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The corvettes from the Descubierta class were built for the Spanish Navy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These ships were also sold to the Egyptian Navy and the Moroccan Navy. The ships were designed in cooperation with the German company Blohm & Voss. Albeit these ships were designed as corvettes, they carry armament in the range of frigates; actually, more armament than some frigates. Maybe due to this, the project attracted attention by other navies when it was first raised. The Egyptian Navy bought two units and the Moroccan Navy a third one; in 2012, these are still in service. The Spanish Navy commissioned six units: F31 Descubierta (decommissioned in 2009), F32 Diana, F33 Infanta Elena, F34 Infanta Cristina, F35 Cazadora and F36 Vencedora. A larger version was proposed for a second batch but the Spanish Navy chose to build the american Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates under licence instead.

Descubierta class corvette

These ships have a lenght of 89 meters, a beam of 10.4 meters and a draught of 3.8 meters, a standard displacement of 1233 tons and a maximum displacement of 1482 tons. Propulsion is given by four MTU diesel engines of 4000 hp each operating on two shafts; these can give a nominal speed of 25 knots and an operative range of 4000 nm (7400 km) at 18 knots. The complement is 118.

Armament includes, from prow to stern, one 76 mm OTO Melara cannon, one double-barreled Bofors antisubmarine mortar, two double-barreled Harpoon SSM launchers, two three-barreled 324 mm antisubmarine torpedo tubes, two single-mounted 40 mm cannons and one octuple Selenia Albatros launcher for Sea Sparrow or Aspide SAM/PDMS (Surface-To-Air/Point Defense Missile System) missiles; these missiles, intercepting incoming aircraft and missiles, are key for the survivality of the ships and therefore two full loads are stored. From the poop deck, antitorpedo acoustic decoys can be released; these produce a range of noises of higher intensity than the ones generated by the ships themselves, attracting the torpedoes towards the decoys.

Descubierta class corvette

Descubierta class corvette

OTO Melara 76 mm cannon

These ships have the polyvalent cannon OTO Melara 76/62 mm as their main artillery. This cannon, of italian design, is widely used in the world navies. Its size allows it to fire long range antiship fire, while its very hign rate of fire allows it to fire antiaircraft and antimissile fire. It can fire piercing, incendiary and fragmentation ammunitions, among others. Although this is a design of the 1960s, it has been gradually improved by introducing elements such as a dome with stealth features, in recent years. The OTO Melara 76 mm cannon and charging system are compact enough to be installed on small warships like corvettes or patrol boats.

Bofors ASW mortar

Immediately behind the 76 mm cannon, these ships have a double-barreled antisubmarine Bofors 375 mm mortar. These traditional non-guided ASW systems are still widely used in these days, coexisting with the more recent guided ASW missiles and torpedoes. This mortar in particular can throw projectiles of 250 kg at distances up to about 3600 meters.

Signaal WM25 fire control radar

At the top of the foremast lies the radome containing the fire-control radar Signaal WM22/41 or WM25, which operates in I/J bands, with a range of 46 km and equipped with self-stabilizing systems. On the sides of the foremast lie the electronic warfare sensors, models Elsag Mk 100, Mk 1600, K 1900, Canopus or Deneb, depending on ship. On top of the aft mast lies the air and surface surveillance radar Signaal DA 05/2, working in E/F bands, with a range of 137 km and precision for targets up to two square meters.

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