Egypt is considering purchasing two corvettes from France, after taking delivery of a FREMM frigate earlier this month and expecting four Gowind corvettes in the coming years.
A French diplomat told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Saturday that there is a bid for two more corvettes, with discussions ongoing. French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Cairo on Saturday as part of an African tour.
In July 2014 Egypt signed a roughly 1 billion euro contract with French shipyard DCNS to supply four Gowind 2500 corvettes. Metal was cut for the first vessel on 16 April this year with delivery scheduled for September 2017. The remaining three corvettes will be built from next year by Alexandria Shipyards in Egypt and will be delivered between September 2018 and July 2019, reports Security and Defence Arabia.
The publication notes that the four Gowinds will be armed with an Oto Melara 76/62 Super Rapid Multi Feeding gun; two Reutech 20 mm Super Rogue turrets; eight MBDA MM 40 Block 3 Exocet anti-ship missiles; 16 MBDA VL MICA missiles and four DCNS MU90 torpedoes.
The Gowind 2500 has a total length of 102 metres, a width of 16 metres, displacement of 2600 tonnes and a maximum speed of 25 knots. Range at 15 knots is 3 700 nautical miles. Including a helicopter detachment, crew is 65 persons.
The Gowind design selected by Egypt is fitted with DCNS’ SETIS combat management system. The vessels can each carry one medium helicopter (such as the Eurocopter EC 725 Cougar).
Innovations and capabilities of special interest to ship-based naval, commando and coast guard forces include a panoramic bridge offering 360° visibility, a single enclosed mast offering 360° sensor visibility, covert deployment of fast commando boats in less than five minutes and full provision for unmanned aerial and surface vehicles (UAVs and USVs).
Egypt has over 2 000 km of coastline in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to protect. As a result it has been expanding its navy in recent years.
Whilst in Egypt, Le Drian, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egypt’s defence minister also discussed Libya. “Overall on Libya what we can say is that during the meeting we underlined our support for the mediation by [UN mediator] Bernardino Leon,” the diplomatic source told AFP.
Le Drian also talked about training for the Egyptian navy, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab’s office said.
Le Drian’s visit came after France delivered Egypt’s first three of 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets, which arrived in Egypt on 21 July. Together with a FREMM frigate, which arrived earlier in the month, they will take part in the inauguration ceremony marking the expansion of the Suez Canal on 6 August.
Le Drian is also scheduled to visit the Central African Republic, Djibouti and Congo-Brazzaville.