SHAH ALAM: Back in March, Malaysian Defence reported that the government was mulling to purchase the LMS Batch II from Turkiye. And the main candidate is the Ada-class corvette/light frigate. Now industry sources are saying that it is the Ada-class which has been selected for the LMS Batch II project.
As this is Malaysia, one already expects something is in the wind. First, originally it was decided that this will be a government-to-government deal to ensure that the issues with the LCS did not happen again. RMN chief was reported to have said that they were still negotiating whether it will be to G-to-G or a commercial deal.
The talk now is that it will not be a GtG deal and that the tender for the LMS Batch II will be announced at LIMA 2023 starting this May 23 (whether it will be published, issued, or just announced is beyond me). If a tender is announced clearly the project will be conducted through a commercial deal. That said, this might just be a ploy to get companies to exhibit to LIMA is a valid point as well (though the industry thinks otherwise, see below).
As for the second issue on the Ada-class, the cost is said to be over the LMS Batch II budget. Malaysian Defence reported that the budget for the project is to be around RM4.1 billion spread over two RMK, three ships this RMK 12 (2021-2025) and others -five more in RMK 13. The report states:
With a budget of RM2.5 billion, the fully equipped LMS Batch II should cost around RM833 million per ship which is still lower than the average price of 900 to 2500 tonnes corvettes, according to AMI International, a defence consultancy. AMI stated that average cost of such corvettes for the last ten years is around US$250 million (around RM1.05 billion) per ship.
This was not an issue before as Malaysian Defence reported that the plan was take some of the equipment bought for the LCS for the LMS Batch IIs. However, this will not work now as the government is determined to complete five LCS and most likely, the last one as well.
It is because of this the industry thinks a smaller ship, like the Dearsan C92 and Damen Sigma 92 corvettes are more suitable based on the budget. Hence it is for this reason, the industry thinks that a tender will be announced or issued at LIMA 2023.
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First of all, is something like the Dearsan C92 and Damen Sigma 92 be a useful platform to answer future challenges that is going to be faced by RMN?
From my point of view, i don’t see a platform like the corvettes, with limited numbers planned to be bought; and limited attack and defence capabilities, could contribute much to the RMN overall capability to face the main future threat, which is a major war happening in the South China Seas.
For the surface fleet, I am for going either to have a much more heavily armed Frigates (as a replacement for Lekiu and Kasturi class ships), or if we want to go to the other end of the spectrum, super cheap offshore capable FAC (lets call it the OFAC) that we can deploy in multiple of dozens and have the speed and range of frigates (with seakeeping ability to be offshore for long periods of time) to enable dispersed formations under distributed lethality operations. Something we can afford to lost a handful at war, as we have dozens of them in the fleet.
The Ada class is a great ship, as capable as the Gowind is just without the towed arrays for a lot less money. But it’s a bona fide ‘combat’ ship rather than a ‘mission’ ship.
without the capabilities to perform mission the Ada would be an escort which would require RMN to get 1 more classes of ship to perform mission the LMS program is envisioned to do and have to spend money sustaining 2 crew to perform 1 mission when other navies only used 1.
Since increase in funding per GDP aren’t exactly forthcoming in the near future, all the increase in cost would come at the cost of postponement of RMN other programs & capabilities.
While I see the point of smaller vessels at certain areas like Laut Sulu and even Malacca Strait, we need bigger ships for South China Sea, at least 80 metres in size
… – “i don’t see a platform like the corvettes, with limited numbers planned to be bought; and limited attack and defence”
Yes you complained about this on several occasions prior.
– In a “major war” even a frigate in numbers with a 96 cell VLS might not survive.
– We do not factor in force planning to counter China or to meet the PLAN in a major surface engagement.
– Everything has a place; nothing is intended to operate on its own [it’s not the Greek War of Independance or the Punic Wars] or be placed in an operational setting where it’s required to punch above its weight category [i.e. a LCA against a Rafale or a flotilla of MTBs against the High Seas Fleet].
– Just like how the RMN sees the need to have a high/low complementary mix with its MRCAs and LCAs [which you have a particular penchant for]: it’s the same with the RMN: as well as many other navies.
– In the past the RMN planned to.have 6 Lekius as ita Team A so to speak; the Kedahs, FACs Laksmananas constituting Teamw B; fast forward to 2023 the RMN desires LCSs backed by LMSs.
… – “For the surface fleet, I am for going either”
I’m “going” for a mix of frigates and corvettes operating as one and “jointly” with sister services; fully networked and complementing each other [not so much the platform in this day and age] against threats we can realistically handle in line with inherent limitations.
Zaft – “But it’s a bona fide ‘combat’ ship rather than a ‘mission’ ship”
Heaven’s White Roses. You’re seeing things which aren’t there again. A “mission ship”? Whether it’s the Yamato or PT109 each ship intended for specific roles and all are “combatants”.
… – “super cheap offshore capable FAC (lets call it the OFAC) that we can deploy in multiple of dozens and have the speed and range of frigates (with seakeeping ability to be offshore for long periods of time)”
Another reminder; to add to previous ones. Despite advances in tech; FACs still have inherent sensor issues [the low freeboard plays a part]. They also have inherent seakeeping issues; despite stabilisers. You realise that the FACs quite often cannot put to sea during the monsoon season.
Ultimately FACs are intended for limited sea denial; have little peacetime utility and because inherent limitations are intended to be operated alongside heavier friendly units in specific circumstances [read up S-Boot and MTB ops on WW2, Operation Praying Mantis: the Battle of Bubiyan Straits; FAC ops in 1973; etc]. Inherent limitations remain despite it being 2023.
There is a reason why there are less FAC users now compared to previous decades and why their roles and designs have evolved to suit the times.
As the cliche goes “like a rear orifice everyone has an opinion”. No pleasing everyone.
The RMN desires a fully fitted out LMS for specific roles under specific operational environments and it’s getting it. Won’t be in the desired quantities; long delayed and will be modestly fitted out but it is what it is – in line with financial constraints; threat perceptions and overall policy [We aren’t buying stuff for a threat driven “major war” in the South China Sea]. In the past people were whining/moaning about the RMN supposedly wanting guns only ships for constsbulary type duties and they were flat.
Let’s hope in the coming years that the RMN will be able to steadily increase its ability to operate jointly with its sisters services and that assets such as MPAs, UASs, LMS Batch 2s bad other things will also enable the RMN to improve its network centric capability.
Marhalim, what about an enlarged version of the Dearsan C74. Take the anti submarine mortars out and replace with triple torpedo tubes, or place the on both sides of the helicopter hanger.
Probably could work as well
“While I see the point of smaller vessels at certain areas like Laut Sulu and even Malacca Strait, we need bigger ships for South China Sea, at least 80 metres in size”
with advances in naval engineering technology, seakeeping in heavy seas does not necessarily depend on the size, but can also be based on the design of the ship.
south china sea, the weather can be very calm with glass-like water surface at one moment, suddenly change to 2m high waves.
There are latest design of ships of the size of around 50m that can endure heavy seas. Gone are the low freeboards, replaced with higher ones, with even higher bows (many designs have more than 2x the bow height of current FACs like the combattante). Some designs already tested with 3 months long deployment chasing japanese whalers in harsh Antarctic waters. Some are equipped with fuel tanks that gives 2x the range of the Gowinds at cuising speed, or same range of the Gowinds while fully at 30 knots top speed.
We are now in the era of IoT, systems of systems, AI etc. Sensors are not limited to those that can be fitted onto the individual ships. So why do we still think of ships on individual level, and not on a systems level?
I wonder if the RMN will settle for 6 LMS B2 now that the LCS will go through with likely 6 ships. Maybe 2 plus 4 and maybe tag the MRSS with the 4 LMS in RMK 13. That will be a bigger contract and will therefore attract more competitive pricing. Perhaps the Koreans will also be a viable option. My opinion is the Turks will still come out with the goods. Their economy has taken a bartering and they will be ultra keen for business.
I doubt it will be a tag on with MRSS as it is a different class of ship. For starters, the bean counters at MOF will have a heart attack if it done so. If the MRSS will be funded in RMK13, it will be done separately.
Tom Tom – ”I wonder if the RMN will settle for 6 LMS B2 now that the LCS will go through with likely 6 ships.
14 FACs have to be replaced and there is a certain quality to quantity; so no.
Tom Tom – ”My opinion is the Turks will still come out with the goods.”
Many can ”come out with the goods”. The problem is us …
Anyone fancy hdp 2200,2200+ offered to phils navy as our LMS batch 2..?..150m+ usd pership fully fitted..more viable with allocated 2.5bill for 3 lms ships
“The Ada class is a great ship, as capable as the Gowind is just without the towed arrays for a lot less money”
Not just the Ada but Damen 92m and maybe a few more that can give the same performance as LCS for much lower cost. Heck the Jose Rizal cost about usd150 million each excluding the VL MICA while only 300+ tones heavier that Ada.
One can also say get the Ada and put a CAPTAS towed sonar array (if there is such space) and you already have LCA minus the endurance range.
Or just buy the Jose Rizal for LMS, LCS and SGPV types (different equiptments for each ‘class’ but use the same hull. Cons? higher operational cost I think.
Luqman – ”Not just the Ada but Damen 92m and maybe a few more that can give the same performance as LCS for much lower cost. ”
Near or comparable performance maybe but not near identical; the sensors fit out plays a part. Also, in this day and age the efficacy of any ship has to be measured on how well its integrated in with other assets and not by its own.
Luqman – ”put a CAPTAS towed sonar array (if there is such space) and you already have LCA minus the endurance range.”
There would still be a need for a helo with the legs, endurance and load out needed to engage contacts as far away as the ship as possible.