MRSS On The Horizon?

A close up of the MRSS model shown at PT PAL booth at Indodefence 2016.

SHAH ALAM: MRSS on the horizon? At the Indodefence Show last November, Boustead Naval Shipyard signed a MOU with Indonesian-state owned firm, PT PAL, to colloborate on a possible multi-role support ship contract.

Following the MOU, I reported that

the MRSS project – four of which being sought under the RMN’s 15 to 5 plan, has yet to be funded and probably will not be so in the foreeseable future

BNS has not made any announcements following the MOU signing ceremony – not a good sign as it is a public listed company which must informed the Bursa of any possible deal. Moreover, my sources continue to tell me that it was unlikely new projects will be approved in 2017 due to the budget crunch.

The model of the MRSS displayed at the PT PAL booth.

However, a tweet from RMN chief Adm. Kamarulzaman Badaruddin today seemed to indicate that the MRSS project may well have gotten the greenlight despite the funding crunch.

A screenshot of Adm Kamarulzaman tweet on the MRSS today.

I know I should not be too excited over a single tweet but I had earlier in the day was told about two stories on the possible MRSS contract by PT PAL. The two stories reported in December – here and here – were about PT PAL finalising the design for the MRSS to be ordered by RMN. Note that I have no means to verify the reports, I am just linking it here for those who are interested.

The proposed MRSS based on Makassar class LPDs by Malaysian Defence guest poster …

Of course, finalising a design does not necessarily meant that a contract is at hand. The first step in realising the 20-year-old MRSS dream is signing the letter of intent. Even a LOI is not final as we have seen what happen to supposed Anoa deal. For the ship to be ordered a letter of award is needed.

Will the contract for the MRSS be signed? Will it be a design from PT PAL? Coming back here often for further updates.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

33 Comments

  1. The navy is just getting what it wanted one by one. That proves a good leadership, with clear achievable plans will get what it needs.

    AIrforce on the other hand… we are still waiting for your plans… Skip all those “next generation” empty talks, the blue smurf silly “camos” and show us realistic plans that would support malaysian security needs. List down the current concerns and what can be done to solve it, not the other way round (ie surveillance concern – to get ISTAR assets; not get x asset – can solve y problem)

  2. Do you think this should be a priority? This ship has a well deck, which is only useful for amphibious assaults we aren’t going to perform. It cannot beach itself in the event we want to deliver logistics without a port. And for other logistics purposes where we can use a port, we can use commercial services or conversions.

  3. We definitely have a need for MRSSs and have had a requirement for them even way before Inderapura was lost. How the ship is fitted out will depend I suppose on what the RMN sees its requirements are or the roles these ships are expected to perform in support of the army or other government agencies. One role these ships will perform will be as tenders for smaller ships – a role the Indera Saktis perform as did the 2-ex USN LSTs and the Langkawi.

    We often hear disaster relief as one of the justifications to seek funding for the MRSS but the fact remains that a lot of the disaster prone areas in the country are accessible by road or air; it’s not like in Indonesia or the Philippines where a lot of areas are only easily accessible – especially when carrying large amounts of gear or supplies – by sea. As for ferrying heavy gear to East Malaysia; most of the time it’s more practical to utilise commercial means [like the AV-8s that were sent to Sabah in late 2015] – its not as if embarkation areas in East Malaysia are beacheads with zero port facilities.

  4. How successful a particular service is on obtaining funding for what it needs; are not only determined by having ”good leadership” and ”
    clear achievable plans” but also what the government sees as being the country priorities and its threat perceptions. Historically, the government has always placed greater emphasis on the army and the RMAF mainly because it was felt that both services were the main ones to deal with the low threat. non state scenarios that we were likely to face.

    Another issue is that over the long run; supporting fighters and other air assets is more financially and resource intensive when compared to assets needed or operated by the RMAF and army.

  5. Good news but bukan 4 terlalu banyak? 2 sudah cukup and the rest of the money can go to more LMS or subs.

    Reply
    4 is in the plan, whether they are getting them as planned is beyond me at the moment.

  6. ‘Telah memesan’ sounds pretty definite to me!!

    Reply
    Again there is a lot of difference between intent and order. Let’s hope it will be a contract and other parties don’t get involved like trying to sell 2,000 Protons in the process.

  7. Marhalim,

    What comes to mind is the CN-235 deal in which we initially announced we were buying 32 CN-235s – how the 32 figure came about is still a mystery. Indonesia in return was supposed to have bought Protons and Aerotigas [for the Indonesian Communications Ministry]. As part of the offset deal, if I remember correctly, a couple of TNI-AU C-130s were also sent to AIROD.

  8. Do also note that each of the Makassar class derivatives cost around what TLDM currently budgets for each LMS ship (usd45-50mil per ship). That is a lot of ship for the money, and I think that it would be a money very well spent.

    This is also indicative of the compromises the current leaders of the TLDM are accepting in their plans for the future of the navy, and this has led to the relatively quick approval of the government for their new aquistitions. Planning from the start affordable assets that could perform most functions of more expensive assets could:

    – China made LMS instead of multiple ship types
    – Makassar based MRSS instead of more expensive Dokdo or Mistral based ships.

    So we now wait if the airforce is to follow suit, are they willing to forgo expensive MRCA’s and go for cheaper lightweight fighters? Or are they going to get nothing due to their insistance of getting something beyond the means of the government?

    The airforce knows what is the priority of the government regarding the defence right now (as is the navy), but why are they not planning their aquistitions on the current needs? Saying something like maritime patrol is not the airforces job is foolish. You still do maritime strike, you still do CAS. Saying something is not your job for the sake of getting more money to buy MRCA’s is just going to make the airforce irrelevant to the defence needs. If im the airforce chief, i would make my service relevant to all missions, and not push “unglamourous” missions like utility helicopter to the army and the like.

  9. really??MRSS now??curious to see what RMN have in mind for it(operational and what will be equip) although i hope they just save the money and invest in other RMN procurement(LMS or new frigate program)..well what do i know…..

  10. I suppose the numbers are always inflated, so the RMN can ‘compromise’ and accept 2 instead of 4!

    It all like bargaining at the local pasar malam.

  11. Talk so much. The air force is not saying it does not want to do any missions. It probably wants to do anything that flies and ground based air defence too. It is simply a matter of priorities in a time of constrained funding. Who is to say the chief is responsible for pushing an expensive fighter platform? The cabinet ultimately owns the awarding of the contract. “if you were the chief” you would soon realise what is not in your control.

    Haven’t you noticed the key feature of discussions here from day one?

  12. ……….. – ”Do also note that each of the Makassar class derivatives cost around what TLDM currently budgets for each LMS ship (usd45-50mil per ship).”

    What the Makassars will cost if we buy them can differ a lot compared to what others paid. Similarly, even though the requirement has been registered and approved but funding hasn’t; we can end up paying more than we thought we would at present. The final price of the Makassars will depend on several factors; i.e. if the RMN wants certain modifications done [as mentioned in the Jane”s article] or specifies a higher D/c standard or stuff that at present is not incorporated in the original design; then the price will go up. Looking at our history, we do have a practice of sometimes gold plating stuff we buy. My one concern is that it is the industry or politics, rather than the RMN that will have the final say as how the MRSS is fitted out – we unfortunately have a history of this.

    ……… – ”So we now wait if the airforce is to follow suit, are they willing to forgo expensive MRCA’s and go for cheaper lightweight fighters? ”

    Fine on paper but the RMAF can’t fully follow suit as the circumstances it faces and its operational needs – when compared to the RMN – are slightly different. Services tend to want what they feel suits their respective operational needs. Obviously the RMAF feels that ”cheaper lightweight fighters” will not meet its operational needs or will not be able to fully replicate the capabilities provided by a more expensive MRCA. No point pushing or wanting something if that something that does not meet ones operational needs or provides the desired capability.

    With regards to the RMN; something like the Makassar will be able to meets its needs and do the job just as well as say a Mistral but in the case of the RMAF a ”cheaper lightweight” platform may not be able to do the job the way a more expensive full fledged MRCA can – at the end of the day, despite what one’s personal feeling or preferences are or what one agrees or disagrees with; the armed services do things for a reason; reasons that may not be apparent to us; especially those like me who gets most of my info from open sources.

    I used to disagree a lot with things I gathered from open sources but when talking to those in the know or those in uniform; it was sharply apparent that there were a lot of things happening that I was not aware off; things that drive the way the respective services do things. I’m not BTW suggesting that the service are infallible and haven’t made cockups in the past.

    …… – ”Saying something like maritime patrol is not the airforces job is foolish.”

    Indeed but the RMAF never said that did it.

    What it did point out is that given that taskings MPAs will perform will be mostly maritime centric; then part funding should come from the RMN given that it will be the RMN that mostly benefits and that the RMN doesn’t have the resources to have an organic MPA capability – this doesn’t sound unreasonable at all if viewed objectively. If service Chiefs didn’t watch out for the interests of their respective services by safeguarding and ensuring they get the most from their allocated procurement and operational budgets then there is something dreadfully wrong.

    ……. – ”If im the airforce chief, i would make my service relevant to all missions, and not push “unglamourous” missions like utility helicopter to the army and the like.”

    Right. ”All missions” means that the RMAF has – and does to the best of its ability – cater for a whole variety of eventualities; whether its MRCAs for wartime and peacetime operations, as well as MPAs and transports for a variety of tasks; whether in support of other agencies performing HADR or launching strikes on state actors.

    If I were the RMAF Chief I would insist that the army take over the roles of troop transport, battlefield surveillance, etc, as the army already has its own air wing and so that the RMAF can concentrate on other roles; core roles that only it and no one else can do. Armed services the world over tend to look out for their respective interests first as there is only so much cash to go around; not only here but everywhere. What’s the point of the army having its own air wing if 22 years after the air wing was raised; the army still can’t cater for its own lift needs and has to rely on the RMAF?

    zack – ”MRSS now??”

    It’s not ”now” but for more than a decade already [way before the Inderapura was lost in fact] that the RMN had a requirement for a new class of MRSS. The RMN is under no illusions that it can fully get what it wants under the present climate but like the RMAF with its MRCAs, is keeping the requirement ”alive” to ensure that an order can be placed when funds are available. That’s what services do.

  13. My take…in order to show presence in the scs…that is more LMS…more LCS…and coast guards ships the need of supply ship n LPD is important lah….to replenish all those small ships…repair n maintain the helis that all those small ships bring with them n oh rotation of manpower at sea….these are all the posibilities why RMN needs the supply n LPD ship….some sort like sea basing lah……

  14. @ AM

    Blaming things are “not in your control” is not a good way of showing leadership and management skills.

    I’m not saying the air force chief is doing so but, just look at the navy’s leadership. Have we heard a radical plan from the airforce that is remotely similar to the navy’s 15to5 plan? No.

    If you look at it, the navy is in no position to keep getting new fundings for new programmes right now. On their way of getting 6 new gowinds, expensive refits of the scorpene, weak Malaysian economy, sharp fall of Malaysian ringgit. After so much money spent on the navy now it is supposed to be the airforce’s turn and yet the navy is still having new projects green lighted. Is that a sign of just a coincidence? No, that is a sign of good leadership.

    How did it get there?
    – good leadership
    – radical out of the box thinking’s (15to5 plan)
    – played along with government’s policies to get what it wants (LMS from China. That was unthinkable to everyone right? Was quite a shock for me too. Can the airforce do the unthinkable like the Lms too?)
    – Tailoring the requirements to within what the government can afford. Going for unorthodox buys like the LMS and Makassar class ships.

    I took a lot of flak from everyone for suggesting Chinese equipments for the LMS and Makassar class ships for MRSS. Saying things like the navy will never buy Chinese or indonesian. But in the end the navy got the whole LMS ship from China and looking at the Makassar too. Will we see the airforce do a plan as radical as the 15 to 5? I’m looking forward to it.

  15. The 15 to 5 plan from my opinion should be change to 15 to 4 plan. By 2030 i envisioned the fleet as

    8x SGPV
    24x LMS
    4x SSK Scorpene
    4x MRSS

    The costs will be (estimation)

    2x SGPV – 700 million USD
    20x LMS (Upgraded) – 1.4 billion USD
    2x SSK – 800 million USD
    4x MRSS – 280 million USD

    The SGPV will be divided to 2 squadron of 4 ships. The squadrons will be based at Lumut and Sepanggar.

    The LMS will be divided into 6 squadron of 4 ships. The squadrons will be based at Kuantan, Muar, Langkawi, Kuching, Bintulu and Sandakan.

    The SSK will be based at Sepanggar as one squadron.

    The MRSS will be based at Lumut as one squadron.

    The SOP will be like 1 ship will patrol the sea far from base, 1 ship will patrol the area near to the base, 1 ship will be in training and last one will be on leave at the same time. The SOP part is something i just guess. Dont know how it really works in the real world.

    For the sake of lower operating cost. The SGPV, LMS and MRSS should have the same main gun so we only use one type of ammo. For example 76mm gun. The SGPV and LMS should have the same AShM like KDA NSM. Thankfully the navy like to stick to 30mm secondary guns for their ships, that will save some money.

    Lastly, i hope in the future we will upgrade our LMS to be able to being connected to our network. Using western cms at least although its a long shot.

    Anyway this is just an idea.

  16. ………… – ”That was unthinkable to everyone right?”

    No it wasn’t. It’s actually been expected for quite a while now. It was driven BTW wholly by cash; not playing ”along with government’s policies”………

    ……….. – ” No, that is a sign of good leadership.”

    Maybe in your mind but in actuality it’s due to various factors; many of which are beyond the control of the respective services. Also there are a lot of issues within the RMN which happened and led to the 5/15. FYI, as I mentioned before, there is still a bit of concern and skepticism as to the doability of the 5/15. What looks good on paper can turn out differently when implemented.

    ……….. – ”I took a lot of flak from everyone for suggesting Chinese
    equipments for the LMS and Makassar class ships for MRSS”

    For the good and simple reason [as has been pointed out repeatedly] that there will be a need for integration and that buying stuff that’s not already operated or has zero commonality with what we currently have will increase out logistical and support footprint …. That is the reality no matter how one wants to dismiss it.

    ….. – ”But in the end the navy got the whole LMS ship from China and looking at the Makassar too.”

    Yes but the fact remains that many core components will not be sourced from China and I’m not talking about stuff like guns which have a low footprint. Again – going for many Chinese stuff will defeat the purpose of the 5/15 as it will increase the RMN’s footprint. Going for Chinese stuff will also require cash to be spent for integration – which despite what you suggested in a previous post, is still a major issue.

    …….. – ”Will we see the airforce do a plan as radical as the 15 to 5? I’m looking forward to it.”

    Apples and oranges comparison as the needs vary as do the circumstances. It’s not a question of being ”radical” or just having ”good leadership” or ”vision” but a combinations of various factors.

    Although a Chinese sourced LMS will do the job of a French made Mistral; a ”cheap lightweight” fighter will not do the job of a full fledged MRCA. No point buying something if it does not provide the desired capability.

  17. Red Sot,

    Yes there are a need for tenders but the fact remains that in most cases RMN ships don’t spend more than 2 weeks away and the nearest port/base is never more than 2 days away. In the past the Indera Saktis, 2 ex-USN LSTS and the Langkawi were utilised as tenders BUT that was during a period when the bulk of ships operated were FACs and Vosper made PCs with limited endurance and range; as well as limited food and water supplies on board.

    The MRSS on paper will be able to perform a variety of roles but some of these roles will be performed more often than others and some can be done using other means.

  18. 2 questions..
    1. Any chance for the Singapore endurance 160 to compete?
    2. The proposed MRSS will be a 10K tons Makassar class. It will be a new breed so I will consider it a new class rather than a makassar class and RMN will be the first customer. Is it safe?

    Reply
    I don’t think they will have a competition. That’s one reason I am wary of saying that it will be a cost saving decision. We will not know whether we can get a cheaper and better ship as it is basically a sole sourced negotiated contract just like the LMS. Whether or not it will be a safe ship is beyond me.

  19. Romeo,

    If indeed the RMN specifies certain modifications; this will not change the fact that the hull is still based on the Makassar class. Also, if we perform modifications that are not approved by the OEM then the OEM will not certify the ship and will not provide any warranty should anything go wrong – any modifications done will have to be approved by the OEM and the level of modifications done [if any] will not be to the extent of our ships becoming a very different class.

    Some keep pointing out that the Makassar is ”affordable” but it really depends on how we fit it out and the fact that at present ”zero” has been allocated for the project : it has been registered and approved by MINDEF indeed but no actual cash has been allocated yet. Looking at our history, we have a tendency to gold plate a lot of the stuff we buy, e.g. the A-109s have a MAWS and IR jammer and the Kedahs – despite having no missiles – were fitted with high end sensors and various internal stuff. As such its not inconceivable that our Makassars will cost more than what the RTN and PN paid for theirs as theirs have minimal D/C standards and the PN didn’t specify any major modifications.

    As for Endurance anything is possible but the key facts remain : it hasn’t been offered and no local company has tied up with ST Marine. Also, it’s a great design but we have no idea if it fulfills the RMN’s requirements. Indeed it fulfills the requirements of others but this doesn’t mean it will fulfill ours as different navies have different ideas as to what they need and want. The same goes with the LMS which some have gone gaga about and which was driven largely by finances : we have no idea if the LMS will replace some capabilities we’ve lost [8 FACS with no missiles and 4 corvettes with no missiles and ASW capability].

    and provide the desired future capabilities.

  20. Marhalim,
    Wonder how sure will the MRSS will be from Indonesia and not from China? We know all of our procurement are based on politicians and the current leadership look extra “reliance” on them.

    Reply
    Because the China MRSS deal has sailed away. It’s all quiet on that front after the LMS deal. Indonesia is one of our closest neighbor, its not like we are buying them from Japan.

  21. “we have no idea if the LMS will replace some capabilities we’ve lost [8 FACS with no missiles and 4 corvettes with no missiles and ASW capability].”

    True, and if indeed the LMS turns out as a glorified patrol craft with a gun and possibly no compatible or none combat system (significant because it would have little to no upgrade potential and networking with other assets), the RMN would be leaning heavily on the LCS, Lekius and Kasturis for high end combat capability.

    The 15-5 plan calls for 6 additional LCS, 12 additional NGPV and 14 additional LMS. But all of this is expensive and imaginary at this point. If it doesn’t materialise, then we aren’t making up much of what we lost with the FACs.

    We talk about 15-5 saving costs, but there’s no escaping LCS and Scorpenes are expensive to operate. 15-5 is a good plan but the later units might well not materialise.

  22. Most of us dont see wat is coming in the future…but some do….actually these mpss is just part of a big combine armada incase thing bad happen in scs…its just to say malaysia share n contribution to the combined armada just like other asean countries they will never fight alone but some how contibute to the combined armada IF EVER NEEDED…….the dragon slowly n surely is growing its fangs n talons…to breath fire ball takes time….

  23. RedSot – ”actually these mpss is just part of a big combine armada incase thing bad happen in scs…its just to say malaysia share n contribution to the combined armada just like other asean countries they will never fight alone”

    Your are being overly dramatic. The RMN has a need for MRSS for more mundane reasons. As to the Sptralys [talk of war has been around since the 1980’s!] the various claimants simply don’t have the needed mechanisms in place to operate together as part of a
    ”combined armada”. Even some NATO countries still have interoperability issues with one another and you’re talking about Souhth East Asian countries who never operate together and who have varying levels of capabilities.

    AM – ”If it doesn’t materialise, then we aren’t making up much of what we lost with the FACs”

    What the RMN Chief is doing is to press for requirements and hopefully some get approved. It remains to be seen for how long he will stay in his position. After his retirement the next RMN Chief could have very different ideas, plus our requirements then could also be different. For all we know, after the first 4 LMS have been delivered; the next 4 might be from a different yard and be of a different design! Stranger things have happened.

    AM – ”then we aren’t making up much of what we lost with the FACs.”

    Indeed. What we are getting are newer hulls with better sea keeping and better sensors than the FACs but the fact remains that we are not replacing the combat capabilities we lost. Then again some one can argue that since the threat of war is slim; what’s important is to first make up the numbers to enable the RMN to meet its peacetime commitments [missiles not needed for this] and then worry about fitting the first 4 ”with” missiles.

  24. “For all we know, after the first 4 LMS have been delivered; the next 4 might be from a different yard and be of a different design! Stranger things have happened.”

    That might happen for many reasons. The usual business-political interference is one. Another thing is we don’t know how good the Durjoys fit the intended LMS roles or even what those intended roles are! No one has said anything definitive.

    And we don’t know how good the RMN’s user experience will be, despite the progress Chinese builders have made. The systems are new and non standard to our fleet. A bad case would be doing the Laksamanas all over again and naturally the navy will be keen on a new class altogether. Then it won’t be 15-5 but rather 15-X.

  25. Before you overstate the technical interoperability, you should know you have equally overstated the amount of political will.

    There not only is no mutual pact in ASEAN, there isn’t even political will to move in that direction. With regard to China, Asean is split politically with Thailand, the Philippines and us roughly in one degree of “friendliness” to China and Laos and Cambodia a notch up.

    And in NATO, getting a joint response to an attack requires consultations under article 5 and that takes time. If and until you get a joint response, you’re on your own.

  26. What will pose issues is the fact that we will have a need for various Western gear and we have to make sure that the gear works with whatever Chinese stuff there is. If we specify a lot of Western gear that drives the price up but if we specify a lot of Chinese gear then it keeps the price down but brings along with it issues of commonality and integration; which will then defeat one of the the main purposes of the 15/5 : to reduce the footprint by achieving more commonality. .

    The issue with the Spratlys has only been regularly making headlines over the past 10 years or so but [which some appear to overlook] has always been there. The difference being that in the past China didn’t focus on the issue too much; unlike now when it has greater diplomatic and military clout to do so. I first heard mention of the Spratlys being a potential ”flashpoint” back in the early 1980’s. If trouble erupts over the issue, our main worry will
    not be the MAF’s ability to defend the Spratlys [it can’t even if we raised our budget 10 times over] but the economy.

  27. commonality…

    You can standardise with chinese hardware that uses western ammo and open source software systems, while phasing out obsolete western equipments. When all new ships uses some kind of chinese equipment (lms, 2nd batch kedah, mrss), then that would be the new “commonality”.

    As for integration, new generation softwares are using mostly common language, like c++, unlike unique software codes in ancient times (which caused problems even integrating among purely western systems). Think about it like the difference between installing DOS programmes and installing “apps” in your handphone. Western/chinese mix of systems already used on a few classes, for thai, pakistan, bangladesh and algerian navies.

  28. “If trouble erupts over the issue, our main worry will
    not be the MAF’s ability to defend the Spratlys [it can’t even if we raised our budget 10 times over] but the economy”

    Even in peacetime, the economy is the main reason Laos and Cambodia will not support any hypothetical ASEAN moves against China, whether political or military. Their economies are very dependent on China. And of course they have no SCS claims.

    Another obstacle to a joint ASEAN force is lack of a common threat to all the member’s territories. An arrangement works only if members can agree to a geographical scope for it- but here, every country has different quarrels, sometimes with each other. Not all have claims in the SCS so don’t feel a need to antagonise China.

  29. ……. – ”for thai, pakistan, bangladesh and algerian navies.”

    It’s telling that these navies – especially Pakistan and Thailand – who have a history of operating Chinese gear; saw fit to include [more expensive] Western gear on their Chinese made hulls, plus the costs of paying someone to be systems integrator.

    On the LMS – as mentioned previously – there is no certainty that we’ll place a follow order for more LMS made by the same yard or even the same country but what is for certain is that the RMN – for a long time to come – will still have a preference for Western gear and will be a predominantly Western equipped navy. As such, any suggestion that we should equip other future ships with Chinese gear merely because we’ve ordered 4 Chinese made ships that will be equipped with ”some” [that’s the key word] Chinese gear is premature.

    Another issue is the fact that quite a bit of the naval stuff offered by China is mainly operated by PLAN and a few other 3rd/developing world navies; as opposed to some of the Western stuff we operate or are going to, that is operated by certain NATO navies who tend to have higher technical and evaluation standards compared to the present navies who have bought Chinese.

    AM,

    One reason ASEAN’s lasted so long is because members agree to dis-agree and agree that each member will pursue its own foreign/security policy as long as it’s not detrimental to other members. ASEAN often gets a lot of flak, some warranted some not. People sometimes equate it to the EU which is silly as EU countries have a longer shared history, including 2 devastating wars.

    ASEAN actually has had some successes; namely over Cambodia where various members cooperated in providing the Khmer resistance with training [us] and arms [Singapore] and together with the UN helped create the right conditions for the holding of elections. The fact remains that 2 ASEAN members fought a border clash and 1 also fought 2 border clashes with neighbours that later joined ASEAN but as a whole ASEAN does have a history of standing together when it has to.

  30. ………..,

    ”Commonality” with regards to the fact that the LCS and Kedahs will have zero commonality with the LMS in the event that the LMS has mostly Chinese stuff and I’m not referring to ”obsolete Western” stuff which anyhow will be gone with the FACs and Laksamanas. When the LCS enters service we’ll have 2 SSMs : NSM and Exocet. Adding a 3rd missile on the LMS; whether Chinese or otherwise would be tomfoolery; as would buying small numbers of other stuff that would require separate support and training arrangements to be made. No doubt we already operate various types of Western gear but some of them [despite being from different OEMs] share some levels of commonality with regards to support/test equipment. We already operate 2 types of NATO compatible data links. Surely nobody would suggest we get a Chinese data link on the LMS as that would mean the Chinese one would be incompatible with existing ones and in the event we get a Western CMS then we’d have to integrate the Chinese one to it.

    Yes, as you point out, we can achieve commonality by buying Chinese gear for our future ships but this isn’t going to happen. I prefer to stick to present realities rather than possible scenarios which won’t materialise. If the RMN had a choice which wasn’t governed by finances; there would be zero ”Made in China” stuff.

    With regards to integration; no doubt there is new software and various codes on the market but the plain fact remains that integrating stuff to other stuff which run on different systems, software, etc is still a huge problem and not as clear cut as you make it out to be. If it was, it would make things a whole lot easier for a lot of countries, not just us. I make no claims to be a integration, software or systems expert but I’m aware of integration issues some face integrating Western stuff to Western stuff [as well as issues others still face when ”mix and matching” Western and non-Western stuff] and here we are talking about integrating Western to Chinese stuff.

  31. Still, we cannot hold hope that ASEAN will stand together on the SCS any time soon. If we want a body to advance its claims on it, we have to assemble a separate coalition of claimants with the will to join it. The trouble is, I don’t know if we are willing to be a part of such a body.

    Resources are an issue too. However, it does not take a lot to garrison all our possessions and acquire the assets to provide some overwatch from the shore. These will not win a shooting war but can avoid outright seizure of the features we garrison. Vietnam does have a large number of such garrisons that they started building in the 80s with limited technology and resources. It is not an expensive venture but has prevented all those possessions with garrisons from being seized.

  32. AM,

    Ironic isn’t it? When we first embarked on Operation Tugu in the 1980’s our main concern was Vietnam and to a lesser extent the Philippines. When we carried out Operation Petaling in 1999 we were worried about the same countries. I have a friend who took part in it; he said that assets from various countries were keeping track of the convoy that brought the barges all the way from Penang. Today, our main concern is China. During that period the Spratlys wasn’t on China’s priorities, unlike now.

    It may not have been expensive per say but it was resource intensive. Operation Petaling involved quite a few RMN ships plus RMAF assets, including those that were placed on alert at Labuan.

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