Surface Forces: Free Samples Pay Off



February 15, 2012: French warship builder DCNS has won its first export customer for its new Gowind frigates and offshore patrol vessels (OPV). Malaysia is buying six Gowinds, for $471 million each. Malaysia will receive the first one in five years, with the other five arriving at six month intervals.

DCNS has had a very difficult time finding any export customers for Gowind. The French Navy wasn't buying either. So two years ago DCNS began building one of the OPV Gowinds with its own money and persuaded the French Navy to provide a crew to operate the ship for 18-36 months. Thus DCNS could pitch potential customers with the fact that at least one Gowind has been built and successfully served with the French Navy. This worked for Malaysia.

The basic Gowind design can be applied to ships from 1,100-4,000 tons displacement. The French Navy OPV was 1,100 ton ship with a crew of 60. It is armed with a 30mm autocannon (or a 76mm gun), two 12.7mm machine-guns, and a water cannon. There is a ramp in the rear for quick deployment of rigid hull, inflatable speedboats (for boarding missions). The ship is a stealthy design, so it is harder to pick up on radar. The electronics include a 360 degree radar and a combat system optimized for the needs of coastal patrol and anti-smuggling and anti-pirate operations. This OPV can stay at sea for three weeks at a time.

The Malaysian Gowinds are 2,400 ton corvettes armed with a 57mm gun, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and an EC-275 helicopter. It has a top speed of 48 kilometers an hour.

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