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Armored Cars: MILDEF Tarantula

September 30, 2021

Military innovation is thriving in Southeast Asia albeit on a smaller and less noticeable scale than other parts of the world. The results are far from secret but these still need to be scrutinized for understanding their intended purpose. When it comes to new armored vehicles the governments of the ASEAN regional grouping understand that internal unrest is a persistent threat and having mobility and protection for their security forces are paramount. Malaysia is no exception and a local manufacturer MILDEF have a new tactical 4×4 that can compete with the best of them: the Tarantula!

MILDEF describes the Tarantula as a medium weight tactical armored truck (14 tons heavy) with STANAG IIA ballistic protection around its hull and STANAG IIB blast resistance for its underbelly. To better understand these distinctions the Tarantula in its current form survives sustained fire from most assault rifles and comes out intact from a land mine detonation. Of course, the Tarantula has bulletproof windows on its cab and passenger compartment and smoke grenade discharges mounted on its roof. MILDEF haven’t revealed its engine type although top speed over paved roads is 110 kilometers per hour.

The Tarantula’s double cab layout means there are four seated at the front of the vehicle while the passenger compartment sits an additional six together with their weapons. The generous capacity indicates how the hull is large enough to accommodate equipment in lieu of people when the Tarantula is repurposed for a different role. It’s an adaptability best seen with models like the Plasan SandCat or the Chinese military’s bewildering selection of tactical trucks.

Other important details about the Tarantula is its exhaust pipe extending to the roof; this means it was built for wading across rivers and even beaches. The primary armament for now is an M2 .50 caliber machine gun on a remote weapon station. Of course, this can be switched in the future as today’s 4×4 are able to support even 30mm cannons and missile launchers. As tactical 4×4’s go the Tarantula is presented in four variants–an unarmed APC, an armed APC, a ambulance, and a surveillance vehicle. While showing off the vehicle’s roles is important from a marketing standpoint the irony is how end users choose to acquire different models anyway rather than a universal one tailored for whatever role is needed.

Malaysia’s military-industrial sector isn’t given the recognition it deserves. The country’s armed forces are well-equipped by regional standards and a large proportion of their inventory is kept serviceable thanks to locally funded expertise and maintenance facilities. The Tarantula looks like a success story in the making if it manages to enter service with the army and win an export order at the same time. If this vehicle emerged sooner then perhaps the neighborhood would have taken notice. The relentless battle for Marawi in the Philippines is a perfect example of how tactical armored trucks make enormous differences for militaries up against determined foes.

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