Time to Move on From HK

NSOF personnel conducting a Hostage Rescue demonstration at the launch of the unit in Oct 27. 2016. SOF was disbanded in late 2018/2019. A new SF unit, Bahagian Khas Operasi Pertahanan, was launched in 2019 to replace it. Malaysian Defence picture.

SHAH ALAM: Time to move on from Heckler & Koch. In my post in Oct. 21. 2014, I wrote about the MMEA tender for small arms. The tender documents specifically stated that they wanted the HK416 A5s, HK UMPs and CZ pistols.

I am told the numbers are small but its instructive that as the quotation document specifically stated the type and make of the firearm, it disqualified other makes at the starting gate. It is maybe unfair to other dealers but by stating the make and model of the small arms in the official document, MMEA officials probably wanted to ensure that they will get what they wanted in the first place.

I am not sure whether they will succeed with the 416s though, as the government had stated that its partially owned SMEO will supply the assault rifles – the M4s – to all agencies, no matter whom. As even the Paskal has to make do with the M4s – with accessories of course – I do not think MMEA can get away with buying the 416s. That said stranger things had happen before so we have to wait and see

At the launch of the National Special Operations Force (NSOF) in late October, MMEA Special Operations team – Special Task (s) and Rescue (STAR) team – displayed their firearms together with the other units. On show were the Adcor Elite 5.56mm, the Colt CM901, the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 and the Blaser R93 Tactical Rifle.

STAR new firearms on display. The guns on the left are Paskal HKs.

The personnel at the display said the firearms were received last year. When I asked about the tender in 2014, the personnel pleaded ignorance. However checks on the MMEA 2015 Annual Report revealed that the agency had received the Colt, CZ Evo 3 and CZ P-07 pistol, the Adcor and the Denel SS-77 Mark II GPMG under a RM6.5 million program.

KM Perwira, one of the two Bay class patrol boats donated to MMEA by Australia.

It did not state the numbers acquired though it did say that the firearms were distributed to all APPM units including those attached to the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) while the new GPMGs were meant for two new ships, KM Satria and KM Perwira. Satria and Perwira are the two ex-Bay class patrol boats donated by Australia.

Another view of the STAR firearms. Partly hidden is the Adcor Elite, Colt CM901, CZ Evo and Blaser R93.

I was told recently that MMEA initially did selected the HKs as per the tender documents but later ditched them as the local agent could not get the export license to import them from Germany. Industry sources told me that HK has not been able to export their firearms to Malaysia for some years now and that was the reason, some units had purchased other weapons from other manufacturers like Belgium’ s FN Herstal and Czech Republic’s CZ.

Similarly, SwissArms from Switzerland had relied on its US-based company, SIG Sauer, to market its firearms to Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries though I have not heard of any agencies buying them here lately. I am not sure where the Blasers of the MMEA were sourced from, but its highly likely that it came from the US.

Two VAT69 operators at the 2015 open day. One is armed with a FN Herstal SCAR H for DMR while the other is armed with the Bushmaster Carbine.

Meanwhile, apart from MMEA, PDRM special forces unit, the VAT 69 and UTK, have also faced up to reality and had moved on from HK. As reported previously, both units have adopted FN Herstal SCAR series, and Ferfrans M4s. They also got Colts from SMEO.

VAT 69 has also adopted the RPG-7 as shown at its 2016 Open day.

VAT 69 operators with the RPG-7 with probably the RUAG Ammotec MEP warhead at the 2016 Open Day. PDRM picture.

And it appears, other SF units in Malaysia like Paskal and Paskau have to forget about getting HKs in the near future as the German manufacturer has also given up prospects of selling its weapons to non-NATO countries. Paskal for the record, had the largest HK firearm  collection during the NSOF display including the fabled XM8 Carbine.

Paskal range of HK firearms. The XM8 carbine is the one nearest with the HK417 next to it.

Reuters reported on Nov. 28.

German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch will no longer sign contracts to supply countries outside of NATO’s influence because it has become too difficult to obtain government approval for such deals, news agency DPA reported on Monday.

The company, one of the world’s best-known gunmakers, will in future only sell to countries that are democratic and free from corruption and that are members of NATO or NATO members’ partners, DPA said, citing company sources.

It said this change in strategy would rule out deals with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, India or even NATO member Turkey.

HK MP5 sub machine guns are the preferred firearm for Malaysian SF assault teams including the NSOF.

As HK  no longer wants to export its guns to most markets, it appears that once the MP5s sub guns in the Malaysian arsenals are rendered unserviceable, I guess we will have to rely on M4s or its derivatives as the primary tactical firearm. If they still want them, we may have to get copies from either Turkey or Pakistan. The CZ Evo submachine gun looked to fragile for assault team duty IMO.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2207 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. If that is Germany’s stance..wouldn’t that rule out the Eurofighter for the MRCA program as germany is among the major contributor to the consortium?

    No, I have asked about this on various occasions already. If they had we will not be able to take delivery of the A400M and the Cougars. This apparently limited to small arms only. For example they sell the Taurus to South Korea and there is no problem about selling the Philippines the Sidewinders. HK can no longer sell anything to the Philippines though.

  2. Nah it’s just HK.

    We bought stuff from MTU, when rheinmetall have sold tanks, armored vehicles and guns to asian,south american and african markets

    On slightly related note, even philippines are looking at getting small arms from pakistan since their effort to get guns from US was blocked

    If we look at the IDEAS 2016, we can see plenty of things the pakis can offer. I especially interested with modernization of ZSUs gun that could be cued via visor, similar to helmet cueing systems in attack helos. I think we can upgrade our AAAs using this technology

    Also, I’ve watched POF (pakistan ordnance factory) mp5 review on youtube (since they also sell them to gun cray-cray american) and they were praised by basically everyone, even against legitimate HK equivalent product like SP5. No clue why they were advertised and sold as “pistol” in the US though. These are gun that offers almost the same quality (except the magazine build and final finish) as legitimate HK mp5 clones at roughly half the price

  3. The idea of a ZSU is old stuff and making it visor aimed is not helping. It is far behind the later generations of Russian and western radar aimed guns (or gun-missile combinations) which have an anti missile capablility.

  4. I remember several months ago, I saw a few policemen patrolling KK airport with a very short AR-15 carbine. I’m not so sure whether it’s a bushmaster carbine or ferfrans scw. What i’m trying to say is i’m not very fond of the idea of using a 5.56 short carbine for patrolling in public areas, these guns are often very loud and produces a lot of muzzle flash, not a concern when you’re storming a room full of hostiles but something to take into consideration when you open fire in a place crowded with civilians and shooting requires careful PID. But then again, when a person is trying to save you from terrorists you don’t tend to complain on the obscene amount of noise he is making.

    Its likely that the short barreled M16 type you saw were the Bushmaster 9mm sub guns bought at the same time as the carbine 5.56mm variant

  5. As far back as 7-8 years ago the police received POF made MP-5s. POF even sent a trainer/instructor here. I heard from a good source that a few POF MP-5 also reached PASKAL. At one of the DSA’s POF displayed a gaudy gold plated MP-5 along with MG-3s. Also displayed at DSA on a few occasion were unlicensed Iranian MP-5s. HK I believe stopped producing MP-5s quite a few years ago.

    ZSUs, like S-60s, may be old but are very useful for the kind of conflicts were seeing now in the Middle East and Africa. Not all scenarios call for a high tech gun with anti-missile capability. I know if I had a need for an AA gun to be used in the ground role, I’d rather have ZSUs and S-60s rather than more sophisticated and harder to maintain GDFs. The Apache regiment that got mauled at Karbala – 1 downed and many others damaged – suffered at the hands of ZSUs and S-60s. The main alerting device was not radar but cell phones to warn gun crews and switching off the power grid to signal the start of the ambush.

  6. Anas Akmal,

    Controllability is an issue when barrels are too short.

    Noise and blast are of course greater with a short barrel but the person whose senses are most affected by it will be the shooter!AM

  7. Marhalim,
    I’m quite positive it’s a 5.56 carbine and not 9mm. Though I might be mistaken on assuming that they are on regular patrol, could be just a pair of policemen (could be UTK personnels) coming to KK for tasking. My last layover there just a few weeks ago, i’ve seen no security police armed thusly. It was a few days prior to a big raid on one of the immigrant slums around Penampang, so maybe the police were on heightened alert. But I digress, perhaps if the police would want to use a 5.56 carbine for public patrol, equipping them with suppressor would be better i suppose, just like those paskau chaps at LIMA.

  8. AM,
    “Noise and blast are of course greater with a short barrel but the person whose senses are most affected by it will be the shooter!”

    Exactly, but in this case the one who are most at risk from the firearm and the affected senses of the shooter is the unarmed civilians. Weapon recoil is easy to get a hang on, regular trip to the range should do the trick. But opening fire in public space, with civilians running around and the muzzle flash making it difficult to get PID is tricky to say the least. I’m sure our men and women in uniform would be afforded ample training, but equipment that help make things easier would be nice.

  9. Anas,

    Maybe but PASKAU and other units use suppressors because they make shooting a gun more ”pleasant” [less recoil] and suppressors, by suppressing the sound of a gun being fired, makes it harder for the shooter to be located.

    A few months ago there was talk on the German government placing a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

  10. The only time AA guns are better at engaging ground targets is potentially when engaging high elevation targets in cities and mountains. Still, there are purpose built solutions nowadays ranging from RWS all the way to BMPT type vehicles. At such close range, all types of vehicles are going to be more vulnerable to fire from above.

  11. AA has faster target acquisition compared to other VSHORADS (especially for automated AAs like Oerlikon),with lower minimum range and altitude. Firing hundreds of high exposive, fragmentation, proximity fuse activated rounds it’s hard to miss anything within its reach, with an exception to supersonic low-flying bomber maybe. There’s also the fact that it is good against small tactical UAVs/drones which is prevalent even with the likes of IS and Hezb. It is also basically immune to countermeasures except to maybe a standoff missile going its way

    A manpads only has like 17 second engagement window (due to shory spanned battery life) and with one missile costing about $10k upwards (not including things like battery)

    Not saying that one platform is better than the other since it’s akin to comparing apples and oranges to begin with. Just saying that both have its strong points and weak points. Dismissing AAs is just senseless considering everyone is investing heavily in them

  12. Are our army in any plans of replacing or upgrading our aa guns?

    And does this no selling to non-nato countries only applies to H&K or also other german companies like rheinmetall?

    So far its HK though Rheinmental was also denied the export license for the Leopard MBT to Saudi Arabia.

    GAPU was asked to evaluate MR SAMs recently but not sure whether it get anywhere

  13. AM – ”The only time AA guns are better at engaging ground targets is potentially when engaging high elevation targets in cities and mountains”

    Incorrect. For many armies the use of Triple A was because thy lacked other assets to perform the sustained fire role and to engage targets at a distance. Granted, whether it was Flakvierlings in Stalingrad or Vulcan in Beirut; AA guns were useful because of their high elevation but also because they were an ad hoc effective solution for want of anything better.

    AM – ”A manpads only has like 17 second engagement window”

    True but that’s why users have spare batteries at hand if the operator takes to long to lock on the target and why operators are trained not to waste time. A concern over Starsreak was that it’s a line of sight SACLOS system but given that it travels at Mach 3/4 the missile will take seconds to hit a target.

    AM – ”Dismissing AAs is just senseless considering everyone is investing heavily in them”

    AM – ”Dismissing AAs is just senseless considering everyone is investing heavily in them”

    Not everyone. It depends on the user. The Brits [to take one example] have no need for Triple A but the Russians and others still do – all depends on doctrine. A question I’ve asked previously is whether GAPU has plans to replace its GDFs with another Triple A mount.

  14. Still sounds risky as hell, considering many AA vehicles are not armoured and more importantly the crews and unit commanders are not trained much in ground combat tactics. But desperate times called for desperate measures in those cases. We should be buying systems for their intended purposes.

    One other exception I can think of is in the early stages of the Iraq insurgency the US Army used Avenger vehicles because in addition to the Stingers, the vehicle had a .50 caliber MG with a stabilised mount and magnifiying sight. It was capable of longer ranged accurate fire than a pintle mounted .50 cal. So a non optimised sight was better than iron sights. After that they started adding optics to the pintle mounts and finally the Strykers and armoured HMMWVs came along with their CROWS.

    Btw those in your comment are Alex’s comments not mine.

  15. Alex, even in a well developed IADS there is still a use for guns and short ranged systems, because of their mobility and usefulness as gap fillers. They are unpredictable and difficult to detect and target, which complicated matters for anyone planning an offensive air campaign against you. This is especially important where the enemy has air superiority or where neither side has air superiority.

  16. AM,

    The Russian BMPT Terminator looks very useful for urban work, most certainly drawn from their experiences in Chechnya. Indeed, most AA mounts offer little protection for the crews, which is why there often fire from a distance as opposed to AFVs firing at point blank range at a target.

    No doubt Triple A is still useful but it depends on the user, doctrine and requirements. Many countries including Russia and China still maintain Triple A but others don’t. The main problem when buying current current gen Triple A is that the’re not cheap; especially when getting the whole package , i.e. fire control, radar, etc. It’s telling that most NATO armies do not see a need for self propelled Triple A to keep pace with armoured/mechanised formations. Gepard was not replaced by the Heer and the U.S. army seems to have lost interest after Sgt. York was canceled.

    Yes I make a mistake referencing the comments, sorry.

  17. How effective Triple A will be really depends on whether they’re controlled by radar and have early warning. Even the most accurate Tripe A manned by the most competent and skillful crew will count for nothing if they have no early warning and are relying solely on Mk 1 eyeballs. Some will dismiss the value of having Triple A and even MANPADs/V-SHORADs on the account that fighters can engage targets at an altitude beyond the reach of Triple A and MANPADs/V-SHORADs using PGMs. According to this theory, the usefulness of Triple A and MANPADs/V-SHORADs nowadays is limited mainly to low firing helicopters and UAS.

    The fact remains however that not all circumstances allow for a PGM kill some distance away from the target. Weather, the type of target, terrain, the price tag of PGMs and even ROEs means that fighters still engage targets at low level with dumb bombs and unguided rockets; which is why air arms still maintain stocks of dumb bombs and unguided rockets despite the widespread availability of PGMs and why aircrews still train to use them.

    Nihd – ”Are our army in any plans of replacing or upgrading our aa guns?”

    There are no upgrades available for the Oerlikon GDF except maybe ”smart” ammo. Skyguard however can be replaced with a newer version or another FCS if the end user decides to. The question of whether GAPU still sees a need for Triple A remains to be seen.

  18. HK is currently under investigation by Bundeswehr due to extremely terrible quality issues. That may be the reason why Germany is halting sales.

    No lah, HK is halting export sales as it cannot get export license. Its got to do with human rights issues as stated by several German ministers.

  19. Regardless of the outcome of the G36 issue, the case no grounds to stop HK from making foreign sales. This is not how the law works.

  20. It certainly doesn’t stop HK from exporting but it certainly makes it more difficult to obtain export clearance and places potential sales under scrutiny from the Bundestag. As it is, the EU has looked at an arms embargo on Saudi : something I support seeing what Saudi and its chums in the Gulf [with U.S. support] are doing in Yemen, whilst at the same time crying foul over Syria. The problem with arms bans [like war crimes prosecutions] is that they’re very selective; countries/people which should get banned/prosecuted get away for political reasons.

  21. Sorry 4 asking. But who issues the export license? Is it the German goverment or the buyer country? They got problems supplying non nato country with weapons but is happily supplying Israel with state of the art submarine and corvette 4 half the price.

    Its the German government

  22. shed,

    It has got nothing to do with non NATO but countries that are at war and countries that have human rights issues. Germany paying for the first batch of the IN’s Dolphins and other stuff is compensation for WW2. As Germany is part of the EU is has to adhere to EU regulations regarding arms exports.

  23. Azlan

    Weapons are 4 winning wars. If they are not selling any weapons becoz a certain country is at “war” doesnt make sense to me. The human right issue is just an excuse. Its all down to politics. Btw i dont agree with the Saudi action in Yemen .. And with the rulling goverment itself (Saudi that is). What compensation?? 4 god sake WW2 ended 70 years ago. Israel was not even a state back them.

  24. The first two Dolphins delivered in 1998-99 were fully subsidized. The reason for the subsidy could very well be reparation for the Holocaust though some say that it was because Germany had helped Saddam’s Iraq to upgrade its scud missiles which landed on Israel’s doorstep during the first Gulf War; essentially Germany’s mea culpa. The two new Dolphins subsidization however were confirmed to be a Holocaust reparation as part of restitution payments owed to Israel by GDR which amounts to approximately $500 million, of which GDR never paid a cent. It was done through backchannel diplomacy, the official diplomatic statement is that Israel “seeks discount”. However in 2011, Germany did threaten to halt the delivery of INS Tanin and Rahav when Israel government approved the construction of a housing complex in Gilo which is one of the Ring Neighborhoods. The threat also put the deal for the sixth submarine in moot. But by the end 2011, the deal for the sixth sub was greenlit, and instead of Israel paying in full as first proposed, Germany agreed to subsidized 137 million euros of the sub’s cost. Boy, their diplomatic corps do know how to wring German guilt.

    It’s just like you said Azlan, these arms bans are very selective and highly political despite the human rights undertone. Just like the US’ support for Saudi’s Yemen campaign, which is beginning to cause domestic resentment in the US. But instead of proposing an arms embargo, the Obama administration is mulling to stop refuelling Saudi jets using its tanker.

  25. shed – ”Weapons are 4 winning wars.”

    Depends who you ask : someone else can make a compelling argument that weapons are for ”self defence” or ”deterrence” purposes; slightly different to ”winning wars”.

    shed – ”If they are not selling any weapons becoz a certain country is at “war” doesnt make sense to me.”

    It depends on the war. If a lawful government is using military means on its own population then human rights concerns or legality questions on the use of these weapons can arise. Myanmar’s use of PC-7s on Karen rebels had previously caused concern in Switzerland. Indonesia’s use of Hawks in Aceh caused similar concerns. A number of TNI-AU Hawks awaiting delivery were damaged by people who broke in the facility.

    Similarly, if a country – for no good reason – suddenly attacked a neighbour then similar concerns would arise. Naturally, there are double standards and politics involved such as in the 1990’s when the Bosnians had an arms embargo placed on them and now when Israel [very influential] and Saudi [very rich and influential] get away with what they’re doing. To be fair to the EU, it has looked at an arms embargo on Saudi – the U.S. will be very happy naturally.

  26. Anas,

    The West from time to time complains but ultimately Israel gets away with it. Whenever Israel misbehaves, the U.S. sometimes delays deliveries of stuff but ultimately after all the hue has calmed down; the still gets delivered. Because of public outcry, the U.S, has recently stated that it might ”review” help provided to Saudi but help [logistical, planning and intelligence] nonetheless is still being provided to Saudi and it’s friends in the Gulf. Most of the world, Malaysia included [we are after all kaki bodek with the Gulf Arabs], cries foul over civilian deaths in Syria but is silent about civilian deaths in Yemen caused by oil rich Sunni Arabs.

    It’s disgusting actually, rather than help defeat IS in Syria and Iraq; Saudi and the Gulf states are more interested in Iran and aren’t bothered about Iraq because Iraq is led by a dominated Shia government which is close to Iran and want Assad gone because he’s also close to Iran and is an Alawi. People are struggling to get food and other supplies in Mosul but the Arab world – despite all the talk of unity and spending trillions on arms- is doing nothing. No doubt there will be another Arab League meeting soon but like other meetings a lot will be said but nothing will be achieved.

  27. “Granted, whether it was Flakvierlings in Stalingrad or Vulcan in Beirut”

    You know, I never knew about the IDF using M113 mounted Vulcans in a ground role in 1982.

    But considering the influence the IDF had and continues to have on the SAF, I wonder if it was the inspiration for the SAF adding the 25mm Rafael OWS to their M113s later in the 80s and early 90s.

    The SAF fielded other IDF influences as virtual copies in the FH88 howitzer, the 160mm mortars, right down to personal webbing.

  28. AM,

    It was an ad hoc measure. In Beirut it was found that a lot of stuff didn’t have the needed elevation to hit targets on buildings. Other stuff that comes in very handy in FIBUA are stuff that’s normally not regular issue like ladders, jackhammers, megaphones, etc. Not sure about 160mm mortars but the SAF did have 120mm Soltam mortars.

    Something else the SAF picked up from the IDF are are the velcro chest rig mag pouches; first appeared in the 1990’s. The first of course to widely use chest rigs was the SADF which, like others, got the idea from the AK-47 ”Chicom” rigs used by many guerilla/revolutionary groups.

  29. (comment updated)


    I have definitely not seen a SAF chest rig. Was it special issue or general issue?

    To my knowledge, which in this case I’m fairly certain of, the earliest webbing was a belt with extremely small pouches (definitely not for magazines). Later there was a US M56 style belt webbing (with two mag+grenade pouches and nothing else).

    In the 1990s they issued the Israeli webbing http://imgur.com/a/Fn0NA at first to front line troops and later to all. Since troops are streamed after BMT I suppose they changed the time of issue of one’s “permanent” equipment. Around ’04 came the olive drab vest with camelbak compartment. This was uncomfortable because the vest was partially MOLLE yet had a redundant belt hanging from it. Then came the pixellised vest we see today. To my knowledge there was no gap between these three.

    The SAF operated Soltam 160mm mortars starting in the 1980s, I don’t know when they were phased out. I have it in an old copy of Pioneer.

    Nowadays the 120mm SRAMS mortar is in service but the crews are still trained to hand push the 120mm Soltam mortars for contingencies. 81mm was also in service but I don’t know if it still is.

  30. “Berlin has approved the sale of three more high-tech submarines to Israel, boosting the size of the country’s nuclear-capable submarine fleet to nine, Der Spiegel has reported.

    The newsweekly said Germany’s Federal Security Council greenlighted the €1.5-billion deal at a closed meeting on Wednesday, and that Berlin would subsidize a third of the costs.”

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