France’s CMN launches first high-speed interceptors for Saudi Arabia

French shipbuilder CMN has launched the first two of a planned 39 high-speed interceptor boats it is building for the Royal Saudi Navy.

The launching of the boats, with hull numbers 315 and 316, was announced by the Saudi Arabian defense ministry.

The boats will be built and delivered through a transfer of technology agreement between the Saudi company Zamil Offshore Services and France’s CMN.

Under the deal from April 2018, half of the 39 high-speed boats would be built locally in Saudi Arabia.

The boats are based on the French company’s HSI32 design, which measures 32.20 meters in length and attains a speed of 48 knots, according to company specifications. They can be armed with a 20 mm remote-controlled gun-turret, two 12.7 mm side guns. Other equipment listed includes electro-optical observation systems, radio direction finders, and Satcom for data link.

The company has already exported HSI32 boats to Mozambique.

In addition to the interceptors, CMN is also building three larger Combattante FS56 patrol boats for the Royal Saudi Navy. The 56-meter vessels could potentially be armed with MBDA’s Simbad-RC short-range surface-to-air system.

Photo: First CMN-built FSI32 boat for Royal Saudi Navy during the launch. Photo: Saudi Arabian defense ministry