France sells three defense frigates to Greece, two weeks after submarine crisis with Australia

This is not the “contract of the century”, like that of the twelve Australian submarines finally canceled by Canberra on Thursday, September 16, but the program will restore balm to the heart of the French manufacturer Naval Group. Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday, September 28, a significant strengthening of strategic cooperation between Paris and Athens, while Greece feels increasingly threatened by Turkey’s presence in the eastern Mediterranean .

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This cooperation notably involves the acquisition of three Belharra defense and intervention frigates, built on the Naval Group shipyards in Lorient (Morbihan), as well as an option for an additional frigate, for an amount which has not been was communicated during the meeting between the two leaders. Greece will pay around 3 billion euros for the acquisition of the first three French frigates, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a Greek government source. In Athens, the press evoked a sum of 5 billion euros.

Other manufacturers are associated with the program. This is the case of MBDA (Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo) for the missiles (Aster 30 B1 and Exocet) on board these frigates and of Thalès, which will supply the sonars and radars. These latest generation multi-mission frigates, five of which were ordered by the French Navy for a first launch in 2024, will be “Fully interoperable with European and NATO fleets”, indicate MBDA and Naval Group.

Several European manufacturers were in the running for this contract: the Italian Fincantieri, the German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, the Dutch Damen. But also the American Lockheed Martin, which remains committed to the Australian contract for the supply of the weapon system for the submarines.

Agreement “directed against no one”, but …

This program is a “Testimony of confidence and demonstration of the quality of the French offer”, declared the President of the Republic, at the Elysee Palace, Tuesday, after the signing of the contract. More broadly, Mr. Macron underlined that the “Strategic partnership for cooperation in defense and security (…) contributes to European security, to the strengthening of Europe’s strategic autonomy and sovereignty, and thus to international peace and security ”. Before adding this address to Americans and Europeans: “For more than ten years, the United States initially focused on itself, and has strategic interests which are reoriented towards China and the Pacific. It is their right, it is their own sovereignty. But here too we would be naive, or we would make a terrible mistake, not to want to draw all the consequences for ourselves. “

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