I would like to talk about the United Arab Emirates’ 24 boat, Ghannatha program, because they seem to have departed from the usual form for patrol boats, both in their mission and their armament, apparently heavily influenced by the Swedish and Finnish Navies. They are neither typical lightly armed patrol boats nor heavily armed missile boats. In fact they come in three “flavors,”
- Six motor gunboats capable of carrying a platoon of 40 troops
- Six boats with automated breech loading 120mm (4.7″) mortars capable of both direct or indirect fire, and
- Twelve missile boats with missiles of an intermediate size (larger than Hellfire, but much smaller than Harpoon).
These boats are aluminum construction and actually only about half the displacement of the Coast Guard’s 87 footers, giving them shallow draft.
For comparison the dimensions on these of the boats relative to the Coast Guard’s 87 footers looks like this:
- Ghannatha: 24×5.4×1.2 meters (first twelve)
- WPBs: 26.52×5.92×1.74 meters
Figures from Combat Fleets of the World, 16th edition.
The gunboat/transports and the mortar boats were originally built to a common design, 24 or 25 meters in length (depending on source). While they appear to be patrol boats and have “P” for “patrol” hull numbers, they were built to land troops and supplies (explaining the shallow draft). The gun and mortar boats are being modified as noted above. The 12 missile boats are slightly larger, the design lengthened to 26.5 meters (87 feet).
Lets talk about the weapons.
This weapon arms the six transport/gunboats. They are most like a typical patrol boat. The weapon is not that different from the 25mm Mk38s that arm Webber class except that they have an almost insanely high rate fire, in that, at 1700 rounds/min, they can fire the 90 rounds on the mount in just over three seconds, probably about the time it will take for the first round to hit the target. There is also apparently only one type of round, so it may not have been the best choice.
This system, which will arm six of the earlier boats, has a range of up to 10KM (11,000 yards) and a maximum rate of fire of 10 rounds/min. There are Laser guided munitions available.
This system will arm the twelve slightly larger new boats. The missile weighs 310 kg and is 3.85 metres long. The warhead weighs 70 kilogram (154 pound). The missile, has “an effective range in excess of 30 km, is a fire and forget, all weather sea skimming missile with inertial mid-course navigation through way points and active radar terminal homing. The Mk2/N system incorporates a mission planning function to optimize operation.”
These missiles give these boats a range almost double that of the 57mm or 76mm guns.