Plan B, Whither The LMS?

Front view of a LMS model displayed at LIMA 17

SHAH ALAM: Plan B, Whither the LMS? As it appears that the LMS contract will be honoured, PM Tun Mahathir Mohammad yesterday announced that a committee has been set to look into the government processes.

The Investigative Committee of Administrative Affairs, Procurement and Finance will be headed by former auditor-general Ambrin Buang. The first ministry Ambrin has been tasked is the Defence Ministry, Mahathir says.

The lates China made LMS model

It is not known yet whether the committee will investigate the LMS deal though several quarters have already asked that the deal be reviewed or cancelled.

On 23 March 2017, BHIC signed two formalised a contract worth RM1.17 billion with the Ministry
of Defence to supply four units of Littoral Mission Ships (LMS) in collaboration with a partner shipyard in China. All three signings were witnessed by Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Hussein

A CGI of the LMS.

Despite the talk that the LMS contract is continuing there is no word yet on when the steel for the first ship of the class will be cut. It was supposed to be last month but it has not been done yet.
A model of the LMS displayed at the DSE show in Bangkok, recently.

The delay does not bode well for a project already losing its lustre due to the connections with the previous administration apart from the calls for it to be cancel of course. Despite the newly setup committee, I think the LMS’s fate will hinge on what the government do with the ECRL project. If its cancelled or even reviewed, the LMS is doomed. Not a bad thing, really.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2226 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. My suggestion is we built the LMS like the new training vessel model. Cheaper or effective i do not know but i think we already have the know how and expertise to built one. It should be try.

  2. Personally I hope that the CSIC LMS68 would be cancelled. Probably to replace that with a credit line of the same value (USD272 million) from China to buy other military equipments.

    So no loss of face from both parties.

  3. Am a twit when its naval matters. But why the reservations regarding the LMS?

    The cost and the fact that we cannot put any Western military equipment on board so we will be stuck with China made ones.

  4. Yea..Safe the money. Why not buy the 11 fearless class pv from the sg rsn? They are consider very young ships.

  5. Its better not to cancel the LMS, as a diplomatic gesture as we are in the midst of deferring/ canceling ECRL and Bandar Malaysia project may also be canceled. Just go on with it but no more orders. Although we are in territorial dispute with the Chinese, they are also our 2nd largest trading it a delicate balancing act.

  6. @ tomahawk

    In all probability, a lot of weapons and equipments such as the 76mm oto melara main gun from the fearless class already canibalised and transferred to the LMV ships. So what you get is just an empty hull. The expensive part of the ships is the equipment inside.

  7. Not sure wut equipmen bougt new or transfer to lmv. But if u wanting good to go hull and 11 sship 2 go..esp stop gap for cople of year…

  8. I heard the first steel cutting for the LMS is supposed to be held this July at the Chinese shipyard, is it possible to even terminate the project at this late hour without incurring heavy fines from contract violations as likely the case with Singapore HSR, not to mention jeopardizing RMN’s long-gestated effort of transformation. Renegotiation on pricing and contract terms maybe, complete termination will be a serious affront to the Chinese government, after all the announcements to review (& terminate) other mega projects involving China. Btw, I thought RMN Chief said that the LMS will have a mixture of both Chinese and Western equipment? The Thai navy’s Chinese-made frigates seems to have no problems being fitted out with Western weapons and equipment. Just an odd suggestion, despite the mismanagement and technical/build quality problems encountered in the previous Kedah-class project, now that these issues have been more or less overcome, should the LMS be cancelled, why not just continue built more ‘improved’ Kedah-class, given the shipyard would be more experienced now?

  9. @kerberosWXIV

    I think the Kedah class and the LMS are in entirely different classes. From the financial perspective the LMS is approx USD60M (RM240M), whereas the Kedah costs more than 1.2B (!) due to all the issues encountered. Plus the fact that all the additional cost on the Kedah class was borne by the government.

    Since you mentioned this, I’m thinking of why don’t we standardised on the Damen 1800 as 1, it costs less than the LMS, 2, it has the tonnage of the Kedah! We’re talking about a bare bone OPV here, and what is so great about the Kedah class that a Damen 1800 1/8th the cost can’t do?

  10. Hornet,
    Main difference is weight, i.e. displacement. Even though the DAMEN 1800 is a slightly smaller ship compared to the KEDAH class, it is heavier due to use of mild steel instead of high tensile steel. This impacts on speed and also payload capacity and capability. The DAMEN 1800 could be ‘navalised’ but then maybe better from a cost perspective to use the DAMEN 2400 SIGMA off the shelf design as the basis.

  11. @ api69

    Do we really need to “navalise” the APMM OPV?

    How many times does the kedah class really need to use the 76mm gun on patrols? Are we expecting the OPV to be hit by AShM missiles fired from fishing boats?

    Similar to the police needing just a Proton Preve to patrol the neighbourhood instead of a MRAP, peacetime patrols of the EEZ is more than adequate with the damen OPV 1800 instead of the Kedah Class.

    Kedah vs Damen OPV 1800

    Kedah 91.1m
    Damen 83m

    Kedah 12.85m
    Damen 13.7m

    BTW Pakistan navy has ordered 2 lengthened Damen OPV1800s, with the length of 90m instead of 83m.

  12. Aiyoo …

    Did I say we need to navalise the OPV 1800? I said it could be done depending on the whether the RMN wants to a ship built to commercial standards, to full naval MIL-S-901 standards or somewhere in between.

    Main thing is what is the speed and payload requirement. The DAMEN 1800 design for the MMEA is a fully commercial build, which is why it is about 300T heavier with less payload and capability than the KEDAH class,which has a heli hangar, more guns, combat system, FCS, 3D radar, etc. The steel weight on a KEDAH class ship should be about 30% less than on the DAMEN 1800, i.e. around 600 – 700 tons compared to 900 – 1000 tons. Imagine the amount of payload that can be fitted with an extra 300 tons! The deadweight on the MMEA OPV as designed should be circa 350 to 400 tons, so a navalised MMEA OPV would be able to double the deadweight capacity.

    Nevertheless, from the DAMEN 1800 Length to Beam ratio, I am also doubtful that this relatively ‘short and fat’ hull form is suitable for speeds in excess of 20 knots without a significant rise in brake HP requirement, which would require a larger power output and much more expensive propulsion system.

    Again, all depends on what the RMN wants the ship to do. What I am saying is from a naval architecture perspective, the DAMEN OPV1800 as is might not be suitable for the RMN, but would require tweaking of the design (or use of a sister design in the DAMEN 2400, which is preferable).

    Much more complicated than comparing Length and Beam alone…
    And by the way, part of the RMN SOP is survivability in case of missile hits as the RMN ships they are expected to engage with are normally not illegal fishing boats, unlike the MMEA. The RMN is also expected to deal with air threats, unlike the MMEA.

    Suffice to say that in the area of patrolling the EEZ, adequacy for the RMN is different than adequacy for the MMEA.

  13. @ Api 69

    “And by the way, part of the RMN SOP is survivability in case of missile hits as the RMN ships they are expected to engage with are normally not illegal fishing boats, unlike the MMEA. The RMN is also expected to deal with air threats, unlike the MMEA.”

    Which is moot as the Kedah is only armed with guns, so why bother with all the naval standards when it is just armed with one 76mm gun and one 30mm cannon?

    If RMN is to engage other warships and deal with air threats, that is no place for a gun-only OPV, with naval standards or not. That is why i advocate RMN to leave OPV business to MMEA using boats designed as OPV in the 1st place, not a stripped out super expensive naval standard ship. The money saved would be used by RMN to buy fewer but fully armed frigates, which would fit your said mission profile.

    As for the hull profile, the damen ship is designed for economical operations at cruising speeds, not maximum speed. So the hull length to beam ratio is optimised for running at cruising speeds, as is its hull profile with a bulbous bow. Even that the top speed of the damen OPV is just 2 knots slower than the Kedah class. There is minor difference in installed power (the damen OPV is 1500kW less than the Kedah class), but the cruising speed optimization will see the damen OPV using less fuel than the Kedah class for EEZ patrols. Then there is the ship cost. As it is the damen OPV is even cheaper than the CSIC LMS68.

  14. Well we’ll be losing a lot of money by just paying up on penalties for future cancellation of signed projects. Yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendong keciciran. Bye bye to A&EW aircraft, 2nd and 3rd submarines, 2nd regiment of MBTs, medium altitude SAM regiment etc.

  15. If the Kedah class were not to hit by so many local contractors related problems I think it’s a pretty decent design. It’s a Meko 100 at any rate! The only problem is that as it started off as an OPV and with the power limited caterpillar engine even if we’re to install them with all the ‘teeth’ it still can’t be a full fledged warship. A big waste I’d say. I still remember when I read in Berita Harian way back in 1992 about the plan to build 27 of this thing… I was thinking, wow, we’re going to have 27 mini frigate, or large corvettes and we’ll be the king of SEA!

  16. I think the main problem the the LMS project is the very obscure and seemingly rushed conditions under which the contract was signed by the previous regime. Apart from the comparatively high cost, why the Chinese is seemingly the sole interested bidder (if there was even an open tender/RFP?), what is the exact specs of these ships and RMN also seemed very vague and evasive when answering questions about details on these ships. Even though construction is supposed to start soon (or already?), the designs and specs still appear to be in limbo. Basically, the rakyat do not know what they are paying for? Plus, Boustead threw up more dust of confusion during DSA about proposing a different LMS to the previous government, as if to say that the Chinese LMS project is dead even before it started, even though Boustead was supposed to built 2 of the 4 ordered.

    My reasoning to skip the LMS and just built more updated Kedahs is that after all the experience (good & bad) and money invested (& wasted due to mismanagement), plus RMN’s own built-up of expertise in operating these vessels all these years, follow-up construction would likely be a lot smoother while fleet integration and crew training would also be faster, compared to embarking on a totally new and alien design like the LMS, unless perhaps, the Kedah-class have some serious critical flaws to render the type not ideal for further development? I would think otherwise because the 15-5 plan apparently intends to increase the type numbers, then again, could be wrong.

  17. @ hornet lover

    Even if we complete the 6 GOWINDs we will be one of the “king” of SEA. There is no other SEA navy with 6 brand new 3000 tonne frigates in a few years time. In 3-4 years time we will have 6 GOWINDs and 2 F2000 frigates in TLDMs fleet.

  18. @kerberos
    Fines will depends on the result of G2G talks. As for jeopardising the transformation, the Chinese LMS itself already destroyed that plan.

    The Thai frigates do not have a mix of Chinese and Western equipment, the upgrade with Western weapons basically ripped most of the Chinese systems out of the hull and replaced them with Western systems entirely.

    @Dhuan Abha
    “Bye bye to A&EW aircraft, 3rd and 4th submarines, 2nd regiment of MBTs, medium altitude SAM regiment etc.”

    Under BN sememangnya bye-bye semua ni. AEW has never been considered, subs and MBTs and SAMs delayed forever… semua mimpi aje.

    BTW, 1mdb’s Rm 43 billion ($10.7 bn) loss could have bought:

    4 Saab Bombardier AEW – $2.5 bn
    2 Scorpenes – $3.75 bn (or 6 Khareef-class corvettes, same price)
    100 Leclerc MBTs – $1 bn
    18 Eurofighter Typhoon – $3.6 bn

    Terima kasih BN.

  19. @ kerberos

    The issue of Kedah class. It is too expensive to be a stripped out OPV. But if fully armed it will cost too much that it would be better to get something like the Gowinds instead. Well that is what you get with a german design in the 1st place, and you know why germany lost the war (perfect weapons but too expensive and complicated to build).

    @ chua

    USD3.75 billion can actually get 7 and a half scorpenes (1 scorpene is USD500 million) or 8 Gowind Frigates (why do you even want those khareefs which is just a glorified OPV which BTW is about USD200 million each)

  20. Dhuan Abha
    even if we not pay the penalties, we still cannot afford all/one of those thing you mention. procurement is good but operational budget also vital to conserve/improve the skill. its not good to have all those things but lack operational budget. a lot of thing will be review by the new govt hopefully the operational budget increase.

    Hornet Lover
    the Kedah class dream that we all want. sadly it never get to realize.

  21. @Chua.
    While this is not the right place to dispute, I hazard that you’re either a misinformed or a purposely ill-informed PH supporter. 1MDB’s liabilities are backed by assets which are valued at far higher than the loans. That itself is doesn’t construe as debt in finance speak, and that is why Moody’s still stick to their guns. Anyways, I digress.

    AEW- yes we need them but we need MPAs more urgently.
    Extra Scorpene- Nope, your leader said the 1st pair was already a waste of money.
    Leclercs- Are they suitably tropicalised for Malaysia weather?
    Typhoons- we can make do with 2nd hand Kuwaiti F18s pending for maturity of 5th gen platforms.

  22. @… “1 scorpene is USD500 million”
    I was Googling quickly and that is the price quoted for the India Scorpene contract. Probably those are AIP Scorpenes and inclusive of extensive support costs

    But I wasn’t proposing these purchases 100% seriously, just giving an indicator of what 1mdb really cost us… hence why I picked the single most expensive Western tank to buy!

    “or 8 Gowind Frigates”
    Yeah I wasn’t thinking straight on this one. Was just reading up on BAE’s offering for Type 31e, stuck in my mind. Imagine the ruckus in ASEAN if we fielded 12 Gowinds though.

  23. @…

    “Even if we complete the 6 GOWINDs we will be one of the “king” of SEA. There is no other SEA navy with 6 brand new 3000 tonne frigates in a few years time. In 3-4 years time we will have 6 GOWINDs and 2 F2000 frigates in TLDMs fleet.”

    I think our GOWINDs are a bit short when compare to the Formidable class of our southern neighbour, espiecially in the AA area. Plus they have 6 subs, 8 state of the art corvettes, not counting their old toys. We can’t be ‘king’ just yet…

  24. @ chua

    What did you comment on my post for type 31e? Cant see the post.

    BTW we are actually planning to have 12 Gowinds in the end.

  25. @ hornet lover

    We cant really compare to the singaporeans. Their defensive posture does not require them to protect a huge EEZ for their fishermen livelihood for example.

  26. Well if you ask me, rather than increasing kedah’s number of hulls, we should only operate the SGPV.

    16 would be the number that is optimal in my mind. 4x each at sabah waters , sarawak, east peninsular and west peninsular. 12 will be minimum with 3x each.

    The last 6 sgpv will retire the kedah class. Operating one type of ship is better in my opinion. Again its just my sekupang.

    Anyway, selamat hari raya everyone. Asking for forgiveness for all the stuffs that i wrote that sounds selfish and immature.

    Thank you to the admin and the commentar. Learned a lot here.

  27. Breaking news!

    This is going to affect the LMS program greatly.

    CSIC general manager and president Sun Bo is now under investigation by the Chinese state “suspected of committing serious violations of laws and regulations”

  28. …,

    “Which is moot as the Kedah is only armed with guns, so why bother with all the naval standards when it is just armed with one 76mm gun and one 30mm cannon?”

    Note that the design of the KEDAH class was for it to be fitted with SSM, RAM and a TAS. Thus, the need for a full fledged 3D surveillance capability and CMS + FCS. You need naval standards for what the KEDAH class was originally intended for.

    For patrols below 20 knots, the OPV 1800 is extremely fit for purpose. However, the lines of the KEDAH class is much finer. While 1500 kW for an additional 2 knots might sound achievable, that additional two knots will IMHO require approximately 3000 kW.

  29. Sun Bo, the general manager of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, is under investigation by the Communist Party of China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). CCDI is the party’s highest internal control office, and it serves as China’s top anti-corruption agency.

    In a statement released Saturday via state media, the CCDI said that Sun is under investigation for “suspected serious violation of Party disciplinary rules and law.” The allegation is a phrase that CCDI typically uses to refer to cases involving corruption.

  30. @ api 69

    “You need naval standards for what the KEDAH class was originally intended for”

    Yes I agree, but in all purposes the ship is intended to replace the capability of the old Vosper patrol boats. It was a capability that was nice to have but not required for its duty primarily as an OPV. For a fully armed ship something like the original (not enlarged) Gowind 2500 like what egypt got is IMO a better ship compared to a fully armed Kedah class Meko 100. For a purpose build OPV, the Damen OPV 1800 is a better “bang for the buck” for the intended use.

    “However, the lines of the KEDAH class is much finer. While 1500 kW for an additional 2 knots might sound achievable, that additional two knots will IMHO require approximately 3000 kW”

    Yes because the hull shape of the kedah is optimised for speeds way beyond the installed power that the ship has. And hull shape for high speeds are not as comfortable at slow speeds as a hull shape designed mainly for lower hull speeds, not to mention the higher engine power needed at low speeds.

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