22 Ekim 2015 Perşembe
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia May Order Four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant MMSC Ships
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced via press release yesterday that the U.S. State Department gave its green light for a proposed sale to Saudi Arabia of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) Ships, an export variant of Lockheed Martin's Freedom class LCS currently in use with the U.S. Navy.
The four MMSC, if the order is confirmed, would be joining the Royal Saudi Navy "Eastern Fleet" based in the Persian Gulf. According to the DSCA release, the MMSC would be fitted with a 76mm main gun by Oto Melara, 10x 12.7mm machine guns, 16x Mk41 VLS cells for Raytheon's ESSM surface to air missiles, 1x SeaRAM CIWS, 2x4 Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers.
Such a weapon fit will make the MMSC quite more potent compared to the Freedom class LCS currently deployed by the U.S. Navy. Quite interestingly, the release mentions the contract also includes Nexter's Narwhal 20mm Remote Weapon Station. The configuration is likely similar to the French Navy's FREMM with two RWS fitted at the back (likely on top of the helicopter hangar) one port and one starboard.
According to the DSCA release, the proposed sale will provide Saudi Arabia with an increased ability to meet current and future maritime threats from enemy weapon systems. The Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships will provide protection-in-depth for critical industrial infrastructure and for the sea lines of communication. Saudi Arabia will use the enhanced capability to keep pace with the rapid advances in technology and to remain a viable U.S. coalition partner in the region.
According to several media reports, France is also negotiating (for the past couple years) a large naval deal with Saudi Arabia. The so-called Sawari III contract is rumored to include several FREMM frigates and Gowind corvettes for the Royal Saudi Navy "Western Fleet" based in the Red Sea.