26 April 2017
CSIC Littoral Mission Ship (photos : Jane's)
Malaysia signed a contract on 21 April for the purchase of an initial four littoral mission ships (LMSs) from China for the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).
The agreement, which is part of a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, was signed in Beijing by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) and Malaysia's Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) in a ceremony overseen by Chinese defence minister Chang Wanquan and his Malaysian counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein.
Under the deal, the first two LMSs will be built by CSIC in China and delivered in 2019 and 2020, while the remaining two vessels will be built by BNS and delivered in 2021.
Malaysia's LMS programme is subsequently expected to expand, with BNS constructing up to 14 additional LMSs under licence to replace several classes of ship operated by the RMN as part of the service's '15-to-5 transformation programme'.
The RMN aims to increase the number of ships in service, while consolidating its fleet of 15 ship classes into five to reduce its dependence on single-mission vessels.
Under the '15 to 5' plan, the five remaining platform types - and the long-term aims for platform numbers - will be: three Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSSs), 12 Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs), 18 Littoral Mission Ships (LMSs), 18 Kedah-class (MEKO 100 RMN) guided-missile corvettes, and four diesel-electric submarines (SSKs).