To fully answer the Hellenic Navy needs, the "FDI HN" comes with 32 VLS for ASTER surface to air missiles and a RAM launcher.
It recently surfaced that the Hellenic Navy need was not limited to new-built frigates. Their need is so urgent that they require a “stop-gap” solution (consisting in the procurement of second-hand vessels or a lease of existing vessels) as well as an upgrade to the in-service Hydra-class frigates.
We previously reported on the proposals from several competitors (details and links at the end of this article). This time around, we contacted Naval Group to learn more about the French proposal to Greece, which was formally presented to the Hellenic Navy on 13 April 2021. Laurent Mourre, Vice President of Sales for Europe at Naval Group answered our questions.
Naval News – Can you please detail Naval Group’s offer in terms of new ships ?
Laurent Moure – The French offer is a comprehensive and robust package designed to ensure Greece has the best capabilities in the shortest timeframe with optimised costs.
For the new ships, we offer the FDI HN (Hellenic Navy) which is the most modern new generation frigate.
The 4 units will be delivered in a very tight timeframe. The first frigate will be built in Lorient and in service by 2025, and the 3 others built in Greece will follow in 2027, 2028and 2029.
Naval Group has a long track record of successful transfers of technology across the world. The frigates will be co-produced in Greece, with significant involvement of the French team. Construction of the 1st frigate in France will ensure delivery to the Hellenic Navy in the shortest timeframe and secure the transfer of technology to allow construction of the other 3 frigates in Greece. The transfer of technology will ensure long-term autonomy for HN and significant economic benefits for the Hellenic naval and defence industries and for the supply chain in Greece.
Naval News – What is Naval Group proposing for the interim (gap filler) solution ? Which former French Navy ships are being proposed ?
Laurent Moure – The French Navy is proposing a strong gap filler solution with 2 frigates available in less than a year and at no cost.
AAW frigate Jean-Bart and ASW frigate Latouche-Tréville are currently in service in the French Navy and have prestigious operational records. They will be available for the Hellenic Navy in early 2022 after extensive maintenance and regeneration works.
The main mission of AAW frigate Jean-Bart is to carry out area anti-aircraft warfare, for the benefit of a naval air force with warships, including an aircraft carrier and possibly commercial ships.
The main missions of ASW Frigate Latouche-Tréville are Anti-submarine warfare on high seas and protection of high value units.
They have been engaged in national operations, but also for joint operations and exercise with NATO and EU forces demonstrating the capabilities and interoperability. They will be in service within the Hellenic Navy in 2022, ensuring a smooth transition with the FDI HN.
Naval News – What about the Hydra-class upgrade ?
Laurent Moure – The systems on-board the MEKO 200HN frigates will be fully interoperable will all NATO and EU fleets, including the FDI HN who like all Naval Group frigates are capable of assuming all multimission roles within any kind of allied NATO fleet and obviously within the HN fleet.
Naval News – Can you shed light on the Hellenic Navy configuration of the FDI ?
Laurent Moure – The FDI is a multi-mission frigate designed to serve as the backbone of a first rank and operational navy. She is the most modern frigate of her category and responds to all HN operational needs. Ordered by the French Navy, FDI will have the same missions than the FREMM frigate inside Aircraft Carrier Group.
She has been designed to deal with the latest threats, and her physical and digital infrastructures guarantee an evolutionary potential that will ensure that the Hellenic Navy will be able to deal with emerging and future threats over the life of the ship (UAVs, Cyber, anti-ship ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles, stealth threats underwater or above water, etc.).
The FDI HN will be a power and sovereignty asset for Greece. The final configuration will be the decision of the Greek authorities, but she will offer unrivalled capabilities for the permanent control of air and sea space and autonomy of action, in support of the political and military objectives set. Like all Naval Group frigates, the FDI HN will be fully interoperable with NATO and EU fleets. She will be capable of assuming all mission roles within any kind of allied fleet and within the HN fleet.
The FDI HN is a compendium of the best technologies from the European defence industries Thales, MBDA and Naval Group. The 32 Aster missiles onboard can be engaged very quickly in all directions and ensure an unmatched hit-to-kill capability, making it possible to defeat saturating attacks. RAM, as CIWS capability, will be integrated into the FDI HN Combat System to provide 360 degrees short range protection against incoming missiles in addition to the 76 mm gun, completing the long-range protection provided by ASTER missiles
This makes the FDI HN the only frigate offered to the Hellenic Navy capable of protecting efficiently shore facilities, cities and Greek islands.
Naval News – Have you visited shipyards in Greece? Have you identified local partners already?
Laurent Moure – It is in Naval Group’s culture to select credible and reliable local partners when entering a country. The group has a long history of conducting transfers of technology and know-how in major complex industrial programs all over the world.
Greek shipyards and the Greek naval industry have demonstrated their capacities in the past. The French team has designed a very ambitious industrial cooperation plan that will contribute to the revitalization of a profitable naval industry while significantly increasing Greece’s autonomy and sovereignty. It will reinforce the international recognition of the excellence of the Greek naval industry while providing the best high-end “Made in Greece” warships to defend the country’s citizens and interests.
We have visited the shipyards and met with many industry partners. More than Ten Greek companies have already been pre-qualified and lots of others are in the process of being pre-qualified. We have also signed partnerships with three universities.
To further our survey of potential Greek partners, a Naval Group Task Force will be based in Athens for the next 2 months.
Naval News – Is the French government supporting your bid ? Do you have French or European partners for this bid ?
Laurent Moure – Yes, this bid is a Team France effort between Naval Group, Thales and MBDA and is fully supported by French authorities.
Laurent Mourre wanted to add the following:
Beyond reinforcing the strong ties between France and Greece, the French offer addresses all the current and future needs of the Hellenic Navy. It ensures the Hellenic Navy will operate the best frigates in the shortest timeframe with a Gap filler solution available in less than a year and the first new frigate as soon as 2025. It also ensures the success of the “Made in Greece” frigates as Naval Group is the only bidder with such a track-record of successful transfer of technologies. The French offer also goes beyond the frigate program with an extensive cooperation plan to revitalise the Hellenic naval industry, ensuring several hundreds of highly qualified jobs and generating long-term economic spin-offs in Greece for decades to come.
For the record, France and Greece were involved in exclusive negotiations for a while, for two FDI type frigates. However, despite the signing of an LOI in October 2019, Greece decided to keep its options open and is now considering several designs. The designs being considered today, in addition to Naval Group’s FDI, are:
- Lockheed Martin with the MMSC
- Navantia with the F110
- Damen Sigma 11515
- Babcock with the Type 31/Arrowhead
- TKMS with the MEKO A200NG (or MEKO A300)
- Fincantieri (allegedly with the FREMM)
The procurement process doesn’t seem to be a “classic open tender” but rather government to government (G to G) discussions with each party.