First sea trials for the Qatar’s new first-of-class multi-purpose corvette

By Luca Peruzzi

The first-of-class Al Zubarah (F 101) multi-purpose corvette for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces (QENF) began sea trials on 18 November out of the Fincantieri’s Muggiano shipyard, where the ship was built.

The first sea-going of the new corvette represents a major milestone in the Fincantieri’s lead team together with Leonardo, national industry and Italian Navy for the QNEF fleet renewal and empowering programme. The latter includes four multipurpose corvettes of the same class, two combatant offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and a landing platform dock (LPD) with early warning, command and control capabilities. The contract also includes an in-country, long-term in-service support and logistic support, as well as education and training packages provided by Italian Navy and industry, together with an in-country training center.

The new corvette is planned to be delivered in 2021, according to Fincantieri press statement released in February 2020 for the launch ceremony. The Italian shipbuilding group was subsequently hit by the national lockdown for the pandemic but has returned to work with production reconfiguration and a gradual ramp-up, affected by the implementation of the new safety protocols, up to the pre-COVID levels expected in the last quarter of this year.

According to Fincantieri’s open source documentation and press release, with a full load displacement of around 3,250 tonnes and a length and beam of respectively 107 and 14.7 meters, the new multi-purpose corvette will have a core crew of 98 members plus 14 additional accommodations, and is fitted with a CODAD configured propulsion system providing a maximum and cruise speed of respectively 28 and 15 knots.

The new platform features a robust combat system, provided and integrated mainly by Leonardo, which supplies provides the combat management system (CMS) and the sensors suite, to which a comprehensive EW suite provided by Elettronica –is added. As identified by EDR On-Line, Lacroix Defence and Leonardo provide respectively the decoy launchers for anti-air warfare and torpedo defence. EDR On-Line understood that the weapon package is based on the MBDA SAAM ESD family of naval surface-to-air missile systems centered on Aster 30 Block 1 munitions, two 8-cell A50 VLS, C2 and a 3D multifunction radar, identified by EDR On-Line as the Leonardo’s Grand Kronos Naval. MBDA also provides MM40 Exocet Block 3 anti-ship missiles (two 4-cell launchers) while inner layer defence is provided by a RAMSYS/Raytheon Missile Systems RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) guided missile launching system for RAM munitions, one Leonardo 76/62 Super Rapido gun mount, and two Leonardo Marlin-WS 30 mm remote controlled guns.  The corvette has a hangar and a flight deck capable to accommodate an NHIndustries NFH90 naval helicopter, as well as a self-defence underwater warfare suite.

All photos © Luca Peruzzi