Last Year in the Global Warship Market: Intense Competition Continues in the Middle East and Africa

3 Eylül 2019
Resim1

You can read the analysis published in the July 2019 Issue of MSI Turkish Defence Review here:

CHAPTER V

Sinan TOPUZ / sinantopuz1990@gmail.com

 

This latest offering in our series of articles detailing the warship procurement efforts of various countries over the last year takes a look at the Middle East and Africa. We will begin in the northwest and move forward by drawing a large circle.

 

Kilo-class submarines have been preferred by various countries around the world.

Kilo-class submarines have been preferred by various countries around the world.

 

Morocco

Morocco is the only African country with both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. Picking up on news in the Spanish press, the Moroccan news sources reported that Morocco had entered into negotiations with Greece regarding the purchase of a second-hand submarine, in response to Algeria’s aggressive stance and its acquisition of a Kilo-class submarine from Russia [1]. Morocco’s intention to purchase submarines was first reported by the press in 2013, with Russia and Germany identified on the list of possible sources.

The MEKO A200 design is becoming increasingly popular among the countries in the region. SAS AMATOLA (F145) of the South African Navy.

The MEKO A200 design is becoming increasingly popular among the countries in the region. SAS AMATOLA (F145) of the South African Navy.

 

Algeria

According to a SIPRI report, Algeria’s arms imports for 2014–2018 account for 56 percent of the total arms imports of the entire African continent. Algeria purchased two MEKO A200 frigates in 2016 and 2017, and it is expected to enter into talks with TKMS (Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems) for a further two frigates. It known that Algeria has also ordered six AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 maritime helicopters.

According to reports published in May 2018, Russia and Algeria inked a $180 million agreement covering the supply of four Project 22160 patrol boats. The first of the vessels, which have a displacement of 1,300 tons, was due for delivery in September 2018, although there are no open sources informing whether the delivery took place. In 2015, Algeria had also signed an agreement with Russia for the acquisition of two Project 20382 corvettes for an estimated price of between $120 million to $150 million, and the media reported that the vessels were expected to be received in 2017.

Algeria has also purchased 10 FPB 98 patrol boats from the French company Ocea, thus bringing the number of 32-meter patrol boats procured by Algeria from the same source to 38.

Last January, the Algerian Navy added two Project 636 Kilo-class submarines to its inventory, raising the number of submarines in Algeria’s inventory to six.

After commissioning its first Offshore Patrol Vessel in March 2018, the Tunisian National Navy took delivery of a second vessel in June 2018.

After commissioning its first Offshore Patrol Vessel in March 2018, the Tunisian National Navy took delivery of a second vessel in June 2018.

 

Tunisia

After the commissioning its first Offshore Patrol Vessel in March 2018, the Tunisian National Navy took delivery of the second vessel in June 2018. Built by the Damen Shipyard in Galati, Romania, the vessels have a displacement of 1,400 tons and a length of 72 meters.

The launch ceremony for Egypt's third Type 209 submarine was held in May.

The launch ceremony for Egypt’s third Type 209 submarine was held in May.

 

Egypt

Ranking third among the countries making the highest arms imports, Egypt had previously purchased FREMM class frigates and Gowind 2500 class corvettes from France as part of the modernization of the Egyptian Navy, but has recently opted in favour of German vessels. The Germany’s Security Body, in January 2019, put its stamp of approval on the sale of one MEKO A200 frigate to Egypt. While it had been reported in early April that the purchase of the ships would involve a 2 + 2 option, the latest news is that the relevant budget commission of Germany has approved the sale of a total of six ships, along with €2.3 billion in credit.

Back in 2011, Germany and Egypt had reached agreement for the sale of two baseline Type 209 submarines, and the vessels were delivered in December 2016 and August 2017. It is claimed that due to Germany’s guarantees regarding Israel’s security, there is an unofficial approval process in place that requires Israel to sign off on such sales. A subject of much discussion in the naval sector last year was the approval obtained from Israel for the sale of a second group of submarines after the first two. The Israeli Prime Minister faced various accusations stating that he had improperly handled the approval process, having failed to warn or inform senior Israeli officials about the submarine deal [2]. In May, Egypt received its third Type 209 ship from Germany, with a fourth planned for delivery. The vessel is expected to continue undergoing tests in Germany for some time.

The naming ceremony of INS Magen, one of Israel's Sa’ar 6 corvettes, was held in Germany last May.

The naming ceremony of INS Magen, one of Israel’s Sa’ar 6 corvettes, was held in Germany last May.

 

Israel

With a relatively small naval force when compared to its air and land forces, Israel has recently started to take steps to strengthen its maritime presence following the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean. The sixth Dolphin-class submarine constructed by TMKS is planned to be commissioned in 2019. It is claimed that the Israeli submarine force in the region holds a secondary nuclear strike capability, which enables a country that has been targeted by a nuclear attack to carry out a retaliatory nuclear strike from an unknown location (submarine) against the aggressor country, and thus serves as a deterrent. The main logic behind equipping submarines with nuclear weapons is to deter the potential attacker based on the possibility of a secondary nuclear strike, and to provide an element of surprise by getting as close to the target as possible prior to a launch. Of course, the fact that a submarine has secondary nuclear strike capabilities does not necessarily preclude it from carrying out pre-emptive attacks. An important feature of the German-made submarines, which feature an air-independent propulsion system, is that in addition to the 533 mm diameter standard tubes, they also posses 650 mm diameter tubes that are capable of launching cruise missiles. It was reported in February that Israel will purchase new air-independent submarines under an €2 billion contract to replace its first three Dolphin-class submarines. The new group of submarines are expected to enter into service after the decommissioning of the first group of three Dolphin submarines toward the end of the 2020s.

Staying with Israel, four Sa’ar 6 corvettes with approximately 2,000 tonnes, will be constructed by TKMS in Germany, with one-third of the total cost of ships, which is about €430 million, being covered by Germany. Although the 90-meter ships feature a silhouette similar to that of the MEKO A200 and the K130 corvettes of Germany, it is likely that Israel’s adaptation of its own weapons and sensors onto the ship will result in a number of design changes. The first of the ships, which the Israeli press refers to as “Gas Reservoir Protectors”, is expected to be delivered in the last quarter of 2019, while the others are envisaged to be delivered by 2021. The naming ceremony for the first ship was held in Germany on May 25, 2019.

 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia can be said to have a quite bloated ledger in terms of arms purchases, although certain recent developments seem likely to prevent these plans from being fully carried out. In October 2018, for instance, Germany extended the six-month arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, which was imposed following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, until September 2019. The restrictions on the sale of German weapons to Saudi Arabia has affected not only German companies, but also British and French companies, since the embargo applies to all systems that contain German-made components. This has prompted the French ambassador to Germany to comment that such developments could impact future cooperation agreements. The embargo entered into effect at a time when Germany had delivered only 15 of the total 35 patrol ships sold to Saudi Arabia for a price of €20 million per vessel. This inadvertently triggered a reaction among German trade unions, which in turn led the German government to approve the continuation of the construction works for the 20 undelivered patrol boats, and to seek other areas of use or buyers for them.

France did not miss the opportunity created by Germany’s arms export restrictions, and in February, Naval Group signed an agreement with SAMI – a Saudi company owned 51 percent by the state – for the in-country construction of submarines and frigates.

As part of the efforts aimed at increasing domestic production in Saudi Arabia, a contract was signed with Navantia in July 2018 for the construction of five ships in Saudi Arabia. According to a Navantia press release, the contract for the Avante 2200 corvettes is valued at a total €1.8 billion, and represents the largest foreign sale contract inked by Spanish shipyards to date. The contract envisages the delivery of the last ship in 2022. Just four months after the signing of this contract, news began to circulate about the establishment of a joint venture by SAMI and Navantia in September 2018 for the construction of 2,400-ton vessels.

As part of its broad framework defence agreement with the United States, Saudi Arabia will pay Lockheed Martin $450 million to plan the design and manufacture of an advanced variant of the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Under the terms of the agreement, the ships will be equipped with vertical launch systems, their speed will be in excess of 30 knots, and their operational range will be increased to 5,000 nautical miles, effectively transforming them from coastal combat vessels into offshore vessels. According to reports issued in November 2018, $282 million has already been handed over for the design and for construction materials. It has been previously reported in the press that Lockheed Martin’s Multi-Purpose Surface Combattant (MMSC) ship project had been supported with $22.72 million from the Saudis. Meanwhile in May, it was announced that Lockheed Martin will withdraw from the United States’ FFG(X) project, with the given reason being the complexity of the US Navy’s requirements, which imposed too many challenges on the ship’s design [3]. Under the FFG(X) project, the company had received approximately $15 million from the US Navy to work on the design of the LCS. Looking at the difference between Saudi Arabia’s requirements and the US Navy’s requirements may further clarify the details behind these developments.

 

Kuwait

In February 2018, the US Government approved the sale to Kuwait of 15 patrol boats with a total of value of $100 million.

ARES Shipyard will build a total of 14 ARES 85 HERCULES boats for the Royal Oman Police Coast Guard.

ARES Shipyard will build a total of 14 ARES 85 HERCULES boats for the Royal Oman Police Coast Guard.

Oman

In August 2018, ARES Shipyard signed a contract covering the sale of 14 patrol and interception boats to the Royal Oman Police Coast Guard. ARES Shipyard is expecting to sign another contract for a new project with this country by the end of 2019.

Yonca-Onuk Shipyard will deliver eight 26-meter Kaan-class ONUK MRTP24/U boats in two different configurations to Qatar Special Forces Command.

Yonca-Onuk Shipyard will deliver eight 26-meter Kaan-class ONUK MRTP24/U boats in two different configurations to Qatar Special Forces Command.

 

Qatar

As was the case with Oman, ARES Shipyard’s presence was also strongly felt in Qatar in 2018. In May 2018, the company delivered the 15th of the 17 platforms in the Patrol Boat project. In our view, the significant difference in the segment of boats, in which the company is competing, is in a more intense competition arena, while also being less notable on a political level. After making the delivery in May 2018, news began to appear in the press in October stating that negotiations between ARES Shipyard and Qatar for a new six-ship project had gained pace.

Meanwhile, Yonca-Onuk Shipyard, which has already ONUK MRTP16 and ONUK MRTP34 boats in Qatar’s inventory, is continuing its efforts to increase its presence in this market. With the contracts signed during DIMDEX 2018, the company will deliver eight 26-meter Kaan class ONUK MRTP24/U boats to Qatar Special Forces Command in two different configurations. The first contract envisages the construction of four boats in a Special Operations Craft (SOC) configuration, while the second involves the construction of four in a Fast Attack Craft (FAC) configuration.

The keel of first of the two 63-meter patrol boats, which are part of a seven-ship agreement valued at €5 billion signed between Fincantieri and Qatar, was laid in February. Signed in 2016, the project covers the construction of four corvettes, an amphibious ship and two patrol ships, all of which will be built in Italy.

The DIMDEX 2018 exhibition held in Doha on May 2018 had also brought good news for Turkey, with the Qatar Navy selecting Anadolu Shipyard for the construction of two training ships of 1,950 tons that can also operate as offshore patrol vessels when required.

 

Bahrain

Bahrain is expected to purchase its second Perry-class frigate in 2019. News sources report that a final price tag of $80 million has been agreed upon, $10 million of which will be paid to the US Treasury, while $70 million will be paid to the shipyard assigned with the modernisation of the ship.

 

UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands out as France’s second largest arms buyer in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia. In November 2017, news broke on the signing of an agreement between UAE and Naval Group for the purchase of two Gowind-class corvettes, and in February of this year, it was announced that the agreement had been amended to cover 2 + 2 ships.

The Republic of South Africa uses vessels based on the design of the Damen-made FCS 5009 to combat smuggling and illegal fishing.

The Republic of South Africa uses vessels based on the design of the Damen-made FCS 5009 to combat smuggling and illegal fishing.

 

Republic of South Africa

In February 2018, the Damen Shipyard in South Africa was assigned with the construction of three 67-meter inland patrol boats. The vessels will be built taking Damen’s FCS 5009 design as a basis, and will be used in the fight against smuggling and illegal fishing.

 

Angola

Following a statement in 2018 by the Chief of General Staff of Angola in which he said that the country’s naval power needed to be increased, the President of Angola invited German investors that same year to build warships in Angola through business partnership models. As Angola ranks 173rd  on the list of 190 countries in the global Ease of Doing Business index, the decision of German companies to enter into such agreements seems somewhat remarkable.

After previously procuring Damen 3307 patrol boats, Nigeria has ordered two more of the platforms.

After previously procuring Damen 3307 patrol boats, Nigeria has ordered two more of the platforms.

 

Nigeria

Nigeria stands as a concrete example of the economic aspect of the need for a naval force. Nigeria is a country with rich oil resources, being Africa’s largest and the world’s sixth largest producer of oil, and fishing is another important source of income. Speaking at a maritime security meeting held in August 2017, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff said that the country’s annual losses from oil smuggling and illegal fishing activities amounted to $4.4 billion and $1 billion, respectively, noting that these could be prevented by bolstering the naval forces with investments of $1.3 billion. His list of requirements included a frigate for $350 million, an offshore patrol vessel for $120 million, a mid-range patrol boat for $60 million, a landing platform dock for $350 million, a landing ship tank for $90 million, a defence boat for $10 million, a helicopter for $25 million, and last but not least, a submarine for $300 million [4]. While some may debate these figures, or the extent to which this approach will resolve the issue in question, it is nonetheless significant in that it shows how investing in one’s naval forces can potentially remedy a tangible financial loss.

In March, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Interior ordered two more Damen 3307 patrol boats, in addition to those purchased previously. The number of Damen-made patrol ships in Nigeria’s inventory will thus increase to six.

 

References

  1. Morocco Wolrd News, 19 Şubat 2019, Morocco Plans to Acquire First Submarine Ship, https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/02/266188/morocco-submarine-ship/, Erişim Tarihi: 4 Nisan 2019
  2. The Jarusalem Post, 22 Mart 2019, https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Olmert-to-News-13-Never-imagined-Germany-would-sell-submarines-to-Egypt-584261, Erişim Tarihi: 4 Nisan 2019
  3. Sam la Grone, Lockheed Martin Won’t Submit Freedom LCS Design for FFG(X) Contest, 28 Mayıs 2019, USNI, https://news.usni.org/2019/05/28/lockheed-martin-wont-submit-freedom-lcs-design-for-ffgx-contest , Erişim Tarihi: 3 Haziran 2019
  4. Oskar Nkala, Nigerian Navy wants $1.3 billion acquisition programme, 10 Ağustos 2017, Defence Web, https://www.defenceweb.co.za/sea/sea-sea/nigerian-navy-wants-13-billion-acquisition-programme/, Erişim Tarihi: 20 Nisan 2019

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