The saga of Malaysia’s troubled Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) continues. Prime contractor Bousted Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC) was a notable absentee from DSA 2022 – the only significant Malaysian defence company that did not exhibit. The LCS project is mired in technical difficulties, cost overruns, delays and corruption.
Designed as a multi-mission ship to replace the Royal Malaysian Navy’s (RMN’s) older frigates and corvettes, the first LCS was due for delivery in 2019. Bousted won the $2.2 billion contract five years earlier. But although the first ship was launched in August 2017, it has still not been delivered. Four more are part-built. Having previously threatened to cancel the project, or to provide any more funding, the government is currently reviewing a ‘recovery plan’.
The LCS displaces 3,100 tons and features a number of weapons systems. They include 30mm and 57mm guns, Kongsberg Naval Strike Missiles (NSMs), MBDA Mica SAMs, and torpedo launchers. Kelvin Hughes, Rheinmetall and Thales provide the sensors. It seems that there have been various integration problems, not helped by the multitude of subcontractors involved.
Moreover, last January the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) arrested two senior executives involved in the project. A source in MACC told local media that the pair were suspected of receiving bribes through payments to three companies abroad. Their names, and the companies, were not specified. Bousted did not respond to a request for comment.
by Chris Pocock