SHAH ALAM: The Government remain keens over plans to procure at least two China made warships for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) although the service did not request for it,industry sources said.
The sources told Malaysian Defence that the plan to buy the two warships in the works for the last two years, was proposed by a group of businessmen from both countries supposedly to promote ties between Malaysia and China.
Senior defence ministry officials when contacted by Malaysian Defence confirmed the plan but declined further comment.
Sources told Malaysian Defence the deal for the two warships was supposed to be signed during the Prime Minister’s visit to China last year – the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries – but was cancelled at the last moment due to various issues, one of them was funding concerns.
Despite the last minute cancellation, sources indicated that the government remained keen on the plan and it might revived when funding is made available.
The sources disagreed the exact type of warship that was supposed to be procured. However it is likely that the warships will be a variant of the C28A corvettes bound for the Algerian Navy. A model of the C28A corvette was displayed at the China Shipbuilding Trading Co (CSTC) booth at the DSA 14 show in Kuala Lumpur, in April.
According to CSTC, the C28A is about 120 m in length, with a beam of 14.4 m, a draft of 3.87m, a standard displacement of about 2,880 tons, and a full-load displacement of more than 3,000 tons.
It must be noted that Algeria designated its ships as corvettes although the vessels have a similar displacement to the Pakistan F-22P ships which are designated as frigates, the Zulfiquar-class. RMN’s own French designed which has similar displacement to both, the C28A and F-22P ships, are designated as frigates.
Interestingly, CSTC and the PNS Zulfiquar are taking part in next week’s LIMA 15 though no China vessels are taking part in the show.
The three ships for Algeria are being built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Company in Shanghai. The contracts for the ships was signed in 2012 and the first ship was launched on Aug 15, 2014 and delivery is expected this year.
Janes had reported that the C28A was an evolution of Pakistan’s F-22P frigates on the basis that Algerian naval teams visited Pakistan to see that frigate’s operations first-hand. The report also said the C28A also appears to borrow design elements from the Type 054A frigate of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Sources told Malaysian Defence that it was likely only the hull and related machineries will be sourced from China while the ship’s main combat systems will be procured from Western companies.
And despite the disagreements about the hull design, all of the sources noted that whatever design was chosen, the ships will be fitted with MTU or MTU-derived diesel engines.
According to the sources, it is likely that the ships will have the same systems and weapons like those on the LCS – being built by Boustead Naval Shipyard. Final fittings of the China frigates are expected to be done at the BNS facility in Lumut – the same place where the LCS is to be built and outfitted as it is unlikely the Western made electronics and sensors could be exported to China.
The same arrangement is being made for the Algerian corvettes with the Western made equipment to be install on the ships once they are delivered to the North African nation.
If the procurement is approved, it is expected that the ships will be funded during the 11th Malaysian Plan and delivered within four years of the contract signing.
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