Storm of Resolve

Hercules Diplomacy patches. via MbK515 Twitter

SHAH ALAM: Storm of Resolve. As you might be aware, RMAF has deployed at least two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to Saudi Arabia since March, 2015 as part of the operations to evacuate Malaysians from strife-torn Yemen.

Although most Malaysians in Yemen have left the country since the evacuations, the Saudi deployment dubbed Ops Yemen is continuing.

I was told that the Saudis had asked Malaysia for further contribution for the continuing operation against Yemen. However, we had only agreed to continue with the “Hercules Diplomacy” for the time being. And it is likely that it will be our only contribution unless things changed on the ground.

Apart from the Yemen operation, the Armed Forces have also taken part in several training exercises in Saudi since 2015 though the number of troops taking part were small likely the size of a platoon.

And although pictures of the soldiers in the exercises have been published here and elsewhere, photographs of the Hercules Diplomacy remained scarce. Twitter user Mohd bin Khaled @MbK515, however, has published the first pictures of the RMAF contingent in Saudi. There were no pictures of the Hercules however.

A screenshot of the MbK515 tweet on RMAF presence in Saudi.

Published here are the photographs sourced from the MbK515 Twitter account.

Hercules Diplomacy patches. via MbK515 Twitter

I have no idea how many RMAF personnel are deployed to Saudi for the operation.

Some of the RMAF personnel based in Saudi. via MbK515 Twitter

It is likely that less than 50 personnel are deployed on a rotational basis.

— Malaysian Defence

If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment

About Marhalim Abas 2203 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. By assisting Saudi we have become [even though we’re not taking part in combat ops] an active participant in the Cold War being fought between Saudi and various other states against Iran. A Cold War which has been waged for decades and in recent years has picked up and is being played out in places such as Yemen, Iraq and Syria. All part of Saudi’s efforts to weaken and isolate Shia Iran. Like the Egyptians who got bogged down in Yemen in the late 1960’s; the Saudis and its allies are stuck in Yemen with no clear exit strategy [one that would avoid losing face] and having failed to achieve any of their political and military objectives.

    Saudi, Qatar and the UAE would be better off assisting the Iraqis [even though they’re mostly Shia] defeat IS but this won’t happen – they prefer expending their efforts in Yemen. In Syria, the Gulf Arabs would like to see Assad [an Alawite whom the Gulf Arabs view as heretics] go as a Sunni dominated Syria would isolate and weaken Iran. Such is the state of the Middle East and Arab unity [which hasn’t existed since the Middle Ages]; we best keep our distance rather than get involved in affairs that don’t concern us ….

  2. Apologies for getting off topic but I have questions on the Starstreak deal. The ForceSHIELD Integrated Air Defence System will include [1] Next Generation Lighweight Multiple Launchers [2] CONTROLMaster 200 3D radars [3] RAPIDRanger integrated mounts [each containing 4 launchers, a Automatic Target Tracking system, a Thermal Infra Red Sighting system and a charge coupled device camera – not sure if it has an IR alerting device similar to the ADAD] [4]RAPIDRover.

    RAPIDRanger and RAPIDRover are both integrated mounts with sighting devices but what are the main differences between both? Also, does the Next Generation Lighweight Multiple Launcher contains 2 or 3 launchers? I’m asking this because the launcher shown fitted on the GK-M1 in Marhalim’s ”More Details On The Starstreak Deal” [September 15 2015] has 3 launchers but on the same post there are 2 graphics showing a similar mount but with 2 launchers.

    Thales RAPIDRanger, include C2 interface, early warning sensor (optional), and the STARStreak missile and associated guidance and control interfaces.

    RapidRover is just the launcher fixed on a truck. The latest LML NG launcher has two missiles while the old Starstreak launcher has three launchers

  3. There is no real need for that coalition for the additional 2 Hercules from Malaysia. Saudi Arabia itself has more than 50 Hercules.

  4. ……..,

    Saudi wants to show the world that there is a united front of ”willing” Sunni partners to defeat ”terror” in Yemen and to put the heretic Shia Iranians and its proxies in place – it’s political. A Saudi version of Bush’s ”coalition of the willing [another cliche] in the ”war on terror”. Just like how during the Gulf War the U.S. has no real need for Arab involvement to liberate Kuwait; it was symbolic. It says a lot that Pakistan, long a beneficiary of Saudi largesse, declined to take part in combat ops.

  5. I’ve an off topic question to ask. From the Lahad Datu incident it showed that we need a lot of 4×4 trucks and we can see a lot of the field force personnel were traveling on civilian 4×4 such as Hilux or Triton. Maybe some of those vehicles even belong to our armed forces personnel. Just wonder how difficult it is to bolt on extra armour to add protection level up to 5.56 rounds or 9mm rounds? How much extra weight would it incurred if we’re to weld extra steel plates for protection on the crew cabin only? How about the bullet proof glass for the windscreen and windows?

    Its not that hard actually. That said the best version of the Hilux for uparmouring are those with the 3-litre diesel engines. Most of the 4x4s here are 2.4 liter ones. Its not a big issue though as the 3-litre Hilux are mostly manufactured in Thailand. It will cost around RM300,000 tops to uparmour the Hilux for 5.56mm rounds, cheaper still for 9mm rounds

  6. “It says a lot that Pakistan, long a beneficiary of Saudi largesse, declined to take part in combat ops.”

    Well both sides had a bitter taste from each other after the Saudis paid them to fight in Yemen in the 1970s. I’m not familiar with the details but I’ll look it up.


    Ballistic glass is very heavy- for equivalent protection levels it is thicker and possibly heavier than opaque armour. The engine aside, suspension may have to be upgraded. Because even though the stock suspension is designed for heavy loads, this weight is on the extremities which affects handling.

    If you’ve seen ballistic glass windows on vehicles (both civilian and military) up close, you’ll notice the factory fitted ones have a powerful lifting device inside a very thick door panel. The hasty ones are simply glued on and cannot be wound down. I saw this Ford SUV that the SAF used in Afghanistan. They glued on the glass but did not add armour inside the door’s lower portion. Don’t know why, it could have been weight reasons.

    Its not hasty, but you get what you paid for.

  7. The problem we face is that there is no urgency to install ballistic protection to soft skin vehicles because we don’t face an ongoing insurgency problem and that if we’re again faced with a Lahad Dato type scenario, we hope that skin vehicles will be kept out of harm’s way – the plan or hope is that it will be Adnans, AV-8s and AV-4s that will come under fire; not soft skin vehicles. It’s not as if we haven’t faced a similar problem in the past : during the 2nd Emergency numerous casualties were incurred during attacks on army and police convoys. To be fair we’re not the only ones who forget past lessons : during the early days of Iraq – before the insurgency gained momentum – it was common for U.S. and British troops to move around in soft skin vehicles with zero ballistic protection.

    Sure, one can make the argument that certain soft skin vehicles [like the ones that will be fitted with Starstreak] don’t need protection as these are not intended to come in direct contact with hostile fire but the same argument can’t be made for the Metis and HMG ”weapons carriers” as these are intended to provide direct fire support and will be on the receiving end of hostile fire. The Thais have learnt the hard way of the need to protect soft skin vehicles and to have MRAPs such as the ”First Win” but then they’re facing an ongoing insurgency and have taken casualties.

  8. Regarding the malaysian c-130’s.

    Do the crews train on STOL takeoff and landing techniques into small gravel/grass airstrips?

    In the 70’s, c-130 crews from UK, Australia and new Zealand practiced landings at a small airstrip in penerak, dungun, terengganu. I believe the airstrip is still there.

    RMAF also conducted landings at Gong Kedak when it was still a grass strip, this was told by a former Handau operator. No idea whether the capability remained. Hercules taking off from Subang sometimes conduct short take offs but not sure whether they have done short landings there or elsewhere.

  9. It’s probably harder to “bolt on” up armour a soft skinned vehicles than to buy a purpose built vehicle. Mounting the armour alone is difficult enough without settling the engine/chassis and ensuring the whole package offers meaningful protection.

    I remember that SAF Ford SUV from Afghanistan -I regret not taking pictures- and believe they only glued ballistic glass to the side windows. The front and rear wind shields would have been difficult since the original is curved and ballistic glass is straight, and tends not to be in large pieces. Overall this offered just about 8 square feet of protection, yet I was told the driving characteristics were significantly affected. Logically, these vehicles were never driven far outside the wire. They had Maxxpro MRAPs for that.

    Fortunately there are small MRAPs nowadays. For even lower budgets, there are commercial chassis platforms with armoured cabins.

  10. With the Caribou we use to conduct STOL at Ulu Kinta and other places. Of course we lost that capability when the Caribou was replaced with the CN-235 which does not have the STOL capabilities the Caribou had. With the end of the 2nd Emergency we lost the need for STOL. The C-130 that deployed to Afghanistan a few years ago landed on a rough strip; not sure if it was a short landing and take off. In fact, way before Gong Kedak became an air base it had a dirt strip that accommodated C-130s.

  11. I totally agree the effort to evacuate Malaysians from war-torn Yemen, but once evacuation is complete, Malaysia should pull out and not have anything to do with the illegal Saudi-led genocide in Yemen. Why even “train” with incompetent and despotic Saudi at all? This is an unnecessary taint on Malaysia image as a pro-peace/diplomacy nation. How can Malaysia be supporting Palestine against Israeli’s genocidal war there while “training” with Saudi who is slaughtering another Muslim country, Yemen… Talk about hypocrisy and shamelessness…

  12. Marhalim,
    Slightly off topic but still on the Middle East nonetheless.
    Why are Turkey’s Leopard 2’s taking a pounding in Syria? Old not yet upgraded model? Training? Wrong tactics?

    AFAIK most modern ATGM has the ability to destroy any MBT fielded today if it can hit it

  13. @ AM

    I have been to the factory that made those armoured Ford SUV, everest and rangers that are supplied by the thousands to many forces in Afghanistan. Probably that is the same vehicle you are talking about.

    It has 7.62 (ak-47) ballistic protection all around, with floors armoured to windstand hand granade blasts. the armoring added nearly 500kg to the vehicle gross weight. It has different springs and absorbers to offset it. And the modifications are approved by Ford so those vehicles still retain their full Ford warranties.

    IMO those vehicles has more value added modifications than the superficial “humvee” styling to the malaysian army land rover replacements.

  14. …,

    “I have been to the factory that made those armoured Ford SUV, everest and rangers that are supplied by the thousands to many forces in Afghanistan. Probably that is the same vehicle you are talking about.”

    Where is this factory?

    The SAF ones I saw were not factory fitted but were simple mods done by contractors with a minimum of cost. So we were looking at different vehicles.

  15. @ AM

    The factory is in Thailand. It supplied thousands of armoured ford pickups to the US military, ANA (Afghan Army), ANP (afghan police) and NGO’s operating in afghanistan. The mods are internal, so externally it looks like a stock pickup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.