Germany Approves Sale of MEKO A200 Frigates to Egypt

The German parliament has approved the sale of six MEKO frigates to Egypt in a 2.3 billion Euro deal. Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems’ (TKMS) MEKO A200 frigate design has already been bought by two other African navies, those of South Africa and Algeria.

Both countries have been working on this deal for for quite some time. As reported by France’s La Tribune paper, the deal began in 2018 for two frigates, after a similar deal had fallen through with the French Naval Group. The deal was then expanded for three ships, two built in Germany and the third in Egypt. However, since Saudi Arabia was acting as a intermediary and a principle financial backer of the deal, it fell apart after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi late last year.

Future Algerian A200 class frigate at the port of Kiel before delivery, 2015. Credit Patrosk-Dente.

This dissolution of the deal was part and parcel of a larger German embargo on business with Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder. It appears that the deal has been renegotiated solely between the German and Egyptian governments, allowing it to pass the German parliament. It is unclear at this time how the construction will be broken down, if it will be split between the nations or not. Egypt is in need of new, capable vessels to replace its old US-surplus Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates, four of which make up the bulk of the Egyptian Navy’s escort fleet.

The MEKO A200 is an iterative development of the baseline MEKO 200 design used by the Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy, Turkish Navy, Hellenic Navy, and Portuguese Navies. The A200 variant features reductions to its radar cross section, a modernized sensor suite, and greater weapons space.

There are still potential problems ahead for this frigate sale. The ships will still have to be approved for export on a case by case basis as they are built. So while the overall program has been approved by the German parliament, if relations change between Berlin and Cairo in coming years, Egypt may be short several ships it badly needs.