Malaysia’s Top 5 Tanks: An Extensive Analysis Of The Nation’s Tank Fleet

From the impressive PT-91 M Pendekar main battle tank to the versatile AV8 Gempita armoured personnel carrier, each vehicle brings its own distinct capabilities to the battlefield. 

Malaysia, located in Southeast Asia, is a dynamic nation renowned for its cultural diversity, vibrant cuisine, and modern cities. Boasting a unique blend of traditional charm and technological progress, Malaysia is a prominent player in the region’s economic and cultural landscape. The article presents a comprehensive examination of the various armoured vehicles utilized by the Malaysian armed forces. From the impressive PT-91 M Pendekar main battle tank to the versatile AV8 Gempita armoured personnel carrier, each vehicle brings its distinct capabilities to the battlefield.

Malaysia’s Tanks

The PT-91M Pendekar, a variant exclusively designed for Malaysia, is derived from the Polish PT-91 Twardy tank family. Weighing approximately 48.5 tons, it is propelled by a new engine jointly developed by PZL Wola and German Renk. This engine comprises an S1000R engine with 1000 HP and an SESM Renk ESM350M driving system. The tank is equipped with a 2A46MS cannon from Slovakian Company Konstrukta Defence, an electronic stabilization system from EADS, and upgraded mechanisms for cannon elevation and turret rotation. The configuration of the front and turret armour plates has been modified. The PT-91 M differs slightly from the tanks utilized by the Polish Army. Additionally, the tank is equipped with the universal self-defence system SSP-1 Obra 3 from Industrial Optical Center, which works in conjunction with a suite of 81mm smoke grenade launchers 902A. The tank’s cannon is integrated with a 7.62mm machine gun from Belgian FN Herstal. Furthermore, the tank features a 12.7mm large-bore machine gun M2HB-QCB operated by the commander and mounted on the turret. In Southeast Asia, alongside the Leopard II tanks used by Indonesia and Singapore, the PT-91M Pendekar stands out. According to Malaysia Military Power, the PT-91M Pendekar is currently the most advanced main battle tank in the Malaysian Army and was once considered the dominant tank in Southeast Asia until the introduction of the Leopard 2 by Singapore and Indonesia. Nevertheless, in terms of overall strength, the PT-91M remains a formidable adversary on the battlefield.

The ACV-300 Adnan, a variant of the Turkish FNSS ACV-15, was developed in collaboration between FNSS and DefTech. It is equipped with a powerful 300-hp Detroit Diesel engine, similar to the ACV-15. The Adnan features advanced technology such as the KVH TacNav navigation system with GPS, a LWD Avimo laser warning device, Wegmann type 76mm grenade launchers, an NBC filtration system, and an ANVVS-2 night vision system. This fully amphibious vehicle can move in water using its tracks. The Malaysian Army variant, the ACV-300 Adnan, offers various turret options to meet individual customer requirements. It also has firing ports, allowing infantrymen to engage in combat from within the vehicle. Currently, the ACV-300 Adnan is in service with the armed forces of Malaysia. In 2000, Malaysia placed an order for 267 ACV-15 vehicles in different versions, and the first batch of 211 ACV-300 Adnan vehicles was delivered in late 2004. Out of these, 146 were assembled in Turkey and the remaining in Malaysia by DEFTECH, a subsidiary of DRB-HICOM Berhad. It is anticipated that an additional order will be placed for 66 more vehicles, equipping a total of three battalions. However, as of early 2008, no further orders had been made by Malaysia. In the 2013 Lahad Datu standoff, 12 ACV-300 tracked armoured infantry fighting vehicles were deployed against Sulu militants.

The K-200 KIFV, an amphibious personnel carrier created by Hanwha Defence (previously known as Daewoo Heavy Industries), was designed to cross shallow rivers and is based on the American Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle chassis. It was first produced in 1985 and comes equipped with a one-man turret featuring a 12.7mm M2HB machine gun and a pintle-mounted 7.62mm machine gun. The vehicle can also be fitted with a 20mm Vulcan gun, 81mm and 107mm mortars, and the Metis-M anti-tank missile system for stronger anti-infantry and anti-material firepower. The K-200 is powered by a MAN D2848T engine, producing 350 hp (261 kW) at 2,300 rpm, and has a fuel tank capacity of 400 litres (105 gallons) for 480 kilometres (298 miles) of autonomy. Malaysia has ordered 267 ACV-15 in different versions, with final deliveries of the first order for 211 ACV-300 Adnan vehicles made late in 2004. An additional order for a further batch of 66 vehicles is expected to equip a total of three battalions. In 2013, 12 ACV-300 tracked armoured infantry fighting vehicles were deployed against Sulu militants in the Lahad Datu standoff.

The AV8 Gempita, jointly developed by Malaysian company DefTech and Turkish company FNSS, is a versatile armoured vehicle with a modular design that allows for the integration of various turrets, weapons, sensors, and communication systems. It has 12 different versions, including an armoured personnel carrier, infantry fighting vehicle, tank destroyer, signals intelligence vehicle, and recovery vehicle. Its propulsion is provided by a 550 hp Deutz diesel engine, resulting in a power-to-weight ratio ranging from 18.3 HP/ton to 19.6 HP/ton, and it has an operational range of 700 km. It can be armed with either a Denel LCT30 turret featuring a 30 mm cannon, or a Sharpshooter Turret equipped with a 25 mm cannon, as well as a 7.62 mm FN Herstal MAG 58M coaxial machine gun and, in the case of the LCT30 turret, four ZT3 Ingwe anti-tank missiles.

The Tarantula HMAV, an armoured personnel carrier/mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle, was created through a collaboration between Malaysian defence company Mildef International Technologies, the Malaysian Army, and the Defence Science and Technology Research Institute (STRIDE). Introduced in 2021, the Tarantula HMAV is specifically designed to offer exceptional protection against threats encountered on the battlefield, including mines and improvised explosive devices. Equipped with a 12.7mm RCWS (Remote Controlled Weapon Station) and powered by a Caterpillar engine generating 330 horsepower, this vehicle can achieve speeds of up to 110 kilometres per hour and accommodate a maximum of ten personnel. The Tarantula HMAV has successfully met NATO’s STANAG 4569 standard for ballistic and artillery protection. With deliveries set to commence in 2024, Mildef is scheduled to supply 178 Tarantulas by August 2023.


, ACV-300 Adnan Tank, K-200 KIFV Tank, AV8 Gempita Tank, Tarantula HMAV Tank, Malaysian Army, FNSS, Defence Tech, Hanwha Defence, Sharpshooter Turret, Mildef International Technologies