SHAH ALAM: Missiles or Guns? The conversation on the post KD Jebat Caught Fire – good or bad – has veered into the debate regarding the future of the Seawolf SAM missile on the Lekiu class, which had been written previously. The conversation however misses the elephant the room. Which is when will the RMN order a new batch of new surface-to-surface missiles?
And will it be the Exocet Block III for the Lekiu and Kasturi class even though the LCS will be armed with the NSM? We bought around 50 MM-40 Block 2 Exocets in 1993 (for the Lekius) and in 2003 for the Kasturi SLEP. As the youngest Exocets will be 10 years old by now, the time is probably right to order another batch of Exocets, with delivery taking place by 2020.
This is also the same for the Sea Skua missiles of the Super Lynx and the AS244 torpedoes that armed the frigates and the Super Lynx as well.
Unlike the Exocets, there have been no new orders for the Sea Skuas and AS244 since the original order (when we bought the Lekius, Laksamanas and the Super Lynx) in late 1990s.
In fact, even the submarine force ordnance of the SM-39 Exocet and Black Shark may well need to be re-stocked soon though any orders should come after 2020.
Apart from the higher cost of missiles – the MM38 cost some RM300,000 per piece in the 1970s while the Block 2 cost RM3 million per piece – the under-capitalisation of the armed forces remained the biggest obstacle for new orders. This coupled with the Finance Ministry reluctance to pay for missiles – we are not going to war mentality – have made it harder for the services to buy them.
This conundrum will be compounded within the next few years especially for the RMN as the service juggle its finances to pay for the six LCS and its missiles – NSM and VL MICA – and the yet to be named torpedoes while at the same time face the need to re-arm its legacy ships, submarines and helicopters with new missiles and torpedoes. All of this while buying new hulls!
And if funding fall short yet again, there is the possibility that only the LCS and submarines will be combatants armed with missiles beyond 2020 even with the 15-to 5 plan
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