By: Mike Yeo
MELBOURNE, Australia — Malaysia’s centerpiece plan for the restructure and recapitalization of its Navy has also been adversely affected by the country’s budget woes, leaving most of it underfunded or unfunded altogether.
The so-called 15-to-5 plan, unveiled in 2015, calls for a reduction of the Royal Malaysian Navy order of battle from 15 to five classes of ships and submarines, which it hopes will trim sustainment costs by retiring older ships and reducing the number of ship classes operated by the RMN by 2030.
The five ship classes will ideally consist of 12 French-designed littoral combat ships, 18 Kedah-class offshore patrol vessels, 18 Chinese-designed littoral mission ships, three multirole support ships of an as-yet undetermined design and four submarines.
Of these, only six lightly-armed Kedah-class offshore patrol vessels are already in service together with two French Scorpene diesel-electric submarines. Malaysia has also ordered six littoral combat ships based on the French Gowind 2500 design under a $2 billion contract signed in 2011, with two ships in various stages of construction at Malaysia’s Boustead Naval Shipyard.
The 3,000-ton ships will be armed with the Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile and MBDA’s vertical launch MICA for anti-ship and anti-aircraft work respectively, along with 57mm and 30mm guns as well as torpedo tubes. The first ship is expected to be delivered to the RMN in late 2019 or early 2020.
Malaysia is also pressing forward with its Littoral Mission Ship program, signing a contract in early November 2016 with China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense for an initial four ships with two built by Boustead and the other two in China.
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