Ides of March

BNS conceptual NGPV Batch 2 displayed at DSA 2018. The same design could readily be adapted for LMS Batch II project.

SHAH ALAM: Ides of March. According to Wikipedia, The Ides of March is the 74th day in the Roman calendar, corresponding to March 15. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts.

The deadline for settling of debts seemed appropriate in the context of Malaysian defence as the MD530G light scout attack helicopters (LSAH) are expected to arrive in country in March, (though not necessarily exactly March 15), some six years after the contract was signed.

The six MD530G LSAH ready for delivery. MD Helicopters. MD Helicopters.

The RMN is also getting the first two Leonardo AW139 Maritime Operations Helicopter (MOH) in March as well though that contract was signed barely two years ago. The helicopters will be based at the Kota Kinabalu naval base as with the Scaneagles UAS gifted by the US.

A ScanEagle UAV on its ground launcher. RMN

Another delivery expected in March (again not exactly on March 15) is the upgraded CN-235 MSA of the RMAF. The aircraft would have been here last year but delayed by the pandemic.

RMAF and PTDI personnel posed for a picture after the handing over of 05 for the conversion process in September, 2020. RMAF

What about the elephant in the room then? Even though the first LCS is expected only 2025, I am guessing that work on Maharaja Lela will be restarted in March as well. Why? RMN chief Admiral Reza Sany told Malaysian Defence on January 28 in Kota Kinabalu that the Cabinet will make the decision on the mechanics of the restarting the programme within the next two weeks. He did not reveal what were the mechanics of the restart, however.

The keel of the fourth LCS in the BNS hangar for the ceremony in 2018. The ceremony was graced by the then deputy defence minister Liew Chin Tong.

I am hearing that we may well end up with two LCS in the end. I stand to be corrected of course. What about the settling of debts then? Of course if the government decides to fund the restart of the LCS, BNS will have to pay its debts, local or foreign suppliers and I am guessing it will happened in, yes, your guess is right, March. Though again not necessarily March 15.

A graphic of the proposed capabilities of the LMS in 2017. RMN.

It is interesting to note that BNS is also in play for the LMS Batch II project. The decision on the LCS will also give us clarity on the LMS Batch II project. As mentioned in the previous post, the first three LMS Batch II is expected to be funded this year or next year. The other five is expected to be funded in the next RMK.

— Malaysian Defence

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  1. Two lcs with 6 bill already paid and another 2 3 bill for a restart? F noway..We will never recover from this scandal..Minimum rm3 bill pership or worse rm4.5 bill pership..noway just noway

  2. @Firdaus
    If I am not mistaken rm9 billion for just 2 ships including you so called restart cost. Correct me if I am wrong though. Current paid rm6 billion will get us nothing. Yes we can get 6 LCS for rm12 billion (rm2 billion each) but stopping at 2 ships will make it rm4.5 billion each just as you mentioned.
    In today’s forex, rm2 billion =~ usd500 million which is roughly the cost of a normal Gowind. We cannot use the 2011-2013 forex rate right now. No one wants to make a loss of 25%. Of course we also have those active SPRM cases as well.

  3. Was wondering, initially the plan was to get 8 LMS batch 2 this RMK. Now batch 2 is split up to 2 RMK. What could have caused that? is it because of the plans for LCS? Or the LMS is getting more expensive (hopefully for good reasons) than was initially planed ? Did RMN realized that a fully armed and equipped LMS is cheaper than the gun only Kedah? Surely the main reason for splitting it to 2 RMK was money but what about the details??? This also begs the question, when will we order Kedah batch 2 with this current development?

  4. Personally, lets spend tge 12 billion or even 14 billi to finish all those 6 ships. Oil is at all time high thus govt coffers seems to be improving. But dont stop the macc investigation and ideally bns or other local shipyard should no longer be given the task to built anything but a gun patrol craft

  5. Luqman – ”is it because of the plans for LCS?”

    Maybe. As I’ve long said here’ issues with the LCS might have unintended long term consequences for other areas.

    Luqman – ”Did RMN realized that a fully armed and equipped LMS is cheaper than the gun only Kedah?”

    Firstly; the RMN knows well what it’s doing. Of all the services IMO it has the most well thought out and thorough planning which takes into account all factors/angles.
    Secondly, a ”fully armed and equipped LMS” is not necessarily cheaper than a ”gun only Kedah”…. modular mission payloads and other things can account for up to 40 percent or more of the total LMS costs.

    Luqman – ”when will we order Kedah batch 2 with this current development?”

    he question is not ”when” but ”if”… Follow ome Kedahs were included in the 5/15 when the RMN was under a different leadership and when the circumstances were slightly diffrent. for one, it was predicated on the LCS being delivered and follow on Kedahs were only supposed to have come after the LCSs and LMSs Batch 2s…

  6. For the LCS, it’s literally our worse project scandal yet second only after the 1MDB. I do know corruption is the main hurdle in the road for the completion but why the hell it get this worse?

  7. Please please forget BNS. NO more projects for them. The gov must be brave enough to tender out to other local yards who have the capability to build and finish. This time decision must be based on merit alone. All our ship projects were failures. Proven

  8. @Kamal

    12billion for 6 ships? 2 billion pership? Really..Nah i dont think so..Just imagine with 2 billion we might as well ask the singaporean to build their formidable variants for us…3200 tonnes,32 vls silo now that what i call a 2 billion ships..Max pricetag i can fathom for our LCS are in the region of 1.5 to 1.6 billion pership

  9. I second Lee Yoke Meng. No more BNS. There’s hundreds of shipyards in the country. I’d wager 1 dozen or 2 are well qualified to build our upcoming LMSs or even our LCSs. I hate the very thought of another Boustead fiasco that takes the Rakyat’s money as their God given right to use as they please. We should learn to trust more players, not just BNS or TH Destini or any other form of these 2. Jangan jadi macam Air Asia yang tukar nama tapi masih berhutang dengan pelanggan@ penumpang. Too many high profile conmen in Malaysia. Period.

  10. @Azlan
    “the RMN knows well what it’s doing”
    You might be right. Maybe there is some valid reasons for RMN to continue building Kedah that I did not notice or can think off.

    “Max pricetag i can fathom for our LCS”
    Sorry that is your fathom, current reality said otherwise as if we completed all 6 ships now, it would cost 2 billion at least. Buying new Gowind straight from France also price around 2 bilion each.

    “with 2 billion we might as well ask the singaporean to build their formidable”
    firstly we do not know what is the public cost of the formidable, secondly there is no political intention in doing so, if not we already had consider it or the SGs are not willing to sell to us.
    Rather than Formidable, I would rather use that 2 billion to buy Type31 with 32-64 VLS and TAS but that’s just my opinion

  11. Oh really? So you gonna be cool about a 3100 tonnes ship with 16 vls with inferior radar that priced about the same as the formidables? Im certainly not..Sorry but i still believe that our LCS will cost higher than 2 bill myr perunit..which is NUT!!

  12. @Lee Yoke Meng
    Good idea. If you do come across a local shipyard has experience building military specced frigate sized ships, with the proper security background clearances, sufficiently sound finances, and have the technical capabilities to build up to nuclear sub standards (allegedly the high standards DCNS used for Gowind), please do share that with PM Ismail Sabri.

    The Formidable class are of DCNS design, there is nothing political to stop us going to DCNS for a tweaked Formidable design with similar capabilities if that is what TLDM wanted (which they didn’t). While dripping with lethality, the Formidables are not LCS type ships hence comparison with our LCS is like apples to oranges.

  13. Buying direct from overseas does not guarantee trouble free or on time delivery..the 2 Lekiu class were delayed and they were built in Glasgow UK.. But looking at the level of incompetence of our local ship yards next order should be built overseas..

  14. mofaz – ”he 2 Lekiu class were delayed”

    Yes but due to integration issues with NAUTIS; not due to any design or engineering related stuff.

  15. @Firdaus
    “So you gonna be cool about a 3100 tonnes ship with 16 vls with inferior radar that priced about the same as the formidables?”

    Even if I am not cool about it, what could I have done to change the future outcome?? Tell me please. Whatever the ship that you want, if we repeat the same thing as we did to our LCS, nothing will ever change. Whatever ship that you or I want, in the end it’s the politicians who decides.

    I agree that technically we can buy ‘Formidable’ straight from France back then, but is it TLDM who does not want it or politicians who does not want it? Or both? We can’t say for sure. Why enlarge Gowind was offered instead of La Fayette is beyond me.

  16. LCS is under heavy political influance just as the previous NGPV.
    All the questions and criticizes which rose since day 1 are answered and the decision was right to choose an enlarge gowind and made locally.

    Politics seem will win again as long as they can answer why LCS is failed. People satisfied or not with the answer is another thing.

  17. Many miss the key point in that it was our longstanding politically driven; highly flawed and self defeating defence policy which enabled the LCS cockup to happen. It’s not so much BNS but certain decisions which were made; decisions intended to benefit the local industry and a lack of oversight. Until the defence policy undergoes a fundamental and deep revamp; we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

  18. Firdaus – ”with inferior radar”

    Is that a personal opinion or can you back up with facts to reinforce your point that SMART is supposedly ”inferior’? SMART may be less capable than other longer range radars but this doesn’t mean it’s ”inferior’. Note that SMART is operate by several NATO and other Tier 1 navies.

  19. @Luqman
    LF is an outgoing design and those in French Navy are scheduled for replacement by FTI real soon.

    What I gathered from info shared here, TLDM wanted a corvette sized ship class to operate in littoral waters, but the politicians then bumped it into frigate class, probably for future proofing & prestige, which is nothing wrong but it was likely underbudgeted from the start to keep the figures from being questioned. Hence why RM 9bil was unrealistic for all 6 ships and I suspect the Govt then intended to quietly pad it with supplementary budgets which obviously was not carried over with the change in Govt. Based on these conjecture, TLDM would not been interested in Formidable despite its higher potency. Its likely higher cost price is also a key deterrent.

    Then the political decision of building all 6 locally rather than the initial units built at DCNS and gradually to local build meant principal technical support is at best efforts only.

    On top of that, the sheer idiocy of trying to redesign Gowind into a larger ship by ourselves when we had no military ship design experience is either the folly of BNS management unsounded overconfidence that they can do it or the folly of politicians entrusting (read: forcing) that they could, or both.

    Compounding on these issues, the other effect caused by the delays is that whatever we agreed to buy now is far more pricier than when agreement signed as everything are dealt in USD and our RM has dropped significantly since the project started. Fixating to an RM 9bil ceiling price will certainly meant not all ships can be completed even if we overcome the technical hurdle.

  20. ”TLDM wanted a corvette sized ship class to operate in littoral waters”

    It specified something with a 2,800 – 3,100 tonne displacement.

    ”politicians then bumped it into frigate class, probably for future proofing & prestige,”

    They didn’t.

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