime. Therefore Army needs to look beyond land warfare – this is where long range and stand off weaponry such as shore based SSM and GAPU comes into play, to maintain control. The other side doesn’t really have a position, only that the Army is always correct and we must accept and cheer Army. If there is a bad decision, blame the government. The issue seems to be the lack of information on 4NextG. Most may assume the need to defend East and West Malaysia simultaneously is an Army decision or part of the 4NextG. Well sorry to say that is actually a government requirement. Although the National Defence Policy (NDP) articulates it differently, it has the same meaning and intent. Quote form the NDP, “The core areas encompass Malaysia’s landmass of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak; its territorial waters and airspace above them. These areas must be fully protected and defended to the best of Malaysia’s ability from external threats.” Is having 48 MBTs all based in Peninsular achieving the commander’s intent? There is nothing wrong to using Mech Brigade to achieve the NDP requirements. Only that, again, the British, Canadian and Australians experiences will illustrate MBTs are a drag on finances.

  98. On another topic more info has come out on Ukrainian UAS and loitering munitions force structure. A unmanned systems company is organic to brigades. These comprise several platoons; a ISR platoon, strike platoon, etc. Each platoon having different systems for different purposes. At platoon level there is also a unmanned systems element with UASs and loitering munitions. At present things are still pretty much done on an ad hoc basis with a lot of experimentation but a lot of the successes achieved is because small units have the capability without having to rely on others; faster cycle time and flexibility.

    If and when the time comes when our units also have a similar capability logic dictates that unmanned systems be organic to small units. The downside is that extra men are required but this is a penalty we’ll worth incurring. There should be a unmanned systems company at battalion level – independent of Support Companies – which parcels out platoons or systems to companies. This would enable troops to have the capability when they need it to complement their existing mortars and other indirect fire weapons.

  99. Kel – “One side devoted long range”

    Long range is good if one has the enablers; without which the long range is pointless. Since you didn’t get it the past few times; long range is dependent on having the ability to detect, track and engage targets ; some of which will be moving. Effective C3 is also vital so instead of pontificating; take the time to look things up. Or are still struggling to fathom what low intensity mean and will falsely claim nobody answered you – need to be spoon fed?

    Kel – “army is always right”

    Are you on hallucinogens? You actually understand the discussion or is your intent to only display troll like behaviour? If you bothered to check nobody said the army is always right ; merely that as the actual users of the kit the end user has a pretty good idea of what it needs and what it doesn’t. If you need to make a point at least put it in the proper context instead of going off tangent and saying things which others never said.

    Dr. Kua. Err sorry I meant Kel – “are a drag in finances”

    Perhaps take the time to engage in some research rather than come up with buffoonery statements. Since you haven’t noticed armies are buying more; not less tanks. Yes tanks are resource intensive but so are various other things. Take the time to understand what tanks are intended to do and why more than 100 years after they were first deployed; they form an essential part of many armies and there is no substitute for them.

    Kua – “position”

    What position do you have? Do you even know?

    About the maritime thing; thank you for revealing what you’ve apparently just discovered but everyone here is acutely aware of the importance of the maritime domain and the huge challenges faced.

    BTW per a previous post. MBTs are not strategic assets because of how they are organised. The way they’re organised is intended to make C3 practical and for operational reasons and they have a tactical and operational affect. Also , one can have a mechanised brigade even if one does not have SPHs. Might not be the most ideal way of doing things but the lack of a SPH capability does not mean a unit is not a proper mechanised unit. This will be news to you but depending on the operational context towed arty will still be able to provide manoeuvre units with direct support. If you do your research quite a few Ukrainian mechanised units [note that under the Soviet system there is no distinction between mechanised and motorised – look up Grau’s “ The Russian Way of War”] only have towed guns and there are plenty of other examples.

    As for “commanders intent” [going to pontificate on mission command or Auftragstaktik now?]
    you will note that there is a purpose built base in Gemas and the only range in which we conduct live 125mm fire is at Gemas. It would be ideal if we had tanks at all corners of the country but we don’t live in cloud cuckoo land and the chances of us facing armoured assaults concurrently from different borders is next to nil. On top of that like other things we do the intent was to have a basic capability which could be expanded on later. Yes, the army has had a requirement for another regiment’s worth of tanks for years now and even Mahathir alluded to the fact in 2003.

    On your “mech heavy brigade” do note that as of 2024 armies often don’t make the distinction anymore. A tank brigade doesn’t necessarily have to be “heavier” than a mec brigade and mec brigade can also have tanks
    You also have infantry divisions with an organic tank element.

    You keep making references to “people” but which category do you fall in? You do fall in the “people” category do you not and are not a bot? Also, instead of presenting things in a turd like blob; learn the use of paragraphs.

  100. This thing from kel/Kua about learning from the armies he listed is spurious. Yes there’s always something to learn from others but they employ armour differently and in a different context. Also, after operating armour for more than a decade now we have a pretty good idea as to the pros and cons; how armour fits in the larger scheme of things and what we’d like to see in a next generation tank. Back to the countries he listed, all still see the need for armour and it’s not as if armour is more resource intensive than other certain other assets.

    And yes the army “needs to look beyond land warfare but in conjunction with its sister services; jointly; in tandem with each other.
    In case jokiness is still a mystery; it reduces redundancy and inter service parochialism and rivalry; that’s why it exists and BTW is not a new concept. It’s also nice to talk about long range but if your missile has a longer range range than your radar, if you can’t detect something because there’s no line of sight and if you have a cumbersome C3 which prevents you from doing things efficiently and in a timely manner; long range accounts for nothing.

    For resource strapped militaries like ours there’s more the reason to have jointness. If one cares to notice; what makes the SAF so capable is not the hardware per see but the level of networking and all 3 services working jointly or to use a new term as a “joint force”. The SAF also has a joint UAS and AD command and it’s not for fun. Ukraine too will have a joint UAV command but certain types of UASs and loitering munitions will be continued to be operated at small unit level.

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