Merdeka 2017: Malaysia’s Small Arms Arsenal On Parade

Irfan Z. is a long time friend of TFB, and has contributed tips about various subjects, particularly within Southeast Asia. This is his first guest post entirely written by him, for TFB.

Malaysia has just completed Independence Day 2017 celebrations and just like every other nation in the region, there was a colorful parade that showed off the countries local culture, innovation, and most interestingly for many of us, their small arms. Many of the local law enforcement and military units marched past carrying their issued weapons.

Most prominent and I hear it’s a favorite here due to the color of their head dress were the PASKAL (Pasukan Khas Laut, Naval special forces) with their magenta berets. This year they were displaying their HK416s equipped with the HK AG36 40mm grenade launchers (more commonly known as the M320), Aimpoint M4S reflex sight and Brugger & Thomet Rotex III compact suppressor. Missing this year are the multiple variants of the HK XM8 that they usually display. In the photograph above, the rest of the naval contingent that is marching in front of the PASKAL forces in their own pixelated camouflage uniforms are carrying the locally manufactured and licensed produced Colt M4 rifles by SME Ordnance.

This year’s uniformity looks much more pleasing as compared to last year’s display of almost all the small arms they had in one contingent as shown in the photo above.

Trailing behind the main naval contingent is a small group of PASKAL troopers on their RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat). It has a mounted FN Mag machine gun mounted up front to engage pirates or other seaborne targets when they are deployed to intercept them.

Pictured above is the Police VAT69 (“Very Able Troopers ’69”) commandos. They were first formed in 1969 as an anti-communist terrorist unit and modeled after 22nd SAS Regiment. They are parading on top of their Streit Cobra APC which is an up armored Toyota Land Cruiser. Seen here they are equipped with the locally manufactured Colt APC carbines. Some are issued the Trijicon TA31 ACOGs and some have the Eotech 552 holographic sights. They’re also donning their new ranger green uniforms manufactured by OPS and distributed by Ur-Tactical of Hong Kong. Their plate carriers are from an obscure manufacturer that I am unable to identify, but from the size of their magazine pouches I am willing to bet that it’s meant to be used with many different magazine sizes of larger calibers.

Urban areas are usually the territory of another unit called the UTK (Unit Tindakan Khas, Special Actions Unit). Unfortunately, their customized Ferfrans Soar P rifles are not visible in the photograph.

Their Soar P Carbines are even laser etched with their Insignia. Seen here with an Aimpoint T1, Aimpoint 3x magnifier and a Streamlight TLR-2 flashlight with laser.

Unlike the UTK and Vat69 Commandos which are under the PGK (Pasukan Gerak Khas, Special Operations Command) umbrella of the Malaysian Police Force, there are three other task force groups that operate directly from their headquarters in Bukit Aman. These are the STING (Special Tactics and Intelligence Narcotics group), STAFOC (Special Task Force on Organized Crime) and STAGG (Special Task force for Anti-vice Gambling and Gangsterism). These new groups marching can be seen to be equipped with the CZ Scorpion Evo3 A1 submachine gun and Bushmaster Carbon 15 9mm carbine.

The Royal Malaysia Air Force’s PASKAU(Pasukan Khas Udara) contingent this year is easily identifiable by their bright blue berets and are parading their Milkor M32 MGL grenade launchers and Swiss Arms SG 553 with the Eotech 552 and magnifier attached. The ones clad in black apparel and gear are carrying the HK MP5A5 with an Aimpoint Pro attached. Seen next to the black clad Paskau members are those from their sniper platoon. They’re dressed in their ghillie suits and are armed with the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Rifles.

Next up is the Malaysian Army contingent. This is by far one of the larger contingents mainly due to the amount of ground based hardware they have. From the LipanBara HMAVs (High mobility Armored Vehicle) by Deftech with a turret mounted DillonAero M134 minigun to their Polish made PT-91M Pendekar Main Battle tank with a 125mm main gun and a secondary FN MAG machine gun.

Marching behind them are the infantrymen donning their older woodland type camouflage dubbed Harimau Belang (Tiger stripe) still carrying the older locally manufactured Steyr AUG rifles. These are being replaced by the newer Colt M4s by SME Ordnance. Just after them like a show of contrast between an older equipped unit and a recently commissioned unit is the 7th RRP (Rejimen Renjer Di raja Mek, Mechanized Ranger Regiment). These soldiers are wearing the newer digital camouflage pattern. Their helmets are a recent acquisition that is a copy of the Ops-core Fast line of ballistic helmets. The manufacturer of these helmets even included a copy of the ballistic side protection that Ops-core originally manufactures. These mechanized Rangers carry the Colt M4s that replaced the Steyr AUGs. You can’t help but notice the progression in terms of equipment that the army infantrymen have made since the 1990s.

The unit that comes after them is the Army’s 10th Paratrooper Brigade. They are easily identifiable by their maroon berets. Right up front you can see their first line of troops wearing their field uniform and carrying an assortment of weapons. The one nearest to the camera is carrying an Accuracy International Arctic Warfare rifle and has a Colt M4 strapped to his field pack. He also has a pistol in a drop leg holster on his right thigh. Down the line you see some are carrying the Colt M4s with Aimpoint Comp M4 and a flip to the side mounted Aimpoint 3X magnifier. Further up is a trooper carrying the Colt M4 with the M203 underslung grenade launcher and FN Minimi Para light machine gun with a 200 round drum. Strapped behind them on their field packs are Spanish made Instalaza C90-CR disposable rocket propelled grenade launchers. Next in line seems to be a platoon that is donning a light ghillie or as some might call it a combat ghillie. It’s similar to wearing a hooded sweater and only covers the top half of the body. They too are seen here carrying the same array of weapons as the first line of troops. Curiously, the soldier closest to the camera is carrying both an Accuracy International AW rifle and an Instalaza C90-CR. Granted this may only be for the parade and not for when they’re deployed.

Behind this line is sniper platoon with Barrett M82 Anti-Materiel rifles. These soldiers are wearing the complete ghillie suit and interestingly enough are issued different colored boots as well. There seem to be 2 different variants of ghillie suits that they are issued. A heavier all encompassing suit that is darker in color and a lighter suit that seems to leave the front of the pants uncovered worn by the closest and farthest soldier in that line.

After the sniper platoon, the Paras have a line of their soldiers in their HALO/HAHO (High Altitude Low Opening/ High Altitude High Opening) gear. These soldiers like most of the rest are also carrying the Colt M4s.

You can always count on Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries to put their arsenal on display during these kinds of annual parades. This makes it easy to track their defense development programs. With the recent terrorist attacks in Marawi, Malaysia is equipping its forces with newer and better small arms in order to be prepared for any eventualities within the countries shores.

 

Photographs belong to Norzaidi Sham and Opie Harris.



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Brett baker

    Can’t wait to see what US sof adopts the magneta beret. More articles from this guy.

    • Anonymoose

      Army Airborne and Pararescue wear maroon berets.

    • Anonymoose

      Marine Raiders, perhaps?

  • Michael Boudreaux

    In the photo with the 10th paratroop brigade, the soldier holding the AI rifle doesn’t have a C90-CR as stated in the article. It’s just an optical illusion as its the guy behind him with the ghillie who has it. just a clarification.

    • B-Sabre

      Nope. there’s a guy in the -09 photo (far right) who, like the guy in the -08 photo, clearly has a carbine strapped to their pack while also carrying the AI rifle. and you see it again (soldier just right of center foreground) in IMG-7243 who is clearly carrying a sniper rifle and strapping a carbine.

      • Michael Boudreaux

        The c90-cr is a rocket launcher not a carbine

    • Irfan Zain

      That’s correct the guy closest to the camera was carrying a colt m4 strapped to his field pack. It’s the guys down the line that are carrying the C90-CR

      • Michael Boudreaux

        Ah I see who you’re talking about now. The comment was in a paragraph below the photo i was looking at which seems like how all the photos were done. Didn’t realize it was for the photo below.

  • Vhyrus

    Why doesn’t America do military parades? Are we too busy bombing other countries to put one on?

    • Mack Greer

      Military Parades as opposed to military participation in Parades strikes most of us as out of the American character. Far as bombing folks leave us alone we leave you alone.

    • bernardg

      Not their character. But they do held plenty of public demonstrations. Like the annual Special Operation Forces Demo at Tampa Bay.

    • joe tusgadaro

      They had one after the 91 Gulf war…

    • Jeez Louise

      Military parades seem to be more for show. America doesn’t need to parade their force, they let their military track record speak for itself.

  • neoritter

    I can’t unsee it now, but in the zaidi17-09 picture; is the flag pole coming out of his crotch?

    • RavishedBoy

      Just a pocket to better stand the weight of the pole.

    • Anonymoose

      He had an unfortunate accident so they gave him a metal replacement for what he lost.

  • tony

    Their SF guys like HK

    • Anonymoose

      Needs more fishgun.

  • cons2p8ted

    “Gangsterism”…even that label sounds GANGSTA!

    • mig1nc

      Sounds like a rap album title.

  • Jeez Louise

    How nice. Do Malaysian citizens enjoy civilian gun ownership like their neighbors Thailand and the Philippines? Or are they an oppressed population?

    • Irfan Zain

      Firearm ownership is very much controlled. You would need to justify the need for ownership. The process is a pretty long one too.

  • mig1nc

    I just came for the XM8. Leaving unfulfilled 🙁

  • Mr._Exterminatus

    They really like berets.