Nathan Gain story with additional reporting by Tayfun Ozberk and Xavier Vavasseur
The law ratified the Framework Agreement concluded on November 12, 2021, in London and provided official support to the Ukrainian side in the form of loans in the amount not exceeding 1.7 billion pounds or the equivalent in US dollars or euros.
The loans will serve to finance the acquisition of two minesweepers, their delivery and maintenance and the joint construction of 8 missile boats, delivery and installation of weapons systems on existing ships, joint construction of the frigate, as well as consulting and technical support for the construction of naval infrastructure, including the delivery of equipment.
Official support to Ukraine consists of UKEF (UK Export Finance) loans for export financing and bank loans not exceeding 750 and 950 million pounds or the equivalent in US dollars or euros, respectively.
The loan repayment period under each contract does not exceed 10 years; rate: for UKEF loans – C.I.R.R ’. (Reference Commercial Interest Rate), set by UKEF in accordance with OECD rules; for bank loans, the C.I.R.R. rate set by UKEF in accordance with OECD rules and increased by a margin not exceeding 2.5% per annum or a benchmark of the value of the bank loan in the relevant currency.
Improving Ukraine’s naval capabilities
Faced with a persistent threat from Russia, Ukraine is significantly expanding both its Navy and Coast Guard fleets.
The U.S., the U.K., and other NATO allies are aiming to help Ukraine in rebuilding its navy. In addition to sending four second-hand Island-class patrol boats, the U.S. approved the sale of up to 16 Mk VI patrol boats to provide the country a mosquito fleet. The U.K. is currently supplying Ukraine with two Sandown-class minehunters, which are being outfitted, and Babcock is building eight missile boats. There is also the planned construction of Type-31 frigates, but the project’s details remain unclear.
The Turkish RMK Marine Shipyard is building an Ada-class corvette for Ukraine, with the first (of maybe two) corvettes planned to enter service in 2023. The Ukrainian Navy will obtain ASW capability after delivery, though at a low level.
P-50U Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) for Ukraine
As Naval News previously reported, British shipbuilder Babcock will build small combatants for the Ukrainian Navy in accordance with the UK’s Ukrainian Naval Capabilities Enhancement Programme (UNCEP). A cooperation agreement was initially signed between Babcock and Ukroboronprom during DSEI 2021. While the initial report suggested that the design of these ships would be similar to Barzan-class missile boats, according to the British Navy Lookout news outlet, the new ships would be a modified version of the aging Protector design, dubbed as P50-U.
The Protector-class patrol vessel has an 85-meter length and a displacement of 1,900 tons. The P50-U boats are expected to be a 50-meter version of a similar design, displacing roughly 500 tons. Specifications of the new vessel class, such as its exact dimensions, weapons, sensors, and propulsion systems, have yet to be disclosed publicly.
While the P50-U is officially designated as a FIAC (Fast Inshore Attacking Craft), the design suggest that the vessel is actually an armed patrol boat rather than a FIAC.
According to the scale model on display at the DSEI 2021 expo, the boats would be far more armed than an OPV. The model is outfitted with 4×2 anti-ship missile canisters, likely Marte by MBDA Italy. A four-cell launcher is fitted at the stern. According to a defense industry source, this is representative of a launcher for MBDA’s Maritime Brimstone missiles. A four-cell vertical launch system (VLS) for air defense missiles is placed in the bow section. This is likely for VL Mica missiles. However, cold launched missiles could be a more viable solution for a vessel of this size and tonnage, and the cold launched CAMM missile would be a good fit.
The main gun on the ship is of a small caliber, maybe 30mm or 57mm, which is appropriate for the ship’s purpose and role. The electronic countermeasures are four 3-cell CHAFF/decoy launchers located amidships, directed to four bearings. For specific needs, an RHIB (Rigid-hull inflatable boat) is stationed in front of the CHAFF tubes.
The available data does not provide a speed scale, but the model predicts that the main propulsion system will consist of two propellers and a water jet.
Based on the scale model, the P50-U is designed for anti-surface warfare and rapid response to protect Ukraine’s exclusive economic zone. There is no anti-submarine warfare sensor or weapon.