“Spain seen joining Greece, France, Italy on European Patrol Corvette program” –DefenseNews

Defense News reports that it appears likely that four European countries and perhaps more will join forces to build a class of 3000 ton patrol vessels.

The two firms (Italy’s Fincantieri and France’s Naval Group–Chuck) are hoping to match Italian and French navy requirements with a jointly built, modular vessel that can handle patrol and surveillance missions as well as taking second-tier roles in anti-submarine and anti-surface missions.

The vessels these ships are to replace, perform their respective countries offshore coast guard missions.

The project is one of many being supported by an EU initiative called “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (PESCO) that is to be supported by the entire EU community. It sounds like this may be heading toward a shipbuilding version of Airbus.

According to this report, Bulgaria and Portugal are also joining the program.

French Navy Floreal class surveillance Frigate, FS Ventose

The French Navy intends to replace the six ships of the Floreal class. These “surveillance frigates” are scattered among France’s overseas territories. They have no ASW capability, but are equipped with a pair of Exocet anti-ship missiles (ASCM).

Italy expects to retire the ten ships of the Cassiopea, Sirio, and Commandanti classes 2022-2025. These ships are all about 1500 tons. They have neither ASW equipment or ASCMs.

The Greeks don’t seem to have any ships in this class, but may now see a need.

Spanish Navy Meteoro class OPV Tornado. Photo from Sergio Acosta, via Wikipedia

I was a bit surprised that Spain would join in this effort. They have their own OPV designs supplied by Navantia, and they have been doing pretty well. They have been produced a class of six referred to as BAM, and were expected to procure six more of the same class. In addition they have produced corvettes for Venezuela and have been contracted to produce five corvettes for Saudi Arabia. Navantia had teamed with Bath Iron Works to provide BIW’s proposal for the USCG OPC program, and they are on BIW’s FFG(X)  team. It may be that they feel they have to join now or risk being excluded in the future.

If these ships come equipped as indicated in the diagram at the head of the article, they will be significantly better armed than the ships they replace. They will be a bit larger than the French ships being replaced and more than twice as large as the Italian ships being replaced.

It appears they will be very close in size to the Coast Guard’s Argus Class OPCs, being the same length (110 meters or 360 feet) and only slightly narrower.

16 thoughts on ““Spain seen joining Greece, France, Italy on European Patrol Corvette program” –DefenseNews

  1. The US also sees the need for a smaller platform than FFGX. The US Navy though wants to do it with USVs which is definitely the more technically risky approach.

    Congress is pushing back as the USVs, working as unmanned distributed missile magazines and sensors would be of no real use in missions other than war.

    Maybe the solution is to give the Navy their unmanned missile vessels but to also increase the size of the Coast Guard.

    The Coast Guard, as most on this board would agree is very good as drug interdiction, disaster relief, detering pirates, showing the flag, … Just the type of things the Navy’s unmanned platforms would be almost useless at.

  2. The key item of note here is the forward VLS cells for SAM missiles. This alone makes them much more capable than the Argus-class. One could argue that all USCG NSC and OPC should have at least an 8-cell Mk41 VLS system installed, even if they were not fitted with missiles on a regular basis. The cost in hardware and control systems is negligible in relation to the overall cost of the vessel.

    • From what I gather these VLS are smaller than the Mk41. France and several other countries have surface to air missiles based on medium range air to air missiles that are smaller than Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.

  3. greece is looking to replace 9 S class frigate. The are planing to buy a very well armed version.
    Propably something like the new DOHA class corvette.

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