Spanish shipmaker Navantia will soon cut steel for a corvette for Saudi Arabia.
On January 15, 2019, Navantia is to cut steel at its San Fernando shipyard for the first Avante 2200 corvette for the Saudi Navy. The work is being done under a $2.2 billion contract inked last year between Saudi Arabia and Spain for the procurement of five Avante 2200 corvettes.
Delivery of the first vessel is currently scheduled for October 2021. After the transfer of the first vessel, further deliveries are scheduled for every four months thereafter until the contract has been completed.
As InfoDefensa reported, the agreement includes training for Saudi personnel and life cycle support for five years, with an option for another five years. The media outlet noted that the program will generate as many as 6,000 jobs.
Implementation of the contract was threatened last year after Spain toyed with canceling the sale of precision-guided munitions to the Saudi Air Force. Spanish officials have expressed concern over the use of such armaments in the ongoing Saudi military effort in Yemen. However, Spain ultimately backtracked on the cancellation. Had it kept the ban in place, there was speculation that Saudi Arabia could cancel the corvette buy in retaliation.
In October 2018, a month after Spain considered canceling the precision-guided munition deal, the Spanish parliament voted against blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The vote followed the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose killing prompted outrage in a number of European capitals.