Another Perspective on the LMS

LMS A Concept

Guest Post by ,,,
SHAH ALAM: Another Perspective on the LMS. A lot has been said about TLDM’s 15 to 5 Armada Transformation Programme that includes a new ship concept called the Littoral Mission Ship (LMS). Some points that is known about the LMS requirement by TLDM:
– 18 ships of a single class
– To be built locally
– Around 70m in length
– To replace the tasks carried out by Laksamana Corvettes, FAC (M), FAC (G), MCMV, and remaining Vosper PC (and if it is really just 5 classes, the hydrographic and fast troop vessels too)
– Carry out surveillance work, Humanitarian aid and disaster relief
– Smaller, less capable and less expensive than the LCS
– Rumored price cap of RM200 million (usd45-50 million)
The navy’s plan is for the 18 LMS to complement the planned 12 Gowinds, 18 Kedah class OPV’s and 4 Scorpenes.

LMS Concept.
LMS Concept.

The Reality (as I see it)
The LMS has to cover a multitude of diverse taskings from warfighting up to HADR in a single ship. To have all the ships to the same standard would mean either all of them are to a lower spec, or compromises to any one of the tasks that it needed to cover. Trying to cram too much capability in a single platform actually has a negative effect on the cost, as the JSF fighter programme has shown. Getting more Gowinds, OPV and Scorpenes at the same time is also very costly.

For example most of the current navy’s budget is consumed by the 6 Gowind and Scorpene refit, how in the future would you get another similar batch of Gowinds plus 12 OPV, 2 more scorpenes and not to mention the 18 LMS at the same time?

A concept OPV 50.
A concept OPV 50.

My take on the LMS concept.
In my opinion the tasks needed to be covered by the LMS is so diverse that it could not be cost effectively done by a single ship type. It would be more cost effective to split the LMS requirement and capability into 2 types of ship, a high end (LMS-A) and low end (LMS-B). Something similar is also done by South Korea for their PKX project, with PKX-A for high end and PKX-B for low end capability. My take on the LMS concept:
– Must be strictly be defined by its operating area. Malacca Straits and ESSCOM would be its main operating area, preferably under the radar coverage of coastal surveillance radars.
– To excel in asymmetric warfare with non-state actors, terrorists and pirates. To be able to engage and fight a swarm-type attack (something like 12-20 fast boats) comfortably. Not to fight submarines or large frigates. Not to be seen as a lower cost LCS/SGPV/Gowind frigate but an optimized ship concept for asymmetric warfare in littoral and near shore areas.
– Seaward Defence, to prevent non-state actors to reach Malaysian shores (preventing another Lahad Datu type of mass landings)
– Able to do sea denial (blockade, ship raiding, minelaying) and also anti-sea denial (MCM, striking fast boats and enemy FACs)
– To have specialized VBSS teams and RHIB for rapid ship boardings.
– Manned areas armored to take hits from small caliber arms (AK-47 and similar)
– High end versions capable of self defence against AShM, aircafts.
– Low end versions to be able to do multiple tasks such as logistics, HADR, SAR, Dive support, troop ferrying (subtype) and Hydrography (subtype)

LMS-A concept

The LMS A should have a similar size and capability to the Laksamana class corvettes, except for the long range AShM capability. It should have a full naval standard for survivability, with multiple waterproof compartments etc. What could be done is to copy the laksamana hull design layout, and integrate it with a more modern superstructure with centralized mission center in the bridge like the Gowind concept.

LMS A Concept
LMS A Concept

To reduce the crew size, a radical concept could be implemented, harnessing the push for Network Centric Operations (NCO). Instead of a large crew to man the CIC, a virtual CIC center could be built onshore, with teams manning the CIC in rotation for 24h coverage. The virtual CIC team is not attached to each ship, but tasked to only to the ships on operational patrol.

The VCIC would coordinate and monitor the costal surveillance radar coverage around the ship; track and identify ships and aircraft around the LMS; to contact and coordinate with other agencies on behalf of the ship; to go through and interpret radar, ESM and AIS data from the ship. The ship would not have any helicopter capability. As it is operating close to shore or around floating bases, any helicopter support would be from those places, or from Gowinds and OPV’s.

Its main sensors are in an integrated mast, similar to the Gowinds. The main situational awareness capability would be a 360˚ staring type EO system. This would be the game changer, the difference between situational awareness of previous ships and the new LMS. It would be good to have the Thales Gatekeeper system, which has a range of about 8km all around the ship. The Gatekeeper could detect and track up to 64 surface and 32 air targets simultaneously. This would enable small and fast boats to be quickly visualized, identified and tracked. This EO system complements usual radar and ESM systems as the ships eye and ears. If the Gatekeeper visual range is not enough, a vertically launched UAV, the CH-901 could be used. 4-6 CH-901 launchers could be fitted.

The latest generation MSI DS30 30mm gun complete with EO sight and remote operator console. Two similar system will be installed on each LCS.
The latest generation MSI DS30 30mm gun complete with EO sight and remote operator console. Two similar system will be installed on each LCS.

As for the armament, the main gun would be a refurbished and modernized 57mm Bofors mark 1 recycled from FAC’s. This would be supplemented by MSI Seahawk 30mm RWS on each side of the ship. Operationally the 30mm would be the main gun for shooting at speedboats, either singly or in a swarm. As for missiles, for attacking simultaneous fast targets in a swarm attack, 16 Longbow Hellfire missile fitted for vertical launch from the common helicopter launcher mounted in a gas containment box. The radar guided Hellfire is targeted using the ships radar, allowing simultaneous targeting, unlike the normal laser beam riding versions.

This has a range of about 8km, which is more than adquate for shooting at speedboats. For self defence against AShM, aircrafts and helicopters, a single 15 round FL-3000N launcher would be placed behind the bridge. At the stern of the vessel, a twin ramp for two 7m RHIB would be fitted, similar in concept to the LMV. This ramp could also be used to launch USV for MCM duties.

FL-3000 CIWS launcher.
FL-3000 CIWS launcher.

Immediately in front of the stern ramp for the RHIB, would be a multi mission area that could accept 2 TEU containers. This would be the area for the MCM modules to be fitted. There should also be a 15 ton knuckle boom crane in this area, for self loading of containers and other items.

C705 missile. Via...
C705 missile. Via…

This area could also be fitted with modularized AShM, for cost and commonality with my NGPV/Meko A100/Kedah batch II plan it would be the C-705 (yes I know the recent launch failure of TNI-AL, but I don’t think it is the missile’s fault. If houthi rebels with commercial grade radar can hit a UAE vessel with a Chinese missile, why can’t anyone else?).

A module of up to 16 missiles is possible. As it is FFBNW, it would be likely that most of the time no AShM would be carried.

LMS-A costs
I foresee the hull and machineries to be about US$40 million, electronics US$20 million and weapons US$20 million, for a total cost of US$80 million per ship (which is still within the “80% cheaper than the LCS/SGPV/Gowind” quote from the admiral).

LMS-A Specifications

Length : 65-70m
Width : 10m
Displacement : 6-700tonnes
Engine : 4x MTU 20,400bhp
Speed : 35-37knots
Range : 3000nm @ 12knots
Crew : 35-45 (with 12-16 dedicated VBSS personnel)
CMS : DCNS Setis, thales tacticos or similar
Radar : Thales NS100 or similar
Secondary radar : Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye LPI
EO : Thales Gatekeeper
EW : Thales Vigile LW, jammers
Sonar : obstacle and mine avoidance sonar
Decoys : SRBOC and torpedo decoys
Main gun : 1x Bofors SAK Mk1 57mm
Secondary guns : 2x MSI Seahawk DS30M mark2 30mm, 2-4x 0.50cal machine guns
Non-lethal : 2x LRAD 500x or equivalent
Missiles : 16x Longbow Hellfire ATGM, 1x FL-3000N (15 cell), 16x C-705 (FFBNW)
UAV : 4-6x CH-901
Boats : 2x 6.5-7m RHIB with stern ramp launcher
Multi mission area : for 2 TEU containers, 15T crane.

LMS-B Concept
The main selling point of the LMS is that it could also do HADR. A full fledged naval ship could probably do only a token contribution to any HADR situation. A lower spec’ed (and priced) ship based on COTS design could be used to fulfill some of the core LMS tasks and also giving a substantial HADR capability. Even this could not be a true single type multipurpose ship for all the tasks. There would be 3 sub designs for the LMS-B:
– LMS-B1 – The baseline type, for general patrol duties
– LMS-B2 – Multipurpose logistics version, with reduced bunk area to accommodate 60 person in a ferry type seating arrangement. To patrol and support the Spratly bases.
– LMS-B3 – Specialized hydrographic survey version.
All versions of the LMS-B would be based on the Damen FCS 5009 Security. It is a customized version of an oil & gas crew and supply boat. As a commercial O&G design, it has very large fuel and fresh water tanks (to supply drilling rigs, barges or platforms), Dynamic Positioning (able to stay in a designated spot by thrusters, no need to weigh anchor), good seakeeping capabilities in bad weather and a low acquisition (mass produced design) and operational cost.


All of the LMS-B versions must be able to perform patrolling tasks that is currently handled by the FAC (G) with similar performances. The long range by the big fuel tanks would enable it to remain on patrol for a long time, ideal for shadowing and stalking other ships (which is an advantage compared to current FAC’s). Its high top speed along with the large fuel tanks means that it could be rapidly redeployed to a far location without stopping to refuel (great for quick HADR response).

The main gun for all LMS-B versions would be a MSI seahawk 30mm RWS, it would seem like a downgrade from the FAC (G), but with a higher rate of fire, higher accuracy with much more modern stabilization systems and optronics, it would perform as well if not better against small fast boats.

LMS B2 concept
LMS B2 concept

Two 4x 0.50cal manned machine guns would be fitted around the ship. For VBSS, a 6.5m RHIB on a davit would be fitted on the deck (LMS-B1 only). All of the ships to have a 15T knuckle boom crane for self handling of containers, boats and other items on the cargo deck. For the LMS-B2 version, bunks for crew would be reduced, and seating area for 60 persons would be installed (compare this to the FTV, only 30 passengers and smaller cargo volume).

LMS B3 concept. This is a commercial variant of the Sea Axe patrol.
LMS B3 concept. This is a commercial variant of the Sea Axe patrol.

For the LMS-B3 version, various sonars such as side scan, multibeam echo sounders etc would be fitted on the hull. The rear deck area would be fitted with a helideck, and cabins for survey workstations would be installed under the helideck. For logistics support the LMS-B could be used to supply fuel and fresh water to remote island bases, it has its own pump to transfer fuel and fresh water. This would be useful in HADR situation, where it can supply fuel and water to places cut off by earthquake, tsunami or typhoons. The large deck could be used to carry up to 6 TEU containers – MCM modules, Diving decompression modules, torpedo and missile recovery modules, workshop modules; for HADR water desalination and bottling modules, medical modules; cargo, boats, CB90’s or whatever that fits the deck. For sea denial, these ships could also be used as a minelayer, the large decks ideal for carrying mines. The ships could also be used as emergency tugs, to rescue small ships that has broken down. It could also tow floating targets and other training instruments.

LMS-B cost
The basic LMS-B would cost US$15 million (the benchmark is the P511 Guardiao, a higher spec Damen Stan Patrol 5009 version that costs euro 10.9 million) , the LMS-B3 is US$50 million per ship due to the specialized hydrographic survey equipment fitted.

LMS-B specification
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+12VBSS (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 MSI Seahawk DS30M mark2 30mm
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.

MCM operations

The future MCM operations could be based on independent MCM teams with modular equipments, that could operate either from the shore (in a harbor, river mouth), dedicated ships (LMS) or any ships of opportunity (LPD, commercial vessels, allied ships).

Atlas Eletronik unmanned mine hunting mission system, ARCIMS.
Atlas Eletronik unmanned mine hunting mission system, ARCIMS.

There are some mature capabilities available now, like the Atlas Elektronik ARCIMS and other systems by Kongsberg and Saab. Minesweeping would be done by USV’s and minehunting by UUV and ROV’s. A MCM task force comprising of 1 MCM team with 1 LMS-A and 1 LMS-B1@2 would be the main MCM capability of the TLDM. A LMS-B3 could also be deployed to support MCM mission to take into advantage of the sonar capability of the ship.

Total cost of the LMS programme

– 9x LMS-A, each US$80 mil – US$720 mil
– 12x LMS-B1, each US$15mil – US$180 mil
– 3x LMS-B2, each US$15mil – US$45 mil
– 2x LMS-B3, each US$50mil – US$100 mil
– 4 set of containerised MCM modules -US$355 mil
Total of US$1.4 billion

Fleet distribution of the LMS

This is my take for the fleet distribution of the LMS ships (alongside the rest of the fleet) by operational area

HQ (Lumut)
2 FFG gowind
3 OPV batch I
3 LMS-B1
2 MCM team

MAWILLA 1 (Kuantan)
3 OPV batch I
3 LMS-B1

MAWILLA2 (Kota Kinabalu)
4 FFG gowind
6 OPV batch II ASW
3 LMS-B2 (pulau layang2)
2 MCM team

MAWILLA3 (Langkawi)
3 LMS-B1

3 LMS-B1

and 2 LMS-B3 at Pusat Hidrografi Port Klang

IMO my idea of fleet distribution is determined by the security level of each area (depending on how many possible threats and strategic concerns). Do note that there would also be APMM assets patrolling those same areas, so the projected numbers should be adequate for the seaward security and defence of Malaysia.

The author proposed MRSS based on Makassar class LPDs.
The author proposed MRSS based on Makassar class LPDs.

This is basically my very long 2 cents about this matter (Can be a base for a Phd study maybe LoL!). As usual, lets compare this to the real LMS that will be acquired by TLDM.

* The views presented here are of the author. All pictures supplied by author.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1187 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Naval VL Hellfire? Didn’t find any reference on this. Sounds like an unfielded untested launcher.

    I too was wondering about this, I am aware of Sea Brimstone proposal from MBDA though.

  2. Great article.
    It really highlight the challenges facing the LMS concept.

    It will never be easy to have a single platform to fulfill so many requirements but with so many versions as suggested not so sure if the service will like it.

    Yet hoping that a single platform to do everything that it envisages well will be a “tall order”.

    Personally, I like the concept proposed by TKMS for the Polish Navy in the form of Meko 100 derived 2015 (the details you can find the web address below.)

    What I like is the 360 Bridge and have the feasibility to fit SSM and short range SAM. if the hangar is removed then the length will be shorter. it can fit up to 4 20ft container under the heli deck.

    The best is BNS can used the Kedah class and “miniaturized” to fit the concept similar as above.

  3. Any recent news about Malaysia plan to create a marine corps?

    It was just a proposal from Dasar, which had been summarily dismissed by the Armed Forces which were not consulted on it in the first place.

  4. @nimitz

    The longbow hellfire is going to be fielded on us navy LCS

    For more info on this Google:
    Longbow hellfire LCS

  5. Mistral (16K tons, 160 crew) is more size and capability than we need. But our Inderapura (8K tons, 224 crew) was probably more expensive to operate.

  6. The most cost effective MRSS is the Daewoo designed Makassar class LSD and derivatives. Just usd50 mil per ship. Now in service, in building or planned for Indonesia, Philippines, Peru and the latest Brazil.

    Something that catches my eye is the new concept from Remontowa Shipbuilding Poland called the Stealth Logistic Support Vessel. Would probably cost 4-6 times of the Makassar’s though.

  7. The most cost effective MRSS is the Daewoo designed Makassar class LSD and derivatives. Just usd50 mil per ship. Now in service, in building or planned for Indonesia, Philippines, Peru and the latest Brazil.

    My proposed design based on the Makassar class

    Something that catches my eye is the new concept from Remontowa Shipbuilding Poland called the Stealth Logistic Support Vessel. Would probably cost 4-6 times of the Makassar’s though.

  8. Only 3 SSK’s?I thought TLDM wanted four of them.Will the second batch of OPV’s armed with missiles and stuffs since it’s dedicated to ASW or will it be used as detection tool only?

    Based on current budget even three is unaffordable. Not much hard info is available for the second batch of Kedah class is no more money AFAIK have been committed to it. RMN may want this and that but realistically they need to fund the upgrade of the current Kedah class first before they can get the second batch. I can foresee the LMS being funded but not much else

  9. @ Trafalgar

    The 15-5 orbat in the article is my idea of a logical and affordable plan.

    I’ve posted this before but lets put it here for discussion.

    ***** From the TLDM graphics, we could guesstimate the total cost of the TLDM 15-5 plan.

    TLDM 15-5 plan
    – 6 more SGPV – usd2.8bil
    – 12 more NGPV, say each usd160mil – usd2bil (this cost is based on my idea of the new NGPV, remember the original NGPV costs usd300mil each)
    – 2 more Scorpene – usd1bil
    – 18 LMS, each usd50mil cap – usd900mil
    – 3 MRSS, based on Makassar class LPD – usd150mil

    A total of usd6.85 Billion. This is like double the current budget allocation.

    My idea of the 15-5 plan
    – 6 more NGPV, say each usd160mil – usd1bil
    – 1 more Scorpene – usd500mil
    – 26 LMS, with hi/lo variants, MCM modules and hydro survey versions – usd1.4bil (as per this article)
    – 4 MRSS, 2 LPD + 2 logistics replenishment version based on Makassar class LPD – usd300mil

    A total of usd3.2 Billion. Around the current allocation amount.

  10. below a good comment of the areas TLDM is operating in

    “”Malaysia has 4,765 km off coastline. Along with neighboring Indonesia and Singapore, Malaysia sits astride the Malacca Straits, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The RMN operates in an “extreme littoral” environment, marked by varied environmental conditions, heavy traffic volume, and short reaction times.””

  11. Nice drawings and innovative concepts.

    – The LMS – even if fitted out with varying modules – should be grouped together rather than being parceled out in penny packets. Having them spread out leads to support issues. At the moment there’s no choice but to spread out the Kedahs due to the shortage of hulls.

    – The issue of funding for the Scorpenes and other assets remains uncertain but this is not the case with the LMS as a large chunk will come from surplus or unused funds from the operational budget. Under the current setup unused funds are recycled back but the RMN has managed to sell the idea to divert unused funds to the LMS programme. Other funds will be obtained from savings made by retiring expensive to maintain ships like the Laksamanas – the RMN Chief made this clear in an interview.

    – Long before the Houthis; Hezbollah had up a C-802 launcher to a commercial navigation radar. The problem here is that the missile’s crew has no idea what they’re firing at for lack of an ESM [all the see is a blob on the screen]; unless they have a spotter who has visual ID.

    – The MCM module. A wire sweep can and will be be done away with given the current practice of focusing more on USVs and ROVs to deal with moored, drifting or other types of mines. It is hoped that as time passes; currents and sea states will have less of an affect on USVs and ROVs, as is the case now. Another issue with ROVs and UUVs is that the number of mines that a ship can deal with is governed by the number of USVs and ROVs a ship has on its deck – no issue if only a few mines are encountered and if time’s not a factor. The great thing with the wire sweep – despite taking time to deploy and time to attach the cutters, kite and paravane – is that a ship could simultaneously deploy 2 wire sweeps [port and starboard] to simultaneously deal with several mines at once.

    – There is no intention of getting non Western made systems due to the need [and costs] to integrate it to the other Western systems onboard and the need to create separate channels of support. Buying cheaper [i.e. Chinese sourced] gear to cut costs will not make sense and will defeat the overall purpose if added costs is later incurred on integration. In the past we have faced delays integrating Western stuff to Western stuff. As such, unless it is forced to, the RMN won’t be sourcing non Western components/systems that require integration.

    – Recycling the 30 odd year old 57mm Mk1s to save costs is sound but my question is how long will Bofors continue to support the Mk1?

  12. It’s good to have two classes of LMS. Every piece of equipment on a ship adds to maintenance costs when the ship goes to sea. Since the low cap LMS has fewer systems, it adds less to costs when it goes on patrol. It allows our other ships to be better equipped.

    Remains to be seen how close the navy’s actual LMS will come to your suggestion. My gut feeling is it will be a rather simple ship with SSMs and a deck gun that directly replaces the FAC(M).

  13. There are mixed opinions on the LMS within the RMN. Some people are convinced and some are not – both opinions have merit. On paper, it’s a good plan – replacing a number of increasingly expensive and troublesome to maintain classes with a common design; in the knowledge that we’ll never have the cash to operate a large number of LCS/Kedahs and even if we did, there will be many instances in which a smaller, cheaper to operate design, is a more practical option to employ. It remains to be seen if the RMN gets to fit them out as desired and which design gets selected – this is my main concern.

    – Chances are, if there’s a natural disaster in Malaysia, the affected area will be easily accessible via road or air. Different compared to the Philippines and Indonesia which are archipelagic nations with hard to access areas. Yes the LMS will be able to perform HADR but I suspect that the mention of HADR is to further strengthen the RMN’s case for the LMS; as is the case with the MPSS, for which supporting UN deployments is currently used to justify it.

    – The main value in having Hellfire to deal with swarm attacks is its standoff range but how many targets can be engaged simultaneously or before any of the boats are in range to use whether weapons they have? Sure targets can be engaged ”simultaneously” but how many? After all we are talking about swarm tactics consisting of multiple boats coming from various directions. The best defence against swarm attacks remains early warning, maneuvering and either an auto cannon or [at closer ranges] mini guns [as used my many navies]. Like in the Gulf of Aden, a concern will be to keep such threats out of RPG range.

    – Basing the LMS on the Laksamana hull design layout is the last thing we should do as the Laksamana, being designed for the calm waters of the Mediterranean [calm compared to our operating environment] has poor sea keeping.

    – Having ‘x’ number of waterproof compartments is sound but also drives up the overall cost. Some navies divide their frigates [the Dutch 7 Provincien being one] into separate compartments, each able to take a direct hit from a medium size SSM. Another area is shockproof standards. The USN has high shockproof standards but can afford it. One reason why MCMVs are so expensive is their hulls have to be able to withstand an underwater detonation without knocking out any systems on the ship. I’m all for high DC standards but it will significantly drive up the overall costs and is one reason why the Makassar’s are affordable.

  14. @ azlan

    Thanks for the compliments

    – Grouping together all ships in one place only effective for navies who don’t have to defend their own waters and deploy to faraway places. This is also not suitable for ships with short ranges like corvettes or smaller.

    – The issue here is the budget cap of RM200million per ship adequate to properly equip the LMS. And this is before talking about all the mcm modules.

    – This point shows that integration of Chinese weapons should not be a big hurdle, the cms basically doesn’t need to “control” the missiles, as it is fire and forget. Weapons that need the cms to control and guide them is the problem.

    – For mcm, usv’s can be used to tow nowadays equipment to activate influence and noise activated mines. It is operated like a wire sweep but without the need of heavy paravanes and to manually shoot at mines that floats up after their wire is cut.

    – Going for all western weapons and equipment will not get the same specifications for the cost. Even with Chinese weapons the costs are above the usd50mil ceiling by usd30mil. For the budget to go fully westernised will only get you at best a brand new FAC(G) if not a glorified PC.

  15. …..,

    – No ……… Some of the problems we face [which I won’t mention in an open forum] are because various ships are based in penny packets. If we had our way the Kedahs wouldn’t be placed at so many different bases; it’s because we are forced to. If certain things on the Kedahs or Lekius break down, Teluk Sepanggar or Tanjung Gelang might not have what’s needed to fix the problem.

    – Even if integration is not an issue buying Chinese would mean having to establish a new support infrastructure. Even a stand alone system that’s not linked to the ships radar or director would be linked to the CMS; software issues involved here to get a common picture. Stand alone systems these days are not the norm. Various countries have gone for the cheaper route, only to realise later that ‘cheaper’ turned out to be opposite for various reasons.

    – I understand what you’re driving at with USVs and ROVs. I’m just pointing out that they’re issues involved and the technology is still not ”mature” given that it’s rapidly evolving and that many navies are still a bit undecided as to how to proceed with certainty.

    – No. One can have a fully ”Westernised” ship; standards just have to be lowered – not necessarily a bad thing as it depends on one’s operational requirements, i.e. we obviously don’t need an MPSS with USN DC standards.

  16. @ azlan

    – my main idea is for the LMS-A to be mainly designed to specifically tackle the swarm attack and non-state actors. This is what defines it as a LMS, rather than just merely a PC (policing duties) or a FAC (which is to shoot and scoot at larger ships). That is why it has a DS30M on each side and longbow hellfires, to shoot at small fast boats coming from all directions. Both the Thales Gatekeeper (google this for more info) 360 staring EO system and the Longbow Hellfire has similar range and envelope (8km), with the targetting of the longbow hellfire done by the ships radar before the missiles own MMW radar takes over. Close in duties would be handled by the DS30M and last line of defence would be the manned 0.50 guns. RPG’s are dangerous starting from around 1km range and if that is a big issue, rpg nets such as the RUAG Lasso or QinetiQ Q-net could be installed around the bridge.

    – Basing on the laksamana hull design. This s the benchmark performance and size that i targeted. That is also why i said that the LMS-A is designed specifically to operate in melacca straits and ESSCOM areas. The south china sea would be mostly the domain of the SGPV LCS and NGPV OPV. If there is a better hull design with similar performace, size and cost, by all means use that design instead.

  17. The chinese made ship?any news and under what category will it fit…….
    Btw nice article you did there mr. “…”

  18. Thanks …
    At least, you and i have the same idea that using single pltform for different role is not cost effective.
    To make it simple there is only 2 type hull needed for LMS. The 40-50 m LMS for patrol and FAC and The 60-70 m LMS for MCMV and hydrographic.

  19. …………….. – ”This is what defines it as a LMS, rather than just merely a PC (policing duties) or a FAC (which is to shoot and scoot at larger ships).”

    There is NO intention for the LMS to merely perform policing duties. As I said previously, great thought has been given as to how to fit out the LMS; based on operational requirements and issues with existing ships. Which is precisely why the RMN has looked at fitting out the class with various mission modules.

    – ”Basing on the laksamana hull design.”

    – ”This s the benchmark performance and size that i targeted.”

    The Laksamana hull design is the last thing the LMS should be ”based” on. Let me put it this way : the day the Laksamanas are broken for scrap or are used for target practice won’t be a day too soon. From Day One they were nothing but trouble : bad seakeeping, thirsty engines, outdated systems [when we got them the ships were already a decade old] and issues with the Aspide/director combination. If we want to base something on ”benchmark performance and size”; there are other, better, designs [as you indicated] we can use as a yardstick. The design of the Laksamana was designed for navies who wanted the firepower of a frigate/corvette based on a corvette size hull : neither here nor there which in addition to its other issues meant that Fincantieri had great difficulty disposing them; that is until we came along, thanks to Dr. M. Prior to agreeing to get the Laksamanas we first agreed to get the Lupos intended for Iraq.

    I understand why you brought in Hellfire. The idea is great in theory but in practice I’m not so sure. Again, my question is whether – if faced with a swarm attack – how many targets can be engaged simultaneously by Hellfire? I have no idea but assuming no swarm attacks are faced, what to do with Hellfire, assuming there are no land targets and given that there already is an SSM that can be used against ship targets at greater ranges than Hellfire. Note that the main defence against the possibility of swarm attacks remains an auto cannon and mini guns; in conjunction of course with early warning and maneuvering.

    ……….. – ”RPG’s are dangerous starting from around 1km range and if that is a big issue,”

    At the Gulf of Aden our SOPs required warning shots followed – if needed – by actual shots against any dhow approaching less a certain distance [in NM] to RMN or Malaysian flagged ships. This whole issue with swarm attacks was actually first raised – in recent times – against the Pasdaran, who have mounted 107mm rockets on Boghammer type boats and who would use such tactics – and did in the late 1980’s – to close the Straits of Hormuz.

  20. @ azlan

    I really think most of your concern about the laksamana hull design (which is different from the laksamanas per se) are not relevant in context of the LMS. There would be no obsolete electronics, no old hardwares to worry about. I don’t think there would be any “seakeeping” issues in melacca straits or lahad datu littorals. As for “thirsty” it is expected, as the top speed of the boat is 37knots. Compare that to 28knots of the gowinds.

    Hellfire. Why are you thinking of what to do with them if there is no swarm attacks? Do you think of what to do with exocets if there is no enemy frigates to shoot at? It is there to shoot small boats, in concert with the 30mm ds30m and 0.50cal guns. As you don’t need to track any targets during engagement, theoretically all 16 missiles could be launched at once. US navy tested shooting at 6 boats at once. Missing 1.

    You need to understand swarm attacks in context of Malaysia, not the persian gulf. What happened during lahad datu. Dozens of fast boats filled with assault rifle, machine gun and rpg armed insurgents trying to get to malaysian shores. The LMS (with ita sensors and weapons) must be able to stop them from reaching malaysian shores. A normal fac could engage them, but there would be a difficulty to shoot at so many boogies at the same time, and some might escape and reach malaysian shores.

  21. Not challenging your points and depending on the situation, some intruders will make a dash for Malaysian shores when spotted, even when fired upon.

    But most will turn tail. They are well aware that if spotted, the alert would be put out to our forces and their potential victims. At best they would be on the run. At worst, surrounded and shot at by a large variety of weapons. These are criminals, not soldiers on a vital mission.

  22. My mention of the Laksamanas was because you had mentioned the possibility of basing the LMS hull design on it. Yes it has no relevance to the LMS subject but why did you bring it up in the first place then? BTW, the ”top speed” and cruising speed are 2 entirely different things, 90 percent of the time ships don’t go at ”top speed”. Let me rephrase it : compared to other ships operated by the RMN in similar conditions, the Laksamanas were ”thirsty”. Compared to other ships operated, even in sea conditions that were mild; the Laksamanas had sea keeping that was not desirable; mainly because the hull was not designed for use in our conditions. Dispute it all you want but from Day One they were nothing but trouble. I was actually quite fond of them until I discovered the issues involved.

    Thank you but I’m keenly aware that there’s a gulf of difference between the Persian Gulf and our operating environment. Before you suggest I need to understand anything [admittedly there’s a lot I don’t understand]; you should first understand the context of what I was saying. My reference to Pasdaran was merely to point out how the concerns of swarm attack arose – I never hinted or stated anywhere that the operational environment was the same … Also, there is a big difference between swarm attacks mounted by individuals [like Pasdaran and the LTTE] looking for trouble and individuals in kumpits avoiding trouble so they can land undetected…..

    If another attempt is made by individuals in kumpits to land on our shores again [as opposed to individuals using swarm tactics to hit a target]; one does not need an LMS with Hellfires as even an MMEA boat with an auto cannon would do – the key – again – is early warning, at a distance an auto-cannon or a main gun could rapidly engage multiple targets – precisely why the main defence against swarm attacks for the majority of navies remain guns/cannons.

    An Exocet or a NSM are the primary means of hitting other ships; as such it’s pointless to compare it with Hellfires. I’m not saying Hellfires can’t be used but I did question how many targets could be simultaneously engaged and I did hint that for the job you have in mind; perhaps, a more practical option than Hellfires can be employed.

  23. ……. – ”What happened during lahad datu. Dozens of fast boats filled with assault rifle, machine gun and rpg armed insurgents trying to get to malaysian shores.”

    The issue here is that they landed undetected which was their aim – unlike the ones who attacked Lahad Datu town in 1985. If the ”Royal Sulu Army” in 2013 had been detected they would have turned back because engaging in a fire fight at sea was not their objective. Whether we would have fired upon them depends on the ROEs then and whether they fired the first shot. They were actually poorly armed : a couple of SLRs [delivered courtesy of Gadaffi in the 1970’s], some M14s and Garands and some homemade shotguns [one of which was displayed by the RMN at Dataran Merdeka in 2014]. The had no shoulder fired weapons or machine guns. Years ago I actually saw M4s at an MNLF roadblock but M4s are quite rare and the ones I saw were probably captured or bought from the Filipino army or police : the most common rifles are Garands and M14s. The main problem at Lahad Datu – to be expected – was finding them in a very large area.

  24. I am a technical guy by qualification. And yes I did base my design (rekabentuk) on the laksamana hull shape, engine power, fuel load and speed. I repeat, the concerns you raised at first was mainly of the laksamanas per se (those current old laksamanas made in Italy and now in TLDM service), and not mainly because of its design. They are troublesome because they have spent decades idle without maintenance, and that is causing all the said problems.

    Any hydronamic hull shape has compromises. A stable hull shape of around 70m in length would mean a deep keel, and with that a slow top speed. That would mean a top speed around 20-25knots, which is not suited to intercept fast boats. I do go out to sea around penang, langkawi, and South Thailand and the waves even in the end of the year like it is now is perfectly tolerable even in a small boat. The laksamanas are designed for a sprint speed of 37knots and a sustained speed of 34knots and that is the speed that I aim for (benchmark) for my LMS specification. Compare that also to the 35knots top speed of the FAC(M) and 40knots top speed of US Navy LCS. A Hull designed for speeds of 37knots would not be as stable at slow speeds as a hull designed in the beginning for low speed from the beginning.

    A 700tonne displacement ship pushing out 20,400bhp from 4 engines at 37knots would surely be thirstier than something of similar size designed for slower speeds. For example a 70m opv for morroco (bir anzaran) just has just about 6000hp power for 22knots top speed.

    Yes you could have a 70m ship with good seakeeping and not “thirsty”, but it would be a medium patrol ship, not something that could fulfill the LMS moniker.

  25. ……. – ”You need to understand swarm attacks in context of Malaysia, not the persian gulf.”

    The operational circumstances will vary depending on the operational environment but whether in the Persian Gulf, the Sulu Sea or even the Caribbean; swarm tactics ultimately rely on the same elements : concentration, surprise and speed – that does not change.

    Also, having a LMS Hellfire variant to deal with swarm attacks [if we’re ever faced with them] is great but what happens if a LMS variant without Hellfires encounters such a threat? Which is precisely why the main means to deal with such an eventuality remains the main gun/auto cannons/mini guns, which every ship will have. Another angle to look at is whether laser guided 12.75 inch rockets will be a cheaper but just as effective solution for some of the things that one will require a Hellfire to do.

  26. ……. – ” They are troublesome because they have spent decades idle without maintenance, and that is causing all the said problems.”

    Continue insisting all you want but they’re were troublesome because they, by design and because they were intended for other users were ill suited for our needs and were not designed with our operating conditions in mind [I have stressed this point repeatedly] – which is precisely why the RMN recommended against buying them. I have actually spoken to someone who was on the evaluation team and people who served on them : none ever had a good thing to say about them. Also, the Laksamanas did not ” spent decades idle without maintenance” [check your facts] as they were kept by Fincantieri in good condition at La Spezia. They were always ready to put to sea at a short moments notice [to demonstrate to potential customers] and several key systems [to avoid wear and tear] were taken off and placed in storage.

    ……. – ”I am a technical guy by qualification.”

    Good because I’m not a technical guy but I do realise that data which looks good on a spread sheet might not might be sound in practice as there are variables at play. Most of what I write here I can verify, either because I have knowledge of it via first hand sources or from what I’ve read. I don’t speculate and dismiss stuff even it it’s contrary to what I would like to believe in. Spin it and provide all the data you want but the key fact remains that the Laksamanas were trouble from Day One and compared to other, older ships, had a performance that was less than desirable [to put it mildly]. It says a lot that the newer Laksamanas, which have less ”mileage” than other, older RMN assets, are in worst shape and were always more maintenance intensive despite having newer systems [compared to older ships] …..

  27. P.S. You want to insist the design of the Laksamanas wasn’t a problem? It’s top heavy, rolls excessively in certain sea conditions due to the hull design, had vital areas that were hard to get to, had interface issues that were never resolved, had a cramped bridge [I’ve been on it] – ”cramped” even when compared to other ships of similar designs and had certain spaces that were poorly designed. At high speeds vibrations issues affected the director. In accordance with Italian practice the main console for the radar in the CIC was on a separate stand alone console in the middle – great on a Lupo frigate but not so great in a very cramped space on a corvette.

    Part of the problem was that the designers tried to cramp too many things to into a hull that size and that the Laksamana’s specs from Day One was designed for Iraq’s operating requirements, from range, to endurance, to DC standards, right down to the living arrangements. Ever wondered why a few navies sent teams to La Spezia to have a look but only we bought them? And to think that just years before the hulls started giving issues we spent millions upgrading the CMS on 2 of them and millions installing a new ESM and active jammer on 2 of them! All for nothing for something we never originally wanted.

  28. @ am

    Yes in most situations they would turn tail. At sea level, the horizon is about 5km, and if they spot the LMS at that distance they would probably make a run. But that doesn’t take into account the probability of anybody doing a “suicide ramming boat” or similar.

    @ azlan

    You don’t read my article is it?

    Read THROUGHLY my LMS-A paragraphs and see if the bridge is EXACTLY like a current laksamana right now?!?!? You spent so many words harping about the OLD laksamanas problem when all I took from the laksamanas is the hull design and the performance parameters.


    FYI I have been on a laksamana class too, and I know the superstructure design is very crowded.

    See my LMS-A design

    – A totally different superstructure with panoramic bridge similar to gowind/l’adroit. All functions concentated on the bridge.
    – Virtual CIC on shore. To integrate data’s from shore radars, UAVs, ESM, satellites, other ships and send it to the LMS-A in a managable form. To act as the main communication node between the LMS-A and other parties like the TUDM,MMEA, police and others.
    – This could only be done in only a limited area. This is the limitation, melacca straits and ESSCOM, other than this there would be not much info to be compiled by the VCIC.

    This is my last reply on this matter.

  29. …….. – ”Read THROUGHLY my LMS-A paragraphs and see if the bridge is EXACTLY like a current laksamana right now?!?!?

    The only point you can raise is with the bridge? What about all the other issues that I raised to refute your inaccurate view that design issues were not the reason we faced problems with the Laksamanas? BTW did I say or imply that the bridge on your design was similar to the Laksamanas? My reference to the Laksamanas bridge was part of several points to highlight issues with the class.

    Perhaps the next time around you’ll have all your posts in upper case for my benefit. Thanking you in advance.

    ……. – ”This is my last reply on this matter.”

    What a huge relief. I’ll sleep better tonight.

  30. AM – ”But most will turn tail.”

    True but it depends on the circumstances. There were many instances where the LTTE’s Sea Tigers – even after detection – still pressed on with their attacks. Their objective after all was to cause damage and if needed, be martyrs for the cause. Any non state actors trying to land on our shores would surely turn back if detected because they can only achieve whatever objectives they want if they manage to land. Same goes with the kidnappers who are out to gain a victim and avoid trouble.

  31. Other issues are irrelevant

    There is no directors needed for the new LMS. Vibrations could be solved with better dynamic balancing of all rotating parts and better dynamic absorbers on engine mounts.

    The weight distribution issue can be done with smaller and lighter topside equipment (hardware, electronics, eo and radar systems) available now compared to the 1980s. Better integrated design softwares available now to better see the weight distribution during design stage rather during the actual build.

    Electronics are totally different, there is nearly 30years difference of technology now. So problems with the original electronics are not relevant.

    Hull shape, seaworthiness and engine power I have written about this before.

    Basically small (yes small compared to the kedah opvs) hull with high speeds will have compromises.

    Okay this would really be the last answer on this issue.

  32. The issues I mentioned about the Laksamana was to reinforce my points about issues [seakeeping, design, interface, etc, etc] faced with the design and why for the RMN buying all four was a total disaster. There is indeed no relevance at all to the LMS; nor did I say or imply there was. Yet you keep mentioning the relevance or lack of it; to the LMS when there wasn’t any in the very first place. We were discussing two separate issues.

  33. It sends the wrong signal to buy weapons from a country you have a territorial dispute with, regardless of the actual chance of war.

  34. Another challenge overlooked is whether Western Countries are willing for their modern equipment to be placed on essentially a Chinese Vessel. Certain countries which currently supply equipment to RMN on the basis of strong relations will now think twice leaving RMN dependent on inferior Chinese Systems to maintain defences against China. Ironic – already the Chinese are 30nm from Miri building their islands meaning that they are within minutes of either Bintulu LNG or Sabah OGT.

    Perhaps another case of allowing Politicians to decide matters of national defence instead of relying on expertise from within the armed forces.

  35. It doesn’t seem to go through… one more try:

    Do you still accept guest posts? I have one ready to go, if you deem it worth of publishing, but I cannot seem to find an email address or any other way to send it to you.

    It’s there on the about page.

  36. “Another challenge overlooked is whether Western Countries are willing for their modern equipment to be placed on essentially a Chinese Vessel. Certain countries which currently supply equipment to RMN on the basis of strong relations will now think twice…”

    This is an interesting subject.

    I would say the question does not arise in many cases. Western suppliers will have issues only when it comes to selling the latest and greatest technology, and not only to countries that have bought from China, even assuming they can pay for it.

    In our case, we neither need the latest and greatest the West has to offer for our requirements, nor can we pay for it.

    “…leaving the RMN dependent on inferior Chinese Systems to maintain defences against China.”

    Choice of words here is interesting. Do we want to “maintain defences against China” or to “defend against it” in a war? What is the definition of success? I would say success does not necessarily involve defeating Chinese forces in detail or even holding our offshore territory continuously, which would involve risking significant assets. In peacetime, the objective would be maintaining control of our EEZ. In war, the objectives would include force preservation, and to make capture of our territory prohibitively costly and uncertain of success. For all this, we might not need the most advanced assets.

    Other objectives would be to keep the economy going and to obtain political support from other countries.

  37. This is my take. Contrary to what some might think we can never keep up with China or achieve anything militarily against China; even if we raised the defence budget by a factor of 5 or get 10 more Scorpenes or 50 Typhoons. If we sink 5 ships they’ll send another 10 and if we destroy 20 planes they’ll send anther 30. The Chinese spend much, much more, have a much bigger population and a much bigger industrial base. If China is willing to play tough with the likes of Uncle Sam,India and Japan; who are we? We’re not even a regional power. China is also the biggest investor here and we China’s bigger trading partner in ASEAN – whatever we do will have to take into account the economy.

    What we can do is to is spend smartly, within our means and rely on partnerships with other countries, as well as diplomacy (exactly what we’re doing now) to manage the fact that we have a territorial dispute with China. It’s also vital that we focus on actual present, requirements rather than attempt to achive parity or near parity with anyone. As an MAF official in an AFM article : “we can’t keep up with China, it has 100 ships. What we can do is to show a presence (in reference to the MPA requirement).

    Some might say that despite close ties, Chinese ships still intrude into our EEZ. True but compared to what the Filipinos and Vietnamese have experienced we have got off lightly and that’s due to diplomacy on our part. i.e. how we manage relations with them in parallel with ASEAN and military/diplomatic ties with various countries (our closest defence partner is Uncle Sam). The Chinese state run press has never critisised or vilified us the way they have others.

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