Another Look, RMN 15 to 5

SHAH ALAM: Another Look on RMN 15 to 5. A guest post by … With the new political dawn in Malaysia, there is some skeptism of the continuity of the current Malaysian defence plans. For TLDM, arguably its 15 to 5 plan is to date one of the most visible plan that has been shown to the public. Even then there are questions on the whether the CSIC LMS68 can fulfil all the tasks that it is going to take over from the various current platforms. There is also concerns that the MRSS would be another gold-plated ship that is not worth the money to be paid for them.

In the near term, it is expected that budgets will be tighter than usual due to the need to reduce the government’s deficit. The updated plan also needs to consider the expanded role APMM will have in the new government based on the manifesto that they have released (menambahkan sumber dan kapasiti Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia) and APMM’s existing PPSMM 2040 plan.

Here is my opinion on the PPSMM 2040 (some of the writings here are related to my opinion on PPSMM 2040).

APMM Plans


The LCS major equipment detailed. RMN graphic

Our nation’s maritime defence stand should be planned inclusive of all players, TLDM, APMM and Marine Police. TLDM’s 15 to 5 plan should be looked together with PPSMM 2040 plan and vice versa. Not to be looked as plans totally not related to each other. Things like peacetime patrolling tasks, although can be done by TLDM, should not be a no.1 priority (along with buying ships designed primarily for peacetime patrolling like the OPV), instead a secondary task for TLDM to its primary warfighting capability. As warfighting capability is its utmost priority, ships capable of fighting wars are those that should be bought by TLDM, not ships with only minor armaments. Patrol ships are the primary tasks of APMM, and they should be provided with the budget to aquire those kind of ships in adequate quantity.
KD Jebat at LIMA 17. KD Jebat Twitter.

To have some visible near-term savings, budget for RMK11 and RMK12 would be reduced to a bit less than USD2 billion per Rancangan Malaysia with the others hovering around the USD2 billion mark. IMO USD2 billion of development budget for a service (in this case the Navy) every 5 year tranche is affordable, and already one of the lowest among Southeast Asian countries.

So here it goes (TLDM original plan vs alternative)

RMK11 2016-2020
3x SGPV Gowind
3x LMS

Alternative RMK11
3x SGPV Gowind USD1300 mil

RMK12 2021-2025
3x SGPV Gowind
8x LMS
1x NGPV Kedah
1x MRSS

alternative RMK12
3x SGPV Gowind USD1300 mil
3x LMS-A USD120 mil
9x LMS-B USD135 mil (9x LMS-B1)
2x MRSS USD100 mil
2x Lynx ASW (used) USD150 mil include upgrade for whole fleet
2x AS355 (used) USD10 mil

RMK13 2026-2030
5x NGPV Kedah
7x LMS
2x MRSS

alternative RMK13
2x SGPV Gowind USD900 mil Gowind no.7 & 8
1x Scorpene USD500 mil Scorpene no.3
6x LMS-A USD240 mil
8x LMS-B USD190 mil (3x LMS-B1, 3x LMS-B2, 2x LMS-B3)
2x MRSS USD100 mil

RMK14 2031-2035
5x NGPV Kedah
1x Submarine

alternative RMK14
1x SGPV Gowind USD450 mil Gowind no.9
2x Arrowhead 140 USD700 mil
1x Scorpene USD500 mil Scorpene no.4
8x ASW Helicopter USD400 mil

RMK15 2036-2040
1x NGPV Kedah
1x Submarine
4x SGPV Gowind

alternative RMK15
2x Arrowhead 140 USD700 mil
2x Scorpene USD1000 mil Scorpene no.5 and 6
SLEP Scorpene USD150 mil SLEP for Scorpene no.1 (2nd time)

RMK16 2041-2045
2x SGPV Gowind

alternative RMK16
SLEP Gowind USD500 mil
SLEP Scorpene USD300 mil SLEP for Scorpene no.3 (1st time) and no.2 (2nd time)
Arrowhead 140 USD200 mil medium range SAM (Aster maybe?) and additional NSM stocks for Arrowhead 140 frigates.

A CGI of 3 Arrowhead ships

The most radical change in my alternative plan is for TLDM to abandon the NGPV Kedah Class altogether. All the remaining NGPV Kedah Class to be transferred to APMM starting 2031. The savings from not building the additional 12 planned NGPV batch to would be around USD1.5 billion. Savings of around USD500 million would also be had by cancelling the current LMS project and replacing this with different LMS platform.

The latest China made LMS model

Phase out plan
Laksamana 2021-2025 (Hang Nadim to be the museum ship instead of Hang Tuah for the new Navy Museum in Lumut)
Vospers 2021-2025 (to be retained for PSSTLDM? Name could be changed to KD Ujong Tanah for Sri Johore, and KD Indera Kayangan for Sri Perlis, if need to reuse the name for newer TLDM ships)
Perdana 2021-2025
Handalan 2021-2025
Jerong 2026-2030 (some to be retained for PSSTLDM?)
Seri Tiga 2026-2030
Inderasakti 2026-2030
Kasturi 2026-2030
Mahamiru 2026-2030
Lekiu 2031-2035 (to be sold)
Kedah 2031-2035 transfer to APMM

Now some explanations of the points above.

– LMS
The total cost to buy 18 CSIC LMS68 would be USD1.2 billion. IMO, it is still not too late to cancel the order. A new development has seen Sun Bo, general manager and president of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) is being investigated by China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) “suspected of committing serious violations of laws and regulations”. This can be a good excuse to cancel the LMS order. As an alternative, the best fit would be to buy a derivative of the South Korean Gumdoksuri FAC. Each ship costs around USD40 million. Costs could be controlled by reusing Bofors 57mm main guns from our current FACs. Modifications to replace the gas turbine with another diesel engine would also be done, this would probably lower its top speed from 44 knots to around 36 knots.
LMS-A
9 units
Key Platform Characteristics
Length overall 63 m
Beam maximum 9m
Draft 3m
Displacement 570 tonnes
Speed 36+ Knots
Armament 57mm Bofors, 30mm RCWS (MSI or ASELSAN), 4x AShM (exocet/c-star/NSM), 12x vertical launch HELLFIRE Longbow MMW

LMS B concept

LMS-B
This will consist of 12x LMS-B1(Multipurpose Patrol), 3x LMS-B2(Logistics), 2x LMS-B3(Hydro Survey). These 55m high-speed, long ranged offshore capable ships will take up the capabilities left by FAC(G), FTV, MCMV and Hydro Survey ships.
www.malaysiandefence.com/another-perspective-lms/
Key Platform Characteristics
Length : 55m
Width : 10m
Engine : 4x MTU 13,800bhp
Speed : 30-32knots
Range : 3000nm @ 30knots, 5000nm @ 12knots
Fuel : 160,000L
Water : 190,000L
Crew : LMS-B1 = 8+12 VBSS (accommodation for 28)
LMS-B2 = 8 (accommodation for 14) + 60 passenger seatings
LMS-B3 = 8+22 survey (accommodation for 32)
Radar : Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye LPI
EO : FLIR EO turret or similar
EW : –
Sonar : commercial
Main gun : 1x 30mm RCWS (MSI or ASELSAN)
Secondary guns : 2-4x 0.50cal machine guns
Non-lethal : 2x LRAD 500x or equivalent
Missiles : –
Boats : 1x 6.5m RHIB with A frame davits (LMS-B1)
Multi mission area : for 5-6 TEU containers, 15T crane.

A Gumdoksuri class FAC

The total cost of this alternative plan would be around USD700 million. This is a saving of around USD500 million compared to the original 18 ship LMS68 plan, along with an additional 8 ships (for a total of 26 LMS ships compared to the original LMS plan). LMS-B with its long range at full speed (3000nm @ 30knots) will be the main welcoming party and shadow ship for foreign naval ships passing through our waters and EEZ, freeing TLDM frigates and APMM OPVs for other patrolling duties (APMM ships would be the one to shadow foreign Coast Guard ships).

– GOWIND SGPV
The original plan for batch 2 was to start in 2036 the earliest. By that time the oldest Gowind the KD Maharaja Lela would be 15 years old. My alternative plan is to immediately continue building 3 more Gowinds after the 1st batch is completed. This is possible by not building the 2nd batch of the NGPV Kedah Class OPVs. The 2nd batch of Gowind to be reduced by half (from 6 to 3) and the savings of USD1.3 billion to be used to buy 4 general purpose frigates (as opposed to Anti-Submarine centric frigate of the Gowinds).

– MRSS
The most cost-effective replacement would be to just aquire the PT PAL SSV design. From the Philippines order, each ship costs USD42 million. With customised systems, but with exact similar hull as the SSV, the TLDM MRSS could be had for around USD50 million each. 1x 76mm Oto melara gun up front to be cannibalized from Laksamana , Kedah or ex-pohang class This buy could also be used to improve malaysian-indonesian bilateral ties, with 2 builds in Indonesia, and another 2 in Malaysia.

MRSS concept based on the Makassar class.

– ASW helicopters
Additional 2 used Lynx (Pakistan stored airframes or UK retired) and 2 Fennec (civilian) to be bought in the near future, to increase the total helicopters to 8 of each type. The additional 2 Lynx to be rebuild to the same standard of the current TLDM Super Lynx. An upgrade to the Lynx to add lightweight dipping sonar (thales compact flash) would be done. With OPV budget freed, additional 8 new ASW helicopters could be bought in RMK14.

Thales compact flash sonar

– Arrowhead 140?
IMO this is one of the most interesting Frigate design to come out lately. Yes, it is based on the Iver Huitfeldt, but without the expensive Anti-air warfare radar suite and missiles. Looking at the budget of UK’s Type 31 frigate project, 4 Arrowhead 140 Frigates could be bought for the cost of 3 Gowind frigates. This could be the new TLDM flagships, replacing the Lekiu and Kasturi classes (and to take over the names of those famous Malaccan warriors). This is to be a general-purpose frigate, it would have a more advanced radar than the Gowinds (Thales NS200 maybe?), more anti-ship missiles and anti-aircraft missiles. Guns (2x 76mm Oto melara up front as per Iver Huitfeldt) to be cannibalized from Laksamana, Kedah or ex-Pohang class ships. Carrying 4 large RHIBs, it could also perform as a Command centre/information node for littoral security operations. With a total of 9 ASW Frigates and 4 large general-purpose Frigates by 2040, IMO this would give TLDM a better capability than the original plan. With the transfer of OPV task to APMM, and the APMM target of 20 large OPVs, there should not be a reduction in overall capability but instead an increase from the current (2018) maritime security capability.
Key Platform Characteristics
Length overall 138.7m
Beam maximum 19.8m
Draft 4.8m
Displacement 5,700te
Main engine 32.8 MW
Speed 28+ Knots
Flight deck and hangar for 20T helicopter.
Armament 2x 76mm Oto Melara, 2x 30mm RCWS, 16x NSM, 32x VLS (VL Mica + Aster), 6x Torpedo launchers.
Boats 4x Large RHIBs

Scorpene
The original plan was to only buy 2 additional submarines starting in 2031. Savings from other programs would enable 2 more Scorpenes to be bought. So there will be at least 6 operational submarines post-2040, instead of just 4 as the original plan. But why more Scorpenes? Because we are familar with the platform, and could assamble the submarines ourself at the already paid-for submarine overhaul facility in Kota Kinabalu. Get the modules built in India, Brazil or France and assemble them here in Malaysia. The new Scorpene build would incorprate the latest battery (dry electrolyte lithium-ion and such) technologies of the time, enabling long underwater endurance without using AIP. Weapons should include the forthcoming submarine-launched version of the NSM, enabling a truly stealthy ship and land attack solution.

KD Hang Tuah. Wikipedia.

Hang Tuah
Well this is just a dream of someone who really cares about the history of his country, to preserve this grand old ship as a fully operational historical naval ship. While the army has large allocation for ceremonial units, howitzers, horses and armoured vehicles (ferrets), there is none for TLDM. After the mistakes of KD Sri Terengganu and KD Rahmat, this is a chance for TLDM to do good (and not to repeat doing the exact same thing but hoping for a different outcome), and the best way to preserve a ship is to keep it fully operational, with a permanent crew to take a good care of it. To keep a ship operational with no valid reasons is difficult, and employing the KD Hang Tuah as a training ship and OPV is a good way to keep this ship in operational use. The KD Hang Tuah was designed with simple uncomplicated systems ordered for the use of an african country. The simple systems of KD Hang Tuah makes it an easy task to refit and upgrade this ship to be an operational training ship and OPV. This is not unprecedented as Thailand have preserved and still uses operationally their historical ships HTMS Makut Rajakumarn (KD Rahmat’s sister ship) and HTMS Pin Klao. A full refit and upgrade of the ship to a condition better than new would be done (so it is basically a new build ship using the KD Hang Tuah hull), with all new engines, mechanical, electrical, accommodations and climate control systems. Operationally the systems installed should be on par with the APMM new OPV. EO FCS systems could be taken from the Laksamana class (the new GEM Elettronica EOFCS115A) and also Laksamana’s Link Y datalink system. To be equipped with latest equipments such as Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye LPI radar, EO turrets, Farsounder 1000 3D front facing obstacle avoidance sonar and Satcom. Weapons to remain the 57mm Bofors plus restoring the quantity of 40mm Bofors to 4 (installing those removed from retired vospers). The 40mm Bofors would be mainly used for training, and for gun salute. The total budget for this should not exceed USD30 million and this would preserve the historical ship for many years to come. The KD Hang Tuah would be used as an OPV, training ship for PSSTLDM (navy reserves) and as an ambassador of Malaysia / a tool for defence diplomacy to friendly countries (for example during fleet reviews). The ship could also annually tour around Malaysia as a PR activity for the navy and to instill patriotism among Malaysian citizens.

New TLDM Museum Lumut
The new TLDM Museum in Lumut should be the center of excellence for everything about the history of TLDM. The Museum ground should include the offices of PUSMAS TLDM and also KD Sri Manjung PSSTLDM. The main building if possible to have the front end shape of KD Malaya building of TLDM Woodlands. Inside there would be galleries dedicated to WW2, Confrontation (including local men who served on RN ships like HMS Belfast), Ops Tugu, PASKAL and Submarines. If the scrapping of KD Rahmat is still not far along, I was hoping if the bridge of KD Rahmat could be saved and mounted at the new museum similar to the HMAS Brisbane bridge at the Australian War Museum. To get KD Sri Terengganu back from Melaka and probably 1 of the FAC(M) and put them on display on the museum grounds. The ship’s waterline should be set the same level as the ground, similar to preserved ships of Royal Thai Navy (go and learn how the thai’s preserve their historical ships on land). For the floating ship museum, instead of the large KD Hang Tuah, the KD Hang Nadim would instead be the museum ship. In history Laksamana Hang Nadim was the son of Hang Jebat and was bought up by Hang Tuah after his father died and later also appointed as Laksamana. A smaller ship should be more managable to be tied up alongside rather than the large KD Hang Tuah. Piers would be made to accomodate the KD Hang Nadim, and also other visiting ships. Regular events like open ship days, Children days, activities of the navy reserves, Kadet Laut sleepovers, rememberance ceremony etc should be organised to make the museum a living and interesting place for visitors to visit not just once, but return for multiple times.

Conclusion
As usual, this is just an opinion of a random rakyat that would probably be just a nonsense to those in the game. Anyway in my opinion this alternative plan would be able to save money for the government in the short-term, while giving a better capability in the long term compared to the original 15 to 5 plan. Passing most of the OPV business to APMM does not really mean that the maritime security would be compromised, but actually enhanced by letting APMM to get more of the cost-effective Damen OPVs (instead of TLDM’s expensive Meko 100 based Kedah class OPV). Additional funds freed would give the navy budget for ASW helicopters, which is not even in the original plans, more submarines and bigger Frigates. With a total force of 9 ASW Frigate, 4 GP Frigate, 6 Submarines, 4 MRSS, 9 LMS-A and 17 LMS-B (plus 2 training ships KD Gagah Samudra, KD Teguh Samudra and 1 training/OPV ship KD Hang Tuah), the TLDM would shape to be a formidable naval force in the South East Asian region by 2040.

This alternative plan could still be called 15 to 5 as:
1. Gowind
2. Scorpenes
3. LMS
4. MRSS
5. Arrowhead 140

Unit distribution
Unit distribution
– HQ Armada Barat (Lumut)
2 Arrowhead 140 GP Frigate
3 Gowind ASW Frigate
2 MRSS
2 Training Vessel
1 Frigate Historic (training/OPV)
3 LMS-B1
2 MCM team
– MAWILLA 1 (Kuantan)
3 LMS-A
3 LMS-B1
– MAWILLA 3 (Langkawi)
3 LMS-A
3 LMS-B1
– Pusat Hidrografi Negara (Port Klang)
2 LMS-B3
– HQ Armada Timur (Kota Kinabalu)
2 Arrowhead 140 GP Frigate
6 Scorpene SSK
3 LMS-B2 (Gugusan Semarang Peninjau)
2 MCM team
– MAWILLA 2 (Sandakan, Semporna, Tawau)
3 LMS-A
3 LMS-B1
– MAWILLA 4 (Bintulu)
6 Gowind ASW Frigate
2 MRSS

* the post above is completely opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of Malaysian Defence

— Malaysian Defence

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