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Royal Malaysian Navy - Modernization

By 2016 the RMN was set to consolidate all its naval units from 15 classes to five in an effort to strengthen the country’s maritime security. The five new classes are the Littoral Mission Ships (LMS); Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) [formerly the Second Generation Patrol Vessel (SGPV)]; New Generation Patrol Vessels; Multi-Support Ships (MRSS); and submarines.

In the mid-1990s Malaysia entered a joint venture project with Australia to build 39 Off-shore Patrol Vessels for the Malaysian Navy, thus opening an opportunity for an export-oriented ship-building industry. This vessel would have been of sufficient size and capability to fulfil patrolling duties. Importantly, the OPV was designed to carry a helicopter, essential for the conduct of boarding operations in extremely rough weather conditions. The 'failed' Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) project was cancelled in the mid-1990's after Malaysia pulled out of negotiations for the joint project.

In October 2010, Malaysia’s Boustead received a letter of intent from their government for 6 “second-generation patrol vessels.” As of October 2011 the French military shipbuilding group DCNS was the favorite in a tender on 24 corvettes for Malaysia. This represented the third attempt at such an ambitious program, following the project with Australia to build 39 Off-shore Patrol Vessels which never got started, and the KD Kadah MEKO 100 New Generation Patrol Vessel (NGPV) which only produced six of the originally envisioned a total of 27 ships.

A letter of intent had been received by the group in September 2011 and advanced discussions were ongoing. If DNCS was actually preferred, TKMS and Damen Dutch German groups might have been provided by the Malaysian authorities. The French group proposed a corvette of the "Gowind" family. It is intended for area surveillance missions, the fight against piracy and terrorism as well as the preservation of the environment, among others. It also allows deploying a helicopter or a drone.

Malaysia announced its intention to buy at least two frigates with an option for two more from BAE Systems. However, because of uncertainty over the budget, by early 2009 the future of this deal, known as the Frigate Batch 2 program, was cloudy. Malaysia was presumed to also be looking at other sources to supplement their fleet.

The tender for the new patrol vessels or New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC) was issued in July 2014 and closed on 25 August 2014. The NGPC was supposed to be between 43 to 45 metres in length, a displacement of not more than 250 tons and with embarkation for 30 crew and 10 extra personnel (when the need arises). An endurance of 7 days at 12 knots and a maximum speed of more than 25 knots are also specified. It must also have enough deck space to launch and recover a catapult launch UAV and be able to embark a 10 feet x 10 feet container at one time (two be supplied) for SAR and pollution control operations. Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) also stipulated that the NGPC be built in a local shipyard.

The ‘Kedah’ class Next Generation Patrol Vessel (NGPV) program delivered six vessels based on the Blohm and Voss ‘Meko-A100’ class OPV design. From the third NGPV onwards the ships were constructed locally, but the lightly-armed fleet could be upgraded with anti-ship missiles in the future. There was speculation that the RMN has a preference for Kongsberg Naval Strike Missiles (NSM). KD Kelantan, a ‘Kedah’ class offshore patrol vessel built indigenously by Boustead Naval Shipyard for the Royal Malaysian Navy, was commissioned in 2010.

Two ‘Kasturi’ class frigates underwnt a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) to enable 15 more years of service. KD Kasturi rejoined the fleet in January 2014, and her sister underwent a SLEP at the hands of BNS; she began sea trials by late 2014.

The Government of Brunei decided to sell off the three OPVs, KDB Nakhoda Ragam, KDB Bendahara Sakam and KDB Jerambak, built at BAE Systems shipyard in Glasgow for the Royal Brunei Navy after a long-running legal dispute was resolved. The ships were built under a deal costing £600 million, between BAE Systems and Brunei, and were completed in 2004. However the Brunei claimed the ships were not as they had ordered, and they remained berthed in Scotstoun until the arbitration dispute ended in May 2007, allowing the ships to be sold. Malaysia at one time seemed the likeliest buyer for the three ships, provided they could get it at a reasonable price, but as of late 2012 it appeared they would go to Indonesia.

Malaysia was also looking to acquire one or more multi role amphibious ships to supplement its ageing amphibious support ships, to support peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Among the potential sources were Spain's Navantia, Dutch Royal Schelde and Merwede, France's DCNS, China and the Republic of Korea. However, budget for the program remained a problem.

By 2010 Malaysian shipbuilder NGV Tech was in direct discussions with the navy to design a 515-foot, multi-role support ship that could cost $380 million-$415 million. "We will start the retail design as per the requirements of the RMN and once orders have been confirmed, we can start building immediately," NGV Tech Executive Chairman Datuk Zulkifli Shariff said.

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) wants an organic maritime patrol and reconnaissance capability. This role is currently provided by four Raytheon Beechcraft Super King Air B200Ts acquired in 1994. Given the requirement to better patrol the Malacca Straits against piracy and smuggling, the RMN has examined offers from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Saab/Embraer and EADS. Malaysia has identified a requirement for three to four platforms.

The Navy had plans to buy 12 Eurocopter EC-725 worth RM1.607 billion, to replace the ageing fleet of Sikorsky S61-A4 Nuri. However, the purchase was postponed on 28 October 2008 because the government had to focus on projects that were more beneficial to the people. The EC-725 aircraft was chosen because the model was an upgrade from the AS532 Cougar helicopter and had made its first flight in 2000 to fulfil French Air Force Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) requirements. The Royal Malaysian Navy plans to purchase at least six anti-submarine warfare helicopters, but this requirement is likely to be postponed to 2013 due to the 2012 budget cuts. Sikorsky had been heavily marketing the MH-60R Seahawk for this requirement, although Eurocopter offered the possibility of a navalized EC725.



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