Naval corvettes are a small class of warships used for coastal patrol and fast attack purposes. They are generally faster than larger warships, but are still often armed with the latest weaponry and electronic warfare systems. What are the top ten Naval corvettes in terms of speed, and how do they differ?
1. Skjold class – 60kn
The Norwegian-built Skjold class of naval corvettes is a range of large, superfast attack craft in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy. The Skjold class has been known to reach speeds of up to 60kn in calm sea, using four gas turbines to propel the 47.5m long lightweight attack craft.
Armed with eight Kongsberg anti-ship missiles (ASMs) equipped with GPS midcourse and a dual-band imaging infrared seeker guidance, the Skjold class also holds an Otobreda Super Rapid multi-role cannon, 2 Browning M2HB heavy machine guns, a Mistral surface-to-air missile, and works with the Protector remote weapon station. It is also protected by the CS-3701 electronic warfare (EW) suite.
2. Taruntul class (Project 1241) – 42kn
Second on the list of top ten naval corvettes is the Project 1241 class, nicknamed Tarantul by NATO, a 56m long missile corvette developed originally for the Soviet Union Navy, which has since been in service with 13 navies.
Reaching speeds of 42kn, the Tarantul can be armed with four P-14 or Moskit ASMs, or 16 smaller Kh-35 turbojet subsonic cruise missiles. Variants of the Tarantul class use either the AK-630 six-barrelled rotary cannon or the Kashtan Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) with air defence capabilities.
3. Kılıç class – 40kn
A Turkish naval corvette, the Kılıç class is a fast attack craft designed by German shipbuilder Lürssen. The ship has unique features, having been specifically designed to have a low radar cross-section, and is also suitable for open seas and bad weather conditions. While it can reach speeds of around 40kn in good conditions, at Sea State 5 (rough conditions) the Kılıç class can still cruise at 24kn.
The 62.4m long Kılıç class supports eight all-weather Harpoon ASMs, an Oto Melara and a dual AA naval gun, as well as two 7.62mm calibre machine guns. For electronic protection, this corvette class uses a Cutlass 1C intercept electronic warfare support measure and BAE Systems’ SRBOC short-range mortar decoy system to foil enemy ASMs.
4. Laksamana class – 36kn
This class of corvettes, developed by Italian firm Fincantieri, was originally designed for use by the Iraqi Navy and called the Assad class. However, the ships were repurposed for the Royal Malaysian Navy and subsequently delivered in 1999.
The 62.3m long corvette can travel at dash speeds of 36kn, and is capable of holding six MBDA-made Otomat Mk2 missile launchers, two triple Eurotorp B515 torpedo launchers for anti-submarine warfare, as well as the Oto Melara naval gun and DARDO CIWS. It also hosts a suite of sensors and EW capabilities including the NS-3 radar interceptor and TQN-2 jammer.
5. Veer class – 36kn
The Indian Navy’s Veer-class corvettes are modifications of the aforementioned Tarantul class. Together, ten Veer-class ships formed part of India’s 22nd Killer Missile Vessel Squadron.
The corvettes, which are 52.1m in length, can travel at speeds of 36kn, and armed with four P-15 Termit missiles or 15 Kh-35s cruise ASMs. They also make use of a quad Grail launcher for air defence missiles, and 60-cal main gun or 62-cal Oto Melara super rapid gun, as well as two AK-630s.
6. Visby class – 35kn+
The latest generation of corvettes developed for the Swedish Navy, the Visby class’s design prioritises low visibility, with a low radar cross-section and infrared signature. Because of this, it is internationally recognised as one of the best stealth ships, despite being one of the larger ships on the list at 72.7m long.
The Visby class reaches speeds exceeding 35kn and comes fully armed with one Bofors 57mm Mk3 naval gun developed by BAE Systems, eight Mk2 ASMs, 4 torpedo launchers, as well as mines and depth charges. It also incorporates Saab’s 9LV combat management system, Sea Giraffe AMB 3D PESA naval radar and the Ceros 200 stealth fire control radar system.
7. Sa’ar 5 class – 33kn
The Sa’ar 5 class is an Israeli naval corvette developed by US shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries. It is currently the largest surface ship in the Israeli Navy, but is classed a corvette due to its small size – measuring 85.6m, which is still large for a corvette.
The Sa’ar 5 class is capable of speeds up to 33kn when employing its gas turbine propulsion system. It is armed with anti-air capability of 32-cell vertical launch systems, including Barak-1 missiles and two four-cell Boeing Harpoon missile launchers. Guns include Raytheon and General Dynmics’ MK15 Phalanx CIWS.
The Sa’ar 5 class is currently being replaced by the new Sa’ar 6 class.
8. Pohang class – 32kn
The Republic of Korea Navy’s Pohang-class corvettes, built by a consortium of South Korean shipbuilding companies, are a general purpose corvette used for anti-surface (ASUW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Of the 24 built, 18 are still in active services across five navies worldwide.
The 88.3m long corvette reaches a maximum speed of 32kn depending on the sea state. The four ASUW variants were armed with two MM-38 Exocet ASMs, and Oto Melara compact cannon, and two Emerlec cannons. The ASW variant also includes a multitude of cannons, Harpoon missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.
9. Nanuchka class (Project 1234) – 32kn
Another Soviet design, the Nanuchka class is the name given to a series of four Project 1234 Ovod small missile ships. On average, Nanuchka-class corvettes reach a speed of around 32kn and measure up at a length of 59.3m.
They are typically armed with six Russian medium-range SS-N-9 ASMs, while Nanuchka I has a twin AK-257 gun and the Nanuchka III comes with one AK-176 gun and an additional AK-630 gun.
Currently, variants I, III and IV are in service with the Russian Navy while the Nanuchka II class is in service with the Algerian Navy.
10. Badr class – 30kn
Last but not least on the list of top ten naval corvettes, the Badr class comprises four vessels in service with the Royal Saudi Navy. The 75m long corvettes travel at speeds of 30kn and are armed with eight Boeing Harpoon launchers, an Oto Malera Mk 75 naval gun, a six-barrel Vulcan Phalanx CIWS, an Mk19 grenade launcher, and six Mk32 torpedo tubes.
It also uses Raytheon’s AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare system to protect against electronic attack measures.