LCS on Steroids

A CGI potrait of the Belh@rra. DCNS

SHAH ALAM: It appears that DCNS has taken the Gowind design further and made a proper frigate. The result is the Belharra – an evolution of the Gowind and the FREMM frigates – five of which will be build starting in 2023.

The Belharra pushed the LCS design further turning it into a 4000-tonne frigate meant for anti-submarine warfare together with a proper air defence radar and missile combination.

A CGI of the Belharra frigate. DCNS

It’s likely that Egypt and we paid for the development of the Belharra by buying the Gowinds though DCNS still need to get the French government to pay for the five frigates. That was not a big problem as the French need to replace the La Fayette class.

French Navy Auvergne FREMM class frigate.

So if our government really allocate the funds for the next batch of the LCS as envisioned by RMN 15 to 5 plan, will they choose the Belharra or stick with the current design? Since they have already bought the LCS design, a 3000 tonnes frigate, it is unlikely to do so.

A CGI of the LCS, a 3000 tonne Gowind frigate.

The press release from DCNS:

DCNS is pleased to have been informed by the French Defence Ministry of a contract attribution.

The French Defence Ministry today announced the attribution to DCNS of a contract for the development and construction of five intermediate-size frigates (FTIs) intended for the French Navy. DCNS will propose a French version of its new BELH@RRA frigate. The first of the five frigates from this DGA-managed programme should be delivered in 2023 with an entry into active service in 2025.

The LCS major equipment detailed. RMN graphic

The new BELH@RRA frigate will be designed and developed by DCNS, in joint project management with THALES for the development of the new-generation radar it will be equipped with.

The initiation of the FTI programme will benefit the DCNS Group’s employment basins, the foremost of which being the DCNS Lorient site and its subcontracting partners: the design of the BELH@RRA frigates represents about two million hours of work for the DCNS design offices. For the entire DCNS Group, the construction of a BELH@RRA frigate represents on average two million hours of work, of which three hundred thousand hours for the design offices.

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and CEO of DCNS states that: “DCNS is proud to contribute, alongside THALES, to the renewal of the French naval forces thanks to a new vessel responding to the needs of a world-class navy. It is key component of our range of military vessels and the attribution of this contract also allows us to develop a frigate that addresses the expectations of a dynamic international market.”

A world-class frigate of a displacement of 4,000 tonnes intended for anti-submarine warfare, the French version of the BELH@RRA is designed to respond to the various French national needs. It will be endowed with extended self-defence and special forces projection capacities. Last but not least, it will integrate the new THALES SEA FIRE four flat antenna radar and will be equipped with Aster 30 missiles from MBDA.Developed for crews that will take the commands around 2020, the BELH@RRA frigates will benefit from the very latest digital technologies. They will, in particular, be equipped with a latest-generation combat system. This will bring greater rapidity for tactical analysis, decision taking and weapons deployment.

A CGI potrait of the Belh@rra. DCNS

The integration of the latest digital technologies will ensure that the vessel will be able to evolve over a period of almost forty years. The information-processing systems will be modernised incrementally to be adapted to changes in the operational context, the emergence of future threats and the short renewal cycles for new technologies.

With the BELH@RRA frigate, DCNS intends to continue the success enjoyed by La Fayette-class frigates, a reference on the naval-defence market with over twenty units sold around the world. DCNS completes its product line by positioning this new frigate between the 6,000-tonne FREMM multi-mission frigate segment and that of the 2,500- to 3,000-tonne Gowind corvettes.

Egyptian Gowind 2500 undergoing sea trials.

Personally I like the design. Even if we continue building the LCS, the Belharra looks like a good design as a replacement for the Lekiu and Kasturi classes. A five-ship build will be wonderful, we could even named them after the fabled ancient Malacca warriors starting with Tuah, pennant number 31.

 Can we afford it though? Unlikely, based on the current fiscal and funding situation.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2227 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Honestly..i don’t think Malaysia will get the Belharra design..we prefer 2000-2500 tonnes..(if i am not mistaken)

  2. I think it’s a good idea to upgrade the ships from 3100 tons to 4000 tons since we still build the ships. If the first ones cannot be modified, so why don’t put the other ships into this magnificent design?

    Answers: Cost, budget, schedule….bla….bla…bla… cliche but reality…

  3. Five BELH@RRA for MY? If it ever being considered then someone had put up a requirement that a “pocket DDG” is vital for protecting our interest…which I hope it would never happen.

    Well, if it does, perhaps can consider designs from ROK and AUS too.

    OZ is not designing new frigates, they are looking at designs from Spain, Italy, French and the UK.

  4. We have decided on the gowinds, and it is not prudent in the near term if we need more new frigates to build something other than additional gowinds or an upgraded derivative of it.

    The lekius and kasturis has a long operational life left. If additional new gowinds are to be procured, we should probably sell them on while we can. And if new build are not going to be funded (rarely a service got big ticket items every 5 year budget), why not get the la fayette when they are retired? They serve most of their lives FFBNW, but spaces for towed sonar, vertical launch air defence missiles are availabe and can be fitted. Modernisation could be done locally at BHIC.

  5. We need more hulls. Bigger LCS is just more expensive. Buying existing design will bring economies of scale for construction and operation. As it is we didnt use the meko design we bought…6 more gowind will be fantastic.

  6. Why is the bow bend slightly outward? Is it more stable compare to the usual inward?

    It looked similar the sea axe bow design by Damen. The sea axe bow is supposed to reduce pitching

  7. I think we need to have 6 helis for the LCS. After LCS we need to get 2 to 4 LSD and if theres room upgun the Meko OPV to carry SSM and Ciws. It should be in that order. But lets get the LCS and LMV delivered on time first…vis a vis the super late delivery of the 2 training vessel.

  8. IMO the logical order of priority for the navy after the gowinds

    1) the LMS (and hopefully it is not just an expensive glorified patrol boat that is no better than APMM new boats)

    2) MRSS Ship

    3) ASW helicopters for the gowinds

    4) additional scorpenes (1 more at least, module sections from india/brazil assembled in the submarine hangar at sepanggar)

    5) kedah class batch 2 (at least 6 more, at 1/2 the cost of the original build, plus upgrades for the original 6 to similar standards of the new batch for commonality)

    6) gowind batch 2

  9. @ nimitz

    Because right now india is building 6 scorpenes locally, plus additional 3 are planned to be build too. Brazil is building 4. If we can decide to get additional scorpenes, we could leverage the available manufacturing capabilities in those countries, and also continue the resources and experiences now available in sepanggar for the scorpene overhaul, to assemble a new scorpene in sepanggar from modules made in india or brazil. India is getting them each for usd500 million. If we could have them for the same cost, at least 1 more scorpene would be ideal, to get the fleet to 3, to have 1 always in patrol, 1 training, and 1 at rest after returning from patrol.

  10. More gowind please. We should be signing for additional 5 now to be delivered post 2022. These 5 to replace the lekiu,jebat,kasturi,lekir and hang tuah

  11. The Belharra is too big for M’sia and too small for Australia. By the way, the finalists for the Australian frigate are FREMM, BaE type 26 and the Bazan class from Navantia. The latter is also the basis for the Hobart class AWD. The RAN actually wanted a scaled down version of the Raleigh Burke but the Howard Government decided against it.

    The SCS is actually a ‘lake’ and the best way is to improve the Gowind for futures batches. It is easier to enlarge any design rather than make a smaller version of the Belharra,

  12. LMV will have a 30mm gun and about 68mtrs long. It is to complement the APMM. I hope the will reuse the 3in guns of Laksamana class but i dont think so. The navy kinda really loves the 30mm MSI gun.

    They cannot repurpose the guns on the Laksamana class for the moment as the ships remained in service.

  13. For now, instead of dreaming of RMN operating some 4000t frigates, I would be content if the LCS is delivered on schedule, on budget and no major hiccup…

  14. I rather the RMN stick to the 15 to 5 plan. Although a 15 to 4 plan is better given the scarce finances. Leave the ‘ general patroling ‘ duties to the MMEA and let the RMN pursue their combat role . The navy can always get back to the LMV game many years from now when there’s more allocation. If I am not mistaken, this smart partnership approach is what the national blue ocean strategy is all about.

  15. Is the LCS capable to be installed with longer range SAM??

    I am not sure about that

  16. @ Marhalim,

    For that proper frigate, the FTI (Fregate de Taille Intermediaire) version of the Belh@rra for the french navy costs… exactly 2x of the Gowind SGPV, coming in at USD820 million (RM3.6 billion) for each ship.

    Is it worthwhile? Do we really need something that big? If we want to go for bigger ships, consider that the Absalon and Iver Huitfeldt comes in at around the similar cost to our Gowind SGPV.

  17. With the current chinese massive naval shipbuilding push, with new ships launched nearly every month (and now after just 2 years of building, the 2nd chinese aircraft carrier), we have to expect that chinese aircraft carrier group would be a regular fixture in the south china sea in the near future. Only way for malaysia is to look seriously at adding more submarines as our main sea based deterrent.

  18. The RMN wants additional boats no doubt; the problem is not only cash but politics. Thanks to the murder of the Mongolian national and the controversy surrounding the alleged kickbacks or commissions; the issue of buying follow on SSKs is politically sensitive. The good news is that we’ve already invested in a proper shore support infrastructure at Sepanggar.

    The displacement, as well as weapons and sensors fit on the Gowind/LCS is dictated not just by cash but by our threat perceptions and the RMN’s operational requirements. Like Indonesia, we don’t see the need for combatants able to operate in high intensity scenarios. Sure, I would like to have seen a slightly larger LCS [more deck space equates with more room for future upgrades], space for additional NSM launchers if needed], a CIWS in the ‘B’ position and a 36 cell VLS but this is unlikely to happen even if the cash was available.

    No doubt we’ll be seeing PLN carriers in the South China Sea in the coming years but such deployments will be mainly aimed at sending a message to the U.S. and an more likely place the carriers will be seen in is much further north closer to Japan ot even eastwards in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Carriers are useful for showing the flag and projecting power but China can still ”dominate” the South China Sea pretty well without them.


    A longer range SAM will also result in the need for a longer range radar.

  19. continue SGPV program – Kedah Class PV, as BNS have the design right , and local expertise to build the ship.
    have faith on our own local competency. We can do it.

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