Malaysia’s defence minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, revealed that Kuala Lumpur offered submarine training support and facilities to Riyadh as part of the latter’s naval development plans, which is expected to involve the raising of a sub-surface force in the coming years.
Speaking to local media outlets, Defence Minister Hussain stated that training could take place in parallel with the construction of the Royal Saudi Navy’s first submarines.
Notes & Comments:
Riyadh had intended to procure submarines from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Germany, but it does not seem that substantive progress has been made in this regard. However, the Arab Gulf navies have yet to order submarines, despite strengthening their respective anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) capabilities in surface and aerial warfare. There is an untapped diesel-electric submarine (SSK) market in the region, one that shipbuilders such as Navantia, Fincantieri, DCNS, China Shipbuilding & Trading Corporation (CSSC) and others will be working to access in the near-term.
Malaysia operates two DCNS Scorpene submarines. Should Riyadh’s submarine aspirations materialize, it is likely that other countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom and France, will also offer training and development offerings of their own. Saudi Arabia’s maritime environment – which comprises of a 2,640-km coastline, regional rivalries, pivotal trading routes and access to South Asia and East Africa – could conceivably generate a large long-term procurement effort.