MICA On The Way – DSA 2018 Shorts

LCS PCU Maharaja Lela. Her name could be seen on the stern. Picture taken on Aug. 23. 2017. The PAC report stated that the mast was just built for the launch for some RM400,000. The mast was taken off after the ceremony and still stored at BNS.

KUALA LUMPUR: One of the three letters of intent (LOI) handed out on Apr. 18 at DSA 2018, was for the VL MICA surface-to-air missiles by MBDA.

The MICAs are being bought to arm the LCS, of course. Unlike the NSM, this was not a contract yet, though it is likely to be awarded soon.

As I had posted earlier, MBDA had been contracted by BNS to supply the launchers and associated equipment though not the missiles. All weapons for the LCS – from guns to missiles – are “government furnished equipment” to be supplied directly to BNS once the contracts had been awarded. Hence it is the government (through the Defense Ministry) that signed the contract and LOI for the missiles – NSM and MICA -with Kongsberg and MBDA, respectively.

MBDA MICA missile

As for cost and number of MICA missiles to be procured, I have yet to double confirm them. However as the six LCS each supposedly has 16-launchers each, we can assume at least 100 missiles will be procured. It is likely also that both the RF and IR versions of the missile will be bought.

The LCS major equipment detailed. RMN graphic

Anyhow from the schematic of the LCS as shown by BNS at DSA 2018, I think that they could fit the Aster 15 or 30 missiles for the follow on ships, if funding is available of course. The schematics showed the A-35 launcher on the LCS penetrated only one deck with at least three decks below. Of course they need to redesign the whole bow area if they do this but I dont think its undoable or expensive. The expensive part is of course the missiles itself!

Sea water was sprayed on Maharaja Lela and fireworks boomed as part of her launch gimmick.

Converting the first six LCS for Asters however will be quite expensive as they need to modify at least two deck at least.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2186 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Aster 15 fits in the A-43 launcher which is only 80cm taller than A-35. If below deck penetration is an issue, they only need to raise the missile deck area by 80cm. Probably a cheap mod.

  2. An issue with having a longer range missile than the point defence MICA is that a radar with longer range than SMART will be needed.

  3. By the way Marhalim, what anti sub torpedoes will arm the LCS? No mention whatsoever ?MU90

    One thing at a time otherwise I will ran out of questions to ask

  4. Academician…

    What can I say. I have met a fair share of them, immersed in their theoritical utopia, and then trying to push their theories to industry leaders that is doing what they theorised evey day.

    Remember the USM professor promoting car powered only by water? That is pure BS and is only an auxillary water injection system. He got millions of grant from the government for that crap.

    My advise? Walk the talk. Build a working scale model that we can test the stealth capability. Lay out the plans for the manufacturing capability. Build the working radar prototype. Build a workable flyable jet engine prototype. When you can do all that, then talk of building your own fighter.

  5. For mica, i dont see any official news from mbda regarding which launcher platform was selected by tldm unlike the nsm launcher and the missile

    Is it secretive?

    MBDA has always been mum on its sales around this region relying only on government announcement or not

  6. hafizu – ”Is it secretive?”

    Some companies are more selective in releasing news compared to others. At times it is the customer which decides what info should be released.

  7. Any news on rapier replacement? NASAM or VL Mica sounds good. What say you?

    Tried asking the GAPU boss but he will not revealed anything apart from saying Jernas will need to be replaced in the next few years and their recommendation for replacement is something capable of defeating threats from low to medium level. The Army is also looking for counter drone technology though it is still very early in the game

  8. kamikaze – ”NASAM or VL Mica sounds good.”

    Anything sounds good as long as we can afford to maintain it and it won’t be too much of a hassle to integrate it to GAPU’s existing network. Ideally it would be NASAMS or MICA as we already operate AMRAAM and the LCSs will be armed with MICA. There is also the question of whether GAPU intends on replacing its GDFs with another gun. That will be interesting to see.

  9. Jernas replacement…

    One of the reasons why we should not buy something new at the end of their use by its main user. We got our 1st systems only in 2006. So now after only 12 years, we need to find replacements for them? I was thinking the replacements would be like after 2025.

    As the navy is getting the VL MICA, it is good if the army goes for that too, and if possible to trade in those Jernas systems for VL MICA like starburst for starstreak as both is made by MBDA.

    A battery of VL MICA is said to cost about usd30 million each. A total of 6 would be good, 3 in penisular and 3 in sabah/sarawak.

  10. @ azlan

    On the GDFs

    Our neighbour thailand interestingly bought brand new GDF007 with skyguard radars, receiving them just last month.The contract was for 8units of GDF007, and 4units of skyguard.

    As for our GDFs, their mercedes trucks really need to be rebuilt/reset. There is like 3-4 trucks towing the GDF and skyguard breaking down along north-south highway last weekend.

  11. I may be wrong but I have an inkling to interpret the GAPU Boss statement is more to the decision on replacement for Jernas need to be made by 2020 with the new system expected to be fielded by 2024/25 latest. If i am not mistaken, the brits still will be using the Rapier up to 2025 where then it will be replaced by the CAMM. So if we do not make decision to replace it within the next 2 years, we may end up being the only user of this type post 2025, which will create a logistical nightmare then

  12. We have 28 units GDF-003. This could be upgraded to the GDF-006 version to fire AHEAD ammunitions.

    BTW marhalim, an asian nation has this month ordered Euro100 million worth of Rheinmetall SKYSHIELD system. Any hint of which country this is? AFAIK only Indonesia is a user of SKYSHIELD systems in the region.

    I have no idea which country bought the Skyshield. I know Indonesia is a Skyshield user and its leadership had already say they want more. Rheinmetall in 2014 stated Indonesia was the buyer but for the latest one it only said an Asian country so likely its not Indonesia

  13. …. – ”So now after only 12 years, we need to find replacements for them?”

    Jernas wasn’t GAPU’s main choice but I guess it’s water under the bridge. Despite its Rapier lineage Jernas is still a capable, networked system. The question however is how capable will it be in combating future types of threats compared to systems with a younger pedigree. An issue with Jernas is that it’s maintenance intensive and not cheap to run. Then again it’s the same with all current gen systems; complex to operate and needing the right amount of care.

    …. – ”A total of 6 would be good, 3 in penisular and 3 in sabah/sarawak.”

    Doesn’t matter where they go; as long as they go where they’re needed. Buying MICA or NASAMs and integrating it to our present network [including enabling it to get a live feed from longer range radars] is just one part. We still have a requirement for gap fillers for areas where there is a gap in coverage and where targets can remain undetected below the radar horizon until the last minute; due to topography.

  14. @ azlan

    “We still have a requirement for gap fillers”

    IMO we need more groundmaster 406 radars to replace some of the current martello s-743 and RAT 31 radars. Our current gap fillers is the EADS TRML-3D (how many did we buy? 2? 10?). Then we have some Saab Giraffe 75 too. The best gap filler is of course an airborne AWACS, this is something the airforce needs to aquire.

    Another is to recapitalise the Vera-e capability by getting the Vera-NG system. Now even countries like sweden with homegrown radar technology has now bought vera-ng for their air defence.

    Sweden vera-ng system

  15. The Giraffes provide early warning for the Iglas. Before that they were paired with the BOFIS. The TRS-3Ds [2 I believe] are GAPU’s primary early warning devices. None of our primary search radars are in need of immediate replacement as they’re still relatively ”young” [especially the Alenia ones] and are backed up by secondary radars. Ideally gap fillers would be based in or near areas where topography or terrain provides opportunities for aircraft to remain below the radar horizon and by doing so giving AD system a shorten reaction time.

    Zetro has been contracted to refurbish the Martello radars. The PTU during the MH370 saga stated that the Martello need to be upgraded

  16. Actually the groundmaster was bought to replace one of the martellos in sarawak. That martello in sarawak is now transferred to another location, most probably to penang to replace the HADR.

    Some good info on malaysian radars:

    Malaysia only acquired a single GroundMaster-406 radar as part of the MADGE SOC-III initiative in 2013.
    The TUDM has not publicly revealed which radars it operates to support the MADGE SOC-III network. However, confidential sources inform that the TUDM employs two Selex/Finmeccanica RAT-31S/L S-band 250nm (134km) range air surveillance radars, acquired between 1996 and 1998, with a single RAT-31DL L-band (1.215-1.4GHz) 269nm (500km) range variant acquired in 2003 for $54 million. From the United Kingdom, between 1992 and 1995, the TUDM also obtained two BAE Systems S-743D Martello L-band 269nm range ground-based air surveillance radars, and a single 240nm (444km) range S-band Hughes/Raytheon HADR (Hughes Air Defence Radar) which was acquired in 1986. The vintage of the RAT-31S/L, S-743D and HADR radars illustrates that much of the radar network supporting the MADGE SOC-III is reaching the end of its life. To this end, the Malaysian Ministry of Defence has come under sustained domestic political pressure to upgrade the TUDM’s radar network following the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

  17. The first 6 LCS are probably configured more for anti-submarine duties.. Perhaps the second batch will be the anti-aircraft units..

  18. Max,

    No ….. They are multi-purpose vessels.

    Having a towed array, a helo and torps doesn’t necessarily mean something is ASW configured. As for the 2nd batch; they’ll only be AA configured if they have a longer range missile, more than 16 VLS cells and a longer range radar – unlikely given threat perceptions and funding. Even the RSN’s Formidables with longer range missiles, a longer range radar and more than 16 VLS cells are not considered AA configured vessels.

  19. @Azlan:
    “Having a towed array, a helo and torps doesn’t necessarily mean something is ASW configured. As for the 2nd batch; they’ll only be AA configured if they have a longer range missile, more than 16 VLS cells and a longer range radar – unlikely given threat perceptions and funding. Even the RSN’s Formidables with longer range missiles, a longer range radar and more than 16 VLS cells are not considered AA configured vessels.”

    I always have the feeling that we’re short changed whenever our navy is buying ships. Comparing the LCS and the RSN Formidables just proved this point further. The 2 classes have similar tonnage, similar range and speed. But when comparing the ‘business end’ that’s where the LCS fall short. Is it due to budget constraint, or is it due to whatever reason that we’re getting a shorter range radar and missile? Both are of French heritage, it couldn’t be that ours is just so far behind.

    The same thing applies to the LMS where I think we’re buying at an overpriced, unarmed boat at an inflated price. Just compare it with the Damen the MMEA is getting. Could it be due to the need to use this LMS project to ‘pay’ for something that we owe to the Chinese???

    The LCS was supposed to be smaller than the Formidables from the start as it was supposed to be a more affordable frigate than the Lekius. It was the tweaking by the navy that make it much closer to the Singaporean ship. It was the rush to get new hulls was the main reason for the LMS buy

  20. The comentator mention that in future tldm cud arm some of the gowind with aster 30. The answer is no. Why? Tldm is using thales smart s 2d search radar which is compatible to mica n essm missles only. To run Aster 30 or 15 you need to fix thales herakles radar system in which the spore frigate did. Check with thales and they tell you the same storey.

  21. Hornet Lover,

    The Formidables can’t really be directly compared to the LCS as both are slightly different. The Formidables [with their ASTERs and Herakles] were intended to be an extension of the island’s air defence network; operating in a fully networked environment comprising land based sensors, AEW and other stuff. The RSN’s threat perceptions and priorities are also different to the RMN’s.

    Hornet Lover – ”The same thing applies to the LMS where I think we’re buying at an overpriced, unarmed boat at an inflated price. ”

    The RMN has a desperate need for new hulls as not only is it overstretched but the hulls it has are aged [i.e. the FACs which like the Vospers before are the RMN’s workhorses]. As such, from an RMN perspective it’s better to have new hulls [”fitted for” but not ”with”] rather than no hulls – this penalty to the RMN is worth incurring.

    The idea or hope is that the ships can be” fitted for” later but can first enter service fast to perform routine day to day peacetime duties. The danger or penalty come later; if the LMS has a Chinese/Western mix this will require integration which will have to be paid for. Chinese gear [despite being cheaper to buy] will also add to our shore support infrastructure; the 5/15 is intended to reduce our shore support infrastructure.

    Woo ST,

    Yes a longer range radar will be needed for a longer range missile. SMART is a 3D radar.

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