Surface Forces: When Is A Gift Not A Gift

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August 26, 2016: In early August 2016 Egypt took possession of a Russian gift, a free Taruntul class corvette. These are 500 ton, 56 meter (184 foot) long vessels with a top speed of 78 kilometers an hour and the ability to stay at sea ten days at a time. The crew of fifty operates four anti-ship missiles (various models are available), four shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, one 76mm gun and two AK630 30mm multibarrel auto cannon for anti-aircraft or anti-missile defense. There Taruntul class ships first appeared in 1979 and were a 1970s design built to replace older coastal patrol and defense ships. There have been numerous upgrades to the Taruntuls since the 1980s and the one Egypt received is referred to as the Molniya class or “Taruntul IV”.

What was strange about this ship is that it was apparently delivered to Egypt in August 2015 flying an Egyptian flag but a few weeks later was seen entering the Black Sea flying a Russian class and with a Russian crew. This was curious as the ship had arrived in Egypt as a gift from Russia to Egypt. Shortly thereafter the corvette, flying Russian and Egyptian flags, appeared at a public event. But shortly thereafter it was back in Russia. What happened was that the corvette was an unexpected gift and after considering the situation the Egyptians decided they could not really care for the ship since no Egyptian sailors had been trained to operate or maintain the vessel. So the ship was sent back to Russia until Egyptian sailors and technicians could be sent to Russia for training. That has been completed and now the Taruntul arrived in Egypt a second time, manned by an Egyptian crew trained to handle it.

Russia has two Molniyas and recently sold Vietnam two of them, as well as a license to build four more in Vietnam. About 80 Taruntus have been built so far, most for export. The ship sent to Egypt entered service in 2000 and was often used as a demonstrator by Russian sales personnel.

 


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