When It Rains It Pours

A GK-M1 gun tower with an Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer at Merdeka Day parade rehearsall in August 2019.

SHAH ALAM: When it rains it pours AKA Army Recapitalisation Programme, Part 2. If anyone think that I was off my rockers with the Army Recapitalisation Programme posts, let it be known that it is the real deal.

Yes, its not like the Army is buying MBTs or new Gempitas but as an Army moves on its stomach, replacing old stuff from trucks to boats are also a big deal, though less sexy, I must admit.

The advertisement of the tenders.

On Thursday (Oct. 3, 2019), the Defence Ministry issued tenders for buses, heavy expanded tactical mobility trucks (HEMTT), gun towers and one tonne general services cargo trucks (see above).
A CS Support RA regiment gun tower and 105mm gun in action recently. BTDM

Based on the tender documents, the Army is looking for 10 44-seat buses, three HEMTT, 36 gun towers and 150 one tonne trucks.
A GK-M1 gun tower with an Oto Melara 105mm pack howitzer at Merdeka Day parade rehersal in August.

The 36 gun towers are to tow 105mm guns for the Close Support Royal Artillery Regiments. In around 2010, the Army bought unknown number of Uro Vamtacs to replace the 6X6 Pinzagauers. Within the last few years, the Army also bought an unknown number of Weststar GK-MK1 as gun towers.
Uro Vamtacs from 10th Para Royal Artillery Regiment. BTDM

With a large number of GK-M1 already in service as gun towers, weapon carriers, fitted for radio and all sorts of others, it is likely the Army will standardised its vehicles to this type even with the tender exercise. Basically what had happened with the Land Rover in the past. It is interesting to note however that other government agencies have yet to choose the Weststar vehicle for their own fleet.
The Weststar GK-M1 weapon carrier vehicle fitted with the M134D Gatling gun. The GK-M1 is expected to be offered for the tender exercises issued by the Defence Ministry within the last two months.

As for HEMTT this is basically a prime mover to pull a trailer carrying containers, water tanks and also armoured vehicles. The Army bought a number of the AMDAC Roman for this role in the late 90s but I have not seen them recently. Its likely the tender is to replace these vehicles, if they are no longer serviceable or supplement them if they are still in service.

A Mercedes Benz Actros TTMS vehicle with the Faun trackway at the recent Merdeka parade. The TTMS lays the roadway on boggy ground to help engineers to lay military bridge over rivers and other obstacles.

Last month, the Army also advertised the tenders for three Tactical Mobility Support System trucks meant to support its bridging units. The tender was published shortly after the tenders for the ATGW and fire support vehicles came out.
The TMSS laying its trackway for a bridging exercise. BTDM

I was told that the tenders for the vehicles above are one of the biggest for the Army in a long time after it had concentrated on other things like the Gempita. The numbers being procured are small but it is expected to continue into the near future so more new vehicles are expected to be in service soon. As for the sexy stuff, as I said previously said those have to wait for the next RMK.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2225 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. “…other government agencies have yet to choose the Weststar…” they went for models from Japanese and US OEM, and no new Land Rover Defenders too. Those OEM-specs and customisation fulfill their requirement perhaps. Not to forget after sales service available all over the country,even mechanics at small pekan can repair emergency those models.


  2. This is basically what a GS cargo 1 ton looks like, which is basically a replacement for the Land Rover Defender 110 HCPU.


    This has been also bought by the police and kastam, and yes it is from the same supplier as the GK-M1

    Actually the GK-M1 can also be repaired by any pokok ceri foremens. It is just a rebodied toyota hilux.

  3. You sure its raining? Feel like just some wind.

    On another note, do anybody know the ATM wishlist for next RMK12 and when will the RMK be presented? Let’s hope the DWP presented in December shall provided good ideas for our bean counters in the Defence Ministry.

    The next RMK will be announced late next year.

  4. Usually it’s called “prime mover” =)

    Gun tower sounds like… menara mariam

    Which sounds kinda cool though, haha

  5. Thought it’s called a prime mover too. It did confuse me a second when the term gun tower was used.

    It was the exact word used in the advertisement and also tender documents. I know it’s not the correct term but I have long ignored such things as I have no way of getting them to correct it.

  6. “Gun tower” is a term that was previously used. I remember way back in the early 1990’s when it was reported that Volvo “gun towers” had been ordered for the FH-70’’s. These “prime movers” actually had “towers” on them.

    Like other militaries the MAF is also using acronyms now : “heavy expanded tactical mobility trucks” (HEMTT). We tend to be late in the game but whether it’s with digital uniforms for the MAF, with acronyms or the slanted chest pockets for easier access with one hand; we tend to follow what others are doing.

    It’s good that we’re ordering various soft skin vehicles but it’s hoped that certain vehicles (the “weapons carriers) will have some form of ballistic protection against small arms fire; alas this is unlikely to happen and the only protection will be wire mash on windscreens and side windows. It’s not as if we haven’t experience of soft skin vehicles being on the receiving end of hostile fire.

    It’s also hoped that maintenance practices will be improved. The Pinzgauers could have been operated longer but there were issues with its unique drive train assembly. On the Weststar GK-M1: never mind how it looks externally but did we originally bought it because it actually suits the army’s requirements or because it was another case of supporting the local industry?

    As for the weapon carriers there is no specific requirements for it to be armoured. Vendors can of course offer an armoured solution but I think it will be more than the budget

  7. What IS the budget for a weapon carrier, do we know?

    No idea, but I think it should not be more than RM400,000 per vehicle

  8. Weapons carriers are at best used as a “technical”, using shoot and scoot methods.

    Add-on armour (like clip-on transparent window armour and armour inserts for doors) can be used to give a bit of protection from small arms fire, but not much else.

  9. Azlan has a point though about up-armouring, say at least to STANAG Level 1

    But I suspect these things are really just equipment haulers for the infantry. You bring the gear somewhere, demount and dig in

    Its really to give some relief to the support company as they cannot haul on their back the guns and the ammo. It is also used as convoy protection.

  10. …. – “ using shoot and scoot methods”

    In theory but in reality when providing direct fire they will be vulnerable to return fire. Also, “shoot and scoot” tactics are dependent on terrain; not only for speed but for concealment. Also depends on what’s firing at them; a MBT’s main gun won’t be able to hit fast moving vehicles (.i.e. the Libyans in Chad) but small
    arms and crew served weapons will.

    ….. – “can be used to give a bit of protection from small arms fire, but not much else.”

    What else is expected? Any more than that and we must as well ditch them and go for AFVs.

    Some level of protection against small arms fire and shrapnel/splinters is a must especially when “weapons carriers” will be fired upon when delivering direct fire. As things stand however the “weapons carriers” won’t be receiving any protection; if things get hot we’ll just (like others) receive a painful/costly reminder.

  11. @ azlan

    As I said, the weapons carriers are at best used just as a “technical”. If you need better protection and mobility than that, you would preferably go with something like the J-LTV to be your weapons carrier.

    Around RM400k would get something like a basic unarmoured VAMTAC. Something like the J-LTV would cost about RM1.5 million each. To compare, the Lipanbara HMAV costs RM7 million each.


  12. ….. – “As I said, the weapons carriers are at best used just as a “technical”

    I’m aware of what you said.

    I just pointed that some form of light weight ballistic protection (against small arms fire and splinters) is essential and that it’s ability to “shoot and scoot” is highly dependent on the type of terrain. if the “weapons carriers” were employing indirect fire weapons then the possibility of then coming under fire is lower but as it stands they will be armed with HMGs, Metis (still operational?) and mini guns; all direct fire weapons.

    Not only is cash an issue but also the army hoping that things will never get hot; hence the lack of urgency in any form of basic protection; in this day and age a must.

  13. Other than during firepower exercises or exercises with long range movements, the fire support weapons like the HMG of infantry batalions will be used for static emplacements like from a machine gun nest.

    Our army should perform more as a defensive entity. The majority of our infantry battalions should train as a defensive force, defending a specific area. If you need mobility and armor, then adequately equip a subset of your army (say 1 division) for that, and deploy units from that division if you need mobility and armour protected units.

    While armour for weapons carriers is preferable, it is IMO in the larger scheme of things not essential for all infantry battalions.

  14. …. – “fire support weapons like the HMG of infantry batalions will be used for static emplacements like from a machine gun nest”

    The question is whether such static positions will have a place in any future conflict fought. Static positions tend to be used more in protracted insurgencies. Depends on the operational circumstances.

    Support or crew served weapons employed at static positions can be found in ESSCOM (before that Ops Pasir) and at various points along the common border with Thailand and Indonesia. In the past we had them at various points along the North/South highway, Temmengor dam, custom checkpoints and other strategic areas that were vulnerable to attacks from Chin Peng’s lot.

    Of course the key difference between now and then is that the army is now more mobile and there are more platforms to mount weapons on.

    …. – “While armour for weapons carriers is preferable, it is IMO in the larger scheme of things not essential for all infantry battalions”

    Ideally anything or anyone that is likely to come under fire should have some level of protection. Obviously some units will be in more need for body armour than others; just like how a “weapons carrier” armed with a direct fire weapon that leaves it vulnerable to return fire will have more of a need for ballistic protection than say a resupply comms vehicle.

    The Brits and Yanks in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early days had lots of unprotected soft skins until things started to get dicey. We also had a similar (less bloody) experience in that we suffered casualties from the dozens of ambushes made on army and police convoys both in the Peninsular and Sarawak.

    There were also such armed checkpoints along the old road between Fraser’s Hill to Raub up until 1989.

  15. Chua – “But I suspect these things are really just equipment haulers for the infantry. You bring the gear somewhere, demount and dig in”

    If that were the case there would be no need for pintled mounted weapons.

    They are intended to provide fire support to infantry units and by doing do improve the ability of the units to conduct combined arms tactics employing a variety of weapons. The idea is to “shoot and scoot” – fine on paper but in reality the enemy might shoot back before you have “scooted” and how fast you can “scoot” is dependent on the terrain: is one operating on uneven dirt tracks surrounded by lots of natural cover or in paved roads with hardly natural cover? Will the “weapons carriers” have engines with reduced noise or will they be heard by the enemy a km away?

  16. Marhalim,

    Even some power stations in remote areas were guarded, many by the TA. It was normal to have a sandbagged position with an MG at the entrance. The TA also guarded various other places like dams. Temmengor dam had almost a whole TA battalion there.

    Places that were attacked included the immigration building in Kedah, Tugu Negara, Sungai Besi (a Caribou was written off after being hit by mortar) and construction areas on the North/South highway. In Sarawak a riverine craft undergoing maintenance at a shipyard was partially burnt by the NKCP.

    Yes I know about the other stuff but security operations around KKB Fraser’s Hill Raub Cameron Highlands in the early 80s are to me under reported. The situation in these areas in the late 70s were more benign. I agree there were no actual shooting in the areas but I was told the Army found various food dumps in these areas until way past 1989-90

  17. Raub was a hotspot. Lot of sympathisers in the area. A family friend was hunting in the area and came across 3 of them. The only reason they didn’t take his Remington was because they said it was too heavy. It’s common knowledge that after the peace agreement; small numbers of them were still lurking in the jungle.

    One does wonder at all the stuff that happened which was never reported. Going back to the 1st Emergency and Merdeka; when the Brits left they took with them lots of classified files containing info on various figures here. Leo Comber in his book on the Special Branch mentions this. Even till today, some files related to the Confrontation in the UK. are still classified.

    My theory of the operation around the KKB Fraser’s Hill Raub Bentong was that as the government conducted secret talks with CPM, some of those who had hid in Thailand used the central spine of the peninsula to get back to their home towns. As they were doing these sympathisers helped them out by dumping food along the jungles. It is likely the same thing was happening in other hotspots like Sg Siput Gopeng, all the way to Raub. And the Army was conducting their operations to flush these people out

  18. And we must not forget that the malayan communists are backed by China. Although the communist insurgency has ended, we must not forget about it and try to act like it never happened. Other countries like australia, china celebrated things like the end of ww2. We IMO should clearly celebrate the official surrender of communist party of malaya every year.

  19. @ marhalim

    Currently poachers and gaharu hunters from thailand are using the exact same jungle trails. Those trails are there since the melaka empire days. There is one from north to south, and east to west.

  20. …, – “And we must not forget that the malayan communists are backed by China”

    Luckily for us it was not material
    support but political. The “Suara Merdeka” radio station broadcasting from China was something that really annoyed us; we insisted they shut it down when we established relations. When it came to arms the communists were largely on their own, getting a lot of stuff from dealers in Thailand. By the mid 1970’s small stocks of various stuff made their way here from
    Vietnam and Cambodia via Thailand; luckily for us not in large numbers.

    There were elements of the Thai government that turned a blind eye to the presence of Chin Peng’s lot on their soil. In fact, an joint operation on Thai soil (one of several in which were were allowed to go to to several km on
    Thai territory) was cancelled because of mass protests by Thai
    and Malaysian communist supporters in Betong. In response to the Thais not being helpful at times: we reportedly provided some support – in the form of sanctuaries – to Pattani separatists.

    – “We IMO should clearly celebrate the official surrender of communist party of malaya every year”

    Don’t forget the peace agreement signed with the NKCP. We were engaged in 2 insurgencies against 2 different enemies. A lot of the NKCP people were formerly Indonesian left wing proxies who fought against us during the Confrontation.

    Before we officially celebrate anything what we should first do is to have official, objective professionally written histories of the 2nd Emergency and the Confrontation. The Indonesians have histories of the invasions on East Timor and Dutch Guinea but not the Confrontation. what they called “Dwikora”; unsurprising given it went badly for them.

  21. “official, objective professionally written histories of the 2nd Emergency and the Confrontation”

    Not while there is still political currency to be had in manipulating the facts

  22. Chua,

    There is no need to manipulate anything. We fought against people who wanted to turn this country into a communists state, people who originally fought on the pretext of wanting to liberate us from British rule.

    Whilst there will almost certainly be aspects that can’t be made publicly known; like the full involvement of Special Branch and other matters related to intelligence; there is no reason why an official history can’t be written. There have been books on the subject, including one published by the publishers of ADJ but something more comprehensive is needed

    With the Confrontation it’s a different matter. For the sake of good ties with Indonesia we traditionally haven’t been too vocal about it. On their part “Dwikora” is something the Indonesians would rather forget happened. School history books during my time (1980’s) made brief mention of it but that’s all.

    It was an interesting conflict – Badgers flying over Kuching,
    B-25s on leaflet drops escorted by Mustangs along the Sarawak border, a sea borne raid, airborne drop (comprising Chinese leftist volunteers and others), a Singaporean unit ambushed, RMR unit taken by surprises and suffering casualties, RMAF planes (flown by RAF crews) on leaflet drops over the Riau Islands, contacts at sea by RMN, RN, RNZN and RAN ships), RAF and RAAF plans to hit Java things escalated, cross border raids by the SAS, etc.

    Yet the conflict still remains under reported and most Malaysians hardly know anything about it; just like how must are aware of the campaign fought in the Peninsular but not in Sarawak against the NKCP.

  23. @Azlan
    “For the sake of good ties with Indonesia we traditionally haven’t been too vocal about it.”

    Exactly. Whereas…

  24. I knew this would crop up.

    Why for the sake of good ties with china do we need to hush hush about the communist insurgency?

    Did we keep hush hush about Japanese atrocities in WW2 just because we are now in good terms with Japan now?

    As is on the confrontation, we also need to tell our future generations what exactly happened, not to be hush hush about it too.

  25. Chua,

    It’s different. The 2nd Emergency was fought against communists who are now – mostly – gone. It’s politically easier to talk about it as we won and it was against non state actors. The Confrontation was against a much larger neighbouring country; one we desire good ties with for security and economic stability.

    Even Singapore, with the exception of a few years ago when it protested against the Indonesians naming a ship after a person guilty of carrying out a bombing, doesn’t mention the conflict much Nothing to be gained.

  26. …. – “Why for the sake of good ties with china do we need to hush hush about the communist insurgency”

    We’re not “hush hush” about the 2nd Emergency and it’s an easier sell involving non state actors who received no material support from a 3rd country.

    …. – “Did we keep hush hush about Japanese atrocities in WW2 just because we are now in good terms with Japan now.”

    For one, as part of its compensation during the 60’s and 70!’s we received a certain amount of aid from Japan. Secondly, unlike other countries we currently not seeking any compensation from Japan over any atrocities; not did we have. major “comfort girl” problem like others did. If however you’ve notice, we’ve also been quite measured in our criticism of Japan over its war past.

    …. – “As is on the confrontation, we also need to tell our future generations what exactly happened, not to be hush hush about it too”

    With Indonesia if one looks at the. bigger picture and takes into account all the factors involved it’s plainly obvious why both countries would not want to make a big fuss over it; especially Indonesia which works rather forget it ever happened.

    Personally I think the conflict has been very underreported and I’ve always felt we should be open about it. So let’s start with an official history.

    Since we’re at it and are now under a new government as part of a “New Malaysia” (or so we’re told) let’s also openly come clean about our long involvement in the southern Philippines, come clean about everything related to
    Lahad Dato, about how we and other countries ignored the arms embargo on Bosnia (I’ve spoken to MALBATT people and Bosnians – lots of interesting stories involving creative measures), about our involvement in Yemen and about our involvement in providing assistance (limited though) to non state groups from 2 neighbouring countries; apart from the Philippines.

    We can also remind the rakyat about how the Thais (now a friendly ASEAN neighbour living in “peace and harmony” with us) administered (and plundered) the northern states in WW2 and prior to that for a long period regarded us as a vassal state; sending punitive expeditions across the border when we were late in paying tribute in the form of gold and silver.

    Let’s not be selective and be transparent; irrespective of the political impact and any other affect it will have on bilateral relations….

  27. The involvement in southern philippines and lahad dato is inter-related. Most of the sulu people involved also has malaysian citizenship and one has served in sabah government in the 70s. They are also in good terms with the previous ruling party.

    Bosnia… well we can put brunei and other muslim countries in the list to as we were the last mile delivery for many muslim country sympathisers to the bosnian cause.

    As of thailand. They are the legitimate ruler of many malay states as we are powerless to fight them. They even went as far as to attack singapore back in the days. Batu pahat got its name from siamese attacking party digging a well in the stone. If not for the british (and french in cambodia and laos) most of us would be speaking thai now, like in pattani, satun (mukim setol) and phuket (bukit or junk ceylon aka ujung salang). Kedah as a state never really a powerful one. It bacame a vassal of anyone who is powerful at the time, firstly srivijaya, to melaka then to siam, later divided by siam (lost satun, perlis, krabi, trang and phuket) due to the sultan not getting the promised help from the british.

  28. If want to bring up history then be ready to cover both side. Keep the nationalism low as we are trying to understand the situation. History is not finding who is wrong or right. It is all about national interest. You are a murderer because you killed somebody but if you can kill thousands you can be called a conqueror.

  29. ….. -“Most of the sulu people involved also has malaysian citizenship and one has served in sabah government in the 70s”

    Not true. A few figures had/have dual citizenship but most of the players – from the leadership of MILF and MNLF to the lower ranks – are not Malaysian citizens. Also, the term “Sulu” is a bit of a misnomer and not one they use; it’s mainly used by outsiders

    …. /- “as we were the last mile delivery for many muslim “

    No. We cooperated with Brunei but countries like Turkey, Iran and Saudi did their own thing and had nothing to do with us.

    …, -“They are also in good terms with the previous ruling party”

    The relationship was first with the MNLF but later shifted to the MILF. Areas bordering Sabah including Tawi-Tawi, Basilian and Jolo are traditional MNLF areas: a problem for us as our relationship with the MNLF went ratshit after we welcomed and then arrested their leader and sent him back. The MILF are mostly in the Magindanao and Cotabato areas in Mindanao proper.


    If you insist.

  30. back on the topic

    Portugal is buying Vamtac S5 armoured versions for its army

    A total of 139 vehicles, comprising 107 troop carriers, 12 special operations vehicles, 13 ambulances, and seven command post vehicles worth EUR60.8 million (USD67 million) were ordered in July 2018 by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) on behalf of the Portuguese Army under the Viatura Táctica Ligeira Blindada (VTLB or LATV) project.


    The cost is quite high for each vehicle, an average of USD482K each.

    Why I think if we need an armoured humvee-sized vehicle, it would be good to look at the J-LTV, with higher protection levels than the vamtac but for around USD342K each


    Of course the JLTV is cheaper, the U.S is buying it in the thousands.

  31. some additional info on this

    “In 2008, Malaysia’s government procurement of 85 high-mobility tactical sport utility vehicle Vamtac, set out as a mobile weapons platform. The contract worth 56.1 million ringgit. In 2010, the Government bought additional 18 Vamtac, as the 105 mm howitzer tractor. This group of 18 high-mobility military vehicles Vamtac 4X4 purchase price of 12.4 million ringgit”

    So each vamtac weapons carrier cost RM660k, each vamtac gun towers RM688k. That is about USD165k each.

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