The French Gowind warship program began as a privately funded effort by the French shipbuilder now known as Naval Group. The prototype L’Adroit was launched in May 2011, displacing 1,650 tons fully loaded, measuring 285.5 feet long, with a 45-foot beam and 11-foot draft. The ship was delivered to France in October 2011 under a unique deal. The French Navy agreed to use the L’Adroit operationally while simultaneously employing her as a demonstration ship to help market the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for foreign sales. This effort quickly bore fruit In December 2011, as Malaysia announced plans to acquire six (later reduced to five) enlarged variants of the design.
Known locally as littoral combat ships, the enlarged variants accommodate 138 crew members and are being armed with Naval Strike Missiles for antiship operations and VL Mica surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), antisubmarine warfare torpedo tubes, a 57-mm gun forward, and two smaller 30-mm guns. At 3,100 tons, these frigate-sized warships measure 364 feet with a 52.5-foot beam. Following a series of delays, the first Malaysian-built unit was launched in August 2017 and is expected to enter service in 2026 as the Maharaja Lela class.
In 2014, Egypt became the second international customer for the program, ordering four Gowind 2500 variants known locally as the El Fateh class. At 2,600 tons, Egypt’s corvettes measure 335 feet long and have a reduced crew of 80, including a helicopter detachment. This design features diesel-electric propulsion with a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 3,700 nautical miles at 15 knots. The first Egyptian unit, the El Fateh, was built in France and delivered on 22 September 2017. The second unit, the Port Said, was built in Egypt and commissioned in 2021. Two locally built sisters, the El Moez and Luxor, have been launched and will soon enter service. They will be armed with Exocet antiship missiles, VL Mica SAMs, a 76-mm gun, two 20-mm guns, and torpedo launchers.
In 2019 the United Arab Emirates (UAE) followed suit, inking a deal for two French-built Gowind 2500s. The Bani Yas was launched in December 2021 and began sea trials in March 2023. The sister ship Al Emarat was launched in May 2022. The UAE’s ships will have weapons similar to the Egyptian models, but they may also carry a 21-round Rolling Airframe Missile launcher atop the helicopter hangar for point defense. Romania ordered four Gowind 2500 corvettes in 2019 but later canceled the order following contract disputes.
Argentina finalized a contract in 2018 to acquire four Gowind patrol ships based on the original L’Adroit model. The French Navy’s initial demonstrator prototype was overhauled and transferred on 6 December 2019 to Argentina, where she was renamed the Bouchard. Three French-built sisters, the Piedrabuena, Almirante Storni, and Bartolomé Cordero, were delivered to Argentina in 2021 and ’22. Argentina’s OPVs are armed with a 30-mm gun and two .50-caliber machine guns. All Gowind models feature an enclosed mast for radars and electronic sensors and incorporate an aft landing deck and hangar for manned or unmanned rotary wing aircraft. All designs can also transport multiple rigid-hull inflatable boats. Larger Gowind variants can be fitted with bow-mounted and towed sonar systems.