PARIS — Naval Group finds itself in direct competition with German rival ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems in Egypt’s acquisition of two more corvettes, Hervé Guillou, CEO of the French shipbuilder told Defense News.
The contest comes after Egypt in 2014 placed an order for four Naval Group Gowind corvettes worth some €1 billion, with options for two more units. Winning that two-year option has since become anything but certain for the French company.
“TKMS is not sitting on its hands,” Guillou said on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Summer Defense University event at the military staff college here.
There already is a “permanent presence of the Germans” in Egypt, which operates a fleet of German submarines, Guillou explained. Egypt attracts strong international interest, with the Chinese, Koreans, Dutch shipbuilder Damen and French electronics company Thales very active, he added.
The TKMS offer consists of two Meko 200 corvettes, worth €1 billion (US $1.2 billion) excluding weapons, business publication La Tribune reported Sept. 3. That is double the value of the two Gowind 2500 corvettes pitched by Naval Group, the report said.
A spokesman for Naval Group declined to comment on the prices.
If TKMS were to snatch the business in the end, the French interministerial committee overseeing arms export likely would approve a sale of MBDA-made Aster 15 missiles for the German ships, a French government official said.
The company, a joint venture by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo, is pursuing a “platform neutral” sales pitch, placing an emphasis on boosting foreign sales, according to an industry source.
Guillou said he attended Egypt’s launch on Sept. 6 of the first locally built Gowind, christened Port Said. “It all went well,” he said.
The Egyptian Navy sails a FREMM multimission frigate and two Mistral-class helicopter carriers. The four Gowind corvettes will complement that fleet.
The day before the Egyptian launch, Guillou was in Poland pitching three Scorpene diesel-electric submarines to the Polish authorities.
“There is political support at the highest level,” he said, referring to the French government backing. That offer competes with TKMS offering its 212CD and Saab the A26 boat.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly has made it clear arms exports are a government priority, seen as needed to support domestic industry. Future program budgets would actively factor in prospective foreign sales, pushing industry to sharpen its export drive, she said.
In a Greece, Naval Group is offering two FTI intermediate frigates, which would be built with a local partner if the French offer were accepted, Guillou said.
In Romania, the shipbuilder has offered four Gowind 2500 corvettes, which would be built with local partner Santierul Naval Constanta (SNC), Naval Group said. The first ship would be built in three years, with all four delivered within seven years.
The government could decide a short list or pick a bidder in October, but that decision could slip to the end of the year, a second industry executive said.