Running On Empty

The latest picture of LCS Maharaja Lela taken on August 13, 2022. It appears no work had been done on her recently. Mindef

SHAH ALAM: Senior Defence Minister DS Hishammuddin Hussein on September 1 announced that the French government had given its commitment for the completion of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) project. He made the announcement after meeting a representative of the French government at his office at Jalan Padang Tembak. He did not identify the representative who gave a written letter to him.

The release from the minister:

Pertemuan bersama pihak Kerajaan Perancis hari ini memberi tumpuan terhadap komitmen antara Kerajaan kedua-dua negara berhubung perolehan Littoral Combat Ship
Seperkara yang cukup penting, Kerajaan Perancis sendiri telah menyatakan bahawa meneruskan dan menyiapkan LCS merupakan keutamaan tertinggi Kerajaan Perancis.
Ini merupakan perkembangan yang mustahak terutama di fasa mobilisasi enam bulan seperti diputuskan Jemaah Menteri April lalu.
Malah komitmen Kerajaan Perancis ini juga selari dengan syor beberapa pihak terutamanya Jawatankuasa Kira-Kira Wang Negara (PAC) serta keputusan Jemaah Menteri supaya projek LCS diteruskan demi kepentingan Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia

Despite the announcement, we have yet to be given an exact date of the resumption of the project. Based on the six-month remobilisation period as announced last April, we should be getting a firm announcement on the project resumption soon. This could be announced on October 7 when the 2023 national budget is expected to be tabled in Parliament.

Despite the commitment from the French government, I am still off the opinion that we should scrapped the LCS project altogether. The reports by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) clearly showed that the project is no longer viable. And despite claim by the minister that the project must continue in the interest of the Royal Malaysian Navy, it is clearly not. It is in the interest of the government that they showed something for the billions (whatever the final tally is) squandered on it. Of course, RMN is still following the official line.

— Malaysian Defence

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24 Comments

  1. Utterly dissapointed and depressed with the state of our military. To think that by now we were supposed to be somewhat modern and on par with our neighbours. I wonder when will we ever be able to catch up…

  2. Still …
    Does the government learned nothing or just simply ignorance?
    The failure of the LCS project starts from the denying of the Navy’s requirement and wish to have the Sigma class design instead of Gowind class design.
    Just abandon ship, scrap the LCS and start fresh.
    I’m pretty sure the Italian government would also give their full commitment to finish the new LCS. Above all, it’s all about money.

  3. If the end user remain equipment as per the DCNS original equipment catalogue.. the situation can be fixed in no time.. but right now.. it is what it is…

  4. k.o.m – “Does the government learned nothing or just simply ignorance?”

    Understand that defence spending is part of the system of patronage and that priority is national interests not the armed services or tax payer.

    k.o.m – The failure of the LCS project starts from the denying of the Navy’s requirement and wish to have the Sigma class design instead of Gowind class design”

    Incorrect. It’s due to a combination of factors; hubris and lack of oversight on the part of the government; failure to ensure BNS was in a sound position financially and capability wise [it was not put through a learning curve and hadn’t constructed anything for years] and the system we have in place which enabled the local industry to override the needs of the end user.

    All the elements were in place for a cockup of this magnitude to occur; it would have mattered not if Sigma had been selected.

  5. If procurement can be done directly with no middlemen who operated in shady businesses in the name of “technology transfer” i think we can afford even a FREMM frigates. Gowind was designed as an OPV. But the recent completion of the Egyptian navy corvette el-fateh added some milestone in this design. Yes RMN need the assets badly but that doesn’t mean we have to wipe the mess under the carpet and be done with it. BNS must be held accountable. Halt the project, terminate the contract and put BNS under insolvency management to sort out its debts. At the same time do a fresh deal with the French to acquire a platform which is compatible with all the equipments we have paid for (provided all are in place and not lost).

  6. If the French Government are still interested then let’s revisit the revival plan again as that was made with assurance from BNS they could continue work which is obvious today, they are not. Let’s go back to the plan and get NAVAL/DCNS to take over the revival project. I’m sure they could at least provide a definite costing for the whole completion. BNS, their CEO, and their top management have proven time and again to be untrustworthy so even their confidence to continue leading the revival plan is questionable.

    What is not questionable is restarting the whole thing again. We simply just cannot afford it.

  7. “The failure of the LCS project starts from the denying of the Navy’s requirement”

    More like the navy won’t accept blind procurement rather than the gov denying navy their requirement.

    There’s not much difference in cost & performance for gowind vs sigma, exocet vs NSM, setis vs tacticos nor mica vs essm.

  8. Qamarul – “If procurement can be done directly with no middlemen who operated in shady businesses in the name of “technology transfer”

    Correction. It’s the government which has a penchant for ToTs and offsets and it’s the the government which has put a system in place which allows agents or local companies to do what they do…

    Understand that the government as far as possible wants big ticket purchases to go through local outfits because it’s policy; national interests; hoping it benefits the local industry; creating jobs and rewarding certain elements as part of the system of patronage.

    Qamarul – “BNS must be held accountable”

    As has been explained before; BNS isn’t solely to blame. Hunan nature to want to appropriate blame or find a villain but to really understand how this cockup occurred; we first have to understand what our defence policy is about and how it works.

    Qamarul – “but that doesn’t mean we have to wipe the mess under the carpet and be done with it”

    Looking at our record – the various things that went ratshit – you seriously think we will learn from our mistakes and to be transparent about what has gone so horribly wrong [way before the LCS cockup became widely known to Joe public there were various other cockups]? You seriously think we have the political will to acknowledge that our defence policy is rotten to the core?

  9. Zaft – “There’s not much difference in cost & performance for gowind vs sigma, exocet vs NSM, setis vs tacticos nor mica vs essm”

    Look further … Major difference between NSM and the latest MM-40. The are also subtle differences between Gowind and Sigma. It’s also not only “cost and performance” but a host of other factors including support issues and costs which would endear a piece of kit to an end user. Not just “performance and cost”.. Also if there’s not much difference between performance with ESSM and Mica asaswhy you state why pray tell did the RMN prefer ESSM for the Lekiu Batch 2s and LCS?

  10. NSN range – 185km
    MM40 block3 range – 200km

    Not that much of a difference since max range is useless. NSM is newer and adopted by USA as the JSM so it has better development potential.
    Zaft is quite right about the differences between Gowind and Sigma platform, differences for such would be negligible as both are from well establish shipbuilders; like choosing between Toyota Vios and Honda City really. Gowind would have the servicing advantage since we have already engaged them for our Scorpenes. Also to my untrained eye, I’d say Gowind ‘looks’ more stealthier as it has less protrusions and exposed bits compared to Sigma. When both platforms are comparable, it really up to the other criterias (cost, TOT, etc) that had put one over the other.

    But basically it is immaterial since platform doesn’t matter, and as you said we should be system centric and not platform centric, right?

  11. Please do no too dependent on PAC findings on LCS,

    led by anti national interest politician which is from DAP..

    scrapping the project is madness at the highest level.

  12. The PAC did not say scrapped the project. So far only one politician has called for it to be scrapped and its Anwar Ibrahim. But I am not using his words to say it for the LCS to be scrapped. I am just using the financial details which is clearly apolitical

  13. “not much difference”

    VL MICA – 15km
    ESSM – 40km
    in the hindsight – VL MICA NG (with new pulse rocket motor tech) is also now 40km range, while being smaller and lighter than ESSM.

    Excocet mm40 block 2 – 70km
    NSM – 183km
    in the hindsight – exocet block 3 has 200+ range, but it is not stealthy. NSM is stealthy, smaller 2/3 the size and weight of exocet.

    SIGMA – more commercial spec design
    GOWIND – pure naval spec design
    in the hindsight – could have gone korean and get our ships faster and cheaper.

    The best thing to do now if look at all the facts available is to scrap the project and put all the already bought weapons, missiles and sensors into a new hull built by competent and deadline meeting shipyard right now. But real life is never that simple eh?

  14. “Zaft is quite right about the differences between Gowind and Sigma platform”

    Good for Zaft but there are subtle differences in both designs which would endear one to a particular user and as I alluded to there were other reasons why the RMN wanted Sigma; relating to product support and spares issues cost wise.

    “and as you said we should be system centric and not platform centric, right”

    Correct; no point having the most capable gear if we’re operating it at platform level as if it was 1980 and not 2022.

    NSM is newer and incorporates various new things.

  15. Zek – “Please do no too dependent on PAC findings on LCS”

    The PAC report did a good job summarising why things went ratshit. It’s findings also wasn’t a revelation to those who have been following the issue for years.

    Zek – “led by anti national interest politician which is from DAP”

    The PAC comprised various people from various places/interests/parties – non partisan.

    Zek – “scrapping the project is madness at the highest level”

    We won’t because substance enabling the end user the needed capability is not the objective – it’s gaya, bragging rights and hubris. BNS, MINDEF, the politicians, bureaucrats and the defence policy all buggered up big time; wasn’t solely due to BNS or Sigma not being selected as some inaccurately claim.

    hulubalang,

    When determining what to buy it’s not just paper specs as to which is better, lighter, faster or longer ranged which determines things. Take MBDA; charges and arm and leg for everything. Cheaper to work with Kongsberg when it comes to training, spares, documentation, etc.

    “in the hindsight – could have gone korean and get our ships faster and cheaper”

    In hindsight we’d learn from our mistakes and would have had the proper check and balances to ensure the LCSs didn’t go they way they did and years ago we wouldn’t have bought Fulcrums, Flankers, PT-91s and other things. The thing is we can’t learn because we don’t care. That’s why we have a MAF whose capabilities don’t reflect all we’ve spent on it and why we don’t get the best value for what we spend.

  16. “The best thing to do now if look at all the facts available is to scrap the project and put all the already bought weapons, missiles and sensors into a new hull built by competent and deadline meeting shipyard right now”

    Its not the ship that the problems its the weapons, missiles and sensors that’s the problems. Even if the navy doesn’t spell it out loud publicly, but obviously they want sensors, system & weapons parity with the American,Brits & Aussie.

    Trying to Jerry rig weapons US use on a french ship ain’t going to be cheap.

  17. The main reason for TLDM want of the SIGMA is not the platform per se, but the SIGMA platform enables TLDM to get its preferred CMS, the THALES NETHERLANDS TACTICOS. DCNS is not going to let its profits and control down and will only let GOWIND be installed with its own custom SETIS CMS and nothing else. TACTICOS is a much more matured and “open” CMS system when compared to the SETIS.

    But as you know, the french lobby is stronger than the dutch within the upper echelon of power in malaysian government. Because of it we bought scorpene, a400m, ec725 and gowinds. Thank god we run out of money before we are able to sign on for Rafales, Eurocopter Tiger and Mistral LPDs.

  18. They ‘destroyed’ GST

    they stopped the payment, directly stopped the project,

    then they acted as if they were the saviour,

    yet still some people believed the rotten commies..

    Sorry Marhalim, i am just calling a spade a spade.

  19. It got nothing to do with the GST. Payment was stopped as BNS was asking for money beyond the ceiling price of the contract or they have to stop working on the project. Once it didn’t received the extra money, it could no longer show progress and they could no longer received any payment. Note even the current government don’t want to pay above the ceiling price.

  20. Zaft – “Even if the navy doesn’t spell it out loud publicly”

    Really? Have you actually asked people in the know? People in the Project Team or other people in a position to know? I’m not claiming to have fantastic sources or contacts but over the years I have asked people still serving [in various positions]; ex service people who had first hand knowledge and industry people. Your claim is a revelation to me.

    Zaft – “obviously they want sensors, system & weapons parity with the American,Brits & Aussie”

    What? Where and how did get this ridiculous notion?”American,Brits & Aussie” ships,are fitted out for high intensity ops in highly contested waters. With our budget you seriously think we can achieve ” sensors, system & weapons parity”with them?

    Zek – ” i am just calling a spade a spade”

    Yes but shoot the right calibre.. Saying we shouldn’t put too much in the PAC report because it’s headed by a DAP man is preposterous. The PAC is a non partisan body and its findings were spot on; as anyone who has been following things over the years will fully realise.

    Hulubalang – “The main reason for TLDM want of the SIGMA is not the platform per se, but the SIGMA platform enables TLDM to get its preferred CMS, the THALES NETHERLANDS TACTICOS”

    That is one reason but not the “main” one. Tacticos; which BTW was the preferred otion for the Kasturis; could also have been integrated on the LCS as Setis was. As I said they were various reasons why Sigma was preferred; the CMS was one of the reasons but not the only or “main” one.

  21. Zek – “yet still some people believed the rotten commies”

    Have you ever met a real communist or been to a former communist country? Do you actually understand communist ideology; Leninist Marxism, etc?

    I’m no DAP fan [neither am I of any political party be it UMNO, Warisan or PAS] and over the years here I’m been very critical of the party with regards to their stance on defence but calling them communists is pushing things too far.

    I detest all politicians but I believe in giving credit when due. The former Deputy Defence Minister did say very pertinent things which to date no other politician said; such as the need to revamp the vendor system [echoes of the LCS here]; the need for all 3 services to operate jointly rather than each service doing its own thing [we still have very far to go in this regard] and the need to reinvent ourselves to keep up with the times. Irrespective of one’s personal feeling towards him or his party; these were all very pertinent points which are often overlooked or hardly mentioned; plus not understood by many.

  22. It is all about the money and political willpower..

    Day by day, more and more politically literated voters out there

    Fools them once, maybe twice

    but you cant fools them forever.

  23. Seem like a lacks of rationalisation between all the various ministries & services plan and they end up playing a zero sum games among each other.

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