The first of class corvette Al Zubarah is named after a ruined and ancient fort located on the north western coast of the Qatar peninsula in the Al Shamal municipality, about 105 km from the Qatari capital of Doha.
The vessel, which will be delivered in 2021, is designed consistent with the RINAMIL rules. She will be a flexible type of ship capable of fulfilling a range of tasks, from surveillance with sea rescue capabilities to being a fighting vessel, being about 107 meters long, 14.70 meters wide, with a maximum speed of 28 knots. The unit will be provided with a combined diesel and diesel plant (CODAD) and will be able to accommodate 112 persons on board.
Furthermore, the vessel will be capable of operating high-speed boats such as RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) through lateral cranes or a hauling ramp located at the far stern. The flight deck and hangar will be sized for hosting one NH90 helicopter.
About Doha-class Corvette
The Doha-class corvettes will primary serve for air defense missions and therefore will have a very substantial firepower for their size. They will be fitted with:
- 16 Aster 30 Block 1NT surface-to-air missiles by MBDA,
- 8 Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles by MBDA,
- a 76mm main gun and 2 Marlins remote weapons stations by Leonardo,
- torpedo tubes
- a RAM launcher (21 missiles) by Raytheon
- 4 Sylena Mk2 decoy launchers by Lacroix
It has to be noted that the Aster 30 Block 1NT can intercept ballistic missiles up to a distance of 600 kilometers. With this BMD capacity, Qatar aims to protect its strategic maritime infrastructure such as the offshore oil and gas fields from the Iranian threat. The Doha-class corvettes will be the first ships to ever get this missile system.
Leonardo is responsible for the integrated supply of the new naval units’ combat system (Athena), main radar system (Kronos) and on-board sensors and defence sub-systems, including the anti-torpedo protection system and the Thesan mine avoidance sonar.
The Aster will be guided by the Kronos radar. Because of the relatively small size of the corvettes, early warning / long-range threat detection missions will be taken care of by shore-based radars as well as a larger, L band radar fitted aboard the air defense LPD also procured by Qatar as part of the gobal contract with Fincantieri.
The contract four corvettes are part of a global order worth 5 billion euros (including 1 billion for missiles) announced in August 2017. In addition to the corvettes, the contract includes the construction of two OPV/FACM type ships based on the Falaj 2-class (selected by the UAE Navy) and the air defense LPD (fitted with long range radar and ASTER 30 SAM) based on the “BDSL Kalaat Beni Abbes” (143 meters long, 9,000 tonnes displacement), which was delivered in 2015 by Fincantieri to Algeria.
First steel cutting of the “Al Zubarah” took place in November 2018 while delivery of the first of class vessel is expected in 2021. All 7 vessels, four air defense corvettes, two OPVs and one amphibious vessel (LPD – Landing Platform Dock acting as mobile radar station for the corvettes) will be produced in Italy by 2024. Fincantieri will then provide support to Qatar over a period of 10 years after their commissioning.