The Saudi Deputy Minister of Defence, Khaled bin Hussein al-Bayari, the head of the General Authority of Military Industries (GAMI), Ahmad al-Ohali, and the President of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, have signed a memorandum of understanding that will result in a contract throughout 2023. The signing was attended by the Saudi Chief of Staff, General Fayyad bin Hamed al-Ruwaili; the Commander of the Royal Saudi Navy, Vice Admiral Fahad bin Abdullah al-Ghofaily, and the Spanish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jorge Hevia.
The Kingdom's Minister of Defence, Khaled bin Salman, and the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, María Reyes Maroto, attended the signing ceremony of the agreement on Wednesday in Riyadh. The Saudi Arabian Government will commission Navantia and a Saudi shipyard to design and build five multi-mission combat ships for the Royal Saudi Navy. "This memorandum represents the latest effort to fulfil the vision of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister to localise our military industry and enhance and strengthen the capabilities of the Ministry of Defence, which will help provide security for our country and region," he said.
The main objective of the agreement is to increase the readiness of the Saudi Royal Naval Forces to enhance maritime security in the region, protect the strategic interests of the Saudi Kingdom and support the operational and tactical objectives of the Ministry of Defence. Under the agreement, Navantia will localise up to 100% of the shipbuilding, combat systems integration and ship maintenance in line with Saudi Vision 2030 objectives.
This is the second order from Saudi Arabia for Navantia, which is building five frigates for the Saudi Royal Navy in the Gulf of Cadiz. The third Hail will be delivered to the San Fernando shipyard on 4 December, while the fourth and fifth will be delivered to Saudi Arabia. The contract includes a localisation and technology transfer (ToT) component in Saudi Arabia. The ships will be built jointly by Navantia's shipyards in San Fernando and the Saudi Arabian shipyards.
In addition, their combat systems will be developed and supplied by the Saudi Arabian joint venture SAMINAvantia. It also focuses on the integration of new ship combat systems, systems and hardware engineering design, software development, system validation, prototyping, simulation and logistics support and programming. The contract will also include education.
"The construction of five Avante 2200 frigates represents a qualitative leap for Navantia and the Royal Navy of Saudi Arabia. The completion of this high-tech programme within the demanding timeframe is undoubtedly a decisive factor in regaining the confidence of our customers. Now we are going one step further and transferring the technology and know-how to Saudi Arabian engineers," said the president of Navantia. Ricardo Domínguez thanked the Spanish government for its support and work on the project, which guaranteed skilled jobs in the Gulf of Cadiz and represented Navantia as a high-tech company. The role of the ship designer and builder has gone one step further. The programme will support 7,500 skilled jobs in both countries.
Ahmed al-Ohali, director general of Saudi Arabia's General Directorate of Military Industry, said the memorandum facilitates the process of localising the military industry sector, realising the Kingdom's vision of localising more than 50% of its total military spending. By 2030, this move will enable the Kingdom to achieve its national priorities, which include strengthening its strategic independence, as well as the sustainable development of the national military-industrial sector, strengthening national industrial capabilities and diversifying supply chains and positioning the human image.