The Spanish defence systems supplier Indra will furnish the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy’s (RSAN) five Avante 2200 class corvettes with an EW detection and identification system.

US prime Lockheed Martin, which is also involved in the development of the Saudi ships, signed a contract accepting Indra as a supplier to the programme, according to a statement from 6 February 2024.

The Avante 2200 combatant corvette is designed and built by Spanish shipbuilder Navantia. The vessel is primarily used for surveillance and protection of exclusive economic zones.

It is also suited for anti surface warfare, EW, maritime protection, intelligence gathering, search and rescue, humanitarian aid, marine pollution control, and combating smuggling, drug trafficking and illegal immigration.

Construction of the corvettes originally began at the San Fernando shipyard in Cádiz, Spain, in January 2019. Deliveries are due to be completed in 2024.

The Avante 2200 corvettes for the RSAN have a length of 118 metres. They can travel at a maximum speed of 27 knots and accommodate up to 102 people. They are equipped with MTU propulsion engines and diesel generators along with RENK gearboxes.

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The main gun fitted on the bow section is a Leonardo Super Rapid 76 millimetre (mm) machine gun system, which provides a high rate of fire against air and surface targets. The eight-cell vertical launch system is installed next to the 76mm cannon for launching surface-to-air missiles.

They will be fitted with Indra’s Rigel Electronic Support Measures system (Rigel EW suite). These systems will detect and analyse radar signals from other vessels in the area of operations to determine the level of threat they represent.

This capability is essential given the situation around the Gulf region, particularly in the Red Sea, where Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen are striking commercial shipping and warships. Given Saudi Arabia’s strained relationship with Iran, whose military modernisation poses a strategic challenge to the Kingdom’s influence in the Middle East.

Indra’s EW suite will attain critical information that enhances a ship’s survivability in hostile environments, ensuring maximum situational awareness and responsiveness and providing invaluable intelligence for the entire Saudi fleet.

To carry out this project, Indra will have the support of SAMI-AEC a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), an industry-leading technology and manufacturing enterprise specialising in the defense and aerospace, digital, energy, and security sectors in Middle East.

Indra has already supplied electronic defence systems to the Spanish Navy and the navies of Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Norway and South Korea among others.

The company had worked with some of the world’s leading shipyards, such as Navantia, Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, HD Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Holland’s Damen, Italy’s Fincantieri, and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.