Surface Forces: Bespoke French Frigates For Malaysia

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May 4, 2013: A year ago Malaysia ordered six Gowind corvettes from France. As part of the deal the French builder agreed to set up production in Malaysia and to modify the Gowind design to meet Malaysian requirements. Because of this arrangement the first Gowind will not enter service until 2019, two years later than if they were built in France. Malaysia is using this deal to develop its own warship building capability.

The Malaysian Gowinds were originally to be 2,400 ton corvettes, but the Malaysian modifications have increased them to 3,000 ton frigates with a crew of 106. The Malaysian Gowinds are still armed with a 57mm gun, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and an EC-275 helicopter. It has a top speed of 48 kilometers an hour. Some of the modifications made include the turret for the 57mm gun being modified to maintain its low-radar visibility aspect in the expanded superstructure. Design modifications like this were part of the basic Gowind design, which can be applied to ships using the basic Gowind design but varying from 1,100-4,000 tons displacement. These ships have a maximum endurance (assuming mostly using cruise speed) of 21 days.

With the Malaysian sales, French warship builder DCNS has won its first export customer for the new Gowind concept. Malaysia is buying the Gowinds for about $500 million each. DCNS has had a very difficult time finding any export customers for Gowind. The French Navy wasn't buying either. So three years ago DCNS began building one of the 1,100 ton OPV Gowinds with its own money and persuaded the French Navy to provide a crew to operate the ship for 18-36 months. Thus, DCNS could pitch potential customers with the fact that at least one Gowind has been built and successfully served with the French Navy. This worked for Malaysia, as did the willingness to move construction (and assembly of some of the electronic subsystems) to Malaysia. France is supplying eight Exocet anti-ship missiles for each Gowind, along with quad launchers of VL-MICA anti-aircraft missiles (with a range of 20 kilometers) and two 30mm anti-missile autocannon.

 


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