Malaysia has agreed to buy an initial four littoral mission ships (LMSs) from China as part of a "comprehensive strategic partnership" between the two countries, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said on 1 November.
The deal is seen as central to the Royal Malaysian Navy's (RMN's) '15-to-5 transformation programme', which aims to consolidate the RMN's fleet of 15 ship classes - mostly obsolete and increasingly expensive to operate platforms - into just five ship classes. The programme is also set to focus on building ships locally to reduce the country's dependency on foreign expertise.
Under the programme, 18 of the LMSs, dubbed LMS68s, are expected to replace at least five classes of extant combatants and possibly some non-combatant types such as mine warfare and hydrographic vessels.
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