MADRID — Navantia’s fourth of five Avante 2200 corvettes will be delivered to the Saudi Royal Navy next week, as the Spanish shipbuilder expects to receive a proposal from the Kingdom by 2024 to build five new multi-mission combat ships.
Navantia was contracted by Saudi Arabia in 2018 to build five corvettes based on the Avante 2200 design and adapted to specific requirements, including the ability to operate in extreme temperatures. The program, dubbed Alsarawat, called for the units to be delivered on a fast schedule, which meant the company eventually had to produce a ship every four months.
While the first three vessels were commissioned in Spain, the final two will be inaugurated in Saudi Arabia.
After delivery, the latest vessel will undergo further testing, Agustín Alvarez, naval construction director at Navantia told Defense News on the sidelines of the FEINDEF defense exhibition here. He added that additional non-European countries had shown interest in the ships.
Roughly 500 prospective crew members from the Royal Saudi Naval Force (RSNF) are now undergoing training at a Navantia facility in San Fernando, Spain.
In recent years, the Spanish manufacturer has increasingly looked to deepen its cooperation with Riyadh. It recently created a joint venture with Saudi Arabia Military Industries (SAMI) – now known as SAMINavantia – to position its platforms in the Arab market. The two organizations developed the first Saudi naval combat management system, the Hazem.
Last year, Navantia signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the Saudi Ministry of Defense to explore an opportunity to build a number of multi-mission combat ships. Alvarez confirmed that the country is eying five of these types of vessels, and that the company expects to receive a further detailed proposal for requirements by 2024.
Under the agreement, the Spanish firm would localize up to 100 percent of naval shipbuilding, integration of combat systems and ship maintenance to contribute to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives, the monarchy’s signature political agenda. Navantia officials are currently assessing which local shipbuilders and manufacturers would best fit into a program.
Gulf countries have often looked to European shipyards to meet their naval weaponry needs: France’s Naval Group has been the choice for the United Arab Emirates, Italy’s Fincantieri is Qatar’s go-to maritime partner, and Saudi Arabia has turned to Spain’s Navantia for its largest acquisition program in the naval sector.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.