KYIV, Oct 7 - Ukraine signed a memorandum with the United Kingdom, securing 1.25 billion pounds ($1.61 billion) to build new military vessels for the Ukrainian Navy, the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reported Thursday.
The memorandum was signed during Zelenskiy’s state visit to the UK on October 7-8.
A source in the Ukrainian government said the funds would be in the form of a 10-year loan and allow the UK to provide 8 Barzan-class fast attack crafts to Ukraine.
The first two ships would be constructed in the UK with a technology and skills transfer to allow the remaining 6 vessels to be completed in Ukraine. The UK is apparently ready to finance other similar projects for the Ukrainian Navy.
The Barzan-class is a fast attack craft designed by British shipbuilder Vosper Thornycroft for the Qatar Emiri Navy.
A fast attack craft (FAC) is a small, fast, agile and offensive warship armed with anti-ship missiles, guns, or torpedoes. A FAC is usually operated in close proximity to land as they lack both the seakeeping and all-round defensive capabilities to survive in blue water, according to the Navy Recognition.
In 2012, a contract was awarded to Thales to upgrade the Barzan Class. This included the modernization of the radars, combat system, counter-measures, and communication systems.
The armament of the Barzan-class includes two four-cell launchers able to launch MM40 Exocet surface-to-surface sea-skimming missiles manufactured by MBDA. The missile has a range from 4 to 70 km and is fitted with a warhead of 165 kg. The ship is also armed with surface-to-air missiles Mistral which have a range of 4 km. The front deck is fitted with an Oto Melara 76mm / 62 Super Rapid naval gun which has a range of 16 km.
Although based on the Barzan platform, any new vessels would need modern weapons, sensors and combat systems – the original design is almost 30 years old.
The main value of warship building lies in the equipment fit and integration, typically 70% of the contract. The Neptune anti-ship cruise missile in development by Ukraine would likely comprise as the main armament. (rt/nr/ez)