Malaysia buys artillery guns, rocket system
November 27, 2000
BY M. Jeffri Razali
THE army has bought military hardware worth M$977.36 million (US$257.2 million) from South Africa and Brazil, including 22 155mm G5 medium-range artillery guns from the former.
The contract for the medium-range guns costing RM185.44 million was signed on Wednesday while the deal for the purchase of 18 Brazilian-made Astros II multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) was signed on Friday.
The signing of both contracts came after months of evaluation by the armed forces from a host of other offers.
The army's modernisation programme took a back seat in the 1990s when the Royal Malaysian Air Force and Royal Malaysian Navy took a large chunk of the budget.
In announcing this recently, Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal said the entire package of the MLRS would be delivered within the next 20 months, while the G5 artillery guns would be delivered in stages, with the first batch expected within the next 12 months.
He said the purchase was part of the ongoing process to modernise the armed forces.
"As our military procurement exercise was shelved during the economic downturn in the 1990s, we feel that the time now is right to commence with this exercise."
He said this after holding a discussion with New Zealand air force chief Air Vice-Marshall D.M. Hamilton at his office in Wisma Pertahanan.
Hamilton, on his first visit to the ministry, also called on air force chief Jen Tan Sri Ahmad Saruji Che Rose.
Capable of achieving a maximum range of 90km, the four-tube truck-mounted Astros II MLRS is currently in operation in Brazil, Croatia, Iraq, Libya, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The system, to be used by the air artillery unit, has three types of warheads: high explosive incendiary, anti-personnel and anti-material mine deployment, and airfield denial munitions capable of penetrating up to 400mm of reinforced concrete.
With the purchase, Malaysia becomes only the second Southeast Asian country to operate an MLRS system, the other being Thailand, which operates the system produced by Norinco of China.
The G5 155mm medium-range artillery guns are capable of hitting a target up to 39km away.
Emphasising that the procurement was not aimed at creating an arms race or to intimidate other countries, Shafie said it was to modernise the army.
"Other countries should not be unduly worried as this exercise is part of an ongoing process to establish a credible force with sufficient deterrent power, not for aggression.
"We feel that the time has come for us to modernise our force, and this is what we are doing."
On his meeting with Hamilton, Shafie said both parties touched on various matters pertaining to bilateral military issues, including joint training and exercises.
"I am happy to say that our relations with New Zealand have been good, by virtue of us being a member of the Five-Power Defence Arrangement pact."
Besides New Zealand and Malaysia, the other FPDA member
countries are Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom.