In August Malaysia launched the first of six 3,100 ton warships built in a local shipyard. Malaysia is calling these vessels Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and they are based on French Gowind 2500 corvettes. As part of the $2.1 billion 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 LCS 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, which has already developed to the point where it could build smaller warships like OPVs (offshore patrol vessels).
The Malaysian Gowinds were originally to be 2,400 ton corvettes, but the Malaysian modifications have increased them to 3,100 ton frigate type warships with a crew of 118. The Malaysian LCSs are still armed with a 57mm gun, a 30mm autocannon (for use against small boats), anti-aircraft missiles launched from VLS (vertical launch system) built into the deck, two box launchers each with four NSM anti-ship missile (185 kilometer range), six anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and a 5.4 ton Lynx helicopter. LCS has a top speed of 48 kilometers an hour and endurance of about 12 days (assuming mostly using cruise speed of 28 kilometers an hour). Some of the modifications made include the turret for the 57mm gun being modified to maintain the 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.
With the Malaysian sale, French warship builder DCNS has won its first export customer for the new Gowind concept. Malaysia is buying the Gowinds for about $350 million each. DCNS has had a very difficult time finding any export customers for Gowind. The French Navy wasn't buying either. So in 2010 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. Egypt subsequently ordered four Gowind ships similar to the ones Malaysia is building.