By Constantin Radut
According to close sources, the decision to designate the builder of the 4 Corvettes for the Romanian Naval Forces will not be taken in January. With the acquisition of the four new ships, it is also planned to modernize the two Type 22 frigates from the Romanian Naval Forces. The total spending that the Government will make in Bucharest will be 1.6 billion euros.
As I mentioned in previous articles, the corvettes deal began under bad auspices.
In 2016, the technocrat government decided to direct the construction of the corvettes of a Dutch company, Damen Group. In 2017, the leftist government, Social Democrat, canceled the government’s decision in 2016.
In 2018, an international bidding procedure was launched. Of the three bids, the French Naval Group was selected. The French had the best financial offer. There followed Damen and the Italians from Fincantieri.
The adjudication of the tender was decided on 15 November 2018.
But the decision was postponed.
The Minister of National Defense was replaced.
The new Minister of Defense emphasized that the final decision for the construction of corvettes will be taken by mid-January 2019. The decision will be within the legal deadline.
The postponement of the decision to designate the winner of the corvette builder raises waves of suspicions and accusations that the French media brought about Romania.He appealed to the well-known “country corrupted”, “country dominated by a single political character”, etc.
The most prominent was a journalist from the weekly La Tribune.
Neither AFP has abstained. AFP reiterated the image that Romania is a second-hand country. Even when Romania took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 January 2019.
The behaviour and the attitude of the French media strengthened the Romanians’ mistrust in France’s “friendship” to Romania.
In terms of corvettes deal, new elements appeared in the last days of December 2018 and January 1, 2019.
On the first day of 2019, Minister of National Defense Gabriel Les told a TV channel that “the Ministry of Defense wants the maintenance of the weapons purchased through the supply program to be done in Romania. According to Les, maintenance is very expensive and the endowment has to be done “as smoothly as possible”.
Three days before, the PSD and Liviu Dragnea chairman of the ruling party declared at another channel: “Here (in the procedure for the acquisition of corvettes – e.n.) I think it was wrong by the previous Minister of Defense or by the Government. This type of contract of such value, of such strategic importance, should be done by government-to-government agreement and the strategic decision with which country to go. We do not buy bicycles, we buy corvettes … very important for Romania’s defense system, “Dragnea said.
Liviu Dragnea’s message is clear: the French can not win by media pressure. Moreover, the speculation in La Tribune, such as the French Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, will call Bucharest to make the light in this case was not to the liking of the authorities in Bucharest.
And another important issue that the French did not consider. For a large business such as corvette, G2G discussions are absolutely necessary. But the French did not talk to the Government in Bucharest. They “arranged” with the President of Romania.
In Romania, the president has no attributions in the spending of the public money and can not influence the Government.
Romania is a parliamentary republic, although the current president Klaus Iohannis is arrogating his rights outside the Constitution.
Instead of discussing with PM of Romania, Mrs. Viorica Dancila, to suggest a G2G agreement, the French played in the strength, on the hand of President Klaus Iohannis.
Strong mistake, knowing the disputes between the President of Romania and the PSD and his Government.
Apart from this, there are also technical and military elements that are detrimental to the French.
From the technical point of view, the experts show that the offers of the three competitors have the following general characteristics, resulting from studying the production of the respective companies.
Damen with SIGMA 10514 (possibly a version close to that for Mexico), armed with Boeing Harpoon Block II + ER, ESSM, SeaRAM, 76 mm cannon, torpedo tubes.
Fincantieri with Abu Dhabi Enchanced, MBDA Exocet Block III, VL Mica, 76 mm cannon, torpedo tubes and probably RAM.
Naval Group with Gowind 2500, armed with MBDA Exocet Block III, VL Mica, Sadral / Simbad, torpedo tubes and 76-millimeter cannon.
The main weapon of future Romanian corvettes is a striking force: ship-to-ship missiles capable of hitting targets on the enemy shore. The Fincantieri and Naval Group offer come with the main weaponry made up of MBDA Exocet MM 40 Block III missiles.
One major drawback of the Exocet missile is that it was not integrated on the F-16. In orienting towards comonalitaty, Romania should also move towards commonalitaty in the arsenal – more precisely, we should have missiles of the same type on the new-brand new corvettes, type 22 frigates to be upgraded to mobile coastal batteries as well on airplanes in the Romanian Air Force.
The US-based Damen Boeing Harpoon Block II + ER missile, representing the main corvette weapon that could be built at Damen Galati, is the perfect solution for Romania. The main weapon to combat airliners required in the tender specifications for the four corvette acquisition program is the mid-range ship-to-air missile.
Fincantieri and Naval Group offer their European MBDA Mica VL missile.
The small VL in the naval version is disadvantageous in that it is launched “hot”, and as a result a large part of the vertical launcher is occupied by the path for the reactive jet evacuation.
Dutch shipbuilder Damen proposes to arm the Romanian corvettes with the Raytheon ESSM (Evolved SeaSparrow Missile) capable of countering both enemy airplanes and supersonic supersonic anti-ship missiles approaching elusive maneuvers.
Conclusion: In an unofficial ranking, on the first place would be the Damen navalists, followed by Fincantieri and Naval Group.
By Constantin Radut