SHAH ALAM: Even with the two Perdana Menteri class submarines, the RMN ASW capabilities remained limited with only the upcoming LCS having proper submarine hunting suites . With a limited SLEP for the Lekiu class and none for the Kedah class, RMN will be facing a future without much ASW capabilities.
The proposed funding for four MPAs in RMK11 might boost the maritime domain awareness (whatever that means!), a limited budget might forced the ASW suite off the planes.
It is for this reason I read with deep interest a Janes report (I will only post articles which relates to Malaysia) about UAE acquiring highly capable ASW vessels.
“The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is probably operating innocuous-looking vessels that are armed with the world’s longest-range torpedo: a capability that would enable it to target Iranian Kilo-class submarines at their base.
Confirmation that the UAE has received new torpedo systems came in the form of the defence export report that the German government released in June. It stated that two “floating platform[s] with torpedo-launching gear” had been exported to the UAE in 2014, along with underwater detection equipment.”
The vessels UAE acquired is the Rmah class, described by the Janes report as floating platforms. Based on information on the Internet this two support vessels are 58 metres long, about the same size of our current FACs. Since the RMN is looking to replace its FAC fleet, the ASW capability offered by these innocuous vessels certainly out-trump the Daewoo contender.
If the Janes report is correct, we could also get similar capabilities from such vessels. The same hull could also be adapted to a more versatile patrol boat armed with a 30mm gun in the A position while behind the bridge, VLS and SSM launchers could be installed. The stern launcher for the Seahake Mod4 ER torpedoes could be maintained. As it is there is no need for a dedicated stern launcher as the torpedo could also be launched from special containers.
The two UAE vessels apparently have its smoke stacks at the stern but this could move forward for our vessel. I am no naval architect but I believe the front of the hull could be made longer to accommodate our much more unforgiving seas compared to the Persian Gulf.
Anyhow there is no need for us to follow the UAE in building the same vessel, we could also get a 75 metre FAC, one fitted for specially to fire Seahake Mod4 ER torpedoes, from the stern or containers.
These torpedoes have a range of 140km, even better than most heavyweight torpedoes fired from submarines. Most lightweight torpedoes fired from surface warships ranges from 23km (low speed) and 10km (high speed).
These torpedoes are also a good replacement for the Blackshark heavy weight torpedo arming the Perdana Menteri class submarines.
We could still hope the Seahake has been selected for the LCS as the type of the torpedo has not been announced. However as Atlas Elektronik have not taken part in either LIMA or DSA exhibitions the chance of it being chosen for the LCS is rather low.
Of course there are many variables to a successful ASW operations, having a ship with a capable weapon system is just the start. But that is the least we can offer to our sailors.
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