LIMA 2023 – Abu Dhabi ShipBuilding unveils its new 92M Corvette

Paolo Valpolini

At LIMA 2023 92 was the magic number when talking ships, this being the approximate length of the Littoral Mission Ship Batch 2 for the Royal Malaysian Navy, for which numerous shipyards are bidding. Last but not least Abu Dhabi ShipBuilding, part of the EDGE Group, which unveiled at the Langkawi event its new 92M Corvette

According to Abu Dhabi ShipBuilding (ADSB), the development of that ship, the 92M Corvette, is part of the company growth and was not related strictly to the Royal Malaysian Navy requirement but rather to a general demand for heavy corvettes/light frigates that is emerging worldwide. The choice of unveiling tat project in a country where the requirement exists was however obvious.

The ship is 92 metres long has a 12.8 metres beam, and a displacement around 2,000 tonnes.

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Fully designed in the United Arab Emirates, the ship will be capable to fulfil various roles such as air defence, surface warfare, and electronic warfare. It was designed in order to incorporate subsystems of different origin, in order to closely fit customers’ requirements.

Standard propulsion will be of the CODAD type, based on four diesel engines activating two shafts with fixed pitch propellers. While MTU engines are the obvious choice, the shipyard is ready to install diesels of other manufacturers, such as Caterpillar, to suit customers’ wishes. With this propulsion maximum speed will exceed 28 knots, with a 4,500 NM autonomy at cruise speed, this being of 12-14 knots.

ADSB is however considering types of propulsion. The first is the one based on waterjets; this solution has already been proven by the company on its 70 metres ship. Although not yet proven on the bigger ship, according to ADSB sources simulations show a maximum speed of around 32 knots, while ensuring greater manoeuvrability and ease of operation. Another potential propulsion architecture is the diesel-electric one. The UAE shipyard is moving progressively in that direction, currently exploring that solution on its 17 metres ship which is currently conducting trials, the aim being to expand it to bigger ships in the future. This type of propulsion, thanks to its capability to run the ship in silent mode, might expand the role of the 90M Corvette also to antisubmarine warfare operations.

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Coming to armament, the bow will host the main gun, options being 57 or 76 mm. This is followed by the vertical launch system for surface-to-air missiles; here options considered are MBDA VL MICA and LIG Nex1 M-SAM. Should air defence not be among the customer priorities, ADSB offers a shorter range solution, installing for example MBDA’s SIMBAD-RC mounts each armed with two Mistral SAMs.

Two four-missile launchers are fitted amidship for surface-to-surface missiles, here too maximum flexibility being ensured. Over the helicopter hangar we find the secondary gun, usually a 30 mm remotely controlled mount; this can however be replaced with two 12.7 mm RCWS.

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When armed with a medium-range air defence solution the 90M Corvette will be fitted with a capable 3D radar; should the customer opt for the shorter range solution smaller radar can be installed. Maximum flexibility is also ensured for the combat management system, Leonardo’s ATHENA or Thales TACTICOS being two of them.

The flight deck at the rear is designed to host an 11-tonne class helicopter, the hangar being dimensioned for such type of aircraft. Should the customer of tor operating UAVs rather than manned aircraft, the flight deck dimensions can be reduced.

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This would allow to extend the superstructure which, combined with a smaller hangar, would provide greater space. One of the immediate consequences would be an increase in the length of the rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIB), hosted amidship under the antiship missile launchers; while in the standard configuration RHIBs are 8 metres long, in the UAV version these can go up to 12 meters.

Besides the obvious offer to the Royal Malaysian Navy, the 90M Corvette is being offered to the UAE Navy. ADSB is looking with interest at various geographical areas. One of these is Africa, and more specifically its western coast, where the Emirati shipyard already succeeded with its products, the 1 billion Euro contract from Angola for BR 71 Mk II corvettes being the main one. North Africa, as well as Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines adding to Malaysia, are also considered areas of potential interest for the new 92 metres ship proposed by Abu Dhabi ShipBuilding.

Photos by P. Valpolini