On 2 July the Polish patrol ship Slazak was relaunched at a shipyard in Gdynia following nearly 15 years of construction. Laid down in the fall of 2001, she was initially planned as the first of six heavily armed MEKO-A-100-class frigates under the Gawron class. The 2,000-ton vessel was first launched in September 2009, but funding was halted soon thereafter, and plans to build additional ships were called off. In 2013 the Slazak’s planned armament fit was downgraded, and the 312-foot vessel was converted to operate as a patrol ship. She is now expected to enter service in 2016, at which time she will have a top speed of more than 30 knots and a range of over4,000 miles. She is fitted with a helicopter landing deck, but no hangar, and will be armed with a 76-mm gun and small arms.
On 27 June sailors paid a fond farewell to an important and long-serving combat and support aircraft as the EA-6B Prowler electronic-warfare and countermeasures aircraft was retired from U.S. Navy service. Based on the A-6 Intruder all-weather attack jet and the earlier EA-6A jamming aircraft, the first Prowler flew in 1968 and deliveries began to the Navy in January 1971. A total of 170 EA-6B Prowlers were eventually built through the early 1990s for service with the Navy and Marine Corps. Numerous block improvements and modernizations to the airframe and its many electronics and jamming components, including the ALQ-99, were able to keep this aircraft on the cutting edge of military technology. The EA-6Bs have been replaced in Navy service by the E/A-18G Growler, but Prowlers still remain operational with four squadrons in the U.S. Marine Corps, which is expected to maintain them until 2019.
In late June Egypt received the French-built Aquitaine-class frigate Tahya Misr, and the warship sailed for her new home port of Alexandria, Egypt, on 22 July. Originally built for France as part of the FREMM (Frégate Européenne Multi-Mission) program, the vessel was launched in 2012 under the name Normandie. Earlier this year Egypt announced its desire for rapid acquisition of one of the new warships, and delivery of the unfinished Normandie was diverted from French service; the frigate was subsequently renamed the Tahya Misr and readied for export. The DCNS shipyard contract also includes five years of training and support, and France began training Egyptian frigate sailors in March. This is the second export success for the Franco-Italian FREMM program, which also includes warships serving in the French, Italian, and Moroccan navies. The 466-foot frigate is armed with Aster and Exocet missiles, has a top speed of 27 knots, a displacement of 6,000 tons, and carries a crew of 108.
Mr. Wertheim, a defense consultant in the Washington, D.C., area, is the author of the new 16th edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, available from the Naval Institute Press (see www.usni.org).