January 11, 2015:
French warship builder DCNS has released details of the Gowind class ships Egypt ordered in 2014. Egypt bought four of the 2,400 ton corvette version of Gowind for about $330 million each. These will be armed with a 76mm SRMF (Super Rapid Multi Feeding Exocet) automated cannon that can fire up to 120 rounds a minute. The gun and its turret weigh eight tons, which includes 80 rounds of ammo ready to fire. Max range of the 76mm shells is 20 kilometers. The SRMF is highly automated and linked to the ships radar and fire control system. The gun can handle aircraft, missiles and swarms of small armed boats. There will be four Exocet anti-ship missiles (180 kilometers range) and at least a dozen VL-MICA anti-aircraft missiles (15 kilometers range). There will also be four MU90 torpedoes for anti-submarine work. The 102 meter (332 foot) long ships have sonar and air-search radars. Three of the four Egyptian Gowinds will be built in Egypt and there is an option for Egypt to build two more. Work is already underway to upgrade Egyptian shipuards to handle the Gowind construction. The first (French built) Gowind will arrive in 2017.
Malaysia, the first export customer for Gowinds took a somewhat different approach. In 2012 Malaysia ordered six Gowind corvettes. As part of the deal the French builder agreed to set up production in Malaysia and to modify the Gowind design to meet Malaysian requirements. Because of this arrangement the first Gowind will not enter service until 2019, two years later than if they were built in France. Malaysia is using this deal to develop its own warship building capability.
The Malaysian Gowinds were originally to be 2,400 ton corvettes but then Malaysian modifications produced 3,000 ton frigates with a crew of 106. The Malaysian Gowinds are still armed with a 57mm gun, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and an EC-275 helicopter. It has a top speed of 48 kilometers an hour. Some of the modifications made include the turret for the 57mm gun being modified to maintain its low-radar visibility aspect in the expanded superstructure. Design modifications like this were part of the basic Gowind design, which can be applied to ships using the basic Gowind design but varying from 1,100-4,000 tons displacement. These ships have a maximum endurance (assuming mostly using cruise speed) of 21 days. Malaysia is buying the Gowinds for about $500 million each. France is supplying eight Exocet anti-ship missiles for each Gowind, along with quad launchers of VL-MICA anti-aircraft missiles and two 30mm anti-missile autocannon. The success of this deal was crucial to getting the Egyptian sale.
DCNS initially had a very difficult time finding any export customers for Gowind. The French Navy wasn't buying either. So in 2010 DCNS began building one of the 1,100 ton OPV (Offshore Patrol Vessel) Gowinds with its own money and persuaded the French Navy to provide a crew to operate the ship for 18-36 months. Thus, DCNS could pitch potential customers with the fact that at least one Gowind has been built and successfully served with the French Navy. This worked for Malaysia, as did the willingness to move construction (and assembly of some of the electronic subsystems) to Malaysia.