Second Moroccan SIGMA frigate completes sea trials


The Royal Moroccan Navy’s second SIGMA class frigate has successfully completed her sea acceptance trials ahead of delivery in February next year.

The 98 metre long frigate, built by Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in the Netherlands, left Vlissingen on November 18. During the sea acceptance trials (SAT), the vessel as well as its sensors, weapons and communications suite, were extensively tested. The tests were performed by representatives of the shipyard in close cooperation with representatives of the subcontractors, the Royal Moroccan navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy, DSNS said yesterday. During the SAT the bad weather conditions enabled the team to test the frigate for her sea keeping performances.

The first SIGMA (Ship Integrated Geometrical Modularity Approach) class frigate, Tarik ben Ziyad, was transferred to the Royal Moroccan Navy on September 10 this year.

The second frigate is scheduled to be transferred in February next year whilst the third frigate, also 98 metres long, is still under construction at the Damen yard in Vlissingen and is scheduled for sea acceptance trials in May next year.

The Royal Moroccan Navy placed an order for three SIGMA frigates in April 2008. The contract includes one SIGMA 10513 ship 105 metres long (pennant number 613), with delivery after 44 months, and two SIGMA 9813 ships 98 metres long (pennant numbers 614, 615), delivery 50 and 56 months after signature, all with commonality in the systematic arrangement including a state of the art Tacticos combat management system with antisubmarine, surface warfare, air defence and electronic warfare capabilities.

Electronic systems include a Smart-S Mk2 surveillance radar, a LIROD Mk 2 tracking radar, a Thales Kingklip sonar system, an IFF system, an integrated communication system comprising external communication system and FOCON internal communication subsystem, two target designation sights, a VIGILE ESM system, a SCORPION ECM system and an integrated navigation system.

Damen notes the vessels will be fitted with a 76 mm Oto Melara main gun, as well as MBDA Exocet surface-to-surface and MICA surface-to-air missile system, the latter using vertical launch.

The frigates will further have flight decks and hangar accommodation for a medium-sized helicopter and will be fitted with Eurotorp torpedo launchers.

In addition, Morocco has on order a French “FREMM” multipurpose frigate, scheduled for delivery next year. The current fleet includes two Floréal-class frigates and a Descubierta-class corvette in addition to some 21 patrol craft and a number of other ships and vessels. Four more patrol craft are also on order.

Morocco is in the process of upgrading its armed forces and is buying large amounts of military equipment, including 24 Hawker Beechcraft T-6C Texan II turboprop trainers to replace its Beechcraft T-34 Mentor and Cessna T-37 Tweets.

In August the Royal Moroccan Air Force took delivery of the first of 24 Block 52 F-16 Fighting Falcons from Lockheed Martin, fitted with Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 Enhanced Engine Package engines and Raytheon ACES electronic warfare suites.

In July last year Alenia Aeronautica delivered the first of four C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, which were ordered in October 2008.