SHAH ALAM: The strange case of the 105mm guns. With the contracts of the MD Helicopters MD530G light scout attack helicopter and M109SPH being cancelled, now I can post about the other contract that I have been asked about. It’s the Nexter 105LG1 contract. I can confirmed that it is still valid and deliveries are expected late this year, though it also had went through the wringer.
It went through a wringer? Yes, about 12 months ago, I heard that the review of defence contracts as mandated by the government after the May 2018 general elections had been completed. I contacted my sources and was told that as part of the review, the 105mm howitzer contract was about to be cancelled. This was the only thing I had managed at this point in time, however.
As I was aware of what happened at DSA 2018 – the contract for the 18 Nexter LG1 howitzer was only confirmed a day after the official contract signing ceremony – I kept the story on hold.
Nexter 105LG1 gun displayed at DSA 2018
The Ministry of Defense, Malaysia announced the acquisition of 18 units of 105LG1 artillery systems for the Armed Forces during one of the largest defense services exhibition in Asia, DSA&NATSEC 2018. This 3-year contract will start by November 2019 with the first delivery of 6 light guns and the last delivery is due to take place in February 2020. The 105LG1 is a 105mm gun designed for intervention and rapid reaction forces.
Early this year, I was told by various sources that indeed the 105LG1 contract had been cancelled. As I was about to write a post on the cancellation I was told that the ministry was talking with Nexter over the deal and there was a possibility that the contract would be reinstated despite an offer from another manufacturer.
Apart from the 105mm guns, at this point – around February and March – I was also checking on the status of the other contracts – the MD530Gs and M109 SPH – though at this point I was told every thing was hunky dory. Then came the announcement of the LMS contract revision in mid-March, barely two weeks before LIMA 2019.
At LIMA 2019 I was told that the 105mm guns contract would be reinstated with a slight reduction in cost. They even slotted the contract signing for the guns at the LIMA contract signing day though in the end they never went ahead with it at the function. Despite this the contract was signed though not during the event.
At this moment I can report that the first six Nexter guns are expected to be delivered later this year and assembled locally as announced in the DSA 2018 story. The rest are expected to be delivered by the end of next year. As reported previously, the guns will be assigned to the 1st Royal Artillery Regiment (Para) attached to the 10th Para Brigade. The Nexter guns is likely to be the last 105mm guns to be purchased by the Army.
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“At LIMA 2019 I was told that the 105mm guns contract would be reinstated with a slight reduction in cost. “?
Reduce some feature (the guns computer system?) or “Nexter, we are new government, please give me a discount else we cancel it?”
Not sure whether the MD530G is really cancelled though as today’s radio announcement seems to suggest they are still discussing with the AG on the matter. It is likely there are few possibilities:-
a) They are looking at the possibility of cancelling it and recovering the 35% paid, though recovering it would be long protracted process.
b) there may be a poison pill clause which stated that the contract can only be cancelled subject to going through a lengthy pre determined process, of which if it is skipped then MINDEF will lose the deposit plus has to compensate the other party
Part B I am not surprise if there is such a clause, in fact it is commonly seen in other type of contracts.
Encik Marhalim, macam mana dgn baki lagi 2 LCS Maharaja Lela (kapal yang ke 5 dan ke 6) yg masih belum dimulakan pembinaannya? Adakah berpotensi untuk dibatalkan?
Lots of questions to ask you marhalim!
1. What was the other manufacturer that has offered their 105mm howitzer?
2. What was the final cost of the contract after price reduction?
3. The intriguing last sentence of your post. What makes you say so? What would happen to the other 6 close support regiments with oto melara pack howitzers if no more 105mm howitzers to be bought? Is the army saying that it does not need 105mm howitzers any more? Personally I think 105mm howitzers has more utility compared to 120mm mortar or 155mm howitzers in the context of malaysian army use.
Another thing. On the nuri. If it is to be permanently retired, please give it a proper dignified retirement ceremony.
It’s a source story so I am not going to say which company, same as the cost reduction but its not much. As for the last question, wait for it.
They won’t retire the Nuri in the immediate future
This is something I’ve long wondered about : whether with the exception of 10 Para; we should ditch the 105mms and standardise to 155mms.
Apart from cheaper procurement costs and a smaller footprint [essential for light units which have limited lift/transport capabilities]; 105mms guns haven’t really many plus points over 155mms – which is why many armies no longer have them.
Wait, we’re not buying the LG1 as a CBU? Who is going to perform the local assembly and why is this necessary for just 18 units? There is no economic sense other than paying staff for 6 months of contracted work. Forget the whole local assembly thingy and we can save some real money there.
” As for the last question, wait for it ”
if they are thinking of getting rid of the 105mm howitzer for manually loaded 120mm mortar, i am not for it.
for limited conflicts like our communist insurgency or lahad dato type of scenario, the 155mm howitzers are an overkill. Yes we need 155mm howitzers, but 2-3 regiments is adequate enough IMO, we still need 105mm howitzers for most of situations that we could face. Probably having some of the regiments on 105mm SPH like the hawkeye howitzer for our mechanized units, and rest upgraded to LG1 towed howitzers. I am waiting for the DWP to roll out my writeup on the army, and it would include my take on RAD.
The minister of defence came out with an official statement . He said the Mindef is looking at the issues n will choose an option with the least loss to Malaysia. The contract is not yet cancelled.
The minister also told Parliament said the end user the Army don’t want it.
“we still need 105mm howitzers for most of situations that we could face”
Yet another fatal accident happened to a H225 Super Puma.
We are more likely to face non-state actors (maybe backed by other states unofficially) and hybrid warfare with high deniability like in ukraine or yemen rather than straightforward nation to nation skirmish.
For scenarios like these, even more than a battery strength of 155mm howitzers in the operational area is an overkill. France usually deployed just 4 caesars in afghanistan, mali and syria. Giving close fire support would be much easier and with less logistical trail by deploying 105mm howitzers rather than 155mm howitzers in conflict scenarios with non-state actors.
“The minister also told Parliament said the end user the Army don’t want it.”
I wonder if its the TDM that really said they didn’t want it. What choice do Para have really? The Model56 will be dwindled by attrition with no replacements, they certainly can’t lug the 155mm G5 with them. If 105mm howitzer is no longer suitable, are their doctrine for Para is going w/o organic arty support? The 120mm mortar isn’t that more portable and it is limited usage compared to 105mm howitzer.
It was Mat Sabu who said it
…. – “for limited conflicts like our communist insurgency or lahad dato type of scenario, the 155mm howitzers are an overkill”
Yes, you’ve mentioned this before.
The thing is : are we likely to face another insurgency again and if indeed we do face another foreign non state threat; what’s to say that 155mm guns will really be an “overkill”? If it’s the potential of collateral damage you’re worried about (which you mentioned in the past); if it was a low intensity scenario like Lahad Dato chances are they will be no civilians strong anyway and if it was a state on state conflict in which our sovereignty was clearly threatened; I doubt very much the fact that a 155mm shell can cause more damage to a structure or infrastructure will be a concern…
We also need to take note that unlike in previous decades where targets for our artillery were mostly in a jungle environment; in the future, against a state actor, targets could mostly be located in an urban environment; buildings and other forms of structures made of thick concrete and steel in which a 155mm shell has better penetrating performance and a bigger” bang.
If we really want to talk about what’s an “overkill” we must factor that the next time we fire shots in anger it might not be a low intensity scenario again and that with regards to Lahad Dato one can also ask whether using 105mm guns and air power was an overkill.
I have no doubt that there is still a place for 105mm guns in our scheme of things but whether units apart from 10 Para should have them is the question. There is a reason why some armies maintain 105mm guns and why some have binned them. As I’ve neen asking for quite some time now : what is the Artillery Directorate’s stand on the matter. Alas we don’t know yet.
You mention about urban environment. The only good use of 155mm howitzers in urban environment is to level a whole city block. It has significantly larger blast radius than a 105mm shell, and is very dangerous to fire them at close proximity to friendly units.
Lessons of marawi.
Some reads on this matter
There is also issues to transport 155mm howitzers. Most of them cannot be carried underslung by any of our current helicopters. M777 needs at least a chinook. The lightest 155mm howitzer i know of is the Norinco AHS-4, with is a 3.4ton mountain warfare version of the normal AH-4 155mm howitzer.
IMO for close fire support, for a battalion forces or smaller, a 105mm howitzer would still be ideal. For bigger hostilities that needs to support a force of a brigade or bigger, 155mm howitzers for support would be good.
We also need to upgrade our ability to call for fire support, ability to avoid counter battery fire, ability to detect and target hostile fire.
The mention of 105mm guns only had bearing on their use in an improvised wall breaching role. In fact, it said shoulder fired breaching munitions were by far preferable but the 105s were laboriously used because the AFP did not have sufficient inventory of shoulder fired breaching munitions for the sheer number of breaches.
There was no mention of 155mm guns being too destructive, only that they are larger and difficult to maneuver in such an improvised breaching role.
It’s a good article with many interesting lessons, many of which are not expensive to implement. It covers several ways in which the AFP fought and improvised well- I can’t say we could have done better or come out with lower losses. One could also say they were lucky in a few ways. In that the enemy was not better resourced and had not seized a larger urban area, and the AFP was not tied down in another fight elsewhere and therefore Marawi was able to receive top priority for resources, both national and foreign (in some ways more than we could have mustered without outside help). Civilians also came out with a relatively light casualty figure.
Thank you for the update admin.
Just an alternative thought. I believe its more versatile albeit with higher cost.
Usage of rocket artillery replacing 155mm howitzer. Maybe each division will have one battalion (regiment) of these rocket artillery. For example 2 battalions in peninsular and another 2 battalions in sabah & sarawak.
I like how the boeing/saab tinkers the air-launched SDB bombs into rocket artillery. They have both laser guided (moving targets) and gps guided (static targets) versions. Range of around 100km in radius of firing position with less collateral damage. Latest firing test seems to push the range to 140km.
Maybe it can use a minimal number of bombs to achieve the same effect as a higher number of 155mm shells. For example, a company (battery) of rockets might be as effective as a battalion (regiment) of 155mm.
As we already uses the astros system, we have to buy either the american HIMARS or the south korean Chunmo. This option is for the future.
Instead of separate 155mm and rocket artillery, maybe we only need the rocket artillery. Except the 105mm howitzer battalion for airborne brigade and marine brigade (who knows in the future).
Just my sekupang. What do you guys think?
The greater blast radius of a 155mm gun against troops in open areas (whether with HE or air burst) is one reason why many have stuck to them. With regards to urban areas; a 105mmm gun causes damage but against structures with reinforced concrete and steel; at minimum a 155mm is needed for its penetrating effects.
As it stands, a future state on state conflict will be fought mostly in urban areas for the simple reason that points importance are located on it near urban areas. If one really wanted to “level” a city; one world use ASTROS, a saturation weapon.
Also what’s really “sufficient” or “ideal” is wholly dependent on operational circumstances. Against non state low intensity threats a 106mm is fine but against a enemy employing 155mm guns; then a 105mm gun would not suffice.
With regards to air mobility (I haven’t really (as mentioned on previous occasions) been sold with the idea. Sure it’s a useful capability to have and one that also looks good when mentioned on promotional literature but in reality is dependent on having the needed air assets available for the tasking. Even to lift a single battery of guns plus crew, ammo and equipment and to keep that battery resupplied will take “X” number of sorties. Sure a 155mm towed gun is dependent on roads and tracks but so are many other assets and vehicles in the army and it’s not as if there is a shortage of roads or dirt tracks in the country.
Many areas of improvement are needed as I keep mentioning; in organisation, the ability to mass fire without “mass” guns, the ability to hit targets accurately whether observed or otherwise; the ability to detect targets and pass the data where needed; this ability to coordinate/synchronise one’s fire with manoeuvre assets and ASTROS, etc.
If one desires a “close “support weapon” per see then yes 105mm guns supplemented by mortars are sufficient in low intensity ops. If however one faces the possibility of a state on state threat and desires ones artillery to perform various roles beyond the forward edge of the battle area (whether close support, interdiction, harassment fire or counter battery); then a 155mm provides the operational flexibility.
I’m not saying one is better than the other; merely both are better at certain things and that if indeed the army has decided to have more 155mm guns and less 105mms despite the larger footprint and higher procurement/operating costs; there must be good reason for it. One reason is that compared to decades ago; in this day and age a 105mm gun simply does not do all we require of an artillery piece.
…. – ”The only good use of 155mm howitzers in urban environment is to level a whole city block.”
It’s very hard to actually ”level a whole city block” [as opposed to badly damaging] – would take a lot of rounds. Also the use of arty in urban areas is mostly used at specific targets or when not against specific targets; for harassment/interdiction of supply routes. If indeed arty was used indiscriminately like in Beirut or Grozny [the Russians widely used BM-21s to ”level” areas] then its mainly used on a specific area as opposed to a specific target. On Marawi, someone who was there and who I spoke to said that in the absence of anything better, heavy arty was the only means to targets specific blocks or structures that were known to have been evacuated by friendly civilians. Like the Marines at Hue in 1968; Filipino troops also found their RCLs very useful in knocking down walls and doors. A number of army troops/marines also spoke in Congress on their experiences in Marawi; this was carried live on TV.
… -” It has significantly larger blast radius than a 105mm shell, and is very dangerous to fire them at close proximity to friendly units.”
It is ”very dangerous” to fire anything [whether a Paveway, GPMG or a 155mm shell] close to friendly troops but how often will we have to fire arty in close proximity to friendly troops? For us to actually have a need to fire arty close to friendly troops would mean the situation was very serious – always possible but not likely happening often. At Lahad Dato troops maintained a 1KM distance from where the Model 56s were firing on.
Out of desperation and because nothing else was available there are dozens of instances in Afghanistan where 1555mm was fired against targets close to friendly troops who were in danger of being overwhelmed.
Nihd -“Except the 105mm howitzer battalion for airborne brigade and marine brigade (who knows in the future).”
I’m of the opinion that the only unit (for obvious reasons) that should retain a 105mm capability is 10 Para. The unit after all is out strategic reserve and one that trains to deploy rapidly; albeit with a limited support ability. If indeed there’s a need for 105mm guns to be airlifted than it should be guns belonging to this unit. Even then available aircraft will also be busy lifting other things.
Nihd – “Instead of separate 155mm and rocket artillery, maybe we only need the rocket artillery.”
A howitzer is a precision weapon; a MLRS (unless using guided rounds) a saturation weapon. Both can never replace one another but both both can supplement each other
Nihd -“As we already uses the astros system, we have to buy either the american HIMARS or the south korean”
It’s not the hardware that’s the issue but ISR assets to locate and track targets and for those targets to be hit. If Avibras comes out with its long delayed guided GPS round I can’t think of any reason why we’d want to get any more MLRSs that are not ASTROS.
It would be great if all we need are 105mm guns – smaller footprint, cheaper to buy, cheaper ammo and lesser crews compared to a 155mm. Unfortunately there is also a legitimate need for 155mms guns and legitimate reasons why some armies have decided not to have 105mm guns or to only have them operated by quick reaction units.
1. I have never said 155mm howitzers are not needed. IMO we should have at least 2 regiments of towed 155mm howitzers, one each at semenanjung and sabah sarawak. And probably 1 regiment of 155mm SPH for the armoured division. Yes as a mass fire weapon a battery of 155mm is hell. But as a close support weapon, following say a battalion of troops into a say a suburb sized urban area, the 155mm howitzer battery is too big and too slow for rapid reaction to dynamic fire support situations. About penetrating reinforced concrete, 105mm can do that, as what is done in marawi. Read on the us marines experiment. Even with m777 155mm lightweight howitzers, it is said to be heavy and slow to support a company sized formation. Our G5s are double the weight of the m777.
2. 1km standoff distance from friendly troops is too far to be an effective close support. Lahad dato is basically fire at will to a grid, where there is basically no friendly troop movements into the area during artillery fire. Using artillery to actually support troop movements is a different matter. A 105mm in vietnam war at 12km range have unobserved CEP of about 90m, with forward observers CEP of 30m. Blast radius of 105mm shell is about 30m.
3. On air mobility. No matter how many helicopter sorties it takes to move a battery of 105mm howitzers, it can be lifted by helicopters. The problem with 155mm is that the option isnt there at all. Only the Mi-26 i think can lift the G5, and even if we buy the M777 our cougar and nuri cannot lift them.
4. IMO we still need both 105mm and 155mm howitzers. IMO 105mm howitzer would be more agile in urban warfare and small scale conflicts. While we rarely practice shoot and scoot tactics, 105mm guns would be more easier for the crew to rapidly flee to a new location after done shooting.
“It was Mat Sabu who said it”
I do wonder if that was Mat Sabu’s opinion or was it the general’s. If it was from the generals, there must be something they wanted to replace it.
Of course the minister has to seek out the opinion of his generals.
1. If the proposed CONOPS is for close support in urban environment, there is more argument for the 120mm mortar. Better trajectory, faster response, easier transportability. You can have it standing even closer by and attached to the infantry commander.
2. Helicopter portee artillery? Depends very much on whether we intend to use that tactic en masse in the first place. Which depends on, amongst others, having sufficient helicopter lift and reasonable local air superiority. You say, “at least the possibility is there”, but that is, sorry, nonsense. Firstly, you are giving up other advantages to pursue this option, you had better make good use of it. Secondly, a tactic which is not regularly practised and have resources allocated for it, is not going to be effective when the time comes. There are no effective halfway houses when it comes to operations, so don’t make procurement decisions on what-ifs and maybes.
3. Same story for shoot and scoot. Train the way you fight, fight the way you train.
Will you make a report about the LCS?
After all LCS is the biggest project in decade, RM 6 billions are paid with another RM 1.4 billion extra money also paid. At least the LCS project cost is RM 10.4 billions.
1. 120mm mortar. The most distinct disadvantage is that it cannot be used for direct fire. The ability for howitzers to do direct fire is one of the lessons of the marawi conflict. I dont know why USMC rubbishes the 120mm mortar in its experiment but that is something we need to study further. Another issue is the ergonomics of loading a manual 120mm mortar by asian sized soldiers.
2. Using helicopter transport en masse? As long as we can at least transfer a battery of howitzers, it is already a useful option. And what do you mean that we rarely do it? We regularly practice underslung 105mm howitzers, and we have many times used it operationally against communist insurgents.
3. Training to do shoot and scoot is one thing. The ease of your howitzer to help you shoot and scoot is another. Look at the USMC experiment article.
india bought CH-47 just so they could transport M777 when they already have Mi-26.
The other option is to use the helicopter like S-64 like the sarawakian taukay helo (they also chartered Mi-26 afaik) but there’s no way the army (nor the air force) would want something as niche as that.
I guess that the army will focus on 155mm gun acquisition (both towed and self propelled) and will continue to use pack howitzer until munition and spares dries out and the gun is considered obsolete.
“Of course the minister has to seek out the opinion of his generals.”
As you’re well aware its not always the case when ministers speak are not from the wishes of generals. But if that is truly what TDM wants, then I’m very curious what will replace the 105s role, or if there’s a change in TDM doctrine that removes the need for 105s.
Chua – “If the proposed CONOPS is for close support in urban environment, there is more argument for the 120mm mortar”
Direct fire weapons tend to be more practical in an urban environment and mortars don’t necessarily have a faster response time. Also, who’s to say that the CONOPS is indeed close support for an urban environment? Sure troops engaged in urban combat need some form of close support but they have various means available to them in addition to IFVs. The days when light guns or howitzers were man handled by crews to actually accompany infantry in order to provide direct support by firing on open sights are largely over.
Having the ability to lift guns is a useful one and one we should retain; especially with 10 Para. The fact stands however that compared to previous decades, there is a lesser need now. In the 70’s and 80’s we had battalions spread out in various areas and they all needed arty support. Due to the threat level it was common for 2/3 or even at times 1 gun to be allocated (often in places not easily accessible by road) and ammo usage wasn’t high so airlift wasn’t an issue. In RASCOM we even moved guns along the Rejamg on LCPs.
In today’s context it’s highly questionable whether we could lift guns in numbers given the limited helis we have and the number of sorties needed to lift even a single battery plus crews and ammo. Unless of course we were operating in a threat/tempo conditions and the helis weren’t busy doing other things.
Vietnam navy ex pohang class corvettes now fitted with russian Kh-35 anti ship missiles.
Dundun -“The other option is to use the helicopter like S-64 like the sarawakian taukay helo (they also chartered Mi-26 afaik”
The issue really is whether we’d actually have a need and whether if the need arises; we’d actually have the needed assets to move a battery or more. If it was a low threat situation then fine but if it was something more serious requiring more than a battery?
The fact also remains that by and large; there is a lesser need to air lift arty compared to the past when arty has to be air lifted to areas which were not easily accessible by road. Yes having an arty piece that can be air lifted is a plus but it shouldn’t be the determining factor in whether we ever get more 105mms or not.
…. – “The ability for howitzers to do direct fire is one of the lessons of the marawi conflict””
That lesson was learnt as long ago in
WW1 where out of sheer necessity light howitzers were used to fire on open sights in the direct fire role. By WW2 it has become doctrine for anti-tank and flak to be used for the same purpose; man handled into position. The Soviets took things a step further and employed heavy artillery in the role.
Experiences in Chechnya and the need for a direct urban fire support/suppression platform led to the Russians coming up with Terminator and off course we have examples of Zsus and Vulkans being used in urban engagements in the direct fire role.
“As long as we can at least transfer a battery of howitzers, it is already a useful option.”
So all we need is a battery of 105mm, and we can standardise on 155mm for the rest. We’re buying 18 LG1 so that is plenty. Done.
No need to equip the entire army with 105mms, reducing the firepower output, simply on the possibility that we can airlift ONE battery with the helicopters we have.
.. – “No matter how many helicopter sorties it takes to move a battery of 105mm howitzers, it can be lifted by helicopters””
Having a paper capability is good but having an actual capability is another matter. – a lot of things “can” be done. If we want to talk about paper capabilities; 155mm guns can be flown by transports; if there’s a need and if the aircraft are there for the tasking. If it was just a question of moving guns then things would be somewhat simplified but crews, ammo and equipment also have to moved and ammo resupplied.
Having the ability to move by air is always good but it should not be the main consideration in deciding to maintain something. Ultimately like 155mm guns (towed or otherwise) the bulk of 105mm guns will move by road.
A Mil-26 on paper is able to lift a G-5 but in practice it has to be certified to do so and needs the proper hooks/attachments. It’s for the same reason that the IAF’s Mil-26s were unable to lift the M777s and why Chinooks were bought.
– “ About penetrating reinforced oncrete, 105mm can do that”
Of course it can but a 155mm shell will always have better penetrating ability and packs a higher HE content. Under the right circumstances a 81mm shell will penetrate but the level of damage is the question.
Concrete/steel structures can be quite resilient to arty; actually “levelling” a structure – as opposed to badly damaging it – is not easy. Look at the photos of Aleppo and Mosul; most buildings are badly damaged but most are not levelled despite prolonged combat in which indiscriminate and extensive use of arty, MLRS and bombs were employed.
Chua – “So all we need is a battery of 105mm, and we can standardise on 155mm for the rest”
Couldn’t agree more. We”ll also have to accept that unless we ever get heavy lift helis in numbers; the main means of moving our 155mm (like other armies – even those with heavy lifters) will be by road; incidentally the main means of moving all the army’s other assets.
It always boils down to a question of what best meets one’s requirements and making the needed trade offs. Despite whatever disadvantages there are with 155mm guns they still provide the needed flexibility in various areas in which a 105mm gun can’t and there are compelling reasons why armies want to do away with their 105mms.
Chua – “simply on the possibility that we can airlift ONE battery with the helicopters we have”
One also can’t make the argument that we should retain 105mm guns because by virtue of being smaller and lighter; can more easily “follow” troops operating in an urban environment, for the simple reason that arty doesn’t have to “follow” troops; they can operate out of the combat area and still conduct close support, interdiction, harassment and counter battery.
“No need to equip the entire army with 105mms”
Provided we can get sufficient 155mm pieces distributed to both East and West Malaysia and rapidly deploy them in sufficient numbers with sufficient munitions. We don’t have that yet which is why I am perplexed by their insistence the M109s are superfluous.
What kind of warped thinking do you have?
We have 5 infantry divisions spread all around malaysia. Our future doctrine is to enable the army to conduct 2 concurrent operations. Each of our divisions should have the support of at least 1 105mm regiment. Each division if need to deploy its troops should have the option (option, not must) of having its artillery positioned by helicopters. It does not mean 1 battery can cover all of malaysia just by helicopter deployment!
Right now if we need an all 155mm howitzer force, we need to invest in them, as we have just 1 regiment of them. The same can be said with our helicopter force. If it is not adequate right now, we can also invest in more medium lift helicopters too.
To standardise all other regiments with 155mm howitzers? Might as well standardise all GAPU units with S400 missiles too, and forget about all the starstreaks, iglas and jernas. With all 155mm howitzers, can you do a rerun of lahad dato conflict or the falklands, but now on pulau banggi for example? Can the 155mm be easily deployed on the sarawak interior highlands bordering kalimantan? There is a lot of possible scenarios for malaysia where a 105mm howitzer would be more useful. Yes we need 155mm more howitzers, but it should not be the main equipment of RAD and should not be a replacement of our 105mm howitzer capability.
… – “ 1km standoff distance from friendly troops is too far to be an effective close support”
Politically we wanted to avoid casualties and the circumstances were such that there was no need for troops to get in closer – no need.
Also, whether it’s too far in not depends on the operational circumstances. In the case of Lahad Dato where the Model 56s really performing “close support” it harassment fire?
…. – “. While we rarely practice shoot and scoot tactics”
Of course we do; even before we had the FH-70s. We’ve clearly seen this in exercises and demonstrations; a few shots are fired and the limbered gun moves off. Just because our G-5s are heavy and cumbersome doesn’t mean we don’t rapidly relocate them after firing, to the best we can . The need to fire and move away as soon as possible to avoid the possibility of return is ingrained in every artillery crew’s psyche and something we practised even when the focus of the army was internal security.
If indeed we are ever faced with a scenario in which we need to rapidly deploy arty to an area which is not easily accessible by road (one reason Model 56s were often flown in during the 70’s and 80’s) then there’s 10 Para’s guns.
The problem will start when we deploy 105mms and are faced with an enemy which has deployed 155mm guns which outrange the Model 56s (the Thais faced this problem when the Laotians brought up their 130mms). Eventually we’ll also have to deploy our 155mms. It’s all fine and good if operational circumstances call for fire support missions to be conducted at close range against an enemy which has no artillery (e.g. Lahad Dato & Chin Prng’s lot) but if in addition to close range fire support; counter battery work or harassment fire beyond the immediate combat zone is needed then again; we’ll need our 155mms.
It’s for this reason (including its better penetrating ability and more powerful shell) that armies tend to rely more on – for the flexibility they provide. Having large numbers of both or even large numbers of one with a much smaller number of the other; also complicates things logistically.
>”Each division if need to deploy its troops should have the option (option, not must) of having its artillery positioned by helicopters.”
What if I said, each division should have the option of delivering more firepower? So we should give them 155mms as well right? Or if I said, each division should have the option of rocket artillery? So we should give them more ASTROS as well right? Also, each division should have armoured self-propelled vehicles. So We should give them SPHs too?
Everyone loves options. In an ideal world we would all have all the options we want. I would like the option to travel to the USA today, Australia tomorrow, Scotland the day after. I would like the option to eat omakase sushi in Tokyo today, ravioli in Parma tomorrow, fresh fish and chips in Oban the day after.
But options, sadly, cost money. Money that we don’t always have enough of.
All this while your argument is centered on the idea that the helicopter portee artillery tactic is an indispensable option that all divisions MUST have. And you’re willing to give up other tactics, other options, in order to enable this option… or rather, this requirement, because that is what it is.
Is it true though, that helicopter transport is an indispensable requirement?
That’s really the underlying assumption here in your proposal.
… -“ I dont know why USMC rubbishes the 120mm mortar in its experiment but that is something we need to study further.”
The Australians did extensive trials. They found that a 120mm doesn’t have the penetrating effect and the reaction time as a howitzer. There are also other reasons why some armies haven’t gone down the 120mm route.
– “Another issue is the ergonomics of loading a manual 120mm mortar by asian sized soldiers”
Actually no…. Irrespective of race or creed one would have to have exceptional upper body strength to not struggle with a 120mm round. Height is also an issue and is why a stool is always used by the French to load towed 120mms at maximum elevation.
If our adversary brings out the 155mm howitzers, we will bring out ours too. But it does not mean that all our divisions need to have 155mm howitzers. This is akin to wanting every single divison to be fully equipped with tanks and IFVs. I believe our DWP will have a clearer indication of what is our defence concerns and perceived threats. Why I don’t want to publish my take on the army yet, and that will have a specific topic on RAD. I believe that for the army our main concerns would still be threats of non-state actors on our country.
I would repeat my stand. I believe that we still need an additional 1-2 regiments of 155mm howitzers, but we need to keep and upgrade all the current 105mm howitzer regiments too.
” But options, sadly, cost money. Money that we don’t always have enough of ”
So the option getting 155mm howitzers to replace all of the 105mm howitzers does not need to use money?? Remember the option to heli lift 105mm howitzers is already available now even without spending any additional money, unlike the option of having an all 155mm howitzer artillery force.
Off topic –
Pics have emerged on MAB’s FB page of the Astros Ammunition supply vehicle (believe this is known as AV-RMD), and pics of PASKAL’s AK-104’s. Don’t see either very often.
Buying any gun will need money, but the point I’m making is; how you intend to use them strongly affects what you’re going to buy, because there are definitive pros and cons to each option.
Buying 105mm, lets be clear, sacrifices firepower for helicopter mobility.
Buying 155mm sacrifices helicopter mobility for firepower.
So if you’re going to sacrifice one advantage in order to get another advantage, you better make damn sure you’re going to make good use of that special “option” you wanted so much to get – in your case, helicopter mobility.
It is not true that the “option” is already available now without spending additional money. Because that “option” is based on the continued use of the Model 56s. Again, that comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Perhaps, but what you are arguing for is:
a) expansion of helilift capability by buying more medium-lift transports,
b) upgrading all of our Mod 56 howitzers to new ones,
c) expansion of our fleet of 155mm howitzers.
All this, and the fact that the Army now has to concurrently maintain all these assets and conduct training exercises with them on a regular basis, exudes a significant logistical and financial burden, more so than just upgrading our 105mm units to 155mm ones (sans helicoper portee requirement).
And as Chua, Azlan and others have pointedly reminded you time and again, the benefits of helicopter portee are illusory, in the face of our airlift assets needing to manage other critical combat support duties (air assault, medevac, logistics taskings), while also being suscept to combat and mechanical attrition.
If the constraints of our logistical capabilities mandate that we can only airlift and supply a single 105mm gun battery in both peacetime and high intensity conflict, surely that gun battery would be better served being attached to 10 Para, the unit most likely to enjoy and require the benefits of a 105mm artillery unit, would it not?
The crux of your argument is that the Tentera Darat should be able to have its cake and eat it. The very-real budgetary, logistical and manpower limits dictates that it cannot.
I believe PASKAL ones are AK-102 which chambered to NATO 5.56mm rounds. -104 uses Russian 5.45mm ammo.
Expecting the 155mm calibre to be the one size fits all arty is like using a sledgehammer to whack a nail in.
I was told that the AK-104s are in storage. The person I asked (on attachment away from his unit) has heard of them but has never even personally seen them. Early 2000’s there were pics of them being used by “pirates” during an anti piracy exercise.
An AK104 are among the guns on display at Paskal hq at the Lumut naval base. Yes the AKs were used during the HRT demo at Eks Pahlawan by the bad guys
.., – “Can the 155mm be easily deployed on the sarawak interior highlands bordering kalimantan””
Any good reason why it can’t? Just because it’s larger and heavier than a 105mm doesn’t mean it can’t. It’s not as if heavy artillery has never been deployed in similar terrain before by others.
Heavy artillery was deployed by the Americans in the Central Highlands, by the Thais in thick jungle conditions during their border clash with Myanmar, by the Laotians during their clash with the Thais, in various African bush wars (in restricted terrain), etc. It’s unlikely we’ll be faced with a Khe Sanh or Dien Ben Phu scenario where everything has to be flown in.
The terrain may restricted and roads sparse but just like how heavy armour can operate almost everywhere with engineering support so can heavy artillery. Also, artillery can operate away from the combat area and still do its job.
The advantage of 105mm gun isnt just limited to its helicopter portee capable. Why all of you are fixated with this single point?
Other advantages of 105mm howitzer
– small logistical footprint compared to the 155mm howitzer.
– small size, can be put up in areas where flat space is a premium.
– can be quickly set up.
– rapid rate of fire.
– can be used for direct fire in urban fighting conditions, to put down reinforced concrete walls and such.
– small blast radius enables fire to be put near to a friendly unit.
– close support fire for insurgency and scenarios such as lahad dato or marawi.
Anyway for the 10 para, the small size of 105mm howitzer enables it to be paradropped and the ability to be towed by the supacat (already in 10PARA inventory) is IMO the main advantage compared to the 155mm howitzer.
As for the cost of 105mm howitzer, i dont have the purview of the latest cost, but from past contracts each LG1 105mm howitzers cost nearly USD1 million each. Us army m777 contract is around usd2 million, but a contract for india is around usd6 million each.
What am i arguing for?
– 2 sqns (24 units) of blackhawks for PUTD, used ones from australia or usa. As a replacement of the nuri.
– recapitalisation of the 7x 105mm regiments. 5x with LG1, 2 more with hawkeye 105mm SPH to support the mech units.
– recapitalisation and expansion of 155mm regiments. 1 regiment with wheeled SPH to support the mech units. 2 regiments with AH4 lightweight (4.5tons) 155mm howitzers. A strategic reserve of probably a battery worth of AHS4 superlightweight (3.4tons) 155mm howitzers would also be bought, for use in exceptional case if we need to airlift 155mm guns by blackhawks.
Firepower (i.e. a larger explosive content) and better penetrating performance whether on concrete structures or bunkers are the main reasons why armies tend to stick with 155 guns. Of course there is also the matter of range (with modular charges or base bleed) and the advantage that range gives you when performing close support, counter battery or harassment missions at certain ranges – stuff you just can’t do beyond the maximum effective range of a 105mm.
The argument that a 155mm is large, heavy and cumbersome is valid but there’s no getting around this fact; just like how contemporary IFVs have to be larger, heavier and higher compared to older gen ones if one desires a level of internal space, mobility, firepower and protection. Sure a 155mm can be tricky to operate (and lay) in certain conditions but if MBTs, IFVs and other assets can operate in a particular area; there’s no reason why 155mm guns can’t; especially given that there will be roads or trails (not to mention engineering support) and arty can operate from a distance away and still do their job. We’ve see numerous examples of heavy arty operated in areas with a much poorer road network and in more isolated areas than Peninsular and East Malaysia.
On the question of mobility; things will be much simplified if we go for a SPH option but of course the drawback is higher procurement and operating costs; as well as a higher level of maintenance. The question of whether a wheeled or tracked option is more ideal is highly debatable – each have respective merits.
I have no idea what the Artillery Directorate prefers but if it decides to equip its field regiments with only 155mm guns (the sole exception being 10 Para) then quite obviously it has reached the same conclusions as other armies which have done so.
“I believe PASKAL ones are AK-102 which chambered to NATO 5.56mm rounds. -104 uses Russian 5.45mm ammo.”
You can see from the curvature of the magazines that they are AK-104s on 7.62x39mm. Try comparing them to the 5.56mm and 5.45mm variants.
…. – “Why all of you are fixated with this single point?””
That’s rich. We’re just noting that having a paper capability and an actual one are 2 profoundly different things. BTW I asked around – army Nuri pilots (just like how RMAF pilots had to maintain currency to perform deck landings even after the RMN has its air wing – rarely done) have to maintain currency to under sling arty but the fact that there are so few Nuris and that there are others things to do means it’s rarely done.
The fact that a 105mm can be under slung should not be the main factor in determine whether we should have it; although it is a used capability to have which nobody here denies. Similarly the fact that a 155mm can only be under slung by a Chinook should not be the determining factor in not having it; same goes with the fact that it can be flown in a transport: should not be the main reason it’s bought.
– “Other advantages of 105mm”
We are all aware of it advantages but what about it drawbacks compared to a 155mm and the much greater flexibility it provides?
– As mentioned before the days when crews manhandled guns to fire on open sights on on close targets are largely gone. It’s more practical to use shoulder fired weapons and MBT/IFV support; we saw this in Vietnam, the Philippines and dozens of other conflicts.
– As for a 105mm being more suitable for low intensity threats; a 155mm can do the job just as well. If indeed there was a Lahad Dato scenario and 155mms were an “overkill” (as you keep insisting) there is no reason why 120mms can’t be used in lieu. Mortars can never fully replace arty but they can be used as an ad hoc temporary substitute.
– The smaller blast radius is a moot point as such circumstances are unlikely to happen; despite a larger blast radius a 155mm can and has been used on the extremely rare occasions where rounds are fired close to friendlies. What’s important is accuracy and friendly troops being forwarned. Without accuracy and warning even a GPMG can be dangerous if used near friendly troops…
– Of course a 105mm can penetrate and damage structures but certain structures have proved resilient to 105mm fire. Even with a 155mm it would take a precise hit or multiple ones to bring down a structure made of reinforced concrete and steel.
” We’ve see numerous examples of heavy arty operated in areas with a much poorer road network and in more isolated areas than Peninsular and East Malaysia ”
It all depends. Like in afghanistan, most 155mm are heli lifted, and used mostly as a singleton to target long range insurgents of the size of a platoon or less with precision shells such as excalibur. As for thailand, there are roads all over its border with its neighbour. If you go and run the 1000 corners route in north thailand, a lot of it skirts the myanmar border. The same cannot be said for our border with kalimantan for example. One of our largest island, pulau banggi has no harbours, no airports, and no major roads going around it.
IMO this 155 vs 105 is like discussing to replace all 81mm mortar with 120mm mortar. Even if the 81mm mortar is smaller, it is still useful as not all scenarios require the firepower of 120mm mortar. If you discuss 120mm mortar vs 105mm howitzer then imo it is valid as it has almost the same performance.
We need to think about our needs, requirements, our jungle operating conditions to really remove the 105mm from our inventory. Yes i agree our mechanized formations would need a dedicated 155mm regiment to follow it along, but what about the rest 80% of the army? The 155mm cannot follow soldiers to our outer islands, or support our soldiers in the mountainous jungle of kalimantan border. Thai army although having nearly 400 155mm howitzers, it also has the same number of 105mm howitzers too. Indonesia has around 100 155mm howitzers and 300 105mm howitzers. Its 100 76mm mountain guns is being replaced by LG1 105mm howitzers. So is it wise to divest our 105mm howitzers?
” We are all aware of it advantages but what about it drawbacks compared to a 155mm and the much greater flexibility it provides? ”
You dont have to sell to me the advantages of 155mm howitzers. I am aware of it and even wants the army to have additional 155mm regiments. But i am also someome who thinks it is unwise for us do divest our 105mm howitzer capability.
Interesting…. I wasn’t aware that our Armed Forces uses dual type ammo (as in 5.56 and AK rounds). Rare for any armed forces to do that, except those cash strapped ones that gets whatever that is cheaply available or the exception of India.
The amount of 7.62 ammo for Paskal use was low, they never used more than a dozen or so of the AK. You should not inflate or compare it to any armed forces
…. – You dont have to sell to me the advantages of 155mm howitzers“
And you don’t have have to
“sell” me the advantages of 105mm; everyone here is well aware of. The key is to determine when – looked at in totality – which offers greater advantages in a wider context; after weighing all drawbacks and determining what trade offs one is willing to make.
.., – “As for thailand, there are roads all over its border with its neighbour””
Thanks for this revelation but the clash with Laos was in an area with almost no roads. As for roads in border areas; as long as there are roads or trails wide enough to handle a logging lorry or a bus; it can handle MBTs and the movements of heavy arty. It might not fit with your view of arty or the narrative you’re presenting but there are numerous examples of heavy arty deployed in areas with a much poorer road infrastructure than even the most remote areas of this country. Engineering support also makes a key difference.
… – “One of our largest island, pulau banggi has no harbours, no airports, and no major roads going around”
We can’t effectively operate MBTs and IFVs in many parts of the country but would there even be a reason for MBTs and IFVs to operate there and does this mean we also need to have light tanks and smaller IFVs to cater for the unlikely event we have to deploy armour in the few places where armour – even with engineering support – can’t be effectively deployed?
If indeed there is a specific need for 105mm arty and by some miracle the few Nuris the army has are available to lift the guns, crew, ammo and other gear and is needing ed to keep the unit resupplied with ammo; there’s 10 Para’s guns. Doesn’t mean units also have to have them; with the logistical and tending issues it presents.
” We can’t effectively operate MBTs and IFVs in many parts of the country but would there even be a reason for MBTs and IFVs to operate there and does this mean we also need to have light tanks and smaller IFVs to cater for the unlikely event we have to deploy armour in the few places where armour – even with engineering support – can’t be effectively deployed? ”
That is a totally different anology to the want to replace all 105mm with 155mm howitzers. The similar anology is wanting to fully equip all our divisions with MBTs and IFVs
Then is the tunnel vision with 105mm helicopter lift capability. If you are going to reequip all 105mm regiments with 155mm howitzers, there would be other bigger logistical issues it would bring when compared to the current 105mm howitzers.
How much would it cost to buy 100s of new 155mm howitzers?
How much would it cost to buy all the ammo for the 155mm howitzers? What would it cost to even have a month worth of 155mm howitzer shells for all the regiments?
How much would it cost to maintain the proficiency of 155mm howitzer crews compared to the current 105mm howitzers? You talk about how expensive it is to maintain parachute and asw proficiency and currency but no problem for exponentially expanded 155mm howitzer force?
At the end of the day it goes down to CONOPS. You have yours, I have mine, ATM have theirs, it would seem. And such things often rest on judgement calls that nobody can really say which is better, sometimes even after the war is over.
Ditto. Lets see which road ATM will take on this.
…, – “How much would it cost to buy 100s of new 155mm howitzers”
Who said we’d by “100’s’? Even if we decided to replace our 150 odd Model 56s with 155mm guns: it of course won’t be on a one to one basis. On top of the greater operational flexibility of provided: the right organisation, doctrine and FCSs means we do not need to replace the Model 56s on a one to one basis.
– “ You talk about how expensive it is to maintain parachute and asw proficiency and currency but no problem for exponentially expanded 155mm howitzer force“
Sharp differences. Maintaining a jump capability is expensive and resource intensive because it also involves assets from another service and that service has to ensure that it can allocate the needed assets in order for jump unit to perform the needed jumps specified annually to maintain currency; not to mention the sorties needed for basic jump training.
Buying 155mms are indeed more expensive that 155mm as is the ammo but in the long run logistical/training issues are simplified (costs savings achieved) and a major advantage is the greater operational overall flexibility 155mm guns provide
” we do not need to replace the Model 56s on a one to one basis ”
Can you elaborate on that? In your opinion, what force of 155mm howitzers do we need to replace the capabilties of 6 regiments of 105mm howitzers? How would a smaller force of howitzers be a capable force when compared to the howitzer forces of our neighbours?
to list out some of our neighbours howitzer orbat
thailand (army + marines)
155mm – 400++
105mm – 400++
155mm – 120++
Indonesia (army + marines)
155mm – 120++
105mm – 300++
76mm – 90++ (to be replaced with LG1 105mm)
” a major advantage is the greater operational overall flexibility 155mm guns provide ”
If it cannot go to places where our infantry goes, can you call that greater operational flexibility? larger firepower and longer range compared to 105mm howitzer does not equal to more operational flexibility.
…. – “Can you elaborate on that?””
I explained what I meant very clearly in my previous post : for various reasons we do not have to replace the Model 56s on a one to one basis and is we indeed buy 155mms in large numbers it doesn’t necessarily have to be in one large batch.
Thanks for the ORBATs which I’m aware you have a particular penchant for but it really wasn’t necessary..
…. – “larger firepower and longer range compared to 105mm howitzer does not equal to more operational flexibility”
I’ve hardly mentioned anything on the “firepower” part but by virtue of having greater range 155mm guns can operate from a further distance compared to our Model 56s and by virtue of having greater range can also perform other fire missions, apart from close support; such as harassment, counter battery and interdiction: roles problematic for 105mm guns due to their shorter range – plainly obvious : that’s what I mean when I keep stressing the fact that 155mm guns provide greater “operational flexibility” unable to be afforded by 105mm guns.
Again : 155mm guns – towed or otherwise – do not have to “follow” in the strictest sense of the word. They have to operate from an area where ever can effectively do their job; whether it’s fire support or something else. It for the same reason why in a previous threads I mentioned that compared to other armies which due to terrain will conduct ops on a faster tempo and over longer distances; any SPHs we buy don’t have to really “ follow” manoeuvre forces they’re organic to.
Now I won’t go so far as boldly claiming someone has “tunnel vision “ or “warp” thinking simply because they have different views to your good self but I’ve repeatedly stressed that arty doesn’t have to “follow” to do their job.
I’ve also stressed that the fact that a 105mm gun can “follow” troops into urban areas to provide close support is unimportant simply because in this day and age troops on urban ops will rely on supporting armoured vehicles, shoulder fired weapons and other means for close support. The days when crews man handled arty and anti tank guns to provide close fire support by firing in open sights are largely over. It is also not in our doctrine for Model 56s to fire on open sights in close support; just like how even though under slinging guns is a capability we maintain; actually rehearsing it is rarely done.
On 155m guns; the calibre has long been accepted as a benchmark and the minimum calibre for numerous armies who seek certain capabilities with their arty. The fact that 155mm guns are large is an issue but not a prohibitive factor : not as if we’re talking about Long Toms, Big Bertha or Bull’s “Supergun”. Not as if 155mm are a completely new thing in our army and not as if they’ve never been operated in hard to access areas before; areas with a poor road network.
When you mention concepts, you must also show how does that concept work in relation to the particular unit. It is not just ORBATs per se.
If the royal artillery regiment is to retain only 1 105mm regiment for the 10 PARA brigade, how many 155mm regiments does it need to maintain the capabilities of the current 105mm regiments that supports the infantry battalions, brigades and divisions? That is what I want to know.
When I say we still need 105mm regiments but also to have 3 regiments of 155mm howitzers is because from my studies i have came to a conclusion that we would have a better artillery cover by having:
1x 155mm regiment sabah to support Army Field Command East
1x 155mm regiment negeri sembilan to support Army Field Command West
1x 155mm SPH regiment negeri sembilan to support 3rd Division (armor)
1x 105mm regiment to support 10 Para Brigade
1x 105mm SPH regiment johor to support 3rd Division (armor)
1x 105mm SPH regiment pahang to support 3rd Division (armor)
1x 105mm regiment sarawak to support 1st Division
1x 105mm regiment sabah to support 5th Division
1x 105mm regiment kelantan to support 2nd Division
1x 105mm regiment perak to support 4th Division
The budget to get the above (starting 2021)
90 LG-1 105mm USD100 million (not including 18 already paid for to equip 10 Para)
20 Caesar 155mm SPH USD100 million
40 Hawkeye 105mm J-LTV USD100 million
50 AH4/AHS4 155mm USD100 million
A total force of
108 LG1 105mm howitzer
40 Hawkeye JLTV 105mm SPH
50 AH4/AHS4 155mm howitzer
20 Caesar 155mm SPH
So can you show me how less 155mm regiments can be as effective as the current artillery force or my proposed artillery force?
…., – “how many 155mm regiments does it need to maintain the capabilities of the current 105mm regiments that supports the infantry battalions””
I’ll leave the “concepts” and the “studies” to you. I mentioned nothing about reducing the number of artillery regiments; what I did say id that the Model 56s do not have to be replaced on a one to one basis; for the simple reason that 155mms as a whole can do more things than a 105mm can and I’ve stressed repeatedly; one of the things the Artillery Corps should be looking at is changes in organisation; i.e. smaller batteries which can do more (in account of having guns with a longer range as well as overall improvements in doctrine, ISR capabilities, etc) and which are easier to handle. . I personally believe that the Artillery Corps hasn’t received the same level of attention as the rest of the army with regards to modernisation
Also you talk about “maintaining” capabilities; I’m talking about “improving”…. You keep stressing about “ fire support” to infantry regiments; I see arty performing much more than “fire support” which is almost impossible to do effectively with the present arrangement.
…. – “When I say we still need 105mm regiments but also to have 3 regiments of 155mm howitzers is because from my studies”
Do your studies take into account that such an arrangement will not ease but actually create more logistical/support issues in an already resources strapped army? Have they taken into account that we’ll actually be able to do a lot more, more efficiently and effectively by having field regiments standardised to 155mms and that many of the same reasons why armies have ditched their 105mm guns would also be applicable/relevant to us?
You’ve given a whole list of reasons, some of which were flatly incorrect, as to why we shouldn’t standardise on 155mms. The fact remains that there are also a whole list of reasons why 10 Para should keep its 105mm capability with the rest of the army standardising to 155mm.
We need to take into consideration first and foremost that we are a tropical country with rainforests, plantations, hilly and mountainous regions, and also islands.
The one and only country that has ditched the 105mm totally in our region is Singapore. I dont see any other country in our region coming to the same conclusion in the near future.
Most of the reasons that 10 PARA should keep its 105mm howitzers is applicable also for all of our infantry divisions to keep their 105mm howitzers. You have said that if 155mm howitzers is too much for a mission, the 120mm mortar could be its substitute. There can be many scenarios that the 155mm is too much, and frankly a 105mm howitzer would be a better choice rather than the 120mm mortar. We dont have many 120mm mortars (we just have exactly 16x 120mm mortars mounted on IFVs, not exactly something you can haul ontop of a hill) , if you say use 120mm mortars instead, actually that would mean we need to buy brand new towed 120mm mortars to give the same mobility as a 105mm howitzer. I once thought it would be a good idea too, but operating manual 120mm mortars is not as easy as 105mm howitzers. I also dont think our main defence challenges for the army to be state on state warfare. Lets see what will the new DWP say.
“to list out some of our neighbours howitzer orbat”…wow now i realised they have quite a lot.
I fail to see why there’s a need for both towed and SPH 105mms – superfluous in my opinion. If the 105mm SPHs are intended largely as a close support weapon: that’s what the 120mms are there for.
I won’t go more in ORBATS because whilst theoretical ORBATS are interesting/fun to look at; ultimately they are theoretical and look great on paper. Also, ORBATs (whilst needed) do not show the actual reality, i.e. just like how many of our units are below authorised strength, the number of guns actually operational in the various arty regiments can and do vary.
As i explained previously I never suggested we reduce the number of art regiments; only that we look at ways of doing things better, more effectively and that (to use a cliche) we do more with less. Smaller batteries are easier to handle/command and 155mm guns with improved fire control, some level of ISR capability (glaringly absent in your ORBAT) and a better way of going about conducting fire missions (whether counter battery, harassment and close support) in a more effectively and responsive manner.
BTW before we even make plans to have 155mm units in East Malaysia it would be ideal if we also had a range there.
…. – “We need to take into consideration first and foremost that we are a tropical country with rainforests, plantations, hilly and mountainous regions, and also islands””
I do take that into consideration (just like with our discussions on armour) but as I’ve said on numerous occasions : heavy arty has been effectively deployed in areas with even poorer road networks than in this country and in areas that are even more remote. Also, if indeed heavy arty can’t operate in a certain area than chances are the army’s other assets (whether armour or lorries) can’t either. There is also the fact that if indeed there are areas where MBTs, IFVs, heavy arty and other things can’t effectively operate; there might be no reason to operate there in the first place.
….. – “I also dont think our main defence challenges for the army to be state on state warfare”
Prior to 2013 if I had told you that there was a chance of a small group of lightly armed men landing in Sabah and refusing to leave; to the extent that we had to deploy thousands of men, armour, arty and airpower; you wouldn’t have believed me. Anything can happen : just like how you keep stressing the need for the RMN to do away with its constabulary type duties (which it can’t) and to focus on external threats; same goes with the army. Whether it’s the U.S. or Burundi army; when an army is forced to focus on state threats for too long; it’s external warfare capability erodes.
Even if we were faced with another non state threat; there’s nothing to say that 155mms can’t be used effectively and the chances of us having fire in close proximity to friendly troops is slim. If we had to fire in urban areas chances are civilians would have left and in such a scenario the fact that a 155mm shell makes a bigger hole than a 105mm would probably be the least of our worries given the circumstances. With regards to firing close to friendly troops; depends largely on accuracy and the troops being forewarned : without both even a GPMG can be dangerous.
– “There can be many scenarios that the 155mm is too much”
And there will be many scenarios where 105mm guns are simply not up to the job; the main limitation being its limited range which prevents it from effectively doing anything other beyond a 20-21km radius (that BTW is the “maximum” not “maximum effective” range). Even with 155mm guns; they might have a maximum on paper range of 42km or so in full charge or with base bleed but on most occasions they won’t be firing at those ranges.
… – “I once thought it would be a good idea too””
Which is why I’ve long stressed that certain armies haven’t bought the idea. Not only that but also the fact that mortars can supplement but never replace arty.
On the White Paper I suspect (I could be wrong) you might be disappointed. Many have too high expectations of it. For political reasons what threats are mentioned will be in general terms and will be unlikely to add much to what you already know. A lot of it will be on policy and aims; as well as mundane stuff and it will be also highly interesting to see what’s also not mentioned.
” I fail to see why there’s a need for both towed and SPH 105mms ”
Because IMO 105mm SPH like the hawkeye on an armoured chassis like the JLTV would be better than 120mm self-propelled mortars.
” some level of ISR capability (glaringly absent in your ORBAT) ”
It is only on the howitzers, not the whole army or even the whole RAD (no GAPU and rocket brigade regiments). As is my Rancangan Malaysia plans, there are other priority buys that makes the artillery buy spread out to 15 years.
” And there will be many scenarios where 105mm guns are simply not up to the job ”
Many scenarios? So far we have not needed to bring out our 155mm howitzers in anger. Anyway that is actually a strong reason why we still need both 105mm and 155mm howitzers, as both capabilities have large areas that does not overlap.
Well even the philippines has more 105mm howitzers than us. They have around 250 105mm howitzers plus around 30 155mm howitzers.
Yes, for varying reasons. The Thais because they feared the Vietnamese crossing from
Cambodia and during the late 1980’s during a border clash they were outgunned by Lao 130mms and 122mms. Their 155mms also came in handy during the border clash with Myanmar.
Indonesia got into the 155mm business late given the internal security focus. We actually identified a need for 155mm guns in the 1980’s but there were other priorities and for our needs during that period; the Model 56 was considered sufficient. Prior to the
FH-70 bring included in the Brit MOU; Noricum was actively pushing the GHN-45 (same lineage as our
G-5s) but it wasn’t a priority for us during that period.
I have written one long reply, which passed captcha but still lost. Well let me write it again
” I fail to see why theres a need for both towed and SPH 105mms ”
IMO the SPH 105mm like the hawkeye paired with an armoured platform like the JLTV would be a better alternative to the 120mm mortars on IFVs. For example a 105mm howitzer would give a higher rate of fire than a 120mm mortar, and can be used for direct fire.
” some level of ISR capability (glaringly absent in your ORBAT) ”
It is also glaringly obvious i just cut and pasted only about the howitzer units in our discussion, not the whole army or even the whole RAD as i did not put the GAPU and Briged artilleri rocket.
” just like how you keep stressing the need for the RMN to do away with its constabulary type duties (which it can’t) ”
Doing away with a duty (which i never meant) and passing most of its constabulary centric assets like the OPV on to a more suitable party (MMEA) is 2 totally different matter altogether. You can still do constabulary type duties with your ASW frigate no problem, but dont plan to buy gold plated ships that can only do constabulary type duties.
” And there will be many scenarios where 105mm guns are simply not up to the job ”
Our army so far has not encountered a scenario where their 105mm howitzers are not up to the job, and has not used its 155mm howitzers in anger before. Anyway that is really a good reason why we need to have adequate amout of both 105mm AND 155mm howitzers. The wide range of capabilities between the 105mm and 155mm howitzers means that any one of them cannot fully cover the capabilities of the other.
– “It is also glaringly obvious”
It wasn’t “glaringly” obvious to me given the frequency in which you post ORBATs and the fact you didn’t mention it was “cut and pasted”.
…. – “. For example a 105mm howitzer would give a higher rate of fire than a 120mm mortar, and can be used for direct fire””
Very true but one area where mortars come in is when due to terrain or certain types of targets require something with a high angle of fire; a good example of mortars complementing arty.
….. – “Our army so far has not encountered a scenario where their 105mm howitzers are not up to the job, and has not used its 155mm howitzers in anger before””
So do we plan to deal with the same type of threats encountered before (to use the cliche “preparing to fight the last war”) or do we, like everyone else, cater for other contingencies too?
Going in the basis that we’ve never faced an issue in which 105mm guns were inadequate; we’ve also never faced a scenario where we had to deploy combined arms formations comprising MBTs, IFVs and other assets; yet prudence dictates we still have them.
…, – “ between the 105mm and 155mm howitzers means that any one of them cannot fully cover the capabilities of the other””
If viewed objectively and dispassionately this isn’t true. There will be areas where a 105mm is inadequate but a rare scenario where a 155mm isn’t. On paper a 105mm gym complements 155mm but a 155mm can do most of what a 105mm can not vice versa.
You will have noticed that some armies – with smslll exceptions in small units – do not operate; 105mm guns – their 155mms cover everything for the simple reason that they can do what a 105mm can.
As I never tire of mentioning: the key is to examine things in totality and then determines which offer the most practical and effective solution after taking into account what trade offs one is willing to make.
…. – “Doing away with a duty (which i never meant) and passing most of its constabulary centric assets like the OPV on to a more suitable party (MMEA) is 2 totally different matter altogether”
Let’s not go off tangent. I’m clearly aware of what you meant ….
Like the RMN the army’s core role (even though both have to perform other roles) is defending against external threats – period/full stop.
A 105mm gun is great if the threat is again a low type one against people with little or no arty but if faced with something more serious then a 105mm might not suffice. You’ll point that that if something more serious is faced; then we’ll deploy our 1555mms but what would happen if we deployed our 105mms and didn’t detect the presence of enemy 155mm until much later?
Whether it’s a low threat scenario or a high threat one; a 155mm can do both – the fact that it’s larger and makes a bigger bang can be issues but not prohibitive one’s ….
…. “to have adequate amout of both 105mm AND 155mm howitzers”
Indeed and 10 Para having 18 LG1s can also be defined (in the strictest sense of the word) as “adequate” ….
Having a few regiments armed with 105mms (as opposed to 1 or even 2) and also a few (whether 2, 3 or 4) armed with 155mms leads to logistical/support issues in a resource strapped army …..
” As I never tire of mentioning: the key is to examine things in totality and then determines which offer the most practical and effective solution after taking into account what trade offs one is willing to make ”
That what i like to do, like examining our armoured formation in totality, and thinks we to spend our limited resources on more gempita rather than new MBTs. For our maritime forces, to leave buying OPVs to MMEA rather than having TLDM buying very expensive OPVs. You can clearly see it in my writes on TLDM, APMM and TUDM.
” So do we plan to deal with the same type of threats encountered before (to use the cliche “preparing to fight the last war”) or do we, like everyone else, cater for other contingencies too? ”
Of course we need to consider all eventualities. Why I also talk about having 3 regiments of 155mm howitzers.
” There will be areas where a 105mm is inadequate but a rare scenario where a 155mm isn’t ”
Capabilites isnt just looking at if it is inadequate. there can be a lot of scenario where a 155mm is just too much, or cannot even be bought to bear (scenarios involving pulau baggi for example).
” what would happen if we deployed our 105mms and didn’t detect the presence of enemy 155mm until much later ”
If it is a nation to nation confrontation, of course we need to have the 155mm on a constant readiness. But against non-state actors, there should be no need to bring out the 155mm at the beginning.
” leads to logistical/support issues in a resource strapped army ”
Maintaining the 105mm capability does not need to change our current logistical capability. We formerly had 2 155mm regiments (1 converted to astross), in addition to the current 7 105mm regiments. I dont see maintaining all 105mm regiments while adding 2 more 155mm regiment (which actually be just 1 more than we had previously) be a big logistical strain to the army.