The Truth Is Plain To See

A soldier with the Pathfinder company of the 10th Para Brigade firing his FN Minimi LMG at an exercise in late 2021. Note the 5.56mm belted ammo not placed in an ammo box. BTDM

SHAH ALAM: The truth is plain to see. Back in October, last year, the Eperolehan website floated a tender for 12.5 million rounds of 5.56mm SS109/M855 ball ammo. According to the specifications

the round 5.56 mm ball shall be used with the following weapons such as follows: Steyr AUG. M16A1/A2. M4A1 Carbine. Light Machine Gun MINIMI. Any other weapon with the NATO calibre of 5.56 mm.


A rifle section moving into position during the 2018 Firepower demonstration. Note that each riflemen is carrying a RPG launcher together with their M4A1 carbines. BTDM

When I saw the tender and the amount of ammo being sought, I knew this was the big kahuna – the one that clearly indicates the future of the state-owned SMEO Sdn Bhd which I highlighted in this post. Again, I must note that I am not shelling for SMEO but again I am asking the question due to the fact that if we don’t buy ammo locally – even from a state owned firm – why do we even bother promoting and building up the local defence industry, in the first place?
GGK operators firing the M4A1 carbines during a shooting competition in 2021. BTDM

I am again asking the question as the result of the 12.5 million 5.56mm ammo has been awarded to Traumland Sdn Bhd with a contract price of RM30.6 million. The contract notice was published on the Eperolehan website when I accessed it on March 14.
A soldier firing her M4A1 carbine in early 2021. BTDM

As usual there is no indication from where the ammo will be sourced though Traumland website stated that it was working with Igman, an ammunition manufacturer from Bosnia Herzegovina. It must be noted that Traumland was also awarded the contract to supply 3,000 125mm tank gun imitator which it also sourced from Pretis company also from Bosnia.
A Pretis 125mm tank gun imitator round. Traumland

Traumland also supplied 125mm tank rounds to SMEO when the PT-91M Pendekar was first introduced into the Army.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2141 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Marhalim – ”– why do we even bother promoting and building up the local defence industry, in the first place?”

    Because it’s politically expedient; looks and sounds good. Everybody loves job creation; ”self sufficiency”, pouring money into the local economy, etc. Even now decades after having no tangible benefits to show and after huge resources allocated the local industry is still at it. Not only that but people are still mesmorised by the myth/illusion of ”self sufficency”

  2. See my comment in the previous article but the gist of it; Local defence industry is a unicorn, if we cannot afford it we better don’t do it.

  3. RM2.45 per round is basically retail price of nato spec 5.56 rounds in USA, of new (not surplus) bullets made in the USA.

    For a large buy of millions of rounds, I would expect it to be cheaper than that, while still being profitable to the middlemen.

  4. My understanding is that cheap ammo can jam your rifle, so quality at the right price is paramount.

  5. “we cannot afford it we better don’t do it.”

    Applies to a lot things; military and non military. Problem is it’s politically expedient and ultimately boils down to the very policy which we’ve long had in place; a politically driven one in which national interests [not only the local industry] takes precedence over providing the armed services with the desired capability and ensuring that they and the taxpayer get their money’s worth. We deserve to be in the rut we’re in because we refuse to change or implement deep rooted fundamental reforms.

  6. On the flip side, one can have a dim view that a human life cost less than RM 2.50.

  7. “Note that each riflemen is carrying a RPG launcher”

    I wonder if that is the standard practice? How many launchers and rounds are carried per squad?

  8. “Applies to a lot things; military and non military”
    Indeed. But we have to remember who are those paying for it. For non military, it is the rakyat that had to bear the penalties and higher prices such individually, so the overall impact on the general, yes, but to any particular is minimal so to speak. Basically only the individual to bear.

    But the impact in military realm is much heavier as the only customer is the Government (and then the end customers; ATM, TUDM, TLDM, MMEA, etc) to which any penalties such as inferior specs, delays, overpriced is bear nationally. So the impact is far reaching when it comes about in terms of military.

    Change is simple to demand but not easy to do. People thought changing back in May 2018 and things would be better but nope, things remain same or worse. Change only comes from realisation where we are and what we want to be; either we swallow the inefficiency and wastage of national interest like SG, or totally abandon if we cannot afford it. Even keeping certain things locally as national interest is change itself as we have taken cognisance this is what we want despite the penalties and limited returns.

  9. “But we have to remember who are those paying for it”

    Ultimately it’s the taxpayer – no two ways about it. With military issues it’s also the end user which has to pay the penalty for getting stuff not suitable for operational requirements and for not getting the desired capability.

    “Change is simple to demand but not easy to do”

    First there must be political will to acknowledge that what we’ve been doing for decades is highly flawed and the will to change – there isn’t. You can write whole paragraphs of “change” not being easy but uness we “change” [unlikely because there is no incentive or will] we won’t move out of the deep rooted rut we’re in.

    “So the impact is far reaching when it comes about in terms of military.””

    This is what I’ve been saying here for years. Decisions we make now; either hasty or flawed will but us later. The MAF we have; one whose capabilities don’t reflect all we’ve spent on it is due to decisions made in the past and there is no intent to repeat mistakes we’ve made; we are still making them.

    “Even keeping certain things locally as national interest is change”

    If you want to.out it that way; consuming urine rather than vomit is “change”‘. Buying spares via third party and paying 25 percent more for services-rendered; than we would if it was a direct commercial transaction between MINDEF and the seller is “change”.

  10. “political will to acknowledge”
    You put too much faith in our politicians to effect change. Has any of them actually practice what they preached? Politicians are representative of the people, if the people doesn’t want meaningful change, then the elected politicians won’t make it so.

    “we are still making them”
    As with all militaries & governments everywhere. Difference is, richer nations with deeper defence pockets can make good their blunders or wipe clean with a replacement soon after. Take the US LCS Program, which acknowledged by USN to be a failure which is why they stop further developments and quickly moved to replace them with evolved FREMM. Even the best are not infallible just that they are better at covering up their mistakes, which they still tend to repeat again and again as well.

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