Kuala Lumpur: One week after returning home from Langkawi, I finally sat down to post this story. I apologised for the delay, perhaps Malaysian Defence is already way behind the rest but I hope you bear with me.
My excuse for my tardiness in updating the Lima story is the fact that I had to please three masters while in Langkawi (myself and,,,,) and the fact that I had to flew to the island a day after arriving home from another trip (more on that later).
Most of you are already aware that deals worth around RM4.7 billion were signed during Lima, most of it real contracts unlike the past. The contracts however were the usual suspects: the supplies of parts and such which include the Kasturi class corvettes SLEP, which was a gimmick only as the deal was signed several months ago. As for the rest of the procurement plans, we will have to wait for DSA next year or even later than that for the actual contract signings.
Anyways, Datuk Seri Najib (I can no longer used the term Dear PM because you know who!) said the three main projects for defence are, in no particular order are the Army 8X8; Navy’s NGPV second batch and the Cougar procurement.
Although he did not specify which was the most important project, the NGPV project which has some 2,000 local vendors is most probably the most politically safe project especially with the next general elections coming up within the next two years. For that reason, I am assuming that the project will be given the go-ahead by the middle of next year or in early 2011. The cost of the new ships remained a big headache for everyone including to the Finance Ministry but I guess if they can set aside RM1 billion per year, the project will given the green light.
That means the Cougar project will be in the budget by 2011 and the Army 8X8 by the middle of RMK10. All of this will also depend on the result of the next GE of course but not in terms of substance but timing and the suppliers involved as the armed forces still needs those items.
In any case, Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd will have to work with a foreign partner, most likely DCNS, to validate its version of the new NGPV, which it called Second Generation Patrol Vessel. The new design will be some 8-metres longer than the Kedah class; it will have a new smoke stack to replace the current stealth version as it spews smoke into the whole ship and a new VLS for the SAM system
Boustead engineers is proposing the MK41 VLS which can accommodate the Standard SM-2 (50 km range) and the ESSM. The main gun will remain the same but the problematic 30-mm OtoBreda will be replaced with a CIWS proposed by the navy. The ship will have a hull mounted sonar and a VDS or towed array sonar again depending on what the Navy wants.
The same goes for the main radar and combat management system. It will be easier for Boustead to work with the same system employed in the Kedah-class but it appears the Navy is not particularly fond of the EADS TRS-16 and is hoping to get a new radar, the Thales SMART perhaps?
Boustead is also proposing that the VLS/Standard/ESSM combo to be retro-fitted to the current Kedah-class since these vessels have not been fitted with their SAM system. It could be done of course although they will have to find a place for the rear fire control radar though.
The Russians meanwhile is proposing that instead of installing a SAM system, they could install a Russian-made VLS system which could accommodate four missiles of the Brahmos type as mentioned by one of regular readers. As I mentioned before, I would prefer we buy the truck-based mobile launchers of the Brahmos, if we really go down this route.
Anyhow, apart from Boustead which displayed the model of the SGPV, ThyssenKrupp, the new owner of Blohm and Voss, the original designer of the Kedah-class had also displayed posters and brochures of their version of the Second Batch.
The proposed vessel also has a smoke stack like the Boustead SGPV, and also has the same weapons/sensors fit although the German design is two metres shorter than the Malaysian proposal. The VLS mounting behind the main gun is also flushed to the deck unlike the raised platform on the Kedah-class.
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