Al Galala (FFG 1002) frigate reached Egyptian Navy base in Alexandria on 30 December 2020.
The Al Galala (FFG 1002) as was named the first of two FREMM for the Egyptian Navy then left La Spezia on 25 December and arrived in Alexandria on 30 December. A video of its arrival was published by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense on social media:
The hand-over to the Egyptian Navy was preceded by the familiarization activities/support of the personnel with the Italian Navy and industrial support, Naval News learned from local and industrial sources. No official statement has been released by the Italian Government and Italian shipbuilder.
The latest official Government confirmation of the pending sale to Egypt of two FREMM frigates built but not-yet delivered to Italian Navy came only during a Parliament hearing last July, when the Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini acknowledged the MoD approval of the potential transfer through sale by Fincantieri to Egypt Government of the two FREMM frigates and the related industrial compensation package for the Italian Navy. The export green light by Italian Government was given without publicity the following month of August.
About Egypt’s new FREMM Frigates
The two FREMM frigates today being transferred to the Egyptian Navy are the last two ships (of 10 units) built by Fincantieri but yet-delivered to the Italian Navy, respectively the 9th (ex-Spartaco Schergat) and the 10th (ex-Emilio Bianchi) Bergamini-class frigates, which were planned to be hand-over to the Italian customer in 2020 and 2021. In addition to the Al Galala (FFG 1002) (ex-Spartaco Schergat), the follow-on FREMM frigate (ex-Emilio Bianchi) is expected to being prepared for the delivery to the Egyptian MoD next year, in spring time according to some sources, after crew familiarization completion.
Al Galala (FFG 1002) weapons and sensors
The two FREMM frigates being part of the Egyptian MoD procurement programme are in the GP (General Purpose) configuration for ASuW oriented operations. According to the images taken of the first delivered Al Galala (ex-Spartaco Schergat) frigate before departing from La Spezia, the latter maintains a weapon and sensors package including the Leonardo 127/64 mm LightWeight (LW) mm gun with an automated magazine qualified to manage and fire both conventional and Vulcano long-range guided ammunition families, the 76/62 mm Super Rapido in the Strales configuration to fire the DART guided ammunition for countering both anti-ship missiles and asymmetric threats and two 25 mm gun for shorter-range self-protection.
The ship also features the MBDA SAAM-ESD (Surface Anti-Air Missile – Extended Self-Defence) Air Defence Missile system with the A50 vertical launching system including 16 cells for Aster family of surface-to-air missiles and the Leonardo MFRA (Multi-Function Radar Active) or Kronos Grand Naval 3D AESA radar installed on top the main mast together with navigation radars as well as the RASS surface/air surveillance radar, IFF circular array suite, the two NA-25X radar-EO/IR fire control systems for the artillery and the rotating SASS IRST, all provided by Leonardo.
No information was released on the guided ammunitions and missiles package procurement as part of the deal, as the Italian Navy FREMM GP frigates are equipped with Leonardo Vulcano and DART guided ammunitions as well as MBDA Aster 15/30 surface-to-air and MBDA Teseo Mk2/A anti-ship missiles. The Middle East customer however showed strong interest in the armament package according to industrial sources.
An image of Al Galala (FFG 1002) seal shows the vessel frontal silhouette with Leonardo guided ammunitions and an air unmanned vehicle, however it is not clear if this is an official Egyptian Navy seal or not. Images of the ship taken during the sea-goings also show the pedestal of anti-ship missile canisters.
The national sensitive equipment was however deleted including the EW suite’s jammers, NETTUNO-4100 RECM system and Thales Altesse CESM equipment and related antennas were disembarked together with SATCOM antennas as part of the communication suite and the non-lethal weapon package. No further external main modification is visible as it is not known if other equipment, namely belonging to the combat system, was deleted.
Large defense deal between Italy and Egypt
The contract for the transfer of the two FREMM frigates to Egypt, reportedly quoted at circa €1.2 billion, without further information on the inclusion of the training and support package, is expected to include options for two additional new-built frigates, as the programme regarded four platforms, according to industrial sources. A separate deal or part of the same contractual agreement is the supply of smaller patrol vessel to be built locally under a technological transfer package. The naval package is reported as part of a wider deal to be signed with Italian industries and including Eurofighter Typhoon combat fighters and Leonardo M-346 dual-role attack/advanced trainers, space platform and weapon systems.
Two new FREMMs for Italian Navy
As an industrial compensation required by Italian MoD and agreed with Fincantieri, the latter will build and deliver two new FREMMs through OCCAR agency to the Italian Navy as well as provide a maintenance and support package to extended the life of the in-service Maestrale-class frigates until the new FREMM will be operational, without additional costs for the Italian MoD and Navy. A new project office was established at Italian MoD with the participation of Italian Navy staff to interface with the industry, according to the same MoD representative.
Lieutenant General Ahmed Khaled, Commander of the Egyptian Navy, declared during the reception ceremony in Alexandria:
The General Command of the Armed Forces is keen to implement a comprehensive strategy to develop and modernize the Egyptian naval fleet to enhance the combat capabilities of the naval forces, explaining that the new frigate is among the most advanced units in the Egyptian naval forces with what it represents in terms of deterrence to maintain peace and provide freedom of navigation. And support the security of the Suez Canal in light of the hostilities and challenges in the region. He also indicated the political leadership’s keenness to maintain the highest levels of readiness for the armed forces as a force that achieves security and stability in the region, combats terrorism and illegal immigration and contributes to development work. It is also keen to continuously seek to develop its strong relations with allies and partners to achieve common hopes and aspirations towards achieving security and stability in the region