Malaysian Army in DIY Mode to Repair PT-91M Pendekar Tanks as Polish Spares Supply Stops

The Malaysian Army has significant issues in maintaining its fleet of 48 PT-91M Pendekar tanks purchased from Poland, as the original manufacturer, Bumar Laberdy, has stopped supplying spare parts. With essential components such as gearboxes and firing control systems requiring repairs, Malaysia has formed a joint committee to address these concerns and investigate self-reliance in sustaining these critical offensive assets.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

The Malaysian Army has had trouble repairing the PT-91M Pendekar tanks it purchased from Poland.

According to a parliamentary document, the military department has launched a program to refurbish its tank fleet. However, it underlines that this move creates concerns because the Polish company, the original equipment manufacturer Bumar Laberdy, has stopped producing spare parts for them.

Former Deputy Defense Minister Ikmal Hisham stated that the vehicles had problems on the battlefield during the Russian-Ukraine conflict. According to him, two tanks have been successfully restored using their own skills, reducing reliance on original equipment manufacturers and addressing the issue of the discontinuance of some critical component production.

Repairs are required for the RENK transmission, electronic components of the laser rangefinder, and firing control system. Malaysia has established a joint investigation committee to examine several key concerns concerning the PT-91M main battle tank fleet. This group includes equipment operators and contractors’ representatives who provide maintenance and spare parts for these tanks.

The Malaysian Army has a fleet of 48 PT-91M tanks, which were provided by the Polish manufacturer PHZ Bumar between 2007 and 2011.

The 11th Royal Armored Corps of the Malaysian Army operates all 48 units, which are stationed in Negeri Sembilan state.

The Malaysian Defense Minister states that these Pendekar tanks are offensive assets critical for the country’s defense and provide deterrence during territorial defense.

The PT-91, adapted to meet the Malaysian Army’s requirements (hence the letter “M” in the index and the name Pendekar, (or Warrior in English)), is a deep modernization of the licensed copy (manufactured from 1995 to 2002) of the Soviet T-72M1 tank. In Poland, it is called PT-91 Twardy. The Malaysian version of the main battle tank features a monoblock power plant comprising a PZL-Wola S-1000R engine with a 1000 hp output and a Renk automatic transmission, known as the SESM/Renk ESM 350. It incorporates motion control with a steering wheel, a Sagem Savan 15 control system, and a Sagem VIGY 15 commander’s panoramic sight. Additionally, it is equipped with a laser gyroscopic guidance system, a ground navigation system called Sagem SIGMA 30, and a 2A46MS tank gun. The PT-91M Pendekar’s armament also includes a 7.62 mm FN MAG machine gun, a 12.7 mm Browning M2 machine gun, and an Obra-3 electro-optical active protection complex against high-precision weapons. It features a Thales communication system and an ERAWA 3 remote sensing system and utilizes Type 570P tracks manufactured by Diehl Remscheid GmbH.

In 2016, a French division of the German business, Renk, which specializes in transmissions, proposed to modify the power plant of the PT-91 main battle tank, which the Malaysian Army purchased from Poland.

According to Malaysian news, PENDĒKAR has greater mobility, firepower, and armored protection suitable for the country’s terrain. The emphasis is on Slovak-made 125mm Smoothbore 2A46MS guns, which have a 23 percent increase in shooting accuracy over the original cannon, the Soviet 2A46M.

The Slovak gun’s shooting range is 4 kilometers. According to the Asian press, it can destroy all types of tanks and armored vehicles.

The agreement to sell PT-91M MBTs to the Malaysian Army was reached following a tender held in 2002. The tender included participants from Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Russia offered the T-90S tank, and Ukraine proposed the T-84 MBT.

Bumar signed a contract with the Malaysian Ministry of Defense on April 11, 2003, to supply 48 PT-91M tanks, 6 WZT-4 technical support vehicles, five armored bridge layers “PMC-Leguan,” 3 engineering vehicles “MID-M,” spare parts, and training equipment, such as the “Beskid-2” gunner training simulator, the SJ-08 fire control station, and the crew training stand for the gun loading system. The contract was worth around 1.4 billion ringgit ($380 million).

Production of the PT-91M began in 2005. The handover of tanks to the Malaysian Army was supposed to be completed by the end of 2006, but due to transmission and engine integration issues, delivery did not begin until February 2008.

During the induction, the media reported that 42 PT-91M MBTs had been assigned to the 11th Armored Regiment’s three battalions, with the remaining six being utilized for crew training and maintained in reserve.

The Polish company had announced that it was negotiating with the Malaysian Ministry of Defense to purchase additional tanks. General Datuk Zulkifeli Bin Mohd Zin, the then-commander of the Malaysian Army, stated that the leadership was considering turning the 1st Infantry Brigade into an armored brigade and absorbing the 11th Armored Regiment. However, a decision on whether to organize a second tank regiment and order more tanks had not been reached.


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