Earlier this week, we received renewed suggestions about the extent of progress underway with respect to a Malaysia artillery deal with France. The deal highlighted one of the aspects of Malaysia’s ongoing efforts to develop its defense capabilities to address a wide range of security challenges.
Despite continued investments in its military capabilities, Malaysia continues to face challenges with respect to some of its key platforms. Addressing these challenges continues to be a priority for the Malaysian government, including through the release of documents such as the defense white paper last year, which sets out areas of emphasis over the next decade.
One of the deals in this respect was for artillery systems ordered from France. Malaysia had ordered 18 105 mm LG1 light towed artillery systems from French defense company Nexter back in 2018, with the contract signed in April at the Defense Services Asia exhibition in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. The contract had included the supply of fully digitized 105 LG1 Mk III Light Guns, the BACARA compact portable ballistic computer, and a first batch of 105 mm high-explosive, base-bleed, extended-range G3 ammunition.
While the initial deal had been set for completion for early 2020, deliveries it had encountered delays amid various considerations, including a government change following a shock May 2018 Malaysian elections that saw a review of some of the defense deals that had been signed during the administration of premier Najib Razak. As a result, the contract for the LGI howitzers was only reapproved earlier this year following the review.
Earlier this week, we saw a sign that the deal continued to be moving through despite these previous delays. Per a Malaysian defense official, the first few of the systems arrived last month and are currently being assembled before being delivered.
The first six of the 16 artillery systems were delivered in kit form in early February to Nexter’s Malaysian partner, Advanced Defence Systems (ADS), are currently being assembled in the southern state of Johor ahead of delivery to the Malaysian Army, a defense official told IHS Jane’s on March 9.
With the first few systems now having been delivered, the focus will shift on when the remaining ones will be and when the deal will be completed. As of now, per IHS Jane’s, the remaining 12 guns are set to be delivered to ADS in two separate batches later this year. The LG1 howitzers will be operated by the Malaysian Army’s 1st Royal Artillery Regiment, which currently fields Oto Melara Model 56 105 mm pack howitzers.