The Egyptian Navy has commissioned into service the R-32 Molniya class missile corvette Ahmed Fadel, after its crew returned from training in Russia. The vessel was donated by Russia last year.
The Egyptian Ministry of Defence announced on 4 August that the vessel was commissioned at the Egyptian Navy base in Alexandria. Attending the function was the commander of the Egyptian Navy, Vice Admiral Osama Mounir Rabie, and the commander of the Leningrand Naval Base Admiral Igor Smolyak. Rabie thanked Russia for training the vessel’s Egyptian crew and said both Egypt and Russia share a similar view to security and terrorism in the Middle East.
The commissioning of the Ahmed Fadel was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the opening of the expanded Suez Canal.
The Tarantul class missile corvette R-32 (Project 1242.1 Molniya) was transferred from Russia to Egypt on 10 August 2015 in the port of Alexandria after it participated in the opening of the expanded Suez Canal on 6 August last year. It then headed back to Russia via the Bosporus later that month to train the approximately 44 Egyptian crew.
The Egyptian Ministry of Defence said the vessel is fitted with the fastest surface-to-surface missiles in the world, the supersonic Moskit (SS-N-22 ‘Sunburn’) anti-ship missile which reaches a speed of Mach 2.2 at low altitude and Mach 3 at high altitude. The P-270 Moskit is powered by ramjet engines and has a maximum range of 120 km. The R-32 can launch four of the missiles.
IHS Jane’s Navy International reports that the vessel appears to be fitted with a Positiv-E air/surface search radar, a Garpun B surface search radar, and an MR-123 fire control radar. The Egyptian MoD said the vessel’s advanced electronic warfare and combat systems were a new addition to Egypt’s armed forces. In addition to its anti-ship missiles, the corvette is armed with two AK-630 30 mm close in weapons systems and an AK-176 76 mm main gun.
The R-32 is the export variant of the Project 1241.1 (Tarantul III) class and the only Project 1242.1 vessel built to date. Construction began at Vympel shipyard in the 1980s, but the vessel was not completed until 2000. Although taken into service by the Russian Navy, the vessel saw little use as Russia looked for a foreign buyer, promoting the ship to Turkmenistan at one stage.
The vessel is 57 metres long, displaces 550 tons and has a top speed of 38 knots, achieved through the use of two gas turbines and two diesel engines.