The commander-in-chief of the Egyptian navy, Vice Admiral Ahmed Khaled, raised the Egyptian flag aboard a French-made Gowind 2500 Corvette named Al-Fateh on September 22, 2017.
"We witness today a historic moment in the history of our naval force, and a new episode in developing it, both in quantity and quality, so that it will be among the ranks of the top naval forces in the world," Vice Admiral Khaled said in the ceremony. He added that the Corvette would help "better achieve Egypt’s total control of its coasts as well as its regional and commercial waters and it will enable the Egyptian naval forces to execute its effective role in the region."
Admiral Christophe Prazuc, the Chief of the French Navy, expressed his pride in handing over the Gowind 2500 Corvette to the Egyptian Navy. Prazuck stressed that there are many common points between the Egyptian Navy and its French counterpart. He added that the Egyptian naval forces are constantly progressing and there are a lot of investments, cooperation, and efforts exerted by the Egyptian Navy. "This is not the first time there is a great history and fruitful cooperation between us," Prazuck said.
A number of Egyptian naval personnel have received training, both in France and Egypt, on the operation and maintenance of the Corvette.
Kamal Amer, Chairman of the National Defense and Security Committee of the parliament, said that the Al-Fateh is the first of four corvettes currently being manufactured to reinforce the Egyptian force. He stressed that this deal represents a significant leap for the combat efficiency of the Egyptian naval forces.
In 2014, Egypt contracted with the French company DCNS to buy four corvettes, three of which will be constructed in Alexandria Shipyard. The value of the deal is estimated between 300 and 400 million euros. On April 16, 2015, DCNS announced that it has started to construct the first Gowind 2500 Corvette for Egypt in the naval shipyard of Lorient. The first Gowind 2500 corvette, Al-Fateh, began sea trials on March 13, 2017.
The head of DCNS said that his company manufactured the Corvette in record time to meet the deadlines set by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. According to the head of Naval Group, El-Sisi wanted the Egyptian navy to have the latest technologies as quickly as possible. DCNS's head added that they worked speedily on the Corvette as "their duty towards an ally."
The four vessels are scheduled to be delivered to Egypt by 2019, the company said in a statement on its official website. The contract between the Egyptian Navy and DCNS includes an option for two more ships.
The Gowind 2500 Corvette
Gowind 2500 Corvette is 102 meters in length and 16 meters in width. Its speed is 25 knots with a range of 3,700 nautical miles at 15 knots. The steel monohull vessel incorporates the SETIS multi-mission combat management system already in use by the FREMM frigates. It can carry air-defense and anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. The ship can execute all naval combat duties, such as destroying submarines, launching rockets, and guarding and protecting ground forces on coastlines.
Malaysia was the first country to buy the French corvettes. The Malaysian Navy has ordered six Gowind corvettes, which will be built locally, with technical assistance from DCNS.The first Malaysian vessel is being finalized and the keel laying of the second vessel was completed at the Boustead Naval Shipyard in Lumut Malaysia on February 28, 2017.
Egypt has one of the biggest naval forces in the Middle East, and the current arm deals will help it upgrade and modernize its military capabilities. Vice Admiral Khaled described the Gowind 2500 Corvette as one of the most advanced in the world and the first of its kind in Egypt, as well as the Middle East region. He added that Egypt’s navy had spared no efforts in advancing its combat capabilities over the past four decades, thereby obtaining some of the most advanced weaponry available. This includes the FREMM-multipurpose French frigate, Tahya Misr, and the Mistral helicopter carriers, along with advanced submarines and rocket launchers, he said.
The Gowind deal is including "technology transfer" and the second Gowind corvette is currently being manufactured by Alexandria’s Al-Tersana Company, with technical assistance from DCNS, using Egyptian labor.
Egypt is France’s number one weapons customer. In just 18 months, Egypt ordered roughly US $8 billion worth of French weapons and services. During the visit of President Hollande (2016), Egypt signed 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) worth of deals with France to purchase warships and a military satellite.
Throughout most of its history, Egypt was a regional power. President El-Sisi wants to return Egypt to a leading position. This is manifested in his investments in the Armed Forces and mega-projects like the new Suez Canal, Dabaa nuclear plant, and the new capital.
As a leading regional power, Egypt is building its military capabilities as a response to the other regional military powers like Israel, Iran and Turkey, and not just as a direct response to the current threats to its national security.