Talks On Upgrading The Kedah Class

As KD Terengganu was the latest RMN ship to undergone a refit, she was tasked as the ship to carry PMX for the LIMA 2023 fleet review. RMN

SHAH ALAM: Even though LMS Batch 2 was the underlying factor at LIMA 2023, there was also talk on upgrading the Kedah-class ships or known in the RMN as the Skuadron 17 Patrol Vessel (PV). PV17 Squadron is the formal name for the six-strong Kedah class ships, namely KD Kedah (171); KD Pahang (172); KD Perak (173); KD Terengganu (174); KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176).

As you are aware, the six-ship class are around 17 years old and younger (though technically the first two are around 24 years old as the steel was cut in 1999). Two of the ships have undergone intensive refit at Boustead Naval Ship (BNS) within the last three years, first KD Kedah and the latest was KD Terengganu.

KD Terengganu PV 174 at LIMA 2023. RMN picture

During the intensive refit, the ships have undergone limited upgrading to replace some of the original equipment installed including EO and others. The squadron is also getting a new RESM to replace the original one.
Two Kedah class, KD Kelantan (175) and KD Selangor (176) berthed at Lumut jetty in early 2014. The ship on the other side is KD Mahawangsa. Malaysian Defence picture.

And the word at the LIMA 2023 is that the RMN was looking to upgrade the weapons capability of the Kedah class with missiles -surface-to-surface and VSHORAD system. The candidate for the SSM is the NSM as the missiles are already bought ready for integration on the ships.
MBDA Simbad RC twin Mistral launcher.

As for the VSHORAD, it is likely to be the Mistral from MBDA either in the twin launcher or four launcher remote control configuration. There are other VSHORAD candidates of course.
A Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is launched from the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) during missile testing operations off the coast of Southern California. . US Navy

How likely this will be done then as we have heard the same thing – about up-arming the Kedah class – for some time now? I was told that it may happen as the upgrades are deemed not too costly (NSM already bought) and it had the backing of the RMN leadership. The lack of missile armed ships in the RMN Eastern Fleet is also another factor, I am told.
A close up of Kedah class bridge. Note the EADS 3-D radar (top) and Oerlikon Contraves TMX/EO X-band with electro-optic fire director and thermal imager (below the mast) taken by Malaysian Defence in 2002 when she was undergoing final fitting out at PSC-NDSB.

RMN had also recently issued a tender for the maintenance, up-keep, spares provision and training for the Kedah class CMS, the COSYS 110-M01. Only one bidder with a proposal for RM9.4 million had competed for the tender.
The operation room of Braunschwieg corvette of the German navy. The CMS of the corvette is supplied by Atlas Eletronik and Thales. Atlas was the supplier of the COSYS CMS of the Kedah class. German Navy. BRAUNSCHWEIG

That said I was told that even RMN are also divided on whether it was cost effective to upgrade the Kedah class. The inherent problems with the ships were the main reasons the scepticism.
Kedah, while she was still call Business Focus One back in 2002.

As you aware the first two Kedah class were commissioned around seven years after they were completed due to the troubles caused by the original builder, PSC Sdn Bhd. Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) was set up to complete project, the first two ships and the subsequent four.
KD Kedah leading two Keris class LMS during a photo stage of OSTEXEast 1/23. RMN

As the task to complete the project, the problems with the ships were never rectified and as such continue to be on-going issue. This one of the reasons I am deeply sceptical of the completion of the LCS project as the main task now was to complete them, hook or by crook. How they perform in service in the future is not the shipyard problems.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam

33 Comments

  1. Lmao someone gonna blow a fuse after going to hell and back with the statement of how RMN isn’t going to upgrade the Kedah class

    That said they should also look to repowering the Kedah class. 20 knots top speed isn’t going to cut it if they wanted to bring them to corvette/light frigate level

  2. Dundun – “Lmao someone gonna blow a fuse after going to hell and back”

    Who’s that “someone” – you?

    Because I merely mentioned that there were issues involved in upgrading the class; that a number of feasibility studies were done and presented [the government rejected previous proposals]; that it has to be decided if upgrading the class is a good long term ROI as opposed to buying new and that for the RMN priority is the Batch 2. I also said that the Kedah class design will not be selected for the Batch 2 requirement. On top of that I also mentioned issues with the ships which you may be unaware off and which Marhalim alluded to.

    “Lmao” you say?

    Dundun – “if they wanted to bring them to corvette/light frigate level”

    What pray tell is “frigate/corvette” level? You one of those fixated with designations? One can have a 800 tonne hull with a 15 know flank speed and still call it a “frigate “ or “corvette”.

  3. Azlan, whatever you say (or wait I say for that matter) will matter little if the government want to upgrade Kedah OPV. I for one would like to see them armed to the teeth. And lo and behold, the government wanted to arm them with ASM and AAM. Is it “armed to the teeth”? No but sure better than simply arm them with couple of guns

    >corvette level

    We all know what corvette or a frigate is. You want a bureaucratic designation? Fine. A “corvette” simply means it is headed by a lieutenant commander or a commander rather than an actual captain for a frigate

    But hey whatever. potayto potahto

  4. Dundun – “Azlan, whatever you say (or wait I say for that matter) will matter little if the government want to upgrade Kedah OPV

    Has the government actually approved it? Also, what I said is not something I conjured up but actual fact which you would know if you asked or researched. So don’t make it sound like I conjured things up. Yes the RMN is divided on the issue [as Marhalim alluded to] and yes there are inherent issues with the class. And yes the RMN’s priority are the Batch 2s but if the Kedahs can be upgraded without the cash affecting other things then fine. All this has been mentioned before in a coherent easy to understand manner.

    I did not say that we should not upgrade the class nor did I say that the RMN zwas absolutely against the idea. Also, this is not the first time the RMN has explored the possibility of upgrading the class [as has been mentioned before] and as Marhalim alluded to; it might not be a comprehensive upgrade if it happens.

    Dundu – “. I for one would like to see them armed to the teeth. And lo and behold, the government wanted to arm them with ASM and AAM. Is it “armed to the teeth”? No but sure better than simply arm them with couple of guns”

    Spare me the cliches, sarcasm and obfuscation. How on earth can it be “armed to the teeth” when there is only space amidships for 4 ASMs, space in the B position for a non deck penetrating system and no space for triple torp tubes? Think and keep aside your “lot and behold” for another time because as it stands the government has approved nothing and any upgrade will be minimal.

    BTW aI’m hoping the class it will be armed but if it is it will only result in the class having some level of self defence capability; nothing more.

    Dundun – “We all know what corvette or a frigate is. You want a bureaucratic designation0/
    I was clearly not referring to the “bureaucratic designation” but pointing out that nothing is written in stone. One navy’s “corvette” can be another navy’s “frigate”. This is in reference to your nonsensical “20 knots top speed isn’t going to cut it if they wanted to bring them to corvette/light frigate level”.

    There is no such as “20 knots top speed isn’t going to cut it if they wanted to bring them to corvette/light frigate level” – there is no such thing as light frigate/corvette” level”; only what a particular navy decides to designate its ships with…

    Dundun – “But hey whatever. potayto potahto”

    Are you choking on something or were trying to refer to the Mr Potatohead snack?

  5. Let proceed with upgrading, focusing on two things :
    1) Anti Ship Missile &
    2) CIWS ( Close In Weapon System)

    Equipped those OPV with Naval Strike Missile Fire Control System, install Missile Rack to support till 8 no of missile. During peace time, just let only 2 missile availble.Rather than just depending on guns.

    Equipped those OPV with Gun CIWS, Millennium Gun is the best, just like the Indonesian Sigma Frigate, it’s cheaper to buy bullet rather than missile. Plus it does not consume large inventory of bullet bringing down ASM. As last layer of defense.

    When the conflict at our doorstep, convert those OPV to Corvette by adding 6 more NSM Missile.

    Now that what we called ‘Eqipped but Not Fitted’

  6. Kedah class upgrade just like the FAC rehull, is more of a “I have no choice” plan. I think Navy will say yes if LMS Batch 2 gets delayed – which seems likely, and LCS gets delayed – which also seems likely. I think it was mentioned in another thread, https://www.malaysiandefence.com/kd-terengganu-sailing-the-waves-again/ , LIG Next 1 rocket launchers could be a low cost option to increase firepower. What is the performance ceiling left for the Kedah class – how much additional weight and electrical load can it still take on? Is it conceivable the RMN will end up accepting ships closer to RSN’s Independence class? Just to rebuild its missiles inventory (after being left with just the Lekiu class). Personally I understand the need for helideck and hangar, but there isn’t enough helicopters to go around for the next 10 years anyway and 6xKedah, 2xLekiu and maybe 4xMaharajalela should provide sufficient ships for helicopter operations until 2030.

  7. It’s too expensive. Yes it was designed from the start with RAM but the bail out for the project in early 2000 has killed off that possibility.

  8. kel – ”I think Navy will say yes if LMS Batch 2 gets delayed – which seems likely,”

    I was just a matter of time before someone made a correlation between a possible Kedah upgrade and the presumption that the Batch 2s will be delayed.

    As has been explained; the RMN has long looked at arming the Kedah class; the caveat being that funds are not diverted from other areas the RMN deems a priority. You will also note that plans to arm the Kedah class have been ongong over the years and proposals submitted – nothing new.

    A previous feasibility study looks at converting 3 for AsUW and 3 or ASW; was not approved. The RMN had also in the past requested RAM for which the class was designed for; the space in the B position was tailor made for RAM. As mentioned previously a dilemma is determining whether it’s a good return of investment spending ‘X’ million on ships of a certain age and whether it’s better to save the funds for new ships?

    kel – ” What is the performance ceiling left for the Kedah class – how much additional weight and electrical load can it still take on? ”

    The class is designed and has space for a non deck penetrating system in the B [read RAM] and 4 ASMs amidships. There is no space for anything beyond that… Ultimately; whether we fit it with NSM or Sunburn; has to be integrated/certified with the CMS.

    kel – ”Personally I understand the need for helideck and hangar, but there isn’t enough helicopters to go around ”

    Helos are not organic to ships. Having a deck and hangar means that a helo can be embarked when needed; whether for a specific op; deployment or to airlift a sick crew member… The fact that we have ‘X’ ship with decks but only ‘Y’ helos is not and never was an issue.

    kel – ”Is it conceivable the RMN will end up accepting ships closer to RSN’s Independence class? ”

    ”Is it conceivable” that Humpty Dumpty will make the transcendence into Prince Charming? Who knows? The RMN ultimately will get what the government decides can be afforded.

    Rosdy – ”When the conflict at our doorstep, convert those OPV to Corvette by adding 6 more NSM Missile.”

    A ”OPV” does not become a ”corvette” merely by adding the firepower. Like others you are stuck on designations. You can have a ‘OPV” with 8 ASMs and a ”frigate” with 4 ASMs; depends on what you want.

  9. Rossdy- “Equipped those OPV with Gun CIWS, Millennium Gun is the best”

    It already has a main gun and space for only a single system in the B position; thus it makes sense to have a missile system aft of the main gun. With proper ammo the Super Rapid can also be begged ASMs.

    Rossdy – “As last layer of defense”

    The “last layer” and the “first” in this context would be the main gun and whatever goes into the B position; as well as chaff.

    Back to designations which confuse many; this is from a recent article – “ it’s fair to ask what a corvette is, and what the navy needs them for. A corvette is not as simple as it would first appear. Although naval history buffs will likely baulk at the comment, there’s no strict definition of a corvette”

    The lines have long become blurred but people dogmatically stick to designations. What’s a “frigate” for one navy can be a “destroyer” for another. The IN’s Kora class corvettes have 16 Urans and would called “frigates” by others. The Kedah class are corvette sized “OPVs” and raising their speed to 500 knots and arming them “to the teeth” [a cliche commonly used] doesn’t make them into “frigates”.

  10. People shouldn’t complicate decision making or decide within an echo chamber. Prioritisation remains 1) LCS, 2) LMS, 3) additional Kedah class / upgrade. When Plan A LCS got delayed, it was felt from outside, the prioritisation was Plan B, a fully kitted LMS Batch 2 that is closer to the LCS than the multi-purpose ship the LMS class was envisaged to be (Kedah class upgrade was not considered). When Plan B got delayed, the decision flow falls back to Kedah class upgrade because that is the only option left – the only physically available ships in the fleet that could technically be upgraded with missiles. Plan A is barely afloat, Plan B is taking on water. So its left to Plan C – upgrade a ship that the Navy has. If Plan A and Plan B is back on track, Plan C will not happen. If the LCS and LMS Batch 2 is completed by 2030, the oldest Kedah class would be near 30 years – not worth upgrading (i.e., no more talk of Kedah class upgrade). Money would be better spend on the the next 5 ships of LMS Batch 2 or the sixth LCS than Kedah class upgrade (if Plan A and Plan B stays on track).

  11. Kamal- “Simple question here”

    Your “simple question “ was fully answered in Marhalim’s write up. If you had read it…

    As I also explained this isn’t the first time the RMN has looked at an upgrade and submitted proposals to the government. As long as cash isn’t diverted from more vital things the RMN has no issues.

  12. kel – ”People shouldn’t complicate decision making or decide within an echo chamber. ”

    Who’s the ”people”? I would assume that they’ve complicated things but you’re – naturally – seeing things clearly aren’t you?

    To keep it simple minus obfuscation; the RMN has long looked at arming the Kedahs [were you even aware] but the cash wasn’t available. Given the lack of ASM armed ships in the Eastern Fleet some thought has been given to arming the Kedahs with as minimal cost as possible because the RMN wants the extra cash to be channeled towards newer assets.

    Period/full stop – not complicated.

    Also, as it stands the LMS Batch 2 requirement is very much alive.

    kel – ”(Kedah class upgrade was not considered).”

    You know this for a fact or is this mere speculation? Like how you’ve speculated that there is a correlation between a possible delay in the MS Batch 2 programme and a possible arming of the Kedahs?

    P.S. Breaking up long posts in paragraphs makes it easier to digest…

  13. @dundun
    LMAO X2!
    Being of older design, the Kedahs lacked space above and below to mount “enough teeth”, but in the role as corvettes escorts & support to the larger Lekius & LCS, the point defences proposed will suffice. I am more worried on introducing NSM onboard if the CMS was not yet ungraded to integrate with these newer missiles. This venture could be costly and perhaps it might make more sense to buy & install the Exocets that it was intended to carry.

    @Marhalim
    “The inherent problems with the ships were the main reasons the scepticism.”
    Other than the lack of sufficient weaponry, what are those problems?

  14. ”Other than the lack of sufficient weaponry,”

    The ”lack of sufficient weaponry” is not an inherent issue as it just takes money to rectify.

    ”what are those problems?”

    As was alluded to here or somewhere else; the main issue is the set up for the exhaust [the class has no funnel]. Other issues as well which I’ll leva at that but maybe Marhalim will explain more.

  15. kel – ” not worth upgrading (i.e., no more talk of Kedah class upgrade).”

    As has been explained to you within the RMN there is already reluctance to spend more than the minimum on the class due to the average age of the respective ships. Another issue is that there are inherent issues with the class that have never and will never be rectified.

    kel – ”Money would be better spend on the the next 5 ships of LMS Batch 2”

    Precisely what I’ve pointed out in this post and in other posts but thank you.

  16. The defense budget are unlikely to increase as the gov itself is introducing unpopular measures like subsidies cut to balance the books.

    If the model chooses for LMS2 is too expensive then there’s won’t be any left for the kedah upgrade I guess.

  17. ”If the model chooses for LMS2 is too expensive then there’s won’t be any left for the kedah upgrade I guess.”

    NSM is already there but I have no idea how much it will cost to integrate and certify it to COSYS and other things. SADRAL/TETRAL/SIMBAD are stand alone but would still be integrated and certified to COSYS.

  18. Azlan “SADRAL/TETRAL/SIMBAD are stand alone but would still be integrated and certified to COSYS.”

    Probably much cheaper, easier & more lethal to just get RAM as SAM of choice.

  19. Well if they/RMN want to go turkish way for LMS batch 2 why dont they propose to replace that atlas CMS with havelsan advent or genesis? Maybe go full turkiyes for Kedahs upgrade and LMS batch 2 ie Gokdeniz Ciws + Gokdeniz ER/Levent SAM point defence + Atmaca SSM..Pretty sure they are all already compatible with Turkish CMS

  20. Akmal,

    No. That’s a major part of it but there are other dynamics at work play. Read up the previous comments.

  21. Sorry if im asking a silly question just curious here..Why did Kd Terengganu get their refit earlier than KD Pahang and KD Perak when they are both are comissioned into service earlier than the former? Does Terengganu suffered any damage?

  22. The idea is to spend as little money as possible for the upgrades as RMN must husband its resources. NSM is already available, missiles and launchers so the only money needed is to integrate with the CMS and the effectors. It’s also the same by using a VSHORAD system, less work to do with integration. Your suggestions will cost more money as they need to buy the weapons and the CMS. And then integration work with the current effectors, radars and EOs.

  23. Mr M So the other remaining kedahs will also get their refits when they are 15 years old maybe i assumed? If its up to you,would you rather refit/upgrade their radars,sensor,cms etc or would you up arm them? refit will keep them going albeit as patrol ship,up arm will make them a lil bit potent and broaden their task but at what cost

  24. Firdaus – “If its up to you,would you rather refit/upgrade their radars,sensor,cms etc or would you up arm them?”

    Depends. What is the state of the “radar, sensor, cms, etc”?
    No point having a brand new missile if say the CMS will have support issues in a year. What if you spend to upgrade the CMS but find the radar is having issues?

    Do you understand that given their age; the dilemma is whether to spend on them or use the cash on newer assets? If we had decided to arm them years ago when the class was younger it would have been a different story.

    If you could choose; would you spend say 25 thousand doing up a 25 year old car worth only 8 thousand or would you spend the minimum on it and save the cash for a new car at a later date? Which works for you; how much do you have in the piggy bank?
    Will how much you spend on your existing car have an impact on your ability to afford a new car?

    Firdaus – “refit will keep them going albeit as patrol ship,up arm will make them a lil bit potent and broaden”

    Whether we arm then with 100 kiloton thermonuclear warheads or 16 ASMs they still need refits every few years. Arming them gives them a self defence capability; doesn’t make them “potent” …

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