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Malaysia investigates ‘critical problems' plaguing fleet of PT-91M tanks

A Malaysian Army PT-91M main battle tank. The country has begun investigations into “critical problems” plaguing the fleet, including issues with the vehicle's transmission and fire-control systems. (Malaysia Ministry of Defence)

Malaysia has formed a joint investigation team to rectify a list of “critical problems” that plague the country's fleet of PT-91M ‘Pendekar' main battle tanks (MBTs).

This team comprises operators of the equipment and representatives from the contractor that supplies maintenance services and spare parts to these tanks, Minister of Defence of Malaysia Mohamed Khaled Nordin disclosed on 25 March in his response to a parliamentary question.

The question was raised by a member of parliament for Tanah Merah, Ikmal Hisham Bin Abdul Aziz, who posited that a supplier of these spare parts, Bumar-Łabędy of Poland, no longer produces certain components related to the PT-90M. He also highlighted the MBT's “poor performance” in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine as a concern.

The Malaysian Army operates a fleet of 48 PT-91M MBTs, and the vehicles were delivered by Poland's PHZ Bumar between 2007 and 2011. All 48 units are in service with the Malaysian Army's 11 Royal Armoured Corps and are based at the Syed Sirajuddin Camp in Gemas in the state of Negeri Sembilan, said the minister in his reply.

“These Pendekar tanks are offensive assets that are important for the country's defence and provide deterrence in defending the land,” said Mohamed Khaled.

“To ensure that the Pendekar tanks are able to function in operational taskings and exercises, the Malaysian government has awarded a contract for the provision of maintenance services and spare parts that utilise local expertise, reducing our reliance on the original equipment manufacturer and vulnerability to components that are no longer in production,” he added.

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