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Leonardo completes final Bahraini naval vessel upgrade

The new Leonardo sensors can be seen on RBNS Abdulrahman al-Fadhel during an unmanned vessel exercise on 26 October 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

Leonardo has completed a programme to upgrade six naval vessels for the Royal Bahrain Naval Force (RBNF), the Italian company announced on 5 April.

It said the upgraded sixth vessel, RBNS Al-Taweelah , had been delivered the previous week after it successfully completed a sea-acceptance test. The vessel is one of four Ahmad el-Fateh-class fast attack craft (FACs) that were built for Bahrain by Germany's Lürssen in the 1980s.

Leonardo said the FAC was fitted with “state-of-the-art systems” that included its new combat management system, which integrates and co-ordinates all information from the vessel's sensors.

Selex ES (now part of Leonardo) announced in September 2015 that it had been awarded a EUR50 million (then USD57 million) contract to upgrade six Bahraini naval vessels, but it did not identify the ships or the systems involved.

The completion of the upgrades for the RBNF's two MGB 62 corvettes, which were also built by Lürssen in the 1980s, was announced in November 2018. These were seen fitted with antennas for Leonardo's SPS-732 surveillance radar and NA-25X radar fire-control system, as well as the Medusa Mk 4 electro-optical fire-control system.

The same equipment was subsequently seen on RBNS Abdulrahman al-Fadhel , the third vessel in the Ahmad el-Fateh class, when it participated in an exercise with the US 5th Fleet in October 2021, although Leonardo did not confirm it was upgrading the FACs until now.

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