DCNS’ 103m, 1,950t (338 ft., 2,150 ton) Gowind corvettes are directly derived from the design and technological lead advances of the new Franco-Italian FREMM multi-mission frigates.
Following his October 2006 meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev initially gave the go-ahead for negotiations to buy 4 Gowind corvettes. A French-Bulgarian working group was then set up to finalize the estimated EUR 900 million (then about $1.25 billion) contract before the end of 2007, but Bulgaria subsequently backed out, saying that it could not afford the contract. Instead, in December 2007 the Bulgarian navy spent EUR 54 million on a pair of used frigates and a minesweeping vessel from Belgium.
Still, one should never underestimate the power of diplomacy. A July 2008 trip by President Sarkozy appeared to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. On the other hand, one should never underestimate the power of economics.