US approves possible sale of Swiftships patrol boats to Egypt

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Egyptian plans to beef up internal and external defence capabilities received a shot in the arm with the United States Defence Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) noting approval of a possible foreign military sale of 28 metre patrol craft to the North African country.

A DSCA statement on 10 January reported the proposed sale of an undisclosed number of 28 metre patrol craft kits and related equipment was approved, at an estimated cost of $129 million.

In addition to the patrol craft kits and rigid hull inflatable boats, other equipment is listed as forward-looking infrared systems and computer packages; technical and logistics support services; transportation; spare parts, materials, equipment, and components and related elements of logistic and programme support.

The proposed sale, according to the DSCA statement, will improve Egypt’s capacity to sustain security operations and strengthen its internal and external defence capabilities.

“The proposed sale will assist Egypt’s maritime patrol and interdiction efforts to contribute to regional maritime security efforts in the Mediterranean and Red Sea. Egypt will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and services into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

The principal contractor will be Swiftships, which has supplied dozens of 28 metre coastal patrol craft (CPC) to Egypt over the years. For instance, in March 2023, Swiftships said it had received an order for another seven of its 28 metre (CPC), adding to an existing order for six that was contracted in 2022. The 2023 contract brought the total order to 23 boats, including those under construction. Swiftships said it would supply a complete Kit of Material, including Zodiac rigid hulled inflatable boats, forward-looking infrared systems, personal computer packages, and associated engineering technical data packages.

Some vessels are co-produced in Egypt at the Egyptian Navy’s Alexandria Shipyard and the Egyptian Ship Repair and Building Company (ESRBC).

The 28 metre CPCs reach a top speed of 22-25 knots with a range of 900 nautical miles. They are powered by two CAT diesel engines and equipped with 12.7 mm machine guns.

Through a combination of Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales contracts, Swiftships will have co-produced 42 of the 28 metre CPCs for the Egyptian Navy by the end of 2027.

“These three new contracts signed in 2022 and 2023 add 23 craft to the Egyptian Navy’s total requirement of 50 CPCs by the end of 2027. In addition, Egypt and Swiftships have started co-marketing the 28 metre CPC to North African allied partners of the US,” Swiftships said in March 2023.

Egypt is a large user of Swiftships products. The company’s relationship with the Egyptian Navy began in the early 1990s, when it delivered two 54 metre Missile Retrievers and eight 28 metre Coastal Patrol Craft under a Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) contract.