Incubated since 2011, after the last 6 years, the Malaysian Navy has launched its first Littoral combat ships, the Maharaja Lela-class frigate.
On 24 August 2017, the lead ship of the class, Maharaja Lela, was launched, hull number 2501, and is expected to Commissioned in 2022. According to the Malaysian Navy, there will be a total of 6 ships of this class, and this is also Malaysia’s first littoral combat ship (LCS) class.
The Royal Malaysian Navy’s Maharaja Lela-class frigates are based on an enlarged version of the Gowind-class corvette, designed by DCNS of France. The ships will have a displacement of about 3,100 tons, an overall length of 111m, a beam of 16m, and a draft of 3.85m, and can carry a crew of 118. The stealth platform offers a reduced radar cross-section, and acoustic, infrared and magnetic signatures. A helipad at the rear, supports the operation of a 10-ton helicopter and a variety of drones.
The Propulsion of the Maharaja Lela class is a combined diesel and diesel propulsion system integrating four MTU diesel engines, each rated at 9,925 hp, driving two variable pitch propellers through two shafts. This will provide a maximum operational speed of 28kt and range of 5,000nmi at an economical speed of 15kt.
The Bofors 57 mm gun will be mounted in a stealth cupola similar to the ones mounted on the Swedish Visby-class corvettes. This frigate also equipped with two 30 mm cannon as a secondary gun. There will be 16 Sylver VLS allocated on the deck of the ship for the surface-to-air missile. At LIMA 2015, the manufacturer confirmed that the Naval Strike Missile had been chosen for this frigate anti-ship missile requirement, winning over the Exocet MM40 Block 3. For the anti-submarine capabilities, it is confirmed that the ships will be equipped with two J+S fixed triple torpedo launcher.
The vessel will be installed with two SharpEye Doppler radars, a Smart-S Mk2 3-D surveillance radar, and a Captas-2 low-frequency active and passive variable-depth sonar. The Smart-S radar detects and tracks small surface targets, helicopters and anti-ship missiles within a maximum range of 250km. Other systems on-board the vessel will include two Rheinmetall TMX/EO Mk2 fire-control radars and a TMEO Mk2 electro-optical tracking system. Self-defence against hostile threats will be provided by a Super Barricade decoy system and a Thales Vigile radar electronic support measures system. The lead ship of the class, 2501, the Maharaja Lela, was named after a Malaysian hero who stood up to British colonial rule in the 19th century and was executed in 1877. The new class of LCS ships is expected to help strengthen the Royal Malaysian Navy’s ability to defend the country’s sovereignty, especially amid growing maritime challenges, including threats from China in the South China Sea.