Espora Class (MEKO 140A16 type) corvettes are in service with the Argentine Navy. Built by AFNE at the Río Santiago shipyard, six vessels were commissioned between 1985 and 2004. The Espora Class is operated by the High Seas Fleet (Flota de Mar) of the Argentine Navy, based at the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base.
The corvettes can conduct anti-surface (ASuW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.
Espora Class corvette design features
Designed by Germany’s Blohm + Voss shipyard, Espora Class is based on the MEKO 140A16 concept. Modular designs of the Espora Class allow integration of different weapons systems and equipment according to customer’s requirements. Originally categorised as frigates, the vessels are classified as corvettes by the Argentine Navy.
Espora Class corvette has an overall length of 91.2m, beam of 11.1m and draught of 4.5m. The full load displacement of the ship is 1,790t. Each vessel can complement a crew of 100 people.
Construction of the Argentinean Espora Class corvettes
The construction of the first ship in class, Espora (41), began in October 1980 with the technical assistance from the Blohm + Voss shipyard. The container modules were built in the factory and installed on the ships in the final stages of outfitting. Espora was launched in January 1982 and commissioned in July 1985.
The keel of Rosales (42) was laid down in April 1981. The ship was launched in March 1983 and commissioned in November 1986.
Spiro (43) was laid down in October 1982, launched in June 1993 and commissioned in November 1987. Parker (44) was launched in March 1984 and commissioned in April 1990. Robinson (45) was laid down in March 1983 and launched in November 1984.
The construction of the last two ships in class was delayed by almost a decade due to budgetary concerns. Robinson was delivered in 2000 and commissioned in to the Argentine Navy in July 2001. The last ship in class, Gómez Roca (46), was laid down in June 1983 and launched in November 1984. The ship entered service with the navy in May 2004.
Weapon systems of Espora Class vessels
Espora Class is armed with four MM 38 Exocet anti-ship missiles developed by MBDA. The missile can carry a 165kg warhead to a maximum range of 40km. The main gun fitted forward is a 76mm OTO Melara DP compact gun. It can fire at a rate of 85 rounds a minute to a maximum range of 20,000m.
Air defence capability is provided by two twin 40mm Breda Bofors anti-aircraft guns. The ship is also fitted with two 12.7mm machine guns.
Two 324mm triple ILAS-3 ASW torpedo tubes mounted on the vessel can fire Whitehead A 244-S lightweight torpedoes. The fire-and-forget torpedo can strike hostile submarines located within a range of 13.5km.
Sensors, radars and countermeasures of the Argentine Navy’s ships
Signaal DA05 serves as air / surface search and helicopter control radar on the Espora Class ships.
The vessels are equipped with an identification, friend or foe (IFF) system. Fire control is provided by Signaal WM2 radar.
The Espora Class is also fitted with Decca TM 1226 navigation radar, Atlas Elektronik ASO 4 hull mounted sonar system and Signaal WM22/41 mini combat system.
The onboard countermeasures equipment includes RDC-2ABC intercept, RCM-2 jammer and DAGAIE Mk2 decoy launching system. DAGAIE can fire chaff / infra red decoys to deceive incoming anti-ship missiles.
Aircraft carrying capabilities of Espora Class corvettes
The aft helicopter deck of the Espora Class can support operations of a single helicopter. The helideck can accommodate SA-319B Alouette III or AS-555-SN Fennec helicopters. The second batch of two vessels is equipped with telescopic hangar too.
Propulsion and power of the ASuW and ASW vessels
Espora Class is powered by two Semt-Pielstick 16 PC2-5 V 400 diesel engines driving two fixed pitch propellers via two shafts. The engines generate a total power of 20,400shp. The propulsion system provides a maximum speed of 27kt and a range of 4,000nm at 18kt speed.
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