SGPV/LCS. Lets Call it the Laksamana Class….

SHAH ALAM: As expected the Gowind multi-mission corvette tops the Malaysian Defence polls. Its not official mind you but it seemed every one is following the cue.

Even Utusan Malaysia had claimed that the Gowind is the favourite. Read here..

Yes, the buzz in the industry is that the DCNS entry for the SGPV/LCS programme is the favourite to be named as the winner despite the obvious solution of the Boustead entry. The Sigma solution from Dutch firm Schelde which I had previously reported was the early favourite for the programme was the least favoured, ranking even below None of the Above and even below Dont Know!

Obviously having a ship which is the same as our neighbour is not a good idea, not to our military buffs anyway! Wonder what will happen if they….oops more on that later.

But the big story is no longer the choice of the design but I believed now is the name of the ships. Since the SGPV/LCS is a different animal compared to the Kedah class, especially if they choose the Gowind design, a new name is most appropriate.

Therefore, I submit that the new ships be designated as the Laksamana-class ships. Yes, the Italian corvettes named after the obscure Perak warriors are also named as Laksamana-class but this time around there are also good reasons for it.

Why I am proposing this? I am just taking the cue from our own Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, who during a briefing at the Defence Ministry on Apr 4, 2011 had this to say:

“Ambrin had offered guidelines and criteria for efficient financial management and urged the Defence Ministry to practice an open tender process while questioning why many tenders had been given out to senior ex-servicemen or companies owned by them.”

Yes most of us miss the story ( I did not go to Mindef that day!) and the ones who covered it chose to give a positive spin on it. Here. I am sure the good Tan Sri had a good reason to say what he had to say deep inside the bowels of Mindef.

At the moment, this is the best explaination I can give for suggesting the new ships be called the Laksamana-class. More to come later. In the meantime, visit our polls page.

–Malaysian Defence

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28 Comments

  1. Errr, aren’t the Laksamana Class have been reserved for the 4 missile corvettes? The Assad Class that we bought from Italy? Any other fancy soldier rank apart from Laksamana in the old Malay kingdom? How about Hulubalang Class then.

  2. Which ever design is chosen and whatever the class in named, lets hope that for the sake of commonality and training, the LCS shares some common features with the Kedah class. If the Gowind is selected, with the French being French, I can’t see them easily agreeing to it having a German made CMS – the COSYS, as is fitted to the Kedah class.

    Reply
    The CMS is a Government Furnished Equipment, the yard will have little say on such matters. Yes the Gowind was design for Thales stuff but it will be easy to put other people stuff there. It will probably not be the COSYS.

  3. I am kind of sad that the Bouestead design wasn’t chosen. True it isn’t the best but still it is the cheapest option and will utilize local design team to the fullest. Some modifications to the NGPV design to fit ASW torpedoes and sensors, VL SAM missiles will make it good for our needs…

    I hope the Gowind won’t cost us too much. At least it will come with SAM, ASM and torpedoes, unlike the so called ‘fitted for but not with’ NGPVs….

  4. How the COSYS fare up with TACTICOS? IMO, if the Gowind is selected, it’s best to go with the French EW since natively the SGPV will be a combatant vessel, thus sharing the commonality with the SLEP Kasturi.

    Reply
    In a way yes, the Kasturi should be the guinea pig for most things to be installed in the SGPV/LCS but thats not how things are done here. The Kasturi SLEP should have been done years ago to validate the Kedah class equipment….

  5. The SLEP Kasturi and the F2000 frigates use what CMS? I thought the Malaysia Combat Management System is being developed by HeiTech Padu for the SGPV/LCS combat platform and any further ships including the future MPSS.

    Reply
    Hei Tech Padu signed an MOU with Thales to develop the Tacticos as the MCMS if they got the deal for the SGPV/LCS and future application.

  6. The Kasturi will receive the latest version of TACTICOS, the Lekiu are fitted with NAUTIS.

    The Perdana, Handalan and Jerong have no CMS, just a local fire control.

  7. i believe whatever class gov choose, it will have ample equipment. with RM 1 billion per ship and appreciation of ringgit value , commonality will become the last thing in their list as usual.

    my only concern is with current budget, can most of the ships be at the sea most of the times? or more likely be at the harbour due to ‘maintenance’ reasons. if that is happening, additional hull in service is also useless

  8. The RMN currently has the NAUTIS, COSYS, TACTICOS and the IPN10 and IPN5 on the Laksamana. If we remain true to norm, we will probably intoduce yet another CMS….

    Very curious as to why the Gowind is popular amongst many Malaysians on various forums. Is it solely due to it’s stealthy design??

    Reply
    I guess so, nice looks is always a plus point

  9. I bet the half of the 1 billion will go to so called tech transfer package, which was similar to what we bought from the Germans a decade ago and now into the trash.

  10. IMHO there is still hope for the meko design bought from the german. Well may be not for the RMN but more for the APMM.

    For EEZ patroling, the APMM only have 2 Mustari class OPV handed down from the RMN. The MEKO design could be used to built more OPV but not fitted for offensive and advanced electronic capability. Enough just 1 76mm gun and 2 30mm gun with few more 12.7mm HMG and normal search radar without any ecm and esm. It could reduce the price from the RMN version of over RM1 billion to maybe less than that.

    Its sounds like wishful thinking but i believe the APMM are more “heavy” in the kitty due to their direct funding from the KDN as opposed to Mindef.

    Reply
    The Kedah-class hull is much too be expensive for APMM. I am speculating the hull of the Kedah class alone may cost up to RM300 million. APMM funding is from PM’s Department not KDN. Its much smaller than Kementah but looked bigger as they are trying to catch up. Its more comparable to Bomba

  11. Hui, very unlikely. For RM500 million there’s only so much search radars, CMS’s, fire directors, main guns, engines,etc, we can but and we need 6 of each.

  12. Agreed on the Laksamana name..

    and let the lead ship be name KD Laksamana Thanabalasingam….

    about time we remember our pioneers dont we?

    Reply
    It wasnt what I meant….

  13. Prices for high tech engineering product can sometimes be very “subjective”. For six we are buying, and if the form of payment is acceptable, price slash up to 10% is not uncommon.

  14. kamal, the MMEA also has about 7 former RMN Sabah and Kris class patrol boats and a training boat, courtesy of Japan. Other ships are hand me downs from a number of government agencies. The smart thing now would be to strip the PDRM of the Marine Police and incorporate it in the MMEA, as both are doing the same job. But it won’t happen as the PDRM will guard it’s turf. The government under Badawi did try to do it though.

  15. On a different note, i read yesterday RMN plan to add 6 ASW heli in RMK10 and in their wishlist also the MPSS.

    Our current Lynx does not have dipping sonar but is it armed with torpedo?

    Reply
    Supposedly as they have shown the torpedoes together with the Sea Skua before. However I cannot recalled any exercise where the torpedoes are fired. They are supposed to be cued by the Jebat and Lekiu sonars. The ASW helo requirement has been there since RMK8.

  16. kamal,

    Target coordinates are provided by the mother ship, either the Lekiu or Kasturi class. Yes they have A244 torpedoes. The torp was first released for real about 3 years ago. I can check the date in Tempur. The previous RMN Chief said they need more helicopters and ideally the Super Lynx would be ordered.

  17. if RMN need more helis, better opt for more Super Lynx to complement the six that we had already. commonality will help greatly in training and logistics…mayb this time with dip sonars and ASW torpedoes.

  18. The RMN Super Lynxs already have the A244 torpedoes. Agusta Westland in the near future will cease production of the Super Lynx and concentrate on the Wildcat, which is based on the Super Lynx but has a better engine and sensors. There is also an IR version of the Sea Skua being produced which will be more useful than the radar guided Sea Skua which we operate.

  19. I think we can almost be sure that the LCS will be based on Gowind corvette design. This is easily understandable by looking at the overall NGPV programme and the recent trend of RMN purchase.

    Firstly, since our first batch of NGPV is based on Meko 100 design, there is no way that the government nor RMN would accept less sophistication. And since the LCS programme would cost RM 6 billion, the only way to justify this is by buying another design.

    Secondly, if we take a look at our recent purchases, we can see that RMN and the government keen on buying the asset with the highest price. I don’t want to speculate as why this trend behave as it is, but I just merely highlighting the fact. Basing from the trend, we can say for good that Gowind is the winner.

    Simple people may easily satisfied with the level of sophistication aired to justify the high cost, but I say we should choose the most cost effective options.

    For example, I think Kedah class OPV is a mistake, since we paid almost the same as what the German paid for their K130 Braunschweig class corvette (correct me if I’m wrong), despite our Kedah is only an OPV equipped with 76mm gun and small cannons, whereas the German have the same plus anti-ship, anti-air mission suite plus small hangar. I can understand the high cost since we import the technology from the Germans, but still we paid the price of a combat-able corvette just for an OPV.

    That makes the programme not worth the price. Some would say that the technological feat that we gained out weight the cost. But then, with the NGPV-LCS we still can gain advanced technology transfer, without needing to buy the costly OPV in the first place. Duh! Plus many people including me are skeptical whether we can achieve our initial plan of 27 ships with such high price tag. What will we do? Are we able to stretch our budget for 27 OPV that can be easily translated as 20+ warship for the Germans or 15+ larger warship for South Africans? I would like to see that. And FYI, even these figures are very modest estimations.

    Another example is the Scorpene submarine. Forget about the scandal that enveloped the programme. Let us just focus on the programme itself. It is undeniable that the Scorpene is one of the most advanced diesel submarine out there. But if I’m not mistaken, the Scorpene is also the costliest submarine in the world (Again, correct me if I’m wrong). Even from the start of the programme, it is projected that 2 subs aren’t enough. How can they be, when if one of the subs broke down, then we are left with just one operational sub. Then at least the proper number should be 3. And now, the RMN said they want a total of 6 Scorpene. Mind you that we still need new frigates, Cougar helicopters, new MRCA, new AEWC planes, IFV Pars, new support ships, new attack helicopters, new fast attack missile boats, possibly additional tanks and more. Be realistic! How can we achieve our target of 6 subs when there a myriad of important assets that required urgent attentions. If we opted for more cost effective subs earlier, say Type 214 (German) or Gotland (Sweden), we could achieve this target (6 subs) more easily. Only a fool would deny their level of sophistication, even the US Navy admitted they cannot detect Gotland sub (that is what USN claimed). And if we wait a little longer, we can have additional choices, the Amur (Russia) that is a lot cheaper and A26 that is more capable in littoral environment than the Scorpene(Sweden) but still cheaper than the Scorpene (estimation only). If we can sign a deal for 2 + 4 locally build submarines, then we get ourselves a pretty good deal! I can assure you if we buy 6 subs, we can get technology transfer in submarine shipbuilding just like the Indian case with their Scorpene. However since we buy 2 Scorpene without any agreement of additional purchase (to the best of my knowledge), it remain unclear whether DCNS will offer technology transfer even if we buy 4 additional Scorpenes in the future. Hopefully they will.

    Nevertheless, it is too late to stop the NGPV Kedah programme and Scorpene programme now. A lot of money have been invested (poorly in these cases I think). I hope that the LCS programme would turn to be a cost effective platform (I doubt that though). What I fear is that in another 8-10 years to come, RMN says they need another 6 LCS. And we need another 6 billion ringgit (wishful though considering the price of materials continue to increase gradually by time). And perhaps after that, another 6 more LCS to replace obsolete corvettes/frigates, and we will need another 6 billion. Again, like I said, we need to be realistic. We all both know that it is unlikely that the government would increase military spending in the future. The best scenario is even RMN need extra LCS, the government would just keep delaying the LCS batches, just like MPSS and AEWC have been delayed for years, due to budget constrain! In the end, the RMN would have to overwork the 6 LCS, and even if we do get additional 6 LCS after this one, we can bet they only materialize with the sacrifice(s) of another pending assets. I hope we can get 6 LCS with the cost of 5 billion ringgit for example achieve by using more cost effective design such as Milgem, equipped with advanced sensors and weapons that suit RMN needs. But like I said earlier, since our costly Kedahs have already utilized advanced hull design, it would be stupid not to utilized at least the same advanced hull in the more capable LCS programme. Thus, even though I don’t agree, I would say that the Gowind would definitely be the choice. In short, the Kedahs hinder us for pursuing cost effective design. What a shame.

    Cheers!

  20. when government announced to have 27 new patrol vessel for navy in 1990 and awarded contract to PSC in 1996, the total contract value is RM 24 billion (for whole 27 ships) and to be completed in 10 years. the NGPV actual plan is to have all ships with the same design and that is why gov buy the meko 100 blue print. if gov stick to what they decide in 1996 then our new patrol vessel will be cost effective.

    im really hope that gov will choose BNS design for the sake of rakyat money and for procurement other armed forces never ending wishlists

    Reply
    The original NGPV was supposed to be a patrol vessel like the original Kedah class to protect our EEZ. The decision in 1997/99 to choose the Meko 100 design was not based on the requirements of the NGPV but mostly for the sake of the industry ie PSC. It has since evolved into something else, the LCS and the Forward Defence, hence the mismatch in aspiration and funding.

  21. The KEDAH class was based on the prototype MEKO 100 design. The K130 was an evolution of the KEDAH design, so a lot of the R&D work was already paid up, thus lowering the design costs. The German Navy benefitted from this and since the purchase price was \’similar\’, they could actually buy more bang for the same buck, so to speak. BTW, the KEDAH class also has a helo hangar. And another thing, I cannot believe the LCS can cost only RM6 billion. More likely this is the allocation for the first Rancangan Malaysia only. Total cost should be around 9 – 11 billion for 6 ships. My estimate anyway….

  22. The Kedahs are such a disaster because of the shenanigans at PSC-NDSB before it was bailed out by LTAT/Boustead. Why do you think the ‘LCS’ is a no-bid activity? LTAT picked up the pieces after Encik Amin Shah beat feet and left all the subcons high and dry. The fallout would have been much worse than just the Kedah class going moribund, it would mean that the Navy’s primary refit and maintenance facility would be bankrupt with a full schedule of work.
    The level of fiddling in the NGPV project was beyond belief and it goes all the way back to the beginning with a company called P######.
    In comparison, the PM-class SSKs are a model of decency

    Reply
    Technically, there is no need for further bids as PSC-NDSB was given the rights to build 27 NGPV for the Navy. Boustead/LTAT is the rightful owners of the PSC-NDSB, is just taking over the contract. And Pxxxxxx was bailed out by Danaharta!

  23. To Api,

    It is not my intention to question why the cost of Kedah similar to K130, but rather why we opted the costly design. If we buy a Mercedes in Germany for example, 50000 dollars a piece, we shouldn’t expect the price to remain the same once we import them here. If the original price of Meko 100 design is 200 millions a piece for example, we can totally understand if the cost turns out to be for example 300 millions a piece to build them here.

    The question is why we chose a 300 million OPV when others can buy a more capable ship with the same price tag? It is like what the author replied in another post, we always get mitsubishi, even when we pay for mercedes (or something like that). How many honest people can say that they are happy with that? We paid for an advanced corvette and ended up getting a patrol ship instead. Even if the ships can be later install with missiles, an OPV is still an OPV no matter how hard ones try to sugar-coat it.

    We can understand the need for a very capable shipbuilding industry. Thus we can understand why the government chose the costly design. My argument is since later on we would build a very capable LCS with technology transfer, where is the rationale of buying the exorbitant OPV in the first place? It seems to me that the NGPV-LCS programme have nothing to do with the original NGPV, in a way that we can still acquire strong shipbuilding capabilities without the costly OPV. In that sense, the overall NGPV programme is not well planned. Nevertheless, like I mentioned before, it is too late to stop the original NGPV programme or NGPV-LCS for that matter, but still, a spade is a spade and I have to say it. I hope we can take valuable lessons here and make prudent decisions in the future.

    Cheers!

    PS: Have anyone wonders why the government decided to attach the NGPV name to LCS (hence NGPV-LCS) despite having little resemblance if not nothing at all to the original NGPV?

    Reply
    We got the MEKO 100 design because Amin Shah says he will use the money from the programme to turn the Malaysian ship-building industry into a super duper gig beating the Koreans. He was backed by TDM, Daim and even DSAI.
    Every one conveniently forgets that the South Korean got their reputation through commercial shipping. The naval defence sector was just an off-shoot from the commercial side, so their investment and capital expenditure were much lower. And more importantly their ROI was much lower due to this.
    We on the other hand when the opposite way citing the naval defence industry will boost up the commercial ship-building!
    Very soon Amin Shah and the RMN found the hard way that the strategy does not work. So instead of a super duper ship building industry, Amin Shah end up protecting his own interest when the 1997 economic crisis comes along.
    Was he done in by the economic crisis? We have just to look at the South Korean ship building industry for pointers. They were hit just as hard as us back in 1997.
    A local example is Proton. It survived the 1997 crisis intact but at what cost? Its here nor there.
    BTW, TDM and Daim bore the largest blame for the NGPV fiasco. DSAI shared part of the blame as he was the Finance Minister until he was sacked back in 1998.
    He could have nixed the PSC deal when he replaced Daim but he did not.
    I guessed he was also “turned over” into the PSC deal due to the influence of TDM.
    BTW, the cost different is in the details. Yes, the cost of the hull should be same or more less. The cost of the hull is always the cheapest compared to anything to else its the cost of the Government Furnished Equipment thats the key to the equation. Yes we probably paid more due to the IP rights of the Meko 100 for the much storied desire for indigenous defence industry and possible export. Of course it didnt help when we get people like Amin Shah to run the show.
    The change of name to SGPV Second Generation Patrol Vessel from NGPV is a clear indication that its a modification from the first batch and the LCS moniker is an indication that its fighting, combat vessel hence its to be armed from the start.

  24. just wondering, to spend about RM6 billion for 6 LCS or similar amount for another 5 scorpene?

    I like subs more than frigate or LCS but may be not well suited for our needs? The scorpene can theoretically fire torpedo, ASM and the german even created a sub launch AAM missile (but dunno whether it can integrate with the scorpene though)

    Reply
    Subs cannot be used for normal patrol duties.

  25. just something to share:-

    According to sipri

    we have 64 Exocet Mm38 (since 1972) for usage of 8 FAC

    we have 40 MM39 for usage of 2 scorpene

    we have 48 Ottomat for usage of 4 laksamana corvettes

    we have only 28 MM40 for usage on 2 Lekiu, 2 Kasturi and 6 Kedah

    hmmmm

    Reply
    The 38s are probably retired already or waiting to be fired as RMN two years back had decided to retire them when the stocks become expired. The reason for the small number of MM40 is simple, it was never intended for the Kedah class to be armed with them under the FFBNEW concept. I am not even sure whether they had bought the launchers and the other stuff needed to integrate the Exocets on the Kedah-class. In theory it should be easy but as every one knows crap happens. Furthermore on the Kedah class provisions had only been made to fix two Exocet launchers amid-ships just behind the bridge. So in the event they recapitalise the Exocet holding, there is only a need to fund 10 missiles per year until 2015. After that they could buy another 20 per year so as to equip the six SGPV/LCS and a couple more for spares and replacement for the annual one or two live firings

  26. wouldnt’ the sgpv be armed with the MM40 mark 3? Might as well right….

    Reply
    Honestly dont know. But since its the current production standard, why not? The French are also modifying their 40 Block 2s to Block 3s. Again I am not sure whether ours could be modified but since it involved an engine change and guidance systems it is highly possible.
    However MBDA has had bad reputation when it comes to maintenance but it is most obvious and cheapest route for us. We can buy new missiles for the SGPV/LCS though. That option remains open.

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