Asian armour advances
In the past decade we have seen a gradual increase in the capability of manufacturers in Asia to build more advanced armoured vehicles domestically and build up their armour capability through indigenous and foreign sources.
While Asia has lagged behind a bit when developing its own armour, largely because the terrain does not lend itself to heavy vehicles, it is recognised that even in small numbers, modern armoured units equipped with tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles represent the mainstay of any military security force.
Some countries such as China, South Korea and Japan have had armoured vehicle production facilities for some time but now the rest are slowly catching up in partnership with industry overseas.
Tracked vehicles are the hardest to design and build, largely due to their complexity, and as they are so expensive a country has to properly fund a good number of them at the serial production stage to make it worthwhile. For wheeled vehicles the larger 8×8 infantry fighting vehicles are again more complex and more expensive than 6×6 or 4x4s, so these are the markers that can identify the level at which a country has reached with its indigenous capability.
Singapore is at the forefront of countries developing armoured vehicles both tracked and wheeled, whilst Taiwan is also on the cusp of breaking into new territory with an 8×8 armoured vehicle family.
Malaysia is moving from the assembly of tracked vehicles from Turkey and purchase of tanks from Poland to actually developing an APC/IFV capability with the AV8 design through local producer DRB-Hircom with FNSS providing technology transfer and technical assistance.
Malaysia also has plans to purchase more tanks from overseas to create a second tank regiment. Regional rivals Singapore and Indonesia have both acquired Leopard tanks from Germany and this has put the pressure on Malaysia to secure more tanks to add to its force of 48 PT-91M (a variant of Russia’s T-72).
However, unless Kuala Lumpur follows the same route as its rivals and buys its own variant of the Leopard from spare European stocks, it is unclear what other options there are as most tank production lines have since stopped.
See the latest Land Warfare International for more.