Malaysia Submarine Import and Export Behavior

KD Tun Razak Scorpène-class submarine, Sources: WikiMedia Commons

Malaysia had planned to acquire underwater warfare capabilities since 1985, which involved visits by Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) officers to Australia, France, Germany, Pakistan, Sweden and Turkey to gain experience in submarine operations. Partly owing to financial constraints, the acquisition plans stalled until 2001, when RMN called for bids from various international companies. Three companies expressed interest: French Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS), the German-Turkish Submarine Corporation (led by Germany's Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft and Ferrostaal), and Netherlands RDM Submarines. [1]

Finally, Scorpènes, offered by DCNS, emerged as winner, and RMN signed for two boats in mid-2003. [2] As part of the submarine induction process, Malaysia also negotiated for an ex-French Agosta 70 - Quessant - to be based in Toulon for RMN crew training and instruction. Additionally, it was agreed that 156 RMN personnel were to receive training from NAVFCO for four years beginning in early 2005. [3]

The RMN Scorpènes were jointly produced by DCNS and Spanish Navantia; the first boat was assembled in Cherbourg in France, and the second at Izar's Cartagena shipyard in Spain. [4] The first boat, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was commissioned in January 2009 and the second boat, Tun Abdul Razak, in November 2009. During user trials in the waters of Southeast Asia, Tunku Abdul Rahman encountered defects in its forward seawater cooling system (in December 2009) and high-pressure air-blowing system (in January 2010); however, trials were subsequently completed by March 2010 with the rectification of defects by DCNS. [5]

In June 2010, the Malaysian Defence Ministry noted that the government had spent RM 6.7 billion (1.34 billion euros) on the purchase of the two submarines. The Defence Ministry also noted that the cost included the purchase of 40 SM-39 Block 2 torpedoes from France and 30 Black Shark torpedoes from Italy. [6]

Although Malaysia has not announced new plans for further submarine acquisition, in 2002 the RMN chief reportedly said that Malaysia requires at least ten submarines to "beef up its defense and protect its national maritime resources from intrusion-four of the submarines are needed to patrol the coastline, four as stand-by and two for training purposes." [7]

[1] Richard Scott, "Malaysia acquires Scorpène submarines," Jane's Navy International, 1 July 2002.
[2] "WORLD NAVIES, Malaysia," Jane's World Navies, 27 February 2013.
[3] NAVFCO is the overseas training and facilitation branch of France's Défense Conseil International. The RMN personnel trained at a dedicated facility in Brest. "Malaysia Submarine forces," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 30 March 2010.
[4] "Malaysia seals US$972 maiden deal to buy submarines," Agence France-Presse, 5 June 2002,
[5] "Scorpene class," Jane's Fighting Ships, 1 March 2010.
[6] Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, "Government says spent RM6.7b on Scorpene submarines," The Malaysian Insider, 22 June 2010,
[7] Kamarul Yunus, "Malaysia, DCN set to sign additional agreement," Business Times, 25 June 2002; in LexisNexis Academic.

July 29, 2013
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The submarine proliferation resource collection is designed to highlight global trends in the sale and acquisition of diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. It is structured on a country-by-country basis, with each country profile consisting of information on capabilities, imports and exports.

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