Any Plan B For The RMN?

An eagle eye view of the BNS facilities in Lumut. Note the hangars at the end which was built specifically for the LCS using the funds of the project. Behind the first LCS, is likely KD Kasturi undergoing a refit since late 2021. BNS

SHAH ALAM: Any plan B for the RMN? So far we have been told that the LCS project revival will be a successful with two ships to be delivered to the Royal Malaysian Navy by 2025. This was reported by the Public Accounts Committe report on the LCS.

And the Defence Ministry doubled-down on the delivery timeline with its senior minister Hishammuddin Hussein informing the Dewan Negara on August 8, that the two ships will be ready for the RMN within two years time. From Bernama:

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 8): The government will report the schedule and progress of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) construction project in stages, said Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He said his ministry was given six months to mobilise efforts to revive the project, and he believed the first ship would be delivered to the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) within two years.

“We will look at how we can ensure that the promised ships are delivered to the RMN and those who are guilty are brought to justice.

“I will report (inform) to the public the phased schedule for the construction of the ship,” he said during a question and answer session at the Dewan Negara sitting this morning.

A close up of LCS 1 Maharaja Lela at the BNS yard in Lumut taken in 2018.

However, we have heard Hishammuddin said the same thing on many occasions – during his first and current, second stint – at Jalan Padang Tembak and all of those have been proven incorrect. The PAC report bared it all. So can we believed what was the minister had said on August 8?
The LCS major equipment detailed. RMN graphic

It interesting to note that Naval Group had offered to take over the project completely with BNS taking a less important role. The offer was declined though with the government putting LTAT as the lead to revive the project. So what will happened if Naval Group decided not to proceed with the revival then? As Naval Group is the design authority for the LCS, the project will go nowhere without its involvement. (the Government had mulled giving Naval Group the lead to revive the project but decided against it)
Sigmacorvette
Sigma 10513 corvette which was the preferred RMN choice for the LCS project

We have to wonder whether the Defence Ministry has a Plan B for RMN in case of the worse scenario. There is a real chance that LTAT and BNS might not be able to finish the ships as specified by the RMN. (According to the PAC report, BNS CEO stated they are confident that they can complete the ships. His statement was backed up by the fourth LCS RMN projec team head).
Model of DCNS ships on display. The one of the far right is the Gowind multi-mission combatant offered for the SGPV/LCS project

Will RMN have to accept the LCS even just to ensure that it got two ships for RM9 billion (and the other four if they were satisfied with the first two)? So Boustead and LTAT did not suffer much losses? This is the most likely scenario as RMN had to accept the Kedah class even though it was never fully satisfied with it. It was for this reason, it went looking for another hull….
A model of an upgraded Kedah class by Boustead meant for the SGPV/LCS programme.

It must be noted LMS Batch II is not the plan B, a replacement for the LCS. It is always been RMN’s plan to have five type of ships in its future fleet.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

60 Comments

  1. As for me i will hold that 3 billion and speed up the procument of LMS batch 2 from designer shipyard this time from korea for example.3 billion should get us 2 maybe 3 sub 2000 tonnes OPV/LMS/Corvette with ample armaments maybe a 57mm gun, a point air defence and 4 SSM..Or else our beloved and competent govt can always pump another 3 billion for BNS to finish just 2 ships for the sake of “vendors who are mostly armies vets”..And i definately cant accept 9 billions just to finish two ships and i dont think anyone would too..Bns messed up although not entirely their fault but still they need to sort out their mess themselves

  2. Money is an issue; the status of the LCS remains to be seen and the GE is next year. The best we can hope for is the LMS Batch 2s get funded sooner rather than later and the fit out is not scaled back due to funding issues.

    Arming the Kedahs would be great but only gives them a self defence capability as was originally intended and will not change the fact that the RMN is short of hulls. In case anyone mentions buying pre owned hulls as an interim solution this isn’t an option as far as the government or RMN are concern due to commonality and long term maintenance issues.

  3. Looks like the government thinks it can cover the losses with offsets and other means. I talked to one person who is inside the programme and he said RM9 billion is kacang puteh. They are not bothered. Perhaps RMN should reduce the ship back to its original design without the enlargement. This will bring the cost down. I am not suprised the rest of this ship equipments will be FFBNW like the Kedahs. Kiss it goodbye.

  4. Regardless whether they liked these boats or not, their critical need for hulls outweigh their distaste for not getting the ship they wanted. Just as with LMS Batch1 at most they will simply not continue with Gowind for if & when they decided to go ahead for LCS Batch2.

    Again I will repeat, it doesn’t matter which ship they eventually go for, even if they gotten what they wanted and equipped with what they wanted fully, if we don’t do due diligence and budget “correctly” (means taking account of national project inefficiencies & wastages), whatever next will still be doomed once again.

    The change of BNS into an SPV is a start but need to revamp their management, fire all those involved, and put a Mindef personnel in charge. With Wistleblower Act, those middle managers are just as complicit as the higher ups when none of them reported the issues until PAC report.

  5. Firdaus – “As for me i will hold that 3 billion and speed up the procument of LMS batch 2 from designer shipyard this time from korea for example”

    That doesn’t solve the problem and the RMN would still have a need for primary combatants. Less we forget the LMS is intended for a different role to the LCS.

    Firdaus – ” but still they need to sort out their mess themselves”

    Must as well wish for Cinderella to be seen in Putra Jaya. Obviously BNS can’t “sort out their mess themselves” and if they go under it will snowball; the RMN for one would be severely impacted.

  6. Qamarul – ” They are not bothered. Perhaps RMN should reduce the ship back to its original design without the enlargement”

    What?? This is the least of the problems and will not lead to costs savings. Also what “enlargement”? Look at the pic Marhalim posted. The Gowind family comprises several designs of varying sizes/displacements – it’s not as if the RMN took a design and stretched it to enable a size or displacement similar to Musashi or Prinz Eugen.

  7. @Qamarul
    “inside the programme and he said RM9 billion is kacang puteh”
    Kacang Puteh coz for such a ship with this size of project, realistically RM 9Bil would have been insufficient anyhow even without the wastage & leakages. They would have fully aware there will be more requests for money thru Supplementary Budgets but that plan fell thru when PH took over and refused to play ball. RM 12Bil would have been a realistic sum then but now it would take RM 15Bil to complete all 6.

  8. This revelation caused a ho-hah in mindef. Was told by mindef high level insiders that Government is keen to close the case with max 2 ships of Gowind and prepare to pump in more money to avoid the public from questioning the huge amount paid but no ships. Very likely only 2 gowind hulls will be completed by 2025 to 2026 timeframe, the other 4 will be scrapped.

  9. Now that we know, Sigma 10513 is a rather odd choice prefered by the RMN. Fully fitted out it will still be second best to the Formidable’s.
    Back to the LCS, for the amount of money involved maybe they could build 8 of them.

  10. The reason is simple. It was the best option for the RMN as the Finance Ministry won’t pay for an Aster 30 or SM-2 equipped ship. Its too much of a ship for them money wise. The Sigma and consequently the Gowind was the next best option.

  11. zainal – “Fully fitted out it will still be second best to the Formidable’s”

    This is because the Formidable’s are intended for slightly different requirements compared to the LCSs. One is intended for operations in a highly contested environment; the other for low intensity ops… Even if money wasn’t an issue the RMN trains, prepares and sees itself doing things in a slightly different operational context to the RSN.

  12. Comparison to RSN’s Formidable class is because of size not role. Same displacement, yet Formidable has superior firepower. If the roles are different and Formidable Class is meant to have superior combat prowess, why is the Gowind at 3100 tonnes? The increased tonnage from 2500 (without increase weaponry) was made by BNS (not RMN). Because of the increased tonnage the government agreed to increase the ceiling price by RM3b (from 6b to 9b).

    Notwithstanding delivery risk, assuming the ships are delivered in 2025 and 2026, to make sure BNS and the government doesn’t gut equipment and the associated integration costs just to stay within the RM9b ceiling (for example scrap VL-MICA-M integration because there is no budget for the missiles, and not integrating non-essential obsolete equipment because replacements will not be bought).

  13. What is Plan B? I don’t know anything regarding Plan A.

    Kamal- “Very likely only 2 gowind hulls will be completed by 2025 to 2026 timeframe, the other 4 will be scrapped.”

    This is basically the Kedah-class curse. Originally they planned for 27 ships. What happen? It was cut down to only 6. It was a hell time for our naval shipbuilding industry.

  14. Akmal – “Originally they planned for 27 ships. What happen”

    They saw a projected requirement for 27 hulls over a 17 year period; ordered on batches but it wasn’t written in stone. Issues with the initial 6; plans for the MMEA; questions whether the RMN actually needed that number of secondary combatants and shifting priorities resulted in only 6. Slightly different circumstances with the Kedahs and LCS.

  15. Kel – “Comparison to RSN’s Formidable class is because of size not role.”

    Incorrect. Size/displacement is dictated by operational requirements. The RSN’s operational requirements differs from the MAF’s and is based Singapore’s threat perceptions and how it views the strategic calculus; different from Malaysia’s.

    Kel – “. If the roles are different and Formidable Class is meant to have superior combat prowes”

    I don’t know what “superior combat prowes” means but the Formidables are intended to operate in more high contested scenarios and are part of the island’s AD network [along the RSAF and ground based AD – all networked] – which is why it has a 32 VLS cell and provision for up to 16 Harpoons. This is in contrast with the LCS which is intended to be employed in a lower intensity environment.

    Kel – “from 2500 (without increase weaponry) was made by BNS (not RMN)”

    For operational reasons and with the RMN’s approval. It’s not in any way an “overweight monstrosity” as you previously claimed.

    Kel – ” (for example scrap VL-MICA-M integration”

    It has already been integrated bad certified .. Also if it begets service with a AA capability then it will not meet the RMN’s requirements.

  16. @Kamal
    The Government, thru the mass medias, has committed to getting all 6 ships tho. Like NGPV we will most likely get all 5/6 ships (#6 haven’t loaded to the slipway yet iirc). Why should there be huuhaah in Mindef, don’t they already knew about it during when Pakatan took over and froze the project?

    Again this being politicised is no surprise to me, and being used by every T, D, H politician under the sun is also no surprise. Why is BN pushing away the blame when they created it? Why PH is pointing fingers now when they did nothing when in power? Why PN did not do PAC/RCI when it came to their laps? Again this huuhaah noise are all about scoring brownie points as GE15 nears, and out in the woods politicians trying to find relevance back into the politicosphere. All of them act as if they are innocent but in truth all of them are complicit to the problem when they ignored and delayed the issues.

    @zainal abidin
    The Formidables are indeed far more lethal in a ship about the same size as LCS but they serve different purposes. Formidables are more truer blue water type vessel with their 6mtr draught whereby primary role is to extend further the island’s AD umbrella (with the Aster30), whereas LCS are truer littoral ships meant for operations closer to the shore with their shallow draught of just 3.85mtr. Another key point is we don’t know how much those Formidables cost as SG are mum about its price but it likely could have costed as much as a Lafayette per unit (Kang Dings were about RM 4Bil per ship today vs at max RM 2.5Bil per LCS).

    I will say this, there is no Plan B as a Plan B would have been far worse to contemplate than a bad Plan A. TLDM needs these ships so they won’t want to consider alternatives unless its the Sigmas they wanted in the time frame they needed. The only option is to persevere with the 6 units, get the LMS2 class rightly equipped as support, moving onto a blind procurement process to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

  17. Of course RMN would not complain or reject the final design. The government was willing and eager to pay for brand new warships. What is the definition of littoral? Lastly, I would be grateful if someone could share insights on why BNS increased the displacement to 3100 from the original 2500 requirement? Because all that did was increase the ceiling price from RM6b to RM9b. Why pay an extra RM3b when RM6b was sufficient? So additional tonnage for no apparent reason? Doesn’t that make the LCS overweight from Day-1? And as mentioned elsewhere, the VL-MICA-M launchers have been bought but the missiles have not. Either the government increase the funding above the RM9b to buy the missiles, or install the launchers but no missiles, or scrap the SAM equipment to save on integration and missile costs. I see part B as LMS Batch 2. It maybe a smaller vessel, but its for 8 new ships that is supposed to have 1x57mm main gun, 2x30mm secondary guns, 6 to 8 cell anti-air launchers (FFNW), 1×2 anti-ship missile launcher, a flight deck (not sure about the hangar). If it ends up being in the 2200 to 2500 displacement range with a hangar and equipped with SAM missiles, it is very close to the SGPV specification (i.e. the LCS).

  18. “whereby primary role is to extend further the island’s AD umbrella (with the Aster30)”

    As told to me by a RSN man years ago in addition to being part of the island’s AD network they are also intended operate alongside the USN in times of trouble and to also escort shopping should a need arise.
    Ultimately; as you also pointed out; they driven by different operational requirements.

  19. So no one wants to think about whether the RM9b is a true cost for first 2 ships, and it seems most believe the government will or wants the government to do whatever it takes to complete all 6 ships. Assuming an optimistic cost of RM1.2b per ship for hulls number 3 to 6. That is RM4.8b in additional funding – which is the bulk of LMS Batch 2’s budget. Just saying. There needs to be a Plan B because a do everything possible to get 6 ships is will require some sacrifices elsewhere.

  20. AFAIK, I was told the increase in tonnage was partly due to the manpower requirement of the RMN. The 2500 Gowind make full use of the latest automation to reduce the crew numbers but RMN being a very conservative organisation insisted most of the automated features are deleted. There are of course some further things that RMN insisted that I am not purview to.

  21. kel – ”Of course RMN would not complain or reject the final design.”

    It has before on other things and it would have rejected certain things; such as certain modifications and other things.

    kel – ”What is the definition of littoral?”

    Personal definition or actual definition? Look it up.. Put in more simpler terms which will leave no room for obfuscation or a question mark; the RMN operates mostly within the continental shelf [which BTW is why our SSKs unlike Chile’s don’t have cofferdams] or areas where water tends to be shallow and not too far from the coast. Wherever a RMN ship is within our territorial waters or EEZ it’s never more than 2-3 days away from the nearest port/base.

    kel – ”So additional tonnage for no apparent reason?”

    You actually know; are stating a firm fact or are asking? Again, the increase in tonnage was for operational reasons; wasn’t in jest.

    kel – ‘ Doesn’t that make the LCS overweight from Day-1?”

    To you maybe but in reality it was not ”overweight” and if so ”overweight” in relation to what? You make it sound as if it’s the Peter The Great, Yamato or King George we’re on about; again, the design enabled it to have its displacement increased and the Gowind design [one of a few available] allowed for the increase in displacement.

    kel – ”So no one wants to think about whether the RM9b is a true cost for first 2 ships”

    Not you naturally.

    kel – ”here needs to be a Plan B ”
    kel – ” I see part B as LMS Batch 2.”

    There needs to be no nukes, no corruption, no wars, no paedophiles; no pollution and everyone eating healthy food but alas.. Sure there needs to be a ”Plan B” but the politics, finances and other things are such that there is no Plan B – that’s the reality. As stated in my previous post the only near term solution in making up for the RMN’s shortage of hulls is the LMS Batch 2s getting funded sooner rather than later and hoping the tight fisted bureaucrats don’t require the RMN to scale back on the fit out. The Batch 2s are no replacement or substitute for the LCS [as some have erroneously assumed] but will make up for the lack of numbers.

    kel – ” scrap the SAM equipment to save on integration and missile costs.”

    They have not been funded and yes if funded it’ll exceed the total but integration and certification has long been conducted and Mica is a long way from being funded.

  22. why people still think LMS batch 2 is Plan B? LMS batch 2 has always been part of RMN plan, its just that because RMN probably don’t want another Kedah, they just mix up Kedah and LMS together. An actual Plan B would look something like

    1) Scrap LCS 3-6 and get another cheaper or comparable frigate design that can fit in equipments meant for LCS or
    2) increase the number of LMS Batch 2 (if can, somehow fit the CAPTAS-2 TSA VDS)

    Basically the ‘main’ difference between LCS and LMS Batch 2 will be less NSM and no CAPTAS-2. Heh dont mention about MICA cuz LCS may never got it at all.

  23. Luqman – “why people still think LMS batch 2 is Plan B”

    Because it’s easy/convenient and there’s a tendency to conflate things.

    The LMSs can to an extent make up for the lack of hulls but they can’t replace or substitute the LCSs per see because both are intended for different roles.

    Luqman – “Basically the ‘main’ difference between LCS and LMS Batch 2 will be less NSM and no CAPTAS-”

    Will have shorter range sensors and will have less range and endurance; in line with the type of roles it’s intended to perform. Very early days but it would be sound if they carried an embarked UAS as a complement to the onboard sensors.

  24. Well we all knew LMS is no LCS..But i rather pay 3 billion that will confirm ships delivery than pumping another 3 billion to an already problematic project that cannot guarantee ship delivery date..Already theres an argument that the first ship cannot be completed in 2 years like H20 mentioned in the parlimen and BNS need another 3 billion just to complete 2 ships..So yeah well NO

  25. Firdaus – “Well we all knew LMS is no LCS”

    Really? That didn’t stop some from claiming the LMS Batch 2s are intended to as a substitute or that the specs have been revised to compensate for delays with the LCS..

    Firdaus – “Already theres an argument”

    There is no “argument”; there are concerns and doubts..

    Firdaus – “So yeah well NO”

    You making a statesment; saying something all of us already know or?

  26. @kel
    “increased the displacement to 3100 from the original 2500”
    A lot could be speculated from it. 2500T is an existing design (El Fateh) so there is no need for BNS to reengineer that ship design thus lesser job scope I would assume (and of course lesser money). Politics might have a role as 2500T would not be keeping up with SG’s 3200T Formidables (our primary defence policy had been to keep up with our peers) Another is longevity, as the loadout did not expand with upscaling the ship so basically it went to the hull size, which I’m speculating for more rooms which could be configurable for future operational based needs, flagship C&C, and room for further ship system enhancements, tho it is a pity there seems to be no spare areas for adding more weapons (only 1 VLS bay which is only limited to 16cells). If only it has spare A50 spec VLS bay for future upgrading to Aster30 or bigger hangar to fit a Caracal fully inside. I would not call them overweight but built with certain future proofing in mind.

    “whether the RM9b is a true cost for first 2 ships”
    That is nonsense as you did not take into account the other 3 ships in various build progress. Those cost money as well. RM 9Bil would not be reflective of overall per unit cost if we continue building & completing the rest of those ships. The Micas could wait, as we normally do, but the silver lining is we could upgrade towards longer ranged VL Mica NG when time to buy them.

    “I see part B as LMS Batch 2”
    Incorrect. That had always been Plan A. Getting LMS2 does not negate the need for LCS, when part of LMS roles are to support LCS fleet. Just as a movie sidekick cannot adequately replace the main star, the LMS cannot do all that is required of the LCS. However I do foresee LCS2 will take even longer to materialise hence I understand why TLDM would want a bigger and more fully fitted LMS2 class as compared to original 15to5 Plan.

    Will the LCS delays & overruns have effect on other programs? Of course! But by how much I cannot say, there is LMS2, MRSS, ASW chopper, etc. Most obvious they will be delayed or cut down in number of units, reduction of specs would be something TLDM would want to avoid even FFBNW style as they won’t know if & when they will get those loadouts. But TLDM has a trump card in which most of their wants are tied to national project, ie shipbuilding, so easier for them to justify getting more ships as it creates more jobs, yadda yadda yadda…

    I would like to note that glancing thru the report it does not mention the inability or incapableness of BNS engineering & construction team to build such advanced ships. Thus I felt vindicated that my POV which I stressed few years back that we indeed have the technical knowhow & skilled workers to build them but the fact it was hampered by situations out of their control. So I want to reemphasise that building warships as part of national projects is not wrong, but how we went about the LCS project was rotten.

  27. Well, if they can really complete the ships locally as planned, albeit with fewer number than planned, that’s still a huge success in transfer of technology. Great for long term, bad for short term with all the fiasco going on.

  28. @Azlan
    “Will have shorter range sensors and will have less range and endurance” “it would be sound if they carried an embarked UAS”

    Of course it might have shorter range radar but still who knows what were offered to RMN right now as the Koreans can offer Smart-S radar on a cheaper overall similar size ship, Well that’s sort a best case scenario there. On UAS, given the smaller size of LMS its a trade off between having either only a helo or only a UAS use the hangar at that time, though I might be wrong.

    @joe
    “So I want to reemphasise that building warships as part of national projects is not wrong, but how we went about the LCS project was rotten.”

    Yup we as in a low level view have the labour and skills to build advanced warship ie look at FAC, Gagah Samudera, Kedah, we did build them. But what we are lacking is the higher level things from management and policy point of view ie executions, corruption, stupid political decisions/reasonings etc. Yes we all know there could be a better way in running the LCS program even someone choose a design that RMN dont prefer, but it more complicated than that. With PAC citing that BNS mark up the prices, use LCS money to pay debt, detailed design only 80% finish up till now…hmmm sad very sad

  29. Of course the detailed design is delayed as the payment not made to OEM and its must be noted that the detailed design is the blue print for the whole class.

  30. What transfer of technology? Most of the workers at BNS had to be laid off so there goes the technology. Furthermore once the six ships the whole shebang will stop, no one will want to pay Boustead to build ships again. It was the same thing that happened when BNS took over Naval Dockyard, almost all of the workers there were let go. And it was repeated when BNS started building LCS, most of the people who completed the Kedah class were let go as well….

  31. Luqman – “Of course it might have shorter range radar”

    Was highlighting the differences between both classes. It will not only have less punch so to speak but shorter range sensors and other things.

    Kek – “smaller size of LMS its a trade off between having either only a helo or only a UAS”

    By right the LCS should have both; complementing each other but years ago the RMN declared that UASs won’t be embarked. With smaller ships such as the LMS which won’t have an embarked helo; a UAS provides a lot of value.

  32. Something we need to learn from our neighbor, Singapore or Indonesia. Both of country did a very good job on partnership with foreign to localize defense product for local and export. For us, stop have a mind set “I can do it because I know how to repair/install it”. Automotive we have a quite strong foundation, we face less issue on Gempita. For vessel or plane, we need more help and invest more $ if we think we can build for local & export. If we all still dreaming the design without do a proper job and manage, let stop episode 3 happen again. For the 3rd, 4th and 5th ships, maybe we just scrap it and use the “Extra” fund to get another vessel for plan B.

  33. Michael – “Something we need to learn from our neighbor, Singapore or Indonesia”

    It’s not soo much about having to “learn” but the seriousness we place on defence; the flawed policy we have; the lack of oversight; the lack of continuity and other things. Things went ratshit with the LCS because our system and the way we go about things enabled it to happen…

    Michael – “. For us, stop have a mind set “I can do it because I know how to repair/install it”

    The issues we face go much much deeper than that; not as simplistic as you put it. It’s due [as has been discussed thoroughly here] to factors ingrained in the every system itself.

    Michael – “we face less issue on Gempita”

    Profound difference in constructing a ship from keel up and producing a IFV…

    Michael – “the “Extra” fund to get another vessel for plan B”

    There is no intention or interest in going going down this route.

    On another issue; there was, some discussion on the design. The hangar has been enlarged to accommodate a Cougar. As for the 16 cell VLS there may be space aft of the cell but there is no free below deck space. Aft of VLS, just forward of the bridge, there is some free deck space for a non deck penetrating mount.

  34. On the Gempita, FNSS was part of the build process from the final prototype to the production. Naval Group was just another sub contractor to BNS. When I was at Deftech factory there were some 30 FNSS people there. When I was at BNS for the fourth LCS keel launch, around 7 Naval Group people were there.

  35. When the NGOPV programme was running there were about 2 dozen Germans there a d times there were more. A couple of restaurants in Manjung even started selling German food.

  36. Don’t speculate and justify. Read the PAC report, the whole report, not just the summary. That RMN didn’t want Gowind is factual. That BNS is incapable of building a LCS type warship is factual. Its all in the PAC report. Yes, to support national shipbuilding, but has to be done based on merit. Market will decide if the shipyard is ready. National champions should not be created the way the LCS was contract was awarded. The RMN only went along with the Gowind and other design decisions because they had no choice. That’s it.

  37. After reading the PAC report (not just the summaries), one will will see the financial and delivery risks of maintaining the current program structure (with BNS as lead designer and prime) is very high. This is not just a funding risk (i.e. more money). Non-delivery or removing of equipment risks are equally high if not higher. Which is why there needs to be a Plan B, whatever it might be.

  38. “enlarged to accommodate a Cougar”
    Just to note that Cougar is 15mtr length while stored Seahawk is 12.5mtr (tail folded). Our Caracal is 19.5mtr long with no tail fold capability.

    “forward of the bridge, there is some free deck space”
    Indeed such space is limited as the need for blast clearance from VLS launches. Such space is typically used for AS mortar or CIWS, still won’t be an improvement to the paucity of AS weapons.

    @kel
    “RMN didn’t want Gowind”
    The hard insistent of going for Sigma could raise another can of worms…
    The ship is just a platform and if another could do the same job there should be no preference one or the other.

    “BNS is incapable of building a LCS type warship”
    Read again what it says. BNS did not have the financial means, yes. They did not have prior experience designing, yes. But it did not mention they don’t have the technical knowhow to build them, as some previously had speculated that that was the case, or that Gowind is overengineered to submarine build standards. Merit or not, realistically BNS yard is the only large naval dockyard we have. Merit only comes in, if we see the need to replace their management team before starting the project. Financially the project was already walking on thin ice even without BNS making a hash of it when a big chunk of budget is used for infra upgrading and paying off NGPV debts. What’s left for the boats & equipment itself is ridiculous low.

    “Market will decide if the shipyard is ready”
    Who is the market and how will “they” decide if BNS(or any other yard) is ready to build large warships?

    “National champions should not be created the way”
    Indeed I have said my piece about national projects before so I won’t repeat, but there are certain merits to certain projects such as shipbuilding. We just have to be realistic about it.

    “there needs to be a Plan B”
    I would really like to hear what is your Plan B, what that “something” is, how would “something” can take on the role of LCS fleet in securing the surface, air and subsea.

  39. Joe, read the PAC report, the RMN provided its reasons why it preferred the Sigma. There were technical and industrial reasons, there’s no conspiracy theories. There is another reason which is based on RMN’s past experience which is more appropriate if you read the PAC report. Building a ship is building a ship. Start with no ship, end with a completed ship. As zero ships have been delivered, therefore BNS doesn’t have the know how to build the ship. Design is needed to build a ship. If a shipyard can’t provide the final design, how is the ship going to be build? Even if BNS allowed Naval Group to lead, there is no guarantee the ships would be build because BNS was financially broken from Day-1. Market is everyone. Politicians, members of the RMN, general public, etc. Don’t have to be exactly specific about this. Its asking people, if they think Malaysia is capable of building a major surface combatant. In 2009, there are already doubts over BNS’s ability to prime the LCS program, and build all 6 ships in Malaysia. In 2022, people will say the same thing, Malaysia in incapable of building a major surface combatant.

  40. Joe, my Plan B have been stated already, LMS2. Even if LMS2 and LCS are different ship classes, LMS2 is the only other active surface combatant program. Let’s assume the Navy currently has been appropriated (i.e. signed off by MOF) RM9.6b in CAPEX for for 8 new surface combatants being RM3b for 2xLCS and RM6.6b for 8xLMS2. If the government signs the LMS2 contract for 8 ships right now, the Navy is assumed to get 10 new surface combatants (2xLCS + 8xLMS2) – that’s Plan B. Plan A is the LCS is not the same as LMS and therefore all 6 must be completed. Let us assume ships 4 to 6 costs RM1.49b each, being 33% of the RM4.5b per unit costs of ships 1 and 2 which is also the original per unit cost. The LCS program will require an additional RM5.94b. That’s 90% of LMS2 funding which means no money for LMS2. So the Navy uses all its RM9.6b shipbuilding allocation to build 6 new ships (Plan A), or build 10 new ships (Plan B). Until MINDEF and BNS can come up with a viable per unit cost for ships 4 to 6, or the government increases the RM9.6b shipbuilding CAPEX, Plan A is unviable. The other issue is timing. What has and is still the Navy’s top priority? Getting as many new ships into the fleet as soon as possible to replace ageing hulls that are becoming too expensive to maintain and will soon have to be retired. LCS1 and LCS2 is planned to join the fleet in 2025 and 2026 respectively. LMS2 if signed today or 2023 is expected to join the fleet sometime in 2025/2026. So 4 ships by 2026 (Plan B) or 2 ships by 2026 (Plan A). Do the exercise and extend the timeline out to 2030, and include ship retirements. You’ll get an idea of the size and average age of RMN’s fleet under Plan A and Plan B.

  41. @kel
    I will make it simple for you. Here is the excerpt that I guess you referring:
    a. Reka bentuk daripada Perancis masih belum dibuktikan lagi.
    b. Reka bentuk tersebut adalah terlalu pendek serta kapasiti dan keupayaan adalah terhad.
    c. Reka bentuk tersebut tidak memenuhi keperluan TLDM.

    a. That view is debatable as Indonesia Navy had order a fleet earlier. And the point of “proven” is highly debatable as what is the meaning of “proven”.
    b. Another squib reasoning since Gowind could be lengthened as shown with LCS. Also had we went with Sigma, it still needs a redesign as the catalogue do not have the lengthened variant we wanted (Sigma ), which would still play into the hands of BNS.
    c. Another debatable reason as TLDM did not state how the Sigma is superior to Gowind. Again let me remind that the ship is just a platform, there should be no biases if both platforms are equivalent or comparable. any such could indicate a suspicion of impropriety.

    Again I want to stress that regardless if we went for Gowind or Sigma, we’ll still be in this situation today as the key issue of BNS not financially ready or the ship needed to be redesign, is still there.

    “Don’t have to be exactly specific about this”
    If you want to stress a point but not being specific about something it has lesser or no value. How would this “everyone” knows whether we are ready, if you ask a bank clerk in KL of course you get a blur face, but if you ask a welder in Lumut you get a defo YES. So which of this “everyone” POVs do you consider? Again, I’m gonna stress that the report DID NOT mention we were incapable to build high tech warships. If it did do point me to which page SPECIFICALLY.

    There were doubts about building all 6 locally but we went for the logical route of doing 1-2 units in NAVAL and learn the way then doing the rest here, the build process woulda been much smoother but that doesn’t mean we are technically incapable ie you(as in plural) haveta go schooling to learn to do things, doesn’t mean the student is stupid.

  42. “Plan B have been stated already, LMS2”
    Which has always been part of TLDM Plan A, so I don’t know how you go about that it is Plan B. Capability-wise they aren’t interchangeable either. Without CAPTAS & VDS, it would have much difficulty if requested to check on a subsea contact. It would not be able to shoot down air contacts it detects. So no matter how many LMS2 you throw into the fray it lacks the technical ability of LCS to detect, track & take down targets far away from the ship. Number of hulls is important to TLDM but the point of LCS is to keep up technologically with our peers, however we could not afford for an all LCS surface combatant fleet hence why we have LMS to fill in the numbers but at lesser capability, so you see both are to serve different roles and not really interchangeable with the other. Its like needing an MPV to transport everyone instead you went for a few Axias, but… you forgot about their luggages.

    With LCS fiasco ongoing and won’t be resolve soon, there is little to no chance of TLDM getting a new order for LMS2 thru until LCS is done with so of course they need to settle the LCS before asking for LMS2, which is why the logical solution is to get all 6 LCS then the LMS2. The problem is highly likely the next order of LCS2 would be delayed or cut so after LCS finished, TLDM would want a bigger more fully armed LMS2 class to take some of the slack with a delayed LCS2 order. In my timeline, I see all 6 LCS to be delivered in stages towards 2028-2029 whereby which LMS2 will either be ordered or 1st unit delivered around 2030, followed on by LCS2 around 2034 latest or 2036-37. 2035 woulda been bad as it will clash with the huge budget needed for TUDM MRCA.

  43. Joe, the SGPV program was conceived as far back as 2009. When the program was announced in 2011, there was only 1 Gowind being built, while at least 7 SIGMA class has been contracted or built. So you decide whether Gowind is proven vs. Sigma in 2011. Also, you’ve missed or excluded the other 2 reasons why RMN preferred the SIGMA. One is regarding past experience with the company, the other on the CMS used. Read the PAC report again. There is still no final design, which is the responsibility of BNS not the sub-contractor. The design costs have escalated way beyond the initial task order value because of constants VOs. Everything is as per the PAC report. It states the reasons why RMN preferred SIGMA, but you want to believe there is some conspiracy. The PAC report says BNS is incapable, you say its untrue, they are capable. Everyone has a different view. I’m just going by the PAC report, the NGPV experience, and situation in August 2022. Its based on what has happened, is happening and documented in the PAC report.

  44. Michael,

    You were talking about build processes of ships and IFVs. Thought you might find this interesting. From someone with actual experience.

    “Something else people don’t understand is building ships is more like building buildings and infrastructure, while building aircraft is not dissimilar to building cars. No two ships are identical, they are similar but highly complex and are unique in their own way, the more often you do it the better you get at it but it is not mass production by any means, it is not the same as building aircraft or armoured vehicles”

    “There are a great many options to build ships and submarines, the key is effectively project managing it. Perhaps more importantly, once a plan is initiated it needs to be followed, adapted by all means and improved, but followed, with out constant stops, restarts, moves and changes in direction. Its the failure to follow through with plans that does more damage than any other single factor”

    On BNS note that prior to the LCSs it had not constructed anything since the Kedahs and with the Kedahs it went through a learning curve.

  45. ‘The change of BNS into an SPV is a start but need to revamp their management, fire all those involved, and put a Mindef personnel in charge. With Wistleblower Act, those middle managers are just as complicit as the higher ups when none of them reported the issues until PAC report.’ (joe)
    I fully agree. I was ticked off by some for my maniacal obsession with a witch hunt to include LTAT and BNS the higher level directors and all their lackeys, but this must be done to set an example and warning to no-gooders amongst the corrupt politicians and ex generals turned business heads. We need to string up some heads here!

  46. Sorry but when things are rotten at the very core does changing the management solve anything? The circumstances which lead to the shite predicament we’re in is not due to the management and was enabled by the very system we have in place : a flawed gagaland policy; no corrective mechanisms and no apolitical oversight.

    We either continue or we are doing or make deep rooted fundamental changes; changing the management or lynching people won’t lead to any tangible payoffs; especially given that that the fault isn’t solely BNS’s. Neither is it the fault of ex generals/admirals – it’s the system.

  47. @kel
    Again, what is the meaning of “proven”? Have either Gowind or Sigma been used in real world situations before LCS or since til today? Some would say ‘battleproven’ as a benchmark and further to that, how well each fares in combat, so has either went thru combat perhaps? If not, how is it ascertained than one is superior over another, unless there is clear technical merits or capability differences that one could not perform against the other?

    Even if we went with Sigma design, to whom, locally, do you think we will turn to in building these ships anyway? And mind you there is also no definitive Sigma 10614 which was the proposal to TLDM back then and none ordered that variant since, so even if we went for this ship, we’ll still have to redesign it, the same with Gowind too. So how is one better than the other?

    I have the PAC report as well so if you’d be so kind as to point out in which page did it state that BNS ‘did not have the technical ability or skilled manpower availability’ to make such ships?

    You reference to the PAC report as if had we went with Sigma, everything would be fine and dandy and there would not be technical issues. Sorry to burst your bubble but even if we went with Sigma the likelihood we will be in this situation is high to almost certain. On top of which if clearly shown certain bias without critical requirement or capability preference is stated, more questions will be asked. Like if I were to state my preference between a Volvo and a Scania when both are technically comparable and neither is significantly better than the other, I woulda been hounded by my Group Procurement and Group Compliance & Conduct why I had shown such clear bias.

    To surmise, technically either ships are sound and should not have preference one or the other. Neither do I find BNS is technically incapable (unless you can help point out which page stated that). The failure was in the project scope, the due diligence, some have mentioned on ever changing requirements (hence the many VOs), the ridiculous low budget for such a project, and which some were used for infra upgrading, the management of the whole lot, and no oversight to trigger when something went wrong, no continuation/handover when a change of Government, and BNS were financially not ready for this huge multibillion undertaking. Doing Government projects is such that you(plural) will have to bear the cost first then only can collect the money upon Government receiving the end product and that is upon their whims.

  48. “it’s the system”
    As my auditor always says, the system is ‘dead’, it is only as rotten as the ones who created them and those subsequently uses them. Blame the system but the cause is from the human factor, and as I said no sitting Government/parties would want to change something that puts them in power or benefits them. And might I remind it is us rakyats who puts politicians up there, so it didn’t matter if it were BN or PH or PN, all of them bungled this LCS fiasco as all of them are cut from the same cloth. If there is anything meaningful to change, change the rakyat (specifically the voters).

  49. Yes indeed there is no guarantee that even with Sigma design that the LCS would have been hunky dory for sure. The 10514 design was a new one at that point, the Morrocan took the 10513 while the Indonesia was the first to take the 10514. It must be noted that Morrocan one took off about the same time as the LCS contract was awarded in 2011. Indonesia one started in 2014.

  50. So, accept and work with the system. Agents want their commission, pay. No questions ask. Agent wants 400m to pay of old debt, give them 500m and increase the budget by 600m. Agent wants 5% extra as consultancy fee, give them 6% and raise the budget by 7%. In exchange, deal directly with seller. Things are more expensive, but they get done. Everyone gets paid. Think of it as the cost of doing business in Malaysia.

  51. I would hazard a guess that the Moroccan ones either use a preexisting design or were directly redesigned by Damen hence facing less of the technical issues that plagued LCS.

  52. Yup the Morrocan ones were completely built by Damen. Two of the four modules of the Indonesian ones were built by Damen in Holland and they were outfitted in Surabaya

  53. Kel – “. Agents want their commission, pay”

    Isn’t only “commissions” or rather markups which drive up costs but also ToT, offsets, IP rights, setting up production lines; etc.

    Kel – “the cost of doing business in Malaysia.”

    The result will continue to be what we have now; a MAF forced to get by with a penny pinching budget; whose capabilities don’t reflect what we’ve spent on it; with a bit of almost everything but not enough of anything and us never having adequate funds because what little we have is squandered due to national interests and us perpetually not getting the best value for our cash..

    Bollocks and shite to that.

  54. @kel
    Well yes, we have to accept the realities that such is the penalties of doing locally, and therefore we should realise that we’ll need to budget for the extras. Why else is Korea can accept that K2 is the world’s most expensive tank when it would have been cheaper to buy Abrams or such. Or that SG’s indigenous weapons did not find much market. They fully realise and understand that that is the nature of doing local. So they willingly suffer to spend more rather than buying outright in order to support their local industry.

    We OTOH thought we could get advanced warships cheaper than if it were built in the OEM yard and so chronically underbudget the whole thing. If we had been willing to pay, say a sum equivalent for a 4500T boat done elsewhere, I assume RM 2~2.5Bil each, rather than current budget of RM 1.3Bil for a local made 3100T, the progress would have gone much further than it is today. The reason why no progress is simply due to money or the lack of it at BNS.

  55. To each their own wisdom on best way to spend momey. I’m not a fan of BNS and having a local shipyard built warships given the NGPV and now LCS experience. While Joe is ok marking up the cost even higher just to compensate for incompetence – more money to waste, I’m only willing to mark up enough to pay the rent necessary to keep incompetent people out of the way.

  56. I have made my stance clear about national projects before but for your benefit I will repeat here; it is no point to do it if it does not give tangible economic benefits, better not do it. But for some, there are justification (multiyear shipbuilding/ armoured vehicles creating jobs).

    Not to say that I’m “ok marking up the cost even higher” but rather than dreaming an ideal scenario whereby we will get what we paid and that national projects does not incur any extra costs, I accepted the fact such wastages have to be factored in and this has to be acknowledged. Don’t hope to get 100% if we pay 100%, expect to only get 70% and so once we accept this fact, simply budget 130% and we will get the 100% products we wanted. QE2 carriers were tallied to have been 50% overbudget, basically Brits paid 150% to get those 2 ships and yet they can accept this fact, so why can’t we do the same. Once we make peace with that and know what we need to do, things would go much smoother (not to say FUBARs won’t happen, but at least money is not the problem).

  57. Kel – “built warships given the NGPV”

    Look at the distinction. Issues with the NGOPVs were of a different kind compared to LCSs; Naval Dockyard’s management issues with regards to paying vendors; wasn’t so much due to design changes or embarking on an overly ambitious endeavour [it went through a learning curve]; it also had more external help with regards to the engineering and other complex aspects.

    Kel – ” I’m only willing to mark up enough to pay the rent necessary to keep incompetent people out of the way”

    That’s a short term superficial remedy. It’s not only “incompetent” people but “incompetent” people working as part of a highly flawed policy which enables cockups to occur and to also be fair there are a lot of competent people in the local industry; not all are there just to milk the system without offering tangible value added benefit. Also it’s not only the “markup” but a whole list of other factors which drive costs up; costs inherent with local construction and acquiring the needed expertise/capability. All borne by the taxpayer of course.

    If our policy was sound instead of being gagaland politically driven and if there was proper oversight at the start it would have been known that BNS was not in a sound position to embark on such an ambitious programme.
    At the very least the lead pair forshould have been constructed in France or shipped here as modules like with the NGOPVs.

    Kel – “I’m not a fan of BNS”

    Neither am I because I’m aware of other issues in the past unrelated to the LCSs but ultimately no matter how one wishes to go off tangent or speculate; BNS started of as a refit facility and was fairly proficient; shite only started flying when it got into the ship construction business. BNS does not bear full responsibility for the LCS cockup; the politicians do too and the system we have in place; one created by the politicians whose priority wasn’t the armed services nor the taxpayer; the lack of oversight; overly ambitious unrealistic goals, etc.

  58. Azlan, everyone says change the system, but no one says how. But everyone agrees change is not going to happen. So, how do we ensure mission goals and objectives are achieved? I say get rid of agents in defence procurement, I say let the market decide on national champions – the agent must compete like everyone else and prove they can do it instead of getting handed a big contract on a silver platter, I say switch from capability based to threat based narrative to create a sense of urgency – even fear among the people to justify higher military spending, I say change the policy to prevent people like the MOF, politicians, and BNS from changing user requirements – as happened in the LCS. All of which does not change the entire system. Just parts of the system that can make a difference. Yet, how many of those are actually supported and implemented (in some form)? As-is, there are a lot of pro-BNS supporters and the pay as much as necessary to finish all 6 LCS, even it it endangers all other asset acquisition programs including those of the Air Force. Somehow we have the MOF overruling the Army’s request for an open tender on buying SPH – yet there is a general acceptance that is it ok so long as the the SPH meets the requirements and the army gets it. Very few actually take the hardline of no, selection should be open tender as requested by the end-user. I’m just looking at achieving missions goals and objectives, which are to get the assets the armed forces want (Goal), on spec and on time (Objectives) based on the available financial resources. Wastage is tolerated and expected, but failure is unacceptable. If it means paying more to keep incompetence from messing with those goals and objectives and creating failures, I’m ok with it because that’s how the system no one is able to or want to change works.

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