Broken Record

KUALA LUMPUR: Broken Record. The first of class LCS – PCU Maharaja Lela – is likely to be delivered to the RMN in 2019 without its major sub-system’s, its principal weapons. This was confirmed by Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd (BHIC) LCS programme Director Azhar Jumaat in an interview at DSA 2018.

BHIC sister company, Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) is building the ships at its yard in Lumut. Azhar says the company will be writing a letter to explain the reason for the delay, the delivery of schedule of the sub-systems – namely the surface to surface missiles and the surface to air missiles – the Kongsberg NSM and MBDA VL MICA.

Live firing with NSM missile from corvette HNoMS Gnist outside Andøya in Northern-Norway

The government awarded the LOA (the contract letter) to Kongsberg at DSA 2018 while MBDA was only awarded the LOI for the MICA. No word yet on which torpedoes have been chosen for the six ship class. Although the launchers and other equipment had been signed by BNS (NSM in 2015), the government had not signed the contract for the missiles (NSM only) until DSA 2018.

MBDA MICA missile

“The delay in getting the missiles obviously will have an impact on our schedules, we may have to deliver the ships without the capabilities,” says Azhar. BNS is contractually obligated to hand over Maharaja Lela to the RMN in early 2019 just in time for it to take part in LIMA 2019 with the rest of the class being delivered one by one starting in 2020.

J+S, now SEA torpedo launcher and handling system selected for the LCS.

With deliveries of the first NSM expected in at least 24 months following the contract signing, it is likely that Maharaja Lela could only test fire them in 2020 at the earliest. As for the MICA and torpedoes it could be later than that as both contracts have yet to be awarded.

HMS Wesminster firing a torpedo from her launcher, which is similar to the one fitted to the LCS.

With this in mind it is likely that the commissioning of Maharaja Lela will only take place once the all systems and sub-systems have been tested and were in full compliance of the contractual obligations. Commissioning for the Lekiu class were delayed for some four years due to software issues with the Nautis combat management system. One of the issues I was told was that the CMS could not work reliably with the Seawolf SAM. Both ships were launched in December, 1994 and May 1995 and were commissioned October and November. 1999.

The LCS major equipment detailed. RMN graphic

Therefore, technically, BNS could after all meet its contractual obligations to hand over the Maharaja Lela in 2019 to RMN but commissioning for the moment is likely at the earliest is 2020. If they did not encounter any difficulties, of course.
That said the original contract for the LCS call for the six ships to be delivered in 2017. This was pushed to 2019 when the government amended the contract in 2013.

— Malaysian Defence

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