CAIRO — France’s Naval Group and the Egyptian Navy have finalized an agreement over the In Service Support (ISS) program, providing a five-year maintenance deal for vessels provided by the French shipbuilder.

The two parties signed an agreement on Dec. 3 during Egypt’s first Defense and Security Exhibition (EDEX 2018).

Hervé Guillou, CEO of the French shipbuilder, told Defense News his firm has “agreed on a five years contract for support and maintenance, and signed a memorandum with Admiral Ahmad Khaled, Commander in Chief of Egyptian Navy, to seal our five years cooperation plan based on supporting seven ships we have already contracted.”

The maintenance activity will further enhance the industrial cooperation program supporting the construction process of the three locally built Gowind corvettes. It will also be managed through a new Naval Group subsidiary, based in Alexandria, which will focus on developing and training a local work force.

According to Naval Group, the subsidiary — called Alexandria Naval for Maintenance and Industry (ANMI) — will enable the Egyptian Navy to obtain an increased level of performance during the whole ship’s lifecycle. It will also guarantee the optimal use of the vessels, as well as carrying out upcoming upgrades on the four Gowind corvettes, the two LHD, the FREMM and other potential vessels.

The new entity is also expected to generate direct and indirect jobs in the related industrial sectors in Egypt.

“We are establishing a company in Alexandria and investing in a new building while preparing for a joint venture that seals in fact our multi-decade relationship for the long term,” Guillou added. “Naval Group is going to hire Egyptian engineers, technicians and workers to really strengthen the capabilities, in order to better serve the navy and further enhance the relationship with Egypt.”

In July 2014, the Egyptian Ministry of Defense signed an agreement for the construction of four Gowind corvettes. The first vessel was built in Lorient, and delivered to Egypt on September 2017. The second of the series was built through technology transfer at the Alexandria Shipyard, and was launched in September 2018. Naval Group also delivered the FREMM multi-mission frigate “Tahya Misr” in August 2015. In June 2016, the shipbuilder delivered two Mistral-class Landing Helicopter Dock vessels to the Egyptian Navy.

Pressing the need to maintain Egypt’s navy, the CEO said his near-term priority is making sure “that the seven ships are sailing and with the highest level of availability. Today, four out of seven ships are operational, and considered unprecedented in terms of high technology.”

“The Egyptian navy seems really satisfied,” he added. “The operational and military capabilities of our corvettes and frigates are strictly high as they are equipped with a great combat system, extremely good anti-submarine capabilities, as well as having a homogeneous fleet which is largely in service with the French Navy, in addition to a single logistic and support system and communality in terms of the equipment.”

Eying the future, Guillou declared that the French shipbuilder’s next step is helping the Egyptian navy get a larger fleet.

“We are proposing offers to the Egyptian navy and leadership either for further Gowinds or to participate in the new French Frigate Program ‘Belhara,’ which consists of a future digital multi mission ship for the French navy,” he said.

The CEO also pushed the message that France represents a long-term strategic partner for Egypt, one who will be there reliably for the future.

“It’s not only buying goods and products, but building a long-term relationship,” he said. “France is the only European country today which is operating 365 days a year on all seas.”

Chirine Mouchantaf contributed stories on Middle East defense and wrote for SDArabia, an Arabic security and defense magazine.

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