Aspide Firing Success

KUALA LUMPUR: On July 2, KD Laksamana Hang Nadim successfully fired an Aspide SAM against a towed target. One heart may warmed from reading the news but the fact that the ship itself is 26 years old, one wonder whether the ship and her sister ships remained relevant in these fast changing world.

KD Laksamana Hang Nadim firing the Aspide missile

Yes, we could spent a small sum of money to upgrade the ship but how long will the rusting hull be good enough for our sailors. The ship and her sister ships are not being sent to the waters off Somalia for the piracy patrols and one wonder why? Does the lack of a helicopter negated the utility of the Laksamana class and will that affect any future upgrading plans?

From past experience, such negatives would easily be trumped up by national interests….

–Malaysian Defence.

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About Marhalim Abas 2201 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. The Laksamanas are not well suited at all for high seas use. They were designed to operate in the confined waters at the tip of the Persian Gulf, from their home port of Umm Qasr on the Shatt-al-Arab.
    The accommodations are quite inadequate for extended patrols and the CINC is utterly tiny and an ergonomic nightmare. It very much resembles a WWII submarine in this regard. I don’t know if they integrated the Aspide control functions in the upgrade but the original control panel is utterly retro.
    There is no real point in recapitalizing these vessels.


  2. I am no navy expert, but the way i see it these ships have only one purpose…to fight. Its not pretty, its not the most comfortable but among all ships in RMN it is the most heavily armed and the most potent. The aspide range up to 25km (latest version not sure whether we got that), Ottomat up to 120 km (or more) plus torpedo and cannons. Compared that to the lekiu with CLOS Seawolf of max 10km and MM40 max 70km plus torpedo and cannons.

    It may be 26 years old but the fact that for 10 years it was left doing nothing in italy before RMN took it back in mid 90’s. Not sure whether any updates being done. Again these ships are nothing but beast of war, not for patrol

  3. The Laksamanas are still very relevant to the RMNs needs as the RMN is not expected to operate in a hight threat environment. As mr t pointed out, the Laksamanas were designed to operate in a littoral environment in low threat scenarios. Though the Laksamanas are classified as a corvette, they share the same drawbacks as FACs- limited endurance, low waterline that places limitations on it sensors and the inability to defend itself against serious air threats.

  4. Actually the laksamana’s are designed as a very large FACM’s. It is designed to fight and destroy much larger ships but in a littoral environment. Their armerments are much heavier than most frigates (the lekiu’s included) but as of their small size, their range is of course limited. They are very capable ships and a huge deterrent to other warships that plans to engage the RMN fleet, but to expect them to do long range escort (which it is not designed to do) shows the lack of knowledge of naval warfare of those who expects such things.

  5. They are much better defended against air threat compared to most RMN vessels, even to the Lekiu IMHO

  6. As surface strike units they play the FAC role pretty well, because that is what they are.

    Just don’t ask them to do things that need a frigate or corvette.

  7. The Laksamanas were the first ships in the RMN after the Lekiu class to be fitted with an active jammer.

  8. kamal…spoken like a truly clueless landlubber and armchair admiral.

    Poor seaworthiness translates directly into degraded sensor and weapons performance in rough weather. It also takes a toll on the vessel and more importantly the crew. They roll like logs in heavy weather, which is why they are routinely deployed without a full weapons load.

    The craptastic internal arrangements results in accelerated crew fatigue which in turn reduces combat efficiency.

    As for their much vaunted air defence capability, it zeroes out in Sea State IV or worse as they are inadequately stabilized. The Aspide is a SARH missile and the illuminators crap out in heavier seas.

    They lack any stealth features and organic OTH targeting capability, essential to make use of the reach of the Otomats.

    I’d trade them for Haminas in a heartbeat.

  9. For comparison I think the Victory class comes closest in terms of displacement. Both were build around the same time using the same period technology. The main advantage the Victory has is more Barak 1s than the Laksamanas 4 Sparrows and a VDS. I also suspect that the Israeli made EW on the Victory works better against Western stuff than the Italian made EW. After the Victory, the TNI Parchims come the closest. The problem wuth the Parchims is a lack of an integrated combat management system.

  10. yep meester again again i already told u i am a clueless armchair general who also believes in tooth fairy. As an idiot the haminas of the finnishh navy (correct me if i am wrong) is at least 15 years ahead in technology and in ship time. Plus with out knowing the actual cost, i believe it is way more expensive than the old laksamana.

    Again sir who seems to know it all, i am saying compared to the rest of the RMN, this is he best we got so far (sadly though) hahahahah. ok now i will go and play with the tooth fairies

  11. Gents, lets not get personal here. Personaly, I have more faith in Seawolf than Aspide. The problem with the Laksamanas is the designers crammped a lot of stuff on a small hull. I dont know if the design was designed specifilly for the Iraqi navy though. Apart from the 4 Laksamanas, there were also 4 Lupo frigates intended for Iraq, docked at La Spezia. Given a choice, I would have gone for 2 Lupos. Granted, the Lupos are more manpower and mantainance intensive but i suppose thats a price to pay for a larger platform with better seakeeping and endurance. Though the Laksamanas are basicly oversized FACs they have the firepower of a frigate. Apart from having a better sensor fit, theres no big difference in the Lupo and Laksamana in terms of firepower.

  12. 3 RMN’s Laksamana already when through refit period in the dockyard. 3 of them back to the fleet from yard, having removed its torpedo and DARDO, the CIWS system onboard which is integrated with the twin barrel 40mm OTO BREDA.

    I personally will give another 5 more years to the LAKSAMANAs before the need to be decommission.

    Marhalim: Was this done several years ago? Because I saw one Laksamana undergoing a major overhaul at the dockyard when I visited around 2001-2002. All of the armaments and sensors had been taken of the ship and it was in a white primer coat. I was told then that the ship was supposed to be handed over to MMEA although this never happen of course.

    If you say five that means that there is no need to upgrade them and the only reason for the waiting is the fact that they need the five years to get a new ship into the fleet although recent history has shown that a new ship can only be commission within 10 years…..

  13. @marhalim

    refit time for a laksamana will take around 1 1/2 years or less. none of laksamana was given to MMEA and the white primer coat is base paint before they paint it grey. I never heard such plan, it would crazy if it was given to the MMEA. usually only one laksamana ship will be in the yard during refit time, same apply to Lekiu class and logistics ship.

    to upgrade a Laksamana will cost us nothing. Y?
    because it will never happen.

    why Malaysia bought 4 Laksamanas? because, 1 of them will act as “simpanan” ship. Italian maritime industry is small scale industry (during laksamana built time), so they didnt produce all the spare parts like BAEs. another thing purchasing laksamanas were not well planned because there is no logistics support included in this purchase. So to solve the problem, RMN want to use one of the laksamana as reserve ship whereby its equipment or system can be transferred to another ship to replace defective things…

    Marhalim: As I said I was visiting Naval Dockyard when I was told by the then-big-wig about RMN giving one of the Laksamana to the MMEA, although admittedly it never happened. And BTW there was two Laksamanas undergoing some sort of work done on them when I visited, the gun turrets were intact but none of the Otomat or Aspide launchers were onboard.

    About the support package, its not just limited to the Laksamana class its the same disease afflicting the whole armed forces. We tend to buy things without any thoughts on how to operate them optimally during the service life hence, like our procurement the support package will be part of the “get rich quick scam” thats sucking our defence budget dry….

  14. Hi Marhalim

    Have you heard any feedback on the new Kedah class? If the navy is satisfied, perhaps the most viable option is to order a second batch using the same MEKO A100 platform, with the same FFBNW concept.

    Marhalim: The navy is unsatisfied with the new Kedah class as mentioned by the navy chief that the two ships in service cannot achieved a Class A readiness. Yes, the best new platform would be the same Meko 100 platform but with all the bells and whistles attached together with an ASW suite, which is what the RMN wants to the extend that they will forgo fully arming the first six Kedahs. Actually we can adopt the similar configuration as the German 130 class corvette which is an improved version of the Meko 100.

    Should we do it? Honestly, after the on-going saga with the Kedah, if I had the power, I would not do it. I seriously doubt the ,,,,,,, of the German Naval Group which seemed to left us in lurch during the construction of the Kedah class. Yes, I understand all of it could be the fault of the Tan Sri but an …….company must have the cojones to protect its own reputation.

    The Kedah-class ongoing saga clearly punctured the superiority of German engineering and honesty. They make the French and British looked model citizens! I doubt we had already gained enough technology on our own to modify the current platform into a much better fighting ship or let alone built another six ships that will outperform the earlier batch.

  15. Even assuming that cash is made available, to make the NGOPVs into ASW vessels would require not just a hull mounted active/passive sonar and 2 triple tubes. Having a hull mounted sonar and top tubes does make a vessels an effective ASW platform. Whats really needed is a towed array to complement the hull sonar and an organic heli. Compared to other ships, the RMN has actually spent cash on upgrading the Laksamansas. The CMS on 2 ships have been upgraded and the EW system replaced.

    marhalim… how much of the delays and problems in the NGOPV prgramme was a result of the German Naval Group. I was under the impression that it was due to PSC Naval Dockyard?

    Marhalim: Much of the fault came from PSC of course, money for nothing. Not much has been documented on the fault of the GNG apart from the Audit Report which stated that the wrong type of steel was used for the hulls of Kedah and Pahang. The steel was not the same type as specified by the builder. Since the GNG own the rights for the hulls and the two ships were built at their yard, this major fault lies with them. The Navy apart from PSC shared part of the blame of course for embarking on a major project without the proper people on board to ensure its interest was taken care off.

    Since the South African Meko 200 (two) hulls also had wiring problems and the GNG had to gut out the wiring and replace with new ones, I tend to believe both Kedah and Pahang also had faulty wiring also. That is probably one reason, both ships continue to have problems with its systems.

    As for the ASW suite, Thales has introduced a new ASW suite called Captas NANO. From the company website

    CAPTAS Nano is a new Low Frequency Active Variable Depth Sonar (LFA-VDS) that brings high performance ASW capability to a wide range of surface combatants, with a design optimised for small size ships operating in littoral areas.

    CAPTAS Nano uses a single tow comprising the horizontal transmit array and linear triplet receive array on a single drum winch for automatic deployment and recovery. This has the advantage of achieving maximum safety with minimum manning.

    The CAPTAS Nano has been designed for both under-deck and open deck installation. Due to its simple mechanical design, the winch can be transferred from ship to ship for maximum utilisation in the operational fleet”

    Further reading

    I am not saying that it is the best but it offers RMN a quickfor its ASW capabilities, which is almost zero at the moment. The RMN is still trying to find out whether towed array sonar or variable depth sonar is the best solution for its mission……

  16. Marhalim, if i’m not mistaken there was a report in Janes 2 years ago that CAPTAS Nano was specified for the Lekiu Batch 2s. I’m not sure how accurate the report was a few years back in Tempur that said the RMN was interested in a towed array for the Batch 1s but that BAE System was reluctant as it would have involved substantial work to the hull. The problem in ASW, just like in MCM, to reach and retain a desired level of skill takes a lot of cash for training. As most NATO navies discovered in the late 90’s, once the capability has been allowed to lapse, retaining it requires a huge investment.

    Marhalim: Yes ASW and MCM needs a lot of training and training. And like other navies, RMN find it hard to retain trained ASW and MCM operators due to the lack of career advancement and promotional opportunities. I do not know whether Captas Nano was slated for the Lekiu Batch 2 but as far as I know RMN hasnt figured out which was the better technologt, VDS or towed arrays…perhaps with the new submarines they can finally figure which things they need to go for.

  17. RMN didnt upgrade any LAKSAMANAs at all…if your visit to one of them, you know it. 🙂

    Marhalim: So the two Laksamanas I saw at the Dockyard several years back, were there for the paint job?

  18. Let’s forget the idea of FFBNW. Let’s just armed the Meko’s to the teeth. IMHO our NGPV should at least on par with the German’s K130 on the first place. Done that, the 6 NGPV can complement our Laksamana’s.

  19. both the laksamana was in the yard for the refit. During refit period a lots of stuff being done. painting,engine and gens set overhauls,system maintenance and etc..sometime there will new engines or gen set installment.

    Marhalim: and dont forget mew pumps and sewage treatment plants! Those two items seemed to dominate RMN tenders!

  20. marhalim, like the Chilean navy, the RMN has chosen a flank array instead of a towed array for its Scorpenes. I suspect that funds were the reason.

    Marhalim: You are probably right on the Scorpene flank array but when I mentioned about the VDS and towed array it was for the surface ships. It must be noted that VDS does not work well in tropical waters due to the high temperatures…..

  21. Fitted with a VDS, Scorpene would have a much better chance of detecting contacts at a longer range. As I learnt from another forum, the main problem with towed array is making sure it does not hit the bottom when operating in littorals and reeling it in should the vessel be required to increase speed or maneuver rapidly. The point I was trying to make is that if the RMN intends to configure any Kedah class into ASW vessels, a towed array would be needed. Without a towed array or a VDS, an ASW configured Kedah wont be different from any other vessel already fitted with a hull mounted sonar and torp tubes. Now I suppose the main question to ask is whether the Kedah class has any space left for a towed array or a VDS. As Marhalim pointed out, once the Scorpenes start going to sea against the Lekius, Laksamamas and Kasturis, the RMN is going to learn a hell of a lot about ASW. As far as I know, the only recorded instance the RMN got ASW training was during Flying Fish 97 when an RAN Oberon and a RN Trafalgar participated. Even some years after the Challengers entered service, the RSN continued to rely on the IN deploying Kilos in the Andaman Sea to provide the sonar operators onboard the Victory class corvettes with practice.

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