Military Capabilities

Malaysia flexes missile capabilities in South China Sea amid fresh tensions

16 July 2019

Screengrab from a video released by the Royal Malaysian Navy, showing KD Kasturi launching the MM40 Exocet anti-ship missile. Source: Royal Malaysian Navy

Key Points

  • The Royal Malaysian Navy has conducted anti-ship missile firings in the South China Sea
  • The rare drills have come against the backdrop of fresh tensions in the disputed maritime region

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) conducted a rare show of its missile capabilities near the disputed maritime region on 15 July as part of large-scale military drills known as Exercise 'Kerismas' and Exercise 'Taming Sari', against the backdrop of fresh tensions in the South China Sea.

The missiles were fired from the service's lead Kasturi (Type FS 1500)-class corvette, KD Kasturi (25) and a Super Lynx naval helicopter. Kasturi fired the Exocet MM40 Block II, while the naval helicopter launched a pair of Sea Skua anti-ship missiles.

"The success of the missile firings is proof that the RMN is able to undertake operations in the South China Sea," said Malaysian defence minister Mohamad Bin Sabu in a statement released by his office to mark the drills.

"The execution of these exercises will assure the maritime community, especially those on the eastern sea board of peninsular Malaysia, that the RMN and the Malaysian Armed Forces stand ready to uphold peace and defend their interests in the South China Sea," he emphasised.

The last known firings of anti-ship missiles by the RMN were carried out during a naval exercise in 2014.

Other RMN assets taking part in the exercises include the Perdana Menteri (Scorpene)-class diesel-electric submarine KD Abdul Rahman , the Laksamana (Assad)-class corvettes Laksamana Hang Nadim (134) and Laksamana Tan Pusmah (137), and the Lekiu-class frigate, KD Lekiu (30).

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