The offer would be for 3 FDI-HN frigates and 3 Gowind corvettes.
Lorenzo Tual story with additional reporting by Xavier Vavasseur
According to the sources (among them, Militaire, Defence Review and Naval Defence) the offer would be for 3 FDI-HN frigates and 3 Gowind corvettes. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis would stop in Paris this afternoon, on his way back from the UN general assembly held in New York last week.
Contacted by Naval News this morning, a source with knowledge of the matter explained that the visit of Mr. Mitsotakis is not “last minute” but instead, was a long planned one: The Greek Prime Minister is set to inaugurate a new exposition on Greece at the Louvres Museum this afternoon. That being said, there may be a meeting between Greek and French authorities regarding the frigate deal, on the verge of this official visit, and an announcement (but not an official signature) may be made at the end of this meeting. We also learned that a large delegation (including Naval Group’s CEO) visited Greece last week to further advance the negotiations. Contacted by Naval News, Naval Group refused to comment on the latest rumors.
This new turn of events would come at the most opportune time for Naval Group, still shocked by the sudden cancelation of the so-called “contract of the century”, Australia’s Attack-class submarine program.
This would follow the logic of the shortlist released some months ago, which we covered here, where the French offer was placed in the top category along with the Dutch offer from Damen and the Italian one from Fincantieri. We previously analyzed in detail all three ships in this article
It would end this long running effort from Naval Group to sell the FDI in Greece, following the bilateral talks that soon transformed into a dual competition with Lockeed Martin, only to merge into an international contract featuring all of the world’s greatest shipbuilders.
The Proposed Ships
The FDI-HN would be offered in the configuration already proposed on the shortlist. Briefly, a 4500 tons frigate equipped with the best radars, with the extremely capable Thales Sea Fire AESA radar, and sonars, with the Kingklip Mk.2 hull mounted sonar and a CAPTAS 4C variable depth sonar, both also from Thales. It would be armed with 32 Sylver A50 cells for Aster 30 SAMs, a RAM CIWS, eight Exocets SSMs in their latest upgrade, two twin launchers for MU90 torpedoes, one 76mn gun and finally, two remotely controlled autocannons.
The build plan supposedly proposed by Naval Group would be for the three frigates to be built in France with delivery of the first two by 2025 and the third in 2026. One remains in option and could be built by Greek shipyards. With these extreme delivery rates the French avoid the issue of the interim solution, where they did not have a convincing offer.
However, the principal issue of the FDI-HN still remains. Indeed, the class still lacks any kind of ECM and decoy launcher due to initial limitation in the French budget and an estimate of 100 million euros will be needed in the future to equip them with such vital systems.
The Gowind 2500 corvette is a newcomer for the Greek contract. This is a mature design also built by Naval Group in their joint venture Kership with the French shipyard Piriou. The corvette has already been chosen by four navies, Egypt, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Romania, for a total of 16 ships ordered.
This 2400 tons corvette is built for anti-submarine and anti-ships missions while also able to defend itself from aerial threats. For this, it is fitted with the Thales 3D SMART-S mk2 radar as well as the Kingklip Mk.2 hull mounted sonar and a CAPTAS VDS sonar, also from Thales.
It is armed with a 16 VL-MICA NG in the Greek case, and similarly to the FDI-HN, eight Exocets SSMs, two twin launchers for MU90 torpedoes, one 76mn gun and two remotely controlled autocannons.
These corvettes are offered instead of the modernisation of the MEKO frigates. The modernisation was planned to cost around a Billion euros, while a Gowind 2500 is estimated at around 350 millions euros, for completely new ships.
The intent to purchase French frigates for the Hellenic Navy could be announced this afternoon, with the visit of the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Paris, possibly with the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs.
This would concretize the Franco-Greek relationship, strengthened previously by the order for 18 Rafales in January for 2.5 Billions euros, followed by another order for 6 more, for a total of 24.
Thus, France plays a significant role in the modernisation of the Hellenic armed forces following increasing tensions with Turkey. France is positioning itself with Greece during these clashes, having experienced it first hand during an incident with the Turkish Navy.
This would be the logical conclusion of this long and eventful story and signify a new age for the Franco-Greek partnership.