Frigates, Oh, Frigates Part III

It seemed puzzling to me that the navy is getting more frigates even though its two FAC squadrons are among the oldest in the fleet.
Some of the boats have been in service since early 70s.
The last remaining boats of the old Kedah class (Vosper-built boats which were introduced in the sixties) were only retired recently. They were not sent for scrap or museum but instead handed over to the newly-setup coast guard (MMEA).
We are not a very rich country, so a large number of very well-armed FACs may well tip the balance in our favour instead a small number of capital ships which we may find too risky to move around in wartime..
A modern FAC with a 76mm gun, SAM/SSM and torpedoes may well cost around USD$200 million (about 60m in length) to built compared to a USD$500 million frigate (about 95 metres long) with the same weapon system.
One have to bear in mind that a frigate operating cost may well double or triple the amount to run one FAC.
More frigates may well be more conducive for having more admirals in the navy ranks. An FAC commander is usually a Lt Commander (similar to major in the Army) while a frigate is more likely to be a Commander (Lt Col) or Captain (Colonel).
It is interesting to note as our navy as a coastal or brown water navy seemed to have blue water (ocean-going) ambitions by building bigger ships in small numbers instead of building small boats in large numbers.
So what is in the pipeline to replace the navys FAC squadrons? (the Handalan and Ganas class boats, eight in total, the last time I check)
Not a word yet. There was a time that it was envisioned that the new Kedah-class will replace the FACs in the fleet but that seemed to be a long way now.
If the PV is no longer in the picture, so whats next for the navy, bearing in mind that the eight FACs are not getting younger any day.
The navy plans are top secret but if they still have want FACs, they should not waste their time looking around..
In my humble opinion, if the navy is shopping around for an FAC, tbe best candidate will be Denmarks Stan Flex 300 class.
These glass-reinforced-plastic boats are heavily armed with medium calibre gun, SSM/SAM, torpedoes and modern command control system.
These boats are also equipped with towed array sonar for anti-submarine warfare something which is not even available in our navy.
One caveat though. These boats are powered a gas turbine engine for quick dash across the sea. I was told by a former navy commander that our navy is dead set against such engines, which is a pity.
GRP boats are not new in the navy, the four-boat strong Mahameru-class minesweepers also have GRP hulls and they have been in service since the 80s.
The Stan Flex is also equipped with diesel engines for cruising and a third engine is also fitted to be used hunting for mines.
Mines, yes, you read it right. The Stan Flex is designed for surface, air and underwater warfare. All of these systems are placed in containers so each ship could be configured for different roles to suit the situation.
Part of the Denmark Stan Flex fleet is also permanently manned by the Coast Guard for patrol duties. If the need arises, they could be fitted with the weapon containers to join their Navy brothers in combat duties. These containers are the plug-and-play variety so they could go underway very quickly.
These versatile vessels could also be used for environmental control duties, if an oil tanker ran aground and starts spilling oil into the sea, these boats could be fitted with the proper equipment to clean it up.
So if we buy about 20 vessel for the navy, another 20 for the MMEA, we will have one heck of a combat fleet if ever we needed them to loft missiles in anger (god forbid). Its better than having four frigates or another two more.

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About Marhalim Abas 2226 Articles
Shah Alam

1 Comment

  1. Forget about the Frigates. Buy or build more submarines. Make sure these can fire a LACM like the 3M54 and you have the makings of a credible deterrence force.

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