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Gowind, from concept to reality

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The first DCNS-designed and -built Gowind 2500 corvette recently completed its first sea trials, a big step towards ‘sea-proven’ status.

On Friday 17 March, the first Gowind 2500 corvette designed by French naval shipbuilder DCNS and built at the group’s Lorient yard completed its first sea trials off Groix on the southern coast of the Brittany peninsula with flying colours. This first round of sea trials served to check platform performance and fine-tune various systems. Quay-side outfitting focusing on the combat and platform management systems has since resumed. The ship, the Elfateh, is scheduled to be delivered to the Egyptian Navy in September. In 2016, work began on the first of three Elfateh-class vessels to be built in Alexandria under a DCNS technology transfer programme.

Designed specifically for international client navies

Seeing this first Gowind 2500 complete its first sea trials was immensely important to DCNS because, unlike any previous DCNS product, Gowind corvettes are designed specifically for international client navies. Over the last 30 years, all the surface combatants built by DCNS (apart from a number of aircraft carriers and amphibious assault vessels) have been based on frigates first developed for the French Navy. To win orders in the fast-growing corvette and OPV (offshore patrol vessel) sector, the group had to develop a new, feature-rich design.

Following intensive market research and canvassing, the first design concept studies were undertaken in the mid-2000s with successive versions incorporating more and more features. In 2011, Malaysia was the first to select a corvette design from the Gowind range. The final order was for six ships to be built by local shipbuilder Boustead Naval Shipyard with French technical assistance. Boustead laid the keel of its first Gowind in 2016. The ship is scheduled to be floated out of its construction dock in 2018. In July 2014, Egypt became DCNS’s second client for Gowind corvettes with an order for four ships.

 

March 13: DCNS’s first Gowind 2500 corvette prepares for first sea trials (© DCNS)

 

Sea proven

DCNS continues to actively promote the Gowind family. In mid-March, a variant tailored to local conditions was presented to the Colombian Navy at the Colombianmar show held at Cartagena on the country’s Caribbean coast. Following the success of the Elfateh’s sea trials, and looking forward to the ship’s forthcoming delivery, DCNS anticipates sustained interest in the Gowind range. “This is a pivotal moment for DCNS as the Gowind 2500 design developed specifically for international client navies approaches ‘sea-proven’ status. We are proud to announce that the DCNS product portfolio now includes state-of-the-art corvettes tailored to the world market’s needs,” says Eric Chaplet, head of DCNS marketing. Eric’s enthusiasm is shared by Pierre Legros, the group’s programme manager. “The success of the first Gowind 2500 sea trials demonstrates yet again our expertise in programme management and execution and in meeting our clients’ needs.”

These multi-role platforms are designed and built to naval shipbuilding standards to offer optimal survivability. The Gowind 2500 is a powerful surface combatant as it is both well equipped and heavily armed. Client navies can choose from a number of variants, each comprising multiple system options. To date, two versions have been developed to meet the needs of the first two clients.

Ten ships, two versions on order

The Gowind 2500s for Egypt are 102 metres in length for a beam of 16m and a full-load displacement of 2,600t. In addition to 16 VL Mica surface-to-air missiles and eight Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles, the Egyptian Navy’s Elfateh-class corvettes will be equipped with a 76mm main gun, two 20mm machine guns and torpedo launch tubes. Other features include a Kingklip hull-mounted sonar, a Captas 2 towed array and a flight deck and hangar accommodating a 10t helicopter. The design offers accommodation for a complement of 80, including an air wing of 15, and 15 guests. The 10-MW diesel-electric propulsion system offers a maximum speed of 25 knots and a range of 3,700nm at 15kts.

The Royal Malaysian Navy had different requirements as it wanted corvettes with a higher maximum speed and additional accommodation. As a result, the RMN version has a length overall of 110m for a full-load displacement of 3,100t while offering a top speed of 28kts and accommodation for 138. The weapon system is also different in that it features 30mm machine guns, NSM anti-ship missiles instead of Exocets, and a stealth cupola housing a 57mm main gun.

 

Artist’s impression of Gowind version for the Royal Malaysian Navy (© DCNS)

 

The Egyptian and Malaysian Gowinds will feature the Setis combat management system developed by DCNS. These two versions will also be the first warships designed from the outset for the group’s integrated modular mast. The innovative mast is, in fact, part of the larger PSIM panoramic sensors and intelligence module. The PSIM is assembled as a single block comprising the radome and most of the vessel’s sensors and communications systems along with the ops room and the associated equipment compartments. The radome houses the electronic warfare suite and a Smart-S surveillance radar using 360° panoramic scanning. Because each PSIM is assembled, outfitted and tested separately, the various mission-critical systems can be integrated, tested and fine-tuned before integration with the hull; an innovative procedure that results in significant time savings.

 

PSIM module (© MER ET MARINE / DCNS)

The Elfateh at quayside with PSIM module on quay awaiting integration with the Gowind platform (© MER ET MARINE)

 

Translated and adapted by Steve Dyson

Naval Group (ex-DCNS)