Transforming The Army

Army Field Command West Commander Lt Jen Azizan Md Delin takes a closer look of ZC 4113

SHAH ALAM: Transforming the army, sort off. It appears that Weststar Defence is continuing delivery of the latest variants of its GK-MK1 tactical vehicles to the Army. This was revealed following a visit by Army chief Jen Zulkiple Kassim to the headquarters of 4 Divisyen in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 23, 2017.

As part of the visit, Zulkiple was photographed with the GK-MK1, likely the Fitted for Radio 4X4 vehicle variant. The vehicle was not identified in the photographs carried by the Army’s online news service, BTDM, on its website or Facebook page.

Jen. Zulkiple (centre) checking out the new GK MK1 vehicle. BTDM

However as another picture showed the vehicle is fitted with a side ladder indicating that it is the Fitted for Radio variant. Based on its registration plate of ZC 4113, we can assumed that the vehicle was probably only recently delivered to the Army. In contrast, the Lipanbara MRAP delivered within the last two years carried the 3000 series numbers.

The earlier variant of the GK-MK1 fitted for radio. Weststar

The GK-MK1 ZC 4113 looked different from the other GK-M1 vehicles already delivered to the Army. It has much sharper chin, bigger grille and small round headlights fitted to sides compared to the older vehicles.

Jen. Zulkiple checking the interior of the GK-MK1 vehicle.

The delivery of the latest variants of the GK-MK1s were first revealed at the inspection of the Army’s alert battalion in February this year. It must be noted that Weststar has not designated the newer variant as the MK2.

Weststar GK-M1 Fitted for For Radio at the Army alert battalion parade in February. The first vehicle in the lineup carry the ZC 4062.

As you are aware the GK-MK1s are derived from the Thairung Transformer 4X4 vehicle manufactured by Thai Union Car Company, which itself was based on the Toyota Hilux.

Thairung Transformer `1

The new GK-MK1 appears to be the Transformer II which was displayed at the Bangkok Motor Show last year. From PaulTan.org

Say hello to the most bizarre car at the 2016 Bangkok Motor Show, the Thairung Transformer II. Made by decades-old local company Thairung Union Car – which traditionally fashions utility vehicles from truck underpinnings – the Thairung Transformer II is a replacement for the original Transformer, which was based on the previous-gen Toyota Hilux Vigo (the current, outgoing Hilux in Malaysia).

But with the Vigo replaced by the latest Hilux Revo, Thairung’s “Hilux SUV” had to transform as well, and the company’s Transformer II is based on the new Hilux, which will be launching soon in Malaysia.

Thairung Transformer II. Internet.

Anyhow, apart from the GK-MK1 variants, Weststar Defence is also supplying the Cargo 4X4 to the Army as part of the program to replace the various types of Land Rovers previously in service. It is also supplying the Guardian ASV to replace the Condors operating in Lebanon.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

22 Comments

  1. Thailand boleh!

    Great to see the ASEAN spirit alive. BTW other than some UAVs, has the Thai military got anything else from Malaysia?

  2. If I recall correctly, a few years ago CTRM sold a couple of UAS to Thailand. Not sure if was to the Thai military or another organisation.

    Whether it’s the Weatstar or VAMTAC the fact remains that all the vehicles have zero ballistic protection. Let’s hope we never face a situation like that faced in the early stages of Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. and UK where soft skin vehicles with no protection led to casualties that could have been avoided. Come to think of it, it’s not as if we’ve never faced a similar problem – during the 2nd Emergency many casualties resulted from attacks on convoys.

  3. Back in the 80’s the Thais with mainly U.S. help set up a large ammo reserve in case the Vietnamese crossed over from Cambodia. Along with other countries we contributed.

  4. There is actually an armoured vamtac variant.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ef/Urovesa_Vamtac_Armored.png/800px-Urovesa_Vamtac_Armored.png

    As for the thairung transformer, i don’t think there is any advantage between it a normal toyota fortuner. I don’t think thairung offers a ballistic protection kit for the transformer. There is another thai company doing ballistic protection modifications, but not on toyota hiluxes.

    Reply
    Of course the Vamtac is also available in the armoured variant, we did not specify it when we got them as well as the time for the Land Rover replacement program. Singapore for that matter did tried out the armoured Vamtac but instead chose the Paramount MRAP and another one from Nexter

  5. Singapore choose ford Everest as their land Rover replacement. Don’t see the problem here

    They’re not meant for front line anyway

    Reply
    The Everests are used inside the camps and non combat use only

  6. The SAF Ford Everests replace a few vehicles.

    For training exercises, they are replacing the safety vehicle. This is a Land Rover which carries a medic and accompanies troops in training in the field. Casualties will be evacuated to a camp medical centre and from there by ambulance (Land Rover being replaced by Ford F150 ambulance for tactical use and by Mercedes van ambulance for regular use).

    It also replaces a few vehicles as the commander’s transport. GP cars for regular use, Land Rover and G-wagon for use in the field.

  7. The SAF Ford Everests replace a few vehicles.

    For training exercises, they are replacing the safety vehicle. This is a Land Rover which carries a medic and accompanies troops in training in the field. Casualties will be evacuated to a camp medical centre and from there by ambulance (Land Rover being replaced by Ford F150 ambulance for tactical use and by Mercedes van ambulance for regular use).

    It also replaces a few vehicles as the commander’s transport. GP cars for regular use, Land Rover and G-wagon for use in the field.

    The Land Rovers may not be air conditioned, but they have better mobility and will not be phased out any time soon.

  8. dundun – ”Don’t see the problem here.They’re not meant for front line anyway”

    Yes but what happens if they’re no clear front lines or if they unexpectedly come under fire? Irrespective of whether a vehicle is expected to come under direct fire or not; some planning should go into ensuring that it has some level of protection should the need arise or the unexpected should occur. Very few armies have enough IFVs to meet all operational requirements and it’s inevitable that some types of vehicles [in this case soft skin types] will be misused or placed in situations not planned for.

    Reply
    Actually all of the GK-MK1 will be at the frontline.

  9. That said, the Land Rover is not being retired. It has better mobility than the Ford Everest and it will be in the SAF for a long time to come.

    The SAF is getting unarmoured Vamtacs to replace infantry battalion G-wagons. Whether the Vamtac will replace other vehicles is not known yet.

  10. That said, the Land Rover is not being retired. It has better mobility than the Ford Everest and it will be in the SAF for a long time to come.

    The SAF is getting unarmoured Vamtacs to replace infantry battalion G-wagons. Whether the Vamtac will replace other vehicles is not known yet.

  11. We have plenty of condors that could be relegated to low level patrol, so it’s not like the army had nothing to to bridge the gap between utility 4×4 and APC/IFV

  12. Thing is, we don’t need that many vehicles for “low level patrol.” Outside of Esscom it’s not something the army does very much.

    As was mentioned above, these militarised pickups unfortunately will be needed for front line roles, whether combat support or direct combat. They are not mainly intended for patrol in peacetime or low intensity situations. Unfortunately.

  13. dundun – ”We have plenty of condors that could be relegated to low level patrol,”

    There will be cases where a 4×4 soft skin [by virtue of being smaller and lighter] will be more ideal than a Condor for patrols. Same situation in ESSCOM where its found that soft skin vehicles and the ”Lipanbara” are more practical than Adnans and AV-8s due to narrow roads and low hanging vegetation. Visibility is also much better in a soft skin.

    AM – ”Outside of Esscom it’s not something the army does very much”

    Apart from ESSCOM and parts of the Thai border that’s true. In the past Sibmas units were rotated to the Thai border to conduct routine patrols. Come to think of it, there are parts of the shared border with Kalimantan where the army also does routine patrols.

  14. The more the merrier.

    Good to see the army is spending some money with all the budget constraints and what not.

    In response to people speculating these type of vehicles wont be used for frontline work is naive. Low level patrols are not a thing that nations at peace carry out much (excluding esscom region)these days. So when the time comes these vehicles for sure will be used in some form of combative manner whether they. Mount GPMGs or MK19s

  15. Dodo,

    Exactly. History is ripe with examples of various kinds of equipment being misused. There is also no certainty that in any future conflict, there will be clearly defined ”front lines” in which there is a safety zone.

    Mounting a Mk19, a ATGW, MANPADS or a RCL on an unprotected soft skin is one thing as it can be argued that these are indirect fire weapons or are meant to be fired from a distance [the use of Toyotas mounted with MILAN in Chad comes to mind – they moved to fast for Libyan tanks to hit them and fired from a distance] but a soft skin mounted with a HMG or GPMG is expected to come under direct fire and at close range or medium range.

    We only have to look at recent examples in which soft skin vehicles with zero ballistic protection led to casualties that could have been avoided. Of course I’m not suggesting that every 4×4 soft skin should be protected but we should at least start with the ”weapons carriers” even if they’re fitted with weapons that are fired from the open

    Reply
    I don’t think the GK MK1 can be up armored though even for the weapons carrier. The talk among those who used them, the first version, are that they are underpowered for trail use.

  16. History is ripe with examples of various kinds of equipment being misused. There is also no certainty that in any future conflict, there will be clearly defined ”front lines” in which there is a safety zone.

    Mounting a Mk19, a ATGW, MANPADS or a RCL on an unprotected soft skin is one thing as it can be argued that these are indirect fire weapons or are meant to be fired from a distance [the use of Toyotas mounted with MILAN in Chad comes to mind – they moved to fast for Libyan tanks to hit them and fired from a distance] but a soft skin mounted with a HMG or GPMG is expected to come under direct fire and at close range or medium range.

    We only have to look at recent examples in which soft skin vehicles with zero ballistic protection led to casualties that could have been avoided. Of course I’m not suggesting that every 4×4 soft skin should be protected but we should at least start with the ”weapons carriers” even if they’re fitted with weapons that are fired from the open. Also, as mentioned before, it’s not as if we haven’t had any experience of soft skin vehicles being ambushed. For that matter, way before Bakara Market we lost an armoured vehicle [a V-100/50] to a RPG-2 and had Ferrets damaged by M79s.

  17. “The talk among those who used them, the first version, are that they are underpowered for trail use.”

    That’s not encouraging. The only protection they have is speed.

    Besides weight, an issue with armour is it also raises the center of gravity of the vehicle. Especially when it is provided for the turret gunner.

  18. AM – ”The only protection they have is speed.”

    On paper : speed and surprise. A problem is that when used in situations where surprise is essential they probably can be heard before they are seen.

    Granted there are examples of troops who have successfully mounted raids or engaged in combat using open top soft skins [the LRDGs and others come to mind] but by a large any soft skin that’s expected to come under direct or indirect fire should have some level of protection for its occupants.

    Personally I have an issue with soft skin ”weapons carriers” – mounting a Eryx on a G- Wagon or VAMTAC doesn’t automatically transform it into a ”tank killer”. Similarly, mounting a GPMG or HMG on a G- Wagon or VAMTAC to enable fire support to be provided is fine as long as the enemy doesn’t fire back and hit what they aim at.

  19. Since we’re on the subject of vehicle protection; will the Condor upgrade include spall liners? I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does. Most people are gaga about the mini guns and other stuff going on the Condors but the relatively cheap spall liners are just as, if not more essential, to provide protection to those inside. The KIFVs and Adnans were delivered with spall liners; not sure about the Scorpion and Stormer. I didn’t see any when I had a chance to look inside a Sibmas at one of the Dataran Merdeka exhibitions.

    Reply
    The Sibmas I rode a long time ago did not have spall liners as does the Condors

  20. What engine cc selected? Revo either 2.4 or 2.8, while previous Vigo 2.5 or 3.0. Underpower for trail I deduced that the first version prolly cc2.4. Maybe can resolve if Thairung produce Transformer III based on Toyota Land Cruiser cc4.0 V8….ofcoz pricier than a Revo

  21. If hilux 2.5 turbo is underpowered off road, what was the old land rover like?

    IMO the land rover has better off road capability due to the front solid axles compared to the hilux. But power wise, the hilux has more power than the land rover.

    Reply
    The pickup version of the Landys are ok off road but the wagon ones were a b…. when they get stuck in the mud as they were very heavy. From my experience 2.7 litre diesel engines are the minimum for serious off road work.

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