Thales Vigile ESM for Lekiu class

KD Lekiu and KD Jebat sailed together with USS George Washington in Andaman Sea. US Navy picture

SHAH ALAM: Genting Etika Sdn Bhd has been selected to supply, install, test and commissioned the new Radar Electronic Support Measure (ESM) system for the RMN’s 23rd Frigate Squadron. The ships of the squadron are of course, KD Lekiu (30) and KD Jebat (29).

According to industry sources, the new RESM to be installed on board both ships is the Thales Vigile 100 Mark 2. The same RESM has also been selected for the six RMN’s LCS. Genting Etika is also the sub-contractor for the RESM package for the LCS, being built by Boustead Naval Shipyard at Lumut.

The contract to Genting Etika was made public only recently although the decision to award the tender to the company was made on Oct 26, 2015.

Thales Vigile brochure
Thales Vigile brochure

According to Thales : “ Vigile Light Weight (LW) is the latest generation Radar Electronic Support Measures (RESM) system from Thales. Drawing on Thales’ excellent pedigree in Naval EW systems and designed explicitly for small platforms, Vigile LW provides a real-time tactical view of the surrounding area – delivering effective situational awareness and threat warning.

Vigile LW’s impressive performance in complex littoral environments, combined with its low power consumption and compact, lightweight design, make it perfectly suited to small vessels. VIGILE is a class of modular ESM/ELINT systems, addressing present and future littoral and blue water operations.

As a primary sensor, Vigile is the key component of the EW suite. It is fully integrated into the Combat System and plays a vital part in the platforms situation awareness, self-protection and ELINT capabilities. In multi-platform, networked-enabled operations, it is a major contributor to enhanced operational awareness.

Drawing on THALES’ excellent pedigree in Naval EW systems, being incumbent supplier for both UK and French Navies, the VIGILE family is in service around the world, supplying many Navies with the capabilities required for effective situation awareness.

KD Lekiu launching a Sea Wolf SAM in an exercise in 2014. TLDM picture.
KD Lekiu launching a Sea Wolf SAM in an exercise in 2014. TLDM picture.

The publication of the award to Genting Etika marked the completion of the tender exercise for the 23rd Squadron, all published in June, last year. Malaysian Defence had reported previously that the Electro Optical Tracking System was awarded to Qiblatin Synergy Sdn Bhd with the Chess Dynamics Sea Eagle FCEO while DML Technologies Sdn Bhd (Terma) got the navigation radar contract.

Chess Dynamics Sea Eagle FCEO.
Chess Dynamics Sea Eagle FCEO.

The two other contracts were Kharisma International Sdn Bhd (Degaussing system) and ME & O Fleet Support Sdn Bhd (Ship Data Distribution System). Both systems selected remained unknown at the moment.

Yes perhaps I was wrong to say that Lekiu class was to undergo a SLEP. But with five sub-systems replaced, it is certainly not a routine refit programme. It is more like a modest mid-life update.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2147 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. Proud to have so many defence contractors in Malaysia. Shows that we are advancing technologically laterally with the rest of the world.

    The More, The Merrier

  2. Yes but unfortunately the large numbers of defence “contractors” has not led to Malaysia making any progress in self-sufficiency and in many cases delays and things going over budget have been caused by the local companies. No doubt local companies have made money thanks to the government wanting to go “local” as far as possible but it has often been at the expense of the MAF and taxpayer.

  3. Nanonano

    No lahhhh. What defense contractor? They are just local “representative” of foreign defense companies. Do they have the knowledge @ the know how to produce such products?? The answer is no.. unless these so called “defense contractors” can offer the MAF products that is at lease 60 pcent made in Malaysia (the material, technology and ect) they are just a waste of money. What 4? Bg makan org tempatan? At what expense? Better go directly to the supplier la. What? The supplier dont provide after sales service ke bro?

    Sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt

  4. Nanonano & Marhalim

    I seh man. I didnt realize that u guys were being sarcastic. I do apologize. But i stand with my statement.. this “local” company policy is a bunch of bull €r@p.

  5. RMN most advance ship n the best in Asean until Formidable class appear..sadly we only have two…
    Hope the upgrade process smooth n success…

  6. Marhalim and me have lived the malaysian defence industry scenarios almost parallel to our lifetime shed. It is something to be proud of indeed. Her Her Her…

  7. When I was in school, I used to daydream of having my own corporation of defence products, something like Northrop Corporation, a name that give me a chill at that time, due to the fact that it supplied Malaysia with the evergreen Northrop F5E Tiger II, a name that I would love to emulate, something like Hang Jebat Corporation, but alas, I was not meant to be an engineer nor a business tycoon, i dont even know how to design and produce a pencil, so I keep it to myself, till now.. Her her her..

  8. Micheal,

    True but at the end of the day, both countries have different threat perceptions. Even if cash was not an issue, I doubt if the RMN would want something the size of the Formidables. Bear in mind that the Formidables are intended to perform different roles compared to the Lekius; hence their heavier displacement, longer range sensors and heavier weapons fit.

  9. Will we see some changes in our military procurement after tppa signed?

    From the little reading I have done on TPPA, it will not.

  10. 3rd litoral mision vessel ready by st marine. Production line work like clockwork.

    formidabel frigate will not be top dog for long. The replacement for victory ship wld be bigger i heard.

  11. Azlan,

    Can you share a little on the difference of roles between the Gowinds and the Formidables in our contexts?

  12. I know of one of the so called local defence contractors who does not even know the difference between a c-130 and a B737 (while supplying parts for the charlie). As long as the money is there, they don’t care less.

    Azlan, about the formidables. To compare with the sgpv, the formidable is only about 5m longer and less than 100 tonnes heavier than the gowinds. They are almost similar in size.

  13. AM,

    Looking at the 2, it’s clear that the Formidables are designed for higher intensity ops. This is reflected in its sensors and heavier weapons fit (when extra launchers are stacked up about 30 Harpoons can be carried). The higher freeboard and design also makes for better sea keeping in case they deploy further away and the sea gets rough. The class is also intended to be part of island’s AD network when wired in with other assets – the size was dictated by the need to have a hull deep enough to accommodate the Aster launchers.

    The LCS is a nice ship and is intended for the RMN’s operational requirements which don’t call for involvement in a high intensity scenario. This is reflected in its modest weapons load, amongst others. Its shallow draught and size also makes it suitable for shallow water ops in the littorals. My main concern with the design is a lack of deck space (common with current designs) for future growth and the lack of a CIWS for leakers (yes the Formidables also lack a CIWS but they have a 32 cell VLS).

  14. Formidabel has the 75mm Oto Melara Super Rapid and the two 25mm Tyhpoon guns on hangar for 360 degrees fire arc. Is tat consider CIWS?

    And new active decoy which they still cover on Formidabel and Victory ships.

    Maybi RSN do not think CIWS is needed in region esp if you consider that SAF work together in network. RSN and Formidabel not working alone. F15SG and F16 are now doing anti ship ops from reports. So it maybi case of excess firepower becuz of benefit of network links. Like the USN..the best way to fire at ship is from the air esp with RSAF numbers. It tie in with recent news RSN interested in P8 Poseidon to replace Fokker 50.

    For Armada Int it is report tat Sg LMV using Strales but not using separate radar or target cue on gun cupola but using radar. Same concept may be apply to Formidabel. Can google it.

    So far no news RSN using Vulcano 76mm round with >40km range.

  15. Hmm so the fomidable is roughly the same size as our gowinds but have better seakeeping, heavier weapons (space for 16 ssms) and a deeper hull. Hull and platform design is all about tradeoffs so in what characteristics is our gowinds superior for the same tinnage?

  16. tomahawk,

    The typhoon is more like a RWS than CIWS, sure it can operate independently but it’s sensor is only EO, got no radar. Plus not high enough rate of fire. But the planned newer version with programmable airburst could functions in-lieu of CIWS. I think the slow adoption of CIWS (at least for navies in tight budget) is due to the debate of its efficiency and whether or not it would make a difference in real combat scenario.


    I think the two are not made for the purpose, big frigates such as the formidable acts like an extension of the state’s defensive umbrella, thus the emphasis on anti-air capability. Our SGPV are meant as combat patrol vessels, which I’m guessing would in the near future evolve into RMN’s primary ASW platform. As of gowind’s superiority over formidable, I would say none that are of significance. But I may be wrong of course.

  17. It doesn’t matter as the SGPV is not designed to take on the Formidable and Malaysia has no such requirement. What’s important is the ATM is competent and equipped enough to defeat threats, and Singapore is not one. So far we have not seen the ATM going about this business incompetently.

    War is not a sub for sub, ship for ship symmetrical platform contest. And even if hypothetically we had the resources to operate the Formidables, policy requires that Singapore overmatches and acquires FREMMs or Burkes or Horizons. A symmetrical acquisition may not be the most tactically justified, but it has been the case historically when we were the first to acquire a certain platform type (advances submarines, heavy fighters, BVRAAM and so on). This is not a sensible contest nor should we set out to win it.

    The Typhoon RWS is not a CIWS. Even besides fire control capabilities and ammunition type, there are ammunition capacity, maximum and sustained rate of fire to consider.

  18. Salam marhalim,
    maaf bertanya kenapa pembelian peralatan2 ini mesti melibatkan pihak ketiga? Kenapa kerajaan tidak membeli secara terus daripada thales?

    Itu peraturan tender

  19. Gonggok,

    For use in a littoral environment the shallow draught of the LCS would be useful. For use in a high intensity state on state conflict, the Formidables are more suitable.

    At the end of the day; the LCS and Formidables are intended to perform different roles and their displacement, sensors and weapons load reflect the difference threat perceptions and operational requirements of Malaysia and Singapore.

  20. How can something that has roughly the same tonnage but deeper draught be the same size. By right the shallow draught LCS should be larger. Water displacement 101 right?

  21. Various sources mention a shallow draught. Given the design and the RMN’s focus on shallow water ops; it’s not inconceivable. Also bear in mind that not all our bases have a deep water jetty to accommodate ships of certain tonnages and draughts and that many of the waters we operate in are shallow.

    There has long been debate on whether a,gun based CIWS can actually hit a supersonic missile. For that matter there are even those who say that RAM is not fast enough for the job. The good news is that the bulk of SSMs in service, worldwide, are subsonic : not everyone uses a Sunburn, Yakhont or Klub. The only known instance to date of a missile successfully engaging a SSM was the Sea Dart that shot down the Silkworm. Then again, the Silkworm was a first generation, subsonic design with a seeker less sophisticated than an I Phone. In the case of the Hanit and the Stark; their Phalanx was not even switched on so we have no way of knowing how it would have performed.

  22. There is nothing Formidable can’t and unique to the LCS. Arguing LCS has some sort of shallow water capability is moot. It is just stupid to let aggressor in the size of LCS to enter 50 mile radius when obviously it should had been confronted before entering the EEZ. And If it is not on par then then we have an over sized boat. An aggressor that needs arguably the most sophisticated SSM to kill and yet is armed with the modest defence suite. Is MEKO all over again. But this time LCS has the provision to be corrected, if that ever happens.

    LCS is what it is today (or tomorrow) is a result of budget constraint. Stakeholder is responsible to put themselves in such a position.

  23. Gonggok, you should pay no mind to the nomenclature given to the gowinds. The term LCS has many interpretation, if we take singapore\’s independence class as a comparison one would say the gowinds is too heavy to be littoral, if we take dr. Pua\’s definition, LCSs should be in the performance envelope of USN\’s freedom class. The gowinds are going to be patrol frigates, with roles not dissimilar to lekiu class, and looking at their seakeeping ability, i think their missions will no be strictly littoral. Anywho, regardless of what it\’s called, the gowind is a welcomed purchase.

    I think we had the CIWS discussion before, it is a good concept but with a debatable effectiveness, so let us leave it at that. It\’s worth noting though that the new FREMMs of the French and Italian navy both lack CIWS.

  24. H – ” Arguing LCS has some sort of shallow water capability is moot. ”

    Hardly moot.

    Again, as mentioned before – both are intended for slightly different reasons; by operators who have different threat perceptions and operational requirements. The LCS is intended to be operated in a littoral environment in times of peace or a limited conflict; the Formidable is intended for other roles in line with the fact that Singapore’s threat perceptions differs from Malaysia’s.

    H – ”LCS is what it is today (or tomorrow) is a result of budget constraint.”

    The final fit of the LCS is a result of not just ” budget constraint” but also the RMN’s operational requirements.

    Anas- ”It’s worth noting though that the new FREMMs of the French and Italian navy both lack CIWS.”

    Yes but both have a stronger self-defence suite than the LCS and in times of war, both will almost certainly be operating as part of a multi-national task group, which will be under a strong air umbrella, will have a strong escort and will have 100 times better SA that we could ever hope to have.

    Anas – ” and looking at their seakeeping ability,”

    Please clarify.

    Bear in mind that as a whole, the RMN is a littoral navy – for one, the bulk of our littoral domain is littoral or shallow water. A few years ago, an RMN Chief said that his vision was for the RMN to be a littoral water navy with a niche in MCM and other operations. We have little need – due to geography and other factors – to be anything other than a littoral navy – and we have little or no need to project power beyond our periphery – in short, even if cash was limitless, we would have little need for a 7-8,000 tonne combatant intended for high intensity conflict.

    Anas – ”but with a debatable effectiveness, so let us leave it at that.”

    Wrong. It depends on what level of threat one is facing. If fired upon by a subsonic sea skimmer obviously something like goalkeeper would have a good chance as opposed to dealing with Moskit. Like I mentioned in a previous post, the bulk of SSMs operate worldwide are still subsonic. Also, navies rely on both soft and hard kill options to deal with an incoming sea skimmer. Ideally, an active jammer will jam or degrade a missiles’s seeker before it gets withing range to be engaged by a ship’s missiles. A CIWS is just part of a ship’s self-defence suite.

  25. RSN and RMN are better cooperate than compete. Imagaine the combine fleet of RSN and RMN like wen RSN JMMS LHD/light carrier, Type 218SG subs and replacement for Victory ship is ready.

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