Egypt has taken delivery of the first of four Ambassador III class fast missile crafts (FMC) from the US.

Launched in October 2011, the S Ezzat vessel was transferred to the Egyptian Navy at a ceremony in Pensacola, Florida, Defense News reports.

Claimed to be suitable for protecting the Suez Canal region, the S Ezzat vessels would be used for maritime security, combating the problems of illegal immigration and smuggling specifically.

F Zekry, the second FMC is almost complete and set for delivery in December 2013.

The remaining two FMCs, the M Fahmy and A Gad, are under construction at VT Halter Marine’s Pascagoula shipyard and scheduled for delivery in 2014.

In September 2008, VT Halther Marine, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, secured an $800m construction contract for the four vessels.

The FMCs have been built under a programme managed by the US Navy and funded under the foreign military sales programme, which commenced in 2001.

"With a speed of 41k and a crew of 38, the craft can operate at sea for up to eight days."

The 62m craft weighs 700t and is powered by three MTU diesels, as well as armed with eight Harpoon block II surface-to-surface missiles.

With a speed of 41k and a crew of 38, the craft can operate at sea for up to eight days.

The craft can carry an OTO Melara 76mm super rapid gun, Mk 49 Rolling Airframe Missiles, Block 1B Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs) and two M60 machineguns.

Each year, the US provides about $1.3bn to Egypt in military aid.

Defence Technology