VAB on the Way

[singlepic id=27 w=320 h=240 float=left]KUALA LUMPUR: Since we are already talking about APCs, let me share something which I found out recently. Its a rather unique Malaysian phenomenon that things that failed to make the grade years ago somehow managed to return to our procurement pipeline.

Twenty-years ago, the M16A2 was beaten to the punch by the Steyr AUGA1 but fast forward to 2009, the Black Rifle is back in the hands of the Malaysian Army.

About 30 years or so, the French VAB (Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé “Armoured Vanguard Vehicle” in French) was passed over in favour of the German’s Condor when the Army chose a new APC to replace the Commandos. Fast forward to 2009, its the VAB that is replacing the Condors!

Well, not all of the Condors. The Army is expected to get a dozen or so VABs, in the 6X6 version, within the next few months to replace the Condors assigned to the Malaysian battalion in Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL contingent. I am told the Condors deployed to Lebanon are almost at their breaking point and need to be replaced ASAP.

As part of the Urgent Operation Requirement, the VABs is expected to be deployed to Lebanon directly from France. These VABs are not new, they are re-manufactured stocks most probably from the French army. But with our luck they will cost as expensive as brand new ones especially when kitted out with government-furnished equipment such as radios and guns!

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin
–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2191 Articles
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  1. As the VAB is as lightly amoured as the Condor, it would be nice if some bar armour was added, plus an OWS. I think the TNi-AD also bought VABs for their UNIFIL contingent. As for the phenomenon, in 1988 Rapiers were part of the UK arms MOU, years later Malaysia became the launch customer for Jernas.

    Marhalim: The Jernas does not count as we did not purchase another system and later return to purchase the system that was rejected earlier…

  2. What is the difference between getting a dozen refurbished VAB’s and sending another dozen freshly overhauled or refurbished Condors from our current stocks and bringing back our worn out one’s?

    No military equipment can last forever on duty without a major overhaul. Even the Abrams serving in Iraq is brought back to the US to be totally rebuilt periodically.

    Marhalim: I am told that the refurbished VABs are ready for immediate delivery while it may take us a few months to overhaul/refurbished the Condors locally. Apparently its not worth the money to ship back the worn out Condors home.

  3. sounds familiar like the KIFV for Bosnia Peace Keeping mission. In the end, the army ends up buying the so called “Malaysianized MIFV” APC without the thorough evaluation of the APC.

    Interim solution,yes, VAB’s would do the job. For the long run, please choose a better candidatelah. Another logistics nigtmare for the army, but another ‘lubuk emas’ for the so called entrepreneur.

    What happened to the intensive evaluation for the Malaysian Army future APC replacement, 1 or 2 years back. No suitable candidate? VAB’s was not on the list if i’m not mistaken.

    Marhalim: Yes the VAB is not on the list for the 8×8 APC replacement programme but if they had continued with the procurement our boys in Lebanon will be using them already but they digress so they had to embark on this emergency. Mind you they are many other contingents using them in Lebanon, so they will not have much problem in keeping them in good condition although the claim cannot be made for our government furnished equipment like radios and other things….

  4. So from what I know, the army is considering 8×8 APC to replace the aging condor fleets and from what i know also VAB is the army favorites contender to replace the condor. So I just eager to know what the armed forces planned on the mid-range SAMs and how the 2nd batch of the lekiu-class frigate future whether is it will be continue or discontinue. The 2nd batch of the NGPV is surely to be included in the 10th MP as they need ASW capability to support the scorpene operation.

    Marhalim: The favourite candidate for the APC replacement programme (Sibmas, Condor, Ferrets and Commandos) remained the Piranha 8X8. Personally I would prefer the RG33L or the new RG35 as troop carriers, for fire support, the Stryker MGS.

  5. Indonesian contingent uses their locally manufactured VAB called PINDAD Panser. There are news in indonesia that malaysia and nepal has looked at the Panser. So the UOB VAB’s is from Indonesia or France?

    Marhalim: My sources said the VAB meant for our the Malaysian contingent will come directly from France. The Panser may or may not come later but its still too early too say whether it will happen based on current developments…Indonesian VABs used in Lebanon were also purchased directly from France. Its cheaper to ship them out from France then all the way from Java. Oh, before I forget, the VAB deal is not cast in stone yet, one German candidate is still on the table, the Fox.

  6. Part of the reason Daweoo was awarded the KIFV contract was because it responded faster than its competitors. It shipped the KIFVs, which were meant for the S.Korean army, from Pusan to Split. Other companies including GKN with its Warrior, were approached but didn’t respond in time.

  7. Why not buy some refurbished Ratel from SA? They are the same as Sibman they used to had.

    Marhalim: The rationale behind the VAB procurement is the fact many UN contingents in Lebanon including the host country are using the same vehicle. It will reduce our logistics trail for service and training. Moreover once we bug out from Lebanon we could simply donate the VABs to the Lebanese army who will accept them with open arms….

  8. Can’t we just pull out of Lebanon? Then we don’t have to spend money on the VAB…. The region is more stable now.

    Marhalim: I have been advocating that position for sometime now but the UNIFIL deployment is quite prestigious. I believe we can charge the UN for buying anything for such operations although we may end up paying it first.

  9. From what I remember, Malaysia had to wait quite a while to get reimbursed by the UN for the Bosnian deployment. The UNIFIL deployment was for political and prestige reasons- it makes Malaysia look good in the eyes of the Arab world.For other countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, UN deployments are made mostly for finacial benefits. Even if we weren’t in UNFIL, the fact still remains that many Condors are falling apart due to heavy usage, both at home and over the years at Cambodia, Somalia, Bosnia, East Timor, Namibia and now Lebanon.

    Anyway, with Marhalims persmission I’ve posted excerpts of June 2009 PDF article by Journal of Politics and Law on ‘ The Impact of Singapore’s Military Development on Malaysia’s Security’, that was posted in another forum. It makes very intersting reading.

    Malaysia’s Security Impact Analysis

    4.1 Security threat

    Singapore’s military development and defense system in its early stage was initially defensive in nature, since 1971 Singapore has practiced the poison shrimp doctrine. This doctrine perceived as defense doctrine extracted from the Israel’sdoctrine of defense which affirms that Singapore warns any aggressor not to attack them. This doctrine takes into account the regional geo-political condition similar to Israel’s position which is surrounded by Arab countries. This doctrine is only a warning towards aggressors, however if attacks or threats are thrown at Singapore then the aggressor are forced to face Singapore reaction. The emergence of offensive doctrines known as preemptive strike doctrine is Singapore’s preparation to attack the enemy if the enemy is believed (base on accurate intelligence information) to try and threaten its security. Singapore will not attack any country Malaysia in particular, as long as Malaysia does not threaten the security of Singapore. This doctrine is categorized as a need to warn the enemy not to invade or attack Singapore. Hence, to complement the doctrine of preemptive strike, Singapore has implemented another defense doctrine called forward defense whereby the military development and defense must always be advance. This doctrine affects planning and war strategy, hence, Singapore would always need to stay ahead in the development of military in terms of physical and non physical features…

    In fact Singapore’s readiness in sharing intelligence information since 2001 is an
    act of willingness to foster good relationship both military powers. Basically Singapore’s military development does not give any threat to Malaysia’s safety. This is because, since Singapore separation from Malaysia in 1965, there has been no security threat on Malaysia. From Malaysia’s military perspective, Singapore is a country that is not classified as a major threat. On the other hand, Indonesia and Thailand are believed to be major threats on Malaysia’s security compared to Singapore. This is because according to Ahmad Ghazali Abu Hassan (2007):-

    “If we assess which country has the ability to threaten Malaysia, it is not Singapore but Indonesia. This is because historically Malaysia has faced armed confrontations with Indonesia during the era of Sukarno. We should be reminded about the vision of a Greater Indonesia that was introduced by Sukarno, symbolizing that Indonesia has had the objective and agenda to conquer Malaysia” .
    The perception of this country regarding a threat is based on the history of Malaysia’s confrontations with Indonesia that took place in 1963 (Patmanathan, 1980:23). The military was sent to confront Indonesian military attack that landed in Johor and was facilitated by Singapore to stop intelligence information to Indonesia in Malaysia (Aelina Surya, 1992:18). In fact, according to Ahmad Ghazali Abu Hassan (2007) this confrontation between Malaysia-Indonesia claimed a number of Malaysian troops in Borneo during the effort to protect national security. It is believed to be the sign and measurement of Malaysian military of Indonesia’s ability to use its military force upon Malaysia (Tempur, April 2003:24). Ariffin Omar (2007) explained that:-

    “Although Singapore is strong in term of economy, political and military power, it is not a country that can easily set out a war because Singapore realizes that it is still lacking in terms of nationalism or patriotic spirit. The countries that can afford to threaten the security of Malaysia are Indonesia and Thailand.”
    Ahmad Ghazali Abu Hassan (2007) perceives Indonesia and Thailand as nations that are able to threaten Malaysia’s security. This is because Indonesia and Thailand are regarded as unstable states base on the instability of internal politics. Internal problems such as poverty, internal rebellion, ethnic conflict, weak government and terrorist issues make Malaysia prone to security threat through the spread of these internal problems to Malaysia (Jasbir Singh, 2003:66-68). Indonesia’s and Thailand’s weakness and failure to prevent internal problems would provide a direct impact on Malaysia such as the excessive immigration into Malaysia, making Malaysia a hide-out and the spread of terrorist activity are all other factors that formulate the threats from Indonesia and Thailand (Allan Gyngell,1983:116). The close ties between Malaysia and Singapore either from bilateral aspect or through international organizations, has been the pioneering of confidence and belief between both countries…

    Marhalim: Academics like to make assumptions based on other people conclusions especially popular ones. Personally, I believed that if its profitable and advantageous to them, they will go down the route especially when they already have the means.

  10. That pdf document is not only riddled with factual errors but basic grammar and English as well.

    “Although Singapore is strong in term of economy, political and military power, it is not a country that can easily set out a war because Singapore realizes that it is still lacking in terms of nationalism or patriotic spirit”

    Probably the most un-researched and ridiculous presumption in the whole document. And dangerous to whichever govt which holds the view.

    Marhalim: I am sorry for not proof reading the document as it was too long winded, nonetheless your point is taken.

  11. The document is riddled with errors and should have been proofread before publication. Nonetheless, it does make insightful reading. In discussions with retired army officers, I learnt some time back that local military planners have always been more concerned with a low intensity threat from Indonesia due to a number of historical,economical factors, etc, rather than Singapore. Part of the rationale behind the PERISTA programme was the concern over a possible Vietnamese overland threat in the late 70’s and the later declaration of this country’s EEZ. A few weeks ago, during the Balinese dance row, the NST ran a very interesting article by the former UM chancellor about Malaysia’s relations with Indonesia and Singapore.

  12. Marhalim, it`s not your fault and I apologise if I have conveyed the latter impression. It is always interesting to read different viewpoints. There are a myriad of different views around plus ones which are not exactly accurate. It is an eye opener when glaring mistakes and assumptions are made. It would be more shocking if those assumptions are translated into policy.

  13. There is a difference between matured entities like Singapore, Malaysia and Australia versus countries like Indonesia. On one hand, these countries have intermittent squabbles but are largely rationale and they are able to exercise restraint well. War is unlikely.

    On the other hand, countries like Indonesia might have problems controlling the actions of thier military arm(or some) and to a larger degree, thier own people. I reckon control is an issue. And awareness is another. It might just be a case of being a little too late to stop an unintended incident from occuring.

  14. Todays papers has an article about another Indonesian claim, the gamelan. The Indonesians, especially the Javanese,conveniently forget that a lot of their culture is Indian. Part of the reason there’s some much resentment toward Malaysian is because of the prevailing socio/economic conditions in Indonesia. Up until the mid-80s, Indonesia was the senior partner in ASEAN, with the most influence. Today, things are different. Like Russia during the communist era, Indonesia under Sukarno was a more confident and stable country.

    Marhalim: Sukarno or Suharto? BTW most of Suharto’s enemies end up in Malaysia during his reign. Perhaps that the reason they were mostly peaceful during that time…..

  15. Sorry I meant Suharto. The enemies that ran to Malaysia were mostly Acehnese dissidents. In the 90’s, following government crackdowns, a number of Islamic extremists also ended up here. Another reason for the stability was ABRI’s iron grip on political power and its vast commercial interests. Even until now, it is normal for senior commanders to hand out cash, earned from various TNI businesses, to subordinates to cover operating expenses.

    Like Malaysia, political bailouts and corruption during Suharto’s rule was rife and part of the system of patronage, albeit on a much larger scale.

    Marhalim: There are others of course, but I do not want to run into trouble with…….

  16. From Bernama

    Government Plans To Replace Ageing Condor And Sibmas Apc – Zahid

    SEREMBAN, Oct 4 (Bernama) — The government plans to purchase new armoured personnel carriers (APC) as replacement for the ageing Condor and Sibmas being deployed in Lebanon.

    Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it had yet to decide on APC with 6×6 or 8×8 wheel drive.

    “The APC that we have are of the 6×6 wheel drive type. No open tenders will be called as it is involve defence equipments,” he said when met after the Ex-Servicemen’s Association annual delegates conference here Saturday.

    The Opposition claimed that the government was putting the soldiers lives at risk by deploying the 30 year-old Condor and Sibmas APC in Lebanon .

  17. No open tender? Apa jadi itu transparency and accountability? Ooop…itu PR punya slogan. Rakyat diutamakan…..or rather Duit Rakyat diutamakan.

    Marhalim: For this one its supposed to be a direct nego. Since the guys in Lebanon really need these new APC ASAP, in this instance I support the direct nego mode although I still disagree if they used the normal government procurement policies for the purchase…

  18. Anyone ever heard of the Swedish SEP multi role armoured vehicle? Its unique because i believed that it is the world’s first trully modular armoured vehicle thanks to the fact that the systems existed in two versions – wheeled (8×8/6×6)and also tracked! for many multi purpose applications…the revolutionary also involved the propulsion system, the more efficient and quite (stealth element)electric system.

    Marhalim: Yes but it will take sometime for it to be fielded if the the Swedish Armed Forces decides to adopt it. We do not have the luxury of time

  19. Just wondering, is Sibmass is as bad of a shape compared to Condor? I assume it may not be as extensively used as condor. Now we got PT91M, we dont really need all 184 90mm sibmas as FSV. May be in the interim, assuming condition is still good, about a dozen of Sibmass could be refurbished and sent to Lebanon while waiting for the new APC….

    Marhalim: Only 162 of the Sibmas were fitted with the 90mm gun the rest were bought as wreckers. The Sibmas fleet should be in a better condition than the Condor as they, I believed, were never sent out overseas. However, it must be said there have been anecdotal reports that said the Sibmas underperformed in the field as it is underpowered.
    The recoil from the 90mm gun, I am told, is horrendous for those inside. Moreover I do not want to be in the Sibmas in combat, its rounds are stored in thin holders just below the turret basket! I dont think the armour can stand a hit from 7,62mm AP rounds………

    had even worse reputation than the Condors as it was equipped with an

  20. By the way, is’t true that we have 36 Astros launchers? I thought it was 18 only…

    Marhalim: We have 36 Astros MLRS once the second batch ordered, within the last three years or four, are delivered.

  21. Hmm i nteresting discussions regarding the condor replacement in Lebanon. The replacement vehicle I gathered is required immediately, must have some commonality with other users for ease of support and be able to protect our guys out there. Wwhat are the threats?. From Iraq and Afghanistan we can gather that its the RPG, IED and mines. The vehicle we must procure must be able to protect the guys from at least all three of the above threats.
    So to be mobile and have the protection, it can be using the new generation vehicles which the US and the Brits are using now in Afghanistan.Its well protected for both IED and mines.That does not mean it will not be damaged but at least, the guys inside will not be knocked off. The bottom of these vehicles are all V shaped to defelct blast. One country that has such vehicles would be South Africa. Look at all these vehicles also.The VAB is already old and would also be hard to maintain especially having been well used by the French.

  22. Malaysia procurement of military assets are not really based on the need and necessities but more to make the most money(hic). The procurement system is just flawless. But it seldom being followed and the end some useless scrape would be procured and use by our loyal soldiers.

  23. Interestingly, I read in an article in Utusan that our MAB is already operating 2 UAVs which is the Aludra and Fulmar. But, I doubt the existent of Fulmar UAV in our inventories. Anyone?

  24. From aerovision (manufacturer of fulmar) /newsDetail.php?new=181

    AEROVISION signs a technical and marketing collaboration agreement with the Malaysian company UST

    The agreement was signed in Melaka (Malaysia) on August 10th 2010 between Aerovision and UST, a company subsidiary of CTRM (Composites Technology Research Malaysia). The decision was taken after the operation of a Fulmar system by the staff of UST in the Malaysian province of Sabah in Borneo Island since February 2010. Now, both companies agree to collaborate to adapt the Fulmar system to the requirements of the customers in the ASEAN market.

    This must be the one that was shown during the Latgama Malindo exercise last year. Its man portable and operated by a two man crew.

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