RMK11 Wish List: SPH

SHAH ALAM: Like many items for the RMK11 wish-list, the Self Propelled Howitzer (SPH) requirement, had been in the book for some time already.

As it has not been fulfilled in the preceding years, one can surmised it will returned into the latest wish-list despite again I must point that this posting got nothing to do with the official one.

With the current economic situation, it may seemed ridiculous to list out the wish list but I believed it is more wrong to curl up and hope for the best.

Four years ago I had reported that the SPH requirement was for 18 guns. This time around I am not sure of the numbers being sought or whether they had chosen either a wheeled or tracked SPH or perhaps even both.

I believed a wheeled SPH is much simpler and cheaper to procure and operate (cheaper is still relative) but it appears that for the armoured brigade, a tracked SPH is required.

Caesar on the Unimog chassis.
Caesar on the Unimog chassis.

Back in 1997, Giat – the forerunner of Nexter – displayed the original prototype of the Caesar truck mounted gun at LIMA. The SPH even undertook an almost two weeks in country trials but three years later, we bought 22 Denel G5 towed 155mm guns and 18 Astros MLRS. As it is two of our neighbours, Thailand and Indonesia, procured the production variant of the Caesar recently.

And although we did end up buying another batch of MLRS since the original procurement in 2000 (with another regiment supposed to be on the books) the number of 155m tube artillery remained the same.

K9 Thunder and the K10 ARV.
K9 Thunder and the K10 ARV.

So what are the candidates for the SPH requirement if funds are made available then? Both the Caesar and the South Korean K9 Thunder comes to mind as both have been marketed and represented by local agents in Malaysia. The K9 as you all aware has also been exported to Turkey and recently Poland. There have also been reports that the K9 has undergone trials in Malaysia previously.

One SPH that will surely not be in the mix is ST Engineering Primus (below). Why? Simply because it is unlikely ST Engineering will enter the tender.

ST Primus 155mm SPH at the Singapore Airshow 2008
ST Primus 155mm SPH at the Singapore Airshow 2008

What about towed 155mm howitzers then? It could be in the wish list also as I only write things that I heard about (not much really). And before you ask, I have yet to hear anything about the replacement for the 105mm pack howitzers.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2147 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. SgWay says:
    January 29, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Have a feeling that DRB and their Turkish lartner may weasel through the deal to supply the 155mm SPH in the future.

    The no. Of 155mm with MAF ie pretty small compared to our major neighbours.

    The Turkish 155mm SPH is manufactured by a consortium of Turkish defense companies.
    AM says:
    January 28, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    “This is the last comment on the issue I am going to approve.”

    Marhalim, I am glad for this. If some consider this site to be insufficiently glorifying to the SAF, please consider your participation here as optional and non-compulsory.
    azlan says:
    January 28, 2015 at 1:51 am

    Typical of people who can’t take criticism and dismiss out of hand anything that doesn’t fit in with their narrow train of thought. Mentioning the ‘thought process” up north is rich, given that you’ve mentioned nothing about the “thought process” down south.

    BTW, the rent a car thing was told to to me by someone whose job it was to keep track of the “tourists” and by a defence attache of a 3rd country: it is an “urban legend” in your mind only… and don’t claim to be a ” fren” or to give advice as I don’t know you.

    And if you did any thinking or objective reasoning before hitting the keyboard; you would realise that I’m not “confident” but realistic in my assessment of things. Like other Malaysians here, I can be critical of my country when I have to and I can talk about it weaknesses and limitations. Can you do same with your country/island?

    This is the last comment on the issue I am going to approve.
    AM says:
    January 27, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Who is sombong? It is he who thinks his armed forces is invincible and dismissive of other’s capabilities to resist. If an individual like CS Chan can be the CoA, I wouldn’t be too sure.

    Looking at Ferret and RedSot, I see they are much more realistic about our own prospects.
    Tomahawk says:
    January 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    I amaze how confident you are mr azlan. Like i say i amaze how you try to find reason to find comfort zone. But i disagree after wut i see and know. And i will leave it at tat. tat story on rent car is urban legend.If u do belief it u r missing the tree for the wood. In other word..jangan bodoh sombong. I say this as a fren .
    Tomahawk says:
    January 27, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Ah mr azlan..snide remark will not change thought process up north and you knw it.
    azlan says:
    January 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm


    No one underestimates the “strength”, “execution” and “resolve” of the ever vigilant and capable SAF. It could even launch a Corps level drive to the very gates of Beijing or Odessa if needed; whilst simultaneously mounting brigade level amphib ops in the Marianas.


    Not sure if it’s still the case now but in the old days, whenever there was an exercise in Johore, even miles and miles away from JB, there would by some miracle be at least a couple of cars (rented in JB from Hertz or Avis usually) containing very inquisitive and not infrequently lost individuals…

    Not only “what is this all for” 🙂 but the SAF simply can’t afford to get bogged down in a protracted war of attrition and maintain security in an area as large as southern Johore. Not to mention the fact that the economies of both countries would go rat shit…. Singapore no doubt has very well thought plans laid out (as Sings are always quick to point out), but so do its potential “opponents” who won’t play to Singapore’s strengths but will do their best to exploit it’s key vulnerabilities.

    Our main focus and concern (with regards to immediate neighbours) has traditionally been towards the east and west; not the island down south. We benefit by that island staying as it is.


    The Saudi border is largely flat and largely devoid of any large man made structures and vegetation. The sea boundary with the Philippines is not only long and porous but contains many islands and has barter traders/smugglers/fisherman moving around on a daily basis. The coastal areas also contain people who have some degree of sympathy with their kin across the sea. In short, the situation we face is a bit more challenging compared to that faced by the Saudis.
    Tomahawk says:
    January 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    It interesting to read all the beliefs abt wut sg can do or canot do. I also sometime find remarkable how fren up north always like to look for comfort zone. Has all this years taught u anything abt sg and ur expectation of it? There least possibly be a war. But it unwise to underestimate sg plan resolve and execution.
    AM says:
    January 27, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Pictures of the Gempita with Denel 30mm turret have emerged.
    Ferret says:
    January 27, 2015 at 9:22 am


    “if i am a general i would recce the johore coastal area”

    Good idea but no need. All the young Singaporean (NS remember?) ‘eco-tourists’ have done that, maybe with a bit of beach recce thrown in.

    Singapore can launch a quick war (7 days?) but cannot sustain it for too long.

    Looking at the map I bought at the Petronas station, a good advance would be to bypass JB & all the major towns and hold a line Senggarang-Renggam-Sedili; maybe with a parachute drop to capture JB airport, and an amphibious force up to Kota Tinggi. Good tank country around Hishamuddin’s constituency; 50 km advance north, average.

    Then parley with Malaysia.

    But of course the main question is: all this for what??
    stanman says:
    January 27, 2015 at 2:06 am

    Let us not ignore our good friends, the Ikhwan.
    stanman says:
    January 27, 2015 at 2:05 am

    The force in being is always a problem when you have just enough to form it. If you have a battalion of MBTs and train hard on them, you will soon have much less than a battalion. Without attrition replacements, you will endeavor to preserve them at the expense of operational usage. How else will you report 90% availability every month?

    Now, since you are probably NEVER going to get extra tanks with any certainty, then you hoard what you have to avoid having hangar queens because they are broken down.

    You can hardly blame the unit, as the custodians of these ‘precious’ assets for not driving them like they were rentals. Nanti kena ketuk for ‘lack of maintenance culture’.
    RedSot says:
    January 26, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Sorry for the out of topic thing if i am a general i would recce the johore coastal area from gelang patah up to tanjung putri where does our so call strong RedSot army base that is praised by some place its pontoon bridging armoured div amphbious truck and oh not to forget the airbase and emergency runway,maybe its just a coincidence lah like encik aslan says economocally it is unwise but RedSot army and pple need land….
    nanonano says:
    January 26, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    The saudis manage to detect and identify intruders at their border by using state of the art radars and day/night vision high tech cameras, then they sent in the soldiers to face the intruders. We could do the same by installing enough radars and cameras that could scan and cover the whole border with the philiipines. And potent assets such as helicopter gunships could be used to deal with the intruders once they are in our side of the border. Hope the aerostats purchased recently are part of the high tech radars and scanners to be installed.
    azlan says:
    January 26, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    The West makes it a tradition of demonising an Arab leader every decade: Nasser in the 1950’s and 1960’s (“Mussolini of the Nile” he was called by Eden), Arafat in the 1970’s and 1980’s (he went from being “terrorist”; to ‘statesman” and “partner” and back to “terrorist” again), Gaddafi in the 1980’s (“mad dog of the Middle East” Reagan called him but later received a hug from Blair for giving up his WMDs and was described as a “partner’ for stability in the region) and off course Assad Junior (a guest of honour at Bastille Day alongside a beaming Chirac) but now hated “dictator” who previously (the Yanks would rather we forget this) hosted “terrorists” under the U S. rendition programme.

    Off course the enemies that Bashar fights are the same enemies of the West (who want Bashar gone but prefer IS doesn’t replace him) but are supported by “allies” of the West, who scream about Bashar being a “dictator” and “undemocratic” but are themselves (the Gulf states) “dictators” and “undemocratic”. And then we have “dangerous” Iran (ever eager to threaten the free world) who is helping “dictator” Bashar fight the “enemies” of the West. Does it get more confusing than this?? Closer to home we have Nur Misuari who was our “friend” until we decided to deport him back to the Philippines and who later admitted that some of his fighters may have joined Kiram’s venture…
    AM says:
    January 26, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I agree, but I was wondering if there is any connection between your saying 1- we bought few pieces because they are expensive and 2- we operate them infrequently and so they are hangar queens.
    stanman says:
    January 26, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Having weapons is no deterrent. Having the will and skill to use them is. I point you to the well equipped Iraqi Army, June 2014.

    Iraq is one of the most successfully invaded places of recent times. Iran….1983-1988. Desert Storm 91. OIF 2003. Deash 2014. Every decade they get invaded by someone. It’s a tradition.
    AM says:
    January 26, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    The tambak and second link are more than enough to sustain their forces. Of course, they have both pontoon and amphibious logistics capability in case they are blown by us.

    They hope to capture both intact by striking preemptively before our large troop movements are complete. But they won’t strike simply because we move a company of sappers to the bridge. How can that alone be the threshold of war? Hence, pontoon is necessary.

    A bridge is much easier to blow, which is why they will never agree to replace the causeway with a bridge even if it can relieve congestion.
    stanman says:
    January 26, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Iraq has been successfully invaded 4 times in the last 30 years. In 1985-88..in 1991….in 2003 and last year by not even a country!
    kamal says:
    January 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Dear Stanman

    If i am not mistaken the Polish Army will be storing their 350 plus T72M1 by 2018. Maybe we can get at a dollar each hehehhehe
    azlan says:
    January 26, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    There are actually quite a few historical examples of successful invading armies that were not defeated by the local resistance; not in recent times perhaps but successful none the less.

    At the end of the day, debating how an invasion of Singapore will occur is a totally pointless exercise; just as pointless as debating whether Malaysia should get ICBMs or aircraft carriers. Not only are we unable to but we have zero reason to, have nothing to gain from it (we benefit economically and security wise by the island staying as it is) and there are other more practical and easier ways of exploiting Singapore’s vulnerabilities in the very, very unlikely event (as unlikely as the Jamaican Defence Force attacking Tioman or Jack the Ripper coming back from time to stalk the streets of Cheras) there was actually a need to do so…..
    mofaz says:
    January 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Please give an example of a successful invading army ..Iraq..? Afghanistan..? The local resistance will always be the victors at the end so talk of invasion is just that ..all talk..
    RedSot says:
    January 26, 2015 at 11:37 am

    No the tambak n 2nd link is to easy am entry in war surprise is the name of the game

    Building pontoon bridges will not be surprising.
    AM says:
    January 26, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Those are two different points. The equipment is expensive so we have fewer of them.

    But does it also mean we operate them less often?
    RedSot says:
    January 26, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Yes encik aslan…u maybe a bit true…but to win wars tactic n doctrine of yesteryears is good to win an outright war if all the top brass think like u….it will be simpler n easier….hehe
    RedSot says:
    January 26, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Haha i do agree we are no more in the 60 or 70 but this is where our fault lied too sombong…if ever i got a pontoon bridging unit just opposite tebrau…armoured div just next to it….any time my fren in less than 24 hrs all my armoured div will be at your shore all these being defended by AH so u still think its an old tactica…infantry brigade will be crossing from somewhere to tanjung putri via floating bridge in less than 24 hours johore will be in red….the heliborne is just to make a drama entry so u guys will go moncha cha hope god forbid this old tactic to happen n be executed n oh the trespassing is just pilot error hell no they are find loop holes of easy entry……may those who are prepared win the game

    There is no need for pontoon bridge, the Tambak and Second Link are there already. The most successful plans are simple ones.
    stanman says:
    January 26, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Plain PT-91? No need for anything so high tech. T-72M1, straight out of the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately not very available these days as there is solid demand for them just about everywhere. Tanks we can run and abuse, all day and twice on sundays. Really, if you can shoot with 70s Soviet tech FCS, you can shoot anything. Plus don’t need to work around the FCS for ammunition data….just scribble it on the turret wall with a wax pencil.

    Same is true for artillery. We have spent all our money on artillery that the brigade commanders will never see. Why? Because we have so little of them that they are essentially GHQ units. The line artillery regiments are in awful shape and on pretty low level of operational readiness overall.

    D-30s and BM-21s at Bde would be better than unicorn 155s.

    Nobody is deterred by a bunch of hangar queens sitting in Gemas.
    azlan says:
    January 26, 2015 at 1:56 am


    This is 2015 not WW2 or the Korean war anymore. No state actor is going to land in large numbers on our beaches. The fact that countries like Norway has decommissioned their fixed coastal artillery tells one a lot doesn’t it? If a state actor wanted to harm Malaysia, there are several easier ways of doing it than beach landings.
    AM says:
    January 26, 2015 at 12:55 am

    nimitz “Fortress Singapore & Maginot Line”

    Nope. Although I disagree with using artillery in the anti shipping role, RedSot did not say anything about fixed defences.

    A lot of misconceptions about both your examples, which were attempts to do more with less. France had a smaller population than Germany and the UK had smaller forces stationed here in the East.
    nimitz says:
    January 25, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Arty to pin enemy hard before reach the beach&fire mission across borders? sounds like what Fortress Singapore & Maginot Line supposed to do but we know the story.
    RedSot says:
    January 25, 2015 at 10:00 am

    My thinkng the arty in malaysian context is best for coastal defence pin the enemy hard before they reach the beach……on land any enemy tanks mechanised vehicles were to be destroy before it reaches the boader…..that is more like it
    mofaz says:
    January 23, 2015 at 8:28 am

    The point of having these weapons are as deterrent i.e. so that we dont have to fight actual shooting war ..not syiok sendiri …
    kerberosWXIV says:
    January 23, 2015 at 6:19 am

    It is too bad Primus won’t be considered, given that it is one of the few tracked-howitzer that can be airlifted and probably the only one tailored made for the SE Asia region terrain… The Archer is interesting given the automated operations and the crew is well protected like in tracked systems but it seem to run into problem with Norway etc withdrawing from the project…
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    It’s not so much acquiring new, more modern 105mm guns but more importantly the doctrine we formulate; how we adapt our artillery to new challenges, as in organisational patterns (hasn’t changed for decades); the manner in which fire is called and delivered, the way we locate targets, the ability to hit time sensitive targets, etc.
    … says:
    January 22, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    @ stanman

    Im all in for additional 48 (plus additional units for spares and rotation) pre loved pt-91’s from Poland, modified to pt-91m specs.

    Although not a tank that I particularly like, the commonality with current tanks that we have and costs is something we should look into. At least secondhand tanks could be used and abused without 2nd thought, and with less money on capex and more for opex lets the army to train and train and train with the tanks…

    IMO stop buying expensive stuff for syok sendiri, buy something cheap and useful and spend the money so we could train and use them regularly…

    Even if we bought second hand PT91s from Poland, it wont have the same things on the Ms or Pendekar apart from the chassis.
    … says:
    January 22, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I assume the SPH requirement is to support the mechanized/armor formations in rapid conventional warfare with an advancing front line. Maybe the use of SPHs while wanted previously just aren’t the priority of the current tentera darat doctrine, and could be absent from the tentera darat’s RMK11 wish list.

    Current fire support trend with time critical and precision kill puts artillery not the number one priority for fire support. The trend now is to rely more and more with close air support with JTACS / FAC with the support of ISR assets calling in fire support of CAS aircraft firing hellfires, brimstones, SDB II, paveway munitions to enemy positions.

    Enbedded fire support for mechanized formations is increasingly relying on 120mm mortars (supplementing the close air support), with tentera darat following the trend with breech loaded 120mm mortars on adnan and gempita platforms.

    Stand off fire support (20 or more km from the front line) could still be adequately filled by towed artillery…
    AM says:
    January 22, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    The Model 56 may have life left and range may not be a handicap. But as I wrote, getting a modern, lower crew gun with longer range coverage, may let us trim our artillery units. The manpower savings may pay for the new gun itself.
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    The stuff I mentioned was obtained from a chap who was involved with 120mm mortar trials. His army was trying out to find out how well a vehicle mounted 120mm mortar at battalion level, could supplement artillery. They eventually concluded that mortars have a very useful role to play, in their scheme of things, but that certain things are still performed better with arty.
    AM says:
    January 22, 2015 at 6:20 pm


    The picture you posted is photoshopped.
    AM says:
    January 22, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    “Due to velocity, trajectory and thinness of the shell’s walls; 120mm mortars are not very useful in taking out stuff like concrete bunkers”

    Thanks for your explanation. The factors you mentioned are related to a direct hit, which is difficult to achieve with unguided artillery. Since we have no guided projectiles, it does not apply to us.
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    The Artillery Directorate, if I had to guess, has a pretty good idea as to what it wants and how it will operate what it hopes to get. The problem as always is funding; there is no indication at all when funding will come and when it eventually comes; whether it will be for something actually needed or for something the politicos decide is needed….
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 5:32 pm


    One of the most important things is the need for formulating the right doctrine to suit our specific requirements; followed by funding to buy and worrying about how much will it cost to operate a particular SPH for the duration of its service life.

    Doctrine and funding from the start to retirement should already be finalised before buying. Of course both need to be flexible enough for changes beyond our control and circumstances. Our biggest problem is of course is funding which flow and ebb depending on the financial health of the country.
    SavvyKL says:
    January 22, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Get china PLZ-45 or PLZ-52 system, it more complete SPH system which include reconnaissance vehicles, recovery vehicles, Radar and fire support maintenance vehicles, Command vehicles.
    One of most importance to consider is for SPH is ammunition cost.
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm


    On the question of range and the Model 56 (on paper the M1 round gives a maximum 21km range), the very fact that our Model 56s are operated by “Close Support Battalions” would indicate that range is not a serious concern as infantry units engaged in combat tend not to need HE or smoke delivered too far away from them. If range is needed to hit more distance targets or for counter battery fire; that’s precisely what the G-5s and ASTROS batteries are there for – it is not without reason that the ARTHURs are operated by an ASTROS unit. We are getting ahead of ourselves here but ideally, our artillery and MLRS regiments should also have UAVs for target designation.


    To answer more on your previous question about 120mm mortars in comparison to artillery. Due to velocity, trajectory and thinness of the shell’s walls; 120mm mortars are not very useful in taking out stuff like concrete bunkers. There is also the question of accuracy (assuming most rounds are not laser guided) and the slower time in flight of a mortar shell. I’m a firm supporter of vehicle mounted mortars to be operated by infantry units, as a non direct fire weapon. The problem here is the logistical footprint; the need to keep hungry mortars restocked in time.
    stanman says:
    January 22, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Recond bolehlah. Buy cheap, train, train, train…develop doctrine. Same reason we should have bought preloved Panzers. Right now, hardly any units train with the tanks. We can see how important this is in Syria, where Saraya combined arms units did very well in Jobar and other SAA units just don’t have the same skill and coordination. See how beat to crap their tanks are and still they roll out of the FOB every day. Our pretty PT-91s on the other hand are hangar queens and our chaps have never seen RPGs shot at them. (Inert RPG warheads look just like the real thing). All this tech is for shiok sendiri and not for fighting la.
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    – The Pzh2000 is too heavy. We should get it if it suits our requirements and not because surplus examples are available cheap.

    – There is no immediate urgency to replace the Model 56s as despite their age, their barrels still have life left. Parts are also still being produced by the OEM. Whether or not we desire a gun with more range depends on the Artillery Directorates thinking as there are other issues to consider apart from range, namely how we go about fixing targets and delivering rounds in a timely manner on those targets. We have been lucky in that in all the times our artillery fired rounds in anger (the Confrontation, 2nd Emergency and Lahad Dato), it was against opponents who didn’t have artillery they could reply back with. There are now guns that are lighter than the “Light Gun” which is essentially a 40 year old design. The question really is whether we should go for more 105mms or stick to 155mm. Or stick to 155mm but let units like 10 Para retain 105mm guns.

    – 120mms should be organic to infantry brigades, as is the case with the ones on the Adnan and the ones going on the AV-8. Having said that, 120mm mortars can complement but not replace artillery.
    Lee Yoke Meng says:
    January 22, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Yes if the Pzh2000 is offered to us we should just grab it. Its cheap n available. Just service it nicely. Another urgent replacement programme is the 105 pack howitzers . These guns range cannot match the range ofbthe modern 105mm guns. We should replace it with tje british designed 105mm light gun. More 120mm mortars must also be.procured
    Ferret says:
    January 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Agree with you Marhalim … wheeled or tracked SPH may give an indication of where they’re heading.

    A regt of wheeled SP artillery will make 4 Bde a more or less independent bde. A tracked regt will point towards building an armoured bde although it will be odd not to get the tanks first. My bet is on wheeled but we’ll have to wait and see.
    azlan says:
    January 22, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Like Caeser, the K-9 underwent local mobility and firing trials. Given our terrain, I can’t help feeling that something like Caeser (despite being unprotected) is more suited. But of course if the requirement is for the SPH to keep up and support 11th Armoured Regiment, then a tracked solution might make more sense.

    If I had to guess, the army’s focus at this juncture is on replacing the Starburst and other stuff rather than fulfilling the SPH requirement.
    Alex says:
    January 22, 2015 at 10:40 am


    If i not mistaken, K9 thunder also undergo two week trials in Malaysia in early 2000s but plans to purchase it never materialized beyond the trials phase.

    Pzh2000 was also said to be offered cheaply for us from Dutch surplus stock by Germany.

  2. India finally conclude their selection

    K9 selected for Indian Army SPH requirement

    ndia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has shortlisted the Samsung Techwin K9 Thunder 155 mm/52-calibre self-propelled tracked (SPT) howitzer for the Indian Army’s long-delayed USD800 million tender for 100 such guns.

    My sense tell me we wont get this but T5 from SF

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