The French Navy sees no problem with a prospective sale of the Normandie multimission frigate to Egypt, and in return has asked that sister ships be delivered more quickly so it has six of the new warships delivered by 2018, Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Bernard Rogel said.
The Normandie, a 6,000-ton frigate or frégate multimission (FREMM) built by DCNS, is a key asset in an export package worth €5 billion-€6 billion (US $5.7 billion-$6.8 billion) under negotiation with Egypt.
But if the frigate does sail away under the Egyptian flag and if the French Navy does receive the sister ships under the requested schedule, the French government is likely to come under further budgetary strain.
“Just for now it’s not a done deal,” Rogel said Monday when asked about the talks with Egypt.
“Everyone is talking about it, so it’s no secret that today we are working on a request from Egypt, the purchase of a multimission frigate with a very quick delivery, for the summer 2015,” he told the defense journalists association.
Last summer, Egypt ordered four Gowind corvettes worth around €1 billion, with options for two more.
Cairo is undergoing a “deep renewal” of capability, Rogel said.
The Navy has set conditions on handing over the Normandie, namely extending the life of one of the present frigates, and the shipbuilder delivering six of the new multimission warships by 2018, he said.
“We have checked, we can extend one of our frigates,” he said. That ship would be the Montcalm, an F70 anti-submarine frigate of the Georges Leygues class, based in Toulon, southern France, and due to be decommissioned this year.
“And the second condition is that there should not be an overall impact on the Navy, which is already very extended,” he said. “The shipbuilder must be able to guarantee we will have four FREMM frigates by 2016 and six FREMM frigates by 2018. I have been seriously told that could be done,” he said.