Malaysia reviews planned acquisition of new self-propelled howitzers
April 21, 2023
Citing information published by the "Asia Pacific Defense Journal", the Malaysian Ministry of Defence has reportedly reviewed its planned acquisition of Turkish-made Yavuz 155mm self-propelled howitzers manufactured by the Defense Company Makina ve Kimya Endustrisi (MKE). For several years now, the Malaysian armed forces have launched a modernization plan with the acquisition of patrol aircraft and self-propelled howitzers.
Initially, it was reported that the project had been canceled. However, Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Utama Mohamad Hasan denied that the project had been fully terminated, stating that it was under review due to being negotiated by the previous government administration.
Over the past three decades, modernization programs have resulted in limited external defense capabilities for the Malaysian armed forces. However, the army continues to remain the primary service, reflecting a long-standing but outdated focus on counter-insurgency.
In December 2019, the previous government introduced the country's first-ever defense white paper, which identified the three pillars of Malaysia's defense strategy as concentric deterrence, comprehensive defense, and credible partnerships. These pillars encompass the armed forces' role in safeguarding national interests across different zones, as well as whole-of-government and whole-of-society support for the national defense effort, and engagement in regional and international defense cooperation. The paper highlighted new defense challenges, such as cyber threats and tensions in the South China Sea, but did not provide any detailed insights into future resource allocation or capability development. Nonetheless, budgetary constraints are expected to continue limiting defense resources.
As per a written response, the Ministry of Finance has decided to cancel the intended purchase of self-propelled howitzer systems. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Defense is continuing discussions about the project's implementation via a Government-to-Government approach. Malaysia plans to purchase 16 to 19 wheeled self-propelled howitzers.
In March 2022, Malaysia announced the acquisition of 18 105mm LG1 Mk III light towed, artillery systems produced by the French company Nexter Systems. With the announcement of the revival of the Wheeled Howitzer acquisition project, French company Nexter could return with its CAESAR howitzer.
In September 2022, the Army Recognition editorial team reported that Slovakia was in negotiation with Malaysia to offer its EVA 155mm wheeled self-propelled artillery system.
Currently, the Malaysian army does not have self-propelled howitzers and is only equipped with 140 towed howitzers including 18 French-made LG1 MkIII, 100 Italian Model 56 pack howitzers, and 22 South African G-5 155mm towed guns.
A wheeled self-propelled howitzer would provide the Malaysian Army with a highly mobile artillery system that can rapidly deploy to different locations and provide direct and indirect fire support to ground forces. Compared to towed artillery, a self-propelled howitzer is more maneuverable and can provide a faster response to changing tactical situations.