The Royal Malaysian Navy will procure four new surface combatants from China.
Kuala Lumpur and Beijing signed a series of cooperative accords at the beginning of November, one of which had outlined the sale of more than four ‘Littoral Mission Ships’ (LMS) to Malaysia (Reuters).
As per Malaysia’s defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, the four LMS will cost Malaysia $235 million U.S. (The Sun Daily).
The LMS are being procured as part of the RMN’s “15-to-5” modernization program, which is envisaged to reduce the number naval platform types in service with the RMN from 15 to five (Navy Recognition):
The NGPV was assumed by the RMN’s Kedah-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), which are variants of the ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems MEKO 100 corvette. Six Kedah-class OPVs are in service with the RMN.
The RMN expanded the NGPV to six 3,100-ton DCNS Gowind corvettes, which will be armed with MBDA VL-MICA short-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and Kongsberg Naval Strike Missiles. The first Gowind corvette is expected to be delivered in 2019 (Shephard Media).
The LMS was envisaged to be mostly as capable as the LCS, but at a substantially lower acquisition cost. As per IHS Jane’s, the RMN could order as many as 18 LMS, though it is not known if all 18 ships will have the same configuration and mission profiles.
Notes & Comments:
China’s big-ticket naval products have seen an increase in adoption in recent years. The Type 053H3-based F-22P and C28A were acquired by Pakistan and Algeria, respectively, in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Nigeria and Bangladesh acquired variants of the Type 056 corvette.
If China Shipbuilding & Offshore International (CSOC) secures all (or most) of the LMS program, Malaysia would be the single largest export market (at least in terms of volume) for CSOC’s surface combatants.
Nothing is known of the LMS’ design and configuration, but it is plausible that the LMS could be based on the Type 056. One could also see Malaysia configuring its ships with a mix of Western European subsystems and weapons (like Algeria did with the C28A). If the hulls and engines cost $60 million a ship, the RMN would have considerable space in terms of cost to customize and equip its ships whilst still finishing with a competitive final cost.