According to media reports, France and Greece are continuing negotiations on the former arming the latter with new frigates.
According to the fresco edition, while Greece and France have signed a defense contract for the supply of French Rafale fighters aircrafts, both countries are in intense talks for new frigates as well, with Greece intent on boosting its naval capabilities.
In 2019, during early discussions, the choice had narrowed to French manufacturers. Athens has now officially sent a letter to purchase Belhara defense for the new frigates. The Greek edition of Katemarini has also mentioned this in its report.
The question now is which class of frigates will Athens opt for.
“The question remains to decide which …?” write Kathimerini. Unlike Belhara, LaFayette frigates are classified as “intermediate solutions to meet short-term needs.”
Athens wants frigates which have the capability to strike against land targets, which rules out Belhara; however according to French media report, there is always the possibility of adapting and modifying the Belhara to Greek’s requirements.
Incidentally Lockheed Martin had also bided for Greek’s frigate contract and had offered a competitive alternative, four MMSC-type frigates developed for the US Navy which are can be guided by ground fighters.
In November 2020, according to Greek media reports, the government initially favoured Lockheed Martin, especially after Washington offered the possibility of Athens becoming a full partner in the US FFG [X] program to build ten constellation frigates.
However, the decision faced strong headwinds after the United States identified problems and decided to suspend the program. It later emerged that the MMSC frigates did not meet the criteria of the Greek navy.
France came to the rescue with the French Minister of Defense issuing a statement that Paris was ready to arm the frigates with cruise missiles [MdCN], including 16 anti-aircraft missiles Aster 15/30, 8 anti-surface missiles Exocet MM40B3C, torpedo MU 90, 76-millimeter cannon, and 20-millimeter canon with remote control.
The Greeks responded well to the French offer.
“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 was quick to respond and announced that France would soon send a renewed proposal for the Greek navy and “help maintain Greece’s status as a navy” in the region.