Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Utusan Malaysia, Friday 21, 2009 featured a report 'SME Ordnance to invest RM36 million to develop weapons'. The report states that the investment is planned for 2010 and 2011 for the procurement of new machinery and production of the Colt M4 Carbine, that is planned to be in service with the army, and hopefully with other government security agencies as well. It was also reported that the first lot of 14,000 pieces of the weapon (fully assembled from the US) have been supplied to the Malaysian army last year (2009). The Malaysian army is presently equipped with the Austrian designed Steyr assault rifle (produced under license to SME Ordnance) that came into service in 1991, replacing the popular Colt M16 A1 assault rifle.

Questions have been raised as to why is there a need to replace the Steyr assault rifle, whose design is not declared obsolescence and can be used for many more years. Why go back to the same weapon system that was use by the army before? How was the decision to change reached? Was it made out of a professional imperative or was it a business imperative? I personally think it was the latter.

The M4 Carbine shares almost the same mechanical features as the M16 A1 assault rifle; the only difference being that the former uses a much shorter barrel, built with a retractable butt, and is lighter in weight. These differences does not in any way make the M4 Carbine a much superior weapon than the M16 A1 assault rifle. On the contrary, the M16 A1 assault rifle is said to outmatch the M4 Carbine in terms of accuracy and range. Logic has it that the length of barrel and weight are key factors that contributes towards better accuracy and range.

The Australian army was equipped with a similar Steyr assault rifle a few years earlier than did the Malaysian army. But the Australian through its Australian Defence Industries (DSI), were intelligent enough to undertake research and development and came up with the F88 Austeyr assault rifle; a modified version of the Steyr assault rifle, that subsequently became the Australian army's standard rifle.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) had used the Colt M16 and Armalite AR 15 since the 1970s (about the same period as the Malaysian army), and in 1976, Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS) undertook the development of its first indigenously designed SAR 80 assault rifle; both for export and domestic use. The SAR 80 closely resembled the Armalite AR 15.

In 1996, CIS began developing the SAR 21 as a replacement to the locally licensed-built M16S1. After four years of R&D, the newly designed SAR 21 (a bullpup version) was subsequently adopted as a standard assault rifle for the SAF, as well as by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and Sri Lanka Air Force Regiment.

Further to the questions that I'd raised above, where have we gone wrong in not being able to develop our own indigenous assault rifle? After more than 15 years of producing the Steyr assault rifle, why is SME Ordnance unable to produce its very own version of an assault rifle, in a way similar to that of CIS and ADI. And by favouring the M4, supposedly as a replacement for the Steyr, are we sure that the lessons of the Steyr will not be repeated? Are we so confident that the US State Department and Colt will allow SME Ordnance to produce the M4 for export sale at a later date?

Personally, I do not believe the US State Department or Colt will ever allow us to produce for export sale; and where does that lead us, except to go for another weapon system, and not another Steyr hopefully. This was plainly the reason why Singapore had rightly, and wisely so, decided to produce its own weapons. And are we not going to learn from the Singapore experience?



Major (Rtd) D.Swami said...

They are acquiring the M4A2 which is much superior to the M16A1, which is of an older generation. I have used the M4A2 back in 1994 during cross training with the US Special Forces, it is a weapon that would be an infantry man's dream. Whilst on rifles, have you seen the Israeli Tavor, which is much more advanced than the M4A2.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Swami,

Agreed. While I was in PULADA in 1987, we had the opportunity to do a user's trail on the M16A2. It is a fantastic weapon, but we chose the Steyr instead.

Kamal Sanusi said...

Salam Dato'

No wonder 1Malaysia has lot of shopping campaigns in which our ministers have no other work except shopping and shopping namely on military procurement.

The way I look at it is merely business which could be translated into making money for their own.

Is it okey for me to say that when all prices are stepping up, BN should step down?

Kah kah kah!!!...

Capt's Longhouse said...


,,,UMNO methodology in gaining party funding ?. This 'Ali-Baba' must come to a stop somehow and the rakyat has matured finally.
,,,more education and awareness from responsible individuals/parties is indeed the way forward.
,,,specific cases should be highlighted to the nation and the end result will be determined by voters in next election process.
,,,The END game !!..for a new beginning ??..hope to live the day.

Capt's Longhouse said...

,,,Somehow I still prefer the SLR (Self Loading Rifle) and is known for is straightforward field stripping and robust nature. The L1A1 is the British version of the Belgian FN FAL rifle. The L1A1 is a reliable, hard-hitting, gas-operated, magazine-fed semi-automatic rifle.
,,,Its in the bullet that counts and the 7.62 mm is a real killer.

Magenta Comm said...

Salam Dato' Arshad,

I just came back after seeing Tan Si Datuk Air Vice Marshal Sulaiman Sujak (Retired)and I did talk about image building since the F5E saga has tarnished the credibility of the RMAF in particular. Tan Sri did mention that how visible could the Air Force be. Alas damage has been done and how can it be undone.


I tend to agree with Maurice that you have to start somewhere and it's not for the sake of the military alone but the rakyat at large.

We have to zoom either micro or macro immaterial. In the military we have the lip service attitude. Washing hands.All the military jargons can be painful to be discerned and we have to be brave enough just to quote Watergate Scandal as the past century event that toppled Nixon from the White House, that will us different breed of thinking species.

Ramli Abdul Rahim

Major (Rtd) D.Swami said...

The Steyr's were a sad story. The initial rounds we were issued with were only suitable for the M16A1. Alot of stoppages and chipping at the ejection port occurred. When we went for an exercise in Australia, 'Southern Tiger' we were issued with SS107 rounds which were compatible with the Steyr. One round of that round even hitting one's thigh was fatal. It's stopping power was good. The sights too were screwed up, instead of having a line across like a screw to be adjusted they had two holes, when adjusting, they got damaged, unlike the ones the Aussies had. The biggest shit of all were the sights, instead of cross hairs they had a circle. Tell me where would the aiming point be in a circle? What clowns came up with that idea. Talking about sniper rifles, I once asked the Director of Infantry for sniper rifles to be fitted with suppressors, he answered with an adamant, no. It is amazing the calibre of officers we had. The friggin Director of Infantry had no idea of the dangers faced by a sniper. The rounds issued for the sniper rifles were LMG rounds, what a pathetic disgrace! We managed to acquire 'match' rounds, which were specially made for sniper rifles with a higher grain content and were more accurate. Dato, most of the higher ups in Mindef are pen pushers. The good ones have left the service.

feitosa said...

most of the higher ups in Mindef are pen pushers. The good ones have left the service.

Setuju...ada yg bagus tetapi banyak yg tak bagus...haha

2Lt Peh Hoo Guan said...

In my ROTU training before, there was no AUG steyr weapon module in our training module. But last time, my batch was very lucky to get a chance to fire Steyr AUG during our target practice apart from Colt M16A1. Our first impression was like so cool to have an opportunity to fire steyr (maklumlah, steyr ni senjata untuk askar regular jer, maka riak lah budak2 kadet askar susu ini dapat tembak steyr). The design was so smart, it’s far more shorter than our M16 A1, the size is compact, although it’s heavier than M16, steyr’s very ergonomic and we can point the rifle forward with our arms straighten forward easily and the 1.5 X scope is very nice too. I felt so proud to see the SME logo and “ Made In Malaysia” stamped on Steyr’s butt stock.

Until our live firing then we know how “cool” the weapon is… most of us got stoppages on our weapons even we have just fired 5-10 rounds. Some of the steyr’s actually got the recoil spring broken. My steyr couldn’t be cocked at all after I fired 1 mags of 20 rounds of 5.56 mm rounds.

Wonder if the 5.56 rounds used for steyr was actually the same type as for the M16. Because even both the weapon have the same caliber, the type of ammunitions used are different. For example, M16A2, M4 and Minimi used M885 balls whereas M16A1 used the older M193 balls. Minimi can use M193 but the accuracy is degraded. If we are serious on using M4, then we have to ensure that M885 5.56 are supplied as well, not the old M193 for M16, and the most important is, using the original high quality parts.

Another aspect to be given attention is, try to study the effect of local temperature and environmental surrounding on the effect of foreign designed weapons and there should be modification made to suit the weapon for local use. Including the minyak senjata that's "not so important".

komando said...

We can only produce Belacan and Tempoyak..

The top leaders cannot be told what to do, they are the smartest guys on planet earth.

They know what is best for us they buy we use and we get blown off, period!

Period - just a waste of farking time talking to them!

My take is to change the current crop of clowns and goons and hope for the best, I use the word hope becos they could be even worst!

askarsusu said...

Dato',Sir,Gtlmen n Brader,
I have anticipated the problems of styers since it accepted in the service.. at least HK 5.56mm is better off.. M16 is friendly to the infantry wallas...next again the PT91M will end like JERNAS... do you all know that the company in austrian wanted to summons present company that assembles stayer on certain issue? now the same company will only change the name n bring the plants to assemble M4 to make the same cronies more richer.. think about it.. Like what Bro Pendita propose (but it been modified a bit... hehehe)We don't have much choice... Who do we want for the future leaders in our organization to be selected as the right person to lead this noble organization... Let's start with the Army.. Who vote ZZ? who vote Pak Latip, Who vote Pak Raja? Who vote Pak Hasbullah? Who vote Pak Zul Zainal? and I think Pak Acbal Air Forces is doing a good job that leads to the discovery of the wrong doing in MLU..... BELAJAR BERKHIDMAT

Capt's Longhouse said...

,,,just re-issue the old faithful SLR rifles and we are back as a fighting force indeed, not unless someone had sold/stolen it away too ?.
,,,mind you an enemy behind a coconut tree ,just 25 feet away could still be hit with the 7.62 mm bullets from an SLR. Can you beat that ?.
,,,you can actually kill an elephant with the SLR, just with one shot between its eyes and ear. Don't you ever try that out with the rest !.

askarsusu said...

Capt Bro,
askar skg pendek2 tak larat bawa SLR.. hehehe .. caliber wise mmg betul bagus.. baik pakai senjata yang dicipta oleh Sjn kalasnikof lagi rugged, tapi M16 mmg the best lah.. tak banyak kerenah n mesra alam... hehehe..

askarsusu said...

best M16 kurang masalah dalam handling... boleh buat tongkat, ringan, and boleh buat alas tido gak bro... M4 ni besok optical side jahanam jenuh nak buat BOI..hehehe.. open side pun ok janji tak de masalah... lepas tu satu hal lagi kawad pun nak kena ubah.. apa lah pandai sangat askar kita ni kan.. asik ubah aje.. semua nak tinggalkan legacy masing-masing.. mcm ari tu bro tengok ah.. sultan selangor pun pandai komen apa teruk sangat askar ni sampai peg panji2 pun perempuan bawa..lepas tu bangga dengan perubahan.. tak malu ke sultan pun tau regimental gak...

xpara87 said...

M16 zaman insurgensi memang bagus,
setuju dengan askarsusu.Terbukti ianya memang lasak. Boleh tanya Maj(rtd) DSWAMI.

Tukar senjata maka tukar cara berkawat.

Styer memang kokak.

Capt's Longhouse said...

,,,the AK47 was proven as a better rifle than the M16 in Vietnam.
,,,Many battle incidents or losses were contributed to poor M16 serviceability too as officially reported by the US marines in Vietnam from what I gathered too.
,,,In fact, I trusted the SLR more than the M16 when it was introduced during my time.
,,,The CTs were bloody effective with their AK47 against our choppers too. Geeee !! bloody hell.

samson said...

"Somehow I still prefer the SLR (Self Loading Rifle) and is known for is straightforward field stripping and robust nature. The L1A1 is the British version of the Belgian FN FAL rifle. The L1A1 is a reliable, hard-hitting, gas-operated, magazine-fed semi-automatic rifle.
,,,Its in the bullet that counts and the 7.62 mm is a real killer."

'Satu peluru, Satu Musuh'..nowaday, people like the AK for its auto mode..20 bullets to kill someone :) Yah, the SLR still the best for stopping power, no amount of body amour is enuff.

Our MOF is on a spending spree again..with our money.

komando said...

Spend to make money lor

Next GE round the corner

blank said...

Dear Dato and friends,

I am a retired officer who was part of the field research team in PULADA that undertook the evaluation of the project to find a replacement for the M16. I was a SO3 in the evaluation team led by none other than the eventual PTD, Gen Mohd Sharom.

Normally, we are not told of the reasons for any evaluation. Our job is to conduct "field & user trials" on weapons/equipments send for evaluation. We also work in close coordination with the Defence Research Centre in KL for any technical expertise.

To the best of my knowledge, I came to find that the project had commercial interest under the expanding HICOM defence industries umbrella. Hence, it's not difficult to see that it had a dual purpose - to serve the MAF needs and to tap the export market. I am sure this makes acceptable sense from a national economic perspective.

You must understand that at that time, no assault rifle could match the Vietnam tested M16. (let's just postpone the debate between AK 47 and M16 ;) Unfortunately, however, Colt industries was not keen to license the production outside Korea. And, that was how we ended up with the project.

There 4 weapons shortlisted for evaluation - Steyr (Austria),Famas(French), FNC (belgium) and HK (Germany). The SAR (Singapore) and Enfield (UK) did not participate for obvious reasons!

It was also the first time in their history, the Police were asked to conduct their own independent trial on the same weapons. Since it was their first time, they virtualy piggy-bagged our entire research methodology.

Let me reveal that at the end of the trial the Steyr, if not mistaken, came out tops in 9 out of 12 tests, including on accuracy. Hence, the steyr won hands down compared to its nearest rival the FNC, followed by HK and FAMAS.

The steyr also made top ranking by the DRC in the robust and intensive technical trials. The only one to differ was police who went for the HK!.

The final results and recommendation was presented to high profile audience - both uniform and civilian in Mindef, recommending the Steyr.

Now, I would like to defend the Steyr and offer some counter argument against it's cristicism.

We must compare apple with apple. The steyr had many unique features, formeost being the multipurpose role that no other weapon offered. The barrel was interchangable for standard, carbine and LMG roles. It also had telescopic sights, which is a far better option than the aperture sights on the M16, at that time. The hairline cross did not prove to be a vital criteria for it's "assault" function. Of course, it is definately not good for sniper role, which would require many times more magnification than what you find in the Steyr.

There are many reasons why a weapon experiences stoppages. It could be uneven gas distribution, faulty coil or breach function and as claimed, the dimensional size or gun power mixture in bullet. Yes, there is definately a lot of difference between M193 and M885 balls. We tested both M193 and M885on the original Steyr weapons brought for the trials and had no problem.

I cannot avouch for the quality of the current batch of "Malaysian" made steyr or bullets in service. But let us not be "trigger happy" in writing off the Steyr without substantive and valid evidence of it's ominuous failure and in calling for it's substitution.

I am still not hearing what the real technical problem is?. Perhaps, we could take a trip down under and learn how we could effect improvement to design and performance features.

F said...

Not surprising, no one in the government or opposition has bothered to explain just what advantages the M4 will offer over the present Steyr. The fact is, unless the goverment is prepared to fork out thousands per rifle to purchase decent sights, the M4 is going to be no more efficient at killing at hitting targets than the Steyr.

Whether its the Steyr or M4 what concerns me is if the average infantryman in the battalions are spending enough time at shooting ranges, firing of live rounds. Not only do our troops not get to fire live rounds regularly for practice, they continue to be issued with sub-standard webbing and lack other essentials like body armour and night vision.