Malaysia’s Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) has launched the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN)’s first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – the KD Maharaja Lela (2501) – on Thursday, August 24.
The KD Maharaja Lela is the first of six LCS ships ordered by Kuala Lumpur from BNS, which was awarded a $2.1 billion U.S. contract in July 2014 to construct the ships. BNS began constructing the lead ship the KD Maharaja Lela in March 2016. It is scheduled to enter service in 2019.
The Maharaja Lela-class LCS was derived from the DCNS Gowind 2500 corvette, which lends the LCS its low infrared and magnetic detectability and radar cross-section (RCS) hull.
Malaysia’s Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein celebrated the launch by citing the LCS’ value for the RMN’s efforts to support Malaysia’s security interests.
“With the LCS vessels, I hope the RMN’s ability to protect the country’s sovereignty will be greatly boosted, especially when it comes to facing the Islamic State threats,” Hussein told local media at the event.
Navy Recognition reported in 2015 that the LCS will be armed with a 57 mm BAE Systems Bofors as its main gun, Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (via two quad-cells), two triple Sea J+S anti-submarine warfare torpedo launchers, a MSI Seahawk 30 mm gun and vertical launch system cells for surface-to-air missiles. Its sensor suite will comprise of the Thales Smart-S Mk2 radar and CAPTAS-2 towed array sonar.
The LCS has a length of 111 m and displacement of 3,000 tons. It is manned by 118 crewmembers and support a medium-weight naval helicopter, such as the Westland Lynx in service with the RMN.
In parallel to the LCS, the RN is also procuring four Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) from China to support its long-term “15-to-5” modernization plan, which aims to reduce the number of ship types the RMN uses to five in order to reduce logistics costs and increase efficiency.