SMASH, AV4, DSME corvettes and others


SHAH ALAM: AS it was obvious from the earlier report, I was in Bangkok last week for the Defense and Security 2015 show. As I was working for a regional publication for the show, I held back reporting for Malaysian Defence apart from the AV4 in Camo piece.

Anyhow since I am back home, lets dive into things which I found out at the show concerning the Armed Forces police and not to forget, the MMEA. For example, the Polaris MRZR (below) – 10 in service with PDRM in ESSCOM – is now supported by Global Komited Sdn Bhd, which recently signed contract to supply 8 Jaws APC for the police.

Polaris MRZR. PDRM bought 10 of these buggies for ESSCOM duties.
Polaris MRZR. PDRM bought 10 of these buggies for ESSCOM duties.

Speaking about MMEA, I did a story on the Aselsan SMASH 30mm last September. Basically, I reported that Aselsan had issued a release stating that it had won a contract to supply six SMASH 30mm guns to the MMEA. The release however did not state the programme which the RWS had been contracted for, either the NGPC or the arming of six MMEA patrol vessels.

SMASH 30mm gun at Aselsan stand. Contracted for the NGPC.
SMASH 30mm gun at Aselsan stand. Contracted for the NGPC.

I can report now that the SMASH guns have been selected for the NGPC programme, which put it in a great position for the other project. That said personally I think the 30mm gun is way too big for the unarmed MMEA vessels though that is the type of weapon specified by the tender. A 12.7mm RWS like the Aselsan STAMP is probably a better solution for these boats.

The land version of the STAMP RWS. The naval variant is covered much like the SMASH gun to better withstand the elements at sea.
The land version of the STAMP RWS. The naval variant is covered much like the SMASH gun to better withstand the elements at sea.

As for the AV4, please check out the video below for a better view of the vehicle. The mini-gun fitted on the turret is a replica only and not the real thing.

Deftech Av4 in digital camo.
Deftech Av4 in digital camo.

Meanwhile, I spoke to a DSME spokesman about the corvettes that they are proposing to RMN. The spokesman said DSME expected the project to start once Malaysia overcome “the current financial difficulties”. He said its Malaysian partner was still NMEL Sdn Bhd.

A model of the DSME corvette (right).
A model of the DSME corvette (right).

Anyhow, word is that the Agusta Westland AW159 is the odds-on favourite to fulfill the RMN’s ASW requirements. However, I have yet to find out whether funding – supposedly under RMK11 – will be released or not.

Exocet family at the MBDA stand.
Exocet family at the MBDA stand.

By the way, the Thai MOD Defence Technology Institute unveiled the latest prototype of its Black Widow Spider 8X8 at the show. Some people commented that it looked very similar to the Singapore Terrex 8X8.

Thai's Black Widow Spider 8X8. Armed with a 30mm gun RWS turret.
Thai’s Black Widow Spider 8X8. Armed with a 30mm gun RWS turret.

I must admit it looked very similar to the Singapore vehicle but that is my opinion. The Black Widow was developed with a British firm, Ricardo and also Thai firm, Chaiseri ( the builder of the AV4). Yes, the digital camouflage of the 8X8 looked similar to the one the AV4 displayed at the show. Most probably painted by the same guys at Chaiseri!

The roomy cabin Black Widow Spider 8X8. Sits 12 soldiers and two crew.
The roomy cabin Black Widow Spider 8X8. Sits 12 soldiers and two crew.

Anyhow, the cabin at the back feels much roomier than our own Gempita. However, as it is a prototype, it is an unfair comparison. Having a 30mm RWS turret and an engine located to the front right of the vehicle certainly helps

Thales Starstreak missile. Malaysia joined Thai and Indonesia into the Starstreak club.
Thales Starstreak missile. Malaysia joined Thai and Indonesia into the Starstreak club.

As in other regional shows, China defence companies made their presence from state owned Norinco to smaller companies. One of them is Bosma, an optics company which manufactures “binoculars, spotting scope, rifle-scope, red dot sight, laser range finder, astronomical telescope and night vision.

Bosma red dot sights.
Bosma red dot sights.

A representative said their red dot sight retails for US$60 dollars only (above). Perhaps something to consider for our fiscally challenged services.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2223 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Can I get a Bosma?

    Of course you can. Just ask them at their website. You could even try to be their local agent.

  2. The 30mm is just the right calibre for a patrol boat. Most of the hand me downs from polis marin and tldm has 40mm bofors on them. 12.7mm might be good to stop a sampan or a speed boat. But it won’t stop a hijacked cargo ship or the like…

    For the NGPC I think its the perfect fit but for the six unarmed boats that MMEA have I am not too sure whether the 30mm guns are suitable. Its about whether their hulls can withstand a much heavier gun and mounting. Its not about firepower.

  3. Marhalim,.

    Did you notice if the “Asian Pacific Defence Reporter” was at the show? It used to be run by David Shaw who was based in Bangkok; good writer who knew his subject matter well. He later ran Asian Defence Diplomacy which is Malaysian owned but now is based in Singapore.

    From a commonality viewpoint the Wildcat makes prefect sense. To me at least, it’s too cramped and something with more space and legs is needed but I guess one can’t be too choosy. The replacement for Sea Skua is IR guided and looks promising.

    Yes I think so …

  4. The ex-police Brook Marine boats have a 20mm Oerlikon. For the peacetime constabulary type duties the MMEA performs and is expected to perform; a 30mm would seem to be an overkill. Sure, there might be times where a 30mm will needed but most of the time; a 7.62mm round will do just fine, especially given that the weapons is mostly for self-defence and to provide boarding crews with cover.

  5. … “MMEA 12.7mm cannot stop a hijacked cargo ship”

    That’s when you call in the Navy. A sensible solution and a lesson in jointness. It’s not possible to make every asset capable of handling every threat, otherwise every ground vehicle would be a tank.

  6. AM,

    Agreed. There might be times where a 12.7mm isn’t sufficient for the job at hand but also times when a 30mm also isn’t sufficient! But what is the likelihood that a MMEA ship will find itself in a situation where 30mm rounds make a difference?

    We must not over look the fact that the primary role of the MMEA is to conduct constabulary type duties at sea and that the primary role of its ship weapons are for self-defence.

  7. @am

    With your reasoning the Mmea should not have its own special force boarding teams.

    30mm slugs for across the bow warning shots and to disable and stop a civilian ship such as trawlers and up to cargo ships is perfectly within the Mmea operational scope. Let the navy focus more on protecting our sovereignty from other countries and external forces and leave the civil policing duties of the seas to the Mmea (and so be equipped for those duties)

  8. I don’t think getting a cheap chinese red dot is worth it. I bet it wont gonna hold the zero due to the vibration.

    Besides there are plenty of well known optics manufacturers that offer sub-$100 red dot optics.

  9. The DMSE people are either too optimistic or they know something we don’t. Why are they so confident?

    Salesmen in general are always optimistic especially in public.

  10. … “Let the navy focus more on protecting our sovereignty from other countries and external forces and leave the civil policing duties of the seas to the Mmea (and so be equipped for those duties)”

    Your view is outdated. Threats to sovereignty do not come only from state actors- what do the Suluks tell you? The Navy does not only respond to state threats, MMEA does not handle only civil or non-state actors.

    “With your reasoning the Mmea should not have its own special force boarding teams.”

    If their tasks were the same, sharing one team would be warranted. But no, Paskal handles infiltration, protection of installations, shipboard security, coordination with naval forces, direct action and so on. Yours is a poor example to say that a 30mm will let the MMEA handle threats without Navy help, which is not even true.

  11. If stopping a fishing trawler also needs the navy’s help, might as well have no coast guard at all.

  12. Rainbowdash,

    In the 1970’s and 1980’s people made the same disparaging remarks about Japanese stuff : they were cheap, didn’t work and if worked, didn’t last.

    Whether it’s ships or low cost consumer electronics; Chinese stuff has come a long way.

  13. Marhalim,
    What are the odds of the RMN ‘getting’ maybe 6 units of the DSME frigate on left and ‘maybe’ 10 units of the corvette on the right?

    Just hoping the corvette will be armed with a 76mm main gun and a 35mm revolver gun guarding the rear.

    I still think there exists massive improvement potential in the Meko 100 (Kedah class) OPV. Just wonder why that avenue has yet to be pursued.

    Zero on the frigate and 6/10 for the corvette though six vessels is more likely if funds suddenly come on line in the next 24 months. I believe new built Kedah class is a non starter for the simple reason that they need to pay extra money to validate improvements to the current design.

  14. There have been several reported cases of fishing trawlers only stopping after warning shots were fired by MMEA GPMGs; same with the RMN.

    If there was a situation where shots were required to be fired at a trawler that to refused to stop; in most cases 7.62mm or 12.7mm would suffice. One can make the argument that a 30mm gun is required in case a ship refuses to stop and that ship, if a certain size or displacement, which would call for a 30mm gun to cause it damage to the extent that it stops -due to engine damage – or due to the crew wanting to avoid damage and casualties from a medium calibre round. How often however is that scenario likely to be encountered? Can we really plan and base our force structure for all contingencies?

    One can argue that if the ship in question was a 16,000 tonne freighter; that 30mm doesn’t have enough “bang”. So what then : 57 or 76mm? The argument can also be made that an MMEA ship shouldn’t find itself or be forced in a situation – in the first place – that would require a 30mm auto cannon to accomplish its task.

    Whether the main weapon of a MMEA ship is a 30mm auto cannon or a pintle mounted HMG; it’s main function is as a self defence weapon and to provide support to boarding crews and it should be seen in that light.


    The Meko A-100 had lots of growth potential and could have been the basis of a “family” of ships based on a common design. That is a fact. Unfortunately, it is also a fact that relations with the GNG had gone so down hill and that politics had shifted to the extent that the RMN had to switch to another foreign yard to meet its future needs.

    For the LCS requirement; Thyssen which took over from HDW as the lead player in the GNG, offered the RMN an enlarged design based on the Meko A-100 that had a stack, a slightly larger hangar and a VLS.

  15. Not surprised Wildcat may be our new ASW helo. Am still hoping for the MH-60R though. What happened to that? Congress didn’t approve? Or mix of higher price and less attractive terms as had happened with the Koreans?

  16. It would be better to go for more ‘kedah class corvette’ than dsme since we hav the meko blueprint. Its a waste if we dun utilized the technology dat we hav bought.

  17. Any ballpark figures for the dsme corvette? The samudra training ships costs around usd50million (before the ringgit depreciation).

    If bought, I would see it as a complement to the meko opv; as is now the gowinds as a complement to the f2000 frigates.

    Any news regarding the tldm statement in Singapore that they are looking at chinese equipments for the upgrading of current naval vessels? Is it for the laksamanas, fac or even the meko opv?

  18. No reason why Congress would not approve sales of MH-60Rs to us. I like the Romeo as it has more legs and more space in the cabin. Sonar gear and it’s associated equipment makes a Lynx/Wildcat, which is already cramped, more cramped. The plus side is that we already have experience with the Super Lynx, have a trained pool of crews and it shares commonality with the Super Lynx.

    When it comes to transporting people, i.e. flying PASKAL to Gong Kedak, to prepare for a possible mission on the hijacked Orkim Harmony, the size of the Super Lynx’s cabin is an issue.

  19. the issue of the MH60R is the price.

    unless TLDM is fine with used S70B seahawks from the australian navy…

  20. The wildcat is a good platform. The koreans ordered it. The mh60r is a larger and more expensive aircraft.

    Enough with the corvettes. We have 12 corvette sized platforms already plus two light frigates in the jebats (although the gowinds are veering towards light frigates). Why add more. It would be nice if rmn move towards 2-3 larger ships (around 4000 – 5000 tons) that could actually perform some area air defence instead of point self defence.

  21. @gonggok

    the gowinds are bigger, more heavily armed and equipped than the jebats. TLDM still needs more ships the size of kedah OPV’s to balance the increasing number of other naval and coast guard ships now in the south china sea.

    TLDM does not require 4000-5000 tonnes air defence frigates as most TLDM operating areas can be given air cover by TUDM, and TLDM does not usually operate in battle groups to necessitate someting like that. Most littoral areas around malaysia would not be an easy operating areas for ships of that size.

  22. @…says

    4000-5000ton isn’t that much bigger than what we are operating now. In ww2 even the Japanese fought their 14000ton cruiser in the Malacca straits and USN had heavy cruisers operate off Gualdacanal and other much more constricted waters.

    As for air cover by TUDM, I feel with the very limited number of aircraft available currently the TUDM will be hard pressed to provide CAP over their own bases and maybe one of two ‘national’ sites (multibiliion ringgit gas terminals perhaps) much less contribute any air cover for TLDM.

    With the Su-30 the only airframe with enough range for any meaningful overwater mission it’s interesting how the 18 aircraft (assuming all are operational) will be distributed between CAP over gong kedak, other CAP say over kerteh, any offensive strike missions AND providing top cover for TLDM?

    Right now enemy aircraft can just orbit around 20 miles from any TLDM ships (within visual range of any hald decent EO system) knowing they are pretty much immune.

  23. A few questions about the av8 and the scheme of things with malaysian army mechanized/ armoured corps. Generally each battalion/regiments are composed of about 80 ifv’s

    1) As we know the 257 av8’s are to be provided to 1 mechanised and 2 armoured corps battalion/regiments. 1 is currently known (19ramd), which armoured corps regiment will get the av8?

    2) And that said there will still be another 2 armoured corps regiment that will still need to replace their condor/sibmas combo. Will it be filled with 2nd batch av8? If the budget is limited could it be filled with maybe kifv/adnan fitted with denel 30mm turret?

    3) As for the kifv/adnan. The army has in total 378 of them (111 kifv, 267 adnan). In theory able to equip 4 mechanized battalions. Currently only 3 is known to be equipped with them (7rrd, 12ramd both with adnan and latest 14ramd with kifv). Any other units (apart from those few in esscom) operating the kifv/adnans?

    4) If im not mistaken the the 14ramd conversion to a mechanized unit (currently the army’s 4th mechanized battalion) is a part of the plan to convert the 1st infantry brigade into an armoured brigade. I heard that they would like to have 2 tank regiments (1 of them the pt-91 equipped 11kad) and 1 mechanized battalion (the 14ramd) to create the armoured brigade. I wonder if this armoured brigade plan is a bit outdated as most other army is converting their armoured brigade into a combined armoured infantry brigade (UK and Australia to name a few).

    5) what is the planned orbat of the new divisyen ke-5 sabah? Would it include newly formed battalions or existing battalions moved to sabah? Or would they be rotational tour of duty battalions temporarily assigned under 5th division?

    6) with the introduction of new front line ifv’s, the remaining condors could still be useful as support assets (hq company vehicles, ambulances, fitter/repair vehicles, etc). With COTS mercedes spareparts I think that it would still be useful in mechanized/armoured battalions/regiments, some modified into proper ambulance/repair/other specialised support vehicles.

  24. @ gonggok

    Could you name the 14000ton japanese cruiser operating in malacca straights in ww2?

    Guadacanal? Its coral reefs surrounded by the great huge pacific ocean. Not shallow littorals like around malaysia.

    Why do we need a CAP (if you really know the true meaning of the term) over gong kedak or kerteh? QRA operations is adequate to defend the said area. You usually do CAP to maintain air superiority over contested airspace, not while defending your own sovereign airspace.

    Rather than spending money buying air defence frigates (which cost 700-800mil each, like the fremms), better get more fighters to equip labuan and butterworth. Most of tldm’s operational area are about 15 minutes supersonic reach from butterworth, gong kedak or labuan. An air defence frigate can’t defend the air (which what we are talking about, asw and naval presence is a different matter) in many places at once like a fighter squadron can.

  25. @…says

    The Haguro fought in the Malacca Straits in WW2

    People fought heavy ships whenever they could. Now we have much better charts. Plus the fact the larger frigates like FREMM are not that much bigger than what we operate.

    Yes it would be better to fund more combat aircraft. But my argument is that rather than TLDM buying more 6 more corvettes the TLDM funds should be allocated to getting one or two larger frigates. If I were holding the purse strings I would tell TLDM to quiet down and play nice with their six shiny new gowinds while spend the next big allocation on TUDM on their long long awaited AEW and MRCA.

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