SGPV/LCS and the Korean Ulsan-1 frigate

SHAH ALAM: I am not going to say that our upcoming SGPV/LCS ship is the same animal as the South Korean new FPX Ulsan-1 frigate. But both ships are almost similar in dimensions, armaments and roles. Like us, the Koreans are building 27 of these ships but unlike us, the Ulsan-1 is mostly designed for patrol duties.

For blue/brown water roles, the Ulsan-1 will be part of battle group headed by RPKN Aegis destroyers. For more detailed background on the FPX please go here

From the story, it appears that the Korean frigate will cost around RM1 billion, almost a dead ringer for our own SGPV/LCS. But it is only equipped with the Mark 31 to kill jets and fast boats (fitted not equipped with the first batch NGPV) instead of the more expensive ESSM which is rumoured to be the solution for our ship. Note that the story also stated that a single RAM system costs around US$17 million.

The Ulsan-1 frigates are expected to be in service, all of them, by 2020. As for us, the six SGPV/LCS will most probably be in service by 2017-2020 period but as the fate of the other 21 ship remained uncertain mostly due to our budget limitations.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2191 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. ESSM is reportedly cheaper than ASTER 15 but I won’t be surprised if the LCS’s end up with VL MICA to cut down on the overall costs.

    I dont know whether VL Mica is cheaper than ESSM. It could be cheaper but with limited numbers it maybe expensive still in the long run.

    BTW, it appears that Oto Melara will be offering the Strales system for the SGPV. As you this is the system for the DART ammunition and RF guidance.
    From Oto Melara website
    “The Strales system is a remarkable evolution for the 76/62 naval artilleries. It includes three main components: a 76/62 naval gun, DART precision guided ammunition and a Radio Frequency Guidance System with associated electronics.”

  2. ESSM supposedly has the ability to deal with supersonic missiles unlike Sea Sparrow/Aspide, Sea Wolf and RAM, but I’m not sure if MICA can.
    I’m not sure about MICA’s maximum effective range though compared to ESSM. With a total of 16 VLS’s on each LCS, that’s 96 missiles, at a few million RM each! I was under the impression that ESSM was originally selected for the canceled Lekiu Batch 2’s because it was cheaper than ASTER 15.

    Checks showed that each of the ESSM cost between USD640,000 to USD800,000.

  3. The only problem with our SGPV is that the RMN yet been able to assure it is not another FFBNW PV. If they are indeed planning to do otherwise, it is very stupid till this date they keep their mouth shut about the onboard major systems as these information can be easily found on the web. Bad PR is to blame.

  4. The SGPV project will span the 10th and 11th MP. RM6 billion is the allocation provided in the 10th Malaysia Plan. I expect the total costs of the 6 boats to be closer to RM12 billion.

  5. Hui,

    It is very normal, when negotiating with several potential vendors, not to publicly released any information, not stupid at all, and hardly bad PR.

    With regards to whether or not it will be Fitted With or Fitted For, the RMN and the government has already announced that they will be fitted full-spec. What they have not announced is what systems will be selected.

  6. Azlan,
    What I mean full spec description does not mean a list a component with the detail name. It can easily describe as SHORAD, Phase Radar, SONAR,tonnage and basic capacity etc. It is the basic in a presentation to give numbers and names rather than giving vague promises. The public wants an assurance for the 1bil they are going to pay.

    They are already in trouble for announcing the budget without fully disclosing the details and had already said since others don’t disclose details we will also will not do so. However I agree with you in the current situation with the Abdul Razak Baginda factor in mind it would be best for all if the full payment details are disclosed during the contract. Just who got what and nothing else. Yes some might still use it for their own end (this amount paid for the SAM could built 100 clinics or so) but at least we will know that no one apart from the OEM make money from the deal. But of course local agents will also get their share as they will be the one signing the contract with Mindef

  7. Marhalim,

    Yes maybe in the interest of everyone, a full price list should be revealed. That will contribute to more transparency and at least then the PKR MP’s won’t have more issues to cry foul on for political milage. My understanding from what I heard is that way before Boustead was awarded the contract the RMN had already gained government approval to ensure the LCS is ”Fitted With” and not ”Fitted For”. Anyhow, the government has already made clear the LCS will be ”Fitted With”.

    My main concern with the LCS programme is that due to a lack of funds or a price increase for whatever reasons, some items – namely the AD missiles – will be scaled back. Like I said before as the LCS will cost a bomb and will be our TEAM A, perhaps for routine patrolling of our waters and other peactime tasks, we should get something similiar to the Jerong class, armed with nothing heavier than a 76mm and a 20mm.

    Our patrol forces really need a boost but it seemed even the MMEA is getting side-tracked and not paying too much intention for the unglamorous but truly important job of securing our borders

  8. Marhalim, you have a point in that someone might raise the cost of the programme against other projects that are perceived to be more benefical to the rakyat and raise an issue yet again. In the book – Defence Spending in Malaysia, yes the one with the F-16 on the cover, written by the NGO who was a former DAP man, the author mentions something about Malaysia still spending on defence despite the Confrontation ending 40 odd years ago!!!!

    And that is exactly the problem, because the government has mishandled or f****d up a number of defence projects and because we face no threats state threats, a large part of the population, not only NGO’s, politicians and left wing socialists, are of the mistaken opinion that we should actually drastically scale back our defence budget. I get sick and tired of hearing the common cry of “””WE ARE NOT GOING TO WAR ANY TIME SOON. IF WAR COMES THEN WE CAN SPEND””

    One reason for all the bad press: Abdul Razak Baginda. Its bad enough that he profited from a defence deal, he got away with murder, literally.

  9. I am dsicouraged by our inability to see the benefits accrued by the Royal Danish Navy with their STANFLEX program. Strangely enough the Danes don’t have different combat systems in every class of vessel. Those cunning Danes even use the same electronics in many cases. I’m not at all certain we can do things like that here in Malaysia…..just seems too….sensible.
    I find the LCS moniker hilarious since they will not be full spectrum platforms for littoral warfare since they cannot deal with mines and will only have a 76mm pop gun for land attack.

  10. LITTORAL COMBAT SHIP sounds begitu canggih compared to Kedah class Batch 2’s or 2nd Batch of NGOPVS. Due to Amin Shah, to use the term MGOPV would remind the public of a certain unpleaseantness regarding wasted funds. I suspect that the term was also used to impress the pencil pushers at the MINDEF and the MOF. Bureaucrats LOVE fanciful sounding names and desgnations….

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