Morocco's Dutch Frigate Order is Confirmed

Aviation Week 2/8/2008

Morocco's order for three Sigma-type missile corvettes from Netherlands-based Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, exclusively revealed in Aviation Week & Space Technology (AW&ST) Jan. 28, is official. The Royal Moroccan Navy has signed the contract with the Damen Shipyards Group-owned naval shipbuilder on Feb. 6 in Casablanca. The customer has requested the overall contract value is not disclosed, but this is estimated to be around $1.2 billion. The contract is for the design, build and delivery by 2012 of three Sigma-class surface combatants that the Moroccans designate Multi-Mission Frigates. The program means significant new business for MBDA, as all three ships are to be equipped with the French company's Vertical Launch MICA local area air defense missile system.

The Sigma-ships will also be armed with MBDA-supplied MM40 Exocet surface-to-surface missiles and an Oto Melara 76-mm. main gun. According to a Feb. 8 statement from Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, the contract "became effective after close cooperation and final negotiations with the Royal Moroccan Navy in a relatively short period, in order to realize its plans to modernize the fleet and extend its patrol capabilities." "The choice of systems was focused on achieving interoperability, for example in the area of communications systems, to allow Morocco pursue its future intentions on joint operations and missions with ships from NATO navies," Schelde says. The Sigma-class Multi-Mission Frigates will be extended versions of the existing Sigma-type ships (four of which are being built for Indonesia) by adding one or two modules. The contract includes one 2,300-ton ship (designated Sigma 10513) of 105 m (344 ft.) in length and two 2,100-ton ships (Sigma 9813s) of 98 m (321 ft.) in length. The stretched variant will have additional facilities for command & control. It will have accommodation for 110 personnel. The other two ships will have a crew of 91.

The three combatants will feature a common, systematic arrangement including a state of the art Thales Nederland-supplied combat system with anti-air, anti-submarine, anti-surface and electronic warfare capabilities. The ships will have a twin Pielstick diesel propulsion plant, a flight deck and hangar for a medium-sized helicopter, and Eurotorp-supplied launchers for lightweight MU90 Impact torpedoes.