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RMN’s Western Fleet in Dire Need of New Assets

LUMUT: The Royal Malaysian Navy’s (RMN) Western Fleet here is in dire need of improving its combat capabilities.

The Western Fleet Command Headquarters’ Strategic Communication Division, in a statement said the growing challenges and responsibilities could not be accommodated if the assets available remain the same as it was 25 years ago.

“The acquisition of new assets such as Littoral Mission Ship Batch 2 (LMS B2) as announced by the Defence Ministry is urgently needed to meet the increasing operational requirements that are becoming more urgent to face the regional security landscape that has changed a lot,” the statement said last night.

The statement added a total of nine ships from the Western Fleet would be tested for readiness in the largest intra-RMN exercise namely the 27/22 KERISMAS EXERCISE this month, together with ships from the Eastern Fleet and other support assets.

“The biggest challenge expected to be faced by the Western Fleet in this exercise is of course the difficulty of operating the ageing assets.

“About three decades ago, the Navy Fleet was proud to have as many as 16 combatant ships with combat capabilities (missiles), but this number has been drastically reduced today, due to the obsolescence of weapon and other support systems.

“The last acquisition of a combat ship for the RMN Fleet was made 25 years ago (1997) which was the Admiral Class Corvette (Korvet Kelas Laksamana).

“The management of these outdated ships, in addition to the high operational and maintenance costs, also directly affects the deterrent ability of the Western Fleet to effectively monitor the security and sovereignty of the country’s waters covering an area of 187,587 square km in the Malacca Straits and the North East Waters of South China,” the statement said.

However, the statement said it was without doubt that the RMN was very proud of the ability of the Western Fleet combat ship to maintain its ability to operate combat equipment comparable to the navies of more advanced friendly countries.

“This is following the success of the 38-year-old KD LEKIR in launching an Exocet MM40 missile right on target in Hawaiian waters during the RIMPAC Exercise 2022 recently.

“However, the lack of combat ships in the RMN Fleet, such as Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and LMS B2, resulted in existing combat ships such as KD LEKIR, KD LEKIU and KD JEBAT having to be operated beyond their operational cycle period.

“The RMN fleet not only faces the challenge of operating the assets used but also the lack of suitable combat assets to defend the country’s sovereignty. The ability development does not happen overnight,” it said.

NST, Zahratulhayat Mat Arif

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