Greece and France at the negotiating table for new frigates

PARIS, PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Two days ago, the French edition of Zone Militaire Opex360 announced that the door for negotiations between Greece and France on “naval forces” was not closed. On the contrary, according to the publication, there is a high probability that France will arm Greece with frigates.

The fresco edition writes that after Greece and France signed the contract for the supply of French Rafale fighters, the two countries will continue negotiations, but this time for frigates. The Greeks want to strengthen their naval capabilities. As early as 2019, they talked about it, even turning their eyes to French manufacturers, and that’s precisely happened after Athens officially sent a letter to buy Belhara defense and response frigates.

The Greek edition of Katemarini mentions this possibility. But unlike his French counterparts, Katemarini believes it will be the LaFayette frigates. “The question remains to decide which …?” write-in Kathimerini. Unlike Belhara, LaFayette frigates are classified as “intermediate solutions to meet short-term needs.”

The discrepancy in desires and possibilities comes from the Greeks. They want to have a frigate that has strike power against land targets. However, this is not planned for Belhara, although the French edition says one can always consider a possible adaptation.

The role of Americans

Lockheed Martin joined the bidding for the Greek fleet. Carefully analyzing Greek preferences, the Americans offered a competitive alternative – four MMSC-type frigates developed for the US Navy. According to the specification, these frigates guide by multimedia ground fighters.

Thus, in November last year, the Greek media announced that the government had turned to this option. Especially after Athens’s possibility of becoming a full partner in the US FFG [X] program to build ten constellation frigates.

Since then, however, the program has been severely criticized. The United States identified problems and decided to suspend the program until American engineers resolved the complications. It later became clear that the MMSC frigates also did not meet the needs of the Greeks.

France changed course

France had to do something to keep the door open for the Greeks. Then came the French Minister of Defense’s statement, who said he was ready to arm the frigates cruise missiles [MdCN], eight anti-surface missiles Exocet MM40B3C, 16 anti-aircraft missiles Aster 15/30, torpedo MU 90, 76-millimeter cannon, and 20-millimeter with remote control.

This action woke the Greeks. “We have not turned our backs on France. The issue is open, and our fleet is looking for the best solution so that we have better ships, deterrents ready,” said Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.

His French counterpart accepted the hand, and he was quick to announce that France would soon send a renewed proposal for the Greek navy and “help maintain Greece’s status as a navy” in the region.

It all started with the French Rafale

The deal, which Greece and France finalized on January 25th this year, could be why the Greek navy acquires French frigates. These fighter jets could draw the partnership line between them. But what exactly did the Greeks buy?

For 2.35 billion euros, Athens will acquire 18 Rafale fighters – 12 second-hand and six brand new. The price includes training and initial maintenance of the fighter jets. France will also arm the fighters with METEOR and MICA air-to-air missiles, SCALP cruise missiles, and AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles.

What Greece bought as fighter jets is a good investment. Greek fighters will be able to attack targets 100 km beyond visual range—this capability of French fighters achieved with AESA radar and Meteor missiles. The Greek Rafales have an improved system for waging electronic warfare.

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