SHAH ALAM: As mentioned earlier, regular commenter and guest writer … has his own views on the LMS. Posted below are his views.
A Guess Post by …
More details has been released on the LMS since the decision to go for CSIC built ship based on the Durjoy-class Large Patrol Craft (LPC) for Bangladesh.
What we know so far :
Displacement 780 tons
Max speed 22 knots
Economical speed 16 knots
Range 2000 nm at economical speed
Endurance 15 days
Complement 45 (8 officers and 37 men)
Armament is limited to a single H/PJ17 30mm RWS in front and two 0.50cal machine guns aft of the bridge. At the stern there is a twin ramp for the launch and recovery of RHIBs ,probably for RHIB around 7m in length. There is still no word on the radar and sensor suites, probably either Chinese in origin or western commercial ones.
As for the cost of the ship, the contract for the four LMS is RM1.17 billion, which is at the current exchange rate would be around USD68 million per ship. Going for the LMS based on the Durjoy-class LPC, a conscious decision to go for an economical type of ship (which is not really reflected on the ship price) that would forgo the ASW, AShM, SAM, outright speed capability of the ships the LMS is going to replace.
What can be improved with the basic ship design
My 1st take on the LMS design can be read in length here
Now that we know more about the basic design of the ship, performance and price, this will be my second take on the LMS project. My biggest gripe about the LMS is that the price, it is too expensive for a ship that has no better performance than the Malaysian Coast Guard NGPC ship that costs USD18 million each.
Based on the contract price of USD68 million per ship, I am expecting a ship that has a comparably higher specification rather than the lightly equipped ship that it is right now. The Philippines got a huge Makassar-class LPD based Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) for less than the price of the LMS (only USD42 million per ship), Nigeria got the large Chinese Pattani-class based OPV, the P18N for similar money. The saddest thing is that even the Malaysian Coast Guards new 83m DAMEN OPV 1800 is cheaper at USD56 million each.
The improvements that I anticipate for the LMS68 is a lot less than the capability I wanted with my own LMS-A design. For the price of USD68 million per ship I expect this to be doable, done within the allocated budget. It is a relatively light redesign to the basic Durjoy-class LPC design, which it could theoretically be done on the real ship. The redesign is somewhat similar to what is done to the basic Fassmer 40m patrol ship design to become the 44.25m NGPC.
The biggest change is to move the bridge rearward to the center of the ship and to raise it 1 floor above the original location. The bridge would also be changed in to a 360 degrees panoramic bridge, a design similar to the Gowind L’adroit , CMN Combattante FS65 and Singaporean LMV designs. Stability calculations should be done to see if it is feasible, but looking at the Malaysian Coast Guard NGPC design, which has a similar redesign to the original ship, I really think that there should not be a big problem.
For the armament, the main armament would be the Bofors SAK Mk1 57mm gun cannibalized from the FAC’s. The gun would be refurbished and upgraded as per Swedish Bofors SAK Mk1’s (air cooled barrel, electrical servos etc.) before fitted to the LMS. Secondary weapon would be the H/PJ17 30mm RWS. Rather than one as the main weapon on the original LMS design, two of them would be placed on the 0.50 cal gun location, providing simultaneous port and starboard side fire coverage capability.
On the Durjoy-class LPC, the same location is fitted with two manual twin 20mm oerlikon cannon mounts. In front of the bridge, at the location of the original bridge, the space is fitted with the FL-3000N air defense missile launcher.
Rather than the 15-round launcher that I would like originally, the normal 8-round launcher as fitted on the 056 Corvette would be used. This would provide a basic self-protection capability from subsonic anti-ship missiles, aircrafts, helicopters and UAVs.
For AShM, surface strike modules would be designed to be plugged in to the TEU container location. A module with the footprint of 2x TEUs could be designed to fit 8x C705 low cost AShM plus tube launchers for CH-901 small UAV.
Some other TEU container module set should also be included in the price of the ship, for example Diving module with Hyperbaric chamber; HADR module with extra food storage and desalination plant; Medical module with minor operations and care area; UAV module with vertically launched UAV such as MartinUAV V-Bat UAV; Workshop/additional accommodation module for additional crew/special forces. Mine hunting modules would probably be an additional buy, probably after the MCMV boats are decommissioned.
For the overall performance, it would be good if the maximum speed is at least as per the original Durjoy-class LPC, which is 28 knots and the range of at least 2500 nm.
For the electronics, I would really like the ship to be fitted with the Spynel-X 360˚ rotating IRST/optical radar. It would function similarly to the higher spec Thales Gatekeeper staring EO system that I preferred originally. The Spynel-X would detect a human at 8km, RHIB’s at 15km.
I would prefer the MARSS NiDAR system as per on the Gowind LCS to be installed consolidate all the sensors data to give a single situational picture. The NiDAR system would also track the ships RHIB in real time, avoiding the missing RHIB fiasco that has hit TLDM recently. The fire control systems would remain Chinese, probably the JRCSS system similar to the one on the Durjoy-class LPC.
LMS fleet size and composition
With each ship costing USD68 million, the full 18 ship LMS fleet would cost USD1.2 billion, or around the price of 3 Gowind frigates. Personally I would prefer the LMS fleet to be divided into 2 types, the LMS68, and the LMS-B as per my original LMS plan. By capping the LMS68 to 9 ships and getting the various Damen FCS5006 Security versions of the LMS-B as per my original plan (12x LMS-B1, 3x LMS-B2, 2x LMS-B3), the total cost is reduced to USD937 million, with the differences to be used to fund the MCM modules.
Off topic, but for the current LMS price of USD68 million per ship, for the same price TLDM could actually get their MRSS, and if going the Chinese route again, a missile armed corvette for the PV requirement. That price range could easily buy the Makassar class LPD for MRSS, and P-18N class OPV with AShM for PV requirement, if say 3x MRSS and 12x PV all with the same price cap of USD68 million, that is only a bit more than USD1 billion, which can be completed in 1 Rancangan Malaysia only, rather than 3 Rancangan Malaysia in the original plan.
The money freed could be used to buy additional Submarines, or to bring forward Gowind LCS batch 2 to RMK13 (2026-2030). I would like to see the submarine fleet to be at least 6 boats, all Scorpenes, as a viable deterrence in South China Sea to the growing Chinese naval fleet (now with the upcoming type 055 destroyer/cruiser, type 075 amphibious helicopter carrier and 001A aircraft carriers).
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