The first of the class of four corvettes is to be delivered in 2021 while the first of a class of two OPVs will follow in 2022, according to Fincantieri’s press statements.
The Al Zubarah-class “air defense” corvette
With a full load displacement of about 3,250 tonnes, a length and beam of respectively 107 (99.6 between the perpendiculars) and 14.7 meters, and a depth of 8.6 meters, the new multirole Al Zubarah-class corvettes can accomplish, according to Fincantieri, different roles such as escort, support, relief, interdiction and patrol operations. Designed consistent with the RINAMIL rules, these ships, claims Fincantieri, are highly handy, have excellent nautical qualities, seaworthiness and long range. They are able to operate in open seas missions and managed protracted helicopter operations. These corvettes can accommodate a powerful combat system, which makes their operational capabilities comparable to those of medium-size frigates, adds the same shipbuilder. These vessels have a (stern) flight deck and hangar capable to accommodate an NHIndustries NH90 NFH. The latter naval model has been acquired by Qatar MoD together with the tactical transport (TTH) version of NH90 for the purpose of Qatar Emiri Air Force.
The COmbined Diesel And Diesel (CODAD)-configured propulsion package is based on four diesel engines driving through gearboxes two shafts with variable pitch propellers and conventional rudders, providing a maximum continuous and cruise speeds of respectively 28 and 15 knots. The range is above 3,500 nautical miles at cruising speed of 15 knots while mission endurance reaches 21 days. The platform and combat systems electrical power requirements are satisfied by four gensets. Released images show stabilizing fins to provide better seakeeping and a bow thruster for helping manoeuvres in restricted waters. The corvette has a 98 complement crew plus 14 accommodations for additional personnel. The new multirole corvette will be capable of operating RHIBs trough a stern and lateral launch and recovery stations.
Al Zubarah-class corvette weapons and sensor systems
The combat system is integrated by Leonardo together with a comprehensive sensor and weapon suite, which based on released official information, images, renderings and videos, is provided mainly by Leonardo, Elettronica and MBDA.
The corvette is equipped with an integrated communication system which Naval News understands is provided by Rohde and Schwarz, SATCOM and multidata links processor from Leonardo including Link 11, 16, JREAP, Link Y and fitted-for Link 22. Although not identified by Fincantieri, the Integrated Platform Management System (IMPS) is expected to be based on SEASNavy family provided by Seastema. The latter is reported also to provide the integrated navigation package which, according to images, includes Kelvin Hughes radars as also used on the Fincantieri’s Musherib-class OPVs. Although Fincantieri and Leonardo hasn’t specified details about the CMS, sensor and weapon suite, based on released information, images and renderings, the CMS is reportedly belonging to the ATHENA family, while the sensor suite includes a multifunction radar, identified by the main mast top radome dimensions and AAW missile system capabilities as the Kronos Grand Naval system of the Leonardo AESA family, together with IFF interrogator and transponder. The corvettes are also equipped with an EW suite includes RESM, CESM and RECM subsystems all provided by Elettronica, according to platform images, as well as AAW decoy launchers identified by Naval News as Lacroix Defence Sylena Mk 1 system.
The sensor suite includes two Leonardo’s SASS IRST (infra-red search and track system), a Leonardo NA-30S Mk 2 dual-band radar and EO/IR fire control system for the main gun armament as well as a Leonardo-provided two Medusa Mk4B FCS for the secondary gun systems. The multi-purpose corvettes are also equipped with a Thesan obstacle & mine avoidance sonar and towed array torpedo detection system provided by Leonardo and identified as Black Snake together with two counter-torpedo decoy launchers also from Leonardo.
According to the released images, renderings and official information, the armament package include a Leonardo 76/62 mm Super Rapido Multi-Feeding main calibre gun, two 8-cell VLS Sylver A50 for medium-range surface-to-air missile system which MBDA has indicated as the Aster 30 Block 1 munitions as part of the SAAM-ESD air-defence system. Although Fincantieri hasn’t released information or commented the AAW capabilities of the corvette, the combination of the MBDA SAAM-ESD with Aster 30 Block 1 missile system, the Leonardo Kronos AESA multifunction radar and the external early-detection information, all together can provide tactical ballistic missiles defence as similarly offered by the ground-based SAMP/T but with enhanced capabilities, Naval News understood. The inner layer defence is provided by RAM-System Mk 31 guided missile system with a 21-cell launching system for the RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) and two 30 mm Marlin-WS remotely control weapon systems. The Qatar MoD has acquired the RAM Block 2 munitions. The ASuW armament include two-quad launchers for MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles.
The Musherib-class OPV
Designed consistently with the RINAMIL for Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) rules, according to Fincantieri, the new flexible vessel is capable to fulfilling different kinds of tasks, from surveillance to combatant operations. With a full load displacement of 725 tonnes, a length and beam of respectively 63.80 (59.60 meters between the perpendiculars) and 9.20 meters, and a depth of 5.65 meters, the new OPV is equipped with a propulsion package based on four diesel engines each driving through gearboxe one shaft (for a total of four shafts) with variable pitch propellers (two to starboard and two to the left) and two conventional rudders, providing a maximum and cruise speeds of respectively 30 and 15 knots. Such a propulsion arrangement is well known and proven as similarly used by Fincantieri on the Saettia class fast patrol boats. Engine exhausts are visible on each vessel side. The range is 1,500 nautical miles at cruising speed of 15 knots while mission endurance reaches 7 days. The platform and combat systems electrical power requirements are satisfied by three gensets. The OPV has a stern area with crane for launch and recovery of a RHIB.
The OPV with a 38 personnel crew core is equipped with an heavily armed combat system which although not specifically indicated, is expected to be equipped with a smaller version of same ATHENA family’s CMS embarked on the corvette as well as for the integrated bridge system and integrated platform management system provided by Seastema and the integrated communication suite. The latter, according to Fincantieri, includes voice/data V/UHF, HF, SATCOM (dual antenna), tactical data links (11, 16, JREAP, Y and fitted-for Link 22), GMDSS A3. The integrated navigation suite includes both X- and S-band radars from Kelvin Hughes, in addition to DGPS, Echo sounder, speed, Speed-log and meteo equipment.
Musherib-class OPV weapons and sensor systems
The sensors and weapon systems suite is also common with the corvette, except for the surface-to-air missile system and the multi-function radar. It is centered on the Kronos (Naval) version of the Leonardo family of radars, as the main mast top conical radome dimensions are only compatible with the accommodation of this model. The novelty regards the specified Kronos (Naval) HP (High Power) version embarked on the OPV, which, although no further details were provided, Naval News understood being a latest generation more capable version. The sensors package also include IFF SIRM-C interrogator and transponder while the scale-down Elettronica-provided EW suite including RESM and CESM sub-systems, according to platform images, as well as the Lacroix Defence Sylena MK 1 decoy launchers. According to the official images, in addition to the NA-30S Mk2 FCS for the Leonardo Super Rapido 76/62 mm Multi-Feeding main calibre gun, the Leonardo-provided EO/IR suite also includes two SASS IRSTs and a single Medusa Mk4B FCS for the two 30 mm Marlin-WS secondary gun systems. The missile armament package also includes two four-cell VLSs for the MBDA VL MICA surface-to-air system in the bow area and two twin-launchers for the MBDA Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles in the stern area.
Naval News comments:
Naval News understands that the MBDA SAAM ESD air defence missile with ASTER 30 Block 1 munition, Leonardo AESA Grand Kronos Naval and the external early-detection information, will help Qatar protect its natural resources (gas fields) from the threat of Iran short range ballistic missiles (SRBM), specifically the Fateh-313 SRBM. An industry source told us that the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces will be the first navy in the world equipped with ASTER family missiles capable of anti-ballistic missions. The Italian and French navies are set to get the capability with the ASTER 30 Block 1NT but only in the next decade.