14 December 2015
By Bilal Khan
The first of four Type 209/1400 diesel-electric submarines (SSK) for the Egyptian Navy was recently launched by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany. This submarine order was confirmed by Rear Admiral Osama Ahmed el-Gundi, the Chief of the Egyptian Navy, in August 2012; the acquisition is a part of a much wider effort by Egypt to build-up and heavily modernize its naval fleet.
The TKMS Type 209/1400 is amongst the heavier of the Type 209-series, weighing in at close to 1600 tons submerged. Equipped with as many as eight 533mm torpedo tubes capable of launching heavy torpedoes (for sinking ships and submarines) as well as anti-ship missiles (AShM).
It has not been confirmed if the Egyptian Type 209/1400s will be equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP), which would enable for prolonged underwater usage without surfacing. However, given the nature of Egypt’s recent dealings, i.e. relatively low-key and impressive in terms of the technology being received, it is well within the realm of possibility.
Nonetheless, these submarines are a substantive leap from the Chinese-built Type 033-class SSKs currently in use with the Egyptian Navy.
These submarines will eventually join Egypt’s other naval acquisitions, i.e. the recent purchase of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers (originally meant for Russia), a FREMM-class multi-mission frigate and four Gowind 2500 corvettes/light frigates (with an option for two more).
This is a comprehensive set-up that offers Egypt solid offensive (via Type 209s) and expeditionary (via the Mistrals) capabilities, but heavily modernizes its general surface fleet as well (via the FREMM and Gowind).