SHAH ALAM: With 2015 ahead of us, what is in store for the Malaysian Armed Forces in the new year? asked one reader. Based on available information, not much really.
Despite my pessimism, 2015 is an important year for the Armed Forces as in June we will find out how much money will been allocated for the next five years for defence procurement under the 11th Malaysian Development Plan (RMK11). We will be very lucky if we can get an allocation of RM20 billion. I believe the amount will not exceed RM18 billion which probably was the allocation within the last five years.
As reported during the induction of the Gempita, the Army is on schedule to receive at least 34 IFV 25mm in 2015. The majority of the vehicles will be put into service with the 19th Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment – the sole mechanised infantry unit equipped with the Gempita. The 19th Btn RMR is expected to attain operational status on the Gempita by early 2016.
Most of the Gempitas with the battalion will be equipped with the 25mm Bushmaster turret variant. The others to be operated by 19th RMR will include among others, the command and control, recovery and engineering variants.
Apart from the IFV 25mm, the two units of the Armoured Corps is expected to receive the Gempita variants equipped with the LCT 30mm and the LCT 30mm/ATGM turrets in 2015. The numbers remained unclear however.
Apart from the Gempita delivery, information about other new equipment meant for the Army is sparse. Delivery of small arms from M4s to pistols is also expected to continue though it is difficult to get numbers.
I am also assuming the delivery of new trucks like the Iveco Eurocargo 4X4 and Weststar 4X4 GS Cargo will continue. Apart from the Ivecos and Weststars, the Army is also expected to get new Tatra 7-tonne trucks as attrition replacements. The 7 tonne Tatra trucks were first deployed in late 2013 for the flood relief operations and this year, 19 were deployed.
There is also talk that the Army is also getting new Light Strike Vehicles for the GGK and Para Brigade but nothing has been confirmed. I am still checking for further details on the make (whether it will be the same for both units or different ones) and the delivery schedule. There is also the possibility that the vehicles will be funded during the next Malaysian plan so delivery could be some years away.
What ever it is, hopefully it will be something off-the shelf -like the Supacat tactical vehicles – known as the Jackal in UK Army service.
Supacat vehicles are not alien to the 10 Para as they are still operating the ATV 6X6 as mortar and cargo carriers. LSVs from US manufacturers are also relevant though they are less likely to be adopted here unlike copies from Europe. The Supacat LSVs are actually a US design adopted for the British forces as does our Uro Vamtacs.
Perhaps they will even go local (CKD) time this around with the Weststar GK-M1 Weapon Platform -fitted with guns (picture above) or a locally manufactured LSV of the Humvee, by DRB Hicom. The SAM launcher vehicle is meant for the requirement for a SHORADs system to replace retired weapons like the Blowpipe. Global Komited, Weststar defence centric subsidiary signed the deal with Thales at DSA 2014 to market the Starstreak SHORAD SAM to the Armed Forces.
Royal Malaysian Air Force
The highlight of 2015 for RMAF will surely be the arrival of the first of its A400M. The only thing not confirmed will be the actual delivery date but it will probably be in March. If it arrived before Lima 2015 – to be held from 17th March to 21st – it will surely take part in the static display. A foreign A400M is expected to take part in the aerial display however.
A second A400M for RMAF is expected to be delivered by late 2015 though no dates has been confirmed yet. One thing that needed to be address this year will be the In Service Support contract for the A400M fleet.
In Europe, Airbus has locked in the contract but here it is expected a local company will team up with the airframe maker for the deal. The EC725 ISS is conducted by BHIC Aerospace, so it is likely that the company will get the deal.
If the contract for the training helicopters is signed at LIMA 2015, we may see the first helicopter in the later part of the year. Apart from this, RMAF is not expected to see any new delivery this year.
The upgrade programmes for the Hercules and Nuri fleet is expected to start this year while it is expected the Hornet upgrades to be completed this year. The decision on the future of Butterworth air base is also expected later in the year.
Royal Malaysian Navy
RMN is not getting any new ships in 2015 which had been the norm for the last few years. The start of the local assembly of the LCS is expected to start in Lumut in March.
Meanwhile, the project to revive the two training ships is on the verge of starting. If the project goes well, the first ship, Gagah Samudera, may well be commissioned by the end of the year.
Hopefully after the yeoman service provided by the fleet Super Lynx helicopters during the current flood crisis, the request for ASW helicopters will be funded during the 11th Malaysian Plan. Unfortunately an ASW configured Super Lynx or MH-60S will be unable to conduct flood relief work as the sub-hunting equipment will take up much of the cabin.
Oh, before I forget, Happy New Year!
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