Egypt interested in buying four Gowind corvettes


Egypt is interested in buying four Gowind class corvettes from France’s DCNS shipyard in a billion euro deal, with three of the four vessels to be built in Egypt.

According to a report in La Tribune earlier this month, the ‘in principle’ deal comes after DCNS was selected as the preferred bidder over ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which offered its Meko 200, and the Dutch Damen Group, which offered its Sigma corvette. DCNS recently sold six Gowind corvettes to Malaysia.

Apparently Egyptian defence minister Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is pushing for the purchase, according to the French media company.

The Gowind vessels are 100 metres long and displace 2 400 tons. They can each carry one medium helicopter (such as the Eurocopter EC 725 Cougar) and will be fitted with a 57 mm gun, VL-MICA surface-to-air missiles, Exocet anti-ship missiles and torpedo launchers.

The Gowind class is built under a DCNS-funded programme. The first ship, L’Adroit, was made available to the French Navy in October 2011 as part of DCNS’s ambition to win a larger share of the markets for small- and medium-displacement surface ships.

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, and also needs to enforce a blockade of the Gaza strip. As a result it has been expanding its navy in recent years. In November last year Egypt received the first of four Ambassador III class fast missile craft from VT Halter in the United States. They come equipped with Harpoon Block II missiles, plus short-range RAM missiles for air defence.

La Tribune also reported that Egypt will be exercising an option to acquire two more Type 209 submarines from TKMS. The first submarine is expected in 2016 to replace the Russian Romeo class vessels delivered in the early 1980s. The paper went on to say that Egypt is close to finalising a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Russia that includes MiG-29 fighter jets.

The Russian drive to sell arms to Egypt comes after the US government suspended some of its $1.3 billion in annual military aid following the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi by the military in July 2013. The aid cuts stopped the delivery of four F-16 fighters, ten Apache helicopters, M1 Abrams tank kits, Harpoon anti-ship missiles as well as $260 million in cash.