Saudi Arabia’s first of five Avante 2200 corvettes on order has arrived in the country. The new warships are expected to boost the kingdom’s naval presence and protect its territorial waters.
The vessels, part of the multi-year Saudi Naval Expansion Program, are equipped with air defense systems, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare capabilities.
“These naval assets boost Saudi Arabia’s capacity to monitor and patrol its seas and coasts from potential asymmetric attacks launched by Iranian proxies, or potentially Iran itself,” Gulf State Analytics defense analyst Corrado Cok told Breaking Defense.
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Corvettes to Join Western Fleet
The five corvettes, measuring 104 meters (341 feet) long, are expected to join the kingdom’s Western fleet to safeguard the roughly 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles) of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastline and secure navigation in the Gulf of Aden.
The Gulf of Aden is a strategic site located directly beside Yemen, where the Iran-backed Houthis are based.
The Saudi Royal Navy has faced multiple air and sea threats from the Houthis. The rebel group has launched repeated attacks in the southern Red Sea, including a December 2020 strike in the port of Jeddah that set an oil tanker ablaze.
“On top of that, Iranian proxies in Iraq and Yemen have hit the Kingdom with drones and ballistic missiles on multiple occasions. If the confrontation with Iran escalated, Tehran and its local allies could launch missiles and drones also across the Gulf,” Cok added.
Saudi Vision 2030
While the warships are designed mainly for surveillance and control operations, the kingdom sees their arrival as an opportunity for technology transfer, potentially contributing to the Saudi Vision 2030 initiative.
As part of the technology transfer, the country created its first naval combat system, the Hazem.
Already integrated into the first Al Jubail Avante 2200 vessel, the Hazem includes a combat management system, integrated communications, combat system integration, integrated platform management, a fire control system, and a training system.