By Paolo Valpolini
The first edition of the World Defense Show took place just a few week before the commissioning of the first one of the Al Jubail, the first-of-class of the five ships built by Navantia of Spain within the Sarawat Corvette Project worth 1.8 billion US$, under a contract filed from the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) in mid 2019. To manage the programme a joint venture known as SAMI-Navantia Naval Industries was formed. EDR On-Line understood that the commissioning date of the Al Jubail in the Royal Saudi Naval Forces is the March 31st 2022, the other four ship following to be commissioned every 4 months, respecting the same interval that marked the launch of the five units. The Al Jubail was launched in July 2020, followed by the Al Diriyah in November 2020, the Hail in March 2021, the Jazan in July 2021, and finally the Unayzah in December 2021. The work on the two last corvettes will be completed in Saudi Arabia, the delivery of the last of class being scheduled in February 2024.
The ships of the Sarawat project are based on Navantia’s Avante 2200 corvette project, and are 104 meters long with a 14 meters beam and a 2,500 tonnes displacement. Four MTU diesel engine will allow a maximum speed of 27 knots with a 10 days endurance, the ship having a 92 complement, 10 extra berthing being available on board. The main sensor is a Hensoldt TRS-4D 3D multifunctional AESA radar, a radar-optronic Dorna firing control system provided by Navantia being also fitted, providing cues for the Leonardo Oto Super-Rapido 76/62 mm weapon and the 35 mm Millenium close-in weapon system provided by Rheinmetall Air Defense. Missile armament should include a 16-cell VL-MICA short-range air defence system and two 4-tube antiship missile launchers, possibly MM-40Exocet Block 3, both from MBDA. The flight deck can operate a 10 tonnes helicopter, the corvettes being fitted with three-tube light torpedoes launchers, the ASW sensor being a variable depth sonar.
All those sensors and weapons are managed by the Hazem battle management system developed locally by Saudi industries following a transfer of technology from Spain, the Hazem being the first 100% Saudi naval battle management system.
The Sarawat project also included training simulation and avatars, and at the SAMI-Navantia stand it was possible to see not only the model of the ship but also an example of training systems used to form the crew members of the new corvettes. According to Navantia, over 700 personnel have already been formed in Spain. The project also includes five years of Life Cycle Support, from the delivery of the first vessel, with an option for another five years.
During the World Defense Show Navantia signed two further agreements that will allow it to increase its footprint in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The first involves the Spanish company and Saudi Zamil Offshore Service Company, which agreed to boost their cooperation to provide services for RSNF new corvettes. The second was signed with Advanced Electronics Company (AEC), a SAMI company, focused on developing, designing, manufacturing, selling, and supporting military systems, a strategic partner of RSNF. This agreement aims at boosting technology development in Saudi Arabia in accordance with the Vision 2030 project.
Navantia is of course looking with interest at any new project to be launched by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, frigates and landing ship being amongst possible ones.
Photos courtesy Navantia and P. Valpolini