Russia has transferred the Tarantul class missile corvette Molniya to Egypt after it participated in the opening of the expanded Suez Canal on 6 August.
The Egyptian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 15 August said the handover of corvette R-32 (Project 12421 Molniya) was confirmation of the cooperation and strategic partnership between Egypt and Russia and within the framework of joint military cooperation between the two countries’ armed forces. The MoD added that the move was a continuation of Russian support for Egypt and in common with their efforts to support security and stability in the Middle East.
The corvette was officially handed over on 10 August in the port of Alexandria.
The MoD sad 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 P-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.
As the vessel has just been handed over, Egypt will send personnel to Russia to receive training on the type. Crew complement is 44.
The P-32 is the export variant of the Project 12411 (Tarantul III) class and the only Project 12421 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. P-32 left the Baltic in July this year and arrived in Egypt at the end of the month.
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.
Although the United States in March resumed weapons deliveries to Egypt (which included eight F-16s and M1 Abrams tank kits in July and two Ambassador class fast missile craft in June), Egypt maintains strong defence ties with Russia and hosted a joint naval exercise in June. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to hold talks in Moscow during a two-day visit later this month.
In September last year Rosoboronexport said it reached a preliminary deal for Cairo to buy arms worth $3.5 billion and Russian media several months ago reported that Egypt will sign a contract for 46 MiG-29 fighter jets with RAC MiG in the near future.